Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Question #7 for 2013: What will happen with house prices in 2013?

by Bill McBride on 1/08/2013 10:55:00 AM

Earlier I posted some questions for this year: Ten Economic Questions for 2013. I'll try to add some thoughts, and maybe some predictions for each question.

Note: Here is a review of my 2012 Forecasts

7) House Prices: It now appears house prices, as measured by the national repeat sales indexes, bottomed in early 2012? What will happen with house prices in 2013?

Calling the bottom for house prices in 2012 now appears correct.

Case-Shiller House Prices IndicesClick on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the year-over-year change in the Case-Shiller Composite 10 and Composite 20 indexes.

The Composite 10 SA was up 3.4% YoY in October, and the Composite 20 SA was up 4.3% year-over-year. Other house price indexes have indicated similar gains. Right now it looks like the Case-Shiller Composite 20 index will finish the year up about 6%.

Note: the year-over-year gain in 2010 was related to the homebuyer tax credit.  However, in 2010, prices were still too high based on fundamentals.   However, when prices started increasing in 2012, prices were more in line with fundamentals based on price-to-income, price-to-rent and real house prices.

Some of the key factors in 2012 were limited inventory, fewer foreclosures, investor buying in certain areas, and a change in psychology as buyers and sellers started believing house prices had bottomed. In some areas, like Phoenix, there appeared to be a bounce off the bottom.

In 2013, inventories will probably remain low - suggesting more house price increases - and there also tends to be significant momentum in house prices (also suggesting more increases in 2013).

However, even though I expect inventories to be low this year, I think we will see more inventory come on the market in 2013 than 2012, as sellers who were waiting for a better market list their homes, and as some "underwater" homeowner (those who owe more than their homes are worth) finally can sell without taking a loss.

Also I expect more foreclosure in some judicial states, and I think the price momentum in Phoenix and other "bounce back" areas will slow.

All of these factors suggest further prices increases in 2013, but at a slower rate than in 2012.   Here are some other house prices forecasts ranging from 1.4% to 4.8% increases in 2013.  It looks like I'm in the consensus this year (I was out of the consensus in 2012).

Here are the ten questions for 2013 and a few predictions:
Question #1 for 2013: US Fiscal Policy
Question #2 for 2013: Will the U.S. economy grow in 2013?
Question #3 for 2013: How many payroll jobs will be added in 2013?
Question #4 for 2013: What will the unemployment rate be in December 2013?
Question #5 for 2013: Will the inflation rate rise or fall in 2013?
Question #6 for 2013: What will happen with Monetary Policy and QE3?
Question #7 for 2013: What will happen with house prices in 2013?
Question #8 for 2013: Will Housing inventory bottom in 2013?
Question #9 for 2013: How much will Residential Investment increase?
Question #10 for 2013: Europe and the Euro

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