Is My Market About to Crash? The 5 Major Metrics to Look at

Real estate markets are local, not national. When someone says, “the housing market is about to drop,” you have to ask, “which housing market?” Every city has different migration patterns, housing market activity, building codes, and inventory. One market in the Midwest could see price jumps while somewhere on the coast sees declines. So, which markets are getting hit hardest in the latest round of price cuts and which are still on their way up?

You’ll need to know the different housing market metrics before making a prediction. But you don’t have to look into the data by yourself. You have Dave Meyer by your side! Dave has been looking at a few key markets to uncover which are seeing home price drops and which are seeing appreciation. Traditionally “strong” cities are getting hit the hardest as interest rates rise and inventory comes on the market.

Some cities look like they’ll see double-digit price cuts over the next two years, while others that have already seen record price growth will continue to outshine their more well-known coastal counterparts. As an investor, this is the exact type of data you need to know when making housing market decisions. The right market could lead you to financial freedom, while the wrong one could burn your hard-earned capital!

Dave:
Hey, everyone. Welcome to On the Market. I’m your host, Dave Meyer. We all know that the housing market over the last couple of years has been absolutely red hot, but starting at the beginning of 2022, there have been a lot of headwinds that have caused people to wonder if the housing market is going to crash or see some modest declines over the next couple of years. And if you listen to the show, you probably know that on a national level, the housing market is still doing pretty well, but we are starting to see some pretty significant signs that the hot market we’ve been in is starting to cool down. But really, real estate investing is all local. So as an investor, what you’re probably wondering is what’s… It doesn’t matter as much what’s happening on a national scale, you’re probably curious what’s happening in a market that you currently invest in or one that you’re thinking about investing in.
So today, that’s what we’re going to talk about. We are going to talk about which markets are doing well and are showing signs that they can continue growing despite these economic headwinds. And we’re going to talk about the other types of markets that are showing some weakness and potentially are going to see declines over the next couple of years. Now, I’m going to mention some specific markets here, but I obviously can’t discuss every single market in the country in this podcast so I’m also going to share with you some data points that you should be looking at in your own individual investing so you can make your own evaluation on whether or not your specific markets are poised for further growth or they might see some setbacks in the next couple of years.Before we jump into it, let’s hear a quick word from our sponsor.
All right, so today we’re going to get into which markets are poised for growth and which are at risk of seeing declines over the next couple of years. Before we do the specific things that are happening right now, let’s just do a quick couple minute recap on what has led to this point in the housing market. First, we all know that home prices have been going up like crazy. They are up 43% since the beginning of the pandemic. So if you started in March of 2020 and went to July of 2022, prices have gone up 43%. That is insane. Usually, that takes decades to see that level of growth. And so, obviously when you see that kind of growth, people wonder if we’re in a bubble. And that is a good question. There is certainly some level of speculation, which is what causes a bubble. There is some level of speculation in the housing market, but there are also strong fundamentals that led to this really rapid appreciation.
Those fundamentals are first and foremost, demographics. I say this all the time, but it is true and it is not going to change. Millennials are now the largest generation in the US, and they’re at peak. Family formation and home buying age, that leads to a lot of demand. Second, we have seen interest rates near the lowest they have ever been and likely will ever go. And that also raises demand and improves affordability. People can just spend more on houses when interest rates are super low. Third, inflation and the abundance of money. We’ve talked about this a lot as well. We’ve seen the Fed injected trillions of dollars into the economy, and that pushes up asset prices and something that we saw for a while, not just in the housing market, but in the stock market and the crypto market as well.
And then lastly is extremely low inventory. We have seen days on market, which is the amount of time it’s takes to sell a home hover around 15 to 18 days over the last couple of years, when normally it’s 30 or 40 or 50 days to sell a house. And when there’s just so few houses on the market, it’s going to increase prices. That’s just how supply and demand work.
So there is some speculation, and this is important because when we talk about whether or not housing prices are going to go down, we have to understand why they went up in the first place. And these four things, demographics, low interest rate, inflation and low inventory are vitally important to what the situation is right now. When we’re talking about prices going down, we have to ask ourselves, “Are any of these four things starting to decline?” And the fact is, yes, some of them are. Let’s just take them one by one.
Demographics, that’s not going to change, right? Millennials, they are the age that they are, and maybe they will put off buying house or forming a family by a year or two, but you can’t really escape demographics. This is something that just drives economic forces long in a much more significant way than any of these short term trends. And so demographics are going to contribute to high demand in the housing market for the foreseeable future. Two, inflation. The money has already been printed. There’s new bills coming out in Congress that might even print more money. And so there is likely going to be more inflation over the next couple of years.
Now, I do think there are some signs. As of this recording, we did just see that in July, the CPI went down from 9.1% year over year to 8.5% year over year. That is an encouraging sign. But even if inflation peaked, and it is definitely too early to tell whether it peaked or not, it is likely going to be a very slow return to normal for inflation even if we did hit a peak. So I do think inflation is probably still there and going to be contributing to the housing market over the next couple of years. So far, demographics and inflation both support the housing market and have, at least I should say, it puts upward pressure on the housing market.
Now on the other side, interest rates are really what’s putting downward pressure on the housing market. Interest rates have risen. They were about 3.1% in January of 2022. As of this recording, they’re in the low to mid 5s for the average 30 year fixed rate mortgage. And that’s for the record, not for investors. That’s just for owner occupants.
And so that’s a really significant change. I mean, that is hundreds, if not, thousands of dollars per month in mortgage payments that it has gone up. And that just means people can’t spend as much on a home because their payments are going to be so much higher each month because of interest rates. We found some data from Black Knight, that puts out great data by the way, shows that housing affordability is now at its worst point since the early 1980s. And this is really important for pricing in the housing market because if people can’t afford to buy homes, they’re not going to. And so that decreases demand. And when demand falls, that is when prices can fall as well.
This just is a really important thing because from 2008, like after the recession, the housing market crashed and prices went down 20% and we entered this really low interest rate period that lasted nearly 15 years, housing from 2008 to 2020 was really relatively affordable. It’s like one of the cheapest it’s been at least in the last 40 or 50 years in the United States. And now fast forward, two years later, we’ve gone from a relatively very affordable housing market to a relatively very expensive housing market. And this is going to put significant downward pressure on the housing market.
The last thing here is inventory of course. This is sort of the X factor because so far over the last couple years, inventory, the number of houses that are on the market for people to buy has been down a lot, like a joke of a number. It’s been down to numbers that are maybe 1/3 or half of what they are normally. And so that has contributed to a lot of competition, which pushes up prices. This is the X factor because in some markets it’s starting to come back really dramatically, while in others it’s actually declining. And so we’ll get into that in a little bit.
So hopefully, this gives you some good context for what’s going on here, that demographics and inflation are probably going to keep putting upward pressure on the housing market, interest rates are putting downward pressure, and inventory is the X factor that’s sort of working on a market by market basis.
Okay. So that’s on a national scale, but what we want to talk about is a regional scale. What is happening in the individual housing markets and how are you as an investor or aspiring investor going to be impacted by this? And because we’re still in the midst of this market cooling period, there’s really no way to tell for sure which markets conceded decline. So I just want to get that out of the way. I don’t have a crystal ball. I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen. This is just my best reading of the data as it exists today.
I want to look at a few different measurements and lead indicators because obviously we don’t know for certain. So in those types of situation, what I do and I recommend you do is try and look at a lot of different data sources and see if there are themes that are emerging between different ways of measuring this. And that gives you a good general sense of what might happen. The data I want to look at is year over year price data. So that means I’m going to look at data that from June 2022 as compared to June 2021. We’re going to look at month over month price data, which is basically just last month compared to this month. We’ll look at inventory and days on market. Remember, that’s sort of the X factor. And then we’ll also talk about affordability a bit.
So first things first, year over year. In no markets are prices coming down year over year. I just want people to sort of internalize that because there are so many headlines right now that it’s like, “The housing market is cooling. It’s crashing. There’s a correction.” And that I do think is true. I do think there is a correction, we’re in the midst of that. But to keep that in context, there is no market that I’ve seen where housing prices have gone down on a year over year basis. And normally in the housing market, we look at year over year data because it’s seasonal, right? Because prices always are a little bit higher in the summer, they go down in the winter. The best way to measure the market and the way that most economists and housing market analysts and pretty much everyone looks at it is year over year data.
And so in that respect, nothing has gone down yet. But we can look at this data still and tell some interesting things because year over year, most housing markets were going up like crazy for the last couple years. So in Austin, for example, last year it went up 45% year over year, but now it’s down to 23% year over year. And 23% is still absolutely absurd. But the fact that the growth rate went from 45% to 23%, it got cut in half essentially, is really significant. It shows that the housing market is cooling. We’re not in this red scorching hot ultra competitive market anymore where things are just going up and up and up. They are starting to moderate. So that’s Austin. And on a year over year basis, Austin I think is the most dramatic shift that we’ve seen. But we also see cities on the west coast that are experiencing this as well.
So Sacramento went down 13.4%, San Jose at 11, Phoenix at 11, Seattle at 10 and Riverside, California at 10. So those are some of the most dramatic drops that we’ve seen in growth rate. So remember, I’m just going to say it one more time. That does not mean that prices went down year over year it means the rate of growth declined. So that’s something you should be looking at in your market as well, is, where things growing at 30% year over year and now they’re at 2% or 3%, that to me is a big sign that your market is shifting a lot. So year over year, normally in normal times, that’s what I’d really focus on. But because things are changing so much right now, I do think it’s important to look at month over month data. And in certain markets, it does seem like prices have actually peaked and are starting to come down.
And as I mentioned, normally we see a peak in the summer, things start to come down and then they peak again the next summer. And usually, that’s like July, August, maybe even September. But it looks like we might have hit a housing market peak in June and we’re seeing certain west coast cities that are now seeing declines on a month over month basis. So from May to June, for example, in San Jose, California prices went down 5%. In Seattle, they went down 4%. San Francisco was 3. Denver was one and a half. Portland and Phoenix are also up there. So these aren’t crazy numbers. We’re not seeing things drop really dramatically. And you won’t. The housing market doesn’t work like stocks. It doesn’t work like cryptocurrency. You’re not going to see a 20% drop in a month. That will never happen. Almost never. I shouldn’t say never. But that is very unlikely to happen.
But on these two basis, you’re seeing a trend occur, right? These cities, mostly on the west coast is what I’m seeing, that are seeing the most dramatic drops are Sacramento, San Jose, Seattle, San Francisco, a couple places in Denver and Utah are all showing that they might have hit a peak and are starting to decline. Honestly, these are kind of predictable. I think for anyone like me who follows these markets and was predicting which cities might see declines first, it was these cities, right? I mean, I probably would’ve thrown Boise on there and we’ll talk about Boise in a little bit. But the super expensive markets where affordability is relatively low, those are going to be the ones to go down first, because as we discussed earlier, what’s putting downward pressure on the housing market is affordability.So the cities that have the lowest affordability are the ones that are going to go down first.
And so again, I think it’s important and I want to just reiterate that these declines are not that large. And the market in this period, like in the last year, has seen huge increases in inventory, a lot of these markets. And we’ve seen huge declines in affordability. But all that said, the housing market is holding up, in my opinion, relatively well. I do think things are likely going to go down more. Don’t get me wrong. That’s my personal opinion. I just believe that. But I just want to reiterate that things are not going crazy despite really adverse conditions for the housing market. Things are only going down modestly. And to me, that sort of reiterates and reinforces my belief that I’ve held for a while is that we are unlikely to see a crash in the housing market. And I’d say that somewhere between 15, 20%, like I just see that as being very, very unrealistic.
Okay. So those two data sets year over year, month over month, both pointing to west coast cities, super expensive cities starting to see declines. But let’s look forward, right? Those are things that already happened. And to look forward, we can use what I call a lead indicator. That’s basically a data point that helps you predict a different data point in the future. So the lead indicators I want to look at are days on market and inventory, because those are a good measure of supply and demand. And if those things start to go up, it could predict housing market price declines in the future.
And so let’s just look at where we are with inventory. So inventory, like I said, was super low throughout the pandemic. It was a fraction of what it used to be, but that is starting to change. San Francisco is the first market in the country to officially return to pre pandemic inventory level. So that’s really significant, because to me, if prices are going to decline, you have to get to a normal housing market first. And having pre pandemic, inventory numbers is how you get to a normal housing market. And so San Francisco is the first city in the country where we’ve seen that. San Jose, another city is right behind that, just 1%. Las Vegas has seen its inventory skyrocketed. It used to be 40% below where it normally is, now it’s just 7% below. So it hasn’t reached pre pandemic levels yet, but it’s getting darn close. We’re also seeing Phoenix and Austin.
So again, what I said at the beginning of this show is that you want to look at multiple data points and see what trends emerge. So we’re already seeing trends emerge, right? San Francisco, San Jose, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Austin, they are showing up on all of these different data points as places that are potentially going to see housing market declines. I don’t know if that’s going to happen, but the data is suggesting that these are some of the weakest markets in the United States.
Okay. So that’s basically what we’re seeing, right? When I do my research and I look at particular markets that are overvalued or likely going to see these declines, these cities are leading the way. Now, if you are investing in a city and you didn’t hear me mention it and you’re thinking, “Oh my God, my city is doing great. There’s no chance to decline,” that’s not what I’m saying. I’m just giving you like the top five or 10 that are at the highest risk. And so if you want to figure out for yourself, which you should, you can download some data. I’ll put the link that I created. You can download the data to get inventory and pricing information and days on market for every city in the country. We’ll put that in the show notes. You should do this research for yourself.
The next thing I want to talk about is just some context about if you start to see more declines, like how bad it could get, because I think that’s what people really fear. You see 3% decline in Seattle and you’re like, “Okay, I can live with 3%. That’s not crazy. But is it going to be 20% like it was in the great recession?” Well, I don’t maintain economic models. I can’t say for sure, but we did find some research that is from Moody’s Analytics. It’s one of the biggest analytics market research firms in the whole country. They did some forecasts and they predicted basically which markets were likely to do well and likely to see declines between now and 2024. So it’s just cool because it gives you sort of like an 18 month time horizon, which I think is a really good way of looking at this because that’s probably, in my mind, we’re going to probably see inflation for a while and uncertain economic conditions for a while. And so forecasting out about 18 months I think should be a good frame of reference for you.
What they predicted was that three cities in Florida were actually going to be the most at risk. So it’s the Villages, which is one of the fastest growing communities in the whole country. It’s called the Villages, Florida, Punta Gorda and Cape Coral. So those are three, followed by Spokane, Washington. So they think those are going to be the worst till 2024. And according to them, the biggest decline in the country will be for the Villages at negative 13%. And that’s significant, right? 13% decline when you’re leveraged and when you’re buying into super expensive asset is a pretty big deal.
But keep in mind first that during the great recession, home prices did decline 20% nationally, and we are talking about the absolute worst city. If you start looking at some of the other cities that they’re predicting, it’s more in the 3, 4, 5, 7% decline. And so this is sort of what I… I have said something a couple months ago that my projection through 2024 was plus or minus 10%. So at best, it would be up 10% in the next through 2024. And at worst it would be down 20%. And I think this sort of reinforces that idea. I know that’s a super wide range because we just don’t know. It’s harder to make a better prediction than that, but I do think this reinforces the idea that the worst case scenario on a national level is probably not worse than a 10% decline.
On the other hand, Moody’s forecast that some cities are going to grow, and this sort of reinforces what we talk about on the show all the time, that certain markets are going to decline, certain markets are going to go up. Apparently, Moody’s Analytics agrees with us and they think that these particular markets, honestly, I have barely heard of any of these cities, are going to go up. So the top one is Albany, Georgia, and they’re giving that 10%. They think through 2024 it’s going to be a 10% increase. Then we have Casper, Wyoming. I’ve actually been there. I’ve heard of that one, 8%. New Bern, North Carolina at 7.6%. Augusta, Georgia, 7.2%. And Hartford, Connecticut at 7%. So again, we are seeing that some markets are going to keep growing in all… The most likely scenario I should say is that some markets are going to keep growing maybe up to about 8, 9, 10% up until 2024. Some markets are going to decline probably at worst in the 10 to 12% range through 2024. So it’s a wide spread.
I think that’s super interesting because it makes it sort of a researcher’s market, right? Like if you’re listening to the show and you like looking at data, that means that some markets are not going to do well. Some are going to do well. And if you do your research, you might be able to find the markets that are going to outperform the national housing market right now.
So across all of this research, I just want to sort of summarize the different things that we’re seeing as commonalities for the markets that are likely going to decline. Number one is massive appreciation. If something went up 60%, it is probably more likely to go down. Second is increasing inventory in days on market. And I really want to stress this one. You can find this data in the download. We’ll put that in the show notes. You can look at this on Realtor or Redfin, there’s data for this. But if inventory and days on market are starting to approach pre pandemic levels in your market, that is a very significant sign that your market might start to see housing declines. I don’t know if it’s going to happen for sure. Not in every single market, but to me, that’s the number one thing I would be looking for.
Next is migration hotspots. A lot of places like Boise and Austin and Phoenix saw huge increases in housing prices because a lot of people were moving there and with a potential recession. With just the economy just like slowing down, there’s a lot of uncertainty, migration is likely going to slow down. It doesn’t mean people are going to move back to where they’re from, but I think it’s going to slow down and that’s going to take a little fuel out of the fire.
And then the last thing as we talked about before is about affordability. Look at places that are really unaffordable. Those are the most likely to see declines. And based on some of the things that we’ve seen, you can see these are places like Austin, Sacramento, Phoenix, Boise is on that list, and honestly, a lot of cities in Florida. So those are some of the places where according to Black Knight, the payment to income ratio, which is basically how much money you make in versus what your mortgage payment is, is above 70%, which is absurd and makes it at what some of the least affordable markets in the entire country. If you want sort of a list of some of the big markets that I’ve seen that I personally believe are at sort of a higher risk…
And again, I don’t have a crystal ball. What I’m doing here is I’m looking at these different metrics, year over year data, month over month data, inventory data, days on market and affordability, I’m looking at all of that. I keep seeing certain cities come up over and over again even though these are independent analyses, and what I see are that Austin, Boise, Phoenix, Las Vegas, Reno, also Fort Myers, Florida, couple cities in Colorado where I invest, Colorado Springs, Denver, Boulder, definitely they’re already starting to see declines, Salt Lake city and Provo in Utah and Spokane, Washington. Those are ones that I just keep seeing over and over again. Again, I can’t tell you what’s going to happen, but those ones continue to show signs of some weakness and some wobbliness.
On the other hand, there are cities that are looking strong. And the one that keeps coming up, it’s kind of a random city. I mean, I grew up near here, but you never hear it sort of mentioned on a national level, but Hartford, Connecticut showing very strong signs, Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Virginia Beach, Virginia. If you want a large city, one of the biggest cities in the country, Chicago, Illinois still looks like a very good housing market. Albany, New York, Honolulu and Philadelphia all look relatively strong. And again, this is just me sitting here in August, in the beginning of August, telling you how the data reads. It’s going to change. And so if you’re an investor, you have to keep looking at these things over and over. This is just a snapshot in time on what we’re looking at today.
So that’s what I got for you guys. Hopefully this is helpful to you if you are worried about a housing market correction, or some people are excited about a housing market correction. Maybe you can’t afford to get into the housing market right now and you’d like to see prices come down and you’re wondering which markets that you’ve been looking at might start to see something come down and make it relatively more affordable for you to jump into it. So hopefully, this is helpful.
Just remember these couple of things. One, every market is going to be different. We’re seeing that more than ever. Over the last couple years, everything was going up. But in a normal housing market, regional differences, city differences are very significant. We’re returning to a time like that. Make sure to look for yourself. There’s going to be a lot of articles about this. Hell, I just listed a bunch of cities. That’s just my opinion. Don’t take my word for it. Go investigate this for yourself. Look at the data for yourself and determine what you think is going to happen.
Next, I also want to point out that even within a market, different neighborhoods and different asset classes and different price points are going to be pretty different right now, too. You’re starting to see like James, on one of our recent shows, was saying that in Seattle, high price point luxury market is getting hit way harder than affordable stuff and more affordable side of the spectrum was actually continuing to go up. That’s in the same market. So you need to be looking at these things. You can download some of the data, again, completely for free on biggerpockets.com. Just click on the link in the show notes. Just remember that this is sort of a researcher’s market. This is a good time to be someone who’s interested in data and dig into this.
Thank you all so much for listening. We’d love to know what you’re seeing in your market. We’re super curious, and it’d be helpful for other investors. So if you are doing this research and learning more about your individual market, we encourage you to go on biggerpockets.com. This show has its own forums. There’s an On the Market forums on biggerpockets.com. So we encourage you to go onto BiggerPockets forums, check that out and tell us what’s happening in your market. I will be on there. I would love to hear for it. I will respond to you. So go tell us what is going on in the market so we can all learn together as a community. Again, thank you all so much for listening to On the Market. My name’s Dave Meyer. If you want to interact with me and give me feedback about this show, I really appreciate that. You can do that on Instagram, where I am @thedatadeli. We’ll see you all next time.
On the Market is created by me, Dave Meyer, and Kalin Bennett. Produced by Kalin Bennett. Editing by Joel Ascarza and OnyxMedia. Copywriting by Nate Weintraub. And a very special thanks to the entire BiggerPockets team. The content on the show On the Market are opinions only. All listeners should independently verify data points, opinions, and investment strategies.

 

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.

2022-08-19 06:02:32

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