National Housing Market Outlook

Home Prices Have Been Rising for 3 Months, but Nobody has Been Telling You

March 26, 2012

Over the last 3 months, prices are up in 90 of the 97 markets we analyzed. The average price increase over the last 3 months is 1.1%, or a 4.5% annual rate.

This is big news, so why isn’t anyone else reporting it?

It is because most price indexes are at least 3 months behind what’s happening with home prices right now. The Burns Home Value Index (BHVI) gives you a 3-month competitive advantage.

We developed the BHVI to answer the question, “What is happening to home prices today?” The answer is, “Home prices are rising!”

  • Prices have been trending up nationally since January (see national index below).
  • In the last 3 months, 90 of 97 markets we analyzed appreciated.
  • More markets have turned positive recently, with 93 of the 97 markets we analyzed showing appreciation over the last month.
  • No other major price index has picked up on this trend yet. The National Association of Realtors did report last week that median price was up in February, but their short-term trends have been historically volatile and unreliable because of sensitivity to mix shift and seasonality (e.g., false uptick in November 2011).

Why are the other price indexes so far behind?

The BHVI calculates home values based on prices that are set at the time purchase contracts are negotiated and signed. Nearly all other indexes are based on when the purchase transaction closes, which is typically 2 months after the purchase contracts were negotiated. Then, it takes 1 to 2 months for the closing price data to be compiled and reported.

After hundreds of hours of research vetting 23 data sources and running calculation after calculation, we developed the BHVI, which gives our clients the most accurate and timely calculation of home price appreciation trends. The BHVI uses the best information available to calculate current changes in home prices, and precedes median price data from the National Association of Realtors by 3 months and the S&P/Case-Shiller index by 4 to 6 months. It is current because it uses what is happening in MLS databases all over the country, as well as some leading indicators we have determined are reliable. We call it a Home Value index because it is partially based on an “electronic appraisal” of every home in the market, rather than just the small sample of homes that are actually transacting. We have calculated BHVI index values for the U.S. and 97 major metro areas, with history going back to January 2000.

The slow housing market recovery is underway, and it can accelerate or turn down quickly, which is why the BHVI and other JBREC proprietary tools are indispensable to our clients. The future is uncertain, and it is even more uncertain when you are using data that is 3 months old.


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