Friday, March 1, 2013

Case-Shiller: Denver metro home price index highest growth rate since October 2001

Case-Shiller released its home price index for December 2012 yesterday. The home price index for the Denver area fell 0.2 percent percent from November to December, and rose 8.5 percent, year over year, from December 2011 to December 2012.  The year-over-year increase in December was the twelfth year-over-year increase in a row for Denver, and was the largest increase since October 2001, when the year-over-year growth rate was 8.9 percent.

 According to S and P's press release, home prices nationwide continued to show some signs of growth:

“Home prices ended 2012 with solid gains,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at  S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Housing and residential construction led the economy in the 2012 fourth quarter. In December’s report all three headline composites and 19 of the 20 cities gained over their levels of a year  ago. Month-over-month, 9 cities and both Composites posted positive monthly gains. Seasonally adjusted,  there were no monthly declines across all 20 cities.
In year-over-year comparisons for December, one out of 20 cities showed year-over-year declines in the home price index.  The index for New York fell 0.5 percent. Denver was among the nineteen cities reporting increases, and had the tenth-largest increase of the twenty cities. The largest increases were in Phoenix and San Francisco with year over year increases of 23.0 percent and 14.4 percent, respectively.

The first chart shows trends in the Case-Shiller index for the Denver area and for the 20-city composite index. It is clear that Denver did not experience the kind of price bubble that occurred in many other metropolitan areas, and consequently, the index has not fallen nearly as far in Denver compared to the larger composite. The metro Denver index value is at the highest value seen since October 2007.

The 20-city composite is down 29 percent since it peaked in July 2006, but the Denver index is down only 4.3 percent from its August 2006 peak.

The second chart compares year-over-year changes in the Denver area index and in the 20-city composite. Overall, the index has been less volatile in Denver than has been the case for the 20-city composite. The year-over-year change in the 20-city composite during December was positive for the seventh month in a row.

In short: Denver metro home prices have shown a stronger growth trend in recent months than the 20-city composite, but the composite index is catching up.

The last graph provides a closer look at year-over-year changes in the Denver index. The index went negative as the economy began to slow in 2007 and remained negative until this year with the exception of the period in which the homebuyer tax credit pushed up prices temporarily. Recent home price growth is accelerating as inventory declines, household formation continues, and rental housing continues to become more expensive.