The Pandemic Housing Boom saw U.S. home prices soar 42%. Heading forward, some of those gains will get erased.
On Tuesday, the going home price correction finally showed up in the Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, as the reading for July came in 0.24% below its June reading. That marks the first month-over-month decline in home prices since 2012.
While this is a small numerical drop in the Case-Shiller Index, it’s still a clear indication of a trajectory shift. The decline is also bigger than it first appears, because the Case-Shiller Index is a lagged three-month average. That means the price drop in July was sharp enough to wipe out all gains in May and June.
It’ll take months for a resale index like the Case-Shiller—the industry’s gold standard for measuring residential real estate prices—to tabulate the actual home price declines that agents and builders alike are witnessing across the nation.
To better understand the ongoing home price correction, let’s take a look at the more up-to-the-minute home value indices calculated by Zillow and John Burns Real Estate Consulting. While we wait on the Case-Shiller Index to catch up, these indices give us a good idea of what happened to regional home prices through the end of August.
Among the 148 major housing markets (see chart above) tracked by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, 98 markets have seen home values fall from their 2022 peaks. In 11 markets, the Burns Home Value Index* has already dropped by more than 5%.
Historically speaking, U.S. home prices usually only fall significantly once supply gets high enough that distressed sellers finally cave. In this housing cycle, we’re seeing neither a supply glut nor a flood of distressed sellers, but we’re still seeing home prices begin to slide down.
“Our view is that you will see—and we’re seeing it right now—home prices will fall even though supply levels are not ripping higher,” Rick Palacios Jr., head of research at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, tells Fortune.
Why are prices falling? It boils down to pressurized affordability. The combination of spiked mortgage rates—which just hit 7%—and frothy home prices have pushed new monthly payments far beyond what many buyers can afford to pay. Other borrowers—who must stay below a certain debt-to-income ratio—have lost their mortgage eligibility altogether.
Among the nation’s 150 largest housing markets (see chart above) tracked by Zillow, 89 markets have seen home values fall from their 2022 peaks. In 10 markets, the Zillow Home Value Index has already dropped by more than 5%.
The housing markets seeing the sharpest home price corrections are in one of two camps: Either “NASDAQ” or “frothy.”
The so-called “NASDAQ” group are high-cost tech hubs like San Jose (down 9% from its 2022 peak), San Francisco (down 7.8%), and Seattle (down 6.2%). Not only are their luxury homes more rate-sensitive, but so are their tech sectors. Just look at all the 2022 startup layoffs.
The second group are frothy markets like Austin (down 7.4%), Boise (down 5.3%), and Phoenix (down 4.4%). The WFH boom saw those markers get detached from underlying fundamentals. According to Moody’s Analytics, those three markets in particular are priced at least 50% above what local incomes would’ve historically supported. That explains why frothy markets, like Austin and Boise, were among the first to see falling home prices.
The big-picture takeaway: This month we learned that the U.S. home price correction is sharper—and more widespread—than previously thought.
Want to stay updated on the housing correction? Follow me on Twitter at @NewsLambert.
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