- Previously, we looked at the FHFA and Case-Shiller release focusing on national data trends. Today, we’ll dig a bit deeper to look at more local data at the regional, state, and city or MSA level.
- Monthly FHFA releases data at the Census division level and quarterly it releases state and metro area data. Case-Shiller offers data on 20-cities monthly. Both of these sources confirm the trend seen in NAR measures.
- At the regional level: the most robust home price gains from a year ago were in the West. NAR reported price change of 15.5% in December and 14.6% in January. According to FHFA year over year prices in December 2013 rose 14.9 percent in the Pacific division which includes Hawaii, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and California and 12.6 percent in the Mountain division which includes Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.
- Likewise, NAR data showed the smallest price gains from a year ago in the Northeast (3.5% for the year ending in December and 6.6% for the year ending in January), and FHFA showed a similar pattern. Prices rose 2.7 percent in New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut) and 2.1 percent in the Middle Atlantic states (New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania) from December one year ago.
- State by state data, pictured below, shows more detail. Some states in the South had very robust growth: Florida, Georgia, and Texas, but the region as a whole had more moderate growth because of states with more modest home price growth or mild declines such as West Virginia, Arkansas, and Mississippi.
- Among cities, Case-Shiller reported the biggest year over year gains in Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. Each had more than 20% year over year gains. The smallest gains in Case Shiller’s cities were Cleveland at 4.5 percent and New York at 6.3 percent. While the cities covered differ, NAR saw similar trends with the largest home price gains in the 4th quarter out West in cities such as Sacramento and Las Vegas. NAR also saw substantial home price gains in Atlanta, a city that showed an 18.1 percent year over year gain by Case Shiller’s measure. In the quarterly release, FHFA produced a similar list of the top-20 metro areas. Again, the specific areas covered are different, but many of the top metro areas on FHFA’s list are out West including Modesto (CA), Stockton-Lodi (CA), and Vallejo-Fairfield (CA) as the top 3.
In early September, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the entity that oversees Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, gave notice that it would revise the conforming loans limits in an attempt to stimulate the private sector, specifically the private mortgage securitization (PLS) market. Though any reduction in the loan limits is expected to be relatively modest, it could have more far reaching impacts at the local level and for the affected borrowers.
Each year, the FHFA adjusts the national conforming loan limit which defines the space within which Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac can finance mortgage. The national limit is $417,000, but that varies by county and can increase to $625,500 in high cost markets. The FHA’s limits, which range from $261,050 to $725,750, are based off of the conforming limit so the FHFA’s actions would impact FHA borrowers as well.
NAR Research estimates that if the national conforming limit were lowered to $400,000, roughly 145,000 total conforming mortgages and 49,000 conforming purchase mortgages would have been impacted in 2012 . If the FHA limits were also revised, the impact would be larger by roughly 15,000 and 7,000 borrowers, respectively. The total number was inflated due to the refinance boom in 2012. However, strong price growth in 2013 has likely pushed more home buyers toward the conforming limits. Most estimates have the impacted volume at roughly 2-5% nationally.