Morning Briefing: Affordability has improved says First American

by Steve Randall30 Nov 2016
Affordability has improved says First American
An index of home prices adjusted for the impact of income changes and interest rates shows an improvement in housing affordability.

First American Financial Corporation’s Real House Price Index for September 2016 reveals that single-family house prices increased 1 per cent in the month compared to August but were down 2 per cent from September 2015.

“While a small uptick in rates in September caused an increase in real house prices compared to August, it is important to remember that mortgage rates remain at historically low levels. The low rates, combined with recent meaningful income gains, fueled an increase in consumer house-buying power, meaning affordability is at a quarter-century best,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist at First American.

Real house price increases year-over-year were highest in Wyoming (5.8 per cent), Maine (5.1 per cent), Vermont (4.1 per cent), Colorado (3.9 per cent) and  Michigan (3.5 per cent).

Meanwhile, the largest decreases year-over-year were in New Jersey (6.2 per cent), DC (5.2 per cent), Alaska (4.7 per cent), Arkansas (4.6 per cent) and Iowa (4.4 per cent).

“Even as interest rates increase above 4 percent post-election, housing, on a purchasing-power adjusted basis, will continue to be more affordable than it was in the early 1990s,” Fleming said.
 
Housing market to favor buyers say experts
Under-pressure homebuyers could find some relief ahead according to a new poll of experts.

It notes that prices have been rising over recent years as low supply creates a highly competitive market for homebuyers, however a survey of experts conducted by Zillow found that most believe things are set to change…but not yet.

The majority of respondents see a switch from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market in 2018 or 2019.

"Sellers in the current housing landscape often have the luxury of listing their home 'as-is' without fixing it up or with only minimal window-dressing since demand for homes has been high and inventory low,” said Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell. “As the number of homes for sale increases and home value appreciation slows, we expect the market to meaningfully swing in favor of buyers within the next two to three years."

Zillow’s data shows a 6 per cent rise in home prices to $191,200 in October with Portland, Dallas and Seattle reporting the highest year-over-year home value appreciation among the 35 largest metros across the country for the third month in a row.

Home values in Portland rose almost 15 per cent to a median value of $349,500. Dallas and Seattle home values have appreciated just over 12 per cent since last October.

Slower winter season, prices ease in most expensive NYC markets
Two of the most expensive housing markets in New York have seen an easing of price increases drop amid a slower-than-usual winter season.

The October 2016 StreetEasy Market Report shows that prices for Manhattan resales are still rising but at their slowest pace for 5 years while in Brooklyn the rise is at the slowest pace since 2012.

Competition in both boroughs has declined with a notable drop in North Brooklyn, where prices have also declined by 1.2 per cent compared to most Brooklyn neighborhoods which have seen at least 4 per cent increases. Manhattan prices were up only 0.5 per cent in October.

"Approaching winter, high-end sellers are already cutting prices as they adjust to a more restrained market. Buyers looking in formerly ultra-competitive areas may find the ball is back in their court," said StreetEasy economist Krishna Rao. "In Williamsburg, it will be particularly interesting to see if price declines continue as the L-train closure approaches. For those who don't mind dealing with restricted transit options over the next few years, this could present an opportunity for investment that will ultimately pay off."

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