National home prices were overvalued by 12.2% during the third quarter of this year on a population-weighted average basis, according to new analysis by Fitch Ratings.
The credit-ratings agency estimated that home prices in 92% of metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) nationwide are overvalued, up from 83% one quarter earlier. In approximately 65% of MSAs, housing is more than 10% overvalued — an increase from only 4% of markets being overvalued prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among the country’s 50 largest MSAs, Buffalo (which has seen prices rise 8.6% over the past year) was deemed the most overvalued, with Fitch estimating home prices in the city at 25% to 29% above where they should be. Five others — Austin, Charlotte, Kansas City, Raleigh and San Francisco — are between 20% to 24% overvalued.
On a statewide level, homes are the most overvalued in Idaho, Hawaii and North Carolina.
Fitch maintains that such widespread overpricing has peaked and is due for a broad correction, especially given the dampening effect of the turbulent economy and rising mortgage rates on the previously scorching housing market. Per the CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, home prices fell 0.2% in July, the first overall decrease in prices since 2012. Fitch expects that a continuing decline in home prices should moderate overvaluation through the second half of this year and into 2023.
Corrections thus far have been subject to strong locality, with home prices on the expensive West Coast among the first in the country to veer downward. Home prices in the West saw a 1.2% decline in July, largest among the country’s four census regions.
Fitch expects home price cooling to continue on a west-to-east path, with the course-correction trend already catching on in the Midwest. Pockets of the East Coast, meanwhile, continue to enjoy concentrated price growth, with Fitch crediting unbalanced housing inventory and “the uneven relationship of house prices and rents” between geographical areas as the chief drivers behind the deviating price trends.
But while home prices are expected to continue falling, Fitch is still expecting more of a correction rather than an outright crash.
“Housing inventory is still constrained, with 4.1 months’ supply as of August 2022,” the report stated. “The strong job market will continue to drive rising rents into later this year, providing a floor to the home price decline.
“Additionally, home price growth and prudent lending standards ensure there is ample borrower equity in the mortgage market to cushion a home price correction. Therefore, Fitch deems a housing market crash akin to the Great Financial Crisis unlikely.”