by Bill McBride on 11/27/2012
Case-Shiller, CoreLogic and others report nominal house prices, and it is also useful to look at house prices in real terms (adjusted for inflation) and as a price-to-rent ratio.
As an example, if a house price was $200,000 in January 2000, the price would be close to $275,000 today adjusted for inflation.
For the Case-Shiller National index, real prices declined slightly in Q3, and are up 1.7% year-over-year. The nominal Case-Shiller National index is up 3.6% year-over-year.
Real prices, and the price-to-rent ratio, are back to late 1999 to 2000 levels depending on the index.
Nominal House Prices
The first graph shows the quarterly Case-Shiller National Index SA (through Q3 2012), and the monthly Case-Shiller Composite 20 SA and CoreLogic House Price Indexes (through September) in nominal terms as reported.
In nominal terms, the Case-Shiller National index (SA) is back to Q1 2003 levels (and also back up to Q3 2010), and the Case-Shiller Composite 20 Index (SA) is back to August 2003 levels, and the CoreLogic index (NSA) is back to December 2003.
Real House Prices
In real terms, the National index is back to mid-1999 levels, the Composite 20 index is back to June 2000, and the CoreLogic index back to February 2001.
In real terms, most of the appreciation in the last decade is gone.
In October 2004, Fed economist John Krainer and researcher Chishen Wei wrote a Fed letter on price to rent ratios: House Prices and Fundamental Value. Kainer and Wei presented a price-to-rent ratio using the OFHEO house price index and the Owners’ Equivalent Rent (OER) from the BLS.
This graph shows the price to rent ratio (January 1998 = 1.0).
On a price-to-rent basis, the Case-Shiller National index is back to Q3 1999 levels, the Composite 20 index is back to July 2000 levels, and the CoreLogic index is back to February 2001.
In real terms – and as a price-to-rent ratio – prices are mostly back to 1999 or early 2000 levels.
I think nominal house prices have bottomed, but I expect real prices to mostly move sideways for the next year or two.