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Robert Shiller receives CME Group-MSRI prize in Chicago

  1. October 12, 2012
  2. Judy Hsu, Reporter
  4. http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=resources&id=8844650

What is the state of the Chicago housing market?

Robert Shiller -- co-creator of the Case-Shiller Home Price Indices and a leading authority on the housing market -- is in Chicago to receive the CME Group-MSRI prize in innovative quantitative applications, which recognizes individuals who contribute original concepts in mathematical, statistical or computational methods for the study of the markets' behavior and global economics. He discusses the Chicago housing market.

Per the latest release of the Case-Shiller Index: Average home prices in the Chicago area in July rose 2.7 percent from June, but remain slightly below year-ago levels. The increase represents the fourth consecutive month of improvement in local pricing. Additionally, on average, July condo prices rose 2.3 percent from June (but still were 4.7 percent lower than in July 2011). Nationally, home prices increased 1.6 percent for the 20 cities in the Case-Shiller index.

Judy Hsu: And now, a name that is probably familiar if you follow the housing market. Robert Shiller is the co-creator of the Case-Shiller Home Price Index, and he joins us here in the studio this morning to talk a little bit more about the market and what it means to Chicago homeowners. Good morning, so nice to have you here.

Robert Shiller: Good morning.

JH: These are very confusing times for homeowners and buyers. Talk us through the numbers. We're seeing some good national trends, but then when you see the foreclosure rate here, it still is going upward. So what does it mean?

RS: Well, I wish I was clear on it. The house prices are going up in Chicago and nationally. It's a strong market at the moment. But the problem is that it's also the summertime when prices normally go up and the seasonal has gotten stronger nationally, everywhere it seems. But it's not clear whether this is something that is a new trend or whether it's just the summer months.

JH: Now what would you say to folks who are existing homeowners who are hoping to sell? What does it mean to them?

RS: It's difficult. I think that you might wait, because they might to up more. I'm kind of an outlier, I'm not so confident of this recovery but there are some people who think this is the beginning of another major increase in home prices. So they would counsel you to wait if you are a seller, hurry up if you're a buyer. But, I'm not so sure. It's such more ambiguous than a lot of people make it out to be.

JH: If you had a crystal ball...

RS: The thing about buying right now, what's really striking: The Fed wants you to buy. They've announced this program of subsidizing the mortgage market. They've got mortgage rates at record lows right now. So you could lock in ridiculously low mortgage rates. It's ridiculous how low. Something is abnormal in this market. The government is supporting it aggressively. So, in that sense, I think this is a good time to buy. What exactly the prices will do is not so clear.

JH: The housing prices here in the Illinois-Chicago area have gone up.

RS: They definitely are going up. They might continue, but I'm sorry, I don't think anyone knows. If some expert tells you, he or she knows, they don't know.

JH: I know, we are always trying to pin you down. Thank you so much for coming in today. We should mention that you are also in town to receive a big prize from the CME Group. So congratulations for that.

RS: Thank you.