Home prices started the year on an upswing.
According to the Federal Home Finance Agency's Home Price Index, home prices rose by a seasonally-adjusted 0.3 percent between January and February 2012. The index is up 0.4% over the past year, offering a counter-story to the Case-Shiller Index's assertion that home values are sinking.
Last week, Standard & Poor's Case-Shiller Index said home values had dropped more than 3 percent in the prior 12 months.
As a home buyer or seller , data showing "rising home values" or "falling home values" may be of interest to you, but we can't forget that most home valuation trackers -- including both the government's Home Price Index and the private sector Case-Shiller Index -- have a severe, built-in flaw.
Both used "aged" data. Today, the calendar reads May. Yet, we're still discussing February's housing data.
Data that is two-plus months old is of little value to everyday buyers and sellers wanting to know the "right now" of housing. And, even then, characterizing the data as "two-plus months old" may be a stretch. This is because the home values used in the Home Price index and the Case-Shiller Index are collected from actual transactions, but at the time of closing.
Considering that most purchases require 45-60 days to close, we can know that when we look at the Home Price Index and Case-Shiller Index reports for February, what we're really seeing is a snapshot of the housing market as it existed two-plus month plus 60 days ago.
Data that's 5 months old is of little relevance to today's buyers and sellers. Today's market is driven by today's economics.
The Home Price Index is a useful gauge for economists and law-makers. It highlights long-term trends in housing which can be helpful in allocating resources to a particular project or policy. For home buyers and sellers , though, it's much less useful. Real-time data is what matters to you.
For that, talk to a real estate or mortgage broker professional.
About the Author
Brian Quigley has been in the Denver mortgage industry since 2003. Customer satisfaction has been his top priority while guiding clients through the home loan qualification process. He is proficient in all types of mortgage financing including FHA/VA, Conventional, USDA, Jumbo, Portfolio, 1031 Exchanges, Reverse Mortgages, Refinancing, Construction loans, and FHA 203K loans.