Personal Finance

These 10 U.S. real estate markets are cooling the fastest: Here's what to know if you're a prospective buyer

Key Points
  • After staggering growth during the pandemic, the U.S. housing market is starting to cool fastest in cities along the West Coast, according to a Redfin analysis.
  • "The velocity of price increases will certainly diminish significantly," said Melissa Cohn, regional vice president at William Raveis Mortgage.
David Ryder | Getty Images

After staggering growth during the pandemic, the U.S. housing market is starting to cool — and it's happening fastest along the West Coast.

The quickest-cooling real estate market is San Jose, California, according to a new Redfin analysis, which ranked U.S. metropolitan markets based on median sales prices, year-over-year inventory changes and other factors between February and May 2022.  

Six of the top 10 markets are in California, including three in the Bay Area, with four other Western cities rounding out the list. 

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By comparison, Albany, New York, was the slowest-cooling housing market, followed by El Paso, Texas, and Bridgeport, Connecticut, Redfin's analysis found.

One of the top reasons for cooling throughout the country is rising interest rates, which have triggered "the affordability factor," said Melissa Cohn, regional vice president at William Raveis Mortgage.

Indeed, costlier areas, such as Northern California, where homes may easily sell for $1 million to $1.5 million or higher, have been harder hit by 30-year fixed mortgage rates approaching 6%, the report found.

For example, if you're buying a million-dollar home with a 20% down payment, your monthly mortgage payment may be roughly $5,750 with a 6% interest rate, depending on taxes and homeowner's insurance, which is $1,400 higher than with a 3% interest rate, according to the report.

10 fastest-cooling U.S. housing markets

Here are the U.S. markets that have cooled the most over the past year, according to Redfin, and their median sale price as of May 2022.

  1. San Jose, California — $1,560,000
  2. Sacramento, California — $610,000
  3. Oakland, California — $1,070,000
  4. Seattle, Washington — $850,000
  5. Stockton, California — $576,000
  6. Boise, Idaho — $550,000
  7. Denver, Colorado — $612,000
  8. San Diego, California — $875,000
  9. Tacoma, Washington — $575,000
  10. San Francisco, California — $1,620,000

10 slowest-cooling U.S. housing markets

Here are the U.S. markets that have been slowest to cool over the past year, according to Redfin, and their median sale price as of May 2022.

  1. Albany, New York — $289,000
  2. El Paso, Texas — $238,000
  3. Bridgeport, Connecticut — $570,000
  4. Lake County, Illinois — $324,400
  5. Rochester, New York — $212,100
  6. New Brunswick, New Jersey — $465,000
  7. Cincinnati, Ohio — $265,000
  8. Akron, Ohio — $200,000
  9. New Haven, Connecticut — $310,000
  10. Virginia Beach, Virginia — $325,000

'Cooling' doesn't mean buyers will see price drops

While growth may be slowing in some markets, experts still aren't expecting significant price drops in most markets.

"One of the reasons why we've had this frothy, overheated market is just lack of inventory," Cohn said.

To that point, in Redfin's analysis, some of the faster-cooling markets have seen more inventory come on the market. In Seattle, for example, inventory is up 40.9% from the prior year.

Home prices are still rising, albeit more slowly. The expectations for one-year median home price growth dropped to 4.4% from 5.8% in June, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Survey of Consumer Expectations

"The velocity of price increases will certainly diminish significantly," Cohn said, predicting a "healthy normalization" of the real estate market.

One of the reasons why we've had this frothy, overheated market is just lack of inventory.
Melissa Cohn
regional vice president at William Raveis Mortgage

With many buyers paying cash over the past couple of years, some purchasers have waived appraisals, inspections or even seeing the home in person.

However, the market shift may offer buyers more time to see properties, make an offer and purchase the right home, Cohn said.

What cooling markets mean for homeowners

If you recently purchased a home, you may have concerns about the home's future value, especially in a cooling market. 

"The good news is that these buyers most likely got locked into a lower interest rate, so the payments should be more manageable than someone buying now," said Matthew Chancey, a certified financial planner with CoastalOne in Tampa, Florida.

If you overbid on the property, you may be "underwater" in the short term, meaning you owe more on the mortgage than the home is worth, he said.

That's not a situation you necessarily need to rush to remedy. Kyle Newell, an Orlando, Florida-based CFP and owner of Newell Wealth Management, said homeowners who are underwater should funnel extra cash into savings for emergencies, such as a possible job loss, rather than racing to pay down the mortgage.

Experts generally recommend setting aside three to six months of living expenses. But some advisors suggest more for added flexibility.

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