The Pandemic Housing Boom saw U.S. home prices spike an unprecedented 43% in just over two years. But that’s over now: Spiked mortgage rates have pushed the U.S. housing market into a sharp slowdown that could threaten some of those gains.
Some firms—including John Burns Real Estate Consulting, Zonda, and Zelman & Associates—are already predicting that U.S. home prices in 2023 will post their first year-over-year decline of the post–Great Financial Crisis era. In a sharp housing downturn scenario, Fitch Ratings thinks a 10% to 15% national home price decline is possible. Not everyone agrees. Goldman Sachs and Zillow predict that U.S. home prices will rise another 1.8% and 2.4%, respectively, over the coming year.
While industry insiders are still debating whether national house prices will post year-over-year declines, there’s a consensus that some regional markets will see prices go down.
To get a better idea of which regional housing markets could first see year-over-year home price declines, let’s look at list prices. While a spike in slashed list prices doesn’t guarantee a market will post year-over-year home price declines, it does mark a trajectory change. Long before a market actually posts a year-over-year price decline, it would have seen a spike in list price cuts.
Among 97 regional housing markets measured by Redfin, the average market saw 34% of home listings get a price cut in July. That’s the highest-ever reading on Redfin. It’s also well above the 25.7% in May 2022, and 21% in July 2021.
“Nationwide, the share of homes for sale with price drops reached a record high in July. Sellers had to cut their prices because they were catching up with buyers, who had come to expect lower prices amid a cooling market. Rising mortgage rates and the prospect of falling home values also made buyers hesitant to pay sky-high prices, and an uptick in supply gave them more to choose from. Price drops are likely to flatten out as sellers come to terms with the shifting market,” write Redfin researchers.
The regional housing markets seeing the highest share of price cuts are in the very places that saw the biggest price gains during the pandemic. Just look at Boise. During the Pandemic Housing Boom, prices in Boise soared over 60%. But as the market shifted, Boise got hit the hardest. In July, 70% of home listings in Boise saw a price cut. That's up from 30% in July 2021.
According to data collected by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, home prices are already falling in Boise. Those month-over-month Boise price drops can already be found in Zillow data. Before the end of the year, John Burns Real Estate Consulting predicts that Boise will be the first U.S. market to post a year-over-year price decline.
It isn't just Boise. The West—the epicenter of the Pandemic Housing Boom—has shifted very fast. Just behind Boise are Denver (where 58% of listings saw a price cut in July), Salt Lake City (56%), and Tacoma (55%). Markets like Phoenix (where 50% of listings saw a price cut), San Diego (50%), and Stockton, Calif., (47%) also rank near the top.
Why are Mountain West and West Coast markets shifting so fast?
“The strong demand over the past two years drove up home prices across the country, and it appears the West hit the pricing ceiling quicker than other markets given the particular supply constraints,” Ali Wolf, chief economist at Zonda, told Fortune.
Simply put: The intense bidding wars out West—which were exacerbated by tight inventory—pushed home prices to buyers’ breaking point.
The data seems to agree with Wolf.
Regional housing markets that became the most detached from underlying economic fundamentals are now cooling the fastest. Places like Boise and Austin saw home prices rise to bubbly levels amid the Pandemic Housing Boom. Once historically low mortgage rates disappeared earlier this year, would-be buyers in those markets began to feel the full brunt of record home price appreciation. That's why this summer, many shoppers in places like Boise and Austin called off their search.
Heading forward, these bubbly housing markets are at the highest risk of sharp price corrections. Peak to trough, Moody's Analytics expects national home prices to decline between 0% to 5% amid this housing slowdown. However, in significantly "overvalued" markets like Boise and Austin, Moody's Analytics expects 5% to 10% home price drops. That's assuming no recession. If a recession hits, Moody's Analytics expects a 5% to 10% national home price decline and 15% to 20% declines in the nation's 187 significantly "overvalued" markets.
Want to stay updated on the housing correction? Follow me on Twitter at @NewsLambert.
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