91% of the US Housing Market Is Still Overvalued, Fitch Ratings Says

Homes in 91% of US metro areas were overvalued in the third quarter, Fitch Ratings reported. 
Home prices are overvalued by 11.1%, an uptick from prior quarters, as wage growth lagged.
December notched the highest annual price gain since 2022, S&P Global found.

The US housing market is seeing some signs of loosening amid an uptick in sales and inventory, but last year’s price growth has only intensified the overvaluation in the market, Fitch Ratings wrote on Friday. 

Homes were overvalued by 11.1% as of the third quarter, a trend extending to 91% of US metro areas. Given that prices kept rising into the fourth quarter, Fitch expects overvaluation to have continued through the end of last year. 

“There are signs of a gradual thawing in the U.S. housing market, as indicated by slight improvements in new home sales and inventory,” the ratings agency said. “Challenges such as high mortgage rates and elevated home prices, which aggravate the affordability issue, continue to moderate the pace of this normalization.”

In December, S&P Global recorded the highest annual gain in home prices since 2022, with a 5.5% year-over-year increase.

“Looking back at the year, 2023 appears to have exceeded average annual home price gains over the past 35 years,” Brian Luke, the global head of fixed-income indices at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in the report.

In this environment, lagging wage growth has meant that homebuyers now need to earn about 80% more than they did before the pandemic, Zillow recently found. 

Further headwinds to housing affordability come from rising mortgage rates, with the median payment rising from $2,055 to $2,134 in December, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported. Rates have continued climbing in February and may prove to be a damper on spring buying.

For 2024, Fitch expects nominal national price growth to slow to 0% to 3%, as tight home supply is likely to sustain current high prices. But S&P noted that existing home sales were up by 3.1% month-over-month in January, highlighting a potential boost to supply. 

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