“We’re not in a housing bubble just yet—but we’re skating close to one if prices continue rising at the current pace,” George Ratiu, manager of economic research at Realtor.com, said in a release.
As reported by Fortune, researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas last month also sounded the alarm via a paper titled “Real-Time Market Monitoring Finds Signs of Brewing U.S. Housing Bubble.”
In their assessment of the current housing market, the researchers concluded that “U.S. house prices are again becoming unhinged from fundamentals.”
However, “there is no expectation that fallout from a housing correction would be comparable to the 2007–09 global financial crisis in terms of magnitude or macroeconomic gravity,” they continued. “Among other things, household balance sheets appear in better shape, and excessive borrowing doesn’t appear to be fueling the housing market boom.”
Ratiu appeared to offer similar sentiments. “Some markets will see a correction if mortgage rates continue to rise, in which sales will drop and prices will follow,” he said. But “I don’t expect the market to see a huge crash or spike in foreclosures.”
Still, it is difficult for many potential homebuyers—especially first-time ones—to come to grips with today’s fast-rising home prices, which have surged nearly 20 percent in February year-over-year, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index. That is up from the 19.1 percent annual increase in January and is the third-highest reading in the index’s 30-year-plus history.
“(The) index highlights a housing market experiencing a renewed sense of urgency in February, as buyers worked through a small number of homes for sale in an effort to get ahead of surging mortgage rates,” Ratiu wrote. “The imbalance between strong demand and insufficient supply pushed prices 19.8 percent higher compared with a year ago.”
According to Fannie Mae, the rest of this year won’t see much relief, either, as it is now forecasting that U.S. home prices will climb 10.8 percent in 2022. That’s on top of a record 18.8 percent jump that occurred last year.
In the first quarter, more than 32 percent of Redfin.com users nationwide looked to move to a different metro area—an increase from 31.5 percent over last year and
26 percent witnessed before the pandemic.
Now, “continually increasing home prices—along with quickly rising mortgage rates, which make monthly payments even higher—are adding fuel to the fire,” Redfin writes, adding that expensive coastal cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Boston are “seeing early signs of a housing-market slowdown.”
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Finance and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.