There are many tools and indices that experts use to help measure the state of the housing market. One of the most recognized tools in measuring house price movements is the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. This index tracks changes in the market values of residential real estate (excluding new construction) in 20 of the largest metropolitan areas across the United States. The monthly index uses a 3-month moving average algorithm to determine values.
The most recent numbers came out at the end of May for March 2009 (there is a 2-month lag in reporting). Important to note is that the HPI has a base value of 100 for January 2000. This means that if a city has a current index value of 120, there has been a 20% appreciation rate since January 2000 for a typical home in that real estate market.
Make sense? Let's look at the state of the Atlanta real estate market according to Case-Shiller. According to their calculations, Atlanta has a March 2009 HPI value of 104.89 which equates to a total of 4.89% appreciation over the past 9 1/2 years. However, over the past year Atlanta has seen a -15.7% decrease....Ouch. The change from February '09 to March '09 was -1.7% which is a slightly smaller decline than was seen from January 2009 to February 2009 (-2.5%).
The above graph plots the S&P/Case-Shiller HPI values beginning with January 2000. A few important points based on these findings:
- The Atlanta real estate market never saw the explosive growth of other major metropolitan areas. Hopefully that means Atlanta home values don't have as far to fall as some other markets.
- Atlanta's real estate peak was July 2007 when the HPI reached 136.47 (36.47% overall appreciation or approximately 4.9%/yr)
- Atlanta has been in steady decline since July 2008 (124.73) until the most current March 2009 numbers (104.89)