Back in June, Fed Chair Jerome Powell made it clear to reporters: The Pandemic Housing Boom was over. Heading forward, he said, spiked mortgage rates would push the U.S. housing market into a slowdown.
“We saw [home] prices moving up very very strongly for the last couple of years. So that changes now. And rates have moved up. We are well aware that mortgage rates have moved up a lot. And you are seeing a changing housing market. We are watching it to see what will happen. How much will it really affect residential investment? Not really sure. How much will it affect housing prices? Not really sure," Powell told reporters in June. “I’d say if you are a homebuyer, somebody or a young person looking to buy a home, you need a bit of a reset. We need to get back to a place where supply and demand are back together and where inflation is down low again, and mortgage rates are low again.”
It's clear the Fed's "housing reset" will give homebuyers more options (i.e., rising inventory) and more breathing room (i.e., fewer bidding wars). The question mark—which Powell acknowledged in June—is will it push home prices lower? Historically speaking, home prices remain sticky until economics forces sellers’ hand.
To better understand where home prices might be headed, Fortune reached out to CoreLogic to see if the firm would provide us with its updated August assessment of the nation's largest regional housing markets. To determine the likelihood of regional home prices dropping, CoreLogic assessed factors like income growth projections, unemployment forecasts, consumer confidence, debt-to-income ratios, affordability, mortgage rates, and inventory levels. Then CoreLogic put regional housing markets into one of five categories, grouped by the likelihood that home prices in that particular market will fall between June 2022 and June 2023. Here are the groupings the real estate research firm used for the August analysis:
Very high: Over 70% chance of a price dip
High: 50%–70% chance
Medium: 40%–50% chance
Low: 20%–40% chance
Very Low: 0%–20% chance
Between June 2022 and June 2023, CoreLogic predicts U.S. home prices are poised to rise another 4.3%. But that's nationally. Regionally, some markets are at high risk of falling prices.
Among the 392 regional housing markets it looked at, CoreLogic found 125 markets have a greater than 50% chance of seeing local home prices decline over the next 12 months. In July, CoreLogic found 98 markets had a greater than 50% chance of a home price decline over the next 12 months. In June, 45 markets were at risk. In May, just 26 markets fell into that camp.
Why does CoreLogic keep slashing its outlook? It boils down to souring U.S. housing market data. On a year-over-year basis, existing-home sales and new-home sales are down 20.2% and 29.6%, respectively. That's the sharpest housing activity contraction since 2006.
“Probability of home price decline continues to intensify as mortgage rates hit a new high in June and housing demand took a considerable dip," Selma Hepp, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic, tells Fortune. "Price decline risk remains concentrated in regions that saw exceedingly high home price growth over the last two years, but not the same level of population and income growth, and areas that are historically more sensitive to increase in mortgage rates and recession signals."
Of those 392 regional housing markets that CoreLogic measured, 67 markets in August have "very low" odds of falling home prices over the coming year. Another 133 housing markets are in the "low" group and 67 markets are in the "medium" group. CoreLogic put 85 markets in the "high" camp. CoreLogic categorized 40 markets as having "very high" odds of falling home prices over the coming year. That includes major markets like Boise, San Francisco, and Lake Havasu City, Ariz.
The real estate industry should always be on high alert when the Federal Reserve shifts into inflation-fighting mode. After all, the sector is the most rate sensitive sector in the economy. That said, some regional markets should be on higher alert than others. Historically speaking, when a housing cycle "rolls over," it's normally the significantly "overvalued" housing markets that are at the highest risk of home price corrections.
According to CoreLogic, 75% of the nation's regional housing markets are "overvalued" relative to underlying economic fundamentals. Many of these frothy markets, like Boise, are at the highest risk of a price correction. However, there's one big exception: San Francisco. While CoreLogic says the Bay Area is at "very high" risk of falling home prices, it says the market isn't overvalued. What's going on? High-cost tech hubs, like San Francisco and Seattle, are getting hit hard by the tech slowdown. Not only are their high-end real estate markets more rate sensitive, but so are their tech sectors.
A growing chorus of research firms agree with CoreLogic that markets like Boise and San Francisco are at risk of falling home prices. However, CoreLogic putting Phoenix—a market where inventory has spiked back to 2019 levels—as "low risk" for a price decline is eyebrow raising. Research groups like Moody's Analytics and John Burns Real Estate Consulting predict home prices will fall in Phoenix over the coming year.
"People don't expect prices [in Phoenix] to increase fast, or at all, anymore. The median metro Phoenix house price fell the last two months. If prices continue to fall for long enough, people will eventually expect prices to continue to fall in the future and then we could see the flip side of the 2021 housing market," John Wake, an independent real estate analyst based in Phoenix, tells Fortune.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com