Case-Shiller Tiers: Synchronized Dropping

Let’s check out the three price tiers for the Seattle area, as measured by Case-Shiller. Remember, Case-Shiller’s “Seattle” data is based on single-family home repeat sales in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.

First up is the straight graph of the index from January 2000 through August 2008.

Case-Shiller Tiered Index - Seattle
Click to enlarge

Price drops continued in August at roughly the same pace for all three tiers. The low tier and mid tiers are still rewound to May 2006 with the high tier at June 2006 levels. The middle tier took the biggest hit in August, falling just under two points, or 1.1% in one month.

Here’s a chart of the year-over-year change in the index from August 2002 through August 2008.

Case-Shiller HPI - YOY Change in Seattle Tiers
Click to enlarge

The low tier continues to take the biggest year-over-year hit, with declines reaching almost ten percent in August. Here’s where the tiers sit YOY as of August – Low: -9.7%, Med: -8.9%, Hi: -8.4%.

Lastly, here’s a decline-from-peak graph like the one posted yesterday, but looking only at the Seattle tiers.

Case-Shiller: Decline from Peak - Seattle Tiers
Click to enlarge

After the low tier bounced down further than the other two tiers in post-peak months nine through eleven, everything has fallen back into roughly the same territory. The low tier still has the largest overall drop for every post-peak month since number nine. As predicted last month, the low tier has now lost over 10% from the peak.

(Home Price Indices, Standard & Poor’s, 10.28.2008)

About The Tim

Tim Ellis is the founder of Seattle Bubble. His background in engineering and computer / internet technology, a fondness of data-based analysis of problems, and an addiction to spreadsheets all influence his perspective on the Seattle-area real estate market.


  1. 1
    Teacher_Greg says:

    I guess except for The Tim, Seattle Bubble likes to sleep in. Perhaps you are all too busy watching CNBC or something. Is it correct to view the bottom tier as a leading indicator due to people attempting to “move up” yadda yadda yadda. Or is it more of a regional phenomona whereby lower tier houses tend to be clustered outside the city or in lower economic status neighborhoods so they are harder hit.

    On another note, just a public shout out to Seattle Bubble for saving (and making) me untold amounts of money in this once in a lifetime housing event. This blog and the people who comment here have been consistently ahead of “the professionals” at every step of the way. As another aside, do you think most of the talking heads actual believe what they are saying/writing or is it just part of their job?

  2. 2
    LeftOverpricedSeattle says:

    I think most talking heads are too busy drinking their own kool-aid to really see what’s happening. It’s like the “It can’t happen here” mantra proclaimed by those who are refusing to see the handwriting on the wall.

  3. 3
    Buceri says:

    As another aside, do you think most of the talking heads actual believe what they are saying/writing or is it just part of their job?

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Upton Sinclair

  4. 4
    casey1167 says:

    Is the (historical) information available to put average rental rates using Jan 00 as 100?

  5. 5

    The Tim,

    Can you provide a link to, or describe for me, what constitutes the parameters for the tiers? If it is sold price, what are the price breaks from tier to tier?

  6. 6
    The Tim says:


    From the methodology pdf:

    For the purpose of constructing the three tier indices, price breakpoints between low-tier and middle-tier properties and price breakpoints between middle-tier and upper-tier properties are computed using all sales for each period, so that there are the same number of sales, after accounting for exclusions, in each of the three tiers. The breakpoints are smoothed through time to eliminate seasonal and other transient variation. Each repeat sale pair is then allocated to one of the three tiers depending on first sale price, resulting in a repeat sales pairs data set divided into thirds.

  7. 7
    Kevin says:

    wall street journal has “Economists Predict Home Prices Will Bottom Next Year”

  8. 8
    Thomas B. says:

    I believe Seattle is far from the bottom. Prices still don’t make sense. People are still listing properties at unsustainable prices.


    Condos going for the high $200Ks is not a reasonable price. In 2004, this condo sold for $190K, which is more reasonable. If people would just list at prices close to the 2004 numbers, then I think people will start buying. With banks now having higher credit requirements, the recession, and the upcoming mortgage reform, the pool of people willing and able to buy has shrunk and will continue to shrink. I think it would be in the best interest of sellers and realtors to accept the fact that the pool of buyers has permanently shrunk and price accordingly.

  9. 9
    The Tim says:

    Recession? What are you talking about, Thomas B.? Didn’t you hear, Bernanke and friends cut rates to 1% today, saving us from recession. Crisis averted.

    I know its true because I read it in the news: Fed Cuts Rate to 1% to Avert Prolonged Recession

  10. 10
  11. 11
    jonness says:


    Your House Prices graph shows the U.S. correcting dramatically faster than Japan and having ran up a lot higher. However, if you look at the 6 largest cities in Japan, you’ll notice they ran up and corrected at a rate more similar to the U.S. This makes me wonder if we are not in line for a little faster correction initially with the overall trend still remaining down for many years to come?

    Japan Bubble

    One thing I do notice is the higher the prices get out of whack, the faster they correct.

  12. 12
    On a clear day you can see the bottom says:

    I’m just curious, but are the tiers syncronyzed in other cities? I don’t know what it means either way, but it might be illuminating.

  13. 13
    Buceri says:

    Recession? What are you talking about, Thomas B.? Didn’t you hear, Bernanke and friends cut rates to 1% today, saving us from recession. Crisis averted.

    Yeap, nothing better to tackle smoking, than to make cigarettes cheaper.

  14. 14
    deejayoh says:


    Joness –
    I like your chart of the Japanese housing a bit better. The Economist version uses land prices, not housing – which is not totally representative. I pulled it more for the interest rate policy comparison than for the housing comparison.

    If you have the data underneath that “6 largest cities” line it would be interesting to make our own comparative version

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