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All three of the Case-Shiller home price tiers for San Diego rose moderately in the month of April.  The low tier was back on top with a 1.0 percent rise, compared to .5 percent increase for the middle tier and a .3 percent rise for the high tier.

These numbers followed a very unusual March in which the previously stagnant high tier registered a huge increase and the formerly robust low tier actually declined.  April’s price movements were a lot more in line with what we’ve seen during the price bounce that’s prevailed since last spring.

Just a reminder: the price tier cutoffs are determined by separating all home sales during the measurement period into thirds.  The low tier consists of the cheapest one-third of homes sold, the middle tier the middle one-third, and the high tier the most expensive one-third of homes sold.  This is a fairly rough method of separating out different types of homes, especially in San Diego where homes priced substantially over the $468,000 high tier cutoff are quite common.  So while the high tier can give an idea of what’s happening in that over-$468,000 chunk, there could potentially be considerable variation within that chunk.

In any case, following are the latest updates of the Case-Shiller graphs over four timeframes.

Since the current price rally began in 2009:

Since the late-2005 peak:

Since the year 2000:

And since the data set began in 1989 (this series is adjusted for consumer price inflation):

I expect that the Case-Shiller index will register further price increases through May and June as the effects of the tax credits begin to wane.  Once that artificial stimulus is removed thereafter, the market should provide us with a clearer idea of what’s actually going on beneath the surface.

— RICH TOSCANO

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