Housing

This Is the Only Major American City Where Home Prices Fell in May

The American housing market should be in free fall, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is not. Home sales have boomed in the past several months. This may be because of pent up demand. Also, mortgage rates are at a historic low. Of the 20 largest housing markets, only one suffered a drop in home prices in May.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller is the gold standard of housing price data, which it has supplied for decades. Its database goes back to January 2000 and its home price information is pegged to prices that month.

The Case-Shiller data includes both year-over-year and month-over-month price information. May prices rose 0.7% from April to May. Every one of the nation’s 20 largest markets had rising prices, with the sole exception of San Francisco. Prices there fell by 0.2%. Based on the data, San Francisco also has among the highest home prices, just behind Los Angeles and ahead of San Diego and Seattle.

Cleveland has the lowest home prices of any city on the list. It also had the largest increase in price from April to May, up 1.2%. No other housing market had an increase of over 1%.


Experts at Case-Shiller said the increase was less than the one from March to April. Neither monthly change was enough to constitute a surge in prices. Craig J. Lazzara, managing director and Global Head of Index Investment Strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices said, “May’s housing price data were stable.”

Presumably, the housing market cannot support itself forever. In the most recent recession, home prices in some markets dropped by over 50%. Since, then, prices have soared back. However, unemployment remains very high and may go higher due to a sharp rise in the spread of COVID-19. Employment drives the housing market more than any other factor.