The housing market recovery appears to be sustainable.
According to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Home Price Index, home prices rose by a seasonally-adjusted 0.7 percent between May and June 2012. The index is now up 3.0% over the past 12 months, and made its biggest quarterly gain since 2005 last quarter.
The FHFA’s Home Price Index measures home price changes through successive home sales for homes whose mortgages are backed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, and for which the property type is categorized as a “single-family residence”.
Condominiums, multi-unit homes and homes with jumbo mortgages, for example, are excluded from the Home Price Index, as are all-cash home sales.
June’s HPI gives buyers and seller reason to cheer, but it’s important to remember that the Home Price Index — like so many other home valuation trackers — has a severe, built-in flaw. The HPI uses aged data. It’s nearly September, yet we’re talking numbers from June.
Data that’s two months old has limited meaning in today’s housing market. It’s reflective of the housing market as it looked in the past.
And, even then, to categorize the HPI as “two months old” may be a stretch. Because it often takes 45-60 days to close on a home sale, the home sale prices as reported by the July Home Price Index are the result of purchase contracts written from as far back as February 2012.
Buyers and sellers in search of real-time home price data, in other words, won’t get it from the FHFA.
The Home Price Index is a useful housing market gauge for law-makers and economists. It highlights long-term trends in housing which can assist in allocating resources to a particular policy or project. For home buyers and sellers , however, it’s decidedly less useful. Real-time data is what’s most important.
For that, talk to a real estate professional.