US housing double-dip, continued, again | FT Alphaville

US housing double-dip, continued, again

Ouch, nearly everywhere.

The Case-Shiller house price numbers are out for December — and as always, they show a three monthly average (in this case for October, November and December) with a two month lag.

From the release (emphasis ours):

New York, February 22, 2011 – Data through December 2010, released today by Standard & Poor’s for its S&P/Case-Shiller1 Home Price Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices, show that the U.S. National Home Price Index declined by 3.9% during the fourth quarter of 2010.

The National Index is down 4.1% versus the fourth quarter of 2009, which is the lowest annual growth rate since the third quarter of 2009, when prices were falling at an 8.6% annual rate. As of December 2010, 18 of the 20 MSAs covered by S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and both monthly composites were down compared to December 2009.

The summary graph below shows the year-on-year changes for its three main indices: the Q4 quarterly national house price index and 10 and 20-city composites.

Calculated Risk notes that the closely watched Composite 20 is now “only 0.8% above the May 2009 post-bubble bottom and will probably be at a new post-bubble low in January.”

So, the trend is worsening again and this is the case across nearly all the cities that the indices track. From S&P:

“The 10- and 20-City Composite indices remain above their spring 2009 lows; however, 11 markets –Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Phoenix, Portland (OR), Seattle and Tampa – hit their lowest levels since home prices peaked in 2006 and 2007. We have seen more markets hit new lows in each of the past three months.”

“Looking deeper into the monthly data, 19 MSAs and both Composites were down in December over November. The only one which wasn’t was Washington DC, up 0.3%. With December 2010 index levels of 99.73 and 99.48, respectively, Cleveland and Las Vegas have the dubious distinction of average home prices now below their January 2000 levels. Detroit was the only market that was in that group prior to December”

For those looking for scraps of optimism, it’s worth noting that much of the month-on-month drop in the national index seems to reflect seasonally weak housing demand; the seasonally adjusted index was down about 0.4 per cent.

And, there is the ebullient consumer confidence numbers, which on Monday reached their highest since February 2008. From Reuters:

The Conference Board, an industry group, said its index of consumer attitudes rose to 70.4 in February from a revised 64.8 in January. It was the highest level since February 2008.

The median of forecasts from analysts polled by Reuters was for a reading of 65. Forecasts ranged from 60 to 70.

But, don’t bother looking too far for similar sentiment in the housing market, as a swift comment from Nomura explains:

Although the price index is still above (by about 2.2%) the April 2009 low, it has yet to show any convincing trend of improvement. With the full benefit of hindsight, it now looks as though the bounce up to the July 2010 high was mainly the consequence of the home-buyers’ tax credit rather than a definitive end of price softness. The picture looks no better from the perspective of individual cities as 3 of the cities in 10-city composite and seven of the next 10 cities hit new lows . Overall, there’s not much in this report to support hopes that a definitive revival of housing demand is near at hand.

Still, at least we can rely on the quality of US housing data — oh, wait.

Related links:
US housing double-dip, continued – FT Alphaville
The end of the US home ownership “dream” – FT Alphaville