Economists and analysts know that the country has experienced economic growth for almost a decade. They also know that a recession can’t be too far off. A recent report by Zillow Research shed light on a survey conducted by Pulsenomics in which they asked economists, investment strategists and market analysts how they felt about the current housing market. That report revealed the possible timing of the next recession:
“Experts largely expect the next recession to begin in 2020.”That timing concurs with a recent survey of economists by the Wall Street Journal:
“The economic expansion that began in mid-2009 and already ranks as the second-longest in American history most likely will end in 2020 as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to cool off an overheating economy, according to forecasters surveyed.”Here is a graph comparing the opinions of those surveyed by both the Wall Street Journal and Pulsenomics:
Recession DOES NOT Equal Housing CrisisAccording to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a recession is defined as follows:
“A period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters.”A recession means the economy has slowed down markedly. It does not mean we are experiencing another housing crisis. Obviously, the housing crash of 2008 caused the last recession. However, during the previous five recessions home values appreciated. According to the experts surveyed by Pulsenomics, the top three probable triggers for the next recession are:
- Monetary policy
- Trade policy
- A stock market correction
“If a recession is to occur, it is unlikely to be caused by housing-related activity, and therefore the housing sector should be one of the leading sources to come out of the recession.”And U.S. News and World Report agreed:
“Fortunately – and hopefully – the history of recessions and current issues that could harm the economy don’t lead many to believe the housing market crash will repeat itself in an upcoming decline.”
Bottom LineA recession is probably less than two years away. A housing crisis is not.
If you’ve entered the real estate market as a buyer or a seller, you’ve inevitably heard the mantra “location, location, location” in reference to identical homes increasing or decreasing in value based on where they’re located. In today’s housing market where home prices are appreciating quickly, it’s important to know that not every home appreciates at the same rate. The map below demonstrates that point on a state-by-state basis using data from the National Association of Realtors. Demand often dictates value, even for houses in the same area of the country! High demand for starter and trade-up homes have driven prices up in these categories by nearly 10% over the past year, while those in the premium markets have appreciated at closer to 6%.
Bottom LineIf you are debating whether or not to buy and/or sell a home this year, let’s get together to help you figure out exactly what’s going on in our market.
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"] Best Month To Sell[/caption] According to a newly released study by ATTOM Data Solutions, selling your home in the month of May will net you an average of 5.9% above estimated market value for your home. For the study, ATTOM performed an “analysis of 14.7 million home sales from 2011 to 2017” and found the average seller premium achieved for each month of the year. Below is a breakdown by month: ATTOM even went a step further and broke their results down by day.
Top 5 Days to Sell:
- June 28th – 9.1% above market
- February 15th – 9.0% above market
- May 31st – 8.3% above market
- May 29th – 8.2% above market
- June 21st – 8.1% above market
Bottom LineLet’s get together to discuss the market conditions in our area and get you the most exposure to the buyers who are ready and willing to buy!
There are many unsubstantiated theories as to why home values are continuing to increase. From those who are worried that lending standards are again becoming too lenient (data shows this is untrue), to those who are concerned that prices are again approaching boom peaks because of “irrational exuberance” (this is also untrue as prices are not at peak levels when they are adjusted for inflation), there seems to be no shortage of opinion. However, the increase in prices is easily explained by the theory of supply & demand. Whenever there is a limited supply of an item that is in high demand, prices increase. It is that simple. In real estate, it takes a six-month supply of existing salable inventory to maintain pricing stability. In most housing markets, anything less than six months will cause home values to appreciate and anything more than seven months will cause prices to depreciate (see chart below). [caption id="attachment_37411" align="alignnone" width="650"] Home Prices Are Increasing[/caption] According to the Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the monthly inventory of homes for sale has been below six months for the last five years (see chart below). [caption id="attachment_37412" align="alignnone" width="650"] Available Housing Inventory[/caption]
Bottom LineIf buyer demand continues to outpace the current supply of existing homes for sale, prices will continue to appreciate. Nothing nefarious is taking place. It is simply the theory of supply & demand working as it should.
[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"] House Prices: Simply a Matter of Supply & Demand[/caption] Why are home prices still rising? It is a simple answer. There are more purchasers in the market right now than there are available homes for them to buy. This is an example of the theory of “supply and demand” which is defined as:
“the amount of a commodity, product, or service available and the desire of buyers for it, considered as factors regulating its price.”When demand exceeds supply, prices go up. This is currently happening in the residential real estate market. Here are the numbers for supply and demand as compared to last year for the last three months (March numbers are not yet available): [caption id="attachment_37309" align="alignnone" width="650"] Simply a Matter of Supply & Demand[/caption] In each of the last three months, demand (buyer traffic) has increased as compared to last year while supply (number of available listings) has decreased. If this situation persists, home values will continue to increase.
Bottom LineThe reason home prices are still rising is because there are many purchasers looking to buy, but very few homeowners ready to sell. This imbalance is the reason prices will remain on the uptick. Especially in the first-time home buyer category!
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="648"] Home Prices[/caption] Some believe that the combined effects of the new tax code and rising mortgage rates will have an adverse impact on residential real estate prices in 2018. However, the clear majority of recently surveyed housing experts believe that home prices will continue to rise this year. What is the Home Price Expectation Survey? Each quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a nationwide panel of economists, real estate experts and investment & market strategists. Those surveyed include experts such as:
- Daniel Bachman, Senior Manager, U.S. Economics at Deloitte Services, LP
- Kathy Bostjancic, Head of U.S. Macro Investors Service at Oxford Economics
- David Downs, Real Estate Finance Professor at VCU
- Edward Pinto, Resident Fellow at American Enterprise Institute
- Albert Saiz, Director at MIT Center for Real Estate
- 21.6% believe prices will appreciate by 6% or more
- 71.6% believe prices will appreciate between 3 and 5.99%
- 5.7% believe prices will appreciate between 0 and 2.99%
- Only 1.1% believe prices will depreciate
Bottom LineAlmost ninety-nine percent of the top experts studying residential real estate believe that prices will appreciate this year, and over 93% believe home values will appreciate by at least 3%. It is important to remember that this is a national projection. Just how home prices will fare in New York State and Nassau and Suffolk counties remain to be seen!
Recently, Freddie Mac published an Insight Report titled Nowhere to go but up? How increasing mortgage rates could affect housing. The report focused on the impact the projected rise in mortgage rates might have on the housing market this year. Many believe that an increase in mortgage rates will cause a slowdown in purchases which would, in turn, lead to a fall in house values. Ultimately, however, prices are determined by supply and demand and while rising mortgage rates may slow demand, they also affect supply. From the report:
“For current homeowners, the decision to buy a new home is typically linked to their decision to sell their current home… Because of this link, the financing costs of the existing mortgage are part of the homeowner’s decision of whether and when to move. Once financing costs for a new mortgage rise above the rate borrowers are paying for their current mortgage, borrowers would have to give up below-market financing to sell their home. Instead, they may choose to delay both the sale of their existing home and the purchase of a new home to maintain the advantageous financing.”The Freddie Mac report, in acknowledging this situation, concluded that prices are not adversely impacted by higher mortgage rates. They explained:
“While there is a drop in the demand for homes, there is an associated drop in the supply of homes from the link between the selling and buying decisions. As both supply and demand move together in this way they have offsetting effects on price—lower demand decreases price and lower supply increases price.They went on to reveal that the Freddie Mac National House Price Index is…
“…unresponsive to movements in interest rates. 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.”The following graph, based on data from the report, reveals what happened to home prices the last six times mortgage rates rose by at least 1%. [caption id="attachment_37220" align="alignnone" width="650"] Home Prices[/caption]