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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The Normal Seasonal Pattern for Median House Prices

by Calculated Risk on 4/23/2024 04:49:00 PM

Last week, in the CalculatedRisk Real Estate Newsletter on March existing home sales, NAR: Existing-Home Sales Decreased to 4.19 million SAAR in March; Median House Prices Increased 4.8% Year-over-Year, I noted that median prices were up year-over-year (median prices are distorted by the mix).

Seasonally prices typically peak in June (closed sales are mostly for contracts signed in April and May).

And seasonally prices usually bottom the following January (contracts signed in November and December). 

The recent surge in prices started mid-year 2020 and ran through Q1 2022 when mortgage rates started increasing significantly.

Here is a table of the seasonal percentage increases from January to March, and from March to June (the usual seasonal peak) over the last several years. The third row is the total percentage increase from January to June.

The last row shows the seasonal decline from June to December.  Note: In 2019, prices only declined 3.8% in the 2nd half of the year as mortgage rates declined into the mid-3s (pre-pandemic low was 3.5% on a 30-year mortgage according to Freddie MAC PMMS).  

In 2020, prices continued to increase in the 2nd half of the year and didn't peak seasonally until October.  And prices only declined slightly in the 2nd half of 2021.

Jan to Mar3.7%4.1%5.4%7.5%7.1%4.0%3.9%
Mar to Jun9.6%9.9%4.9%12.4%9.1%9.3%NA
Jan to Jun
Jun to Dec-7.0%-3.8%5.0%-2.2%-11.4%-7.0%NA

The 2024 increase in median prices from January to March was about the same as in 2018 and 2019.

Normally we'd expect median prices to increase 9% to 10% over the next three months, before declining in the 2nd half of the year.  With more inventory, the seasonal pattern will be interesting this year.