Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index reported U.S. home prices grew by 3.20 percent year-over-year in July; as compared to year-over-year home price growth 0f 3.00 percent posted in June. Cities with the highest rates of year-over-year home price growth were Phoenix, Arizona with 5.80 percent year-over-year home price growth. Las Vegas, Nevada had 4.70 percent year-over-year home price appreciation and Charlotte, North Caroline bumped Tampa, Florida from the top three cities with home price appreciation of 4.60 percent. Tampa, Florida posted 4.50 percent year-over-year home price growth in July.
Home Price Growth Stalls In West
14 cities had higher home price gains than in June and Seattle, Washington was the only city in the 20-City Index to post lower home prices. Analysts said that after years of rapid and unsustainable growth in home prices on the West Coast coupled with economic expansion and job growth in areas with lower home prices. July readings for home-price growth in western cities that posted double-digit price growth percentages in recent years were far lower. Home prices in Portland, Oregon rose 2.50 percent year-over-year; Los Angeles, California home prices rose 1.10 percent and San Francisco, California posted year-over-year home price growth of 0.20 percent.
High Home Prices Ease Demand Caused By Low Supply Of Homes For Sale
As home prices in many markets skyrocketed, would-be buyers were sidelined by affordability cash buyers and strict mortgage loan requirements. With home prices stabilizing and mortgage rates at near-record lows, more buyers will likely enter the market. This would increase demand on already slim supplies of homes for sale and cause home prices to rise at a faster pace than they have in 2019. Current rates of home price growth remain higher than current inflation and wage growth, but are low enough to encourage home buyers who were previously unable to keep up with rapidly rising home prices.
Seven cities posted higher rates of home price growth year-over-year in July as compared to readings for year-over-year home price growth from June 2018 to June 2019. The National Association of Realtors® said that sales of pre-owned homes were higher in July for the first time in months. The supply of available homes tightened in June; this trend is expected to boost home prices as demand for homes increases.
The Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee reduced its key short-term interest rate range one-quarter percent to 1.75 to 2.00 percent during it’s September meeting. While FOMC members had mixed opinions on reducing the benchmark rate range for short term loans, the post-meeting statement suggested that reducing the federal funds rate was a hedge against inflation. The federal funds rate impacts short-term consumer loan rates for autos and adjustable rate mortgages, but does not impact fixed mortgage rates. FOMC monetary policy decisions are governed by the Federal Reserve’s dual mandate of maintaining price stability and an inflation rate of 2.00 percent.
FOMC Members Facing Conflicted Opinions On Rate Cuts
Policymakers consider a variety of influences and news when cutting or raising the federal funds rate range. In addition to its dual mandate, FOMC members consider domestic and global impacts on the economy. Uncertainty over effects of international trade disputes and Great Britain’s looming exit from the European Union balanced strengths in the U.S. economy.
According to the post-meeting statement, seven FOMC members voted in favor of the rate cut to 1.75 to 2.00 percent; one member voted for a rate cut to 1.50 to 1.75 percent and two members voted against changing the target federal funds rate range.
Fed Chair: U.S. Economy Expected To Stay Strong
Fed Chair Jerome Powell said in a post-meeting press conference that while U.S. economy expanded for its 11th consecutive year, global economic outlook was less certain particularly in Europe and China. The U.S. economy expanded 2.50 percent in the first half of 2019; factors driving growth included rising consumer confidence, wages and strong job markets. Business investment and exports were lower due to uncertainties over trade. Job growth slowed, but this was expected based on 2018’s fast pace of job growth. Work force participation grew; the Fed expects the national unemployment rate to remain below four percent for the next few years.
Chair Powell said that maintaining strong economic conditions was particularly important for low to middle income consumers left behind during the Great Recession. While current inflation stands at 1.40 percent, the Fed projects that it will grow to 1.90 percent in 2020 and achieve the target goal of 2.00 percent in 2021. Chair Powell said that inflation pressures are muted and at the lower end of historical ranges.
Chair Powell echoed the FOMC statement in saying that the Fed would continue to monitor economic developments abroad and would adjust monetary policy according to economic developments prompted by trade disputes and emerging economic developments.
The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index shows steady builder confidence in housing market conditions. September’s index reading of 68 was one point higher than August’s reading. Any reading over 50 indicates that most home builders surveyed view housing market conditions as favorable. August’s original index reading was adjusted upward by one point.
Component readings for the Housing Market Index were mixed. Builder confidence in current market conditions rose two points to index reading of 75; this was the highest reading year-over-year. Builder confidence in home sales over the next six months fell by one point to 70. The gauge of buyer traffic in single-family housing developments held steady at 50. Readings for buyer traffic seldom exceed 50; September’s reading suggested higher builder confidence than the numerical reading suggested.
Average New Home Size Decreases, Builders Confident In Housing Markets
In recent months, builders have focused on producing larger homes, which has limited the number of affordable homes available to middle-income and first-time home buyers. High demand for homes caused by slim inventories of homes for sale and factors including competition with cash buyers sidelined would-be buyers. Home builders scaled down the size of new homes by 4.30 percent during the second quarter of 2019. This trend is expected to encourage potential home buyers into the market as lower home prices and mortgage rates combine to encourage more buyers into the housing market.
Lower Home Prices And Mortgage Rates Increase Affordability
Analysts and real estate pros have long said that the only way to ease demand for homes is by building more homes within all price ranges. Builders did not immediately respond to calls for more homes, but if current builder confidence and a new focus on building affordable homes continues, high demand for homes and short supplies of available homes may ease toward evenly balanced market conditions, but the unknown factor is mortgage rates. If they rise, affordability will be challenged and buyer interest in new homes could slow.
New home prices typically fall as peak buying season ends. Current trends toward building smaller homes, low mortgage rates and lower home prices combined to provide more choices and affordable options for home buyers. If general economic conditions remain strong, more home shoppers could become homeowners.
Home price growth continued to slow in June according to Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index. 17 cities reported higher home prices in June, but three cities reported lower home prices month-to-month. Seattle, Washington was the only city to report lower home prices year-over-year in June.
Phoenix, Arizona Home Price Growth Highest in June
Phoenix, Arizona toppled Last Vegas, Nevada’s hold on first place for home price growth in June. According to Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index, home prices in Phoenix rose by 5.80 percent year-over-year in June. Las Vegas, Nevada followed closely with year-over-year home price growth of 5.50 percent. Tampa, Florida had the third highest rate of home price growth with a year-over-year reading of 4.70 percent.
Home prices also slowed nationally; Case-Shiller reported 3.10 percent growth as compared to May’s year-over-year pace of 3.30 percent growth in home prices.
Home Buyers Leaving High-Cost West Coast
Analysts pointed out that recent slowing in home price growth followed a long period of rapidly rising home prices and higher mortgage rates. This sidelined many buyers as cash buyers and investors competed for fewer available homes. First-time and moderate income buyers could not afford rapidly rising prices and mortgages. Stricter mortgage loan requirements put in place after the Great Recession made qualifying for home loans more difficult.
Homeowners may not be seeing top pricing, buyer competition and offers higher than their asking prices, but after the long and fast increase in home prices, many sellers stand to realize significant profits after years of gains. At the height of the housing recovery, cities on the west coast saw steep rises in home prices. Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California enjoyed rapid home price growth as buyers paid cash and outbid each other, but lagging home price growth suggests that sky-high home prices have peaked in the West.
Seattle, Washington was the first city to show a year-over-year drop in home prices. Low mortgage rates may encourage formerly sidelined home buyers to enter the housing market. Analysts said that the only obstacle to increasing home sales might be homeowners unwilling to sell as home prices ease. Consumer concerns over the economic impact of trade tariffs may delay decisions to buy a home as consumer costs continue to rise. Home builders share these concerns as the cost of imported building materials increases.
Home price growth slowed again in May according to Case-Shiller home price indices. Home price growth slowed for the 14th consecutive month to its lowest rate in 12 years. Case-Shiller’s National Home Price Index showed 3.40 percent growth year-over-year in May as compared to April’s year-over-year reading of 3.50 percent.
Las Vegas, Nevada held its first place position in the 20-City Home Price Index for highest year-over-year home price growth rate at 6.40 percent; Phoenix, Arizona held second place with a year-over-year home price growth reading of 5.70 percent. Tampa, Florida home prices grew by 5.10 percent year-over-year in May.
Home Price Growth Rates Fall In West Coast Cities
West coast cities that posted double-digit annual home price gains in recent years posted less than two percent growth in home prices in May. Seattle, Washington was the first city to post negative home price growth with a negative year-over-year reading of -1.20 percent in May. San Francisco, California home prices rose by 1.00 percent year-over-year and home prices in San Diego, California grew 1.30 percent year-over-year.
This trend suggests that home prices were topped out in terms of affordability as buyers looked elsewhere for larger selections of homes at affordable prices.
Analysts predicted a plateau in home price growth and did not expect steep declines in home prices. Steady growth in wages and jobs could help to ease affordability challenges for home buyers. Lower mortgage rates provided additional opportunity for first-time and moderate income home buyers, but home price growth needs to ease further to help would-be buyers conquer affordability concerns. Shortages of homes for sale are most pronounced for lower-priced homes, where demand is largest. Higher demand for homes during the peak selling season could boost prices in popular metro areas.
If you’re in the market for a new home or interested in listing your current property, please contact your trusted real estate professional.
Home Builder sentiment rose one point in July according to the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index. 2019 builder confidence in housing market condition continued to fall short of 2018 levels. July’s Housing Market Index reading of 65 was one point higher than June’s reading.
Component readings also rose one point each. Builder confidence in current housing market conditions rose to 72; the reading for builder confidence in market conditions for the next six months rose to 71. Builder confidence in buyer traffic in new housing developments rose to an index reading of 48; buyer traffic readings seldom exceed the neutral reading of reading of 50.
2019 Builder Confidence Is Lagging Behind 2018 Readings
Year to date, builder confidence index readings averaged 63 as compared to a reading of 67 in 2018 and 68 in 2017. Ongoing headwinds affecting builders were familiar concerns over materials prices and shortages of buildable lots and labor. Analysts said that builders remain leery of building to many homes after having large inventories of unsold homes after the Great Recession.
Builders also noted that increasing regulation and local building codes are impacting some areas. Builders are under pressure to produce affordable homes, but are log-jammed by “not in my backyard” zoning restrictions when they apply to build mixed developments of single and multi-family homes.
There may be good news on the horizon. Oregon passed state legislation banning exclusively single-family zoning. Depending on population, local jurisdictions will be allowed to build duplexes and larger multi-family units. If other states and communities follow Oregon’s lead, builders may find new options for building multiple units on lots formerly zoned for single family homes. Building affordable homes would help to ease housing shortages and ease demand for homes.
If you are in the market for a new home or interested in listing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage and real estate professionals.