Congressional Republicans reached a deal late Friday on a reconciled version of the House and Senate tax bills, and while experts are still sifting through the fine print to determine its potential impact, one thing seems clear: Home prices will take a hit.
This could be good news or bad news depending on whether you already own a house or are a prospective buyer, but a Moody’s Analytics report released Monday estimates that by the summer of 2019 home prices will be down nationally by 4 percent compared to where they’d be if no tax bill was passed.
To be clear: This doesn’t mean home prices will fall by 4 percent from where they are right now, but Moody’s estimates they’ll be 4 percent less in the future than they would be if current conditions held.
The drops are projected to hit hardest in markets where home prices are already high. East Coast cities like New York, Philadelphia, and Washington D.C. show heavy drops, as do West Coast cities, including San Francisco and Los Angeles. South Florida and a few cities in the Midwest also stand to see substantial drops.
The home-price drops are mostly the result of three key provision changes in the tax bill, which could be signed by President Trump as early as this week: the lowered cap on mortgage-interest deductions (MID), from $1 million to $750,000; the cap on state and local tax (SALT) deductions of $10,000; and the doubling of the standard deduction.
Currently, homeowners can deduct interest they pay on their homes and second homes on loans up to $1 million in value. While lowering the cap to $750,000 is a fairly modest measure—the House bill lowered it to $500,000, and the deduction’s many critics would like it repealed outright—it means wealthy homeowners in hot real estate markets are exposed to higher tax bills.
The same goes for SALT deductions. Currently, taxpayers can deduct what they pay in state and local property and income taxes from their federal returns. Under the new law, taxpayers can only claim a maximum of $10,000, although it can be any combination of income or property taxes. This hits high tax states like New York and New Jersey particularly hard.
Because the MID and SALT deductions are baked into the price of homes, eliminating or capping the deductions will inherently lower the value of homes that are particularly exposed to the MID cap or are in high tax areas.
The new standard deduction complicates things further. When taxpayers file federal returns, they have a choice between itemizing their deductions or taking the standard deduction. The new law will double the standard deduction from $6,350 to $12,000 for individuals and from $12,700 to $24,000 couples.
It doesn’t make sense for taxpayers to itemize unless their deductions are greater than the standard deduction, and with the standard deduction doubling, fewer taxpayers will itemize. This will lead to fewer people taking the MID and SALT deductions, further weakening their value and thus home prices.
A recent Zillow report showed that under current law, roughly 44 percent of homes were worth enough to justify itemizing and taking the MID. Under the new law, only 14.4 percent are worth it.
So if you’re looking to buy in an expensive market, the bill might help you achieve the American Dream. If you already own, the value of your house might drop and you’re likely stuck with a higher tax bill.