Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Hitting Home . . . Utah home values and home ownership through recession and recovery

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released a housing brief based on American Community Survey data. Interestingly, the brief showed that median home values in many small U.S. counties held steady after the recession, while values in more populated counties declined. The brief uses three-year averages: 2007-2009 (which included the recession) and 2010-2012.

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Homeownership—Utah ranks in the upper tier of states in terms of homeownership. Using 2010-2012 data, 70 percent of housing units are owned with a mortgage or free and clear—notably higher than the U.S. average of 65 percent. While several of Utah’s geographical neighbors also show high homeownership rates, Nevada and its neighbor, California, show two of the lowest homeownership rates in the country (56 and 55 percent respectively).

However, although Utah’s homeownership remained high in 2010-2012, it dropped 2.1 percentage point compared to the earlier 2007-2009 time period. Nationally, homeownership dropped only 1.7 percent. Homeownership rates were particularly hard hit in the West. In fact, three of Utah’s neighbors (Arizona, Nevada and Colorado) topped the list of states with the largest homeownership declines.

Home Values—According to the American Community Survey, the median home value in Utah stood at $209,000 in the 2010-2020 time period. (Remember that home values are self-reported by survey respondents.) Utah ranks a surprising eighteenth in terms of median home values. Nationally, the comparable median home value measured decidedly lower at $174,600. Nearby states typically showed lower median home values than did Utah. Colorado proved the one exception. Hawaii, California and Massachusetts displayed the highest median home values.

How did home values fare in the post-recession time period? While most states lost ground in home values between 2007-2009 and 2010-2012, a notable number actually experienced an appreciation in home values. The Dakotas, with their oil/gas boom driven population gains, showed the largest gains in home values. Not surprisingly, states which participated to the largest degree in the housing bubble (California, Nevada, Arizona and Florida) experienced the largest declines in home values. In Utah, the median home value decreased by $18,400 according to the survey results.

House Price Index—The House Price Index provides another way to track prices/value movement in the housing market. The Federal Housing Finance Agency publishes this index quarterly. The House Price Index is a weighted, repeat-sales index. In other words, it measures average price changes in repeat sales or refinancings of the same property. The following visualization shows the year-to-year changes in the index. Utah’s home-price appreciation lagged behind that of the U.S. in the early part of the decade, but accelerated dramatically by mid-decade creating Utah’s own housing bubble.

The three states where home values showed the largest declines showed a much sharper increase in home prices than did Utah. Their bubble collapses also proved more dramatic. Both Utah and the U.S. began to experience year-to-year house price gains at essentially the same time. However, currently Utah’s home prices are rising more rapidly than are prices nationwide.

For more data on from these two sources: http://www.fhfa.gov/Default.aspx?Page=14 and http://www.census.gov/prod/2013pubs/acsbr12-20.pdf

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