Why Median Home Sales Price Is Confusing Right Now
So, why would this say home prices are falling when so many other price reports say they’re going back up? It all depends on the methodology of each one. NAR reports on the median home sales price, while some other sources use repeat sales prices. Here’s how those approaches differ.
The Center for Real Estate Studies at Wichita State University explains median sales prices like this:
“The median sale price measures the ‘middle’ price of homes that sold, meaning that half of the homes sold for a higher price and half sold for less . . . For example, if more lower-priced homes have sold recently, the median sale price would decline (because the “middle” home is now a lower-priced home), even if the value of each individual home is rising.”
Investopedia helps define what a repeat sales approach means:
“Repeat-sales methods calculate changes in home prices based on sales of the same property, thereby avoiding the problem of trying to account for price differences in homes with varying characteristics.”
The Challenge with the Median Home Sales Price Today
As the quotes above say, the approaches can tell different stories. That’s why median home sales price data (like EHS) may say prices are down, even though the vast majority of the repeat sales reports show prices are appreciating again. Forget the median price – it’s all about what you can afford when exploring the real estate market in Portsmouth, NH.
Bill McBride, Author of the Calculated Risk blog, sums the difference up like this:
“Median prices are distorted by the mix and repeat sales indexes like Case-Shiller and FHFA are probably better for measuring prices.”
To drive this point home, here’s a simple explanation of the median value (see visual below). Let’s say you have three coins in your pocket, and you decide to line them up according to their value from low to high. If you have one nickel and two dimes, the median value (the middle one) is 10 cents. If you have two nickels and one dime, the median value is now five cents.
In both cases, a nickel is still worth five cents and a dime is still worth 10 cents. The value of each coin didn’t change.
That’s why using the median home sales price to gauge what’s happening with home values may be confusing right now. Most buyers look at home prices as a starting point to determine if they match their budgets. But most people buy homes based on the monthly mortgage payment they can afford, not just the price of the house. When mortgage rates are higher, you may have to buy a less expensive home to keep your monthly housing expense affordable.
That’s why a more significant number of ‘less-expensive’ houses are selling right now – and that’s causing the median home sales price to decline. But that doesn’t mean any single house lost value.
To truly understand the Portsmouth, NH, real estate market, consulting trusted local experts like Jim Lee and Ann Cummings of RE/MAX Shoreline is crucial. Their in-depth knowledge and experience can shed light on critical factors beyond the median price. Local experts have their fingers on the pulse of the community and possess an intimate understanding of the local market trends. They can provide insights into the availability of inventory, upcoming development projects, neighborhood dynamics, school districts, and local amenities that may impact property values.
For a more in-depth understanding of home price trends and reports, let’s connect.