The national median home price declined 3.8% in the third quarter, landing only 4.7% below the all-time high reached in June 2022 and reflecting typical seasonal trends. Prices didn’t contract significantly in Q3 2023 despite mortgage rates rising 0.6%.
In October, the average 30-year mortgage rate reached its highest level since October 2020 at 7.79%. Higher and higher rates continue to price potential buyers out of the market and prevent sellers who are locked into hyper-low rates from entering the market.
The Q3 Real Gross Domestic Product (inflation-adjusted GDP) rose 4.9% quarter over quarter, indicating a broadly strong economy. Although unemployment rose 0.3% to 3.9%, the jobs market remains robust. Inflation, which rose in Q3, is nearly double the Fed’s target rate of 2%, so rate reductions won’t happen in the near future.
Note: You can find the charts & graphs for the Big Story at the end of the following section.
Home prices remain near all-time highs, largely due to the sustained low inventory levels, and despite the average 30-year mortgage rate hitting a 23-year high in October at 7.79%. It’s hard to overstate the full significance of higher mortgage rates on the housing market; but, in short, they are the primary driver of market slowdown. For example, when accounting for the cost of financing a mortgage, a buyer’s monthly cost for a median home today is actually 11% higher than in June 2022 when prices were at their peak. Looking further back to when the Fed began to raise rates at the beginning of 2022, the median monthly cost of a home has increased 76% from then until now.
Different regions and individual houses vary from the broad national trends, so we’ve included a Local Lowdown below to provide you with in-depth coverage for your area. In general, higher-priced regions (the West and Northeast) have been hit harder by mortgage rate hikes than less expensive markets (the South and Midwest) because of the absolute dollar cost of the rate hikes and limited ability to build new homes. As always, we will continue to monitor the housing and economic markets to best guide you in buying or selling your home.
The median single-family home price rose 14% over the past three months. Condo prices have trended horizontally throughout 2023. Minor price changes are typical in the fourth quarter, and we expect prices to remain fairly stable for the rest of the year.
Active listings fell from September to October, nearing a record low for condos. Year over year, inventory is down 21%, highlighting one of the challenges of buying a home in a desirable market.
Months of Supply Inventory fell significantly in October. While MSI still indicates a buyers’ market for condos, single-family home MSI now implies that the market favors sellers.
Note: You can find the charts/graphs for the Local Lowdown at the end of this section.
In the North Bay, home prices haven’t been largely affected by rising mortgage rates after the initial period of price correction from April 2022 to January 2023. In October, the median prices across most of the North Bay counties were only slightly below their record highs, and single-family home prices in Napa even reached a new all-time high. Napa single-family home and condo prices also had the largest year-over-year gains in October, up 19% and 52%, respectively. We expect prices in most of the North Bay to remain slightly below peak for the rest of the year. The sustained downward inventory trend and low number of new listings should create price support in the fourth quarter. New price peaks are exceptionally rare in the fall and winter, but the North Bay markets could surprise us.
Typically, demand begins to decline in the fall and bottoms out in January, so the consistently low supply should be less of an issue. With mortgage rates at a 23-year high, buyers have more incentive to compete over the most desirable homes. Because of the cost of financing, homebuyers aren’t settling for less than the best home they can find.
Single-family home inventory trended higher into the fall of 2023, peaking in September. Inventory declined in October as sales increased and new listings declined. Typically, inventory peaks in July or August and declines through December or January. Even though inventory increased this year, it’s still historically low, moving higher primarily due to softening demand (fewer sales) caused by higher interest rates, normal seasonality, and an atypical increase in new listings in September. The number of new listings coming to market is a significant predictor of sales. In September, new listings rose 10%, and in October, sales increased by 16%. Year over year, sales and new listings are down 3% and 13%, respectively.
Demand spiked in October after a surge of new listings came to market, giving sellers slightly more negotiating power, and buyers paid more than asking price on average. The average seller received 94% of list in January, which grew to 99% by July. The amount sellers received fell steadily to 97% in September but rose to 98% in October 2023.
Months of Supply Inventory (MSI) quantifies the supply/demand relationship by measuring how many months it would take for all current homes listed on the market to sell at the current rate of sales. The long-term average MSI is around three months in California, which indicates a balanced market. An MSI lower than three indicates that there are more buyers than sellers on the market (meaning it’s a sellers’ market), while a higher MSI indicates there are more sellers than buyers (meaning it’s a buyers’ market). The North Bay market tends to favor sellers, which is reflected in its low MSI. MSI fell sharply in the first quarter this year before gently trending higher starting in May. In October, MSI remained below three months of supply, indicating the market still favors sellers. The only exceptions are single-family homes and condos in Napa, which are closer to a balanced market.
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