August price gains were reminiscent of those last seen during the peak of the bubble—but analysts at Clear Capital insist there’s nothing to fear at this point.
The company reported in its latest Home Data Index that prices were up 10.2 percent year-over-year in August. By Clear Capital’s metrics, the last time the nation saw double-digit yearly price growth was mid-2006, the height of the bubble. (Other sources, including the monthly Case-Shiller Indices, have been reporting regular double-digit growth for some time.)
However, with prices still off 32.5 percent from their previous highs (putting them in line with prices circa 2002), the firm isn’t concerned about the possibility of a new bubble.
“With the continued strengthening of home price trends in August, the need for perspective on market activity is even more important,” said Dr. Alex Villacorta, VP of research and analytics at Clear Capital.
Looking under the surface trends, Villacorta notes the low-tier price segment of the housing market saw quarterly gains of 2.0 percent—the lowest since April 2012—indicating that sector is already on a more moderate growth path. Growth for the low-tier segment peaked in April 2013 at 4.1 percent.
“Considering the low tier price segment of the housing market led the recovery, the cooling in this segment will likely transfer through to the broader housing market,” Villacorta said, also observing that the industry is heading out of its busy season and into the slower fall and winter months. “That’s not to say the recovery is slated to stall, rather growth patterns are likely to return to more historical rates of growth, between 4.0 percent to 5.0 percent, rather than align with bubble-like growth.
“At the end of the day, this is still great news for housing,” he continued. “Today’s housing market is not irrational or out of balance within the broader context of housing trends, but as we learned, sustaining this pace of growth is simply not healthy. Our call for moderation is the next phase of a more mature recovery.”
By Tori Barringer