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Monday, June 11, 2012
Standard & Poors released its March 2012 Case-Shiller Index last week. The index is meant to measure changes in home prices from month-to-month, and from year-to-year, in select U.S. cities.
According to the report, home values rose in 12 of the Case-Shiller Index’s 20 tracked markets, and one market remained unchanged.
Of the Case-Shiller markets, Phoenix, Arizona posted the largest one-year gain, climbing 6.1 percent. Atlanta, Georgia posted the largest one-year loss. Values falling more than seventeen percent there year-over-year.
Overall, the Case-Shiller Index was relatively unchanged in March as compared to the month prior, but down nearly 3 percent on an annual basis. Nationwide, says Standard & Poor’s, home values are back to the levels of late-2002.
Don’t be overly concerned, however. Though widely-cited, the Case-Shiller Index is a flawed and misleading metric. It’s methodology almost guarantees it.
The first flaw in the Case-Shiller Index is its limited geography. Despite there being more than 3,100 municipalities nationwide, the Case-Shiller Index tracks just 20 of them. They’re not the 20 largest ones, either. Houston, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Jose are specifically excluded from the Case-Shiller Index and each is among the Top 10 Most Populous Cities in the United States.
Minneapolis (#48) and Tampa (#55), by contrast, are included.
The Case-Shiller Index’s second flaw is that only tracks the sales of single-family, detached homes. Sales of condominiums and multi-unit homes carry no weight in the index whatsoever — even in cities such as Chicago and New York in which condos can account for a large percentage of the overall real estate market.
And, lastly, when the Case-Shiller Index is published, it’s published on a two-month delay. Buyers and sellers in Metro Atlanta don’t need housing data from two months ago — they need data from today. The Case-Shiller Index tells us what housing was, in other words. It doesn’t tell us how housing is.
Buyers and sellers need real-time, actionable information. You can’t get that from the flawed Case-Shiller Index. For more accurate, relevant real estate data, talk to your real estate professional instead.
For more information about the Atlanta area real estate market, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 404.918.2500.