Outlook for Affordability in 2019 amid Rising Rates, According to First American Real House Price Index

—Changes in affordability depend on the tug-of-war between rising
household income and inflation-driven pressure on mortgage rates, says
Chief Economist Mark Fleming—

SANTA ANA, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–First
American Financial Corporation
(NYSE: FAF), a leading
global provider of title insurance, settlement services and risk
solutions for real estate transactions, today released the July 2018 First
American Real House Price Index (RHPI)
. The RHPI measures the price
changes of single-family properties throughout the U.S. adjusted for the
impact of income and interest rate changes on consumer house-buying
power over time at national, state and metropolitan area levels. Because
the RHPI adjusts for house-buying power, it also serves as a measure of
housing affordability.

July 2018 Real House Price Index

  • Real house prices remained flat between June 2018 and July 2018.
  • Real house prices increased 12.2 percent year over year.
  • Consumer house-buying power, how much one can buy based on changes in
    income and interest rates, increased 0.9 percent between June 2018 and
    July 2018, and declined 3.7 percent year over year.
  • Average household income has increased 2.9 percent since July 2017 and
    53 percent since January 2000.
  • Real house prices are 37.9 percent below their housing boom peak in
    July 2006 and 12.0 percent below the level of prices in January 2000.

Chief Economist Analysis: How Will Affordability in 2019 Fare Amid
Rising Rates?

“The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting is just around the
corner and a rate hike is almost certain, according to experts,
which will trigger conversations about rising mortgage rates across the
housing industry. While changes
to the federal funds rate won’t necessarily spur further increases in
mortgage rates
, mortgage rates are expected to rise nonetheless,”
said Mark Fleming, chief economist at First American.

“Mortgages rates typically follow the same path as long-term bond
yields, which are expected to increase due to inflation driven by
healthy economic growth. This inflation-driven increase in long-term
bond yields will, in turn, increase mortgage rates,” said Fleming. “Due
in large part to the strong economy, the 30-year, fixed mortgage rate
has increased 56-basis points over the past 12 months.”

Five Percent Mortgage Rates Likely in 2019

Consensus among
economists is that the 30-year, fixed mortgage rate will increase from
its current rate of 4.53 percent to an average of 5 percent in 2019,”
said Fleming. “Last week, we analyzed what a rate of 5.0 percent could
mean for existing-home sales. The result? Home
sales will continue to grow despite rising rates, due to the strength of
economy
. But, what will 5 percent mortgage rates mean for
affordability?

“The First
American Real House Price Index
(RHPI) measures consumer
house-buying power, how much one can buy based on household income and
the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage,” said Fleming. “Shifts in income and
interest rates either increase or decrease consumer house-buying power
or affordability. When incomes rise and/or mortgage rates fall, consumer
house-buying power increases.

“If the mortgage rate increased from its current level of 4.5 percent to
the expected level of 5 percent, assuming a 5 percent down payment, and
the July 2018 average household income of $64,000, we find that
house-buying power falls a modest 5.5 percent, from $366,000 to
$346,000,” said Fleming. “In this hypothetical 5 percent mortgage rate
environment, consumer-house buying power would be 11 percent lower than
it was in July 2017, when the 30-year, fixed mortgage rate was 3.97
percent.”

Consumer House-Buying Power Remains 2.2 Times Greater than January
2000

“It’s evident that rising mortgage rates have an impact on
affordability. However, the root cause of higher inflation and, in turn,
rising mortgage rates is surging wage growth. In fact, our estimate of
average household income, based on Census and Bureau
of Labor Statistics
 data, reached the highest level since 2000,”
said Fleming.

“Average household incomes are 53 percent higher today than in January
2000. On the other hand, the 30-year, fixed mortgage rate remains near
its historic low point. As a result, consumer house-buying power is
still 2.2 times higher today than in January 2000,” said Fleming.
“Changes in affordability depend on the tug-of-war between rising
household income and inflation-driven pressure on mortgage rates.”

July 2018 Real House Price State Highlights

  • The five states with the greatest
    year-over-year increase in the RHPI are:
    Nevada (+18.7 percent), Ohio (+17.9 percent), New York (+16.8
    percent), New Jersey (+15.6 percent), and Michigan (+15.4 percent).
  • No state had a year-over-year decrease in
    the RHPI in June.

July 2018 Real House Price Local Market Highlights

  • Among the Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) tracked by First
    American, the five markets with the greatest
    year-over-year increase in the RHPI are:
    Cleveland (+24.4 percent), Las Vegas (+21.8 percent), San Jose, Calif.
    (+21.8 percent), Jacksonville, Fla. (+17.7 percent), and Cincinnati
    (+17.7 percent).
  • No CBSA had a year-over-year decrease in
    the RHPI in June.

Next Release

The next release of the First American Real House Price Index will take
place the week of October 29, 2018 for August 2018 data.

Methodology

The methodology statement for the First American Real House Price Index
is available at http://www.firstam.com/economics/real-house-price-index.

Disclaimer

Opinions, estimates, forecasts and other views contained in this page
are those of First American’s Chief Economist, do not necessarily
represent the views of First American or its management, should not be
construed as indicating First American’s business prospects or expected
results, and are subject to change without notice. Although the First
American Economics team attempts to provide reliable, useful
information, it does not guarantee that the information is accurate,
current or suitable for any particular purpose. © 2018 by First
American. Information from this page may be used with proper attribution.

About First American

First American Financial Corporation (NYSE: FAF) is a leading
provider of title insurance, settlement services and risk solutions for
real estate transactions that traces its heritage back to 1889. First
American also provides title plant management services; title and other
real property records and images; valuation products and services; home
warranty products; property and casualty insurance; banking, trust and
wealth management services; and other related products and services.
With total revenue of $5.8 billion in 2017, the company offers its
products and services directly and through its agents throughout the
United States and abroad. In 2018, First American was named to the Fortune 100
Best Companies to Work For® list for the third consecutive
year. More information about the company can be found at www.firstam.com.

Contacts

First American Financial Corporation
Media Contact:
Marcus
Ginnaty
Corporate Communications
(714) 250-3298
or
Investor
Contact:

Craig Barberio
Investor Relations
(714)
250-5214