You’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to community happenings. That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) will release its latest Existing Home Sales (EHS) report later this week. This monthly report provides information on the sales volume and price trend for previously owned homes. In the upcoming release, it’ll likely say home prices are down. This may feel a bit confusing, especially if you’ve been following along and seeing the blogs saying that home prices have bottomed out and turned a corner.
So, why will this likely say home prices are falling when so many other price reports say they’re going back up? It all depends on the methodology of each report. NAR reports on the median sales price, while some other sources use repeat sales prices. Here’s how those approaches differ.
The Center for Real Estate Studies at Wichita State University explains median prices like this:
“The median sale price measures the ‘middle’ price of homes that sold, meaning that half of the homes sold for a higher price and half sold for less . . . For example, if more lower-priced homes have sold recently, the median sale price would decline (because the “middle” home is now a lower-priced home), even if the value of each individual home is rising.”
Investopedia helps define what a repeat sales approach means:
“Repeat-sales methods calculate changes in home prices based on sales of the same property, thereby avoiding the problem of trying to account for price differences in homes with varying characteristics.”
As the quotes above say, the approaches can tell different stories. That’s why median price data (like EHS) may say prices are down, even though the vast majority of the repeat sales reports show prices are appreciating again.
Bill McBride, Author of the Calculated Risk blog, sums the difference up like this:
“Median prices are distorted by the mix and repeat sales indexes like Case-Shiller and FHFA are probably better for measuring prices.”
To drive this point home, here’s a simple explanation of median value (see visual below). Let’s say you have three coins in your pocket, and you decide to line them up according to their value from low to high. If you have one nickel and two dimes, the median value (the middle one) is 10 cents. If you have two nickels and one dime, the median value is now five cents.
In both cases, a nickel is still worth five cents and a dime is still worth 10 cents. The value of each coin didn’t change.
That’s why using the median home price as a gauge of what’s happening with home values isn’t worthwhile right now. Most buyers look at home prices as a starting point to determine if they match their budgets. But, most people buy homes based on the monthly mortgage payment they can afford, not just the price of the house. When mortgage rates are higher, you may have to buy a less expensive home to keep your monthly housing expense affordable. A greater number of ‘less-expensive’ houses are selling right now for this exact reason, and that’s causing the median price to decline. But that doesn’t mean any single house lost value.
When you see the stories in the media that prices are falling later this week, remember the coins. Just because the median price changes, it doesn’t mean home prices are falling. What it means is the mix of homes being sold is being impacted by affordability and current mortgage rates.
For a more in-depth understanding of home price trends and reports, let’s connect.
During the fourth quarter of last year, many housing experts predicted home prices were going to crash this year. Here are a few of those forecasts:
Jeremy Siegel, Russell E. Palmer Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School of Business:
“I expect housing prices fall 10% to 15%, and the housing prices are accelerating on the downside.”
Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics:
"Buckle in. Assuming rates remain near their current 6.5% and the economy skirts recession, then national house prices will fall almost 10% peak-to-trough. Most of those declines will happen sooner rather than later. And house prices will fall 20% if there is a typical recession.”
“Housing is already cooling in the U.S., according to July data that was reported last week. As interest rates climb steadily higher, Goldman Sachs Research’s G-10 home price model suggests home prices will decline by around 5% to 10% from the peak in the U.S. . . . Economists at Goldman Sachs Research say there are risks that housing markets could decline more than their model suggests.”
These forecasts put doubt in the minds of many consumers about the strength of the residential real estate market. Evidence of this can be seen in the December Consumer Confidence Survey from Fannie Mae. It showed a larger percentage of Americans believed home prices would fall over the next 12 months than in any other December in the history of the survey (see graph below). That caused people to hesitate about their homebuying or selling plans as we entered the new year.
However, home prices didn’t come crashing down and seem to be already rebounding from the minimal depreciation experienced over the last several months.
In a report just released, Goldman Sachs explained:
“The global housing market seems to be stabilizing faster than expected despite months of rising mortgage rates, according to Goldman Sachs Research. House prices are defying expectations and are rising in major economies such as the U.S.,. . . ”
Home values seem to have turned the corner and are headed back up.
When the forecasts of significant home price appreciation were made last fall, they were made with megaphones. Mass media outlets, industry newspapers, and podcasts all broadcasted the news of an eminent crash in prices.
Now, forecasters are saying the worst is over and it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as they originally projected. However, they are whispering the news instead of using megaphones. As real estate professionals, it is our responsibility – some may say duty – to correct this narrative in the minds of the American consumer.
If you’re a homeowner thinking about making a move, you may wonder if it’s still a good time to sell your house. Here’s the good news. Even with higher mortgage rates, buyer traffic is actually picking up speed.
Data from the latest ShowingTime Showing Index, which is a measure of buyers actively touring homes, helps paint the picture of how much buyer demand has increased in recent months (see graph below):
As the graph shows, the first two months of 2023 saw a noticeable increase in buyer traffic. That’s likely because the limited number of homes for sale kept shoppers looking for homes even during colder months.
To help tell the story of why the latest report is significant, let’s compare foot traffic this February with each February for the last six years (see graph below). It shows this was one of the best Februarys for buyer activity we’ve seen in recent memory.
In the last six years, we saw the most February buyer traffic in 2021 and 2022 (shown in green above), but those years were highly unusual for the housing market. So, if we compare February 2023 with the more normal, pre-pandemic years, data shows this year still marks a clear rise in buyer activity.
The uptick in buyer traffic is even more noteworthy considering the increase in mortgage rates this February. The Freddie Mac 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose from 6.09% during the week of February 2nd to 6.50% in the week of February 23rd. But even with higher rates, more buyers were looking for a home.
Jeff Tucker, Senior Economist at Zillow, says the increased buyer activity could continue:
“More buyers will keep coming out of the woodwork. We always see a seasonal uptick in home shoppers in March and April . . .”
If you’re looking to sell your house, seeing buyers still active in the market this year should be encouraging. It’s a sign buyers are out there and could be looking for a home just like yours. Working with a real estate professional to list your house now will help you get your home in front of eager buyers today.
Rising foot traffic is a bright spot for this year’s housing market and indicates that buyers are looking to purchase this year, even with higher mortgage rates. If you’re ready to sell your house, let’s connect.
“A condo can be a more affordable entry point to homeownership than a single-family home. And as a homeowner, you’ll build equity over time and have access to tax benefits that a renter wouldn’t.”
That’s why expanding your search to include additional housing types, like condominiums, could help you accomplish your homeownership goals this spring, especially if you can be flexible about the space you need. Condos are typically smaller than a single-family home, but that’s part of what can make them more budget-friendly (see graph below):
In addition to providing more options in your home search and possibly your price point, there are several other benefits to condo living. They tend to require less upkeep and lower maintenance – and that can give you more time to spend doing the things you enjoy. Plus, since many condos are in or near city centers, they offer the added benefit of being in close proximity to work and leisure.
Remember, your first home doesn’t have to be your forever home. The important thing is to get your foot in the door as a homeowner so you can start building wealth in the form of home equity. In time, the equity you develop can fuel a future purchase if your needs change.
Ultimately, owning and living in a condo can be a lifestyle choice. And if that appeals to you, they could provide the added options you need in today’s market.
Charleston, South Carolina is known for its historic architecture, beautiful beaches, and rich cultural heritage. The city is home to numerous museums, art galleries, and historic sites, including Fort Sumter and the Charleston Museum. The city also has a vibrant food and drink scene, with many excellent restaurants and bars. Additionally, Charleston is located in a subtropical climate, which means it has mild winters and warm summers. Overall, Charleston offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty that can be a great place to live.