To the housing market now where things are getting worse. A closely-watched index out this morning says home prices in 11 major U.S. cities have fallen to their lowest levels since the housing bubble popped...
The catch of course is that it is easy to forget that they aren't talking about today. They aren't talking about yesterday either. The story is current but they are talking about historical figures from December of last year (yes, there's that much lag built into the Case Shiller Index)!
That might be fine if you an an economist at the Fed setting policy, but if you're a real estate investor or simply a buyer or seller wanting to understand today's market and make a good desicion, all this hype two-months-after-the-fact doesn't really help you make your decision today. History is nice, but you want to know what's happening today and what's likely to happen tomorrow. You need good forward looking information.
The best forward looking counterpart to Case Shiller that I know of is the Altos 20 City Composite. It covers the same markets as Case Shiller, but with real-time listing data, not historical sales data. This means it is forward looking and leads Case Shiller. Here's what Altos shows in a blog post today:
You can see the December dip (and you could see it back in December), and you can also see a leveling out and what looks to be a rebound in prices since December (the orange black line is a 7-day moving average, the black orange line is a smoother 90 moving average). As Altos puts it, "Weekly home prices are starting a seasonal bounce..."
The bottom line? Reading the headlines isn't enough. Truly making sense of the market requires an understanding of the right data, combined with local market expertise. The benefits of this insight is one of the most valuable things a competent luxury agent can provide.