If there is one admirable thing about the Case Shiller Home Price Index report (which sadly shows data for February so a nearly three month delay) is that even according to its authors, it is the Non-Seasonally Adjusted number that is representative of what is going on in housing. And, as the chart below shows, very little is going on as the broader price level continues to undulate in a very tight range with little real moves to the up or downside.
Posting a level of 146.57 for the broad Composite 20 index, there was a 0.3% increase sequentially, and a flatline in prices in the past 6 months, as the index has not budged from its level since September. Of course, that does not mean there are not bubble pockets in the US. As noted yesterday, Los Angeles is quite frothy, posting a 1% increase in February (a number which will since surge if Altos' data is correct), second only to Phoenix (at 1.1%). Alternatively, eight MSA saw a decline in February, with weaker markets in Denver, DC, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Charlotte, Cleveland and Seattle. But at least the old stronghold "bubble" locations: California, Nevada and Florida are back to doing what they do best. On a year over year basis, the Composite 20% jumped by 9.3% due to a very weak market in early 2012, which was the main reason for the Fed to eventually activate QEternity.
“Home prices continue to show solid increases across all 20 cities,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The 10- and 20-City Composites recorded their highest annual growth rates since May 2006; seasonally adjusted monthly data show all 20 cities saw higher prices for two months in a row – the last time that happened was in early 2005.
“Phoenix, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Atlanta were the four cities with the highest year-over-year price increases. Atlanta recovered from a wave of foreclosures in 2012 while the other three were among the hardest hit in the housing collapse. At the other end of the rankings, three older cities – New York, Boston and Chicago – saw the smallest year-over-year price improvements.
“Despite some recent mixed economic reports for March, housing continues to be one of the brighter spots in the economy. The 2013 first quarter GDP report shows that residential investment accelerated from the 2012 fourth quarter and made a positive contribution to growth. One open question is the mix of single family and apartments; housing starts data show a larger than usual share is apartments.”
In February 2013, the number of cities that posted positive monthly changes increased; Boston, Dallas, New York, Portland and San Diego are now among the MSAs posting month-over-month gains.
Even though eight MSAs posted monthly declines, all twenty cities showed increases when compared to their February 2012 levels. Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco and Tampa were the ten MSAs that continued to report double-digit year-over-year gains. San Diego and Tampa recorded their first months of double-digit annual increases of just over 10.0%.
Sequential change: mixed bag.