Is Your House Worth Its Weight In Gold?

 |  Includes: GLD, IAU
by: John Lounsbury

There is a chart, very familiar to many, showing the housing bubble, which shows the median house price since 1970, using Case-Schiller national index since 1987 and U.S. Census data 1970-86. Click to enlarge

The median house price, nationally, has come down significantly from the top of the bubble, but is still above the long-term trend line support. It can be argued that houses are still overpriced.

However, by one measure, the average house is underpriced. From we have the median single family home priced in ounces of gold.
Below we have reproduced the graph and added the 39 year average for reference. Although the average price of houses has still not quite reached historical trend lines in dollars, an ounce of gold buys more house today than it would at the historical average. With respect to gold, houses are undervalued today. It is interesting that the bubble for housing valued in gold occurred slightly earlier in time than for house values in dollars.
Click to enlarge
Compare the above to the value of houses in another commodity, oil, as shown in the following chart.
Click to enlarge
The bubble in house prices seen relative to dollars and gold did not occur for oil. Houses are still valued below the 39 year average for valuation in oil, as well as in gold.
Looking at another commodity, copper, we get the chart below. There are marked similarities between the shape of the charts for the price of a house in gold and in copper.
Click to enlarge
We see a different story when looking at an agricultural commodity, like corn. The price of a house in bushels of corn has had a clear up trend since 1970, with the support line shown in red in the graph below. The price of a house in corn has not yet reached the support line. The chart for the value of a house measured in bushels of corn has a strong resemblance to the chart of house prices in dollars.
Click to enlarge
These charts are interesting curiosities. It is not clear what significance they have besides being another indication of the decline in the value of the dollar with respect to natural resources. In a facetious vein, one might observe that oilmen and miners are in a better position to buy a house than salaried/hourly workers or farmers.