Case Shiller Indices for Q3, in Plain English

Now that you understand both the power and the limitations of the Case-Shiller Index, we’ll take a look at the data Quarter 3 has to offer.

Single-family Homes

The table below summarizes the results for September 2011. There is always a two month lag between the close of the quarter and the release of these data, which is why we see it now. The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices are revised for the 24 prior months, “based on the receipt of additional source data.”


 Put simply, the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices show that nationally, home prices did not register much change to get excited about. The U.S. National Home Price Index is up by only 0.1% from its second quarter level.

The declines posted can be looked at in two ways. First, the bad news: The national index posted an annual decline of 3.9%. The good news though is that this decline is an improvement over the 5.8% decline posted in Quarter 2.

Detroit and Washington DC, the latter a city ZipCode has focused on before here and here for its remarkable performance on the market of late, were the only two metros to showing positive data. They are up +3.7% and +1.0% respectively. Source of Title points out that Detroit has recorded “three consecutive months of positive annual rates,” which must be very welcome in the Motor City.

Overall though, on the national level, single-family homes are fetching the prices they did in Quarter 1 of 2003.


Condos took a bigger hit than their single-family compatriots. As Maureen Maitland, Vice President of S&P Indices  Index Management and Production Department, wrote, “only New York condo prices did not weaken as the third quarter ended.”

Four metro areas show the biggest decline: Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco. These cities are now dealing with condo prices at 2001 and 2002 levels.


Conversely, condos in the New York metro saw an increase, and prices are back at 2005 levels.

Final Analysis

Overall the news is a bit dreary, with flat or declining prices in most of the nation’s metro areas. But remember what we said Monday:

Even if the Case-Shiller is more in-depth and thus more “accurate” than other measurements, it can’t predict or even report on a specific neighborhood. ….[Broad, metro-wide data are] no substitute for the help of a local agent who can help you know what’s really happening with home values