Projections for the Single-Family Homes Market

Fletcher Wilcox
Founder, The Wilcox Report

Previously-owned single-family homes comprise the majority of residential sales — approximately 80 percent of all residential real estate sales in the Arizona Regional Multiple Listings Services, Inc. (ARMLS). On an annual basis, the volume of previously-owned single-family homes are three to four times greater than new single-family home sales.

With year-over-year increases in sales and rising prices, 2017 should end as the best year for dollar sales volume since the record year of 2005. Dollar sales volume can be defined as the total sales price based upon the number of sales.

Dollar sales volume for past years show $26 billion in 2005, $13 billion in 2010 and $20 billion in 2016. The year 2017 will end around $21 to $22 billion, making it the second-best year for dollar sales volume.

Are Housing Prices Close to a Correction?

Are we approaching another price correction since housing prices continue to increase? The chart below shows the annual median sale price since 2004.  In 2006, the sale price peaked at $279,000, then bottomed out at $125,000 in 2011. Looking at 2017, for the first nine months the median sale price is showing $264,000. Sometime in the second quarter of 2018, the median sale price may hit $280,000.

These are not inflation adjusted numbers. Starting with the year 2006 through the summer of 2017, inflation has been about 18 percent.

If we reach a median sale price of $280,000 in 2018, is it a sign of another price correction? My answer is no. Since 2013, the annual median sale price has increased between seven percent and eight percent each year, which reflects a healthy increase. At the same time, borrowers have been able to qualify for these higher prices, even in light of today’s strict lending standards when compared to 2004–2006. 

The chart below compares the monthly median sale price from 2004 to 2005, as well as from 2016 to 2017.

As illustrated, the total sale price increase when comparing 2016 to 2017 on a month-to-month basis, and shows a minimum increase of four percent (or $12,230) and a maximum increase of eight percent (or $19,000). Whereas, when comparing 2004 to 2005 on a month-to-month basis, the minimum increase was 27 percent (or $43,000) with a maximum increase hitting as high as 53 percent (or $96,000). Such a tremendous on- year run-up in prices was not healthy or sustainable. 

One explanation for the run-up in prices during 2004 to 2005 was a result of artificial demand caused by spec investors purchasing with 100 percent financing. Today, spec investors are required to put down 20 percent, which is one reason that I don’t believe we are headed for a price correction.

Let’s look at another reason.


2018 Predictions: Plenty of Demand to Own

2018 will experience fierce competition in many locations for available homes that are priced right, especially those in the mid-to-lower price ranges. The reason for the increased competition is more people, more jobs and tight inventory.

Maricopa County ranks number one for population growth compared to 3,142 counties in the United States — with 81,360 more people added. This number is based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent 2017 numbers. Over half of this increase, or 43,189, comes from domestic migration. Compare Maricopa County to Cook County, where Chicago is located, which has the largest declining population for a county in the United States. Their domestic migration was a minus 66,244. The average daily increase in the population of Maricopa County was 222 people per day. I expect the same numbers or higher for next year.

During the real estate recession, Maricopa County lost approximately 235,000 jobs. Not only have those jobs come back, but an additional 75,000 jobs have been added since then. This job trend translates to more home buyers. Based on U.S. Department of Labor data, I estimate about 165 jobs are created each day in Maricopa County.

There are now more buyers in the Maricopa County market than ever before. Prices and demand will go up. In fact, I know of a lender that has prequalified a number of potential buyers who are ready to buy, but are unable to buy because of our tight inventory.

More buyers, tighter inventory and higher prices will make some homes on the market that don’t meet the expectation of an HGTV reality show look a bit better.

Stay tuned for a positive, single-family home market in 2018.

Fletcher R. Wilcox is the author of and Vice President of Business Development for Grandy Canyon Title. His market analysis has been referenced in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg News, and National Mortgage News. Fletcher can be reached at and 602.648.1230.