Nationwide, just one-third of homes have recovered to their pre-recession home value, according to Trulia. But here in dynamic California, the percentage of homes at or above their pre-recession peak varies radically by metro area.
The home value recovery rate is:
- 98% in San Francisco;
- 84% in San Jose;
- 60% in Oakland;
- 37% in Los Angeles;
- 34% in San Diego (the same as the national average);
- 24% in Orange County;
- 9% in Sacramento;
- 8% in Ventura;
- 3% in Riverside-San Bernardino;
- less than 3% in Bakersfield; and
- less than 3% in Fresno.
On the low side, maligned Fresno is home to the third least-recovered metro in the nation, ahead of Las Vegas and Tucson. Fresno’s median home value was $295,500 in December 2007 and still struggling at $217,800 as of March 2017.
On the high side, San Francisco is the metro with the second-highest percentage of homes above their pre-recession peak, behind only Denver. San Francisco’s median home value was $830,600 in December 2007 and $1.1 million as of March 2017.
Trulia correlates metro-level housing recovery with each area’s growth in jobs, income and population, as well as the local residential vacancy rate. For instance, median income has increased a full 25% since December 2007 in San Francisco, and only 5% in Fresno.
What happened to the recovery?
When you listen to media pundits, the recovery was over years ago. Our job numbers have exceeded pre-recession numbers and the Federal Reserve (the Fed) commenced increasing interest rates back in December 2015 to “cool off” the economy. Home price rises consistently outstrip income increases each year, in a dynamic similar to that experienced during the Millennium Boom.
But all these economic factors paint a mirage — the real deal has yet to arrive.
While California job numbers exceeded their December 2007 peak back in mid-2014, when you include the intervening population increase of working-age individuals, the actual recovery won’t be reached at the current rate of job additions until around 2019.
The Fed increased the target short-term rate in December 2015 and 2016, and twice so far in 2017. Normally, the Fed does this to stave off hyper-inflation. But consumer price inflation (CPI) has yet to even reach the Fed’s target of 2%. Incomes move at a similarly sluggish pace.
In the first quarter (Q1) of 2017, there were still 281,000 homes underwater in California, equal to about 4% of all mortgaged homes, according to CoreLogic. An additional 1.2% of all mortgaged homes are near underwater, with 2% or less equity in their home. (And this rubric ignores the transactional expenses incurred when the homes are sold.)
Home sales volume has flattened, stuck at about 60% of the Millennium Boom peak.
And thus, we continue along the long road of secular stagnation. Sorry, folks. Much of California is not out of the woods yet.
But keep your business plans aimed towards the future. The true strength of recovery will come towards the end of this decade. Not only will job numbers finally reach an actual recovery, but the combined buying and selling behavior of Baby Boomers retiring and members of Generation Y finally achieving enough savings to become first-time homebuyers will propel the market to its next peak — the Great Confluence.
Of course, real estate professionals in highly recovered metro areas like San Francisco and San Jose are already experiencing a full recovery. Some inland areas of the state may have to wait several more years to uniformly see a return to pre-recession numbers. As we all know, real estate is highly localized, and forecasting requires a study of the individual economies supporting each market.
Check out first tuesday Local for more information about the housing markets in California’s largest metros.