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October 2018 Housing Affordability Index

At the national level, housing affordability is down from last month and down from a year ago. Mortgage rates rose to 4.88 percent this October, up 18.7 percent compared to 4.11 percent a year ago.

  • Housing affordability declined from a year ago in October moving the index down 9.7 percent from 162.7 to 146.9. The median sales price for a single family home sold in October in the US was $257,900 up 4.3 percent from a year ago.
  • Nationally, mortgage rates were up 77 basis point from one year ago (one percentage point equals 100 basis points).
  • The payment as a percentage of income was unchanged from last month at 17 percent this October but up from 15.4 percent from a year ago. Regionally, the West has the highest payment at 23.7 percent of income. The South had the second highest payment at 16.5 percent followed by the Northeast at 16.1 percent. The Midwest had the lowest payment as a percentage of income at 13.5 percent.

  • Regionally, the South recorded the biggest increase in home prices at 3.6 percent. The Northeast had an increase of 3.0 percent while the West had a gain of 2.5 percent. The Midwest had the smallest growth in price of 1.4 percent.
  • Regionally, all four regions saw a decline in affordability from a year ago. The Midwest had the biggest drop in affordability of 9.6 percent. The South had a decline of 9.1 percent followed by the Northeast that fell 9.0 percent. The West had the smallest drop of 7.5 percent.
  • On a monthly basis, affordability is down from last month in three of the four regions. The Northeast region had the only gain of 1.7 percent. Both the Midwest and the West shared a decline of 0.6 percent. The South had the smallest dip in affordability of 0.1 percent.

  • Despite month-to-month changes, the most affordable region was the Midwest, with an index value of 185.0. The least affordable region remained the West where the index was 105.3. For comparison, the index was 151.6 in the South, and 154.9 in the Northeast.
  • Mortgage applications are currently up. Mortgage rates continue to rise and home price growth is slowing down to catch up with incomes. Single-family homes are still moving at a face pace however tend to slow down during fall and winter season. Inventory of homes are currently up, which is a welcoming sign for potential homebuyers. Home prices are up 4.3 percent, median family incomes that are growing 3.1 percent helping reduce the pressure of home price growth.
  • What does housing affordability look like in your market? View the full data release here.
  • The Housing Affordability Index calculation assumes a 20 percent down payment and a 25 percent qualifying ratio (principal and interest payment to income). See further details on the methodology and assumptions behind the calculation here.

Property Values By State from 2005-2018

Home price appreciation is an important topic in today’s economy. Using data from the American Community Survey (ACS), we can analyze the gains and losses of property values over time. I estimated the median property values by state in 2018 using the FHFA index and the median property values from the (ACS). I then calculated the growth rate from 2005 -2018. [1]

The states with the highest estimated median property values in 2018 are The District of Columbia ($677,473), Hawaii ($649,272), California ($566,311), Massachusetts ($428,161) and Washington ($384,740).

The states with the lowest estimated median property values in 2018 are Alabama ($148,827), Oklahoma ($139,385), Arkansas ($135,733), Mississippi ($123,586) and West Virginia ($120,720).

On a regional level, the estimated price growth appears to be the strongest in the South, West, and Midwest. Price growth is weakest in the Northeast states. Overall, all regions are displaying strong to moderate growth in property values. Below is a breakdown of the Census four regions by state.

 

  • In the South, which typically leads all regions in sales, The District of Columbia led the region with 76 percent estimated price growth from 2005 to 2018. Maryland experienced 1 percent annual price growth and since 2005, home prices have grown 21 percent.

  • In the West, the least affordable region[2], Montana led all states with 88 percent price growth from 2005 to 2018. Despite the strong price growth in California since 2012, prices have only increased by 19 percent since 2005. Nevada shows a 9 percent price change over this time turning around any previous loss in value.

  • In the Midwest where affordability is most favorable, North Dakota led all states with 115 percent price growth from 2005 to 2018. Illinois, while having the smallest growth in the region had an estimated 12 percent price growth over this time.

  • In the Northeast where sales and price growth is typically slow, Pennsylvania lead the region with a 48 percent price growth from 2005 to 2018. Rhode Island, while having the smallest gain of all states, increased 6 percent price change over this time. Rhode Island is one of two states that turned around a negative property value over this time compared to 2017.


[1] I used the FHFA expanded data set not seasonally adjusted data.

[2] Based on NAR housing affordability index

Can Homeowners Cope with Lower Home Prices?

With interest rates on the rise, home prices have started cooling off.[1] On the one hand, the cooling of home prices in high-priced metro areas makes a home purchase more affordable, saving households nearly $50/month on a median-priced home.[2] On the other hand, falling prices also erodes the wealth (home equity gains) of current homeowners and can drive homeowners in a negative equity position (when the value of the home is lower than the remaining loan balance). How will declining home prices affect current homeowners and how does the current decline in home prices in some areas compare with the home equity gains?

The table below shows the home equity gains for homeowners who purchased a home in 2012 Q1 as of 2018 Q3. The home equity gained is the difference between the estimated value of the property purchased in 2012 Q1 in 2018 Q3 less the outstanding loan balance as of 2018 Q3.[3] Nationally, over the period 2012 Q1 through 2018 Q3, a homeowner who purchased a median-priced home in 2012 Q1 has gained $96,187 in home equity, which is equivalent to 41 percent of the estimated value of the home in 2018 Q3, at $235,119.

Of the 160 metro areas for which NAR calculates the median sales price, the metro areas where homeowners accumulated the largest home equity gains during 2012 Q1 – 2018 Q3 based on the purchase of a median-priced home in 2012 Q1 were San Jose-Sunnyvale-Sta. Clara ($591,576;56% of the estimated home value of $1.06 million as of 2018 Q3); San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward ($527,610; 57% of the current home value of $920,715); Urban Honolulu, HI ($337,013; 35% of current home value of $990,009); Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale ($374,565;49% of current home value of $768,634); and Boulder, CO ($329,608; 50% of current home value of $657,692).

The metro areas with the lowest home equity gains during 2012 Q1- 2018 Q3 based on the purchase of a median-priced home in 2012 Q1 were Cumberland, MD ($4,847; 6% of current home value of $79,343); Decatur, IL ($10,753; 12% of current home value of $86,302); Fayetteville, NC ($15,431; 11% of current home value of $138,627); Montgomery, AL ($17,641; or 15% of $119,252); and Peoria, IL ($17,679; or 14% of current home value of $128,818).

 

How do these equity gains compare with the price declines in high-cost metro areas thus far?  

We use the median list price in October 2018 on Realtor.com and look at the year-over-year change and compare these changes to the equity gains as a share of the current home values. In October 2018, median list prices declined in several high-priced metro areas compared to one year ago, but these declines are modest compared to the equity gains measured as a percent of the current home value: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Sta. Clara (-0.1%); San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward (0%); Sta. Maria-Sta. Barbara (-7.8%); Salinas ( -6%); Sta. Rosa ( -7.1%); Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura ( -2.1%). Among the 500 metros tracked by Realtor.com, the steepest decline in the median list price in October from one year ago was Denver-Aurora-Lakewood (10%).

In 301 of the 500 metro areas tracked by Realtor.com (60 percent), the median list price of homes for sale on Realtor.com were still up in October 2018 compared to one year ago.  List prices rose in areas such as Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue where prices are more affordable than in California ($555,050; 12.1%); Boise City, ID ($330.048; 15%); Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN ($241,450; 15%); Greensboro-High Point, NC ($223,625; 14.5%);Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise ($325,000; 14.5%), and Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA ($216,760; 14%).

 

In summary, homeowners have built up a sizable equity since 2012 that is larger relative to the price declines that have occurred thus far in several high-priced metro areas. Moreover, home prices are still appreciating in lower-priced metro areas. Given the strong underlying economic fundamentals in 2018— strong employment growth, the demographic boost from the 25-44 age group which includes the millennials, and safer underwriting standards and level of household debt—it does not yet appear likely that home prices will crash to a level that will wipe out this home equity gain. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun forecasts no recession ahead that could cause a collapse in job growth which will impact the demand for housing.

 


[1] The earliest indicator of the direction of home prices—NAR’s median home prices— rose 4.3 percent in 2018 Q3, the slowest average rate for the quarter since 2012 Q1. The home price indices of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller, and the U.S. Census Bureau for new 1-family homes also show a slower price appreciation in 2018 Q3 (FHFA, 6.3%; S &P CoreLogic Case-Shiller, 5.7%; U.S. Census Bureau 1-family homes, 2.3%) compared to the pace of appreciation in 2018 Q1.In 500 metro areas tracked by Realtor.com, the median list price of homes for sale declined in 199 metro areas (40 percent), with the largest declines occurring in high-priced metro areas.

[2] At the current 30-year fixed mortgage rate of 4.83 percent with a 10 percent down payment, every $10,000 decline in home prices results in a saving of $47/month.

[3] I estimated home equity by subtracting the loan balance as of 2018 Q3 to the current home value as of 2018 Q3. I estimated the current home value by applying a home price appreciation factor using FHFA House Price Index (FHFA HPI 2018 Q3/ FHFA HIP 2012 Q1). I assumed that a homeowner purchased a median-priced home in 2012 Q1 at the average median price in 2012 Q1 of $158,333 financed by a 30-year fixed rate mortgage of 3.6 percent (2012 Q1 average) and a 10 percent down payment.

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Rita Levine Real EstateRita Levine Real Estate
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