Tuesday, July 28, 2009

A Tale of Seven Cities... and Some Condos

Today’s S&P/Case-Shiller housing market data revealed some notable differences in the trends from one metro market to the next.

It’s important to recognize that while our current national residential real estate decline is truly historic and unprecedented, a near simultaneous decline of one or more major metro markets is not.

During the 1980s/1990s boom and bust both West Coast and East Coast metro markets experienced the boom and bust cycle but while metros on the east coast, such as Boston, shook off the decline, cleared and started to climb somewhat by 1993 with the period between late 1996 and early 1997 marking the point where many markets recovered their nominal pre-bust peak levels, west coast metros generally continued to decline well into the mid-90s.

West coast metros such as San Francisco lumbered along and didn’t breach their pre-bust nominal peak level until well into 1998 in-line with the wider economic boom of the dot-com era.

Today, as in the 1990s, we see significant differences from one metro market to the next the only difference this time around is both the extent of the boom and bust and the fact that this cyclical shock has touched every market, not just a select few.

In the dynamic Blytic charts below I have arranged the three price tiers as well as a 12 month simple moving average of the “sale pair counts” for each of a selection of seven of the twenty metro markets that S&P tracks.

Notice that while some markets are showing an up-trend in sales, most are still experiencing significant price declines.

Also, metros such as New York, Atlanta and Washington DC appear to only now be tipping into the level of decline seen during 2007 and 2008 in some of the bubbliest markets of Phoenix, Miami and San Francisco.

Further, notice that while the nation’s major condo markets held fairly steady through 2008, they are now declining to a comparable extent to the single family markets.