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Latest U.S. Home Sales Price Reading a ‘Distinct Downer’

'price reduced' sign Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images.

It’s the monthly moment for Case-Shiller/S&P, the most widely followed index of U.S. housing prices, and Tuesday’s numbers are a distinct downer, prices dropping at an annual rate of over 1 percent, though only half that, seasonally adjusted. Only Detroit and Washington, D.C. posted positive annual returns (up 2.5 percent and 1.3 percent, respectively) and seven of 20 cities — Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Las Vegas, Miami, Minneapolis and Phoenix — hit seasonally adjusted post-crisis lows in October.

Making Sense

Use this interactive to see how prices have changed since 2000 in these 20 metro areas:

  • Click and drag your mouse on the chart to zoom in on a particular span of time.
  • Use the box at top to choose your view: quarterly percent change, yearly percent change, monthly index value.
  • To view a particular city, click Hide All then the city’s label below.

The Case-Shiller Index is based on a value of 100 in January 2000; in other words, an index of 150 means a home’s value is 50 percent greater than in January 2000.

“Atlanta and the Midwest are regions that really stand out in terms of recent relative weakness,” said David Blitzer, chairman of S&P’s index committee. “These markets were some of the strongest during the spring/summer buying season.”

“The stall earlier this year probably resulted from a slowing of the foreclosure pipeline after the media reported that lenders had cut corners in processing foreclosures,” Patrick Newport of IHS Global Insight wrote in an email newsletter.

Writes The Wall Street Journal’s Marketwatch: “there is generally greater interest in buying homes during the spring and summer.”

More ominously comes this from Nouriel Roubini on Twitter:

Nouriel Roubini Tweet

(Roubini, our viewers may recall, made his network TV debut in November 2006 on the NewsHour, predicting just such a catastrophe.)

We were also interested in seeing the effects of the Case-Shiller Index on one average home price over time. As a baseline, we took the selling price of an average home at the height of the housing bubble in July 2006 — $311,300, according to the U.S. Census — and that month’s Index of 206.52.

We then plotted how that price would have changed before and after the peak — based on monthly Case-Shiller readings. Use this interactive to see the effects of the housing bubble and its burst. For example, when the index was about half its peak bubble score (April 2000, at 103.5) the same home would have sold for about half its July 2006 price ($156,012).

Prices not adjusted for inflation.

Interactives by Justin Myers.

This entry is cross-posted on the Making Sen$e page, where correspondent Paul Solman answers your economic and business questions _Follow Paul on Twitter._

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