Home price gains in the U.S. fell in April — marking the 13th consecutive month of slowing growth.
Standard & Poor’s said Tuesday that its S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index posted a 3.5% year-over-year increase in April, down from 3.7% in March. The 20-City Composite posted a 2.5% gain, down from 2.6% the previous month — the slowest pace since August 2012. Both results met analysts’ expectations.
“Home price gains continued in a trend of broad-based moderation,” said Philip Murphy, managing director and global head of index governance at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a press statement. “Comparing the YOY National Index nominal change of 3.5% to April’s inflation rate of 2.0% yields a real house price change of 1.5% – edging closer to the real long run average of 1.2%.”
“We expect home price growth to continue in the low single digits for the remainder of the year as inventory rises,” said Ruben Gonzalez, chief economist at Keller Williams, in a statement.
Inventory, the number of homes for sale, which has been a factor in driving home prices up the past few years has been increasing in major markets, indicating that there may be some relief in home prices in the coming months.
Price growth in major markets continues upward but “at diminishing rates of change,” according to Murphy. In fact, in Seattle there was zero price growth in April, compared to a 13.1% annual gain the same month last year. Since June 2018, price growth in Amazon’s home city has been decelerating from its double-digit rates. Las Vegas led the 20-City Composite for 10 straight month posting a 7.1% annual increase.
WHITE PLAINS—Home sale prices were up sharply in the third quarter in the four-county market area of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, with the exception of Westchester County where sales prices were relatively flat as compared to a year earlier.
Sales volume was off marginally throughout the region, with overall third quarter sales down 5.2% in Westchester; 1.8% in Orange and 1.2% in Rockland, while Putnam County’s sales numbers were flat with an increase of 0.3%.
Market results were mixed depending on product type and location. Realtors interviewed by Real Estate In-Depth said that while some negative market influences, specifically the cap on SALT deductions, low inventory and higher interest rates, may be impacting some buying decisions, it is way too early to tell just what real impacts they will have on the market going forward.
Westchester County posted a third quarter median sale price for a single-family home of $679,000, which was slightly lower than the third quarter of 2017 ($680,000). The median sale price for a single-family home in Putnam was $360,000, up 5.9% from the third quarter of 2017; the median sale price in Rockland was $475,000, up 6.7% and the Orange County median was $275,000, up 7.8%.
Hudson Valley Home Sales—Third Quarter 2018
County Change from 2017 Putnam +0.3% Rockland -1.2% Orange -1.8% Westchester -5.2%
Paul Breunich, president and CEO of William Pitt and Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Real Estate, said in connection with the Westchester County market that the declining sales numbers, while noteworthy, are not a sign of a troubled market. He insisted that the market appears to be in transition and that most market observers expect home sales to fall between 4% to 6% for the year countywide.
“The market is in an adjustment period and is in flux,” Breunich said. “With what is going on in the economy—the stock market, GDP, (low) unemployment and consumer confidence through the roof, that is all pointing to a very strong, healthy real estate market, but that is not being reflected in our marketplace, yet.”
Breunich said that he is concerned about consumer market perceptions of a severe downtown in Westchester home sales based on erroneous sales numbers released recently by a local brokerage firm that garnered national media coverage.
“These news stories have contributed toward an exaggerated negative narrative about the state of the real estate market in Westchester, spreading misinformation and miseducating consumers,” Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s stated in its third quarter market report on Westchester County. “The actual picture is dramatically different, according to our own analysis, and varies greatly by town and price range.”
He noted that the market is seeing a decline in sales, but not double digits as was erroneously reported in the press. He also said that some locations are stronger than others both in terms of home sales volume and pricing.
“You have to look at the reality of it,” Breunich said. “The market is still down five to six percentage points. That is not something to pull the fire alarm on about, but it is something to be aware of.”
He added that the federal tax reform law and the cap on SALT deductions might be having some impact on demand. However, there are other factors that influence demand, such as high consumer confidence and the strong economy, for example, and the market is working through all the factors, both positive and negative.
While bullish on the future of the Westchester County residential market, Breunich said the real estate market is no longer booming, but is in transition. He said it is too early to tell the true impact of federal tax reform and added that the first indications of its effect on the market will likely show up in the next six months or so when people file their taxes in the spring of 2019.
Joseph Rand, managing partner of Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, said the federal tax reform might be having a small impact on the very high end of the market where the loss of deductibility for mortgage interest and local taxes hits the hardest.
He noted that price appreciation was more pronounced in the lower‐priced markets.
In terms of the loss of the SALT deductions, he said, “We’re talking about a marginal, not a major, impact. Prices aren’t rising at the rate they are in the lower‐priced markets, they’re basically flat, not falling.”
A plus for the marketplace is that inventory levels are starting to respond to rising prices, noting that for the first time since 2012, inventory levels went up in the third quarter.
Rand noted the what is happening region wide is that after years of decline, single-family inventory was higher in almost every county in the region, stabilizing near that six‐month level that usually signals a balancing market. This market phenomenon occurs when demand is strong, and supply stays steady (or goes down) and prices go up. In response to the rising prices, eventually new inventory comes onto the market, he explained.
“Going forward, we believe that the appetite in the market can handle both the impact of tax reform and this increased inventory while still driving continued price appreciation,” Rand said. “With strong economic conditions, relatively low‐interest rates (and the specter of rate increases on the horizon), and pricing still at attractive 2004‐05 levels, we expect a robust market through the end of the year.”
Brokerage network Westchester Real Estate Inc. in its third quarter market report on Westchester County also discussed the positive and negative economic and regulatory forces affecting the housing market.
The firm concluded that with those forces factored it, it believes, “Westchester properties will always remain in high demand based on our proximity to NYC and fantastic quality of life. While we may see pullbacks or shifts at times, our housing market possesses innate strength and resilience. Prices are not decreasing, home sales are still strong, and Westchester’s real estate market is just fine!”
The S&P/Case-Shiller and the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) released their home price indices for July 2018. National home prices rose at the slowest annual growth rate since June 2014. Moreover, seven metro areas experienced home price declines in July.
The Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, reported by S&P Dow Jones Indices, rose at a seasonally adjusted annual growth rate of 1.9% in July. It was the lowest seasonally adjusted annual growth rate since June 2014. The Home Price Index, released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.7% in April, slower than the 3.7% increase in June, confirming the deceleration in home prices for this month.
Figure 2 shows the annual growth rate of home prices for 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas.
Among the 20 metro areas, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Cleveland had the highest home price appreciation. Las Vegas led the way with 14.6%, followed by San Francisco with 11.4% and Cleveland with a 9.3% increase. Eleven out of the 20 metro areas had higher home price appreciation than the national level of 1.9%. In July, thirteen metro areas had positive home price appreciation while seven metro areas had negative home price appreciation, including San Diego (-0.2%), Detroit (-0.2%), Los Angeles (-0.5%), Dallas (-1.6%), Chicago (-1.8%), Boston (-2.4%) and New York (-5.5%).
Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) released today its monthly Outlook for September showing that housing remains a bright spot for the U.S. economy. Mortgage originations are expected to surge in the third quarter, and our forecast for the best year in home sales since 2006 looks increasingly on the mark.
Expecting the 30-year fixed rate mortgage to average 3.6 percent in 2016, the lowest annual average in over 40 years. The current record low annual average occurred in 2012 at 3.66 percent.
Showing that falling mortgage rates from 4 percent at the end of 2015 to about 3.5 percent in the third quarter of 2016 have more than offset the rise in house prices in most markets, helping to preserve homebuyer affordability.
Revising up our forecast of home price appreciation to 5.6 percent and 4.7 percent in 2016 and 2017, respectively. This is up from last month’s forecast of 5.3 percent for 2016 and 4.0 percent for 2017.
Showing cash-out refinance activity on the rise in the second quarter, with an estimated $13.3 billion net dollars of home equity converted to cash during refinancing. This is up from $11.4 billion in the first quarter of 2016 but substantially less than the peak cash-out refinance volume of $84.0 billion during the second quarter of 2006.
Remaining on track for mortgage originations to reach $2 trillion in 2016, the highest total since 2012.
Quote: Attributed to Sean Becketti, Chief Economist, Freddie Mac.
“The housing market remains a bright spot for the U.S. economy, with solid job gains and low mortgage interest rates sustaining the economy’s momentum in September. In most markets, low mortgage rates have more than offset the rise in house prices, preserving homebuyer affordability for the typical household. Homeowners are also taking advantage of low rates and house price appreciation that is increasing their home equity. The share of cash-out refinances grew to 41 percent in the second quarter of 2016, compared to 38 percent in the first quarter and 15 to 20 percent during the housing crisis.”
“Mortgage originations are expected to surge in the third quarter, reflecting the impact of Brexit in recent mortgage activity. We continue to believe that originations will reach $2 trillion this year, the highest since 2012.”
House sales and prices are rising. Home sales in June were 5.57 million at annual rates, the highest since February 2007 when national home prices peaked. Currently prices as measured by the S&P/Case-Shiller National Home Price Index are climbing at a 5% annual rate and are a mere 3% from their all-time peak.
What next? The next S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index report will be released on Tuesday morning at 9 AM – check to see if the advance continues. The data will be posted atwww.spdji.com.