Case-Shiller Home Price Index Falls to New Low in December; Maybe sign of new period of decline

dennis-norman-home-prices-realtorThis morning, the S&P/Case-Shiller Index report for December was released showing all three of the home price composites ended the year at new index lows. The national composite fell by 3.8 percent during the fourth quarter of 2011 and was down 4.0 percent from the year before. Both the 10-city and 20-city composites fell by 1.1 percent in December from the month before and the home price indexes were down 3.9 percent and 4.0 percent respectively from the year before. All three composites are at their lowest levels sine the housing crisis began in mid-2006.

Report highlights:

  • U.S. home prices, as determined by the 10- and 20-City Composites, each fell 1.1 percent in December versus November
  • Eighteen of the 20 cities covered by the indices saw home prices decrease from the month before with Miami (+0.2 percent) and Phoenix (+0.8 percent) being the exceptions.
  • The 10- and 20-City Composites posted annual returns of -3.9 percent and -4.0 percent respectively versus December 2010
  • Nineteen of the 20 cities covered by the index saw a decrease in home prices from a year ago with Detroit being the exception with a 0.5 percent increase.

“In terms of prices, the housing market ended 2011 on a very disappointing note,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Indices. “With this month’s report we saw all three composite hit new record lows. While we thought we saw some signs of stabilization in the middle of 2011, it appears that neither the economy nor consumer confidence was strong enough to move the market in a positive direction as the year ended.

“After a prior three years of accelerated decline, the past two years has been a story of a housing market that is bottoming out but has not yet stabilized. Up until today’s report we had believed the crisis lows for the composites were behind us, with the 10-City Composite originally hitting a low in April 2009 and the 20-City Composite in March 2011. Now it looks like neither was the case, as both hit new record lows in December 2011. The National Composite fell by 3.8% in the fourth quarter alone, and is down 33.8% from its 2nd quarter 2006 peak. It also recorded a new record low.

“In general, most of the regions also posted weak data in December. Eighteen of the cities saw average home prices fall in December over November. Seventeen of the cities have seen monthly declines for at least three consecutive months. In addition to both monthly composites, 10 of the cities saw home prices fall by more than 1.0% during the month of December. The pick-up in the economy has simply not been strong enough to keep home prices stabilized. If anything it looks like we might have reentered a period of decline as we begin 2012.”


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