The real estate bust in all its many colors

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The headline number in the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices released this morning was that U.S. home prices dropped 4.4% in the 12 months ending in August. But it’s in the metropolitan-area details that the Case-Shiller data gets really interesting. So with the help of graphics whiz Feilding Cage, I charted them:


Pretty cool, huh? What’s fascinating is how the different metro areas segregate themselves into pretty clearly delineated categories.

There are the bursting-bubble metros, which on the chart start with L.A. and end with New York. Within that group there are some pretty interesting differences: L.A. and Miami peaked higher and later than the rest; Phoenix was just moseying along well outside the bubble zone until mid-2004, after which prices almost doubled in just two years; San Francisco and New York saw steadier (and possibly less bubblicious) gains than the rest.

Then you’ve got Seattle and Portland, which have seen substantial if not staggering price gains and are still living in their own happy, Northwestern alternative reality in which the real estate bust is just something you read about in your favorite newsweekly.

Then there are the three mini-bubble metros: Boston, Chicago and Minneapolis.

Finally, there are the metros, all in the South and Midwest, that never really participated in the post-2000 house-price boom. Most are doing okay, but Detroit and Cleveland–for reasons that have more to do with problems in the manufacturing sector than with problems in the real estate business–are not.

Update: A commenter over at Barry Ritholtz’s place wonders if maybe the chart should be viewed through 3D glasses. I just tried, and it did seem to make some of the lines jump out of the page. Mainly, though, it just made my eyes hurt.

Update 2: It turns out that one Tim Iacono is the true pioneer of the multicolored Case-Shiller chart. (Actually, Excel puts it in all those pretty colors automatically, but he was the first I know of to post the result online.)