Home Prices Holding Steady Despite Signs of a Slowdown

By paul owers | 7/6/2022

Anecdotal signs of a U.S. housing slowdown have yet to translate into lower home prices, according to researchers at Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University.

May figures show that average prices still are rising in nearly all of the 100 largest housing markets. As a result, buyers must pay higher premiums, or more than what they should spend based on past pricing trends.

Month-over-month prices are up, if only slightly, in 99 of the 100 measured markets. Only in Boise, Idaho, the nation’s most overvalued market, did the average home price and premium decline – and they have done so for two consecutive months.

“There are plenty of reports that mortgage applications and home showings are falling as interest rates rise,” said Ken H. Johnson, Ph.D., an economist in FAU’s College of Business. “We expect prices eventually will level off as well, particularly if a recession occurs and lending rates remain high. But so far prices continue to rise in the vast majority of markets.”

In May, Boise was overvalued by 70.76 percent, partly a result of many remote workers moving to the once-secluded region during the pandemic. Boise remains just ahead of No. 2 Austin, Texas, where buyers paid 67.97 more than they should, based on the market’s history of prices. The full rankings can be found here.

“At this rate, it won’t be long before Austin overtakes Boise as the most overvalued market in the country,” said Eli Beracha, Ph.D., of FIU’s Hollo School of Real Estate. “Austin has a lot going for it, including weather, culture and the economy, so it’s naturally attracting more residents who are driving up home prices there.”

In Pittsburgh, ranked No. 75 among overvalued markets, the premium inched down from 20.02 percent in April to 19.92 percent in May – an early warning sign that suggests prices likely have peaked in the Steel City metro, according to Beracha. That also is true for Boise as well.

In May, 19 housing markets were at least 50 percent overvalued, up from 15 markets in April.

Fort Myers, the nation’s sixth-most overvalued market at 59.57 percent, has soared in the rankings over the past year. When the researchers compiled the first list for July 2021, Fort Myers ranked No. 39 and was only 23.28 percent overvalued.

“The evidence continues to suggest that we are nearing the peak of the current housing cycle,” Johnson said. “People buying homes now in the most overvalued markets should be prepared to stay there for at least several years to ride out what could be a bumpy stretch for prices.”

Each month, Johnson and Beracha rank the most overvalued housing markets of America’s 100 largest metros by determining the premiums buyers pay. The larger the premium, the more overpriced a market is. The researchers’ data dates back to 1996 and covers single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops.

The least overvalued housing market is Baltimore at 3.13 percent, followed by Honolulu (3.46 percent), Washington, D.C. (4.32 percent) and New York (4.50 percent).

The rankings do not factor in how expensive a market traditionally is. While Honolulu, Washington, D.C. and New York are known for having some of the nation’s highest housing costs, properties in those three metros still are selling for relatively close to where they should be, based on historical trends.

Johnson and Beracha agree that population shifts and the overall supply of homes will be the main drivers in how this housing crisis plays out nationwide.

In the downturn of 2006 to 2012, prices fell precipitously across most of the nation, but this time the researchers expect a bifurcated outcome. Areas with significant increases in population and persistent inventory shortages should avoid major price cuts, but that also means a prolonged period of unaffordable housing in those areas. Markets with less of an inventory problem and stagnant population will become more affordable due to significant price declines.