Economic uncertainty and rising mortgage rates signaled caution among U.S. home buyers in the latter half of 2018. However, builders were busier than the year before, according to our latest Local Leaders data. The firms in the 50 largest new-home markets across the country reported roughly 6% more closings overall in 2018 compared with the year prior.
“It’s easy to forget how feverish the housing market was in the first half of 2018 because of the slowdown that started in July,” says Ali Wolf, director of economic research for BUILDER’s sister company, Meyers Research. “Even with the slowdown, 2018’s spring selling season was the best since 2007.”
The upper echelons of the Local Leaders list remain largely unchanged from last year. There was only one shift in the top 10: Denver rose four spots to No. 10 while New York, which ranked 10th in 2017 and is among the high-cost markets that have been negatively impacted by the tax reform bill, moved to No. 18.
Meanwhile, Las Vegas (No. 13) and Raleigh, N.C. (No. 15)—two markets with strong job growth and positive net migration—each closed 12% more homes in 2018 compared with 2017, helping both markets move up the ranks.
It remains to be seen what the rest of 2019 will hold for housing, but of the list’s top 10 markets, Wolf notes that Houston and Austin, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and Phoenix have outsized growth in sales so far this year. “In many markets across the country,” she says about the current landscape, “we’ve seen buyers re-enter the housing market, eager to take advantage of lower rates, and, in some cases, incentives.”