US house prices gain after 2 months, affordability weakest since 1984

Homeownership remains a key goal for many Americans, but it continues to become one of the hardest to achieve with tight supply pushing up real estate prices and lowering affordability nationwide.

The latest stats show that prices are on the rise again with the Black Knight HPI recording an all-time high in July 2023 with annual growth at 2.3% from a revised 0.9% in June, although this was influenced by a decline in prices in July 2022.

For those saving hard to achieve homeownership, the firm’s assessment of the figures is concerning with the median-priced home now demanding more than 38% of the median household income, the highest share since 1984!

“Even if seasonally adjusted prices were to stop rising tomorrow, annual home price growth would climb to +2.9% by August and cross +4% by November, simply due to price gains that are already ‘baked in,’” warned Andy Walden, Black Knight VP of Enterprise Research. “If price gains were to maintain their current pace – which is unlikely given how tight affordability has become – it would result in annual gains returning above 7.5% by the end of the year.”

Also this week, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, covering all nine U.S. census divisions, reported 0.0% annual change in June, up from a loss of -0.4% in the previous month. The 10-City Composite showed a decrease of -0.5%, which is an improvement on the -1.1% decrease in the previous month.

“While home prices have remained strong in 2023, elevated mortgage rates complicate the situation for potential homebuyers, a trend that will likely constrain additional price gains for the rest of the year. Nevertheless, home prices are still expected to reaccelerate and reach mid-single-digit growth rate by the end of the year, according to CoreLogic’s latest HPI forecast,” said Dr. Selma Hepp, CoreLogic chief economist.

Realtor.com’s August Monthly Housing Trends Report shows that home sellers were less active in August than a year earlier but there was a slight uptick in inventory.

It also revealed that the U.S. median list price fell to $435,000 in August, down from $440,000 in July, but is up slightly (+0.7%) from August of last year.

Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com says there could be some better news for buyers ahead.

“The inventory crunch continues to put upward pressure on home prices, amplifying affordability concerns and shutting some potential buyers out of the market,” she said. “However, we anticipate mortgage rates will gradually ease through the end of the year and, despite this month’s bump in home prices, we’ll be unlikely to see a new price peak this year.”

INVESTOR RETURNS

For investors, the rise in asset value is a positive, although rent increases are not rising.

The latest report from Apartment List shows that nationwide rents fell slightly in August: -0.1%, a flip from positive to negative rent growth is typically seen in September but occurred a month early this year, signaling an early end to the summer “busy” season that was sluggish from the start.

Year-over-year rent growth has now fallen to -1.2%, the lowest level since the start of the pandemic, and should continue to sink throughout the winter, the firm says.

Rents were down in 53 of the 100 largest metros in August compared to the previous month and down in 72 out of 100 year-over-year.

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