NAR Reports U.S. Metro Home Prices Grow in 96% of Metro Areas in Second Quarter

Real Estate In-Depth | August 2020

WASHINGTON— In the era of COVID-19, the value of homes seems to have some immunity to the virus. The overwhelming majority of the nation’s metro areas enjoyed home price increases in the second quarter of 2020, according to the latest quarterly report by the National Association of Realtors released today.

Median single-family home prices rose year-over-year in 96% of measured markets in the second quarter, with 174 of 181 metropolitan statistical areas showing sales price gains. That is identical to the percentage of metro areas in the first quarter that had price gains. The national median existing single-family home price in the second quarter of 2020 was $291,300. On a year-over-year basis, this is a 4.2% climb, however, it is still a slower pace of appreciation compared to the pre-pandemic rate of 7.7% in the first quarter.

“Home prices have held up well, largely due to the combination of very strong demand for housing and a limited supply of homes for sale,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. “Historically-low inventory continues to reinforce and even increase prices in some areas.”

Fifteen metro areas experienced double-digit price growth, including Huntsville, AL, (13.5%); Memphis, TN, (13.4%); Boise, ID, (12.6%); Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA, (11.8%), Indianapolis, IN, (10.8%), and Phoenix, AZ, (10.2%).

Yun says that the record-low mortgage rates will undoubtedly continue to attract new buyers, but that more homes are needed. “Unless an increasing number of new homes are constructed, some buyers could miss out on the opportunity to purchase a home or have the opportunity delayed,” he said. “In the meantime, prices show no sign of decreasing.”

San Jose, CA maintained its place as the most expensive metropolitan area in the country during the second quarter and showed price gains from one year ago ($1.38 million; 3.8%). Neighboring San Francisco, CA was in second place at $1.05 million (price unchanged), followed by Anaheim, CA ($859,000; 2.9%), Urban Honolulu, HI ($815,700, 3.8%) and San Diego, CA ($670,000; 2.3%).

“This last quarter showed heavy buyer activity in less occupied areas when compared to highly populated cities such as San Francisco, New York, and Washington, D.C., related in part to the longer shutdowns in these cities,” said Yun. “In the midst of the pandemic, some buyers are looking for housing in less crowded and more affordable metros.”

In about a third of the measured metro areas, the median home prices were below $200,000. This includes Topeka, KS ($147,800), Springfield, IL ($153,800), Shreveport, LA ($162,300), Cleveland, OH ($177,300), and Columbia, SC ($199,100).

As Yun noted, home prices have been rising due to the low number of homes for sale. At the end of the second quarter, 1.57 million existing homes were available for sale, 18.2% lower than total inventory at the end of 2019’s second quarter. As of June 2020, housing inventory totals were equivalent to 4.0 months at the current sales pace.

The effective 30-year fixed mortgage rate averaged 3.29% in the second quarter of 2020, down from one year ago (4.08%) and from the first quarter of 2020 (3.57%).

The monthly mortgage payment on a typical home purchase that is financed with a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and a 20% down payment rose slightly to $1,019 compared to $995 in the first quarter. However, this total is still below the level seen one year ago, $1,078.

“Although housing prices have consistently moved higher, when the favorable mortgage rates are factored in, an overall home purchase was more affordable in 2020’s second quarter compared to one year ago,” said Yun.

A household with a median family income of $82,471 spent 14.8% of its income on mortgage payments. This is less than the fraction of income spent on housing in the prior quarter (15.1%) and one year ago (16.4%). Housing expenses are considered a cost burden if they consume more than 30% of income.

In a scenario where families spent no more than 25% of income on mortgage payments—given it was a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, with a 20% down payment—the median family income needed to pay for that mortgage would have been $48,912.

In 130 of the 181 metro areas, a family needed less than $50,000 to afford a home in the second quarter of 2020, assuming a 20% down payment. However, in the most expensive metro areas, a family needed more than $100,000 to afford a home including in San-Jose-Sunnyvale ($233,828), San Francisco ($177,913), Anaheim ($145,550), urban Honolulu ($138,213), San Diego ($113,525) and Boulder ($102,800).