Home prices go negative for first time in 11 years
Case-Shiller price index shows prices falling in 17 of 20 cities in January
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — U.S. home prices continued to fall in January, with prices in 10 major cities now down 0.7% year-over-year, according to Standard & Poor’s and MacroMarkets LLC, which released the January Case-Shiller price indexes on Tuesday.
The 10-city index is down 0.7% in the past year, the first year-over-year negative reading since 1996. The 20-city index is down 0.2% year-over-year. A year ago, prices were rising 15%.
“The annual declines in the composites are a good indicator of the dire state of the U.S. residential real estate market,” said Robert J. Shiller, chief economist at MacroMarkets, in a statement.
Of course, since you already know how special Seattle is, you obviously know it was one of the three cities in which prices are not presently falling. But the picture isn’t quite as rosy as you might think…
Home prices fell from December to January in 17 of the 20 cities; only Miami showed any price gains. Prices were flat in Charlotte, N.C., and Seattle. Prices were falling fastest in January in San Diego, down 1.7%, or a 22.4% annual rate. Prices dropped 1.1% in Los Angeles, or a 14% annual rate.
The 10-city index was down 0.8% in January, or an annual rate of 10%. The 20-city index was down 0.7% in January, or an 8.7% annual rate.
Eleven of the 20 cities had negative price appreciation in the past year, led by Detroit (down 6.9%) and Boston (down 5.6%). The biggest increases were in Seattle (up 11.1%) and Portland, Ore. (up 8.7%).
Prices have now retreated year-over-year in some of the regions that had the biggest price gains in 2004 and 2005. Phoenix is down 0.7% year-over-year. San Francisco is down 1.4%. Washington is down 3.9%.
I am reminded of an image that was circulating a while back. It was a photograph of a roller coaster just as the cars crested the peak and began the ride down. The various cars were labeled as different cities around the country, with San Diego in front (beginning to head down quickly), Phoenix in the middle (just starting a downward trend), and Seattle in the back (just “leveling off”).
To me, it only makes sense that the cities that began the ridiculous run-up first (San Diego, Phoenix, etc.) will be the first to head down. Conversely, cities that were late to the wild appreciation party (Seattle, Portland, etc.) will be the last to experience price declines. But why bother with “logic” and “reason” when you can put your blind faith in the mystic power of “job growth” and undefined “fundamentals.” 11.1% forever!
(Rex Nutting, MarketWatch, 03.27.2007)