The salad days of low price tier home sales (homes selling for $95,000 and less) that fueled the recovery over the last two years are ending and with them, the legions of investors that have led the nation’s housing recovery.
“The Investors Did Their Job,” headlines Clear Capital’s latest market report. “Can traditional home buyers take it from here?”
Deeply discounted lower priced homes attracted enough buyers to drive prices up 31.8% from the bottom of the market in 2011. Over the last quarter, however, low tier home price gains slowed to just 1.2%—a big difference from 3.7% a year ago. Stabilization, with rates of growth not seen since November 2011, could motivate first time and move-up home buyers to re-engage, Clear Capital said.
Analyzing rental rates and home price trends at the national level suggest the current investor pool may start to wane as the rate of home price growth outpaces the rate of owners’ equivalent of rent. “Don’t expect investors to exit all at once. Good deals at the micro market level will persist well into 2014,” said the report released today.
“Our data through the end of March reveals prices remained steady through the final weeks of winter, a sigh of relief to all market participants,” said Dr. Alex Villacorta, vice president of research and analytics at Clear Capital. “Yet, national quarterly gains of just 0.7% mean there’s certainly still risk for short-term price declines in some markets. But over the year, we see Phase Three of the recovery unfolding, which we define as moderation across all price tiers.”
March non-seasonally adjusted national home prices remained mostly flat over the winter, while distressed saturation over the month remained stable at 21.8%. Concerns over short-term declines remain in the Midwest with nearly non-existent growth over the quarter. The last time the Midwest fell into negative territory was June 2012. Five metro markets show quarterly declines, a reminder that local economies and weather matter.