What Are S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes?

The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, also known as simply the Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, are a group of indexes that track changes in home prices throughout the United States.

Key Takeaways

  • The S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, also known as simply the Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes, are a group of indexes that track changes in home prices throughout the United States.
  • S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes are based on a constant level of data on properties that have undergone at least two arm's length transactions.
  • The Case-Shiller Home Price indexes, developed in the 1980s by three economists, are used as the underlying pricing mechanism in CME real estate futures and options.

Understanding S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes

S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes are based on a constant level of data on properties that have undergone at least two arm's length transactions. Case-Shiller produces indexes representing certain metropolitan statistical areas (MSA) as well as a national index.

The Case-Shiller Index was developed in the 1980s by three economists: Allan Weiss, Karl Case, and Robert Shiller. The trio later formed a company to sell their research; that company was purchased by Fiserv Inc., which tabulates the data behind the index. The data is then distributed by Standard & Poor's.

The group consists of:

  • The national home price index, which covers nine major census divisions. It is calculated quarterly and published on the last Tuesday of February, May, August, and November.
  • The 10-city composite index, which covers Boston, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Diego, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
  • The 20-city composite index, which includes all of the above cities plus Atlanta, Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Portland (Oregon), Seattle, and Tampa.
  • Twenty individual metro area indexes for each of the cities listed above.

The indexes, aside from the national index, are published on the last Tuesday of each month at 9 a.m. EST. There is a two-month lag time in the data that is reported, so the report issued in May only covers home sales through March.

Trading the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indexes

The Case-Shiller Home Price indexes are used as the underlying pricing mechanism in CME real estate futures and options. CME real estate futures and options trade on different indexes, representing 10 different metropolitan statistical areas, and a composite index, representing 20 metropolitan statistical areas.

The caveat is that the indexes are perfect representations of the housing market, because they include only single-family dwellings in their calculations. Furthermore, because some of the metropolitan areas are so large (such as New York City or Los Angeles), having just one value may not accurately represent all areas within that city.