Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Real Prices and Price-to-Rent Ratio in February

by Bill McBride on 4/26/2016 11:54:00 AM

Here is the earlier post on Case-Shiller: Case-Shiller: National House Price Index increased 5.3% year-over-year in February

Note: There was an error in the Case-Shiller press release this morning. From the press release:

"Fourteen of 20 cities reported increases in February before seasonal adjustment; after seasonal adjustment, only 10 cities increased for the month."
The NSA count is correct (14 of 20 cities increased before seasonal adjustment), but the SA number is incorrect. After seasonal adjustment, all 20 cities increased in February (not 10).

The year-over-year increase in prices is mostly moving sideways now around 5%. In February, the index was up 5.3% YoY.

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 $273,000 today adjusted for inflation (36%).  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 3.0% below the bubble peak.   However, in real terms, the National index is still about 17% below the bubble peak.

Nominal House Prices


Nominal House PricesThe first graph shows the monthly Case-Shiller National Index SA, the monthly Case-Shiller Composite 20 SA, and the CoreLogic House Price Indexes (through February) in nominal terms as reported.

In nominal terms, the Case-Shiller National index (SA) is back to November 2005 levels, and the Case-Shiller Composite 20 Index (SA) is back to April 2005 levels, and the CoreLogic index (NSA) is back to July 2005.

Real House Prices

Real House PricesThe 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 February 2004 levels, the Composite 20 index is back to November 2003, and the CoreLogic index back to February 2004.

In real terms, house prices are back to early 2004 levels.

Price-to-Rent

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.

Price-to-Rent RatioHere 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 August 2003 levels, the Composite 20 index is back to May 2003 levels, and the CoreLogic index is back to August 2003.

In real terms, and as a price-to-rent ratio, prices are back to late 2003 and early 2004 levels - and the price-to-rent ratio maybe moving a little more sideways now.