Tuesday, June 24, 2014

House Prices: Real Prices and Price-to-Rent Ratio decline slightly in April

by Calculated Risk on 6/24/2014 04:20:00 PM

I've been expecting a slowdown in year-over-year prices as "For Sale" inventory increases, and it appears the slowdown has started.   The Case-Shiller Composite 20 index was up 10.8% year-over-year in April; the smallest year-over-year increase since early 2013.   Still, this is a very strong year-over-year change.

On a seasonally adjusted monthly basis, the Case-Shiller Composite 20 index was up 0.2% in April - and the Composite 10 was close to unchanged - the smallest monthly increase since prices bottomed in early 2012.

On a real basis (inflation adjusted), prices actually declined slightly for the first time since 2012.  The price-rent ratio also declined slightly in April for the Case-Shiller Composite 20 index.

It is 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 $278,000 today adjusted for inflation (39%).  That is why the second graph below is important - this shows "real" prices (adjusted for inflation).

Nominal House Prices

Nominal House PricesThe first graph shows the quarterly Case-Shiller National Index SA (through Q1 2014), and the monthly Case-Shiller Composite 20 SA and CoreLogic House Price Indexes (through April) in nominal terms as reported.

In nominal terms, the Case-Shiller National index (SA) is back to mid-2004 levels (and also back up to Q2 2008), and the Case-Shiller Composite 20 Index (SA) is back to November 2004 levels, and the CoreLogic index (NSA) is back to December 2004.

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 Q4 2001 levels, the Composite 20 index is back to August 2002, and the CoreLogic index back to December 2002.

In real terms, house prices are back to early '00s 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 Q1 2002 levels, the Composite 20 index is back to December 2002 levels, and the CoreLogic index is back to April 2003.

In real terms, and as a price-to-rent ratio, prices are mostly back to early 2000 levels.