Home values rose in March, according to the Federal Home Finance Agency’s most recent Home Price Index. Values were reported higher by 0.3 percent, on average, from February.
We use the phrase “on average” because the Home Price Index is broad-reaching, national housing statistic. It ignores the dynamics of neighborhood real estate markets like Orinda as well as citywide markets like Walnut Creek , too.
Instead, the Home Price Index focuses on state and regional statistics.
For example, in March 2010 as compared to February:
- Values in the East South Central region rose 2.5%
- Values in the Mountain states rose 1.1%
- Values in the Middle Atlantic states fell 1.0%
Of course, none of this data is especially helpful for today’s home buyers and sellers.
Real estate is a local phenomenon that can’t be summarized by state or region. What matters most to buyers and sellers is the economics of a neighborhood and that level of granularity can’t be served up by a national housing report like the Home Price Index.
The Home Price Index data is additionally unhelpful to buyers and sellers in that it reports on a 2-month delay.
In other words, Home Price Index is not even a fair reflection of today’s market — it highlights the real estate market as it existed 60 days ago.
So why is the Home Price Index even published? Because government, business and banks rely on the reports. As a national indicator, the Home Price Index helps governments make policy, businesses make decisions, and banks make guidelines. This, in turn, trickles down to Main Street where it impacts every one of us — and eventually influences real estate.
Since peaking in April 2007, the Home Price Index is off 13.44 percent.