Case-Shiller: Seattle Home Prices Hit New Post-Peak Low

Let’s have a look at the latest data from the Case-Shiller Home Price Index. According to November data, Seattle-area home prices were:

Down 1.2% October to November.
Down 6.3% YOY.
Down 31.0% from the July 2007 peak

Last year prices fell 1.1% from October to November and year-over-year prices were down 4.7%.

No big surprise here. Expect continued declines through the fall and winter months at least.

Here’s an interactive graph of the year-over-year change for all twenty Case-Shiller-tracked cities, courtesy of Tableau Software (check and un-check the boxes on the right):

Yet again, DC and Detroit are the only two cities in YOY positive territory in the latest update. Meanwhile, every city but Phoenix saw a month-to-month decline in November.

Case-Shiller HPI: Month-to-Month

Seattle came in near the middle of the stack in month to month losses, while Chicago supplanted Atlanta for the biggest loss.

Hit the jump for the rest of our monthly Case-Shiller charts, including the interactive chart of raw index data for all 20 cities.

In November, seventeen of the twenty Case-Shiller-tracked cities experienced smaller year-over-year drops (or saw increases) than Seattle:

  • Detroit at +3.8%
  • Washington, DC at +0.5%
  • Denver at -0.2%
  • Dallas at -0.8%
  • Cleveland at -1.1%
  • Boston at -1.6%
  • Charlotte at -1.9%
  • New York at -2.3%
  • Phoenix at -3.6%
  • Miami at -4.4%
  • Portland at -4.8%
  • Minneapolis at -5.0%
  • San Diego at -5.4%
  • Los Angeles at -5.4%
  • San Francisco at -5.5%
  • Chicago at -5.9%
  • Tampa at -6.1%

Just two cities were falling faster than Seattle as of November: Las Vegas and Atlanta.

Here’s the interactive chart of the raw HPI for all twenty cities through November.

Here’s an update to the peak-decline graph, inspired by a graph created by reader CrystalBall. This chart takes the twelve cities whose peak index was greater than 175, and tracks how far they have fallen so far from their peak. The horizontal axis shows the total number of months since each individual city peaked.

Case-Shiller HPI: Decline From Peak

In the fifty-two months since the price peak in Seattle prices have declined 31.0%, a bit lower than last month, and a new post-peak low.

For posterity, here’s our offset graph—the same graph we post every month—with L.A. & San Diego time-shifted from Seattle & Portland by 17 months. All four cities dropped this month. Year-over-year, Portland came in at -4.8%, Los Angeles at -5.4%, and San Diego at -5.4%.

I think this graph is still worth posting if only to display how the government’s massive intervention in the market screwed with the natural flow, causing all the markets to rise simultaneously, and once the artificial support was removed, to come crashing back down to reality simultaneously.

Case-Shiller HPI: West Coast

Note: This graph is not intended to be predictive. It is for entertainment purposes only.

Check back tomorrow for a post on the Case-Shiller data for Seattle’s price tiers.

(Home Price Indices, Standard & Poor’s, 01.31.2012)

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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. Tim also hosts the weekly improv comedy sci-fi podcast Dispatches from the Multiverse.


  1. 1

    If My Home Equity is My Retirement Savings

    Tim’s charts convinced me to sell the da_n thing and invest in 0.5% Money Markets instead or better yet, put a big red cross over “retirement planning”, as its all a moot point now.

  2. 2
    The Other Ben says:

    “Note: This graph is not intended to be predictive. It is for entertainment purposes only.”

    I think it’s time to put her down, Tim. She’s been suffering too much for too long. It’s the right thing to do.

  3. 3
    Ray Pepper says:

    I find this news appalling!….someone must put a STOP to this. Tim…………..please do something because I smell something bad in the kitchen and its NOT my leftover Famous Daves.

  4. 4
    Chris says:

    RE: The Other Ben @ 2
    I think the months from peak is still pretty interesting. For me it balances out the steroid effect of massive subprime loans in places like Miami, Las Vegas and Phoenix.

  5. 5
    Chris says:

    “I think this graph is still worth posting if only to display how the government’s massive intervention in the market screwed with the natural flow, causing all the markets to rise simultaneously, and once the artificial support was removed, to come crashing back down to reality simultaneously.”

    Agreed but the government stimulus is still in the market. They just stopped the crazy tax incentives the NAR pushed. If the government stopped backing this whole thing with the full credit of the US government, real estate would have a massive reset. Beyond the Fannie, Freddie bail outs and buying toxic mortgages at crazy high prices, the FHA may be undercapitalized by over $50 billion.

  6. 6
    Mel Torme says:

    RE: Chris @ 4 – To What-Me-Worry?: I first thought that’s what The Other Ben meant, but now I get the joke. It’s like a chart of kidney function or something in a 16-year old cat. “It’s time to put her down.” means put her out of her misery (the cat or the US economy, not the graph itself.). I really like seeing the same format graphs month after month.

    I notice that the Total Decline from Peak charts have had to be modified at the bottom on occasion to accomodate Las Vegas, a nice gesture on the Tim’s part (though an engineer would start the y-axis at zero if he did not want to be laughed at).

    I probably shouldn’t make remarks about the dumbasses who bought a $325,000 house in Vegas that is now worth abour $125,000. After all, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, hehe. Yeah, baby, be a player! /T-Savalas

  7. 7

    What’s the deal with Boston? It’s almost like they weren’t affected by the Great Recession, because most of their decline is before then. It’s also relatively slight overall.

    I can understand DC, since it’s based primarily on federal government employment. But what drives Boston?

  8. 8

    RE: Chris @ 4 – He’s talking about the last graph–the one with the 18 month setoff to San Diego.

  9. 9

    By Mel Torme @ 6:

    I notice that the Total Decline from Peak charts have had to be modified at the bottom on occasion to accomodate Las Vegas, a nice gesture on the Tim’s part (though an engineer would start the y-axis at zero if he did not want to be laughed at).

    What do you think about this graph?

    This might explain it some.

  10. 10
    m-s says:

    RE #7:

    Think Boston was unscathed? Look at other cities that didn’t get to >175, eg. Dallas & Denver, that aren’t on that graph!

  11. 11

    RE: m-s @ 10 – Those can be explained for the same, but opposite reason as Las Vegas. They didn’t go up, so they didn’t fall either. If something doubles in 2-3 years, you expect it to fall. Boston did go up, but not dramatically like the bubble cities.

    Also, we’ve mentioned the high taxes in Texas keeping prices low. Maybe Colorado is the same?

    (As an aside, taxes and Texas have the same letters, but in different order–obviously. What is that called when that happens?)

  12. 12
    theref says:


  13. 13
    SummitSeeker says:

    RE: theref @ 12 – I think you mean anagram. I know ’cause National Treasure was on teevee the other night. Who sais tv makes u dummmB!

  14. 14

    RE: SummitSeeker @ 13RE: theref @ 12 – I need a way to take back my thank you thumbs up on #12. :-D

  15. 15
    Mel Torme says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 9 – Kary, I think that’s a perfect example of why a real engineer would start the y-axis at zero. Let me explain:

    Even though, yes, the y-axis is labeled correctly and all, it went from the high 60’s to the mid-70’s (I don’t have it open right now, but I just took a quick glance to understand your point). So, the amount of difference between graphs is greatly exaggerated when the graph is looked at, at least in the beginning. A graph is a picture of the data, if you will. The picture in your graph is grossly misleading, as almost anyone’s interpretation is always that a curve that (at a certain x-value) is twice as high, on paper or the computer screen or whatever, as another graph, or twice as high as itself at a different x-value, is twice as large a number.

    Yes, I know that the y-axis is labeled, but it still does not dispel that impression. It is worse for the case of the general public, especially the news people, who know dick-all about numbers. If they even get around to reading the y-axis, they still are too innumerate to know that one curve is only 5 % higher than the other, or 5 % higher than it is at a different x-“place”. If they knew how to pull out a calculator or pull it up in windows, I’m not sure the average gov’t skooled person would be able to make the calculation. OK, sorry, that was mean; in Seattle, everyone can do percentages and good real estate deals.

    However, even though I know better, along with many others, I still have to picture where the 0 value for y is on every graph like this to understand fully the relative magnitudes of two curves or the overall changes in one. I picture where the zero is by extrapolating down – I shouldn’t have to do this.

    I will add reasons and exceptions about this in another post.

  16. 16
    Mel Torme says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 9 – OK, Kary, 2nd part here,

    1) When plotting temperatures in F or C, the “0” value doesn’t mean too much physically (yes, I know it’s the freezing point of water in C, but so what). I don’t see a reason to start the y-axis anywhere in particular unless it is -273 C or -459 F, as this is absolute zero, meaning no internal energy.

    2) If the first graph is done correctly, as in the y-axis starts at 0, then I could definitely see the addition of a 2nd, close-up, graph to show a picture of small changes, such at the ones in the sample graph from your link, Kary. That’d be fine.

    Reasons people don’t do this right:

    1) Computers. Yeah, the spreadsheet programs and all the other computer graphing methods that followed all will nicely make limits for x and y that fit around your data. One can tell when someone does this if you notice really un-round numbers on the tick marks. Even if he makes the tick-marks good round numbers, as Tim does, these programs will do auto scaling. One would have to do a few more clicks to get the y-axis start point at 0. Clicking is hard (says Barbie).

    2) People want to exaggerate the y-scale of a graph to make a point. Most times, I doubt they intend to deceive, and other times I think that is the goal.

    And, that’s all I got to say about they-at. /Gump

    PS, I’m not trying to rag on the graphs. I wrote earlier today that I like to see these done the same way. I see this so many times that I’m used to it, but it ain’t right.

  17. 17
    Mel Torme says:

    RE: theref @ 12 – Nope, a palindrome is a word or sentence that reads the same backwards and forwards:

    “A man, a plan, Panama” OK don’t worry about case and the commas. No, that doesn’t work – I think that was the Michael Scott messed up version. Anyone?

    I think this Texas, taxes thing is called your boss not giving you enough challenging work to do.

  18. 18
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Chris @ 5 – Timmy says the USG still stands behind the TBTF’s which are even bigger.

  19. 19
    Blurtman says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 7 – Biotech, universities, and good restaurants.

  20. 20

    RE: Mel Torme @ 16 – The other thing about that graph is it doesn’t label the Y axis at all, so you don’t know what time period is covered. Also, the article is addressing owner occupancy, tenancy and vacant units, but there’s no plotting of the vacant units.

    What would have been better would have been all three plotted as a percentage (e.g. 70% were owner occupied, 25% tenant and 5% vacant in January 2007).

  21. 21
    Mel Torme says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 20RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 9

    They labeled the y-axis but not the x-axis.

    Yeah, plot the percentages, just start the y-axis at 0-percent. That’s all I ask, people.

  22. 22

    RE: Mel Torme @ 21 – Sorry, I said the wrong axis. They should label those things! ;-)

  23. 23
    Jonness says:

    I hate to say it, but I completely predicted we’d see a new low this winter. But that much should have been obvious. So why were all the bulls claiming the previous low was the bottom?

    Lesson 1: Forget about the bogus RE and economic-related claims coming from every single human being who got this wrong. These people don’t know what they are doing.

  24. 24
    whatsmyname says:

    Here’s a fun game. Find the interactive Case Schiller Data (raw HPI) chart.
    Take out LA, Portland, San Diego and Seattle.
    Now put in Cleveland, Charlotte, Dallas, and Detroit.

    Now compare the notoriously stingy (sans food and oil) CPI numbers since 2000
    Here’s a chart -(you have to scroll down a tiny bit)

    January 2007 calcs to about 120% of Jan 2000; December 2011 is about 131% of December 2007. These cities have declined way below CPI, but where’s the bubble?

  25. 25
    Tatiana Kalashnikov says:

    RE: m-s @ 10

    I have read that it is very difficult to get a 2nd mortgage in Texas because of their laws. As a consequence, they didn’t have the out of Contro borrowing that we saw in the West.

  26. 26
    Ray Pepper says:

    WOW!!!!!! Tatiana..may I be the first to say..Welcome to the Bubble!

  27. 27
    Jonness says:

    By Ray Pepper @ 26:

    WOW!!!!!! Tatiana..may I be the first to say..Welcome to the Bubble!

    Don’t be fooled by the avatar. Here’s what she really looks like:

  28. 28
    Chuck C says:

    Ugh, thanks for ruining my evening Jonness!!!

  29. 29
    m-s says:

    RE: Tatiana Kalashnikov @ 25
    Sigh, pay no attention to those mouth-breathing knuckle-draggers ;) I’ve said before that the TX constitution does not generally allow equity extraction/ 2nds unless you maintain 15-20% or so equity, or something like that.
    Gentlemen, would you really like to mess with a person that has the AK-47’s inventor’s last name? ;) ;)

  30. 30

    RE: m-s @ 29 – That’s a very odd constitutional provision. It affects individuals in financial dealings, not government.

  31. 31
    Mel Torme says:

    RE: m-s @ 29 – That depends on what you mean by “mess with”.

  32. 32
    m-s says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 30
    Yeah, TX constitution has about 200 amendments…
    It was, so I’m told, enacted during the Depression when poor farmers in the Dust Bowl were being foreclosed on by those nasty damYankee New York conniving slick bankers (the more things change…)

  33. 33

    RE: m-s @ 32 – A lot of Washington’s case law on creditor debtor issues are out of the 30s. I was just wondering if we’re going to see that again because there were at least two appellate cases last year dealing with the priority of judgment liens.

  34. 34
    m-s says:

    RE: Kary L. Krismer @ 33
    Reminds me of a quote –
    James Farley, Postmaster under FDR, said in 1936, “There are 47 states in the Union, and the Soviet of Washington.”

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