by Bill McBride on 2/24/2015 12:22:00 PM
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
First, S&P's David Blitzer said this morning "The housing recovery is faltering." I disagree with that wording. The level of housing starts and new home sales are still historically weak, but are clearly recovering - and I expect the housing recovery to continue (not "falter").
Second, the expected slowdown in year-over-year price increases has occurred. In October 2013, the National index was up 10.9% year-over-year (YoY). In December 2014, the index was up 4.6% YoY. The YoY change has held steady for the last four months.
Looking forward, I expect the YoY increases for the indexes to move more sideways (as opposed to down). Two points: 1) I don't expect (as some) for the indexes to turn negative YoY (in 2015) , and 2) I think most of the slowdown on a YoY basis is now behind us. This slowdown in price increases was expected by several key analysts, and I think it was good news for housing and the economy.
In the earlier post, I graphed nominal house prices, but it is also important to look at prices in real terms (inflation adjusted). Case-Shiller, CoreLogic and others report nominal house prices. As an example, if a house price was $200,000 in January 2000, the price would be close to $275,000 today adjusted for inflation (38%). That is why the second graph below is important - this shows "real" prices (adjusted for inflation).
It has been almost ten years since the bubble peak. In the Case-Shiller release this morning, the National Index was reported as being 8.4% below the bubble peak. However, in real terms, the National index is still about 22% below the bubble peak.
Nominal House Prices
The first graph shows the monthly Case-Shiller National Index SA, the monthly Case-Shiller Composite 20 SA, and the CoreLogic House Price Indexes (through December) in nominal terms as reported.
In nominal terms, the Case-Shiller National index (SA) is back to May 2005 levels, and the Case-Shiller Composite 20 Index (SA) is back to December 2004 levels, and the CoreLogic index (NSA) is back to February 2005.
Real House Prices
The second graph shows the same three indexes in real terms (adjusted for inflation using CPI less Shelter). Note: some people use other inflation measures to adjust for real prices.
In real terms, the National index is back to April 2003 levels, the Composite 20 index is back to November 2002, and the CoreLogic index back to March 2003.
In real terms, house prices are back to early '00s levels.
In October 2004, Fed economist John Krainer and researcher Chishen Wei wrote a Fed letter on price to rent ratios: House Prices and Fundamental Value. Kainer and Wei presented a price-to-rent ratio using the OFHEO house price index and the Owners' Equivalent Rent (OER) from the BLS.
Here is a similar graph using the Case-Shiller National, Composite 20 and CoreLogic House Price Indexes.
This graph shows the price to rent ratio (January 1998 = 1.0).
On a price-to-rent basis, the Case-Shiller National index is back to May 2003 levels, the Composite 20 index is back to December 2002 levels, and the CoreLogic index is back to March 2003.
In real terms, and as a price-to-rent ratio, prices are mostly back to early 2000 levels - and maybe moving a little sideways now.