Le Lézard
Subject: Survey

Affordability Sinks to Lowest Point in Over Three Decades, According to First American Real House Price Index

First American Financial Corporation (NYSE: FAF), a premier provider of title, settlement and risk solutions for real estate transactions and the leader in the digital transformation of its industry, today released the July 2023 First American Real House Price Index (RHPI). The RHPI measures the price changes of single-family properties throughout the U.S. adjusted for the impact of income and interest rate changes on consumer house-buying power over time at national, state and metropolitan area levels. Because the RHPI adjusts for house-buying power, it also serves as a measure of housing affordability.

Chief Economist Analysis: RHPI Rises 17 Percent Year Over Year

"In July 2023, the Real House Price Index (RHPI) jumped up by nearly 17 percent on an annual basis, bringing housing affordability to the lowest point in over three decades. Two factors drove the sharp annual decline in affordability ? a 4 percent annual increase in nominal house prices and a 1.4 percentage point increase in the 30-year, fixed mortgage rate compared with one year ago," said Mark Fleming, chief economist at First American. "For home buyers, holding prices constant, the only way to mitigate the loss of affordability caused by higher mortgage rates is with an equivalent, if not greater, increase in household income. Even though household income increased 3.7 percent since July 2022 and boosted consumer house-buying power, it was not enough to offset the affordability loss from higher rates and rising nominal prices.

"The median sale price of an existing home in July, according to data from First American Data & Analytics, was approximately $345,000, while the median house-buying power was nearly $337,000. If housing is appropriately valued, house-buying power should equal or outpace the median sale price of a home," said Fleming. "While the national housing market is overvalued by this measure, applying the same analysis at the market level confirms how different housing market dynamics can be from one market to the next."

Where is Housing Overvalued?

"Of the top 50 markets tracked, 24 markets were overvalued in July, meaning the median existing-home sale price exceeded house-buying power. This is significantly higher than in July 2022, when just 15 markets were considered overvalued," said Fleming. "The most overvalued market in July was San Jose, Calif., where the median sale price of a home was nearly $1,440,000, approximately double the level of consumer house-buying power of $700,000. Moving down the overvaluation list, San Francisco and Los Angeles were also overvalued, although to a lesser extent. While house prices had been declining from last year's peak in these markets, they have since re-accelerated. Despite being considered overvalued, the housing supply shortage is preventing prices from adjusting downward to reflect current affordability levels.

"The good news is that most of the markets we track remain undervalued by this measure, and some markets remain significantly undervalued," said Fleming. "For example, Detroit, Philadelphia and Cleveland are undervalued by an average of $126,000."

Where Does the Housing Market Go from Here?

"Housing overvaluation is a function of three factors: nominal house prices, household income, and mortgage rates. First American Data & Analytics preliminary nominal house price index indicates that house price appreciation likely continued in August. Meanwhile, median household incomes are expected to continue to rise, as the supply and demand imbalance in the labor market persists, putting upward pressure on wages. Finally, while mortgage rates may fluctuate, they are generally expected to stabilize, if the Federal Reserve signals a pause in rate hikes is near," said Fleming. "The outlook for affordability will depend on the tug-of-war between these factors. Lower nominal house prices, lower mortgage rates, higher incomes, or some combination of the three are the only ways to bring more affordability to the housing market."

July 2023 Real House Price Index Highlights

July 2023 Real House Price State Highlights

July 2023 Real House Price Local Market Highlights

Next Release

The next release of the First American Real House Price Index will take place the week of October 30, 2023 for July 2023 data.



The methodology statement for the First American Real House Price Index is available at http://www.firstam.com/economics/real-house-price-index.


Opinions, estimates, forecasts and other views contained in this page are those of First American's Chief Economist, do not necessarily represent the views of First American or its management, should not be construed as indicating First American's business prospects or expected results, and are subject to change without notice. Although the First American Economics team attempts to provide reliable, useful information, it does not guarantee that the information is accurate, current or suitable for any particular purpose. © 2023 by First American. Information from this page may be used with proper attribution.

About First American

First American Financial Corporation (NYSE: FAF) is a premier provider of title, settlement and risk solutions for real estate transactions. With its combination of financial strength and stability built over more than 130 years, innovative proprietary technologies, and unmatched data assets, the company is leading the digital transformation of its industry. First American also provides data products to the title industry and other third parties; valuation products and services; mortgage subservicing; home warranty products; banking, trust and wealth management services; and other related products and services. With total revenue of $7.6 billion in 2022, the company offers its products and services directly and through its agents throughout the United States and abroad. In 2023, First American was named one of the 100 Best Companies to Work For by Great Place to Work® and Fortune Magazine for the eighth consecutive year and was named one of the 100 Best Workplaces for Innovators by Fast Company. More information about the company can be found at www.firstam.com.

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