Case-Shiller Index Reviews US Housing Market

Recent news has heralded the fact that, according to the Case-Shiller 20 city composite index, house prices in Tampa Bay rose by 1.4 percent in July and this is seen as being indicative of a broad national upturn in housing values. Skeptics, however, are reluctant to start cheering just yet, as realtors in Tampa Bay have reported a slowdown in sales for the months of August and September, seeing this as an indication that July’s upturn is not sustainable.

Karl Case is a professor of economics at the prestigious Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, and Robert Shiller is an economist and author who currently serves as a professor of economics at Yale University. Together these two men developed the Case Shiller Indices which analyze changes in home prices across the United States at a national level, a 20-city composite index and a 10-city composite index, as well as analyzing twenty individual metro areas. Interestingly, these two learned economists were among the first to forecast the imminent collapse of the United States housing bubble.

Based on data on repeat sales of single family homes, Case-Shiller studied home pricing trends over many decades. Case initially made use of data from the early 1980 house pricing boom in Boston, arguing that the housing boom was not sustainable. At the time the term was unknown, but the market trend he was commenting on would now be termed as an economic bubble – high volume trading at inflated pricing.

In 1991 one of Shiller’s students, Allan Weiss, suggested pooling their knowledge resources to form a company with the intent of providing the market with a periodical index – for a price. This was done and in 2002, information management company Fiserve bought Case Shiller Weiss, and together with Standard & Poor started marketing the Case-Shiller index – a respected and widely consulted investment decision making resource.