Case-Shiller: Prices Tick Up for First Time Since May 2006

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 DC area* as of April:

April 2009
Month to Month: Up 0.8%
Year to Year: Down 16.9%
Change from Peak: Down 33.4% in 35 months

The following chart shows the DC area 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 area HPI was at or lower than it was in the latest data (December 2003).


Of the twenty metro areas tracked by Case-Shiller, Washington DC saw the fourth-largest month-to-month gain in April. Only Dallas, Denver, and Cleveland came in higher. This is the first time since prices began falling that there has been any kind of uptick, but given that April was the beginning of spring, I think it would be quite premature to call this the bottom just yet.

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:


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.


Spring bounce or the end of price drops? We won’t really know the answer until the fall…

*[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.]

  • Brett

    I find it erroneous for the Metro DC market to include areas as far away as West Virginia. Is there anyway to see the data points in include areas that are within a 20 mile radius outside the beltway?