Tag Archives: Real estate pricing

NRR: Lumber, log prices up. Home recovery expected to rise for next 3 years

Lumber, log prices up. Home recovery expected to rise for next 3 years

 

December 23, 2013

Timber Industry Report
By Rick Sohn PhD.
Umpqua Coquille LLC

Mills are competing for logs and prices are rising. This month is good for homebuyers, including a slight drop in Median Home values and a big drop in interest rates. Seven-year trend of lumber, logs, housing, and mortgage statistics are shown below.

chart-duy-dec13

Interpretation

Lumber and logs are both in nice rising price trends. Logs are climbing into a winter price range as mills compete for a limited supply to fill inventory. Economists say we are in a recovering housing market that could last another 3 years anyway. Expect to see continued strength in lumber and logs through the winter and beyond, with seasonal dips.

Building Permits were reported up to a record high level for the year, and as the media likes to say, finally recovering to the 2008 levels. That is NOT saying much. You will hear comparisons to 2008 a lot, since it was such a volatile, falling year. The 2008 high was 1.2 million permits and the low was 554,000. We will have made some real progress when housing and other stats are compared to 2007, or better yet, 2006.

The weekly average for 30-year fixed rate mortgages is bouncing around. It was at 4.57 the week of Sept 13, but dipped as low as 4.10, in the first week of November, and now is at 4.22. It is bouncing around these low levels.

At the same time, the Zillow report shows clearly that median home prices have plateau’ed and have started to dip slightly. The high for this cycle was August’s $163,000 national median. This mirrors the data for Portland from the Regional Multiple Listing Service data which also shows a home price drop, and reduced inventory of homes for sale, which fits the season. This is all very favorable for homebuyers.

In speaking with one local producer who sells into the European Clears market, recovery in that market has yet to occur. This coincides with the generally lackluster European economy, which is has worldwide impacts.

For the second month in a row, Housing Starts are not reported, due to the Government Shutdown. Data “Does not meet Production Standards.” According to the US Dept of Commerce, the results for September, October and November will be reported on Dec 18 – lets hope for a pleasant surprise.

Data reports used with permission of: 1Random Lengths. Kiln Dried 2×4-8′ PET #2/#2&Btr lumber. 2RISI, Log Lines. Douglas-fir #2 Sawmill Log, Southern Oregon region. 3 US Dept of Commerce. 4Regional Multiple Listing Service RMLSTM courtesy of Janet Johnston, Prudential Real EstateProfessionals, Roseburg, OR. Portland, Oregon data. 5Freddie Mac. National monthly average. 6Mortgage-X, national average, most recent week. 7Zillow.com, National Median Issue #6-11. © Copyright Rick Sohn, Umpqua Coquille LLC please e-mail rsohn@umpquacoquille.com

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JCHS: How Helpful is the Price-to-Income Ratio in Flagging Bubbles?

How Helpful is the Price-to-Income Ratio in Flagging Bubbles?

 by Rocio Sanchez-Moyano
Research Assistant
With the continued growth of house prices across the country, talk of a housing bubble is beginning to reappear in the headlines. House price-to-income ratios are often used to indicate a bubble, as prices have historically had a relatively stable relationship with incomes (both mean and median).  In the US, nationally, the price-to-income ratio remained relatively stable throughout the 1990s.  It began to increase around 2000 and surpassed its long-run average of 3.65 by 2002 (Figure 1).  The national price-to-income ratio continued to increase in the mid-2000s, reaching a high of 4.63 in 2006 before rapidly declining in 2007 and 2008 and eventually hitting a low of 3.26 in 2011.  The classic bubble shape is clearly visible in this trend.  Recent price gains, viewed in this context, do not seem to indicate the return of a bubble; price-to-income ratios today match their early 1990s rates and still have some room for growth before reaching their long-run average.  (Click chart to enlarge.)
 091613_Rocio_figure1
Notes: Prices are 1991 National Association of Realtors® Median Existing Single-Family Home Prices, indexed by the FHFA Expanded-Data House Price Index.  Incomes are median household incomes.
Sources: JCHS tabulations of FHFA Expanded-Data House Price Index;  US Census Bureau, Moody’s Analytics Estimates.
However, despite the seemingly straightforward relationship between house prices and incomes in Figure 1, this indicator can be difficult to interpret.  To start, many data sources are available for measuring prices.  One used frequently is the National Association of Realtors ® (NAR) Single-Family Median Home Price as it is widely available for many metros and provides an actual house price (rather than an index showing change in values) that can be compared to income levels.  The disadvantage to this measure is that NAR house prices also capture changes in the types of units that are being sold over time and so does not reflect how the value of the same home changes.  Repeat sales indices, like the Federal Housing Finance Authority’s (FHFA) Expanded-Data House Price Index, which was used to produce the figures in this post, are designed to take into account changes in the values of homes themselves by tracking sales of the same homes over time.  However, the FHFA index can be more difficult to interpret since, as an index, it does not provide information about current prices.  Price-to-income ratios using this data must peg the index to a starting or ending house price.
Furthermore, identifying bubbles or other price anomalies from price-to-income ratios can be difficult because it is not clear what is an appropriate baseline value of the measure for comparison.  Even in the aggregate US case, where the ratio did not fluctuate more than one percent in either direction for much of the 1990s, the linear trend is not flat and the long run average is above the 1990s levels.  This becomes even murkier when observing trends at the metro level.  Some metros, like Dallas, had stable price-to-income ratios over the last two decades (Figure 2).  Dallas did not experience a significant bubble in the mid-2000s and its long-run average mirrors the linear trend.  In other metros, like Phoenix, the boom-bust period led to significant fluctuations in the price-to-income ratio after having been relatively stable in the 1990s.  If the 1990s levels are to be considered normal for Phoenix, then current price-to-income ratios remain below average and recent growth in prices can be considered a return to normal after an overcorrection.
For other metros, the price-to-income trend is more difficult to interpret.  Ratios in Cleveland are well below their long-run average, but the historical trend has been drifting downwards, so ratios in recent years could be indicating a reset of the ratio in Cleveland to lower levels.  At another end, San Francisco has experienced a wide range of price-to-income ratios in recent history.  Price-to-income ratios boomed in the late 1980s, decreased throughout much of the 1990s, and then surged through the mid-2000s.  Compared to its long-run average, ratios in San Francisco are above historical norms, but, when the historical trend is considered, prices can continue to increase before they appear “too high.”  Finally, if a fundamental relationship exists between prices and incomes, it is unclear why the ratio can vary significantly from metro to metro.  The national average is around 3.6.  In the metros observed here, Cleveland and Dallas both have historic averages below 3.0 while San Francisco’s is double the national average. (Click chart to enlarge.)
 091613_Rocio_figure2_sm
Notes: Prices are 1991 National Association of Realtors® Median Existing Single-Family Home Prices, indexed by the FHFA Expanded-Data House Price Index.  Incomes are median household incomes.
Sources: JCHS tabulations of FHFA Expanded-Data House Price Index;  US Census Bureau, Moody’s Analytics Estimates
Given this variation, what can we make of the price-to-income ratio?  On a national level, this ratio does a relatively good job of identifying substantive shifts in the market.  In the aggregate, there appears to be a “normal” price-to-income ratio and prolonged deviation from this trend can signal an underlying shift.  However, on a metro-by-metro level, where it can be difficult to identify an appropriate baseline value, long-run historical context is necessary to interpret point-in-time estimates.  In markets like Dallas and Phoenix, historical trends are consistent enough that it can be useful to compare the current ratio to past ones.  In others, like Cleveland and San Francisco, the price-to-income ratio on its own is not especially helpful since there is no clear way to identify a “normal” price-to-income ratio.

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JCHS: Despite Rising Home Prices, Homeownership More Affordable than Ever

Despite Rising Home Prices, Homeownership More Affordable than Ever

 by Rocio Sanchez-Moyano
Research Assistant
For those able to obtain loans in today’s constrained credit environment, the monthly cost of homeownership is at historic lows, thanks to low interest rates.  Though the National Association of Realtors’ median single family home price increased by 6 percent in 2012, falling interest rates have made mortgage payments cheaper: assuming a 20 percent down payment and 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, monthly payments on a median priced home in 2012 were $644. Compared to median incomes, payments are lower than they have been in more than two decades.

Sources: JCHS tabulations of Freddie Mac, Primary Mortgage Market Survey; National Association of Realtors;  US Census Bureau, Moody’s Analytics Estimates.

The record low interest rates available in 2012 helped reduce monthly mortgage payments in 82.9 percent of metros from 2011 to 2012; payments also declined in 80.3 percent of metros that experienced price gains.  Even in metros with substantial price appreciation, such as Phoenix (24.6 percent) and San Francisco (11.9 percent), growth in mortgage payments was muted, rising 13.3 and 1.7 percent, respectively.  In fact, interest rate declines over the last year were enough to offset price increases of up to 10 percent price appreciation.

The current interest rate environment would keep payment-to-income ratios affordable for median buyers in a majority of cities even under much larger price increases.  Following the methodology used by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in calculating their housing affordability index, a mortgage payment is considered affordable if it represents no more than 25 percent of monthly income.  Using this as a threshold, mortgage payments on a median priced home were affordable in more than 95 percent of metros in 2012.  Even if house prices were to rise by 20 percent, without a change in interest rates, 91.5 percent of metros would remain affordable to the median buyer.  In fact, the cost of a nationally median-priced home would have to increase by more than 56.7 percent to become unaffordable at the median household income.  Interest rates are so far below their historical average that few metros would become unaffordable to the median buyer even with moderate changes in interest rate.  For example, if interest rates increased to 5 percent, comparable to rates in 2009, only 2 percent more metros would become unaffordable to the median buyer.

Though mortgage payments are at historic lows, purchasing a home is still unaffordable for many prospective buyers.  In some traditionally expensive markets, such as the large California metros and Honolulu, monthly mortgage payments were already too costly for the median homebuyer in 2012.  For first time homebuyers, whose payments are approximated using a 10 percent down payment on a home priced at 85 percent of the median, and incomes of 65 percent of the median, 17.1 percent of metros were unaffordable.  The effect is more pronounced in the largest 20 metros, as 35 percent of them are unaffordable to first time buyers. (Click table to enlarge.)

Notes:  Payments and payment-to-income ratios for the median homebuyer assume a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with 20 percent down payment on a median priced home and median income for the metro; for a first time homebuyer, payments and payment-to-income ratios assume a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a 10 percent down payment on a home priced at 85 percent of the median and an income of 65 percent of the median, as per the NAR first time homebuyer affordabilityindex. Sources: JCHS tabulations of Freddie Mac, Primary Mortgage Market Survey; National Association of Realtors; US Census Bureau, Moody’s Analytics Estimates.

While it is likely that homeownership will remain affordable in the short term, these historic levels of affordability may not last.  Prices increased in 86.6 percent of metros from 2011-12 and interest rates were slightly higher in the first months of 2012 than at the end of 2012, according to thePrimary Mortgage Market Survey issued by Freddie Mac.  Buyers who were waiting for the best deal as prices and interest rates continued to drop before entering the market may be spurred by current trends to think that this may be the ideal time to buy.

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CR: Case-Shiller: Comp 20 House Prices increased 9.3% year-over-year in February

Case-Shiller: Comp 20 House Prices increased 9.3% year-over-year in February

by Bill McBride on 4/30/2013 

S&P/Case-Shiller released the monthly Home Price Indices for February (“February” is a 3 month average of December, January and February).

This release includes prices for 20 individual cities, and two composite indices (for 10 cities and 20 cities).

Note: Case-Shiller reports Not Seasonally Adjusted (NSA), I use the SA data for the graphs.

From S&P: Home Prices Rise in February 2013 According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices

Data through February 2013, released today by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices … showed average home prices increased 8.6% and 9.3% for the 10- and 20-City Composites in the 12 months ending in February 2013. The 10- and 20-City Composites rose 0.4% and 0.3% from January to February.

“Home prices continue to show solid increases across all 20 cities,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “The 10- and 20-City Composites recorded their highest annual growth rates since May 2006; seasonally adjusted monthly data show all 20 cities saw higher prices for two months in a row – the last time that happened was in early 2005.

“Phoenix, San Francisco, Las Vegas and Atlanta were the four cities with the highest year-over-year price increases. Atlanta recovered from a wave of foreclosures in 2012 while the other three were among the hardest hit in the housing collapse. At the other end of the rankings, three older cities – New York, Boston and Chicago – saw the smallest year-over-year price improvements.

Case-Shiller House Prices Indices Click on graph for larger image.

The first graph shows the nominal seasonally adjusted Composite 10 and Composite 20 indices (the Composite 20 was started in January 2000).

The Composite 10 index is off 28.4% from the peak, and up 1.2% in February (SA). The Composite 10 is up 8.6% from the post bubble low set in Feb 2012 (SA).

The Composite 20 index is off 27.5% from the peak, and up 1.2% (SA) in February. The Composite 20 is up 9.4% from the post-bubble low set in Jan 2012 (SA).

Case-Shiller House Prices Indices The second graph shows the Year over year change in both indices.

The Composite 10 SA is up 8.6% compared to February 2012.

The Composite 20 SA is up 9.3% compared to February 2012. This was the ninth consecutive month with a year-over-year gain and this was the largest year-over-year gain for the Composite 20 index since 2006.

Prices increased (SA) in 20 of the 20 Case-Shiller cities in February seasonally adjusted (prices increased in 12 of 20 cities NSA). Prices in Las Vegas are off 55.0% from the peak, and prices in Denver only off 1.0% from the peak.

This was just above the consensus forecast for a 9.0% YoY increase. I’ll have more on prices later.

Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2013/04/case-shiller-comp-20-house-prices.html#TxGcF8c74iHZsmrP.99

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PIMCO: The U.S. Housing Market’s Road to Recovery: Slower Speed Limits and Stricter Enforcement

The U.S. Housing Market’s Road to Recovery: Slower Speed Limits and Stricter Enforcement

Michael CudzilDaniel H. Hyman

Picture a six-lane highway with roughly 110 million cars. The posted speed limit is 55 miles per hour, but there is not a police officer in sight. Since there have not been any major accidents in years, it is common practice to travel at 90 miles to 100 miles per hour, and insurance companies are lowering their premiums – often regardless of the state of the cars.

That describes the U.S. mortgage market from 2003 to 2006. The story ended exactly as you would imagine: a massive accident with severe repercussions not just for housing, but also for the financial system and the global economy.
Today, the six-lane highway has been reduced to three lanes, as origination capacity has been halved. One is a fast-pass lane for customers who have been sitting in traffic the past couple of years and are now being rewarded for good behavior with access to historically low mortgage rates: the HARP lane. (The Home Affordable Refinance Program helps homeowners refinance who are underwater or near-underwater but current on their mortgages.) But for everyone else, the speed limit has been reregulated to 35 miles per hour. There are police officers at every mile marker, and the insurance companies are charging much higher premiums.
Where do we go from here?
Despite fewer lanes on the mortgage highway, we believe the U.S. housing market has bottomed and is showing clear signs of a gradual and broadening recovery. The upward trajectory of housing prices should continue at a moderate pace. Over the past 100 years, housing has appreciated at roughly the rate of inflation. It is only in the past 10 years that housing has traded with substantial volatility due to leverage and “affordability” products. We believe the tailwinds are in place for an 8%–12% appreciation in housing over the next two years. Over the longer term, we expect a return to historical normal performance for housing relative to the rate of inflation.
We consider several dynamics in developing our outlook on housing: household formation, inventories, affordability and access to credit and lending.

Read More …

 
Conclusion
We remain constructive on the state of the housing market but recognize the road is far from smooth.
On balance, we believe the positives outweigh the negatives and look for housing to appreciate 8%–12% over the next two years. Housing should have positive influences on consumer confidence and labor mobility.
In terms of investment implications, we believe both agency and non-agency markets offer opportunities to generate excess returns, while active management should be able to add value to structural allocations. Agency mortgage securities offer liquid investments that can be traded against each other as well as against other liquid interest rate markets, specified mortgage pools and, less frequently, structured mortgage products.
Non-agency mortgages continue to offer the best risk-adjusted returns in the sector, but specific security selection will matter much more given their recent high returns. Compared to investing directly in real estate, which requires time to close, lawyers, insurance and transaction costs, non-agency mortgages offer similar returns without the friction. Pairing non-agency mortgages with agency mortgage-backed securities potentially provides an attractive return profile across a wide range of economic outcomes.

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JCHS: How Much Did LTVs Actually Rise During the Housing Boom?

How Much Did LTVs Actually Rise During the Housing Boom?

The rise in housing prices that appears to be taking hold in many parts of the country is an important sign of recovery in the market. Among the many ways the upturn in prices is helping the housing market heal is by turning back the tide on the 100-year flood of underwater mortgages.  Still, even as reports from CoreLogic and Zillow document the progress in reducing the inventory of homes with negative equity, these same reports remind us that despite recent improvements there are still millions of housing units saddled with mortgage debt exceeding the value of the home. These homes serve as a warning about the risks of excessive loan to value ratios (LTVs) that are assumed to have become commonplace among homeowners during the housing boom. However, a review of data from the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF) from the last 20 years finds that there was actually relatively little change in the distribution of LTVs through the boom years.  While outstanding mortgage debt did increase substantially, it essentially kept pace with the rise in home prices. The flood of underwater owners was thus less the result of a greater share of owners having little equity cushion and more the result of the tremendous collapse in housing prices.Figure 1 shows  trends in the distribution of LTVs among all homeowners between 1989 and 2010, based on a comparison of total outstanding mortgage debt to owners’ estimates of the value of their principal residence. As shown, there was a fairly substantial increase in the average LTV between 1989 and 1995 from 27 percent to 34 percent. This rise reflects a combination of factors, including the greater tendency of households to hold mortgage debt in the wake of the 1986 Tax Act that gave preferential treatment to mortgage interest payments, the sharp fall in house prices in some areas of the country, and an expansion of mortgage lending that occurred as the economic boom of the 1990s began. However, between 1998 and 2007 the average remained largely unchanged at about 37 percent. Average mortgage debt did increase sharply over this period, from $67,000 to $111,000 (in constant 2010 dollars) but the average house value also increased substantially from $185,000 to $317,000. Even at the peak of the boom, the vast majority of owners still had fairly low LTVs.

 040513_herbert_figure1

Source: Joint Center tabulations of Survey of Consumer Finances.

Of course, these averages include a large share of households that continued to hold little or no mortgage debt. The stable average may result from a rise in high LTVs among some owners that is counterbalanced by plunging LTVs for those who did not tap their growing home equity. But there was also little change in the level of LTVs at the upper end of the distribution. As Figure 1 illustrates, at the 75th percentile of owners LTVs also remained largely unchanged between 1998 and 2007 at roughly 67 percent. Even at the 90th percentile of the distribution LTVs held steady at 86 percent.  Thus, even at the height of the housing boom the vast majority of homeowners had at least a 15 percent equity cushion, as they had continuously since the mid 1990s.
The data in Figure 1 includes homeowners of all ages, but it might be expected that highly leveraged homeownership was becoming more common among younger households who were more likely to buy homes during the boom years and take advantage of more liberal lending. Figure 2 shows the same distributions of LTVs for homeowners under age 30. While there is more sampling variability for this subgroup, there does appear to be more of a rise in average LTVs among this group than is true of all households. Between 1995 and 2001 the average LTV was generally a little above 60 percent, but rose to more than 65 percent in 2004 and 2007. A similar increase was evident at the 75th percentile where LTVs reached about 90 percent during the boom years after having been closer to 85 percent during the 1990s. Still, the vast majority of young homeowners had at least 10 percent equity invested in their homes even when lending standards were most relaxed. There was more stability at the 90th percentile of the distribution, where young homeowners had LTVs of between 95 and 98 percent consistently since 1989. At this upper point of the distribution young homeowners did have little equity in their home, but this was no different during the boom than it was 20 years ago.

 040513_herbert_figure2

Source: Joint Center tabulations of Survey of Consumer Finances.

As both Figures 1 and 2 illustrate, when the bottom fell out of the housing market after 2007 LTVs among homeowners shot up.  According to estimates from the SCF, 9 percent of all homeowners were underwater on their principal residence as of 2010, with the rate more than twice as high among those under age 30. But this sharp rise in LTVs was the result of the unprecedented fall in house prices and not due to an expansion of excessively high LTVs during the boom.
Still, there is no question that homeowners took on much more debt than was prudent during the boom. While outstanding mortgage debt may have been keeping pace with house prices, the level of debt was greatly outracing trends in incomes. This great expansion of credit decoupled from borrowers’ incomes certainly played a role in helping to inflate the housing bubble. The new Qualified Mortgage (QM) standard is designed to avoid this problem in the future by establishing an ability to pay standard for mortgage lending. Notably, the QM standard did not include restrictions on LTVs. However, the still to be announced rules defining the Qualified Residential Mortgage (QRM) may introduce limits on LTVs. While it is true that a greater equity cushion would have helped both homeowners and lenders avoid losses during the housing crash, the housing market has long been characterized by fairly high LTVs at the upper end of the distribution. These higher LTVs were not problematic as long as house prices were not subject to extreme swings. Imposing more stringent LTV requirements are of concern as they will curtail the ability of young households to get a start as homeowners—particularly the growing share of young minority households who have not benefited to the same degree from having parents build wealth through homeownership. Given these concerns, it may be best to have regulatory efforts focus on ensuring that borrowers can afford their mortgages as a means of introducing more stability in the mortgage system, rather than on setting standards for LTVs meant to withstand the next 100-year flood.

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CR: Case-Shiller: Comp 20 House Prices increased 8.1% year-over-year in January

Case-Shiller: Comp 20 House Prices increased 8.1% year-over-year in January

by Bill McBride on 3/26/2013 

S&P/Case-Shiller released the monthly Home Price Indices for January (“January” is a 3 month average of November, December and January).

This release includes prices for 20 individual cities, and two composite indices (for 10 cities and 20 cities).

Note: Case-Shiller reports Not Seasonally Adjusted (NSA), I use the SA data for the graphs.

From S&P: Home Prices Accelerate in January 2013 According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices 

Data through January 2013, released today by S&P Dow Jones Indices for its S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices … showed average home prices increased 7.3% for the 10-City Composite and 8.1% for the 20-City Composite in the 12 months ending in January 2013.

“The two headline composites posted their highest year-over-year increases since summer 2006,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “This marks the highest increase since the housing bubble burst.”

In January 2013, nine cities — Atlanta, Charlotte, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Phoenix, San Francisco and Tampa — and both Composites posted positive monthly returns. Dallas was the only MSAwhere the level remained flat.

Case-Shiller House Prices IndicesClick on graph for larger image.

The first graph shows the nominal seasonally adjusted Composite 10 and Composite 20 indices (the Composite 20 was started in January 2000).

The Composite 10 index is off 29.3% from the peak, and up 1.0% in January (SA). The Composite 10 is up 7.3% from the post bubble low set in Feb 2012 (SA).

The Composite 20 index is off 28.4% from the peak, and up 1.0% (SA) in January. The Composite 20 is up 8.1% from the post-bubble low set in Jan 2012 (SA).

Case-Shiller House Prices IndicesThe second graph shows the Year over year change in both indices.

The Composite 10 SA is up 7.3% compared to January 2012.

The Composite 20 SA is up 8.1% compared to January 2012. This was the eight consecutive month with a year-over-year gain since 2010 (when the tax credit boosted prices temporarily).  This was the largest year-over-year gain for the Composite 20 index since 2006.

Prices increased (SA) in 20 of the 20 Case-Shiller cities in January seasonally adjusted (prices increased in 9 of 20 cities NSA). Prices in Las Vegas are off 55.9% from the peak, and prices in Denver only off 2.0% from the peak.

This was close to the consensus forecast for a 8.2% YoY increase. I’ll have more on prices later.

Read more at http://www.calculatedriskblog.com/2013/03/case-shiller-comp-20-house-prices.html#gcGW68Cvc6af3Up3.99

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