Case-Shiller: Spring Arrives in Seattle as Home Prices Rise Again

It’s time for our monthly check-in of the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices (HPI). The Case-Shiller data is generally considered to be the most reliable measure of overall home price changes for a region, since they only consider repeat sales of homes when calculating their index, instead of looking at all the homes that sold in a given month.

For the full source data behind this post, hit the S&P/Case-Shiller website. For a more detailed explanation of how the Case-Shiller Home Price Index 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 2011
Month to Month: Up 1.6%
Year to Year: Down 6.9%
Prices at this level in: August 2004
Peak month: July 2007
Change from Peak: Down 29.7% in 45 months
Low Tier: Under $245,631
Mid Tier: $245,631 to $387,144
Hi Tier: Over $387,144

Only seven of the twenty metro areas tracked by Case-Shiller saw a decrease in their HPI between March and April (down from eighteen the previous month). The biggest increase was in Washington DC again with a solid 3.0% gain. Other markets that saw increases above 1% were San Francisco (+1.7%), Atlanta (+1.6%), Seattle (+1.6%), Denver (+1.5%), and Cleveland (+1.2%).

Here’s a look at the latest local tiered data, back through 2000:


And here’s a closer look at the recent changes, with the vertical and horizontal axes zoomed in to show just the last year:


Seattle’s high tier saw the biggest gain again, while the low tier continued to fall behind. Month to month, the low tier was up 0.5%, the middle tier rose 1.3%, and the high tier increased 1.7%.

Here’s a chart of Case-Shiller HPIs for all the markets that Redfin serves:


Here’s our peak decline 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.


Six of the twenty cities tracked by Case-Shiller hit another new post-peak low as of April, but the 20-city composite ticked up slightly from its March post-peak low.

Methodology: The Case-Shiller index tracks price changes in sets of homes of similar size and style to better determine changes in what people are willing to pay for the same home over time. If data is available from an earlier transaction for the same home, the two sales are paired and treated as a “repeat sale.” Repeat sales that are too far apart, sales between family members, lot splits, remodels, and property type changes (e.g. from single-family to condos) are excluded from the calculations. All remaining repeat sales are totaled together and weighted based on the time between each sale, then the data for the most recent three months is averaged together to create a given month’s index value (i.e. – September’s index represents the average of the data from July through September).

The three price tiers plotted in the charts below simply represent the top, middle, and bottom third of all sales, based on the initial sale price. In other words, if there were 3,000 sales in the three-month period, 1,000 of them would be in the low tier, 1,000 in the middle tier, and 1,000 in the high tier, by definition.

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

  • Greenwood

    It would be interesting to see data for city of Seattle and exclude the 'burbs.  Not a scientific observation but it seems like homes in the city are moving quickly and getting bids over asking