Economists' Outlook

Housing stats and analysis from NAR's research experts.

Latest Home Price Data from Case-Shiller

  • Home prices continue to rise quite strongly according to the Case-Shiller home price index. In March, prices rose 12.4 percent from one year ago. Prices have been increasing at a double digit rate of appreciation for the past 12 months.
  • The latest data, however, is outdated. The purported March figure is not for a single month but rather a 3-month average covering January, February, and March. With the month of June only a few days away, the freshest information from Case-Shiller incorporates what had happened in January – a rearview mirror into the deep past.
  • Even though Case-Shiller price information is not reflective of what is happening right now, the data is highly useful in confirming what had already occurred several months ago. The NAR median price, by contrast, showed a price gain of 5.2 percent in April. REALTORS® have even better information on the local market and all the idiosyncratic neighborhood factors. Therefore, it is critical for REALTORS® to lower home sellers’ expectation about the true value of their homes.
  • Of the 20 metro markets covered by the Case-Shiller index, the strongest price increases were in Las Vegas and San Francisco, both with over 20 percent gain in one year. Also worth noting, but not placing too much weight, is the annualized growth in prices. This measure computes what the price growth would be over the one year period if the latest data change were to continue at the same pace. Chicago, Detroit, and Minneapolis show heating trend. Charlotte and Tampa are showing a marked decelerating trend.
  • One lesson of home prices is that they will rise even after a severe fall. That’s because land is limited. The typical single-family home price was less than $20,000 in the mid-1960s. Now it is ten times higher. One can even go all the way back to the time of Thomas Jefferson. Understanding the importance of the port city New Orleans, President Jefferson offered to buy the city from Napoleon. Known for doing things only on a grand scale, Napoleon countered by offering not only the city but the vast “worthless” land of Louisiana (spanning Oklahoma to Montana) at a 2-cent per acre price. As proven frequently, buying real estate for the long haul has been a good bet.

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