Whenever you are getting ready to buy or sell a residence, taking the temperature of the local housing market is part of how you prepare to engage. When town real estate prices are on the rise, bargain hunters know they’ll have to scramble. When town real estate prices are flat or on the downturn, spotting good value in the local listings is easier. A slow market means that those sellers who are impatient to move on will be willing to reduce their asking price. They will tend to “find the market” more quickly, rather than waiting it out.
Our local real estate prices are seldom in exact lockstep with the national market—but when it moves, the impact is felt sooner or later. Of all the national barometers that are out there, the pre-eminent one is the research done by under the Case-Shiller banner.
At the end of last month, the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index again confirmed the uptrend we’ve been seeing for nearly 3 years now. No surprise there: nationally, residential real estate prices continued to rise at the moderate clip that we’ve grown accustomed to. The only standouts were in the 20-City Composite (the single month rise of .5% was the largest increase since July) and in Denver and Dallas—both of which have now actually surpassed the peaks registered at the height of the real estate price bubble (which might have Coloradans and Texans wondering if it was a bubble at all)…
But what was unusually interesting were some observations published at the end of the Case-Shiller report, in the Analysis section. It noted that the data marked the 34th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains, and that home real estate prices “continue to rise and outpace both inflation and wage gains.” It pointed out that, nationally, average residential real estate prices are within 10% of the “housing boom peak.” And then it came up with an insight that puts things in perspective in a way that hasn’t appeared elsewhere. This by S&P Dow Jones Index Chairman David Bitzer:
“A better sense of where home prices are can be seen by starting in January 2000, before the housing boom accelerated…”
Looking at inflation-adjusted numbers, the latest U.S. real estate prices as registered in the Index rose just a touch under 30% from January 2000 to February 2015. In other words, when you remove the whole statistical bulge—the “bubble” phenomenon—out of the picture, residential real estate prices have risen at an annual 1.7% rate. That’s real appreciation, adjusted for inflation. Slow—but “steady as she goes!”…and for the past three years or so, it’s more than doubled that long-term gain.
Area homeowners whose stress levels went up and down with the extreme price rise and fall would have been a lot more comfortable had they just snoozed through the whole affair, confident that the long-term history of real estate demonstrates, as the name implies, just about the most ‘real’ investment you can make.
When you get ready to take a look at the residential market, I hope you will want to give me the first call. I’ll share the latest up-to-the-minute info on area real estate prices and activity that will put everything into meaningful perspective!