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Home Prices Are Increasing
Twice as Fast as Income Growth

Monday, March 26, 2018

From Professional Builder

Not enough for-sale signs in front yards are driving residential home prices higher, the chief economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association said Tuesday.

Compounding the problem is that Americans' wage growth is being left far behind, according to the MBA's Mike Fratantoni. “We're still seeing home prices increase at twice the rate of income growth,” he told CNBC.

The stubborn lack of gain in average hourly earnings, seen in the latest government employment report, has been well documented. Wages in February grew at a less-than-expected 0.1%, representing a 2.6% advance on an annualized basis.

Adding insult to injury for homebuyers with stagnated earning power, national home prices rose 6.2% annually, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller's most broad survey. Prices nationally are now 6% higher than their 2006 peak before the housing crisis.

“The major constraint in the market right now is the lack of supply,” Fratantoni said. “The absolute number of units on the market is near an all-time record low.”

Fratantoni said homebuilders are trying to increase their pace of construction but “not fast enough.”

Mortgage rates around four-year highs are “a bit of a headwind,” Fratantoni said. “(But) tempering demand a little bit is not really going to be a problem” in this real estate market.

This insatiable appetite for housing is happening even before the peak of the Millennial generation reaches first-time homebuyer age, Fratantoni said.

“There's just going to be this wave of housing demand hitting the economy over the next four to five years. And we think it's going to bolster steady growth over that time period,” he said.

– CNBC's Diana Olick contributed to this report.

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