MBS Highway Housing Index, April 2024

The MBS Highway National Housing Index rose 3 points in April 2024, resuming its upward trajectory after a brief pause in March. While buyer activity improved month-over-month in most regions, it remains lower compared to the same time last year. Home prices, meanwhile, continue to move higher, boosted by seasonal demand and buttressed by low inventory.
National Data
The MBS Highway National Housing Index increased to 59 in April 2024, up from 56 in March 2024. This marked the fifth straight month of improvement. In April 2023, the index stood at 53.

After a slowdown in March 2024, we saw a reacceleration in both the Buyer Activity (+3) and Price Direction (+4) sub-indexes in April 2024. Much of this improvement is likely due to seasonal factors, however, as average 30-year mortgage rates remained above 7% during our early April survey period.

The Price Direction sub-index rose 4 points to 66 in April 2024. In April 2023, this sub-index was at 50. The Buyer Activity sub-index, meanwhile, climbed 3 points to 53 in April 2024 - well above the 50 breakeven point between index expansion/contraction. In April 2023, this sub-index was at 57.
Regional Data

The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic remain the hottest regions in terms of pricing pressure, with many survey respondents noting a lack of inventory and multiple offers for reasonably priced homes.

The West region continued its dramatic resurgence: it is now the 2nd-ranked region for both Buyer Activity (55 → 61) and the 3rd-ranked region for Price Direction (70 → 71). To put that in perspective, the West region’s Price Direction sub-index was at 47 in April 2023.

While both the Southeast and Southwest regions saw month-over-month improvements, their Buyer Activity sub-indexes remain below 50, and their Price Direction sub-indexes (at 53 and 58, respectively) are the lowest amongst all the regions.

Compared to the same month last year, the Price Direction sub-index is significantly higher in all regions, while the Buyer Activity sub-index is lower in 4 out of 7 regions.
“In the face of stubbornly high mortgage rates, housing demand (and price momentum) remains robust. Our April 2024 survey saw across-the-board improvements in both buyer activity and price direction. We expect this to continue as the spring/summer selling season kicks off. While the path towards the Fed’s 2% inflation target (and a rate cut cycle) has been bumpy, we’re progressing in that direction (albeit slowly),” said Barry Habib, MBS Highway’s Founder and CEO.
MBS Highway’s monthly Housing Index provides an accurate and real-time read on buyer activity and home price direction both nationally and regionally in the U.S. housing market. This survey of 30,000 mortgage and real estate professionals fills a crucial industry need for insights that reflect buyers’ immediate experiences, helping mortgage loan originators to better serve homebuyers.

The MBS Highway Housing Survey is comprised of two separate component indices: buyer activity and home price direction. Each month, respondents rank buyer activity as “active,” “steady,” or “slower,” and home price direction as “price increases,” “steady,” or “price reductions.” A national and regional index is calculated for each component index by applying the formula “[active + (steady/2)]” for buyer activity, and “[price increases + (steady/2)]” for home price direction. The score for each component index is then used to calculate the MBS Highway Housing Index by applying the formula "[(national buyer activity/2) + (national home price direction/2)].

Any number over 50 indicates expansion while a number below 50 indicates contraction. The MBS Highway Housing Index can range between 0 and 100.

Dan Habib, MBS Highway’s Chief Revenue Officer, explained, “There are a few reliable housing reports available in the market, most of which are delayed by two months. Because MBS Highway has a large base of mortgage and real estate clients, we felt we were in a unique position to capture real-time housing data from our subscribers, who are on the front lines of the housing market.”