HousingIQ: Q1 2020 Housing Market Vitality Highlights

Entering the spring home-buying season, the housing market had firmly recovered from Spring 2019 lows

The March data does not show the full impact of “stay-at-home” or similar orders that started to affect most Americans by late March. The April data will no doubt reflect that nearly 90% of Americans were effectively told to not venture outside. What remains to be seen is how the forced unemployment, financial relief to consumers and businesses, and the pandemic’s longer-term impact on the shape of the economy, interplay to affect the housing market. 

A steep decline in house prices is unlikely as most recently gauged by the HousingIQ Survey of Kentucky REALTORS® and other research by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. What is certain though, is that sales volume will decrease and buyer interest will slowly rebound with the economy’s eventual recovery.

The data for March show that it was really going to be the best of times. The US Housing Market Vitality Indicator (HMVI-US) closed March 2020 at 108.5 which corresponds to economic conditions supporting 8.5% annual house price gains. In March, “The national median existing-home price [was], up 8.0% from a year ago.” At the state level, twenty-one state housing markets ended stronger than the overall US housing market. At the metro level, March 2020 ended with house prices in 93% of all metro markets forecasted to improve.

March 2020 closed 0.8 points higher than February 2020 and 6.9 points higher than March 2019.

The number of metro markets stronger than the national housing market improved to 193 markets in March 2020.

In March 2020, the number of metro markets where house prices are forecasted to decrease increased to 6.7%.

Forecasted performance

In twenty-one states, the housing market is stronger than the overall US housing market. In eighteen states, the market has weakened.

193 metro markets are forecasted to outperform the national market. 150 markets are forecasted to underperform the national market. Notable this quarter is the absence of any of the major metros in the top 10 list.

Trailing 12-month performance

Conditions improved in 163 metro markets with Florida accounting for three of the top ten performers. Conditions deteriorated in 239 metro markets with California contributing three of the ten worst performers.

Noteworthy markets

55 metro markets stand out for their consistently strong performance. 58 metro markets have been consistently poor performers.