Property markets in US West could be cooling, new analysis suggests

Summer activity has boosted quarterly regional residential real estate growth in the Midwest and South of the United States while a drop in quarterly performance in the West has fuelled speculation of a cooling market.

According to the latest analysis report nationally, quarterly growth continues to be steady, increasing slightly by 0.1% month on last month and 0.8% quarter on quarter.

The report from real estate analytics firm Clear Capital points out that this is the first time since last November that national quarterly growth has broken the 0.7% mark, indicating that the peak real estate summer season is in full swing for the nation as a whole.

Below the national level, most regions have also experienced a small boost in quarterly performance over the last month, with the Midwest seeing the largest increase in price growth, rising 0.3% to 0.8% quarter on quarter.

The South and Northeast quarterly growth figures have also increased, rising to 0.9% and 0.3% respectively while the West is still outpacing the rest of the nation with quarterly growth of 1.2%, but this has already fallen 0.2% since last month. The report suggests that this sudden dip in quarterly gains could be a sign that the region’s strong Spring performance is cooling down as Summer comes to a close, a phenomenon likely due to a lack of affordable inventory and incredibly high prices in several major metro markets.

Southern metro markets continue to dominate our list of highest performing major metro markets this month, whereas metros from the Northeast are noticeably missing from the list. The Northeast region has consistently been the slowest growing in the nation in recent quarters, and the data suggests at least two key factors that are affecting the region’s performance.

Home to several key luxury markets like New York and Boston, a lack of affordable inventory has long been a concern for the region, serving to drive significant investor doubt into the marketplace.

Coupled with this dip in investor confidence, regional data shows a long term slowing growth trend across all price tiers since late 2013. Low tier quarterly growth continues to outperform both the top and middle tiers, but price change in this lowest 25% of transactions is moving upward at only 0.5% quarterly, a disappointing metric for any other region in the nation.

The region’s mid-tier, that is the middle 50% of home sales, is reporting only a 0.3% price increase over the last quarter, while the Northeastern top tier, the highest 25% of transactions, is virtually stagnant, registering only a 0.1% quarterly price increase.

‘While quarterly growth across most of the nation continues to rise as the entirety of summer real estate sales data is captured, our most recent data is indicating that the stellar growth in the Western region is actually slowing down,’ said Alex Villacorta, vice president of research and analytics at Clear Capital.

‘The West in particular has been the subject of growing market uncertainty recently, and the region’s softening gains are definitely something we will be keeping an eye on as the industry’s peak season gets further in the rear view,’ he explained.

‘Disappointing growth metrics out of the Northeast are also a potential cause for concern, and a deeper dive with a price tier analysis for the region indicates that all market segments are performing, or rather, not performing, homogeneously, he added.

‘Since all price tiers in the region are performing similarly, there are limited opportunities for both traditional home buyers and real estate investors to focus their energy, which is perpetuating the softening of home prices that we’ve been observing since last summer,’ he concluded.