Prior to the stock market crash of 1987, the housing market had been exhibiting modest gains, and it did not turn into negative territory until August 1990, which was a period of recession in the U.S. Between that period and the crash of 1997, out of the 120 monthly return observations, the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index only reported 35 declines, and it proceeded to remain positive past the 1997 and 1998 crashes. The index went into negative territory in August 2006 (after a strong upward trend), one year before the August 2007 crash, and it stayed there through the September 2008 crash. It did not turn positive until 2010, and it continued to alternate between months of gains and months of losses until the present. By analyzing this data alone, it appears that the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices are more sensitive to mass economic crises and recessions than to turbulence in the equity market.

David Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, summed it up nicely saying, “Stock market correction is unlikely to do much damage to the housing market; a full-blown bear market dropping more than 20% would present some difficulties for housing and for other economic sectors.”

Just as food for thought, Exhibit 3 shows the levels of the S&P 500 and the S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index against a blended, of the two indices (50% allocation in each index). The blended index enjoyed some benefits from the equity portion, gaining as much as 5.45% in December 1991, but it is less volatile than the equity index as is illustrated.[1]

[1]   It should be noted that investors cannot invest directly in an index.

This article was written by Marya Alsati-Morad, Associate Director, Commodity Indices, S&P Dow Jones Indices.

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