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Wednesday, March 07, 2012 11:47 AM

LPS Home Price Index Shows U.S. Home Prices Accelerated Decline; Psychology Change and Demographics Suggests Bubble Mentality Shattered for Decades to Come

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U.S. home prices declines to a new low for the move and are back to a level last seen in September-October 2002 according to a LPS News Release.

The LPS HPI national average home price for transactions during December 2011 reached a price level not seen since September 2002. This is the sixth consecutive month of price decreases.

Price changes were largely consistent across the country during December, increasing in only 8.0 percent of the ZIP codes in the LPS HPI. Price changes were also consistent across price tiers with a uniform decline of 1.0 percent.

“Despite the broad picture of home price declines following the bubble, prices have not been consistently declining for all MSAs in the country. About one-fifth (89) of all the MSAs that LPS covers has seen average home prices increase since December 2008,” commented Dosaj. “For 90 percent of these MSAs, prices rose only if the lowest-priced homes in their markets rose. This correlation did not necessarily hold for higher-priced homes in those areas. Unfortunately, the MSAs that have seen price increases since December 2008 are generally relatively small; Boston and Pittsburgh are exceptions.”

About the LPS Home Price Index

The LPS HPI is one of the most complete and accurate home price sources available. It summarizes sales concluded during each month using a repeat sales analysis of home prices as of the transaction dates. Each month, the LPS HPI reports five price levels in each of more than 14,500 U.S. ZIP codes. Five price levels are also reported at the national and state levels and for 436 of the statistical areas defined by the White House Office of Management and Budget; including all 29 of the Metropolitan Divisions and their 11 MSA “parents.” The five historical paths of price levels can be easily used to find price paths of intermediate prices. The LPS HPI also supplies REO discount rates for each ZIP code, which are used in the HPI calculations to correct for the impact on estimates of open-market prices that REO sale prices would have.

By combining property and loan data in its repeat sales analysis, the LPS HPI covers about 75 percent of single-family residential properties in the U.S. The innovative approach used to maximize geographical resolution enables the LPS HPI to meaningfully cover about 98 percent of these properties at the ZIP-code level.

The LPS HPI provides the financial industry with the most accurately timed home-price information available – detecting market changes sooner than other HPIs – with valuation accuracies competitive with AVMs in out-of-sample tests.
Bubble Mentality Shattered for Decades to Come

The key take-away is home prices still have not bottomed in most areas. Moreover, nothing stops a renewed decline in those 8% of areas that did not decline.

Also bear in mind that first chart shows nominal prices. Inflation adjusted prices have likely taken back the entire rise in prices, except of course for property taxes.

Once there is a bottom, and we are certainly closer to a bottom than a top, expect home prices to generally languish due to immense shadow inventory, anemic wage growth, anemic job growth, boomer downsize demographics, and most importantly psychology.

Housing prices were a once-in-a-multi-generational bubble, now gone bust. The mentality that "your home is your retirement" is dead for decades to come. A similar bust will happen in Canada, Australia, and China.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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