Atlanta gets hammered in Case-Shiller home price data for January

From Standard & Poors’ release of the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices 10- and 20-City composites:

Both composites saw price declines of 0.8% in the month of January. Sixteen of 19 MSAs also saw home prices decrease over the month; only Miami, Phoenix and Washington DC home prices went up versus December 2011. (Due to delays in data reporting, the January 2012 index values for Charlotte are not included in this month’s release). Eight MSAs and both Composites posted new index lows in January.

Among the 20 metro areas tracked by Case-Shiller, Atlanta stands out:

Atlanta continues to stand out in terms of recent relative weakness. It was down 2.1% over the month, and has fallen by a cumulative 19.7% over the last six months. It also posted the worst annual return, down 14.8%.

I’ll note that Case-Shiller has been focusing on data that has not been seasonally adjusted, so some of January’s decline — but not all of it — can be ascribed to ordinary seasonal weakness. I’ll also note that the January data is a weighted average of data for November, December, and January — so that means that home prices will bottom months before Case-Shiller reports it. (Some credible analysts think that home prices nationally are bottoming right now — or already have.)

Here’s how the national data looks, with both Composites back at 2003 levels — and at new post-bubble lows:

Here’s the year-over-year change for individual cities:

Despite the deep declines in home values in recent years, only four of the 20 cities have values below the level of 2000 (when all data was synced to 100): Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, and Las Vegas.

Atlanta home prices are now back at 1997 levels.

I’ll also note that there was some very good news for Atlanta in the most recent labor department releases. If Atlanta can continue to add jobs at a good clip even with such an extreme drag from home prices, there is clear reason for optimism.

Here’s Calculated Risk‘s graph of home value changes for each of the 20 cities in the larger composite: