Pete Wargent blogspot

CEO AllenWargent Property Buyers, & WargentAdvisory (institutional). 6 x finance author.

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Wednesday, 30 November 2016

US home prices hit new peak (finally!)

GDP revised up

The second estimate of US GDP for the third was revised up to an annual rate of +3.2 per cent, well up from the +1.4 per cent result in the second quarter, reported the US Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Meanwhile consumer confidence hit its highest level in 9 years, although it's unclear how this separate survey will respond to the election result going forward. 

Note that the Yanks report GDP rather differently to Aussies, reporting an annualised growth rate based on the quarterly result. 

Over the first three quarters of 2016, the average quarterly annualised growth rate was +1.8 per cent, which is a bit lower than the equivalent of +1.9 per cent seen across the four quarters of last year. 

It looks as though 2016 will be end up being somewhere similar to the prior year in terms of real GDP growth. 

The annualised result for the third quarter was the best in the two years since 2014, buoyed by consumer spending, an an uptick in certain types of exports, while business investment and home building were revised up. 

The revised result beat expectations and suggests that reasonable momentum in the economy held up through the third quarter.

With the 'labor' market approaching full employment and inflation and earnings rising, it's expected that rates will be hiked. 

In turn the Aussie dollar is now buying less than 75 US cents.

Home prices recover, at last

Elsewhere, it was reported that the famed US Case-Shiller index now records house prices as having finally moved above their 2006 peak.

It's been a heck of a long time coming after the crash!

Case-Shiller's index enjoyed a spectacularly bubbly run over the two decades running up to 2006, with prices all but quadrupling over that time, but it's been a very different story since the sub-prime crisis erupted.

Nationally prices moved +5.5 per cent higher over the year to September 2016 to be up by +37.9 per cent from their trough.

And nationally prices at long last eclipsed the previous peak seen in July 2006, albeit very marginally.

The 20 City Composite index was up by a slightly less impressive +5.1 per cent year-on-year, unchanged from August, while the 10 City Composite Index was up by just +4.3 per cent.

As you can see from the chart above, in aggregate the top cities have struggled to recover to their respective pre-crisis peaks.

In fact, only 7 of the 20 cities have reached new highs, but the cities which experienced the greatest booms (Vegas, Miami, Tampa, Phoenix) remain well off the pace.

The better performing cities over the year to September included Seattle (+11 per cent), Denver (+8.7 per cent), and Portland (+10.9 per cent).

AS such, the recovery in US house prices has been very mixed, with some cities faring much better than others.

There are only ten US cities with a population of above 1 million, but dozens of cities with a population of around half a million or more, contrasting with Australia's focus on a handful of (more or less) monocentric cities.

Of course, new borrowers in the US have been enjoying record low rates, a dynamic which has been shifting rapidly in November as markets reprice expectations.