Attributable to its hot jobs market and more reasonably priced for-sale inventory, the Mountain West is among the best regions of the country to for Americans who want to buy a new home, newly released data suggests.
According to ATTOM Data Solutions' Pre-Mover Housing Index – a forward-looking indicator that assesses the feasibility of individuals relocating to specific parts of the country, based on various economic and housing market indicators – Colorado Springs, Colorado and Reno, Nevada both had pre-mover index values above 200, twice that of the national average. The higher the measure ascends, the more advantageous a given city is considered to be for aspiring homeowners.
Daren Blomquist, ATTOM Solutions' senior vice president, noted several major metropolitan areas – Colorado Springs and Reno among them – were hubs for a large number of relocating Americans during the second quarter.
"Markets with a healthy mix of access to good jobs and relatively affordable housing attracted the most interest from pre-movers in the second quarter, a harbinger of strong home sales activity in the third quarter," Blomquist explained. "
Elevated demand, limited supply widely apparent
With residential real estate inventory low and demand high, asking prices have risen for much of the country, particularly in urban locales. For example, during the first quarter, the national median for existing single-family homes was $232,100, according to estimates from the National Association of Realtors. That's a 7 percent increase from the corresponding three-month period in 2016.
NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun acknowledged that the areas of the U.S. where employers are hiring are attractive destinations for would-be buyers, evidenced both in 2017 and in years gone by.
"Several metro areas with the healthiest job gains in recent years continue to see a large upswing in buyer demand, but lack the commensurate ramp up in new home construction," Yun said.
However, in economically vibrant locales, many residents have the funds they need to purchase at price points sellers are requesting. For instance, of the 309 counties ATTOM Solutions assessed in its most recent analysis, 189 – more than 60 percent – had pre-mover index totals that were higher than the national average. They also had unemployment rates that were lower than the national average, at 4.2 percent to 4.5 percent for the U.S. as a whole.
Increased home sales activity in Colorado, Nevada
In June, Colorado's El Paso County – where Colorado Springs is located – saw robust home sales productivity, totaling more than 1,600 transactions over the 30-day period, according to the most recent data compiled by the Colorado Association of Realtors. That's a 6.5 percent jump compared to the same month in 2016. Similarly, the Silver State's third-most populous city also saw healthy purchase volume in June, according to the Nevada Association of Realtors.
ATTOM Data Solutions' study found that cities with elevated pre-mover index data were also those where buyers devoted a smaller chunk of their salary to mortgage payments. For instance, during the second quarter, the average percentage of wages was for the 200 and above pre-mover index counties was 38 percent compared to 42 percent among counties whose pre-mover index totals were below the national average.
While families move for a variety of reasons, they aren't as itinerant as they used to be. In 2016, approximately 11 percent of Americans – among all age ranges – relocated, according to the most recent numbers crunched by the U.S. Census Bureau. That's the lowest mover rate on record, tracing back to 1948, when the Census Bureau first began tracking this statistic.
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