According to S&P and CoreLogic Housing Price Index numbers, home prices continue to show strong growth over the past year with record year-over-year increases in many cities. Some cities are seeing increases as high as 20% versus the same month last year. These numbers are likely to remind some of the "pre-bubble days" when increases such as these were seen for several years in a row. However, you have to look a little closer at the data to see what’s really driving these numbers.
Why Did the Crash Hit Some Cities Harder than Others?
The answer to that question has to do with a number of economic factors, though there are similarities amongst the cities that saw the biggest losses in the crash. The cities that were hit hardest by the market downturn are also the cities showing some of the best growth in value according to the S&P/Case-Shiller Housing Price Indices.
Let’s take a look at three cities that posted large increases in May 2013 versus May 2012. Phoenix saw a 20% increase, Vegas 23%, Miami 14%, and San Francisco had an impressive 24% gain. If we graph these cities over the last decade, it’s easy to see how high prices rose and how far they fell.
SOURCE: S&P/Case-Schiller Housing Price Index
When compared to the National average you can see that all three cities showed increases far greater than the National trend. What we see is that homes in areas that experienced rapid growth were the ones hardest hit by the market downturn. Cities like Miami, Phoenix, and Las Vegas all saw tremendous growth in the last decade and were overdeveloped in many cases. When developers in these cities saw the rate at which home prices were increasing they were quick (and careless) in taking advantage of the abundance of inexpensive land.
SOURCE: S&P/Case-Schiller Housing Price Index
Homes in larger more established cities like Charlotte, Denver, and Cleveland (see above graph) saw significantly less of a reduction in home values from their peak. These cities often have less physical room for growth with little economic justification for increasing prices and are less likely to suffer from overdevelopment. This means that homes in those cities were more accurately priced than those in cities allowing developers to build recklessly. As a result, they saw less of a reduction of value when the market crashed. Even New York saw a relatively low drop during the crash. These cities are also the ones showing the smallest growth in the report, with New York and Cleveland up 3% over last year, and Denver and Charlotte up 9% and 7%, respectively. Even the slowest markets are seeing increases. CoreLogic reports year-over-year increases in 296 of 384 metropolitan areas with the 20 largest areas all showing increases.
What does this mean for the homebuyer?
The areas strongly impacted by the crash represent a great value. Homes in those areas are likely to be very reasonably priced and are often priced exceptionally lower than when they were constructed. This means homebuyers can get a great deal on a home, or even a luxury estate with every amenity, with confidence the home will continue to increase in value.
Here in Placer County, the city of Lincoln grew at of over 300% in the last decade and was the fastest growing city in the country. As a result, a number of large developments were built in the southeastern region of the city. Many of which offer impressive homes in gated communities at significantly reduced prices.
Do Strong Price Increases Mean We’re Headed for Another Bubble?
The following infographic tracks Housing Price Index by state over the last decade to reveal the beginnings and effects of the housing bubble on U.S. housing prices.
In 2003, housing prices had already been going up for several years and, as the graphic illustrates, and they continued to climb strongly through 2006. It took the U.S. housing market several years of hefty gains to build up enough air to cause the bubble burst we experienced. Indeed this concurs with the CoreLogic report finding that U.S. housing prices are still 26% below their June ’06 peak. Take a look back at the S&P National Housing Price Index to see how far away we still are from the dizzying heights of the bubble.
How much will rising prices impact your mortgage payment?
Even with the price of homes increasing, interest rates are still quite low. The government is doing everything it can to energize the economy and that means borrowing money is cheap. It should be noted that a $10,000 increase in the value of a $500,000 home would represent roughly a $50 increase in the monthly payment with a 4% loan, whereas a 1% increase in the interest rate from 4% to 5% on a $500,000 loan represents a $300 monthly increase in the mortgage payment and over $100,000 in additional cost over the life of the loan. Wow, that’s huge!
It’s amazing how much of a difference 1% can make. Try it and see for yourself using our convenient Mortgage Calculator.
Simply put, the fact that home values are increasing is a great sign. A healthy housing market is one where home values increase responsibly and in response to economic conditions, not one where speculation and questionable lending practices drive home values up rapidly while median incomes are decreasing.
Mary Pizzimenti, California Realtor ®