According the Federal Home Finance Agency’s Home Price Index, home values are now off just 12.5 percent from their April 2007 peak nationwide. This, after a half-percent monthly increase in prices in May, on average.
Given the state of the market since April 2007, the Home Price Index results are a positive for both the housing market and the economy, but we have to remember that May’s half-point increase is an average, and not specific to a particular area.
In contrast to “national markets”, the real estate markets in which you and I live are decidedly local. It’s a major difference and the distinction renders the Home Price Index somewhat less important.
After all, the HPI doesn’t account for housing activity in individual neighborhoods, nor does it track value across cities like Austin. Instead, it summarizes data in giant chunks of geography.
A quick look at the HPI regional data proves the point. Of the HPI’s 9 tracked regions, only one was within one-tenth of one percent of the national, half-point average. The others varied by as much 1.3 percent.
As a sample:
- Mountain Region : + 1.7 percent
- New England : + 0.2 percent
- South Atlantic : +1.0 percent
And this is on a regional basis. The HPI’s applicability to state, city and neighborhood markets is even less appropriate.
Real estate values cannot be captured in a national survey. For home buyers and seller, what matters is the economics of a block, on a street, in a neighborhood. That type of granularity can’t be tracked in a report like the Home Price Index.
The best place to get that data is from a local real estate agent that knows the market well.