Like single-family home prices, condos saw an April seasonal boost

Data through April 2011 showed increases in condo prices in most of the markets covered by the S&P/Case-Shiller Condo Price indices. Four of the five condo markets were up in April over March – all four by more than 1.5%.  Los Angeles, however, recorded a new cycle low with the release of April 2011 data when its index fell by 0.2%. And while Chicago and San Francisco both saw significant price increases over the month – up 2.5% each – they both saw deterioration in their annual rates.  Chicago’s market has declined by 15.7% since April 2010, and San Francisco is down 2.8%.

The increase in condo prices is a welcome change from recent months, where we saw condo prices generally fall for most of the prior eight months. However, since April is the beginning of the Spring/Summer home buying season it is too early to tell if this is a turning point or simply due to an expected seasonal blip.  For a true recovery, we need to see several months of increasing condo prices, large enough to shift the annual momentum positive.

S&P/Case-Shiller Condo Price Indices for five major MSAs. Sources: S&P Indices and FiServ.

Looking at overall trends, Chicago’s market has been the weakest in recent months. A 2.5% increase in prices in April is a positive, but since August 2010 the market had fallen by more than 1.5% each month for a cumulative 21.3% eight-month decline. While not faring as poorly on an absolute basis, Los Angeles’ condo market is struggling too.  With an April 2011 level of 176.28, condo prices are at their lowest level since 2003.  However, this level also shows that Los Angeles is still better off than Chicago.  Los Angeles’ April index level means that average condo prices were still more than 75% above their 2000 levels; whereas Chicago’s reading was only 105.13, or about 5%.

With the table below, it appears that the Boston, New York and San Francisco condo markets might be riding out this crisis better than their single-family home markets. All three cities saw condo prices rise in April over March – Boston up 2.0%, New York up 1.6% and San Francisco up 2.5% – and are posting annual rates of decline that are significantly smaller than their single-family counterparts.

S&P/Case-Shiller Price Indices, comparative statistics. Sources: S&P Indices and FiServ

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2 Comments

  1. Joe says:

    “And while Chicago and San Francisco both saw significant price increases over the month – up 2.5% each – they both saw deterioration in their annual rates.”

    I’ve never quite understood how prices can go up M-o-M, and down Y-o-Y. I think this is semantics. If annual numbers are showing a negative number (despite a monthly increase) that doesn’t mean a decline or deterioration, it just means prices are still lower than a year ago, right? The reverse is also true.

    “The increase in condo prices is a welcome change from recent months, where we saw condo prices generally fall for most of the prior eight months. ”

    Not sure why increases in prices are “welcome news”. Isn’t that bias? Many homes are still way over-priced, and many condos offering the least value IMO.

    What would be nice to see are historical records of seasonal blips. I seem to remember this even in the worst decline years.

  2. Maureen Maitland says:

    Monthly prices can go up while annual rates are not only negative, but continue to worsen. It all has to do with the actual rate of change in the monthly statistic versus the expectation of its seasonal pattern compared to the prior year.

    So, prices may be not just lower than a year ago but also falling deeper into negarive territory. That happened in April with the 20-City Composite. which was up 0.7% in April over March, but the annual change fell from -3.8% in March to -4.0% in April. Home prices must increase on a sustained monthly basis to reverse the downward annual trend.

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