Wednesday, 31 December 2008

US Home Price Declines Continue

According to the latest Case-Shiller Home Price Index, US Home Prices continued to fall in October and the rate of decline actually picked up. Whilst I thought US home prices would continue to fall, I thought there would be a moderation in the depth of the year over year declines by now, from the report.

“The bear market continues; home prices are back to their March, 2004 levels.” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s. “Both composite indices and 14 of the 20 metro areas are reporting new record rates of decline. As of October 2008, the 10-City Composite is down 25.0% from its mid-2006 peak, and the 20-City Composite is down 23.4%.

In October, we also saw three new markets enter the ‘double-digit’ club. Atlanta, Seattle and Portland are reporting annual rates of decline of 10.5%, 10.2% and 10.1%, respectively. While not yet experiencing as severe a contraction as in the Sunbelt, it seems the Pacific Northwest and Mid-Atlantic South is not immune to the overall demise in the housing market.”

Three of the metro areas have given back, on average, more than 30% of the value of homes since October of last year. Phoenix remains the weakest market, reporting an annual decline of 32.7%, followed by Las Vegas, down 31.7%, and San Francisco down 31.0%. Miami, Los Angeles, and San Diego were close behind with annual declines of 29.0%, 27.9% and 26.7%, respectively.

Monthly data also do not show much improvement in the national housing market. All 20 metro areas, and the two composites, posted their second consecutive monthly decline. In addition, six of the MSAs had their largest monthly decline on record – Atlanta, Charlotte, Detroit, Minneapolis, Tampa and Washington. Most of the positive monthly data recorded in the spring and summer months, merely reflects seasonal patterns in home prices, as opposed to a turnaround in the downward spiral in national home prices.

Whilst price drops are big, they have only returned to beginning 2004 levels which suggests to me that they have significantly further to go.