Home Buying Conditions by State in January 2019

Home Buying Conditions by State in January 2019

Homebuying activity was essentially unchanged in January 2019 compared to one year ago, according to NAR’s January 2019 REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey.[1] The REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index registered 52 in January 2019, just slightly above 50, a level that indicates no change in the overall direction of buyer traffic activity, One year ago, the REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index was at 69, a level that indicates homebuying traffic was broadly stronger compared to conditions one year ago. A lower index in one month compared to the level in another month slower activity during that former month, so the steep decline in the value of the index from 69 to 52 indicates homebuying conditions have slowed significantly from conditions one year ago.[2] The REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index has fallen below leads existing home sales by one to two months, so the January reading is an indicator of sales in the next one to two months.

Buyer traffic was broadly weaker during November and December 2018 and January 2019 compared to conditions one year ago in the District of Columbia and in states 16 states that included Oregon, California, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. However, buyer traffic conditions were broadly stronger during November and December 2018 and January 2019 compared to conditions one year ago in Idaho, Utah, Wisconsin, Indiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

The REALTORS® Buyer Traffic Index has hovered at near 50 since August 2018 when the index fell to 51 and remained at below 50 through December 2018. The January reading of 52 indicates a slight upturn in homebuyer traffic as mortgage rates started falling in January 2019.  As of the week of February 14, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to 4.37 percent, from a high of 4.94 in the weeks of November 8 and 15.[3]

REALTOR® Comments

Higher mortgage rates compared to one year ago, the negative effect on confidence of the government shutdown, the cap on deductions for property, state, and local income taxes, and the very cold weather were some factors cited by the respondents for the slowdown in buyer activity in their markets.

  • Respondents from some Midwest states— Ohio, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Missouri, Indiana— reported that the extremely cold weather held homebuying activity.
  • Some respondents from California, New York, and New Jersey reported the cap on deductions for property, state and local income taxes is negatively affecting sales.
  • A respondent from California also noted that the widespread wildfires in 2018 are still impacting home sales[4].
  • Respondents from Alabama, California, Nevada, Florida, Texas, and Virginia reported that the government shutdown appeared to have had an impact in homebuying activity.
  • Lack of supply, especially of affordable homes, continues to frustrate would-be homebuyers.
  • REALTORS® reported that higher mortgage rates (during October, November and December) discouraged buyers

To note, mortgage rates have started falling again since January 2019.[5] As of February 14, the 30-year fixed rate mortgage has fallen to 4.37 percent from 4.8 percent during the weeks of November 8 and 15. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate is still slightly higher compared to the 3.95 percent in January 2018. The monthly increase in mortgage payment arising from a 0.5 percent increase in mortgage rates on a loan of $250,000 is about $73 per month.


[1]In a monthly survey of REALTORS®, NAR asks respondents “Compared to the same month (January) last year, how would you rate the past month’s traffic in neighborhood(s) or area(s) where you make most of your sales?” NAR compiles the responses into an index, where an index above 50 indicates that more respondents reported “stronger” traffic than “weaker” traffic.  In generating the buyer traffic index at the state level, NAR uses data for the last three surveys to have close to 30 observations. Small states such as AK, ND, SD, MT, VT, WY, WV, DE, and D.C., may have fewer than 30 observations. The index is not seasonally adjusted, so a year-over-year comparison is appropriate.

[2] The index is not seasonally adjusted, so a year-over-year comparison is appropriate compared to a month-to-month comparison in evaluating whether market conditions are improving or deteriorating.

[3] Freddie Mac’s survey of 30-year fixed rate mortgages

[4] Bloomberg reported that 876,000 acres were burned in California due to wildfires, citing data form the California Department of Forestry and Fire and Protection in Now California Wildfires Burn All Year; see https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-01-17/california-fires-burn-all-year-as-drought-left-state-a-tinderbox

[5] Rates started falling after Chairman Powell of the Federal Reserve Board announced in December 2018 that it was looking at one rate hike in 2019.

November 2018 Housing Affordability Index

November 2018 Housing Affordability Index

At the national level, housing affordability is down from last month and down from a year ago. Mortgage rates rose to 4.99 percent this November, up 19.1 percent compared to 4.19 percent a year ago.

  • Housing affordability declined from a year ago in November moving the index down 10.6 percent from 161.0 to 144.0. The median sales price for a single family home sold in November in the US was $260,500 up 5.0 percent from a year ago.
  • Nationally, mortgage rates were up 80 basis point from one year ago (one percentage point equals 100 basis points).
  • The payment as a percentage of income was up from last month at 17.4 percent this November and up from 15.5 percent from a year ago. Regionally, the West has the highest payment at 23.8 percent of income. The Northeast had the second highest payment at 17.1 percent followed by the South at 16.8 percent. The Midwest had the lowest payment as a percentage of income at 13.7 percent.

  • Regionally, the Northeast recorded the biggest increase in home prices at 8.2 percent. The South had an increase of 3.8 percent while the West had a gain of 2.4 percent. The Midwest had the smallest growth in price of 1.6 percent.
  • Regionally, all four regions saw a decline in affordability from a year ago. The Northeast had the biggest drop in affordability of 14.4 percent. The South had a decline of 9.3 percent followed by the Midwest that fell 9.2 percent. The West had the smallest drop of 7.2 percent.
  • On a monthly basis, affordability is down from last month in all of the four regions. The Northeast region had the decline of 5.5 percent. The South had a decline of 2.0 percent followed by the Midwest with a dip of 1.8 percent. The West had the smallest dip in affordability of 0.7 percent.
  • Despite month-to-month changes, the most affordable region was the Midwest, with an index value of 181.9. The least affordable region remained the West where the index was 105.0. For comparison, the index was 148.8 in the South, and 146.4 in the Northeast.

  • Mortgage applications are currently up while credit availability is down. Rates are higher this month but are still historically low. Home prices are up 5.0 percent while median family incomes that are growing 3.0 percent. The job market is steady. More inventory is welcome on the lower end of the market whereas there is more supply of inventory for high priced homes.
  • What does housing affordability look like in your market? View the full data release here.
  • The Housing Affordability Index calculation assumes a 20 percent down payment and a 25 percent qualifying ratio (principal and interest payment to income). See further details on the methodology and assumptions behind the calculation here.

March 2018 Housing Affordability Index

March 2018 Housing Affordability Index

At the national level, housing affordability is down from last month and down from a year ago. Mortgage rates rose to 4.42 percent this March, up 8.2 percent compared to 4.28 percent a year ago.

  • Housing affordability declined from a year ago in March moving the index down 7.0 percent from 150.4 to 161.7. The median sales price for a single family home sold in March in the US was $252,111 up 5.9 percent from a year ago.
  • Nationally, mortgage rates were up 35 basis point from one year ago (one percentage point equals 100 basis points), while median family incomes rose 2.7 percent.

  • Regionally, the West recorded the biggest increase in price at 8.5 percent. The South had an increase of 6.0 percent while the Midwest had a gain of 5.1 percent. The Northeast had the smallest incline in price of 3.5 percent.
  • Regionally, all four regions saw a decline in affordability from a year ago. The West had the biggest drop in affordability of 9.2 percent. The South had a decline of 7.3 percent followed by the Midwest with a drop of 5.7 percent. The Northeast had the smallest drop of 2.7 percent.
  • On a monthly basis, affordability is down from last month in all four regions. The West had a decline of 4.7 percent followed by the Northeast with a dip of 5.6 percent. The South had a drop of 5.9 percent followed by the Midwest, which had the biggest; dip in affordability of 8.6 percent.
  • Despite month-to-month changes, the most affordable region was the Midwest, with an index value of 194.7. The least affordable region remained the West where the index was 105.6. For comparison, the index was 151.8 in the South, and 163.5 in the Northeast.

  • Mortgage applications are currently down 2.5 percent. Mortgage credit availability in April was flat. Rates are rising which will increase-housing costs. Home prices are up 5.9 percent while median family incomes are only growing 2.7 percent. Inventory gains will help ease the pressure on home prices.
  • What does housing affordability look like in your market? View the full data release here.
  • The Housing Affordability Index calculation assumes a 20 percent down payment and a 25 percent qualifying ratio (principal and interest payment to income). See further details on the methodology and assumptions behind the calculation here.

December 2017 Housing Affordability Index

December 2017 Housing Affordability Index

At the national level, housing affordability is practically flat from last month and down from a year ago. Mortgage rates increased to 4.22 percent this December, up 1.7 percent compared to 4.15 percent a year ago.

  • Housing affordability declined from a year ago in December moving the index down 2.3 percent from 163.8 to 160.1. The median sales price for a single family home sold in December in the US was $247,900 up 5.7 percent from a year ago.
  • Nationally, mortgage rates were up seven basis points from one year ago (one percentage point equals 100 basis points) while median family incomes rose 4.1 percent.

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  • Regionally, the West recorded the biggest increase in price at 8.6 percent. The Midwest had an increase of 7.5 percent while the Northeast had a gain of 6.7 percent. The South had the smallest incline in price of 5.8 percent.
  • Regionally, all four regions saw a decline in affordability from a year ago. The Midwest had the biggest decline of 4.4 percent. The West followed with a decline of 4.0 percent. The South had a decline of 1.0 while the Northeast had the smallest decline of 0.8 percent.
  • On a monthly basis, affordability is down from last month in two of the four regions. The Northeast had the biggest gain of 3.5 percent followed by the Midwest with a gain of 1.3 percent. The West had a decline of 0.1 percent. The South had the biggest drop in affordability of 0.9 percent.
  • Despite month-to-month changes, the most affordable region was the Midwest, with an index value of 203.1. The least affordable region remained the West where the index was 111.5. For comparison, the index was 161.7 in the South, and 177.5 in the Northeast.

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  • Mortgage applications are currently up 0.7 percent. There are plenty of potential homebuyers interested entering in the housing market as rates continue to rise. There is job growth and incomes are rising but still not at the pace of home prices. New construction is on the rise however low inventory remains a concern due to the pressure it puts on home prices.
  • What does housing affordability look like in your market? View the full data release here.
  • The Housing Affordability Index calculation assumes a 20 percent down payment and a 25 percent qualifying ratio (principal and interest payment to income). See further details on the methodology and assumptions behind the calculation here.

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What Would an Increase in Mortgage Rates Mean for Homebuyers?

What Would an Increase in Mortgage Rates Mean for Homebuyers?

Experts forecast that the U.S. economy is in for yet another solid year of strength, albeit not at the same level as in 2017. NAR expects that the mortgage rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage will rise to 4.4 percent in 2018 from 3.9 percent in the last quarter of 2017[1], an increase of 50 basis points this year. However, how will this change affect the monthly mortgage payment of homebuyers?

It is estimated that, on a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for $380,000, each half-point increase adds about $100 to the monthly payment. A homebuyer who wants to purchase a home with a value of $380,000 would pay $1,600 every month for the mortgage payment at a 3.9% mortgage rate[2]. Assuming the mortgage rate increases to 4.4%, the buyer would pay $1,700 per month in order to buy the same home. Among 177 metro areas, we see that 89% of these areas have a median home value lower than $380,000. This means that most homebuyers would see an increase of less than $100 in the monthly mortgage payment. While mortgage rates are still historically low, the expected increase in mortgage rates should not discourage people from buying a house. We calculated the increase in the monthly payment for 177 metro areas when the mortgage rate increases from 3.9% to 4.4%. As we move to metro areas with higher prices, the dollar amount that is added to the monthly payment rises as well. In Youngstown, OH and Decatur, IL, a typical homebuyer will need to pay an extra $23 every month for a home with a value of $89,000. However, in the San Jose, CA metro area where the median home price is $1.17 million, the monthly payment would increase by $305.
Metro areas with high-priced homes Depending on the type of homebuyer (first-time or repeat), homebuyers in metro areas with high priced homes may seek a lower priced home or stay longer in their existing home if they already own a house. First-time homebuyer First-time homebuyers may look for a lower priced home or a smaller home, one with fewer amenities or a home in a more affordable area with a longer commute. We calculated how much the maximum purchase value would need to be reduced in order to retain the same monthly payment with a higher mortgage rate. For a 50 basis points increase in the mortgage rate, homebuyers need to purchase a home that is about 6% lower in price if they want the same monthly payment as they would pay at a lower rate. For instance, in San Francisco, CA metro area, the median home value is $900,000. The monthly payment for a typical homebuyer is $3,820 at a 3.9% mortgage rate and a 10% down payment. However, at a 4.4% mortgage rate, the typical homebuyer needs to search for homes with a maximum purchase price of $847,700 to continue paying $3,820. Thus, the maximum purchase price is cut by $52,300. Repeat homebuyer Rising mortgage rate may push existing owners in these metro areas to stay in their homes longer. Although mortgage rates are still relatively low, some owners may not be able to get the same favorable terms compared to their existing mortgage, especially owners who bought their home in 2012 when mortgage rates reached their lowest level. In the meantime, these owners, who may stay longer in their home, will likely build more equity while home prices continue to grow as a result of the limited inventory. A typical homeowner in San Jose, CA metro area has accumulated $493,000 in equity as a result of the price appreciation in the last five years while the price of his home increased by $165,000 within the last year. All in all, we see that many homebuyers in most metro areas will not be significantly affected by a higher rate of 4.4%. The visualization below allows you to see how much the monthly payment changes in 177 metro areas when the mortgage rate increases to 4.4% from 3.9%.
DATA BY METRO AREA
 
[1] Based on the average interest rate on a 30-year conventional home loan that Freddie Mac published for Q4 2017.
[2] Assuming 10% down payment.

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