Historically speaking, home prices rarely decline on a year-over-year basis. Unless economics forces sellers’ hands, they usually won’t pull back.
Of course, we’ve recently seen the U.S. housing market slip into one of those rare periods where national home prices are indeed falling—with U.S. home prices down 2.5% between June and November—and just months away from seeing home values negative on a year-over-year basis for the first time since the housing crash bottomed in 2012.
What’s going on? The mad rush of demand during the Pandemic Housing Boom, which saw U.S. home prices soar 41% between March 2020 and June 2022, coupled with last year’s historic mortgage shock, has “pressurized” housing affordability. Some would-be homebuyers are priced out, while millions of other borrowers—who must meet lenders’ strict debt-to-income ratios—have lost mortgage eligibility entirely. That sharp pullback in housing demand has translated into falling home values.
The big question heading forward is will the home price correction soon fizzle out or carry on?
To better understand where regional home prices might go this year, Fortune reached out to CoreLogic to see if the firm would provide us with its January assessment of the nation’s largest regional housing markets. To determine the likelihood of regional home prices dropping, CoreLogic assessed factors like income growth projections, unemployment forecasts, consumer confidence, debt-to-income ratios, affordability, mortgage rates, and inventory levels. Then CoreLogic put regional housing markets into one of five categories, grouped by the likelihood that home prices in that particular market will fall between November 2022 and November 2023.
Here are the groupings the real estate research firm used for the January analysis:
- Very high: Over 70% chance of home prices falling between November 2022 and November 2023
- High: 50%–70% chance
- Medium: 40%–50% chance
- Low: 20%–40% chance
- Very low: 0%–20% chance
Of the 392 regional housing markets that CoreLogic measured, zero markets currently have "very low" or "low" odds of falling home prices between November 2022 and November 2023. Just one market has "medium" odds of price declines. Meanwhile, CoreLogic put 53 markets in the "high" camp and 338 markets in the "very high" odds camp.
Simply put: The January assessment finds 391 markets (i.e. markets in either the "high" or "very high" risk groups) have a greater than 50% chance of notching a negative year-over-year home price reading in November 2023.
This elevated risk didn't come out of nowhere. The risk of home price declines has been creeping up for months.
Back in November, 354 regional housing markets had "high" or "very high" odds of falling home prices over the next 12 months. In October, 335 markets were in the "high" or "very high" risk camps. In August, there were 125 markets at risk. In July, there were 98 markets at risk. In June, 45 markets were at risk. And in May, just 26 markets (see chart below) fell into those "high" or "very high" risk camps.
Why did the odds of falling home prices jump so much over the past year? Well, mortgage rates went higher in 2022 than industry insiders expected.
"As borrowing costs continued to surge and housing demand dwindled in the winter of 2022, home prices in most markets contracted as well. Nevertheless, the rate of monthly declines finally slowed in October and November, to about 0.1%-0.2%, from appreciable declines seen during the summer and immediately following the surge in mortgage rates. Nationally, home prices were down 2.5% from the spring peak with markets on the West Coast and in the Mountain West seeing much larger cumulative declines of 8% to 12%. Still, only eight markets have seen home prices decline on a year-over-year basis. With prices contracting further, fewer metros are now considered overvalued- particularly those West Coast markets where cumulative decline has been notable. Looking ahead, recent relief in mortgage rates is likely to spur back some of the lost homebuyer demand and help invigorate home prices as well," Selma Hepp, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic, tells Fortune.
One final point about the CoreLogic analysis.
Just because a regional housing market has "high" or "very high" odds of home prices falling between November 2022 and November 2023, doesn't guarantee that home prices will indeed fall. After all, even though CoreLogic has 99% of regional markets labeled at "high" or "very high" risk of falling home prices, the company still projects a 2.8% uptick in national home prices between November 2022 and November 2023.
If you'd like to see how regional home prices have shifted over the past six months, go here.
Want to stay updated on the housing correction? Follow me on Twitter at @NewsLambert.
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