There are many unsubstantiated theories about what is happening with home prices. From those who are worried that prices are falling (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 greater than seven months will cause prices to depreciate (see chart below). 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).
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.
In a recent article, National Housing Inventory Crisis Reaches Inflection Point, realtor.com reported that:
- New listings jumped 8% year-over-year nationally, the largest increase since 2013
- Total listings in the 45 largest markets are now up 6% on average over last year
“With the rate of home price appreciation starting to decelerate alongside the uptick in inventory, we expect significant debate whether this is a bullish or bearish sign.”
Is this a sign the market might crash?There are those who look at the increase in inventory as a sign that we are returning to the market we saw last decade. However, a closer look shows that we are nowhere near the levels of inventory we reached before the crash in 2008. A normal market would have about 6-months inventory, but the latest Existing Home Sales Report issued by the National Association of Realtors revealed that:
“Unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace up from 4.1 months a year ago.”A decade ago, prices began to rapidly depreciate in June 2007. At that time, we had a 9.1-month supply (more than double what it is today) and inventory kept rising until it hit a peak of 11.1 months in April of 2008. With the current levels of buyer demand, any such increase in months supply is highly unlikely. As Danielle Hale, realtor.com’s Chief Economist explains:
“After years of record-breaking inventory declines, September’s almost flat inventory signals a big change in the real estate market. Would-be buyers who had been waiting for a bigger selection of homes for sale may finally see more listings materialize. But don’t expect the level to jump dramatically. Plenty of buyers in the market are scooping up homes as soon as they’re listed, which will keep national increases relatively small for the time being.”
What will be the result of the increase in inventory?The increase in inventory will allow many families who had been unable to find a home to finally become homeowners. Again, we quote from the ‘Z Report’:
“In our view, the short-term narrative will probably be confusing, but more sustainable growth and affordability will likely be the end result.”
Bottom LineIf you are either a first-time or second-time buyer who has given up, let’s get together. We can discuss the inventory available in any town or towns in our market. You may be surprised to find just how many homes are in your price range.
- Buying a home can be intimidating if you are not familiar with the terms used during the process.
- To start you on your path with confidence, we have compiled a list of some of the most common terms used when buying a home.
- The best way to ensure that your home-buying process is a confident one is to find a real estate professional who not only puts your family’s needs first, but will guide you through every aspect of the transaction with ‘the heart of a teacher.’
New Home SalesAccording to the latest New Residential Sales Report from the Census Bureau, new construction sales in August were up 3.5% from July and 12.7% from last year! This marks the second consecutive month with double-digit year-over-year growth (12.8% in July). The report also showed that builders have ramped up construction with an increase in new construction starts and completions. The summer months are often a busy time for builders as they capitalize on the warmer weather to be able to finish projects. Below is a table showing the change in starts, completions, and sales from last August. Other notable news from the report is that the percentage of new construction sales in the $200-$299k range has continued to break away from the $300-$399k range. This shows that builders are starting to build lower-priced homes that will help alleviate some of the inventory challenges in the starter and trade-up home categories. The chart below shows the full breakdown.
What does this mean for buyers and sellers?If you are thinking of buying or selling in today’s market, you no doubt have heard that there is a shortage of existing homes for sale which has been driving home prices up across the country. The additional new construction coming to the market could help alleviate this shortage, but we are still not back up to pre-crisis levels.
Home PricesAccording to CoreLogic’s latest Home Price Insights Report, national home prices in August were up 5.5% from August 2017. This marks the first time since June 2016 that home prices did not appreciate by at least 6.0% year-over-year. CoreLogic’s Chief Economist Frank Nothaft gave some insight into this change,
“The rise in mortgage rates this summer to their highest level in seven years has made it more difficult for potential buyers to afford a home. The slackening in demand is reflected in the slowing of national appreciation, as illustrated in the CoreLogic Home Price Index. National appreciation in August was the slowest in nearly two years, and we expect appreciation to slow further in the coming year.”One of the major factors that have driven prices to accelerate at a pace of between 6-7% over the past two years was the lack of inventory available for sale in many areas of the country. This made houses a prized commodity which forced many buyers into bidding wars and drove prices even higher. According to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Existing Home Sales Report, we are starting to see more inventory come to market over the last few months. This, paired with patient buyers who are willing to wait to find the right homes, is creating a natural environment for price growth to slow. Historically, prices appreciated at a rate of 3.7% (from 1987-1999). CoreLogic predicts that prices will continue to rise over the next year at a rate of 4.7%.
Bottom LineAs the housing market moves closer to a ‘normal market’ with more inventory for buyers to choose from, home prices will start to appreciate at a more ‘normal’ level, and that’s ok! If you are curious about home prices in your area, let’s get together to chat about what’s going on!
Owning a home has great financial benefits, yet many continue to rent! Today, let’s look at the financial reasons why owning a home of your own has been a part of the American Dream for the entirety of America’s existence. Realtor.com reported that:
“Buying remains the more attractive option in the long term – that remains the American dream, and it’s true in many markets where renting has become really the shortsighted option…as people get more savings in their pockets, buying becomes the better option.”
What proof exists that owning is financially better than renting?1. In a previous blog, we highlighted the top 5 financial benefits of homeownership:
- Homeownership is a form of forced savings.
- Homeownership provides tax savings.
- Homeownership allows you to lock in your monthly housing cost.
- Buying a home is cheaper than renting.
- No other investment lets you live inside of it.
Bottom LineOwning your home has many social and financial benefits that cannot be achieved by renting.
Home sales are below last year’s levels, home values are appreciating at a slower pace, and there are reports showing purchasing demand softening. This has some thinking we may be entering a buyers' market after sellers have had the upper hand for the past several years. Is this really happening? Are we really headed for a buyers' market? The market has definitely softened. However, according to two chief economists in the industry, we are a long way from a market that totally favors the purchaser:
“These seller challenges don’t indicate we’re suddenly in a buyers’ market – we don’t expect market conditions to shift decidedly in favor of buyers until 2020 or later. But buyers certainly are starting to balk at the rapid rise in prices and home values are starting to grow at a less frenetic pace.”
“The signs are pointing to a market that’s shifting toward buyers. But, in most places, we’re still a long way from a full reversal.”In addition, Pulsenomics Inc. recently surveyed over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment & market strategists and asked this question:
“When do you expect U.S. housing market conditions to shift decidedly in favor of homebuyers?”Only 5% said the market has already shifted. Here are the rest of the survey results:
Bottom LineThe market is beginning to normalize but that doesn’t mean we will quickly shift to a market favoring the buyer. We believe Ivy Zelman, author of the well-respected ‘Z’ Report, best explained the current confusion:
“With the rate of home price appreciation starting to decelerate alongside the uptick in inventory…we expect significant debate about whether this is a bullish or bearish sign. In our view, the short-term narrative will probably be confusing, but more sustainable growth and affordability will likely be the end result.”
When it comes to buying or selling a home there are many factors you should consider. Where you want to live, why you want to buy or sell, and who will help you along your journey are just some of those factors. When it comes to today’s real estate market, though, the top two factors to consider are what’s happening with interest rates & inventory.
Interest RatesMortgage interest rates have been on the rise and are now over three-quarters of a percentage point higher than they were at the beginning of the year. According to Freddie Mac’s latest Primary Mortgage Market Survey, rates climbed to 4.72% for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage last week. The interest rate you secure when buying a home not only greatly impacts your monthly housing costs, but also impacts your purchasing power. Purchasing power, simply put, is the amount of home you can afford to buy for the budget you have available to spend. As rates increase, the price of the house you can afford to buy will decrease if you plan to stay within a certain monthly housing budget. The chart below shows the impact that rising interest rates would have if you planned to purchase a $400,000 home while keeping your principal and interest payments between $2,020-$2,050 a month. With each quarter of a percent increase in interest rate, the value of the home you can afford decreases by 2.5% (in this example, $10,000). Experts predict that mortgage rates will be over 5% by this time next year.
InventoryA ‘normal’ real estate market requires there to be a 6-month supply of homes for sale in order for prices to increase only with inflation. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), listing inventory is currently at a 4.3-month supply (still well below the 6-months needed), which has put upward pressure on home prices. Home prices have increased year-over-year for the last 78 straight months. The inventory of homes for sale in the real estate market had been on a steady decline and experienced year-over-year drops for 36 straight months (from July 2015 to May 2018), but we are starting to see a shift in inventory over the last three months. The chart below shows the change in housing supply over the last 12 months compared to the previous 12 months. As you can see, in June, July, and August, inventory levels have started to increase as compared to the same time last year. This is a trend to watch as we move further into the fall and winter months. If we continue to see an increase in homes for sale, we could start moving further away from a seller’s market and closer to a normal market.
Bottom LineIf you are planning to enter the housing market, either as a buyer or a seller, let’s get together to discuss the changes in mortgage interest rates and inventory and what they could mean for you.
Mortgage interest rates, as reported by Freddie Mac, have increased by close to a quarter of a percent over the last several weeks. Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the National Association of Realtors are all calling for mortgage rates to rise another quarter of a percent by next year. In addition to the predictions from the four major reporting agencies mentioned above, the Federal Open Market Committee recently voted “unanimously to approve a 1/4 percentage point increase in the primary credit rate to 2.75 percent.” Historically, an increase in the primary credit rate has translated to an overall jump in mortgage interest rates as well. This has caused some purchasers to lament the fact that they may no longer be able to get a rate below 4%. However, we must realize that current rates are still at historic lows. Here is a chart showing the average mortgage interest rate over the last several decades:
Bottom LineThough you may have missed the lowest mortgage rate ever offered, you can still get a better interest rate than your older brother or sister did ten years ago, a lower rate than your parents did twenty years ago, and a better rate than your grandparents did forty years ago.
I Would Buy Now!
- The cost of waiting to buy is defined as the additional funds it would take to buy a home if prices & interest rates were to increase over a period of time.
- Freddie Mac predicts interest rates to rise to 5.2% by the third quarter of 2019.
- CoreLogic predicts home prices to appreciate by 5.1% over the next 12 months.
- If you are ready and willing to buy your dream home, find out if you are able to!