With an index value of 136.71, the 20-City Composite fell below its earlier reported March 2011 low of 137.64. Similarly, the 10-City Composite hit a new low, falling below the prior low reported in April 2009. While some believed that the first time homebuyers’ tax credit was the only reason for any boost in home prices in late 2008/early 2009, there is little doubt with December’s report that we have seen a double- (if not triple-) dip in home prices when measured at the national level.
The National Composite also hit a new low with the fourth quarter data (the prior two lows were the first quarter 0f 2009 and the first quarter of 2011, and some may define this as the “triple-dip”). The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index declined by 3.8% in the fourth quarter of 2011 and is down 4.0% versus the fourth quarter of 2010. Nationally, home prices are back to their late-2002 levels. This means that any increases in average home prices between 2002 and the 2006 peak have been erased. On average, home prices are selling at the same value they were almost 10 years ago and are 33.8% below their 2006Q2 peak.
In addition to the Composites, four MSAs — Atlanta, Las Vegas, Seattle and Tampa — all hit their lowest levels as measured by the current housing cycle. The 20-City Composite’s December 2011 level is the lowest since February 2003; the 10-City Composite’s is the lowest since May 2003. This cycle’s peak for the Composites was in June/July 2006 and both are down more than 33% from their respective peak levels.