Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Almost Daily 2¢ - More Pain, Less Gain

One of the more interesting aspects of this era of housing downturn that set it apart from past periods is that today’s events are unfolding against the backdrop of the internet information age.

Aside from the Blogesphere and other internet-based means of mass communications, this is the first housing downturn in which market participants (who are inclined) can easily and efficiently follow aggregate home prices, peruse listings, track price reductions and even “snoop” deed records and seller debt obligations.

Just imagine what the progress of today’s housing downturn would be like without all that information… possibly the 90s bust?

To that end, recall that there are three major sources of housing price data, S&P/Case-Shiller, OFHEO and Radar Logic.

Each handle the data a bit differently but each are modern, analytical and represent a major step forward in the accuracy of modeling aggregate home price movement, especially when compared to the older median or average price method.

Also, since each is fairly strongly correlated (as I demonstrated in a prior post), taken together they offer strong evidence that the price movement is accurate.

One interesting development that falls out of this correlation is that the most timely index data, supplied by Radar Logic (RPX), can act as a predictor for both the S&P/Case-Shiller (CSI) and OFHEO (HPI) indices with the CSI also leading the HPI.

The following charts (click for larger versions) show the latest RPX and CSI data for Boston, Denver, Chicago, Miami, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC and Seattle.

Notice that the RPX (based on preliminary February data) is leading into February and that for some metros, notably Boston and Denver, are showing significant downward price movement that would possibly defy typical seasonal patterns.