After improving in the first half of last year, the Case-Shiller Home Price Index began to plummet in the middle of 2011, and it has reached a new low with the release of the November numbers yesterday. As one of the stronger measures of the U.S. housing market, the index is closely watched, and any negative movement is seen as a problem for both housing and the economy. Now, analysts are predicting national housing prices will not recover at least until the spring.
Does this have any bearing on New York, considering the Case-Shiller only tracks single-family homes? In short, yes. “Obviously, housing weighs on the larger economy, so that has an impact on us,” said Harold Shultz, an analyst at the Citizens Housing and Planning Council, which closely follows the Case-Shiller from a city perspective.
There are more direct implications, as well. While Manhattan is an island unto itself, with very few single-family homes, this is the case in large swaths of the outer boroughs. “Manhattan is unique and different,” Mr. Shultz said. “But the rest of the city is like the rest of the country. You do see a problem in Queens and Brooklyn and Staten Island.”
He pointed to his own home in Queens, a single-family rowhouse on a block with higher-occupancy buildings, as well. Mr. Shultz estimated his home had probably lost 30 percent of its value from the peak, a fact he was not too terribly worried about having bought the place in the 1970s. But he pointed to a neighbor whose home was underwater. “Even if you live in an eight-unit building down the block, these problems affect you,” Mr. Shultz said.
And so a sinking tide floods the market. “I think we’re just bumping along the bottom here, waiting for things to turn up,” Mr. Shultz added.