Home Prices Have Been Rising for Three Months: Report

By: Carrie Bay, DSnews.com

Standard & Poor’s reported Tuesday that it’s closely watched Case-Shiller index declined in January for the fifth straight month, with both the 10-city and 20-city composite readings slipping 0.8 percent from December.

But according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting (JBREC), that’s stale news and doesn’t reflect what’s actually happening in the market right now. In fact, the independent research company says home prices are rising.

JBREC conducted its own analysis of home prices in 97 markets and found that over the January-to-March period prices are up in 90 of them. The average price increase over the last three months is 1.1 percent, or a 4.5 percent annual rate, according to data issued by JBREC just before S&P’s Case-Shiller release.

The company also found that home prices have been trending up nationally since January, and even more markets have turned positive recently, with 93 of the 97 markets it analyzed showing appreciation over the last month.

So why are other industry indices still painting a picture of the doom and gloom of freefalling home prices? Wayne Yamano, VP and director of research for JBREC, says it’s because most price indices are on a three-month lag.

Yamano explains that after hundreds of hours of research vetting 23 data sources and running calculation after calculation, JBREC developed the Burns Home Value Index (BHVI), which calculates home values based on prices that are set at the time purchase contracts are negotiated and signed.

Nearly all other indices are based on when the purchase transaction closes, he says, which is typically two months after the purchase contracts were negotiated. Then, it takes one to two months for the closing price data to be compiled and reported, according to Yamano.

He contends that the BHVI is a better assessment of current changes in home prices and precedes median price data from the National Association of Realtors by three months and the S&P/Case-Shiller index by four to six months.

“It is current because it uses what is happening in MLS databases all over the country, as well as some leading indicators we have determined are reliable,” Yamano explained. “We call it a Home Value index because it is partially based on an ‘electronic appraisal’ of every home in the market, rather than just the small sample of homes that are actually transacting.”

JBREC has calculated BHVI index values for the United States and 97 major metro areas, with history going back to January 2000.

“The slow housing market recovery is underway, and it can accelerate or turn down quickly,” said Yamano. “The future is uncertain, and it is even more uncertain when you are using data that is three months old.”