My friend Jonathan Miller is the one who really helped me see the light: the Case Shiller Index ain’t what its cracked up to be. It was designed for Wall Street, not to be devoured by the average U.S. consumer. There is a major lag time between the actual data and reporting. It doesn’t include new home sales or construction, which, I’ll grant, are no where near what they used to be, but do make a difference in our housing market where volume builders are still churning dirt. And it doesn’t separate distressed properties from non-distressed, like Core Logic does.
Still, it’s out today and it serves a psychological purpose, like it or not, accurate or not. How did Dallas fare? Really, flat as a pancake. Average home price $117,000. Up .02% from July to Aug 2011, but down 1.90% from same time last year. That number is so low it might as well be flat. If I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: we are Japan.
Any good news? Actually, yes!
• Both the 10- and 20-City Composites showed an increase of +0.2% for in August versus July.
• Ten of the 20 MSAs covered by the Indices saw home prices increase over the month.
• 16 of the 20 MSAs and both Composites posted improved annual returns compared to July’s data.
• Don’t tell Al Hill III: Atlanta and Las Vegas saw their annual rates of change fall deeper into negative territory.
• Detroit and Washington DC were the only two cities to post positive annual returns of +2.7% and +0.3% respectively, Detroit because everything is so darn depressed, Washington because that’s the only city where values are holding.
• The Midwest is showing recent relative strength, thank God. Chicago, Detroit and Minneapolis have all posted very sharp monthly increases going back to May. (People swallowing distressed props?)
• It’s basically 2003: average home prices across the U.S. are back to mid-2003 levels.
• Do not read this line if you bought during the boom or reach for the Tums first: measured from their June/July 2006 peaks through August 2011, the peak-to-current declines for the 10-City Composite and 20-City Composite are -30.9% and -30.8%, respectively.