Moody’s: Home prices to fall in these 210 housing markets—while these 204 markets will go higher

If you wet your beak in the real estate biz, there’s a good chance this already feels like a personal recession. Spiked mortgage rates—which saw the average 30-year fixed rate jump from 3.1% to 5.3% this year—have pushed the U.S. housing market into its swiftest plunge in activity since 2006. Home sales and home construction are both falling—fast. And layoffs have already hit big-name real estate firms like Redfin and Compass, as well as mortgage departments at financial firms like JPMorgan and Wells Fargo.

Housing economists have a name for what we’re seeing now: a “turned-over” housing cycle. That means the housing expansion, which started back in 2011, has been replaced by a downward slide. That said, just because housing activity is falling doesn’t guarantee that house prices will also fall. On paper, the housing crash of 2008 is an anomaly. Historically speaking, house prices are incredibly sticky. Home sellers cling to the price they have in their head for as long as possible. Even during most recessions, house prices go higher—not lower.

As the housing cycle “turns over,” it’s only logical to ask if the housing market is headed for another historical anomaly, i.e. falling house prices, or the historical norm, i.e. rising house prices.

To find out, Fortune reached out to Moody’s Analytics to get access to its latest proprietary housing analysis. Researchers at the financial intelligence firm calculated how house prices are likely to shift in 414 regional housing markets between the fourth quarter of 2022 and the fourth quarter of 2024.

The finding? Among the nation’s 414 largest housing markets, the Moody’s Analytics forecast model predicts that 210 markets are poised to see house prices decline over the coming two years; 204 markets are poised to see house prices rise over the coming two years.

Moody's Analytics forecast model predicts that The Villages in Florida is poised to see the biggest drop in house prices. Between the fourth quarter of 2022 and the fourth quarter of 2024, Moody's Analytics predicts, home prices in The Villages will fall 12.8%. Not too far behind, are Punta Gorda, Fla (-11.4% forecasted home price decline); Spokane, Wash. (-9.4%); Cape Coral, Fla.(-9.4%); Ocala, Fla. (-9.3%); Lake Havasu City, Ariz. (-9%); Fort Lauderdale (-8.6%); Reno (-8.2%); Missoula, Mont. (-7.7%), and Palm Bay, Fla. (-7.6%).

Most of these markets at risk of falling house prices are also the very places that saw the most home price appreciation over the past two years. Now they're simply more vulnerable to a homebuyer revolt. Meanwhile, markets in Florida, where homebuilding soared during the pandemic, are now at an elevated risk of oversupply. If Florida homebuilders can't offload their unsold homes, it could lead to a temporary oversupply.

Among the 414 markets analyzed by Moody's Analytics, Albany, Ga., is predicted to see the biggest jump in house prices over the next two years. Between the fourth quarter of 2022 and the fourth quarter of 2024, Moody's Analytics predicts, home prices in Albany will rise 9.8%. Just behind Albany are Casper, Wyo. (8.0% forecasted house price growth); New Bern, N.C. (7.6%); Rocky Mount, N.C. (7.3%); Augusta, Ga. (7.2%); Hartford (7.1%); Columbus, Ga. (6.6%); Farmington, N.M (6.5%); Valdosta, Ga. (6.4%), and Danville, Ill. (6.3%).

The pandemic housing boom saw the U.S. housing market go from, historically speaking, an affordable housing market to a historically unaffordable market in just 24 months. At the end of the day, that's the main reason 210 markets are vulnerable to falling home prices.

Every quarter, Moody’s Analytics does an analysis to determine if home prices in regional housing markets can be supported by underlying economic fundamentals like local income levels. The last reading wasn't pretty. Through the first quarter of 2022, Moody's Analytics estimates, national house prices are “overvalued” by 24.7%. That means U.S. house prices are now the most detached they've been from fundamentals since the housing bubble.

Simply being "overvalued" doesn't guarantee that a housing market will see declining house prices. However, the more "overvalued" home prices become, the more likely the market could see a price correction once the housing cycle "turns over." Of course, the fact that the housing cycle has finally "turned over" is why some economists are suddenly talking about the prospect of regional price corrections.

In particular, markets like Boise (which is "overvalued" by 73%) and Phoenix ("overvalued" by 46%) are particularly vulnerable to falling house prices. Those markets have not only priced out many locals, but their hefty price tags have also become a deterrent for folks considering relocating there.

Moody's Analytics isn't the only firm predicting that some regional housing markets could see falling house prices. Among the nation's 392 largest markets, CoreLogic estimates that 98 markets have a "high" or "very high" chance of seeing falling house prices over the coming year.

But even if some regional housing markets see falling home prices, it doesn't mean we're headed for a nationwide bust. Neither Moody's Analytics nor CoreLogic predicts a national home price decline. Unlike 2008, this time around homeowners are in better financial shape. Not to mention, the shady subprime mortgages that nearly brought the financial system to its brink in 2008 have been outlawed.

Bill McBride, author of the blog Calculated Risk, tells Fortune he believes that pandemic boomtown markets like Phoenix and Boise—where home prices soared around 60% during the pandemic—might see home values decline by around 5% to 10% over the coming year. But that wouldn't be the end of the world, McBride says.

"So what? You’re still up 50%," McBride says. 

Want to stay updated on the U.S. housing market? Follow me on Twitter at @NewsLambert.

Sign up for the Fortune Features email list so you don’t miss our biggest features, exclusive interviews, and investigations.

Read More

CryptocurrencyInvestingBanksReal Estate