Dallas-Fort Worth is one of most overvalued home markets in the country, a top Wall Street analyst warns.
In it most dire warning yet about the rate of North Texas home price gains, Fitch Ratings says that home prices in the D-FW area are as much as 19 percent overstated.
"The Dallas housing market has shown the most significant overheating in the last two years and is now 15 percent to 19 percent overvalued," Fitch managing director Grant Bailey said in a new report. "Overvalued markets are more likely to experience a slowdown in price growth, or a price correction."
Fitch Ratings has been warning about overheating in the local real estate market since 2015.
During that time the analyst’s estimate of overvaluation has steadily increased.
"Fitch estimates that approximately 17 percent of the country’s home prices are more than 10 percent overvalued," the report said. "Fast home price growth in some regions – California, Florida and Texas – appears to be exceeding the supporting economic fundamentals."
Along with D-FW, Las Vegas and Portland, Ore are also rated as the most overvalued markets in Fitch’s comparison of 20 major markets.
Dallas-Fort Worth home prices have shot up by more than 40 percent in the last four years and are now at record levels.
Strong employment and population growth in the area and a shortage of homes for sale has fueled the price boom, local analysts say.
Dr. James Gaines, chief economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, said warnings by Fitch and other national analysts about the rate of D-FW home price growth are overstated.
As long as the economy continues to grow, he doesn’t believe North Texas’ home values are out of whack.
"We don’t’ think it’s a bubble," Gaines said. "These reports have been coming out for years.
"Generally I don’t pay much attention to them," he said. "You can’t ignore it because people are reading it.
While North Texas home prices have been rising faster than income increases, Gaines said things aren’t at a critical level yet.
"If the median price is six times median income you have a real problem," he said. "Currently it’s a little higher than normal but not in the danger zone."
Gaines said that eventually the rate of North Texas home price increases will slow as the economy down shifts or home supply catches up with demand.
Median prices of single-family homes sold by real estate agents in the D-FW area rose by about 10 percent in 2017 from the year before.
"Eventually the market will balance out and these near double digit rates of increase in median home prices will come to a halt and it will revert back to a 3 to 4 percent annual increase," he said. "Everybody will think the sky is falling but it is getting back to normal."
Along with D-FW, Las Vegas and Portland, Ore., other U.S. home markets where Fitch raised a red flag include Phoenix (10 percent to 14 percent overvalued) and Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, Sand Diego, San Francisco Seattle and Tampa – which Fitch said are 5 percent to 9 percent overvalued.
Analysts with the ratings firm said that recent increases and expected rises in home mortgage rates aren’t likely to put the brakes on home prices.
"Home price growth is likely to remain solid in most regions in the near term due to strong economic growth and tight supply," he report said. "Historically, home prices have been notably more correlated with unemployment and income growth than with mortgage rate movements."