Thursday, January 12, 2012

When will House Prices Return to Normal?

“Home is where you can say anything you please, because nobody pays any attention to you anyway”
- Joe Moore
In 2008 a sharp drop in home prices ($9 trillion lost) resulted in a near total collapse of the financial markets. If you're lucky any stocks you owned may have recovered back to 2008 levels. If you're a home owner you may be wondering, when will my house price recover and start going up again?

If the Case-Shiller Index by Yale economist Robert Shiller is correct, the answer is not good. House prices ballooned by 87% starting in 1997 and the pricing decline won't cease until homes return to 1997 values (adjusted for inflation).

Steve Barry at created a chart illustrating Shiller's housing price index from 1890 and updated it to Jan 2011 (adjusted for inflation). The index is for home resales, not new sales.

As you can see from the chart, the current "boom" still has some deflating to do.

Bottom Line

I've been thinking that this was a good time to buy and a bad time to sell a house. But if the prediction of the chart above is accurate, then house prices will fall even further and stay flat until the next boom. So do you sell now or wait? Tough call. The chart above is missing a few things that push prices upwards:
"One should also adjust home prices for size — homes square footage shot up tremendously from 1995 to 2007, for Inflation (we had a huge inflationary surge from 2001-07, as the dollar collapsed 41%) and for Quality (high end materials and appliances migrated from the most expensive homes through to the top 30%."

If you use this chart, please credit Steve Barry and his website

See also for a PEW report on prices and public perception.

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