Home Insight - Property Value and Home Price Check
How do Home Sales Affect You?
Written by: Lankarge/Nahorney for HomeInsight

Home prices nationwide have grown an average of 53% in the past five years - what does that mean to you? Simply put, brisk home sales help keep the economy humming - they have become one of the most important drivers in our consumer-based economy.
Desirable Retirement Communities See Prices Exploding
The number of baby boomers now in their prime wage earning years (their 50s) is helping to drive the value of homes in desirable retirement communities/states through the roof. According to the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), the average home in the United States appreciated by 13.43 percent the year ended June 30, 2005, but in retirement communities/states prices increased at a more rapid rate.

There were few surprises in the top 5 states for home appreciation:

Nevada 28.13 percent
Arizona 27.82 percent
Hawaii 25.92 percent
California 25.16 percent
Florida 24.45 percent

The bottom 5 states in home appreciation were:

Oklahoma 5.39 percent
Michigan 4.93 percent
Ohio 4.81 percent
Indiana 4.70 percent
Texas 4.68 percent

Since 1929, stocks have returned an average of 10 percent per year, making them one of the best long-term investments consumers can make. But the average homeowner has gotten that same 10% over the past five years on their primary residence, making them nationwide feel wealthy, and this in turn has fueled consumer spending. (Historically, homes have appreciated by about 2 percent per year.)

To see a market snapshot of current home values, click here. Interested in home values in your region and the future direction of home prices? See articles about the Northeast, South, Midwest, and West.

Job Growth

Not only do home sales help keep the economy humming but they are also responsible for job growth, and help to make increasing wages possible.

Consumer purchases continue to comprise a growing part of the economy, and home sales are a major driver in consumer purchasing. Home sales provide a pile of cash to the seller, enabling the purchase of another home, or of other goods and services, which also helps the economy.

New homeowners move into a home with energy and enthusiasm, spending money on everything from appliances, to furniture, window treatments, and rugs. New homeowners tend to want to make the home their own, and spend a great deal during the first two years in a new residence making improvements, from cosmetic changes such as a new coat of paint to major renovations such as room additions.

Piggy Banks

Home values also matter because homeowners are more likely than ever to use their homes as banks, extracting their growing home equity to make additional purchases such as a new car, major home improvements, or to pay down credit card debt. So when home values are either flat or declining, those who have recently purchased a new home may be shut out of this source of money, which can have a dampening effect on the economy.

And with the average homeowner moving every seven years, buying a home at the top of a market, and then looking to sell when the market begins to move down, can leave homeowners upside down on their mortgage, with more to pay on that mortgage than their home is currently worth.

There is also the psychological aspect to home values. Homeowners whose home values are increasing often are more positive about the future direction of the economy and are more likely to keep consumer spending on the rise, supporting the economy. Even though a decline in home values actually represents a "paper loss" unless the home is sold, homeowners whose homes are worth less that the purchase price are more likely to have a more negative view of the direction of the economy, and may spend less, depressing consumer spending and creating a drag on the economy.

Rising home values are important to the economy, but home values that increase at too rapid a rate can depress the economy, pricing out some consumers out of the market. Exceptions to this rule appear to be shorefront homes, desirable retirement communities, and states with vibrant, growing economies.

Massachusetts Leading the Way

Leading the nationwide growth since 1980 has been Massachusetts, according to OFHEO. While home prices rose "only" 70.70 percent in the five years ending June 30, 2005, Massachusetts homes have appreciated a whopping 607.07 percent since 1980. This dramatic increase has been driven by sales in Boston and its suburbs, as well as Barnstable County, which includes desirable retirement and second home communities of Cape Cod and the islands of Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket.

Next in appreciation since 1980 is New York at 492.33 percent, followed by Rhode Island at 469.61 percent, a state whose desirable coastline has attracted many seeking a second, or retirement home.

Many economists have predicted that the housing "bubble" will pop in markets that have gotten overheated (see the states mentioned in the sidebar). But even though your state or region may not directly feel the effects of that bubble popping through lower home values, if enough of those bubbles pop, the economy as a whole will cool down, and you may feel the effects in the form of a slower job market, lower raises, or perhaps higher loan rates.

Keeping an eye on home values can help you make educated purchasing decisions. Check home values in your area by clicking here. To keep an eye on home values in your region, see up-to-date articles about the Northeast, South, Midwest, and West.