An Important Prognostication Comes to Fruition

Predicting the direction of interest rates over the past two years has been an exercise in futility. One would have had better success predicting the flight path of a butterfly than the direction of interest rates. History has certainly proved to be an unreliable guide.

We've been considerably more sapient on housing prices. At the beginning of the year, we expected the rate of price appreciation to slow in many, if not most, markets. Our rationale was predicated on the fact trees don't grow to the sky. Double-digit year-over-year price gains are simply unsustainable. Given sufficient time, momentum peters out. Four years appears sufficient enough.

As we head into the waning months of 2014, price appreciation in many markets has indeed throttled back palpably. The widely followed S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index again shows slowing price growth in the 20 metropolitan regions it follows. H ome prices were down 0.5% month over month in July. This marks the third-consecutive monthly decline, and is the steepest monthly decline since November 2011. Year over year, prices are still up 6.7%, but the rate of appreciation has been falling through most of 2014.

We expect the rate of decline to continue, because we are seeing stagnating prices, and even price declines, in more markets. Case-Shiller's data show that prices in 14 of its 20 metropolitan regions declined in July. As for the remaining six markets, three showed no gain, and three showed modest gains, with Las Vegas leading the field at 0.3%.

Zillow has taken to predicting future Case-Shiller index releases, and, like us, Zillow sees the rate of price appreciation further abating. Zillow sees modest month-over-month growth of 0.1% for August, which will drag the year-over-year tally down 5.7%.

Of course, all real estate markets are local markets, and a national average very likely has no direct correlation to our neck of the woods. That said, the national number is composed of local numbers. When more local numbers trend in the same direction, the national number will follow.

Slowing home-price appreciation will slow the rate that negative equity turns to positive equity. On the other side of the coin, slowing price appreciation should help home sales, which have still yet to establish momentum. Unfortunately, momentum is unlikely to be established in the immediate future. The Pending Home Sales Index fell 1.0% to 104.7 in August from 105.8 in July, and is now 2.2% below August 2013.

New lower mortgage rates could provide relief. Rates have been trending down for the past two weeks, which corresponds with the recent stock-market sell-off. The S&P 500 Index is down roughly 4% since hitting an all-time high on Sept. 19. Much of the money flowing out of stocks has flowed into bonds, which is lifting bond prices, and lowering interest rates – including mortgage rates. We would not be surprised to see this trend continue over the next couple weeks.

Information provided by Jessica Regan.

Search all Harrisburg PA homes for sale.

When you are buying or selling property in today's Harrisburg PA real estate market, it's important to have confidence in your real estate professional. Don’s commitment as your Harrisburg PA REALTOR® is to provide you with the specialized real estate service you deserve.

When you are an informed buyer or seller, you'll make the best decisions for the most important purchase or sale in your lifetime. That's why Don’s goal is to keep you informed on trends in Harrisburg PA real estate. With property values continuing to rise, real estate is a sound investment for now and for the future.

As a local area expert with knowledge of Harrisburg PA area communities, Don’s objective is to work diligently to assist you in meeting your real estate goals.

If you are considering buying or selling a home or would just like to have additional information about real estate in your area, please don't hesitate to call me at (717) 657-8700, complete my online form, or e-mail me at