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18 North American Cities Saw Home Prices Jump Over 50% in Just 5 Years

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18 North American Cities Saw Home Prices Jump Over 50% in Just 5 Years
13 min. read

A short 5 years was enough for cities like Surrey, CA, San Francisco, US, and Mexico City, MX to post home price jumps that would make your head spin. As a result, prospective homebuyers in North America’s largest cities today must dish out considerably more money if they want to join the ranks of the homeowners.

A clear outlier, Detroit is in a league of its own: although Motor City posts a staggering percentage growth (97%) compared to 5 years ago, its net home price increase over the same period is much more modest ($30,143).

But apart from Detroit’s special case, almost all other North American large urban centres have seen both startling percentage increases and overwhelming net price jumps, deepening the issue of housing affordability. In markets like Manhattan or Vancouver, which already boast stratospheric home prices, even the smallest changes impact homebuyers’ pockets in a very big way.

To see which North American cities witnessed the most spectacular price changes in the past 5 years, we looked at urban centres with a population above 500,000 and ranked them according to the change in home price. These are our key findings:

  • 18 of the 83 largest North American real estate markets saw home prices jump over 50% in just 5 years. Of the 18 markets with the most explosive growth, 11 are in the US, 6 in Canada, and 1 in Mexico.
  • Only 2 cities witnessed a drop in home price compared to 5 years ago, and both are located in Alberta, CA: Calgary and Edmonton.
  • San Francisco boasts the highest net increase of all the cities in the study ($550,000), followed by 2 Canadian cities: Vancouver ($417,913 CAD) and Surrey ($395, 287 CAD).

 

 

Home Price Growth and Income Increases Are Not Synchronized

Although incomes in Canada and the US, as well as Mexico,  have been slowly, but steadily going up since 2013, the increases have been no match for home price growth.

As a result, housing affordability is becoming increasingly problematic in many cities across North America. While the traditional rule of thumb – that a homebuyer should afford a home if its value is 3 times or less the annual household income – still holds in some markets, others are far more expensive than that.

 

The Staggering 5-Year Home Price Upsurge in North America’s Largest Cities

To look at one of the most extreme cases, Canadian prospective homebuyers could have bought a home in Surrey, BC for around $450,000 CAD in 2013, but they currently need almost double that: $845,500 CAD. Vancouver, BC follows suit, with a 68% increase in the past 5 years, and Brampton, Hamilton, and Mississauga, all three cities located in Ontario, are almost at a tie, with increases hovering around 66%.

In the US, Detroit stands out, with home prices that have doubled since 2013. For a city in recovery, severely affected by economic setbacks and demographic decline, increasing home prices might just be a sign of a local economy on the mend.

San Francisco saw the second highest jump, with a home price increase close to 69%. The other talent and tech hub on the West Coast, Seattle, boasts the third most significant price gain (66%), at a tie with Canadian cities Mississauga, Hamilton, and Brampton.

Mexico’s first entry in the ranking comes via Mexico City, the densely-populated megalopolis, which landed on the 18th position. Although an official source cataloging net home prices and trends for the Mexican real estate market is not available, data concerning percentage changes exists and it is telling. Home prices in the state capital went up a dizzying 50% compared to 2013. Moreover, according to El Universal, prices here have more than doubled compared to 10 years ago.

Mexico City is the only large real estate market in Mexico to undergo such a dramatic change; all the other cities included in the study experienced a more moderate home price growth, ranging between 43% in Zapopan and Durango, to 30% in Cancún.

 

Growing Interest in Urban Living Might Continue to Fuel Future Home Price Growth

Compared to just 5 years ago, 40 cities in the US, 31 in Mexico, and 10 in Canada have seen significant home price hikes, putting considerable strain on the average homebuyer. With more and more people opting for a connected, urban lifestyle, and with the younger generation’s desire to reduce commute time, demand for urban housing is skyrocketing.

Aside from the growing demand, large cities’ restrictive land use and zoning policies push home prices higher, making housing an increasingly challenging issue on North America’s most developed and attractive markets.

Moreover, according to an analysis by CityLab, geography may play a huge role in a city’s potential for development: cities that do not have enough space to expand once they start developing economically might suffer in the long run.

And usually, it is the homebuyers who pay the price, quite literally, because the rising costs of real estate development in tightly-controlled land zones will have a major impact on final home prices, no matter their type.

Check out all the data for the 83 cities included in our study, which are ranked according to their respective home price growth:

 

Expert Insights

For more details on the evolution of home prices in the past five years, its impact on potential homebuyers’ attitude towards homeownership, and some insights into the future of the largest housing markets in North America, we talked to some housing and real estate experts. Check out their answers below and make sure to share your experience with home buying and homeownership in the comments section!

 

David Dale-Johnson

David Dale-Johnson
Stan Melton Executive Professor in Real Estate at Alberta School of Business

Eighteen of the largest North American real estate markets saw home prices jump over 50% during the last 5 years. Do you consider this to have a positive impact on how the real estate market is perceived? Why?

The quick answer is that it depends on whether you are fortunate enough to be in the market or not. Why? Because those in the market already benefited and those trying to get in found it more and more difficult to get in as the months and years passed.

I think this has caused many among the Gen X and Gen Z population to begin to question the way we make public policy related to housing markets along with the real estate industry itself.  In the hot Canadian markets, the foreign buyer tax and empty homes tax combined with the mortgage stress test have had their impact but the slowdown will not likely be significant enough or last long enough to solve the affordability problem for many who have not managed to access the market. Any incentive that helps first-time home buyers has the potential of the benefit immediately being passed on to sellers.

At the same time, many among the Gen X and Gen Z population are changing the way they live their lives relative to prior generations. Changing technology and the resulting workplace, the evolving transportation eco-system, changes in retailing and evolving work/leisure choices are allowing different work/housing/commuting choices to be made.  This trend will continue.

Public policy, land developers, multi-family developers and home builders, in fact, everyone involved in ‘city building’ must adapt as about 60% of the global population will be comprised of Gen X-ers and Gen Z-ers.  How well they adapt will determine how the real estate market is perceived. The City of Edmonton now allows duplexes to be built on single-family lots.  This is effectively a supply-side policy, which will over time impact the nature of traditional single-family neighbourhoods. While this may be controversial for some, it is a necessary strategy for a number of reasons, including the need to meet current and anticipated future demand, reduce the conversion of agricultural land and reduce our carbon footprint.

Do you expect the housing prices in the largest North American urban centers to continue to rise, stagnate or decline in the next 5 years?

Stagnate. Housing market performance differs quite dramatically across borders and among regions or urban centers within borders. Many markets in the USA are still recovering from the 2008-2010 recession.  The Canadian market did not suffer the same broad price declines and in recent months has slowed down with reductions in sales volumes and prices in most markets. The mortgage stress test, various locally imposed taxes on foreign buyers and empty houses, slowing Asian economies and tougher restrictions on capital flows have all contributed.

At the same time, there has been upward pressure on interest rates. All of this suggests further weakness across many markets. The graph below is telling:

Federal Funds Rate and the US Case Shiller Index

Near zero interest rates in the US have had their impact on mortgage interest rates and housing affordability playing a significant role in the fueling of housing demand, a phenomenon that appears to be ending. US public debt as a percentage of GDP continues to grow and is forecast to be in excess of 100% soon. Further borrowing will put upward pressure on rates. At the same time, there will be pressure to reduce the budgetary impact of the costs of debt service by keeping rates down. It will be a delicate balance. Assuming housing prices continue to increase or simply stabilize, higher rates will exacerbate housing affordability. Likely, it will continue to take some of the heat out of housing markets.

Note that Canadian lenders have actually reduced their five-year fixed mortgage rates as the market has softened.

 

William Miles

William Miles
Research Fellow with the Center for Real Estate and Professor of Economics in the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University

Eighteen of the largest North American real estate markets saw home prices jump over 50% during the last 5 years. Do you consider this to have a positive impact on how the real estate market is perceived? Why?

This price jump will definitely not have a positive impact on the perceptions of potential residential buyers. These price increases feed into the (correct) perception that housing in many desirable metro areas is unaffordable for the majority of people, especially first-time buyers, who lack well-above-average incomes.  This lack of affordability prevents people from moving from less prosperous areas to cities with better job opportunities.

Now the jump in prices may help make buyers from around the world who are looking for homes in North America as investments feel reassured their purchases will continue to gain in price.  It may also have a positive impact on perceptions of the market on the part of existing homeowners.  However, for most potential residential homeowners the effect is negative, in terms of both perceptions and reality.

Do you expect the housing prices in the largest North American urban centers to continue to rise, stagnate or decline in the next 5 years?

The most likely outcome is stagnation – no dramatic moves up or down in prices.  Of course, a lot depends on the state of national economies.  If there is a recession in North America, which might be hard to avoid given the length of the recovery, house prices would drop.  The fall would be milder than some fear, however, although it could be somewhat larger in cities where home prices have grown the most in comparison to income.

 

Susan M. Wachter

Susan M. Wachter
Albert Sussman Professor of Real Estate and Professor of Finance in The Wharton School, and Co-director of the Penn Institute for Urban Research at University of Pennsylvania

Do you expect the housing prices in the largest North American urban centers to continue to rise, stagnate or decline in the next 5 years?

Urban centers with substantial price growth in recent years are experiencing a rebound from declines in the aftermath of the Great Recession. For example, Detroit has rebounded from a nearly 50% decline from its 2006 peak to 2011 low, recovering some but not all of its losses in the downturn. Other cities in the U.S. have gone far beyond previous highs, including San Francisco, Seattle, and Boston.  Millennials are choosing to locate in large urban centers and firms are going to where the talent is concentrated. The result is rents and prices outstripping income growth in these large urban centers with job growth.

While we expect this to continue, the historic rate at which prices have accelerated will slow down. Affordability is limiting the growth in demand even as Millennials aspire to homeownership. Price rises and high rents will make affordability a continuing concern for this American generation.

 

 

Stagnation might follow these staggering home price jumps according to some experts, but since there are many other factors that influence the housing market, this is not a given. What seems certain, though, is that Millennials and Gen Z-ers, and first-time homebuyers, in general, will have to adapt to slightly more volatile market conditions than past generations and homebuyers. 

 

 

Methodology 

  • Point2 Homes looked at home prices in December 2013 and compared them to December 2018 numbers, in the three largest North American countries: Mexico, US, and Canada. The analysis focused on large cities, with a population over 500,000.
  • The sources for the home price changes in the study are: CREA and various real estate associations (Canada), PropertyShark, NAR, Recenter (Texas, US), RBIntel (Washington DC, Baltimore, US) and other MLS’s (USA), GOB.MX (Mexico).
  • In order to avoid distortions, the percentage changes were calculated using the countries’ respective currencies.
  • Home prices were not adjusted for inflation. Inflation rose 8.44% in Canada from 2013 to 2018; in the US, inflation rates rose 7.58% during the same period, and in Mexico, 21.17%.

 

Fair use and redistribution

We encourage you and freely grant you permission to reuse, host, or repost the story in this article. When doing so, we only ask that you kindly attribute the authors by linking to Point2Homes.com or this page, so that your readers can learn more about this project, the research behind it and its methodology.

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