While indices show how quickly prices rise and fall, many people prefer to gauge prices in dollars and compare current prices across different cities. The chart shows the price ranges that represent the middle third of the market for 17 of the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices cities. The tiered indices divide each market into the highest priced third of the sales, the middle third and the bottom third. The end-points of the ranges shown on the chart are defined by the price between the low and middle thirds to the price between the middle and top thirds. The bars represent the middle third of the market, not all the prices in any market – there are houses priced at less than $97,000 in Phoenix and at more than $580,000 in San Francisco.
The chart shows substantial variation across the cities – a modest home for $105,000 in Tampa would probably cost three times more at $315,000 in San Francisco. Higher prices don’t necessarily mean more rapidly rising prices. Home prices in Tampa are up 26% from January 2000 to April 2011 while prices in San Francisco rose 18% in the same time period. Likewise, the top of the middle range in Atlanta is only $13,000 less than the top of the range in Miami even though Miami’s peak index value was 281 in December 2006 compared to Atlanta’s peak index of 136 in July 2007.