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Simple economics dictates that neither home prices nor incomes can outgrow the other for very long. They go hand in hand. As incomes rise, those pour over into housing. In order for home price growth to stick around, there has to be a corresponding jump in wages.
That's why housing economists are once again on high alert: The pandemic's housing boom has seen home price growth far outpace income growth. Over the past 12 months, U.S. home prices are up 19.8% while private sector wages are up just 4.8%. The historically hot job market can't keep up with the historically hot housing market.
That disconnect between home price growth and income growth has seen us reach affordability levels not seen since the last housing bubble. The typical American household would have to spend 32% of its monthly income to make a mortgage payment on the average-price U.S. home, according to Black Knight, a mortgage technology and data provider. That's the highest level since 2006. For perspective, that figure averaged 19.9% during the 2010s.
While the ongoing housing boom has sent home prices skyrocketing in pretty much every regional market across the nation, it did hit some markets especially hard. The pandemic's work-from-home explosion saw housing markets like Boise and Phoenix go beyond red-hot. In those markets, it got white-hot.
To better understand the housing affordability situation, Fortune reached out to Moody's Analytics, CoreLogic, and the Real Estate Initiative at Florida Atlantic University over the past month to get their assessment of regional home prices. These three assessments looked to see if regional home prices are "overvalued" relative to what economic fundamentals (i.e., local incomes) would historically support.
Let's look at the data.
CoreLogic, No. 952 on the Fortune 1000, provided an assessment to Fortune last month for around 400 metropolitan statistical areas. The real estate research firm finds that 65% of housing markets are "overvalued" (i.e., home prices there are above what local incomes can support). Meanwhile, CoreLogic estimates 26% of U.S. housing markets are priced "normal" and 9% are "undervalued."
To run its analysis, CoreLogic used sales price data from February. Once sales data comes out for May, the picture should be worse. Since February, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate had spiked from 3.92% to 5.3% as of Thursday. Additionally, all indications are that home prices went even higher during that period.
While CoreLogic finds that the majority of regional housing markets are "overvalued," the firm thinks a home price correction is unlikely. Among those housing markets, CoreLogic says only 3% of regional markets have a "high" or "elevated" chance of seeing a home price decline over the coming year.
"Nevertheless, the risk of price declines remains low," writes CoreLogic in its latest market report.
Each month, researchers at the Real Estate Initiative at Florida Atlantic University calculate how overpriced or underpriced home prices are in America's 100 largest housing markets. The latest calculation is, well, grim for homebuyers.
Florida Atlantic University's reading for March finds that 100% of America's largest housing markets are overpriced relative to what economic fundamentals in those market would support.
Even worse for homebuyers: Among those large markets, 44% are overpriced by at least 30%. The most overpriced markets are Boise (by 75%); Austin (66%); Ogden, Utah (63%); Las Vegas (60%); and Atlanta (60%).
Just two years ago, Florida Atlantic University's data found 0% of housing markets were overpriced by at least 30%. The last time the housing market was this "overpriced" was just prior to the implosion of the 2000s housing bubble. Back in March 2007, 40% of large markets were overpriced by at least 30%.
Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, won't call the 2022 housing market a housing bubble. Calling it that would require both speculation-driven price growth and home price overvaluation. While Zandi doesn't think speculation is driving up prices, he does say we meet one housing bubble requirement: Home prices are greatly "overvalued." Indeed, Moody's latest analysis finds a housing market that is looking more and more like 2007.
Earlier this month, Moody's sent Fortune its proprietary analysis of U.S. housing markets. Among the 392 regional housing markets that Moody's measured, 96% are "overvalued" and have local home prices above what local incomes would historically be able to support, while 26% of regional housing markets are "overvalued" by 30% or more. The most overpriced markets are Boise (by 73%); Sherman, Texas (60%); Muskegon, Mich. (59%); Homosassa Springs, Fla. (57%); and Morristown, Tenn. (57%).
Over the coming year, Zandi tells Fortune he thinks U.S. home prices will be flat. The economic shock caused by spiking mortgage rates should be enough to cool off the historically hot housing market. However, he says the most "overvalued" regional housing markets could see home price dips of around 5% to 10%.
This story was originally featured on Fortune.com