Robert Shiller warns homebuyers about Bumpy Ride
After months of rapidly accelerating US home prices, new numbers show growth is slowing – not that bargain hunters are ready to pull out their wallets.
U.S. home prices rose 19.8% year-on-year in August, following an annual increase of 19.7% in July, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index. The stabilization comes after four consecutive months of record and rising growth.
“Data for August also suggests that house price growth, while still very strong, may start to slow,” said Craig Lazzara, managing director and global head of index investment strategy at S&P Dow Jones Indices.
Buyers should beware, index co-creator Robert Shiller wrote in Project Syndicate on Monday. Buying in booming places may not be a safe long-term bet, he said.
“Even at the current high levels of home prices in the United States, buying still makes sense for those looking to become homeowners,” Shiller wrote. “But buyers need to be sure they can accept what could be a rather bumpy and disappointing long-term path for home values.”
The bursting of the housing bubble that triggered the Great Recession saw domestic home prices fall 36% from December 2005 to February 2012. (They have since risen 71%.) But that’s not the only example. decline in home values.
Shiller cited data showing that US home prices, adjusted for inflation, were often lower in the 1990s than they were a century ago. The drop came as cities expanded into cheaper land and house-building technology improved.
For buyers and sellers focused on today, August’s pause in accelerating price growth was similar for two other Case-Shiller indices: the 10-city composite, which rose 18.6%. , and the 20 cities composite, which increased 19.7%. . Both figures were lower than their July gains.
Experts attribute the market rise in part to the response of buyers to the coronavirus pandemic as they migrated from urban apartments to homes further away. More data is needed to determine whether the increase in demand is attributable to households moving forward with their home buying plans – resulting in increased purchases – or to changes in location preferences.
Phoenix and San Diego recorded the largest year-over-year increases in home prices in August, increasing 33% and 26.2% respectively. Tampa replaced Seattle in 3rd place, with prices rising 25.9%.
Price growth was strongest in the Southwest, although each region saw double-digit gains.
The national Case-Shiller index is 45.5% higher than its previous peak in July 2006. Only eight of the cities in the 20-city index reported higher price increases in August than in July.