Statistics released this spring show that both new and existing home prices have risen significantly over the past twelve months. For example, the census bureau has indicated that the median price of a new home sold in April was $271,600, which was 8.3 percent higher than the previous month and 13.1 percent higher than one year ago. This is interesting news not only because it affects those in the market to purchase a home, but the economy in general. Wealth is created through rising home prices and this wealth has the potential to increase consumer confidence and thus consumer spending. Two questions arise from here–why are home prices rising and will they continue to do so? They are very interesting questions because just a few years back many were predicting that home prices would not recover for decades. In our opinion, it is also no coincidence that rates are rising at a time when home prices are rising and the real estate market gets stronger.
There are four reasons that home prices are increasing. For one, home prices dove down too low during the slump. In many areas the price of homes was below the replacement cost of purchasing a home. With so many foreclosures on the market, there was too much downward pressure on home prices. In addition, the cost of owning came in significantly below the cost of renting –especially when record low rates were factored into the equation. Investors across the nation recognized these economics and came in to purchase excess inventory to lessen the foreclosure issue and the equation quickly reversed. This caused the second reason for higher home prices–a tightening of inventory caused the price of homes being “bid up” in many cases. Across the nation, we have seen evidence of multiple bids on properties up for sale–especially at the lower or middle end of the market. This has created the opposite situation with regard to why home prices dove due to bank sales. In essence, reasons one and two have created a bounce in the market. The last two reasons? The economy and demographics. We will discuss these in part two of this series, as well as the future outlook for home prices.