When deciding on a home to purchase, recent buyers took into consideration a variety of different environmental features. The feature that was most important to buyers was heating and cooling costs. Using data from the 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, we can see which buyers find heating and cooling costs most important.
Eighty-four percent of recent buyers found heating and cooling costs to be at least somewhat important when deciding on a home to purchase.
Thirty-three percent of buyers found heating and cooling costs to be very important.
Buyers in the Northeast (37%) and the South (35%) were more likely than other regions to find heating and cooling costs to be very important.
Heating and cooling costs were more important to buyers who purchased newer homes.
Only twenty-six percent of buyers who purchased a home built between 2002 and 1988 found heating and cooling costs to be very important, compared to 47 percent of buyers whose home was built in 2018.
Eighty-six percent of all buyers purchased a detached single-family home, which was typically a median of 1,900 square feet.
In a monthly survey of REALTORS®, respondents reported that properties were typically on the market for 42 days (36 days in October 2018; 40 days in November 2017), according to the November 2018 REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey. Properties are staying longer on the market due to slower demand with mortgage rates rising and with new home construction steadily, though modestly, rising.
During September–November 2018, properties typically stayed on the market for 31 to 45 days in California, Oregon, Arizona and Texas, a slower pace compared to less than one month in previous months (Map 1). However, properties continue to sell in less than 31 days in the District of Columbia (28 days) and in 16 states such as Washington (28 days), Nevada (28 days), Utah (23 days), Colorado (26 days), and Massachusetts (27 days).
Properties typically stayed longer on the market in September-November 2018 compared to the same period in 2017 (blue areas) in the District of Columbia and in 22 states such as California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Texas (Map 2).
Properties are staying longer on the market due to the combination of lower demand and the steady increase in new home construction. In states such as California, Oregon, Colorado, Texas, Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina, the number of building permits increased during November 2017-October 2018 compared to the prior 12-month period (Map 3).
 In generating the median days on market at the state level, NAR uses data for the last three surveys to have close to 30 observations. Small states such as AK, ND, SD, MT, VT, WY, WV, DE, and D.C., may have fewer than 30 observations.
First-time homebuying activity appeared to have picked up in November 2018, according to NAR’s November 2018 REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey, a monthly survey of REALTORS® about their monthly transactions. First-time homebuyers made up 33 percent of residential home sales of REALTORS® in November 2018, up from the 31 percent share in October 2018 and 29 percent one year ago.
The slight uptick in first-time homebuying activity may be due to buyers seeking to take advantage of current rates in anticipation of potential higher mortgage rates in 2019. As of December 2018, the federal funds rate was at 2.25 to 2.5 percent, up from 1.0 to 1.25 percent in November 2017. In its December 2018 meeting, the Federal Operations Market Committee indicated that it is looking at two rate hikes in 2019, with the federal funds rate settling at 2.8 to 3.0 percent by 2021. A one-half percentage point increase in interest rates raises the monthly mortgage payment on a median-priced home of $257,700 financed with 10 percent down payment by about $71 per month, or about $856 a year.
Higher interest rates also affect existing homeowners who may be thinking of moving due to non-financial factors but who may decide not to move to keep their current low mortgage rate. Among 2,823 REALTORS® who responded to the question whether they had client who decided not to move/sell to keep the current mortgage rate, 17 percent responded they had such clients, up from 10 percent in November 2017.
 The margin of error in the November 2018 estimate is two percent.
Landmark Network, a reverse mortgage appraisal management company, has been acquired by nationwide AMC Class Valuation, which recently changed its name from Class Appraisal. “Landmark is a leader in a market that we expect to grow as Baby Boomers look for options to carry them through retirement,” said Class Valuation Chief Innovation Officer Scot Rose.
At the national level, housing affordability is down from last month and down from a year ago. Mortgage rates rose to 4.88 percent this October, up 18.7 percent compared to 4.11 percent a year ago.
Housing affordability declined from a year ago in October moving the index down 9.7 percent from 162.7 to 146.9. The median sales price for a single family home sold in October in the US was $257,900 up 4.3 percent from a year ago.
Nationally, mortgage rates were up 77 basis point from one year ago (one percentage point equals 100 basis points).
The payment as a percentage of income was unchanged from last month at 17 percent this October but up from 15.4 percent from a year ago. Regionally, the West has the highest payment at 23.7 percent of income. The South had the second highest payment at 16.5 percent followed by the Northeast at 16.1 percent. The Midwest had the lowest payment as a percentage of income at 13.5 percent.
Regionally, the South recorded the biggest increase in home prices at 3.6 percent. The Northeast had an increase of 3.0 percent while the West had a gain of 2.5 percent. The Midwest had the smallest growth in price of 1.4 percent.
Regionally, all four regions saw a decline in affordability from a year ago. The Midwest had the biggest drop in affordability of 9.6 percent. The South had a decline of 9.1 percent followed by the Northeast that fell 9.0 percent. The West had the smallest drop of 7.5 percent.
On a monthly basis, affordability is down from last month in three of the four regions. The Northeast region had the only gain of 1.7 percent. Both the Midwest and the West shared a decline of 0.6 percent. The South had the smallest dip in affordability of 0.1 percent.
Despite month-to-month changes, the most affordable region was the Midwest, with an index value of 185.0. The least affordable region remained the West where the index was 105.3. For comparison, the index was 151.6 in the South, and 154.9 in the Northeast.
Mortgage applications are currently up. Mortgage rates continue to rise and home price growth is slowing down to catch up with incomes. Single-family homes are still moving at a face pace however tend to slow down during fall and winter season. Inventory of homes are currently up, which is a welcoming sign for potential homebuyers. Home prices are up 4.3 percent, median family incomes that are growing 3.1 percent helping reduce the pressure of home price growth.
What does housing affordability look like in your market? View the full data release here.
The Housing Affordability Index calculation assumes a 20 percent down payment and a 25 percent qualifying ratio (principal and interest payment to income). See further details on the methodology and assumptions behind the calculation here.
Class Valuation has named Michael Detwiler CEO, just one week after the Michigan-based appraisal management company announced that it was changing its name from Class Appraisal. With Detwiler in charge, Class will charge ahead with its rebrand to keep pace with tech advancements happening in the space.
Mortgage originations are falling and will continue to do so in 2019, but rising home prices could cause an increase in homeowners seeking to tap into their equity, according to the 2019 consumer credit forecast from TransUnion.
Home price appreciation is an important topic in today’s economy. Using data from the American Community Survey (ACS), we can analyze the gains and losses of property values over time. I estimated the median property values by state in 2018 using the FHFA index and the median property values from the (ACS). I then calculated the growth rate from 2005 -2018. 
The states with the highest estimated median property values in 2018 are The District of Columbia ($677,473), Hawaii ($649,272), California ($566,311), Massachusetts ($428,161) and Washington ($384,740).
The states with the lowest estimated median property values in 2018 are Alabama ($148,827), Oklahoma ($139,385), Arkansas ($135,733), Mississippi ($123,586) and West Virginia ($120,720).
On a regional level, the estimated price growth appears to be the strongest in the South, West, and Midwest. Price growth is weakest in the Northeast states. Overall, all regions are displaying strong to moderate growth in property values. Below is a breakdown of the Census four regions by state.
In the South, which typically leads all regions in sales, The District of Columbia led the region with 76 percent estimated price growth from 2005 to 2018. Maryland experienced 1 percent annual price growth and since 2005, home prices have grown 21 percent.
In the West, the least affordable region, Montana led all states with 88 percent price growth from 2005 to 2018. Despite the strong price growth in California since 2012, prices have only increased by 19 percent since 2005. Nevada shows a 9 percent price change over this time turning around any previous loss in value.
In the Midwest where affordability is most favorable, North Dakota led all states with 115 percent price growth from 2005 to 2018. Illinois, while having the smallest growth in the region had an estimated 12 percent price growth over this time.
In the Northeast where sales and price growth is typically slow, Pennsylvania lead the region with a 48 percent price growth from 2005 to 2018. Rhode Island, while having the smallest gain of all states, increased 6 percent price change over this time. Rhode Island is one of two states that turned around a negative property value over this time compared to 2017.
 I used the FHFA expanded data set not seasonally adjusted data.
With interest rates on the rise, home prices have started cooling off. On the one hand, the cooling of home prices in high-priced metro areas makes a home purchase more affordable, saving households nearly $50/month on a median-priced home. On the other hand, falling prices also erodes the wealth (home equity gains) of current homeowners and can drive homeowners in a negative equity position (when the value of the home is lower than the remaining loan balance). How will declining home prices affect current homeowners and how does the current decline in home prices in some areas compare with the home equity gains?
The table below shows the home equity gains for homeowners who purchased a home in 2012 Q1 as of 2018 Q3. The home equity gained is the difference between the estimated value of the property purchased in 2012 Q1 in 2018 Q3 less the outstanding loan balance as of 2018 Q3. Nationally, over the period 2012 Q1 through 2018 Q3, a homeowner who purchased a median-priced home in 2012 Q1 has gained $96,187 in home equity, which is equivalent to 41 percent of the estimated value of the home in 2018 Q3, at $235,119.
Of the 160 metro areas for which NAR calculates the median sales price, the metro areas where homeowners accumulated the largest home equity gains during 2012 Q1 – 2018 Q3 based on the purchase of a median-priced home in 2012 Q1 were San Jose-Sunnyvale-Sta. Clara ($591,576;56% of the estimated home value of $1.06 million as of 2018 Q3); San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward ($527,610; 57% of the current home value of $920,715); Urban Honolulu, HI ($337,013; 35% of current home value of $990,009); Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale ($374,565;49% of current home value of $768,634); and Boulder, CO ($329,608; 50% of current home value of $657,692).
The metro areas with the lowest home equity gainsduring 2012 Q1- 2018 Q3 based on the purchase of a median-priced home in 2012 Q1 were Cumberland, MD ($4,847; 6% of current home value of $79,343); Decatur, IL ($10,753; 12% of current home value of $86,302); Fayetteville, NC ($15,431; 11% of current home value of $138,627); Montgomery, AL ($17,641; or 15% of $119,252); and Peoria, IL ($17,679; or 14% of current home value of $128,818).
How do these equity gains compare with the price declines in high-cost metro areas thus far?
We use the median list price in October 2018 on Realtor.com and look at the year-over-year change and compare these changes to the equity gains as a share of the current home values. In October 2018, median list prices declined in several high-priced metro areas compared to one year ago, but these declines are modest compared to the equity gains measured as a percent of the current home value: San Jose-Sunnyvale-Sta. Clara (-0.1%); San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward (0%); Sta. Maria-Sta. Barbara (-7.8%); Salinas ( -6%); Sta. Rosa ( -7.1%); Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura ( -2.1%). Among the 500 metros tracked by Realtor.com, the steepest decline in the median list price in October from one year ago was Denver-Aurora-Lakewood (10%).
In 301 of the 500 metro areas tracked by Realtor.com (60 percent), the median list price of homes for sale on Realtor.com were still up in October 2018 compared to one year ago. List prices rose in areas such as Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue where prices are more affordable than in California ($555,050; 12.1%); Boise City, ID ($330.048; 15%); Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, IN ($241,450; 15%); Greensboro-High Point, NC ($223,625; 14.5%);Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise ($325,000; 14.5%), and Harrisburg-Carlisle, PA ($216,760; 14%).
In summary, homeowners have built up a sizable equity since 2012 that is larger relative to the price declines that have occurred thus far in several high-priced metro areas. Moreover, home prices are still appreciating in lower-priced metro areas. Given the strong underlying economic fundamentals in 2018— strong employment growth, the demographic boost from the 25-44 age group which includes the millennials, and safer underwriting standards and level of household debt—it does not yet appear likely that home prices will crash to a level that will wipe out this home equity gain. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun forecasts no recession ahead that could cause a collapse in job growth which will impact the demand for housing.
 The earliest indicator of the direction of home prices—NAR’s median home prices— rose 4.3 percent in 2018 Q3, the slowest average rate for the quarter since 2012 Q1. The home price indices of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller, and the U.S. Census Bureau for new 1-family homes also show a slower price appreciation in 2018 Q3 (FHFA, 6.3%; S &P CoreLogic Case-Shiller, 5.7%; U.S. Census Bureau 1-family homes, 2.3%) compared to the pace of appreciation in 2018 Q1.In 500 metro areas tracked by Realtor.com, the median list price of homes for sale declined in 199 metro areas (40 percent), with the largest declines occurring in high-priced metro areas.
 At the current 30-year fixed mortgage rate of 4.83 percent with a 10 percent down payment, every $10,000 decline in home prices results in a saving of $47/month.
 I estimated home equity by subtracting the loan balance as of 2018 Q3 to the current home value as of 2018 Q3. I estimated the current home value by applying a home price appreciation factor using FHFA House Price Index (FHFA HPI 2018 Q3/ FHFA HIP 2012 Q1). I assumed that a homeowner purchased a median-priced home in 2012 Q1 at the average median price in 2012 Q1 of $158,333 financed by a 30-year fixed rate mortgage of 3.6 percent (2012 Q1 average) and a 10 percent down payment.
NAR released a summary of pending home sales data showing that October’s pending home sales pace was down 2.6 percent last month and fell 6.7 percent from a year ago.
Pending sales represent homes that have a signed contract to purchase on them but have yet to close. They tend to lead existing-home sales data by 1 to 2 months.
All four regions showed declines from a year ago. The West had the biggest drop in sales of 15.3 percent. The Midwest fell 4.9 percent followed by the South with a decline of 4.6 percent. The Northeast had the smallest dip in sales of 2.9 percent.
From last month, three of the four regions showed declines in sales. The West region had the biggest drop of 8.9 percent. The Midwest fell 1.8 percent followed by the South with a dip of 1.1 percent. The only region with an incline in sales was the Northeast, which had a modest gain of 0.7 percent.
The U.S. pending home sales index level for the month was 102.1. September’s data was revised up to 104.8.
In spite of the decline, this is the pending index’s 54th consecutive month over the 100 level.
The 100 level is based on a 2001 benchmark and is consistent with a healthy market and existing-home sales above the 5 million mark.