Falling Stars: You Won’t Believe the 10 Cities Where Home Prices Are Down the Most


"These Are the 10 Metros Where Home Prices Are Falling the Most "

iStock; realtor.com



The tectonic plates of America’s major real estate markets continue to shift beneath our feet. Little more than a year ago, unstoppable home price increases seemed to be the new normal just about everywhere. Go, go, go! It was a never-ending party for sellers, and mass anxiety for price-squeezed buyers. But then last fall came signs of a housing slowdown, as big-city prices began to level off—or in some markets actually drop. Was a housing bubble about to burst?

Well, not quite. Nationally home prices still rose 6.9% year over year in April. But here’s the thing: That’s actually the lowest price growth in five years. And according to the latest data, 1 in 5 metropolitan areas is now seeing decreases in home prices, compared with half as many a year ago. So what are the places moving from a seller’s market to a buyer’s? The realtor.com® data team set out to find those metros where home prices are falling the most.

“In a lot of markets buyers are hitting an affordability ceiling,” says Chief Economist Danielle Hale of realtor.com. “Prices just can’t keep rising if buyers can’t keep up. They are dropping out, and that’s why we’re seeing prices adjust [down] in some markets.”

There are some surprises on this list—including some of the highest-profile markets in the country (hello, San Francisco Bay Area!). It turns out there is a limit to how high home prices can go, even in some of America’s most alluring, if overheated, places.

Some markets are seeing price drops due to overbuilding: This creates too much supply and not enough demand, so prices naturally fall. And just like in past years, in other areas, natural disasters devastated lives, communities, and local real estate.

“A disaster will affect your ability to market” your home, says Orell Anderson, president of Strategic Property Analytics, in Laguna Beach, CA. It can boost home prices and rents in unaffected pockets as locals compete for housing. But it can also hurt an area’s image as folks don’t want to suffer through another disaster. “The market will demand a discount.”

To figure out where prices are down the most, we looked at the change in median list prices on realtor.com from April 2018 to April 2019 in the 250 biggest metropolitan areas.* We filtered out markets where price per square footage was up over that period. And we limited the ranking to no more than three metros per state.

So where are prices declining the most? Buckle up, let’s take a cross-country trip.

Where home prices have fallen the most

Tony Frenzel


1. San Jose, CA

Median list price: $1.1 million Median list price change: -8.4%

Santana Row in San Jose, CA

alacatr/iStock


Yes, you read that right. Perennial hottest market in the U.S., San Jose is seeing the steepest declines in home prices these days. For the past few years, home prices in this city at the heart of Silicon Valley have soared at double-digit rates. But last fall, red flags started to appear. Sellers began slashing list prices, with the number of price reductions jumping 200% over the previous year. Now prices are plummeting faster than anywhere else in the U.S.

Time for a quick reality check: None of this means that San Jose has become a bargain. It’s still America’s most expensive real estate market. But therein lies the problem—prices just shot up too high. From April 2017 to April 2018, median list prices soared a remarkable 28%. And even in the San Francisco Bay Area, what comes up must come down. Eventually.

“When [prices] jump that quick, it can produce a reaction with buyers, who say, ‘I can’t do it anymore, that is just too expensive,’” says Patrick Carlisle, Bay Area chief marketing analyst at the real estate firm Compass.

Federal tax law changes also played a role. Homeowners can now deduct only up to $10,000 in property and income taxes combined. Plus, the amount of mortgage interest deduction folks can write off on their taxes was reduced. In pricey areas like San Jose, that can translate into a big financial hit.

This has led dwellings to sit longer on the market, climbing from a median 19 days to 27 from April 2018 to April 2019. Meanwhile, the amount of abodes currently for sale has jumped 92%.

2. Oxnard, CA

Median list price: $681,100 Median list price change: -5.4%

Waterfront homes in Oxnard, CA

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In late 2017, the Thomas fire burned almost 300,000 acres, destroying more than 1,000 homes in Ventura County, part of the Oxnard metro, and surrounding areas (including Santa Barbara County). At the time it was the largest wildfire in California history. And that was just the beginning of the widespread damage—the conflagration damaged ground soil and tree roots, leading to mudslides that wiped out still more homes.

In the disaster’s wake, some displaced victims left the area altogether instead of going through the long, painful process of rebuilding. Others who were thinking of moving to the area changed their plans altogether.

Overall rising prices in the area north of Los Angeles are also to blame. Last spring, buyers hit their breaking point, says local real estate agent Kevin Paffrath, of meetkevin.com. With high prices, mortgage rates, and the tax changes, many stayed on the sidelines, lessening demand in the area.

3. College Station, TX

Median list price: $265,000 Median list price change: -5.4%

Three-bedroom home in College Station, TX

realtor.com


The 64,000 Texas A&M University students that pour into College Station every fall—plus all of the faculty and staff—need lots of places to live. But builders in pro-development Texas went a bit overboard in recent years. That resulted in a glut of new homes in this market two hours northwest of Houston, pushing inventory up 18.3% year over year and causing prices to tumble.

Eventually, investors are expected to snap up many of these properties and rent them out to students. But it also means buyers have options. So they can take their time finding the right one—and then negotiating the price down.

Folks here can snag a new home for a bargain compared with those in bigger cities such as Austin and Dallas. A new three-bedroom home with a granite-topped island and walk-in closets in the master-planned community of Creek Meadows is listed at just $241,200.

4. Bridgeport, CT (Fairfield County)

Median list price: $750,000 Median list price change: -4.9%

Bridgeport, CT

DenisTangneyJr/iStock


Prices are sky-high in this golden metro encompassing all of wealthy Fairfield County, home to some of the toniest enclaves just outside of New York City. But as in California, tax law changes made buying sprawling mansions in uber-wealthy communities such as Greenwich more expensive. That’s because the state has some of the highest property taxes in the nation—and now homeowners can’t write off nearly as much.

Plus, many of the affluent buyers who might normally head for Fairfield County may be choosing to go to Manhattan instead. That’s because the city has had an influx of new, luxury towers going up in recent years—including the flashy, massive development Hudson Yards.

The cooling in the Bridgeport metro has helped push inventory up 8.5% year over year in Fairfield County. Keep in mind prices in this market have a huge range. There are