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Our interactive guide to housing data in American cities
A DECADE after causing a financial crisis that brought the world economy to its knees, housing in the United States appears to be back on top. Across the country prices fell by 34% in real terms in the six years to 2012. They have since bounced back with gusto, rising by another 33% since—though that still leaves them 12% below their pre-crisis peak.
Our American cities index tracks home prices in 20 of the country’s biggest markets. We track home prices on both a nominal and real (inflation-adjusted) basis. In Detroit, Las Vegas and San Francisco, prices have nearly doubled since their post-recession troughs. Could they be ripe for another correction?
To gauge how bubbly markets are The Economist compares prices with two measures of affordability: housing rents and median household incomes. If, over the long-run, prices outstrip that of either the income that a home might earn through rents, or the take-home pay that services mortgage debt, then they may be unsustainable.
Across the country, compared to both rents and income prices look to be around fair value, although affordability looks increasingly stretched. In Las Vegas, where prices were 70% overvalued compared with incomes in 2005 before falling by 66%, they now appear about 20% overvalued. In some cities, such as San Francisco, affordability looks stretched, particularly when compared with incomes. With mortgage rates now rising, they could yet fall back to earth.