If even one of the sales and price reports that are released were accurate, the world would be a better place. The best that can be said about them, whether from the federal government or the National Association of Realtors, is they might possibly be useful in perceiving trends.
Case-Shiller has problems for anyone living in the heart of a city. Its reports cover whole metropolitan regions; for example, the New York figures cover Manhattan, Queens, Westchester and suburban New Jersey, which couldn’t be more disparate. Moreover, the indices unapologetically ignore the sale of apartments.
Yesterday, the S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index posted an 8.9 percent decline in the third quarter versus the third quarter last year. It was, the company said, a “marked improvement” over the 14.7 percent decline in the annual rate of return in the second quarter of 2009 and the 19.0 percent drop in the first quarter.
But the New York Times noted today that the housing recovery’s momentum was slowing.
The 10-City and 20-City Composites recorded annual declines of 8.5 percent and 9.4 percent, respectively. Both indices have generally seen improvements every month since the beginning of the year.
As of the third quarter of 2009, average home prices across the United States were at levels similar to autumn of 2003, according to Case-Shiller.
Nineteen of the 20 metro areas saw improvement in their annual returns compared with the previous month, Cleveland being the only exception. San Francisco and D.C. have had six consecutive months of positive returns. Chicago, Minneapolis San Diego were positive for five consecutive months.
In addition, nine of the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) reported positive monthly returns for September, and four of those – Chicago, Detroit Minneapolis and San Francisco – were greater than 1.0 percent. Las Vegas remains the most depressed market, and while Detroit has inched up, the market still is at only 73 percent of its 2000 value.
By comparison, Los Angeles, New York and Washington have maintained values of 70-80 percent above their 2000 averages. The New York metro region figures stayed somewhat steady month-over-month, according to the report, with its September index score of 174.38 showing a 0.3 percent decline over August.
Since you’re doubtless hanging onto his every insight, here’s what David M. Blitzer, chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s, opined:
“We have seen broad improvement in home prices for most of the past six months. However, the gains in the most recent month are more modest than during the seasonally strong summer months.
“Fewer cities saw month to month improvements in September than in August in both seasonally adjusted and unadjusted figures. Nationally, the U.S. National Composite rose by 3.1 percent in both the 2nd and 3rd quarters of 2009. Both the 10-City and 20-City Composites posted their fifth consecutive monthly increase with September’s report.
“Earlier some analysts voiced concern that the end of the first-time home buyer program would result in a drop in activity. While housing starts did slip in October, the federal government recently extended and expanded the first-time homebuyer tax credit.”
If you’re anything like me, you may want to take your salt one grain at a time.
Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022