Indications on home prices are for the most part trending downwards with Case-Shiller the latest to show contraction, at an adjusted 0.6 percent in October following a revised 0.7 percent decline in September and a 0.4 percent decline in August. For the unadjusted data, which in this series is closely watched, contraction steepened from a revised 0.7 percent in September to 1.2 percent in October. The deeper monthly contraction here likely reflects, at least in part, the dampening effects on demand from colder weather. The year-on-year comparison, where seasonality plays much less of a factor than the month-on-month comparison, both the adjusted and unadjusted series show 3.4 percent contraction which in a mild positive is a little less severe than prior months.
But the year-on-year rate won't be improving much if monthly contraction continues to extend. A look at individual cities shows a break down in Atlanta where monthly rates of adjusted decline have been 4.1 percent, 4.8 percent and 2.9 percent the last three reports. At a year-on-year minus 11.7 percent, Atlanta is the only one of the report's 20 cities to show double-digit contraction. Other weak spots include Minneapolis, Los Angeles, and Chicago as well as Las Vegas and Miami.
Home sales have been firming and reports of life in the housing and construction-related sectors are picking up. But the gains are being made at the expense of price. Next data out of the housing sector will be mortgage applications tomorrow morning.