The U.S. housing market appears to be cooling off and that’s not a bad thing, according to Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff.
Rascoff expects home values to appreciate by about 3% in 2014, lower than the 5% appreciation rate homes had been seeing over the past year or so.
“The fact that the housing market is starting to slow down" means the recovery is sustainable, he says. "We had bounced too far off the bottom too quickly and so this slowdown is okay."
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The real estate market, of course, is a bifurcated story. According to Rascoff, appreciation in Las Vegas is up 33% year-over-year. California, New Mexico, Nevada and Arizona have also seen home prices appreciate by more than 20% year-over-year.
Washington D.C., Chicago and Philadelphia, however, have all seen home values drop year-over-year.
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“These markets are starting to find their own footing, some going way up and some not so much,” explains Rascoff.
And the markets that are shooting up now won’t be for long, he notes. “It’s unsustainable...Las Vegas at 33% year-over-year [price appreciation] has to come down. What’s important to remember is these markets that are shooting up so quickly fell the furthest so they had a lot further to go on the way back up.”
So where are the housing risks in 2014?
“What’s driving the housing market now is negative equity,” says Rascoff. “But what’s happened over the last year or two is that about 5 million Americans have been freed from negative equity so in some of these inventory constrained markets where home values were going way up more inventory is coming onto the market and that’s what’s helping to moderate these appreciation rates.”
The days of buying a home at 50% less than its estimated value are gone.
It’s a seller's market right now according to Rascoff.
“Inventory is still constrained," he says. "There were a lot of buyers that were sitting on the sideline waiting for the media to tell people that home values have bottomed. We’ve now declared that and so buyers are trying to act.”
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