What Housing Has Done in Your City

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I pointed out yesterday that, adjusted for inflation, nationwide home prices are now about where they were in the late 1980s. This backs up a point Yale economist Robert Shiller told me a few months ago: In real (inflation-adjusted) terms, we shouldn't be surprised if housing falls for the next several decades. It's happened in the past, and it could happen in the future.

Some reminded me that this is misleading: Housing is all about location, location, location. Some regions -- particularly those growing faster than the overall economy -- will do much better than others.

That's absolutely right. I pulled up the regional version of the S&P Case-Shiller Housing Index to see how different regions have fared over the last one-, two-, and 10-year periods. Have a look:


Home Price Change, Year Over Year

Home Price Change, 2009-2011

Home Price Change, 2001-2011

Phoenix (3.6%) (9.8%) (10.5%)
Los Angeles (5.4%) (3.5%) 35.0%
San Diego (5.4%) (3.0%) 16.8%
San Francisco (5.5%) (5.1%) 0.7%
Denver (0.2%) (2.7%) 2.2%
Washington, D.C. 0.5% 3.1% 46.9%
Miami (4.4%) (7.9%) 10.8%
Tampa, Fla. (6.1%) (10.3%) 3.9%
Atlanta (11.7%) (18.5%) (19.7%)
Chicago (5.9%) (13.0%) (5.0%)
Boston (1.6%) (2.3%) 15.4%
Detroit 3.8% (2.3%) (36.9%)
Minneapolis (5.0%) (9.0%) (11.6%)
Charlotte, N.C. (2.0%) (6.3%) 6.5%
Las Vegas (9.2%) (12.4%) (20.0%)
New York (2.3%) (4.0%) 32.5%
Cleveland (1.1%) (5.5%) (7.7%)
Portland, Ore. (4.8%) (11.4%) 22.1%
Dallas (0.8%) (4.9%) 2.4%
Seattle (6.3%) (10.8%) 17.3%

Sources: S&P Case-Shiller and author's calculations. Figures not adjusted for inflation.

The standouts for me: Washington, D.C.'s rise over the last decade is still huge (thank you, government spending), Atlanta's 10-year decline is about the same as Las Vegas', and the 10-year gain of some big cities (New York, Los Angeles, Portland) is still considerable.

So yes, it is all about location. But big trends can still be noticed on a nationwide level. While home prices nationwide could drag on lethargically for years, I'm reasonably confident that home construction will make a solid rebound sooner than some expect. That could be good for the economy, and great for companies like KB Homes (NYSE: KBH  ) , MDC Holdings (NYSE: MDC  ) , and Meritage Homes (NYSE: MTH  ) -- all three of which I've highlighted in my CAPS account as companies I think could benefit from that trend.

What do you think? Share your thoughts below.

Fool contributor Morgan Housel doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article. Follow him on Twitter @TMFHousel. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of MDC Holdings and Meritage Homes. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Read/Post Comments (3) | Recommend This Article (6)

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  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2012, at 11:37 AM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    There's a lot more going on in DC than government spending. The height limit restrictions downtown mean that developers can't build housing up to meet demand and have to either build out or charge ridiculous rates or, as appears to be the case, both. It's a stupid regulation and ought to be stricken down. DC is not Paris and never will be (nor should it try).

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2012, at 12:59 PM, sailrmac wrote:

    Think of housing like a stock that moves slowly.

    1 year price change is short term. 10 year price change is intermediate. Then remember, the trend is your friend!!

    Supply and demand is pretty obvious.

    GRM is similiar to P/E. (Though here I'd say this is a bit of an oversimplification. If you got the skills and time to do an ROI model of buying a house and renting it you are better off. Mortgage rates, tax benefits, vacancy rates, appreciation assumptions etc. all matter a lot.)

    Take out the emotion and the direction of the price in housing is easier to follow and predict than stocks simply because it's much slower. The harder part is removing the emotion, taking the facts and actually behaving accordingly.

    Step 1 - say and think, "this is housing, not a home." until you start to believe it. Or hey, you can continue holding on until prices recover. Cisco will recover one day too. Right?

  • Report this Comment On February 02, 2012, at 1:12 PM, DJDynamicNC wrote:

    "Step 1 - say and think, "this is housing, not a home." until you start to believe it."

    This is outstanding advice.

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