It’s official: The rate of U.S. home price growth is finally beginning to decelerate after 16 consecutive months of price acceleration.
That deceleration could be the start of a bigger cooldown. At least that’s what Realtor.com, a real estate listing site owned by News Corp., is forecasting. By the end of 2022, the site is predicting U.S. home values will climb just 2.9% as rising mortgage rates take some steam out of the market. That would represent both the smallest annual uptick since 2012 and also a big-time slowdown from the 19.5% U.S. home price jump posted in the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index from September 2020 to September 2021.
That said, buyers and sellers alike shouldn’t necessarily expect Realtor.com’s forecast of 2.9% home price growth in their local market. Separate from its national forecast figure, Realtor.com also modeled predictions for year-over-year home price changes in the nation’s 100 largest housing markets. Those projected growth rates vary from 10% in Portland, Maine, to 0.2% in Honolulu. The former represents a bullish market that would look a lot like the 2021 frenzied landscape, while the latter would be a margin of error away from seeing prices fall.
Joining Maine’s largest city in the bullish camp are markets like Providence, R.I. (forecast to jump 9.5%); Salt Lake City (8.5%); Worcester, Mass. (8.2%); Boise (7.9%); Palm Bay, Fla. (7.9%); Stockton, Calif. (7.8%); Spokane, Wash. (7.7%); Boston (7.5%); and Seattle (7.5%) rounding out the top 10. Many of these markets, like Boise and Portland, have seen an inflow of remote workers during the pandemic looking to escape high-cost markets like San Jose. That trend, Realtor.com says, is likely to continue to shake up the market in 2022.
Meanwhile, the markets joining Honolulu in the bottom 10 are Hartford (0.7%); New Haven (1%); Scranton (1.1%); Baton Rouge (1.5%); St. Louis (1.7%); North Port, Fla. (1.7%); Tulsa (1.8%); Chicago (1.9%); and New York City (2.3%).
While Realtor.com doesn’t foresee prices falling in any of the 100 largest housing markets, it does predict total sales will decline in 16 markets. Many of the places where Realtor.com predicts total home sales will decline, like New York (–3%) and Honolulu (–3.9%), are the very markets Realtor.com predicts will also see the smallest price jumps next year (see chart below).
But even if home prices in Honolulu rise only 0.2% next year, that would hardly mark a price correction—let alone a housing crash. And if a correction does come, it could take years to materialize: Industry insiders say positive fundamentals could potentially keep this a seller’s market for years to come.
It all boils down to the ongoing supply and demand mismatch. We’re amid the five-year period (2019 through 2023) where the five largest millennial birth years (1989 through 1993) will hit the all-important first-time homebuying age of 30. Reeling from the 2008 housing bust and subsequent foreclosure crisis, builders simply played it conservative over the past decade and didn’t build the number of homes required to fully meet the demand of this demographic wave. Indeed, Freddie Mac estimates that the U.S. is underbuilt by nearly 4 million homes. That explains how housing inventory was able to hit a 40-year low this year.
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