In U.S. Home Prices, an East-West Divide

in u s home prices an east west divide • In U.S. Home Prices, an East-West Divide
in u s home prices an east west divide • In U.S. Home Prices, an East-West Divide

Recent indicators released about the strength of the housing market have been all over the map. In some cases, quite literally.

Most cities east of the Mississippi River—from Chicago to Miami—saw home prices drop between June and July, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. Meanwhile, most metropolitan areas west of that dividing line, from Portland to Las Vegas, saw home prices rise over the month.

Geographic divides help explain the unevenness in the housing market’s performance in recent months. Prices have continued rising, even as the pace of existing-homes sales tumbled in August. New-home sales hit their highest level since early 2008 in August, but forward-looking indicators of the strength of the housing market have also been weak.

Economists say that getting a clear read on the housing market has become difficult as local markets are performing very differently. The dividing line between the haves and have nots, in a word: jobs.

Local areas especially with strong technology sectors are seeing prices rise rapidly, while many former industrial cities in the Northeast have slumped. Chicago saw prices decline 1.2%. Even New York City and its suburbs saw a seasonally adjusted decline in prices of 0.5%, likely driven by declining interest in living in single-family homes on Long Island and in Westchester.

Real Time Economics

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