Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Portland Housing Market: Case-Shiller January

Last week I posted on some interesting data from the OFHEO. That data showed a modest gain in January home values. Today the Case-Shiller numbers came out for January and they show a steep decline. Here is the graph for Portland, Seattle and the 20 city composite:

What explains the discrepancy? Well, the OFHEO numbers could just be an error (they are preliminary and are subject to revision), or a statistical anomaly from the fairly low home sales in January, but it could also reflect the key differences in the two indices. The CS data are for 20 major metropolitan areas and include all houses of any price. The OFHEO is for both urban and rural areas and include only houses with conforming loans. So if it is expensive houses and urban areas that are driving the downturn in average home values in the US, this could different numbers in the two indices. But these are so different, I suspect the OFHEO data is an aberration.

These are for January and what will be key is to see how home values are responding to the current fed programs and low mortgage rates. What will the March through June numbers look like in other words? Given the dismal employment picture I am not too optimistic

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