Is the housing boom running out of gas? During the last few years, the home market has been on a tear in North Texas and in other parts of the country, with prices soaring and buyers lining up as soon as a sign hits the front yard. But there are growing signs that the fast-paced housing market is shifting gears, with a decline in sales in many markets and smaller price increases. In July, U.S. preowned home sales fell from a year ago for the fifth month in a row. And nationwide new home sales were down almost 2 percent in July, causing analysts at IHS Markit to question if the bull home market has turned bearish. "The economy is strong. Labor markets are solid. Yet, new home sales and single-family housing starts and permits have stalled. How can this be?" said Patrick Newport, executive director of the U.S. economics team at IHS.
Newport said rising home prices and higher mortgage rates have cooled the ardor for home buying. "This has choked off demand," he said. A slowdown in immigration and household formation could also be factors, Newport theorizes. In North Texas, year-over-year preowned home sales have fallen in many neighborhoods, and for the entire region, year-to-date sales were up a measly 2 percent as of July. At the same time, the double-digit percentage home price gains of the last few years have faded in Dallas-Fort Worth. Through the first seven months of 2018, median home sales prices were up only 6 percent from the same period last year, according to sales data from real estate agents.
Property agents say that some first-time buyers have given up after losing out to other buyers or all-cash investors who snapped up affordable homes. At midyear, the number of prospective U.S. homebuyers who said they planned to make a purchase in the next 12 months fell to just 14 percent — down from 24 percent in fourth quarter of 2017, according to the National Association of Home Builders. That's still another sign that the home market — while not in a traditional bubble — may be headed for slower sales in the year ahead. "It's clear that the winds that have boosted sellers over the past few years are ever-so-slightly starting to shift," said Zillow senior economist Aaron Terrazas.