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September 24, 2014

Housing Markets Struggle to Keep Stable Momentum

Research and Analysis
Housing Markets Struggle

Our newly released Multi-Indicator Market Index® (MiMi®) shows the U.S. housing market is struggling to keep stable momentum as housing prices continue to moderate and purchase applications fall. The slight decline in the national MiMi value this month appears to be broad-based, and not concentrated in a handful of state or metro markets. The good news is overall the housing market continues to improve and is up 5 percent on a yearly basis in the latest MiMi reading

  • The national MiMi value stands at 73.4, indicating a weak housing market overall and showing a slight decline (-0.45%) from June to July and a 3-month decline of (-0.98%). On a year-over-year basis, the U.S. housing market has improved (+5.39%). The nation’s all-time MiMi high of 121.9 was June 2008; its low was 59.8 in September, 2011, when the housing market was at its weakest. Since that time, the housing market has made a 22.7 percent rebound.
  • Thirteen of the 50 states plus the District of Columbia have MiMi values in a stable range, with North Dakota (95.9) the District of Columbia (94.4), Wyoming (91.3), Montana (89.5) and Alaska (88.4) ranking in the top five.
  • Six of the 50 metro areas have MiMi values in a stable range, with San Antonio (91.3), Austin (87.5), New Orleans (83.9), Salt Lake City (83.6), and Houston (83.5) ranking in the top five.
  • The most improving states month-over-month were Illinois (+0.92%), Rhode Island (+0.72%), Washington (+0.53%), Nevada (+0.38%) and Florida (+0.31%). On a year-over-year basis, the most improving states were Nevada (+20.51%), Illinois (+12.16%), Florida (+11.75%), California (9.15%) and South Carolina (+8.01%).
  • The most improving metro areas month-over-month were Miami (+0.88%), Chicago (+0.64%)   Las Vegas (0.62%), Providence (+0.56%) and Seattle (+0.27%). On a year-over-year basis the most improving metro areas were Las Vegas (+23.35%), Riverside, (+14.97%), Chicago (+14.73%), Miami (+13.70%) and Orlando (+11.93%).
  • In July, 8 of the 50 states and 11 of the 50 metros are showing an improving three month trend. The same time last year, every state plus the District of Columbia, and every metro was showing an improving three month trend.

We didn't notice a large decline in any one market this month, but more of softening across the board. Even the MiMi top ranked state and metro markets all saw a slight decline except for Austin. But the real drag on most market's housing recovery continues to be the lack of purchase application activity. Even the hot housing markets in the northwest which are back in their stable range of housing activity are seeing their purchase application activity slow. The one area where momentum hasn't slowed is among the hardest hit markets. Places like Las Vegas, Miami, Chicago and Riverside are still showing double-digit yearly improvements, but that's largely a reflection of significant gains in the local employment picture as well as a real improvement in borrowers making timely mortgage payments, and not because borrowers are rushing out to buy houses.

The problem as our chief economist sees it… we will continue to see 'two steps forward and one step backward' movement in our housing stability index until the broader economy sees better growth, labor markets tighten further and household formations pick-up to bring more first-time and move-up buyers into the market.

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