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The unbelievable surge in residence costs is about to proceed in southern metros

Home prices in southern metros will continue to appreciate and outperform the rest. Photo illustration by Fortune; original photo by Getty Images

The average house price has risen almost 50% on a national basis since the start of the pandemic. But that’s too broad of a blanket and doesn’t account for regional variation, Capital Economics’ property economist, Thomas Ryan, suggests in a new note

It’s housing markets across the south that Ryan predicts will continue to “lead the pack” in terms of appreciation. Home prices rose 74% in Miami, 71% in Tampa, and 62% in Charlotte, since December 2019, just months before the onset of the pandemic. It’s reflective of a “boost to housing demand from strong economic in-migration,” Ryan wrote. And to his point, home prices in San Francisco only rose 29%, 30% in Minneapolis, and 33% in Washington, D.C.—slower than southern metros, but much more rapid compared to pre-pandemic norms. 

And he doesn’t see that changing anytime soon. “The rise in house prices in southern metros has been even larger, whereas prices in most major and midwestern metros have increased by less,” he wrote. 

Home price appreciation seems to be returning to a pre-pandemic pace, but Ryan thinks southern metros will “continue to outperform over the next few years,” and there’s a few reasons why that is. 

First, employment growth in the south isn’t weakening because of its thriving job markets, he explained—partly because of more favorable taxes and regulations for companies. (None other than Elon Musk, switched where SpaceX is incorporated to Texas; Ken Griffin’s Citadel moved its headquarters to Miami, but he’s claimed it wasn’t because of low taxes). 

But more so, people with a newfound ability to work from wherever are choosing to move to cities in the south because they are cheaper. Dallas and Atlanta saw their home prices appreciate above the national average too, and yet their average home values are considerably lower than say Los Angeles or San Francisco (both of which are considered to be within the top six major metropolitan areas). Dallas’ average home value is roughly $308,000; Atlanta’s is around $390,000. Meanwhile, Los Angeles’ average home value is almost $954,000, and San Francisco’s is about $1.2 million. That’s not accounting for higher mortgage rates, and therefore higher monthly payments. 

“Miami aside, mortgage payments on a new loan for the average priced-home are fairly low as a share of income in southern markets compared with the rest of the country,” Ryan wrote.

Strong employment growth and home prices that aren’t out of whack relative to local incomes will keep southern markets above the rest. Home prices in western and major metros were already unaffordable, and high mortgage rates aren’t helping—plus competition isn’t so stiff in the south because supply isn’t as tight, Ryan argues.

“A lot of homebuilding took place in southern metros following the pandemic, as developers reacted to changing migration trends,” he said. “That’s the reason why active home listings—which have been suppressed nationally due to mortgage rate ‘lock-in’—have recovered much faster.” 

As Fortune has previously reported, Texas’s top three housing markets (by starts) built 300% more homes than California’s, despite having a smaller population, for several reasons, including: migration, employment, land accessibility, and less-stringent regulation. Still, more supply and less competition typically means lower and slower home price growth, but that’s a near-term view, Ryan wrote. Over the next few years, demand will actually be the strongest in southern metros, eventually “outweighing rising supply,” and will push home prices up. Nevertheless it’s important to emphasize that home price appreciation, while really good for homeowners, technically, only makes it more difficult for renters to become homeowners in an already unaffordable housing market. 

But southern markets’ gain is the major six markets’—Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., New York, Boston, and Chicago—loss, according to Capital Economics, which expects those cities’ home price growth to “remain sluggish.” Home prices in midwestern markets, on the other hand, can expect a “mini-rival” or “a turnaround,” but not enough to keep up with southern metros. 

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