“Home price gains are continuing their steep deceleration”

From the AP via the Star Ledger:

Home-price growth slows dramatically

Prices of single- family homes across the nation rose in October at the slowest rate in almost a decade, a housing index released yesterday by Standard & Poor’s showed, giving more evidence of the housing market’s deceleration, which has affected many parts of the broader economy.

The S&P/Case-Shiller composite index showed a 2.4 percent year-over-year increase in the price of a single-family home based on prices of existing homes tracked over time in 10 metropolitan markets. For its 20-city composite index, prices grew 2.9 percent, the slowest rate ever for that data, according to the S&P index committee chairman, David Blitzer.

“Home price gains are continuing their steep deceleration,” said Chief Economist Robert Shiller of MacroMarkets. “We can clearly see that the monthly price declines are widespread nationally.”

The growth rate of the 10-city composite index is sharply below the 3.7 percent rise posted in September and the slowest since a 2 percent growth rate in February 1997, according to S&P.

In addition to the overall composite index, the housing indicator also measures the health of exist ing home sales in 20 major markets in the United States. The S&P added 10 additional markets this month.

Among the worst performing markets were Detroit, Boston, Cleveland, San Diego and San Francisco. Seattle and Portland, Ore., meanwhile, posted strong annual returns.

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66 Responses to “Home price gains are continuing their steep deceleration”

  1. James Bednar says:

    You can find an XLS of the Case-Shiller data here:



  2. James Bednar says:

    New Home Sales due out at 10.


  3. James Bednar says:


    From Bloomberg:

    U.A.E. Central Bank Is Selling Dollars, Buying Euros

    The United Arab Emirates will convert 8 percent of its foreign-exchange reserves from dollars into euros before September after the U.S. currency slumped this year, the country’s central bank governor said.

    The U.A.E. has started “in a limited way” to sell part of its dollar reserves, Sultan Bin Nasser al-Suwaidi said in an interview in Abu Dhabi on Dec. 24. “We will accumulate euros each time the market appears to dip,” as part of a plan to expand the country’s holding of euros to 10 percent of the total from 2 percent today, he said.

  4. James Bednar says:

    File this one under “Animals left barn, why bother closing the door now”, from Reuters:

    Revised Fed handbook warns of exotic mortgage risk

    Concerned some borrowers may be over-stretching to buy homes, U.S. lending regulators on Tuesday released a new consumer handbook that warns of the risks associated with interest-only, payment-option and other exotic home loan products.

    In one of the biggest revisions to the “Consumer Handbook on Adjustable Rate Mortgages” since it was first issued in 1987, the Federal Reserve Board and the Office of Thrift Supervision included sections on the “payment shock” associated with sharp upward adjustments of a loan’s interest rate after initial low-rate discount periods.

    “If you are considering a discount ARM (adjustable-rate mortgage) be sure to compare future payments with those for a fully-indexed ARM,” the handbook reads. “If you buy a home or refinance using a deeply discounted initial rate, you run the risk of payment shock, negative amortization or prepayment penalties or conversion fees.”

    Mortgage lenders are required by law to distribute the handbook to every consumer who applies for an adjustable-rate loan.

  5. metroplexual says:

    Does that apply to IOs as well? Too little too late is right.

  6. James Bednar says:

    From Marketwatch:

    MBA says mortgage applications lower in pre-Christmas week

    The volume of mortgage applications fell 14.2% in the week ended Dec. 22 compared to the prior week, data compiled by the Mortgage Bankers Association show. Also on a seasonally adjusted basis, applications for mortgages to buy homes decreased 10.6% week to week, while refinancing applications dropped 18.5%. Refinancings accounted for 48.8% of total applications, down from 50.8% in the week ended Dec. 15, while adjustable-rate mortgages slipped to 23.1% from 23.6%. Average contract interest rates on 30- and 15-year fixed-rate mortgages rose last week to 6.12% and 5.84%, respectively, from 6.10% and 5.82% a week earlier. One-year ARMs averaged 5.87%, up from 5.82%. Overall, the four-week moving average tracking mortgage applications activity was down 1.7%, the MBA said.

  7. njrebear says:


    MBA: Mortgage Applications Decrease

    The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, was 555.8, a decrease of 14.2 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis from 647.6 one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 15 percent compared with the previous week and was up 16.6 percent compared with the same week one year earlier.

    The Refinance Index decreased by 18.5 percent to 1604.6 from 1968.8 the previous week and the seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased by 10.6 percent to 390.2 from 436.5 one week earlier.

    The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages increased to 6.12 from 6.10 percent …

    The average contract interest rate for one-year ARMs increased to 5.87 percent from 5.82

    The refinance share of mortgage activity decreased to 48.8 percent of total applications from 50.8 percent the previous week. The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activity decreased to 23.1 from 23.6 percent of total applications from the previous week. The ARM share is at its lowest level since October 2003.


    >> One year ARM rates have increased about 10 basis points from last two weeks.

  8. njrebear says:

    you can remove my post.

  9. BC Bob says:

    “Meanwhile, the inventory of un sold homes in October reached the second-highest level ever recorded”

    “Ever”. Does anybody see a pattern??? We are hearing never, ever, usually just as often as soft landing!!

  10. Zac says:

    GSMLS site is down, OK – WHO DID IT ????

  11. BC Bob says:

    “U.A.E. Central Bank Is Selling Dollars, Buying Euros”

    There are also rumblings out of Opec, China and Russia regarding pricing energies in Euro’s. Is this the beginning??? Do you think the homeowner then would take notice pertaining to the dollar’s slide???

  12. 2008 Buyer says:

    Very interesting indeed….could be the begining of the perfect storm…. there’s still money to be made just not in RE right now…count me out I’m will be sitting on the sidelines

  13. James Bednar says:

    there’s still money to be made just not in RE right now

    I think that statement is a bit too general to be accurate. I’m bullish on Eastern EU (soon to be EU-denominated) real estate. However, that is far beyond the scope of this blog (and not just because of the distance involved).


  14. Richard says:

    News snap out of Ireland.

    The recent levelling off of price increases in
    certain categories of houses as well as the actual drop in the cost of new homes has added fuel to the speculation that the housing boom may be approaching its end. Irish Bank EBS has recently restricted the 100% mortgage option that was introduced by financial institutions at the very zenith of the price-rises. EBS will now only offer the 100% mortgage to professionals such as doctors and civil servants.

  15. Take at least 25% off 2005 peak prices says:


    How about losses?

    First time buyers can break the Ponzi chain, cuz RE is basically a poniz game. need chumps to overpay at the bottom of the food chain in order for the upper food chain to move up.

    Young first time buyers with conservative finances can really now wait patiently to get much lower prices.

    Take at least 25% off 2005 peak prices

  16. Take at least 25% off 2005 peak prices says:

    Start dropping house prices aggressively or watch your home equity (if you have any now) just go POOOOOOOOOFFFFFFF!


  17. Richard says:

    heard the chief economist from daiwa securities this morning on his opinion on the RE market. he believes new home numbers will come in up 1% from prior. he also thinks the overall state of the market is near a bottom due to latest figures, job and wage health (whatever he means by that). he was also asked what the risks are to this assessment. his one concern was months supply. during the boom times it was 4 months now up to 7 months. if spring rolls around and that figure goes up to 8-9 months he sees price weakness. fair assessment i’d say. early spring will tell the tale for 2007 IMO.

  18. Zac says:


  19. Mr. Oliver says:

    Grim, can you give a little background on that spreadsheet. What is this an index of? Is “100” a specific reference point?

    I love stuff like this and want to know more about what I’m looking at.

    Thanks for posting. Hope you had a good holiday.

  20. James Bednar says:

    From Marketwatch:

    U.S. Nov. new-home sales rise 3.4% to 1.047 mln pace

    Sales of new homes rose 3.5% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.047 million, the Commerce Department reported Wednesday. Sales are now down 15.3% in the past year. October’s sales pace was revised to 1.013 million, from an earlier-estimated 1.004 million. The median sales price of a new home rose to $251,700 from $243,800. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch were expecting sales to rise to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.02 million from the previous 1.00 million.

  21. James Bednar says:

    From the U.S. Census Dept..



  22. James Bednar says:

    From Bloomberg:

    U.S. November New-Home Sales Rise 3.4% to 1.047 Million Pace

    Sales of new homes in the U.S. rose more than forecast last month as lower mortgage rates and more incentives helped builders reduce inventory.

    The 3.4 percent increase to an annual pace of 1.047 million in November followed a 1.013 million rate the prior month that was faster than previously reported, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. The supply of unsold homes at the current sales pace fell to the lowest since May.

    The figures add to evidence that the slowdown in construction may take less of toll on the economy early next year than it did last quarter. Even with the decline last month, the number of unsold homes remains near a record high, making it less likely homebuilding will strengthen outright, limiting economic growth, economists said.

    The rise “is consistent with a pattern of stabilization in the housing market,” Michael Englund, chief economist at Action Economics LLC in Boulder, Colorado, said before the report. “A more throttled level of building is bringing supply more in line with demand.”

  23. 2008 Buyer says:

    JB…. you are right…my statement was too general…smart money knows how to make money in any type of market.

  24. 2008 Buyer says:

    Little excerpt from a mortgage broker site today…..

    I have many subprime borrowers who bought with zero down in 2005 and now want to refinance to get better rates or to cashout. All of them are at 85% to 95% at best with middle credit scores deteriorating below 600. They all are stated income/stated asset borrowers with tons of credit card debts, and I have no where to go with them. Once a month or so, I call them to say how are you and found out that several of them have already missed their monthly payments and at least 2 have already gotten NOD (Notice of Default). Of course, there is nothing I can do to help them.

    But for those who bought with zero down in 2004, there is still hope. I found one of two borrowers whose home values have not yet dropped and indeed they had gain about 15% appreciation since they bought in early 2004. And they have some 401(k) to show asset, with surprisingly improved credit scores to 680 and above. So, I was able to put them into 80/15/5 or 80/5/15 refi rate and term with A paper lenders.

    So, the 2004 crowd is still there and there are a few folks there who are still qualified. Also, there are those folks who listed their homes but couldn’t sell and decided to delist.
    They could be good material for loan-making in 2007.


    Although this is one person’s opinion…… you can see how some of the buyers who bought in 2005 are definitely headed for trouble.

  25. Take at least 25% off 2005 peak prices says:

    RE related layoffs will only accelerate going into 2007.
    We all know most of the mirage growth of last 5 years came by way of RE.
    Gluts of inventory coming to market in the spring. NO rebound will send shivers in the desperate grubbers, the starving bunch and the new bagholders in over the heads.
    Affordabilty near all-time lows all means much lower home prices.

  26. ck986 says:

    I am waiting for data on the first quarter to make a final decision, but I do not think sales will fall much lower than where they are today (15-25% lower than peak 2005 sales). I think for prices to further decline we need to see further drops in sales. Sales will only fall if the current loose credt environment becomes more restrictive or the economy turns for the worse. I dont see this happening, short of a significant amount of forclosures or interest rates spiking. I think that prices have come down to 2004 levels in NJ and will likely remain there for a while. I think that its now up to inflation to eat away at the nominal price gains of the last 5 years. Just so you all know my stake in the game. I am recently married and have been saving for a home for the last few years and may be buying in the next 6 months.

    Does anyone happen to know why half the homes for sale in Ridgewood in the 400-550 price range were under contract in December? This seems like a lot of activity. Was oil or gold discovered in Ridgewood?

  27. Not Convinced says:

    Sales were up 22.5 percent in the Northeast


  28. bergenbubbleburst says:

    There is no way half the homes for sale in Ridgewood from 400 to 550 are under contract. the njmls site currently lists over 100 houses for sale in Ridgewood

  29. James Bednar says:

    Even with a 22.5% increase in sales in the Northeast this month, new home sales are down 42.4% year over year in the Northeast.

    New Home Sales are down 42.4 percent.

    WOW! is right.


  30. bergenbubbleburst says:

    up 22% in the entire northeast, waht is the break down for NJ. These numbers are very volatile.

    I accnot beliebve that people are already calling the bottom of the housing decline, when the decline has just started.

  31. chicagofinance says:

    What happens when you give grim free reign of the house?


  32. LeeS says:

    Any chance of putting up articles on how to find a good contractor? I’m currently renting an apartment in Roselle Park, and the landlord owns his own construction company. If I ever paid this man a dime to do anything, I would kill myself. He has absolutely no skill and I can’t even begin to imagine how people accept his crappy work (he couldn’t even properly sheetrock or cover up a hole in a wall with spackle), let alone how it passes inspection. Something I definitely want to be prepared with is contractors that are trustworthy…

  33. James Bednar says:

    These numbers are very volatile.

    Aside from volatility, the data is typically prone to significant amounts of error. A number of writers have begun to include this disclaimer in their reports. For example. these paragraphs that appeared in the Marketwatch piece:

    The government cautions that its housing data are subject to large sampling and other statistical errors. Large revisions are common.

    The standard error is so high, in fact, that the government cannot be sure that sales increased at all in November.


  34. Not Convinced says:

    Based on inventory declining, median house price climbing, and sales soaring up are you saying these aren’t signs of the bottom??

  35. Seneca says:

    “I think that its now up to inflation to eat away at the nominal price gains of the last 5 years.”

    ck986, funny you should say this. Just the other day I noticed that a house I looked at almost one year ago is still for sale at the same asking price. In 8-10 more months, inflation will have caught up to their ask and I will deem their price reasonable. Its a great strategy for a seller looking to tell their friends they “got their price”. Sure, it took two years but hey, they win! Good for them.

  36. Richard says:

    ck986, i more or less agree with your sentiment on where the market is heading. in regards to new homes and its impact, in this area i would think it’s far more muted due to it being a more established part. any figures available?

  37. ck986 says:

    My figures regarding Ridgewood are based on queries pulled off of the NJMLS. There are currently about 12 houses in that range under contract in the month of December. There were only about 24-30 houses in that range to begin with.

    My decision is not based on this one month and it is still open to revision based on the market performance in the 1st quarter. I just see that we have reached a support level that demand just bounces off of. For prices to come down further demand or sales need to fall to more historic norms. I think sales are still quite high even though they have come down a lot over the last year. That is one of the reasons the NAR keeps repeating this is still the third best year.

    Sales are down much further in NJ, probably to 01 or 02 levels per the NJMLS and per the graphs that JB posts.

  38. Richard says:

    >>Based on inventory declining, median house price climbing, and sales soaring up are you saying these aren’t signs of the bottom??

    they are signs. i think many here point to inventory as the indicator that eventually leads to price declines. seems to make sense but so far prices have held up reasonably well considering. this is why i think spring 2007 will tell the story. if inventory doesn’t explode we must just trudge through this whereas if the opposite occurs who knows.

  39. BC Bob says:

    Not Convinced,

    Did you read the whole article on Bloomberg, post # 22???

    “The number of new homes available is close to a record. They have averaged 555,000 this year through October, compared with 351,000 during the past 10 years, according to government figures.”

    “Existing home sales inventories are also near a record, averaging 3.515 million this year. Cancellations of purchase contracts, which aren’t counted in the government’s numbers, have mounted.

    “That’s growing,” said Logan. “There is even more inventory than actual inventory numbers suggest.”

    Hovnanian Enterprises, New Jersey’s largest builder, on Dec. 18 reported a fourth-quarter loss on cancellations of new-home orders. Hovnanian customers canceled 36 percent of their contracts in the period, an increase of 25 percent, the company said.

    “We didn’t have this in other slowdowns, customers walking away,” Chief Executive Officer Ara Hovnanian said in an interview on Dec. 19.

  40. Take at least 25% off 2005 peak prices says:

    “The number of new homes available have averaged 555,000 this year through October, compared with 351,000 during the past 10 years, according to government figures. Existing home sales inventories are also near a record, averaging 3.515 million this year.”

    “Cancellations of purchase contracts, which aren’t counted in the government’s numbers, have mounted. ‘That’s growing,’ said economist Kevin Logan. ‘There is even more inventory than actual inventory numbers suggest.’”

    I say inventory is glutted, but the RE complex has their hands in the numbers.

    Young first time buyers rmember all the cheerleaders are older, have a stake in the game or lifestyle so demand huge price concessions with these overbloated houses. Residential RE IS all a ponzi game anyway.

  41. ck986 says:

    I dont think existing home inventory is stabalizing. The changes we are seeing are seasonal. New homes are stabilizing because builders are building less homes. If you look at the inventory breakdown completed homes are at an all time high while “not started” and “in construction” are trending down. I think that the remaining inventory will linger and keep prices flat to slightly down for the next year or two.

  42. James Bednar says:

    New Home Sales, Northeast, Not Seasonally Adjusted

    Oct 03: ~7,000
    Nov 03: ~6,000

    Oct 04: ~8,000
    Nov 04: ~6,000

    Oct 05: ~6,000
    Nov 05: ~6,000

    Oct 06: ~3,000
    Nov 06: ~3,000

  43. njrebear says:

    Here are a few pointers on new home sales from Calculated Risk.


    1]This is 3.4 percent above the revised October rate of 1,013,000.
    2]Not Seasonally Adjusted monthly rate is the lowest November since 2001 when 67,000 new homes were sold.
    3]Inventory doesn’t include cancelations which are above 20%.

  44. James Bednar says:

    Realize, that if the market stablizes at this level (>50% below the last 3 years), we’re going to see a significant loss of residential construction employment in the Northeast.

    How many workers are needed to build half as many homes in a given period?


  45. njrebear says:


    Immigrants’ Jobs Vanish With Housing Slowdown

    The effects of the slowdown are also rippling through Hispanic-owned businesses

  46. ck986 says:

    JB, do you have non adjusted YTD numbers? How do they compare to the prior years. I keep forgetting that these numbers are manipulated quite a bit. I think sales seasonality plays a smaller part when a market is in a steep decline or significantly increasing, thus the actual number are good to compare.

  47. James Bednar says:

    NJ Construction Jobs, from the BLS:


    It took almost 12 years to regain the construction jobs lost during the last downturn. Construction employment in NJ fell from approximately 155,000 jobs in 1990, to 110,000 in 1992.


  48. njrebear says:

    from 44]

    “The revised pamphlet also warns consumers that falling home prices may make it impossible to refinance their loans or pay off the mortgage with proceeds from the sale of the property. “

  49. James Bednar says:

    (additional data added)

    New Home Sales, Northeast, Not Seasonally Adjusted

    Oct 99: ~5,000
    Nov 99: ~5,000

    Oct 00: ~6,000
    Nov 00: ~5,000

    Oct 01: ~5,000
    Nov 01: ~5,000

    Oct 02: ~5,000
    Nov 02: ~4,000

    Oct 03: ~7,000
    Nov 03: ~6,000

    Oct 04: ~8,000
    Nov 04: ~6,000

    Oct 05: ~6,000
    Nov 05: ~6,000

    Oct 06: ~3,000
    Nov 06: ~3,000

    I’m not sure if we’re at the bottom or not, but I’ll agree that we’re most certainly in uncharted waters.


  50. 2008 Buyer says:


    NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — The economy is stumbling at the end of 2006, setting off alarm bells that growth might not just slow next year but that the nation could tumble into a recession.

    The recent trend of slower growth is not expected to be reversed any time soon. Home building and the broader real estate market are both already in a recession by most accounts and are expected to stay there well into next year. Manufacturing could soon follow, according to some recent readings.

  51. njrebear says:

    from 51]

    Not Seasonally adjusted numbers in NE is worse than Oct & Nov 2001!

  52. sas says:

    On my travels in Denver, CO right now.

    The condo & townhouse market is in serious trouble. Too much inventory and not enough buyers. There is a big glut out here.

    But, the SFH seem to be doing ok. They are at a plateau, but at least they are affordable. They didn’t really go overboard with the McMansions out here as they did in NJ. But, like I said, they did go overboard in the condo/townhouse market.

    Some in NJ should consider moving out here. The local economey is doing fair. The housing is affordable, but I do expect a 10% decline here as comapred to a 25% decline on the east coast.


  53. 2008 Buyer says:

    With another 20 inches of snow expected this weekend. No thanks SAS….or is it SOS (Jokes)

  54. syncmaster says:

    From soldreg.pdf, here is a graph of non-adjusted numbers from Jan 73 to Nov 06 for the northeast.


  55. Lindsey says:

    I have come to despise the new housing report. Not the report actually, but the way it is reported.

    Once again the seasonally adjusted number appears to be very misleading. Despite what is otherwise indicated, sales in November (shown by the NSA figures) were actually smaller than October, and not by an insignificant amount, but 6K (7.7%).

    YOY sales also were off by more when you check the NSA number (16.2% NSA vs. 13.1% SA).

    I realize the effort is to make the monthly and YOY comparison’s more fair, but to the degree that such calculations depart from reality, shouldn’t the adjustment be adjusted?

    The misrepresentation of reality by relying on SA numbers allows wishful thinkers like Richard and Not Convinced to fool themselves and allows them to spread their ill-conceived notions. November sales were higher than October sales only in some poorly prepared formula, not reality.

    BTW njrebear, (#53) worse (way worse) than any year since 99, not 01. And it’s reasonable to believe that at least some new homes sales have been coming at the expense of existing, tomorrow should be interesting.

  56. njrebear says:

    58 to Lindsey,

    To me, Nov/Oct 2001 number is a litmus test because of it’s proximity to the terrorist attacks.

    If you go by data alone, the only time we hit 2k was in 1982 and we are 3k now.

  57. BC Bob says:

    “The misrepresentation of reality by relying on SA numbers allows wishful thinkers like Richard and Not Convinced to fool themselves and allows them to spread their ill-conceived notions”

    Wishful thinkers has a nice ring to it!!

  58. ck986 says:

    I picked up the same thing from the link that JB posted. Sales are way down when looking at un-adjusted figures. They need to come down some more though to reach historic norms. New home sales will end the year at 1.05M. for sales to be normal I think they should be between 800-900K. My outlook on demand for new homes may be off. Maybe demand is not accelerating downward at the pace it did last year but it is still dropping.

  59. sas says:

    2008 Buyer,

    Yeah, they get 20 inches of snow, but the next day its 50 degrees.

    In Colorado, it snows frequently, but the sun shines and clear skys the next day. Denver has more sunny days than LA and San Dieago, if you believe it. The weather out here is great.

    As for DIA airport, the problem with that was budget cuts. The airlines have cut so much from the budgets, that they cut snow removal budgets. Therefore you got this big mess out of the airports that they totally blamed on the weather. Horseshit!!

    The weather was a small factor, but the real mess came because of the budget cuts and not airlines wanted to fork over the cash for the snow removal.



  60. pesche22 says:

    housing is on the rebound.

    you can tell by the wall street crowd.

    It’s all gloom and doom over here .

    But , you can still get your rally hats

  61. Spelunker says:

    Back in 1991 the NYTimes thought it was over too. Only it had years to go before hitting bottom much less ending the slump all together. Call bottom early if you like and quite possibly wear egg and eat crow.

    Bottom of the Housing Slump Is Seen in the New York Area


  62. pesche22 says:

    dragging along the bottom. buy em when
    y’all got blood in the streets.

  63. kay says:

    I still say you can’t have a bubble when your product is limited ….”LAND”.tell me how to reproduce it and I’LL SAY bubble ,not untill then

  64. marc says:

    That makes me laugh… but at the same time it makes me sick :-) I read another similiar article about New Jersey real estate prices on NJville.com last week.

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