Case-Shiller: Still No Bottom in Sight for DC Home Prices

It’s time once again for our monthly check-in of the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices (HPI).

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. – December data is released in February).

Here are the basic Case-Shiller stats for the DC area* as of December:

December 2008
Month to Month: Down 2.3%
Year to Year: Down 19.2%
Change from Peak: Down 29.8% in 31 months

The following chart shows the DC HPI scaled such that the May 2006 peak is 100% on the y-axis. Data on the x-axis is scaled to display the last time (pre-peak) the DC HPI was at or lower than it was in the latest data (March 2004).


According to the Case-Shiller index, as of December home prices in DC have “rewound” just short of five years. While December’s month-to-month drop was large, it just fell short of setting a new record.

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


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.


Home price drops in DC continued at a steady pace in December, putting DC’s total drop 31 months since the peak at just about the same spot as San Diego. So far there is still no sign of a bottom in DC prices.

*[Case-Shiller defines Washington DC as the entire Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of the District of Columbia and all or part of the following counties: Calvert MD, Charles MD, Frederick MD, Montgomery MD, Prince Georges MD, Alexandria City VA, Arlington VA, Clarke VA, Fairfax VA, Fairfax City VA, Falls Church City VA, Fauquier VA, Fredericksburg City VA, Loudoun VA, Manassas City VA, Manassas Park City VA, Prince William VA, Spotsylvania VA, Stafford VA, Warren VA, and Jefferson WV.]

  • Charlie

    Redfin wins the prize for honesty and social responsibility. The NAR would NEVER put this on its website.

    It’s refreshing to see a company take the long view.

    Well done!

  • Norman

    I agree with Charlie re openness publicizing this decline.

    However, beware of expecting the decline from the peak to continue to follow the path of any other particular city – such as San Diego. We can reasonably expect the decline in the two locations only to be the same to the extent that the ‘mispricing’ at the top of the bubble was the same in both cities. Similarly, we can only infer that the maximum index represented similar levels of mispricing at the top (e.g. DC = 250, San Diego = 250, Chicago = 140) only to the extent that the initial index of 100 represented similar deviations from long term ‘true’ values at that time. (And that there have been no structural changes in employment etc that would justify permanent shifts in the relative house price levels between the geographic locations.)

  • John

    Totally agree with Charlie.

    When I calculate the value of a house, I go to the tax site for the county and look at sales prices on that street in years prior to 2000. I take that value and add 4% per year to the current year. Occasionally there will be some value added or subtracted from an area during that period.