S&P Dow Jones Indices released the December Case Shiller home price index today, which finalizes the numbers for 2014. The Case Shiller Chicago numbers show that we barely eked out home price appreciation last year. In fact, Chicago was in last place for year over year home price gains across 20 metropolitan areas with a 1.3% total gain for single family homes and a 1.1% gain for condos. First place would be San Francisco with a 9.3% year over year increase.
Nevertheless, it’s still a gain and it represents the 26th month in a row of Chicago home price increases. Looking at the last 27 years in the graph below you can see that we’ve clearly spent more time in positive territory than in negative territory. It’s just that those negative years were pretty damn negative.
In keeping with the time of the year home prices were down in Chicago from November. Single family home prices dropped by 0.9% and condo prices dropped 0.6%. The current price level of single family homes corresponds to where prices were way back in January 2003 and then again in February 2009. Condo prices first hit this level in November 2002 and hit this level again around January 2010.
We’ve had a decent recovery in home prices since the bottom fell out with single family home prices up 23.6% since then and condo prices up 31%. Nevertheless, single family homes have lost 24.7% of their peak value and condos have lost 20.9%. And we are way off the historic price appreciation trend line that was in effect prior to the housing bubble. We are lagging that red line in the graph below by 24.2%.
David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, expressed concern about the state of the new home market:
The housing recovery is faltering. While prices and sales of existing homes are close to normal, construction and new home sales remain weak. Before the current business cycle, any time housing starts were at their current level of about one million at annual rates, the economy was in a recession. The softness in housing is despite favorable conditions elsewhere in the economy: strong job growth, a declining unemployment rate, continued low interest rates and positive consumer confidence.
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