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Merrill on House Prices

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A few excerpts from a Merrill Lynch note on house prices:

Home prices nationally, as measured by the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller index are running at 6.0% yoy as of the latest data in July. Assuming some modest slowing into the end of the year, we believe we are on track for home prices to end up 5.0% this year, as measured by 4Q/4Q change. As we look ahead into next year, we expect the slowing in home prices to persist, leaving home price appreciation (HPA) of 3% at the end of 2019.

Home prices are ultimately anchored to a fair value which is a function of income growth. Based on the OECD’s methodology, we compare nominal Case-Shiller home prices with disposable income per capita, indexed to 100 in 1Q 2000 (Chart 4) which shows the overvaluation during the housing bubble given the irrational exuberance in the market and easy credit conditions. The housing bust left prices to tumble back below fair value. Based on our calculation, prices are once again overvalued on a national level, albeit not nearly as much as during the bubble period. Over time the overvaluation can be solved in two ways: 1) home prices grow at a rate below income for a period of time to close the gap; 2) home prices decline to correct the valuation difference. The pull to fair value can be quite strong.

Click on graph for larger image.

This chart from Merrill Lynch shows their calculation of house prices vs. disposable income.
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