Interest Rate Roundup

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

S&P/Case-Shiller index for July -- prices down 3.91% YOY

Every month, S&P and Case-Shiller release data on home prices (PDF link). They have indices that track what home prices are doing in major cities around the country. The group's 20-city index showed ...

* Home prices fell 0.45% between June and July. That was worse than the 0.38% decline in June and the biggest monthly drop since January (-0.5%)

* On a year-over-year basis, home prices fell by 3.91%. That was a larger decline than the 3.42% fall we saw in June, and the sharpest drop yet for this down cycle.

* Of the 20 cities in the composite index, 15 showed a YOY price drop (the same as in June). Leading the decliners again was Detroit (-9.69%). The next worst-performing markets were Tampa (-8.77%), San Diego (-7.78%) and Phoenix (-7.3%). The country's strongest upside performers were Seattle (+6.86%) and Charlotte (+5.97%).

* Lastly, the group has maintained a 10-city index for a longer period of time than the 20-city index. The 10-city measure showed prices off by 4.5%. That was the worst year-over-year decline since July 1991. The biggest decline on record was -6.3% in April of that year.

The ongoing housing slump deepened in July, according to these figures, and there are plenty of reasons to believe home prices will continue to decline. After all, mortgage standards have tightened up, for-sale inventory levels are off the charts, and home prices are still high relative to incomes.

What about the Fed rate cut? It's still an open question as to whether that will help with sentiment or financing costs. So far, we've seen a "split reaction" in the mortgage market. Some market rates that short-term ARMs track, like LIBOR, have come down. But long-term Treasury note and bond yields have risen, putting upward pressure on 30-year fixed mortgages.


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