Case-Shiller: Seattle Home Prices See Small Seasonal Uptick in April

It’s time for our monthly check-in of the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices (HPI). For the full source data behind this post, plus seasonally adjusted and tiered price data, hit the S&P/Case-Shiller website.

For an explanation of how the Case-Shiller data is calculated, check out their methodology pdf. Also remember that the data released on the last Tuesday of a given month is for the period two months prior (i.e. – April data is released in June).

Here are the basic Case-Shiller stats for the Seattle area* as of April:

April 2009
Month to Month: Up 0.2%
Year to Year: Down 16.8%
Change from Peak: Down 22.3% in 21 months

The following chart shows the Seattle HPI scaled such that the July 2007 peak is 100% on the y-axis. Data on the x-axis is scaled to display the last time (pre-peak) the Seattle HPI was at or lower than it was in the latest data (May 2005).


We pointed out last month that 2008′s April bump might be repeated again this year, and what do you know—it was. Nothing too surprising or noteworthy here. If prices keep rising through the spring and into the summer, then maybe we’ll have the beginnings of a bottom.

Here’s a chart of Case-Shiller HPIs for all the markets that Redfin serves, so you can compare the Seattle area’s performance to other areas across the country:


To recap, we have seen the following interventions in recent months meant to boost the housing market:

  • $8k first-time buyer tax credit
  • 4.5% – 5% mortgage rates
  • various moratoriums on foreclosures
  • numerous federal programs encouraging loan workouts

The apparent result of this host of actions has been a flattening to very slight upticks seen in the chart above, in a month that is historically one of the strongest of the year for the real estate market. I guess you can color me underwhelmed.

And here’s our final chart, in which we line up the peak Case-Shiller HPI value for each of Redfin’s markets, so we can see how long each market has been declining, and how much it has dropped from the peak.


So far, we have yet to see any convincing evidence that Seattle’s home price drops are nearing an end. Of course, we’ll keep watching this and other metrics to keep you informed about the first signs of a bottom.

*[Case-Shiller defines Seattle as the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, WA Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties.]