We seemed to have conclusive evidence of falling national home prices this week when the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index came out. The index was down 3.2% in the second quarter from a year earlier, the biggest drop in its 20-year history, as Maya Roney recently reported on this blog.
Then today the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight announced that according to their measure, housing prices nationally actually went up in the second quarter by 3.2%.
It’s nice that the two sources agree on the 3.2 part, but it would be even better if they could also agree on the plus or minus sign.
I tend to give a little more weight to the bearish S&P/Case-Shiller numbers, because they cover expensive houses with jumbo mortgages. Lots of the worst markets are in costly states like California where even ordinary houses require jumbo mortgages. OFHEO, because it regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, only pays attention to houses with mortgages that those two companies are allowed to buy, namely ones under $417,000.
For a deep dive into the differences between S&P/Case-Shiller and OFHEO, check out this OFHEO document from June.
BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.