Case-Shiller: Welcome Back to 2003

Written by: Steve Cook   Tue, October 25, 2011 Beyond Today’s News, Market Trends

Remember 2003?  That was the year Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was the hottest movie, the year that America invaded Iraq, and in 2003 Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated over Texas.  Your home was worth then just about what it’s worth today.

That’s the good news from S&P Case-Shiller this month.  Prices actually went up a tiny bit in August, 0.2 percent, and declines from the June/July 2006 peaks the peak-to-current declines for the C-S 10-City Composite and 20-City Composite are only -30.9 percent and -30.8 percent, respectively. They’ve recovered 3.9 percent and 3.8 percent from the “crisis” lows of April 2009 and March 2011.

Though most places moved in the right direction, August prices were nothing to get excited about.  In August, ten of the 20 cities covered by the Case-Shiller indices saw home prices increase over the month. In addition, 16 of the 20 MSAs and both Composites posted improved annual returns compared to July’s data; Los Angeles and Miami saw no change in annual returns in August; and Atlanta and Las Vegas saw their annual rates of change fall deeper into negative territory.

The 10- and 20-City Composites posted annual returns of -3.5 percent and -3.8 percent versus August 2010, respectively.  At -8.5 percent, Minneapolis posted the lowest year-over-year return, but has improved in each of the last three months. Detroit and Washington DC were the only two cities to post positive annual returns of +2.7 percent and +0.3 percent respectively.

“There was some weakness in the monthly statistics, as 10 of the cities post price declines in August over July,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices. “And even though the annual rates are largely improving, 18 MSAs and both Composites are still negative. Nationally, home prices are still below where they were a year ago. The 10-City Composite is down 3.5 percent and the 20-City is down 3.8 percent compared to August 2010.

“In the August data, the good news is continued improvement in the annual rates of change in home prices. In spring and summer’s seasonally strong period for housing demand, we cautioned that monthly increases in prices had to be paired with improvement in annual rates before anyone could declare that the market might be stabilizing. With 16 of 20 cities and both Composites seeing their annual rates of change improve in August, we see a modest glimmer of hope with these data. As of August 2011, the crisis low for the 10- City Composite was back in April 2009; whereas it was a more recent March 2011 for the 20-City Composite. Both are about 3.9 percent above their relative lows,” Blitzer said.

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