Home prices soar at one of the fastest rates on record

Home prices soar at one of the fastest rates on record, but higher mortgage rates should slow future growth


The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-city price index posted a 19.1% year-over-year gain in January, up slightly from 18.6% the previous month. On a monthly basis, the index increased 1.8% between December and January.

 

Related video: Mortgage rates ‘leading to higher costs for homebuyers,’ economist says (Yahoo! Finance)

Meanwhile, the Case-Shiller national home price index showed 19.2% growth between January 2021 and January 2022.

“Last fall we observed that home prices, although continuing to rise quite sharply, had begun to decelerate. Even that modest deceleration was on pause in January,” Craig J. Lazzara, managing director at S&P DJI, said in the Case-Shiller report.

separate index gauging house prices from the Federal Housing Finance Agency showed a slightly slower pace of growth. The FHFA index showed that house prices increased 18.2% year-over-year in January nationally.

What happened: Phoenix, Ariz. recorded the highest rate of home-price growth in the country in January, according to the Case-Shiller report, with a 32.6% year-over-year increase. As with the month prior, two Florida cities closely followed: Tampa with a 30.8% gain and Miami with a 28.1% increase.

All 20 cities that are tracked by the Case-Shiller index saw record price growth on an annual basis, and in 16 of the 20 cities the rate of home-price appreciation was higher in January than in December.

The FHFA index showed that prices increased the most in the Mountain region of the country, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau. This region — which includes Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico — experienced an annual increase in house prices of more than 23%.

The big picture: The question for the housing market now is whether the rapid increase in interest rates will translate into slower home-price growth. So far, “the mortgage rate shift has not dampened upward price pressure from intense borrower demand and limited supply,” Will Doerner, supervisory economist in the FHFA’s division of research and statistics, said in the agency’s report.

Indeed, housing inventory remains highly constrained — so much so that even a downturn in demand might not immediately translate into lower price appreciation, because the remaining buyers in the market still will need to duke it out to lock in a deal. But with some economists expecting the pace of home sales to drop by as much as 25% in response to mortgage rates that are moving toward 5%, it’s easy to picture a market in which prices rise more slowly.

Looking ahead: “Eventually mortgage rates will slow down home prices, but it hasn’t happened so far,” said Ken Johnson, an economist at Florida Atlantic University. “We should not see rapid upticks in prices as mortgage rates rise. It’s that kind of exuberance that led to past housing downturns.”

“While the small number of homes-for-sale will keep upward pressure on prices as we move through the Spring buying season, I expect conditions to undergo noticeable adjustments in the months ahead,” said George Ratiu, manager of economic research at Realtor.com.

“Looking forward, the home buying environment will likely remain very competitive, with home price growth also remaining concerningly high as inventories show little-to-no sign of respite and buyers attempt to lock in a lower rate in anticipation of further increases,” said CoreLogic deputy chief economist.