National home price numbers, measured by the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, will be released Tuesday morning. Here are five things to watch for when the report comes out.
1. Growth Continues to Slow
The data released tomorrow for February 2019 will indicate whether housing price gains will continue to slow. Last month’s data reported a 3.6% annual gain for the 20-city index in January, down from 4.1% the previous month. Economists expect price gains to continue to slow and are forecasting a 3.0% increase for February.
2. Lack of Affordability
Growth in U.S. home prices may have slowed, but buyers in metropolitan areas are still struggling with affordability. Previous price gains and student debt are putting many homes out of reach for prospective home buyers, especially those entering the housing market for the first time.
“Millennials are entering the market, but because they took on much debt and it took them a long time to get it down, they are hesitant about rushing out to buy a home,” said Stan Shipley, managing director and economist at Evercore ISI.
Prices are also climbing faster than wages, making homes more difficult to afford.
3. Smaller markets lead price increases
Over the last year, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Tampa and Charlotte have seen the largest annual price gains, and are expected to continue to grow, though some at a slower pace than before. The cities have been, and are still, recovering well from the recession, economists say.
“Middle America is doing well,” said Evercore’s Shipley. “We have seen steady growth in places like Texas, Florida and the Carolinas, where current homes are affordable.”
4. Buyer’s Market Emerging
Falling mortgage rates over the last couple of months, rising home inventory and slowing home price growth are making the housing market more favorable to buyers. Price cuts and fewer bidding wars are also attracting home buyers. But despite more favorable conditions for buyers, and as activity picks up, economists caution another period of booming home sales is unlikely anytime soon.
5. Tale of Two Coasts
Nationwide, price increases have been slowing the most on the West and East Coast, especially in overheated housing markets like Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco and Seattle. It is likely that these markets will to continue to slow, as many high-demand West Coast cities are approaching peak home prices.