12 cities where homebuyers are losing purchasing power


While income growth, declining mortgage rates and edged-down home prices boosted affordability nationwide, not all housing markets give buyers the best shot at a deal.

March’s average household wages increased 3% from the year before. At the same time, housing prices decreased 0.04% year-over-year and 0.9% from the month prior. Overall, consumer purchasing power rose 5.2% from March 2018 and 1.5% from February, according to First American Financial’s Real House Price Index.

“What began as a modest shift toward a buyers’ market in six cities last month has expanded into a national shift in affordability,” Mark Fleming, chief economist for First American, said in a press release. “The shift is a departure from the long-term trend in the Real House Price Index, which had been steadily increasing throughout the rising mortgage rate environment that began in 2017 and continued until late 2018. Rising mortgage rates caused consumer house-buying power to decline at the same time as tight supply pushed house prices up rapidly.”

However, not all cities are experiencing this shift. Some still have a gap between home prices and affordability. From secondary markets along the East Coast to the heart of the Midwest, here’s a look at cities where consumers are losing ground in home buying power as summer approaches.

The data, from the First American Real House Price Index, measures annual home price changes, taking local wages and mortgage rates into account “to better reflect consumers’ purchasing power and capture the true cost of housing.”

The March 2019 data is ranked by the largest year-over-year changes in RHPI for cities where the current value is less than 100 (an RHPI reading of 100 is equal to housing conditions in January 2000).

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