Property Values Continue to Increase…But the Numbers Are Tricky

Today it was reported that the Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller Index rose 0.3 percent in January from December, seasonally adjusted.  This marks the index’s eighth consecutive monthly increase.

But the news was not all good.  Seasonal adjustment of data lifts the numbers in the winter months, when the number of home sales is usually much less than the rest of the year. On an unadjusted basis, the index actually fell 0.4 percent in January from December.

Increases in the number of house sales, and housing prices, were a result of homeowners attempting to close before the government’s $8,000 tax credit was scheduled to end Nov. 30. Though Congress extended the credit until April 30, it apparently did so too late, and the number of homes sold in the period after November 30 decreased markedly.

When taken with other housing indexes, the Case-Shiller Index’s numbers are not as comforting.  The First American CoreLogic Home Price Index dropped 1.9 percent in January, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s index dropped 0.6 percent in January.

Twelve of the cities in the Case-Shiller index went up in January from December. Los Angeles was the biggest gainer, up 1.7 percent. Chicago was the biggest loser, dropping 0.8 percent.

Want to know the best and worst cities in which to have owned real estate over the century’s first decade?  They are as follows:

The three best cities: Los Angeles, New York and Washington. All are more than 70 percent above their level in January 2000.

The worst-performing: Detroit, which is 28 percent below its January 2000 mark.  Michigan, in general, was not great place to buy a home. 

For more information, check out U.S. Home Prices Inch Up, But Worries Remain, and Case-Shiller Index Shows House Prices Rising 0.3 Percent.