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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Update: House Price Seasonality

by Calculated Risk on 10/30/2012 02:58:00 PM

The Not Seasonally Adjusted (NSA) house price indexes will show month-to-month declines soon. I expect the CoreLogic index to show month-to-month declines in the September report, and the Case-Shiller Composite 20 (NSA) to decline month-to-month in October. This will not be a sign of impending doom - or another collapse in house prices - it is just the normal seasonal pattern.

Even in normal times house prices tend to be stronger in the spring and early summer, then in the fall and winter. Currently there is a stronger than normal seasonal pattern because conventional sales are following the normal pattern (more sales in the spring and summer), but distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) happen all year. So distressed sales have a larger negative impact on prices in the fall and winter.

In the coming months, the key will be to watch the year-over-year change in house prices and to compare to the NSA lows in early 2012. I think house prices have already bottomed, and will be up slightly year-over-year when prices reach the usual seasonal bottom in early 2013.

House Prices month-to-month change NSA Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the month-to-month change in the CoreLogic and NSA Case-Shiller Composite 20 index over the last several years (both through August). Right now it looks like CoreLogic will turn negative in the September report (CoreLogic is 3 month weighted average, with the most recent month weighted the most). Case-Shiller NSA will probably turn negative month-to-month in the October report (also a three month average, but not weighted).

Case Shiller Seasonal FactorsThe second graph shows the seasonal factors for the Case-Shiller composite 20 index. The factors started to change near the peak of the bubble, and really increased during the bust. (I was one of several people to question this change in the seasonal factor - and this lead to Case-Shiller reporting the NSA numbers).

It appears the seasonal factor has stopped increasing, and I expect that over the next several years, the seasonal factors will slowly move back towards the previous levels.