In 2013, the housing markets with the biggest increases in asking prices were all rebounding from severe price drops in the housing bust. Home prices are still in rebound mode, but this effect will weaken in 2014. Job growth, in contrast, mattered little for price gains in 2013 but helped drive rent increases.
In December, the year-over-year increase in asking home prices slowed for the first time since the price recovery began in early 2012: prices rose 11.9% year-over-year in December, compared with November’s 12.2% year-over-year increase. Asking prices rose 0.4% month-over-month, seasonally adjusted, the third straight month of gains less than 1%.
Overall, regression analysis shows that recent price gains are most strongly associated with the severity of the local housing bust. Markets where prices fell most during the bust (roughly 2006 to 2011, but varies by metro) offered bargains for investors and other buyers who have helped bid prices back up over the past two years. A second important factor is foreclosures: adjusting for other factors, metros with a higher foreclosure inventory today – including many in Florida – have slower price growth. Job growth, however, had little impact on local home price gains in 2013: the relationship between job growth and price gains was positive but not statistically significant.
Therefore, year-over-year price gains in December 2013 are still primarily a reaction to the housing bust, but this rebound effect is fading as we enter 2014. Looking at the quarter-over-quarter price changes throughout 2013, the relationship between the severity of the housing bust and the recent price recovery was stronger earlier in the year than later in the year. More specifically, the correlation between peak-to-trough price change (FHFA) and the Trulia Price Monitor quarter-over-quarter change was -.59 in March; -.45 in June; -.43 in September; and -.33 in December. This correlation is moving closer to zero, which signifies that the rebound effect is fading.
As the housing market continues to recover, factors other than the rebound effect – like job growth – will matter more for price gains. That means slower but more sustainable price increases.
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