Future home prices are at the top of everyone’s minds. Can they maintain their current pace of appreciation? Will rising mortgage rates negatively impact home values? Will the next economic slowdown cause prices to crash? Let’s try to answer these questions based on what has happened in the past and current real estate market.
The Impact of Rising Interest RatesWe explained earlier this year that rising mortgage rates have not negatively impacted home prices in the past and probably wouldn’t this time either. Freddie Mac’s comments were very direct:
“In the current housing market, the driving force behind the increase in prices is a low supply of both new and existing homes combined with historically low rates. As mortgage rates increase, the demand for home purchases will likely remain strong relative to the constrained supply and continue to put upward pressure on home prices.”They were correct. So far this year, home values have continued to appreciate above normal historic percentages and it appears the gradual increase in rates has had little impact on prices.
The Impact of an Economic SlowdownMany people fear that when the economy turns, we may see the same depreciation in home values as we did a decade ago. However, we recently reported that the same group of economists, real estate experts, and investment & market strategists who predicted the next recession will occur in the next 18-24 months have also projected that house prices will continue to appreciate for the next five years, albeit at smaller percentages.
It Comes Down to Supply and DemandAs always, home prices will be determined by the demand to purchase compared to the available inventory of homes for sale. For the last six years, demand has far exceeded the available supply. This has resulted in the average annual appreciation to top 6% since 2012. That is far greater than the historic norm of 3.6% annual appreciation that we saw prior to the housing boom. There are currently small signs that housing inventory is slowly beginning to increase. The months supply of houses for sale matched last year’s numbers for the last two months after 37 consecutive months of decreasing inventory. New construction data has also shown positive signs that inventory will be increasing. As inventory begins to meet demand, we will see appreciation return to more normal levels. We are already seeing projections coming in lower than the 6.2% annual average we have seen more recently. CoreLogic is predicting that home values will appreciate by 5.1% over the next twelve months and the Home Price Expectation Survey calls for values to increase by 4.2% in 2019.
Bottom LineMark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, explained it best:
“We’re seeing the first indications that price appreciation may be slowing, but the underlying fundamental housing market conditions support a natural moderation of house prices rather than a sharp decline.”
There are some people who have not purchased homes because they are uncomfortable taking on the obligation of a mortgage. Everyone should realize, however, that unless you are living with your parents rent-free, you are paying a mortgage – either yours or your landlord’s. As Entrepreneur Magazine, a premier source for small business, explained in their article, “12 Practical Steps to Getting Rich”:
“While renting on a temporary basis isn’t terrible, you should most certainly own the roof over your head if you’re serious about your finances. It won’t make you rich overnight, but by renting, you’re paying someone else’s mortgage. In effect, you’re making someone else rich.”With home prices rising, many renters are concerned about their house-buying power. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, explained:
“Over the last three years, renter house-buying power has increased fast enough to keep pace with house price appreciation, so the share of homes that a renter can afford to buy has remained the same since 2015. Although mortgage rates are expected to rise, they are still low by historic standards, and real household incomes are the highest they have ever been. Assuming this trend continues, our measure of affordability, which takes into account income, interest rates, and house prices, indicates that homeownership is still within reach for renters.”As an owner, your mortgage payment is a form of ‘forced savings’ which allows you to build equity in your home that you can tap into later in life. As a renter, you guarantee the landlord is the person building that equity. Interest rates are still at historic lows, making it one of the best times to secure a mortgage and make a move into your dream home. Freddie Mac’s latest report shows that rates across the country were at 4.51% last week.
Bottom LineWhether you are looking for a primary residence for the first time or are considering a vacation home on the shore, now may be the time to buy.
- Interest rates are projected to increase steadily heading into 2019.
- The higher your interest rate, the more money you end up paying for your home and the higher your monthly payment will be.
- Rates are still low right now – don’t wait until they hit 5% to start searching for your dream home!
Since the beginning of the year, mortgage interest rates have risen over a half of a percentage point (from 3.95% to 4.52%), according to Freddie Mac. Even a small rise in interest rates can greatly impact a buyer’s monthly mortgage payment. First American recently released the results of their quarterly Real Estate Sentiment Index (RESI), in which they surveyed title and real estate agents across the country about the impact of rising rates on first-time homebuyers. Real estate professionals around the country have not noticed a slowdown in demand for housing among young buyers; nearly 93% of all first-time homebuyers last quarter were between the ages of 21-35. The largest share of buyers (51%) coming from those aged 26-30. First American’s Chief Economist Mark Fleming had this to say,
“On a national level, mortgage rates would need to hit 5.6%, 1 percentage point above the current rate, before first-time homebuyers withdraw from the market.”
So, what is slowing down sales?According to the last Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors, sales are now down 3.0% year-over-year and have fallen for the last three months. If rising interest rates aren’t to blame, then what is? Fleming addressed the cause, saying that:
“The housing market is facing its greatest supply shortage in 60 years of record keeping, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. The ongoing housing supply shortage will make it difficult for first-time buyers to find a home to buy, even when they are financially ready.”Bottom Line First-time homebuyers know the importance of owning their own homes. A spike in interest rates is not going to keep them from buying this year! Their biggest challenge is finding a home to buy!
Cost Across Time
- With interest rates still around 4.5%, now is a great time to look back at where rates have been over the last 40 years to determine cost across time.
- Rates are projected to climb to 5.1% by this time next year according to Freddie Mac.
- The impact your interest rate makes on your monthly mortgage cost is significant!
- Lock in a low rate now while you can!
Should I wait to buy a home or should I buy now?We recently shared that national home prices have increased by 6.7% year-over-year. Over that same time period, interest rates have remained historically low which has allowed many buyers to enter the market. As a seller, you will likely be most concerned about ‘short-term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As a buyer, however, you must not be concerned about price, but instead about the ‘long-term cost’ of the home. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all project that mortgage interest rates will increase by this time next year. According to CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Index Report, home prices will appreciate by 5.2% over the next 12 months.
What Does This Mean as a Buyer?If home prices appreciate by 5.2% over the next twelve months as predicted by CoreLogic, here is a simple demonstration of the impact that an increase in interest rate would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:
Bottom LineIf buying a home is in your plan for this year, doing it sooner rather than later could save you thousands of dollars over the terms of your loan.
With home prices rising again this year, some are concerned that we may be repeating the 2006 housing bubble that caused families so much pain when it collapsed. Today’s market is quite different than the bubble market of twelve years ago. There are four key metrics that explain why:
- Home Prices
- Mortgage Standards
- Mortgage Debt
- Housing Affordability
1. HOME PRICESThere is no doubt that home prices have reached 2006 levels in many markets across the country. However, after more than a decade, home prices should be much higher based on inflation alone. Frank Nothaft is the Chief Economist for CoreLogic (which compiles some of the best data on past, current, and future home prices). Nothaft recently explained:
“Even though CoreLogic’s national home price index got to the same level it was at the prior peak in April of 2006, once you account for inflation over the ensuing 11.5 years, values are still about 18% below where they were.” (emphasis added)
2. MORTGAGE STANDARDSSome are concerned that banks are once again easing lending standards to a level similar to the one that helped create the last housing bubble. However, there is proof that today’s standards are nowhere near as lenient as they were leading up to the crash. The Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center issues a Housing Credit Availability Index (HCAI). According to the Urban Institute:
“The HCAI measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default—that is, go unpaid for more than 90 days past their due date. A lower HCAI indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards, making it harder to get a loan. A higher HCAI indicates that lenders are willing to tolerate defaults and are taking more risks, making it easier to get a loan.”The graph below reveals that standards today are much tighter on a borrower’s credit situation and have all but eliminated the riskiest loan products. [caption id="attachment_37442" align="alignnone" width="650"] Housing Credit Availability Index[/caption]
3. MORTGAGE DEBTBack in 2006, many homeowners mistakenly used their homes as ATMs by withdrawing their equity and spending it with no concern for the ramifications. They overloaded themselves with mortgage debt that they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) repay when prices crashed. That is not occurring today. The best indicator of mortgage debt is the Federal Reserve Board’s household Debt Service Ratio for mortgages, which calculates mortgage debt as a percentage of disposable personal income. At the height of the bubble market a decade ago, the ratio stood at 7.21%. That meant over 7% of disposable personal income was being spent on mortgage payments. Today, the ratio stands at 4.48% – the lowest level in 38 years!
4. HOUSING AFFORDABILITYWith both house prices and mortgage rates on the rise, there is concern that many buyers may no longer be able to afford a home. However, when we look at the Housing Affordability Index released by the National Association of Realtors, homes are more affordable now than at any other time since 1985 (except for when prices crashed after the bubble popped in 2008). [caption id="attachment_37443" align="alignnone" width="650"] Housing Affordability Index[/caption]
Bottom LineAfter using four key housing metrics to compare today to 2006, we can see that the current market is not anything like the bubble market.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="648"] Home Prices[/caption] This month, Arch Mortgage Insurance released their spring Housing and Mortgage Market Review. The report explained that an increase in mortgage rates and/or home prices would impact monthly payments this way:
- A 5% increase in home prices increases payments by roughly 5%
- A 1% rise in interest rates increases payments by roughly 13% or 14%
What if both rates and prices increase as predicted?The report revealed:
“If interest rates and home prices rise by year-end in the ballpark of what most analysts are forecasting, monthly mortgage payments on a new home purchase could increase another 10–15%. That would make 2018 one of the worst full-year deteriorations in affordability for the past 25 years.”The percent increase in mortgage payments would negatively impact affordability. But, how would affordability then compare to historic norms? Per the report:
“For the U.S. overall, even if affordability were to deteriorate as forecasted, affordability would still be reasonable by historic norms. That is because the percentage of pre-tax income needed to buy a typical home in 2019 would still be similar to the historical average during 1987–2004. Thus, nationally at least, even with higher rates and home prices, affordability will just revert to historical norms.”
What about home prices?A decrease in affordability will cause some concern about home prices. Won’t an increase in mortgage payments negatively impact the housing market? The report addressed this question:
“Even recent interest rate increases and higher taxes on some upper-income earners didn’t slow the market, as many had feared…Short of a war or stock market crash, housing markets could continue to surprise on the upside over the next few years.”To this point, Arch Mortgage Insurance also revealed their Risk Index which estimates the probability of home prices being lower in two years. The index is based on factors such as regional unemployment rates, affordability, net migration, housing starts and the percentage of delinquent mortgages. Below is a map depicting their projections (the darker the blue, the lower the probability of a price decrease): [caption id="attachment_37405" align="alignnone" width="650"] Home Prices[/caption]
Bottom LineIf interest rates and prices continue to rise as projected, the monthly mortgage payment on a home purchased a year from now will be dramatically more expensive than it would be today.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="648"] Home Buying Myths[/caption]
- The average down payment for first-time homebuyers is only 6%!
- Despite mortgage interest rates being over 4%, rates are still below historic numbers.
- 88% of property managers raised their rents in the last 12 months!
- The credit score requirements for mortgage approval continue to fall.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="648"] Mortgage Debt[/caption] Some homeowners have recently done a “cash out” refinance and have taken a portion of their increased equity from their house. Others have sold their homes and purchased more expensive homes with larger mortgages. At the same time, first-time buyers have become homeowners and now have mortgage payments for the first time. These developments have caused concern that families might be reaching unsustainable levels of mortgage debt. Some are worried that we may be repeating a behavior that helped precipitate the housing crash ten years ago. Today, we want to assure everyone that this is not the case. Here is a graph created from data released by the Federal Reserve Board which shows the Household Debt Service Ratio for mortgages as a percentage of disposable personal income. The ratio is the total quarterly required mortgage payments divided by total quarterly disposable personal income. In other words, the percentage of spendable income people are using to pay their mortgage. Today’s ratio of 4.44% is nowhere near the ratio of 7.21% during the peak of the housing bubble and is instead at the lowest rate since 1980 (4.38%). Bill McBride of Calculated Risk recently commented on the ratio:
“The Debt Service Ratio for mortgages is near the low for the last 38 years. This ratio increased rapidly during the housing bubble and continued to increase until 2007. With falling interest rates, and less mortgage debt, the mortgage ratio has declined significantly.”