Case-Shiller Report Shows Home Prices Have Not Stopped Falling

by: Tim Plaehn

The May housing price report from S&P/Case-Shiller covers home price changes for March 2012 and the first quarter of 2012. According to the data from this month's report, U.S. home prices had not yet found a bottom, but were getting close. Some of the financial market headlines have focused on one data point showing no change from February to March. However, although the rate of decline is slowing, at least through March U.S. home prices continued to decline.

Here are the Case-Shiller Index Changes for the month, year-over-year and quarterly:

  • 10-City Composite: March over February: -0.1%
  • 10-City Composite: March 2012 over March 2011: -2.8%
  • 20-City Composite: March over February: 0.0% - no change
  • 20-City Composite March 2012 over March 2011: -2.6%
  • U.S. National Index: Q1 2012 over Q4 2011:

The report notes that the 20-City index value is now back to late 2002 levels and the 10-City value is at early 2003 levels.

The positive point to the Case-Shiller data is the report uses same house values for the comparison over time. One negative is the one month lag, and this time it seems that month may be important. The April 2012 housing sales figures were very strong. The National Association of Realtors reported the median home sales price increased by 10.1% in April 2012 compared to April 2011. To compare March to March values on the home sales front, the median price was up 3.1% compared to March 2011.

It will be interesting to see what the April numbers from Case-Shiller show when they are reported at the end of June. If April does show a price upturn and the gains can be built upon for several months, it may turn out that March 2012 was the long-awaited bottom for U.S. home prices. However, no one should jump onto that idea as a fact until it has been confirmed by several months of upward price trends.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.