Case-Shiller Index Reading from Dec 2009 Shows Housing Dead in Water

The December 2009 data from the S&P Case Shiller Index shows that housing is pretty much dead in the water. It's not getting worse, but it's also not getting better. The U.S. National Home Price Index fell in the fourth quarter of 2009 but has improved in its annual rate of return, as compared to what was reported in the third quarter.

The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, which covers all nine U.S. census divisions, recorded a 2.5% decline in the fourth quarter of 2009 versus the fourth quarter of 2008. This is a significant improvement over the annual rates reported in the first, second and third quarters of the year, at -19.0%, -14.7% and -8.7%, respectively. In December, the 10-City and 20- City Composites recorded annual declines of 2.4% and 3.1%, respectively. These two indices, which are reported at a monthly frequency, have seen improvements in their annual rates of return every month since the beginning of the year.

“As measured by prices, the housing market is definitely in better shape than it was this time last year, as the pace of deterioration has stabilized for now. However, the rate of improvement seen during the summer of 2009 has not been sustained,” says David M. Blitzer, Chairman of the Index Committee at Standard & Poor’s. “In the most recent months we are seeing fewer and fewer MSAs reporting monthly gains in prices. Only four cities saw month to month improvements in December over November, when you look at the raw data. We are in a seasonally slow period for home prices, however, so it is not surprising to see better statistics in the seasonally-adjusted data, where 14 of the markets and the two monthly composites all rose in December. Similarly, the National Composite fell by 1.1% in the fourth quarter, but rose by 1.6% on a seasonally-adjusted basis.”

Sol Nasisi
Sol Nasisi: Sol Nasisi is the co-founder and a past president of BestCashCow, an online resource for comprehensive bank rate information. In this capacity, he closely followed rate trends for all savings-related and loan products and the impact of rate fluctuations on the economy. He specifically focused on how rates impact consumers' ability to borrow and save. He also has authored a wee

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