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Let’s kick off this month discussing some of the biggest topics in real estate today.

is the market going to crash? what about home prices? affordability?

Are we in a housing bubble?

This shows home values going all the way back to World War II. And if you think about that, the reason we go back to World War II is that was the start of the modern day housing boom here in this country. If you think about GIs coming back from the war and the GI Bill provided for education, provided for them to go out and buy a home. And ever since then, up until today, there’s been one time in this country where homes lost significant value and that was back in 2008. So back in 2008 we saw homes lose value really for two reasons. First reason, loose lending standards. You think back then, no income, no job, no verification and we know how that ended up. The second reason was cash out refinances. People took the equity they had, cashed it out, bought jet skis and went on vacation, the financed lifestyle. Did things thinking this will never end and it ended poorly. So let’s recap there. Apply for a loan that you don’t have to qualify for and then you take your equity and you cash it out and that’s what ended up in 2008 when homes lost value.   http://www.econ.yale.edu/~shiller/data.htm

Let’s take a look at home values going all the way back to World War II – the start of the modern day housing boom in the United States. Notice that 2008 was the only time homes lost significant value, and this is really for two reasons. First, loose lending standards – lack of income verification, lack of job verification, etc. Second, cash out refinances – people took the equity they had, cashed it out, and bought depreciating assets. In these times people were able to apply for a loan they didn’t qualify for, and then borrow against the equity.

First, the forbearance numbers continue to edge downward. As of the most recent numbers in April, 690,000 loans still in forbearance, well below where we started out of May of 2020.  https://www.blackknightinc.com/blog-posts/forbearance-plans-edge-higher/?

All that said, this market is different. First, the forbearance numbers continue to edge downward. As of last month, there are 690,000 loans still in forbearance – well below where we started out in May of 2020. According to Black Knight, 92% of the people that entered forbearance have come out of it.

One of the latest statistics that’s come out is 92% of the people that entered forbearance have come out of it, according to Black Knight. And those that have come out, as of March 31st, here’s the clearest picture. Thirty-seven percent in the green area were paid in full. Those are the ones that took forbearance maybe as an insurance policy and said I don’t know what’s going to happen and they didn’t need it. Forty-four point six, the blue shaded area, went through some kind of work out with their bank, either a modification, a rate and term refinance or a deferral. They tacked it on the back. Four out of five people either went through a modification or paid it off in full and there were no issues. That’s a very, very positive sign. Now, there are 18% that are still in some sort of trouble. We don’t know. They have no loss mitigation plans or they’re already into the loss mitigation plan.  https://www.mba.org/news-research-and-resources/newsroom

Thirty-seven percent were paid in full – those that likely took forbearance as an insurance policy and didn’t need it. Forty-four percent went through some kind of modification, refinance, or deferral – tacking it on the back end. So, 4 out of 5 people exited forbearance – a very positive sign. However, there are 18% that are still in jeopardy – they have no loss mitigation plan or are already into the loss mitigation plan. But let’s not forget that people have options today – you can sell your home with the appreciation we’ve seen over the last couple of years.

We have learned from history that prices can fall. The more important question is if it’s going to happen right now. And that’s hard to say.   Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, realtor.com
Lending standards are nothing like they were in the early 2000s. We talked about the things that people had done that caused the crisis. Well, there’s two components that this report by the urban institute outlined. First, is produce risk in the mortgage business and second is borrower risk. product risk. Think about that as the types of loans that are available to people. And that’s been virtually eliminated. If you start back in1999, we’re talking about all the way to 2021. product risk is not there. The loans that were available back then are not available today. borrower risk. Think about that as asset profile, credit score, all the thing that it takes to qualify for a loan and those have been severely curtailed. It’s gotten harder to qualify for a loan after the housing crisis. That’s when the qualified mortgage came out and demonstrate the ability to repay, all the things that we know about the mortgage business about how hard it’s gotten to qualify. This graphic tells the story of the differences today between back then.   https://www.urban.org/policy-centers/housing-finance-policy-center/projects/housing-credit-availability-index

Second, the lending default risk is lower. The Urban Institute looked at Default Risk in the Mortgage Market and that helps us see how lending standards are nothing like they were in the early 2000s. There is product risk and borrower risk. The loans that were available back then are not available today. When looking at the borrower risk, think about asset profiles, credit scores – all of those things needed to qualify for a loan – have been curtailed. It’s gotten harder to qualify for a loan. Now we have to demonstrate the ability to repay.

the foreclosure market is an all-time low. Now, the last couple of years certainly there’s been a moratorium in place and the federal government has stepped in and said, look, we’re not going to process these foreclosures during the pandemic. [00:07:03) And those are coming back and we’ve talked about that on the monthly market report. But back during the housing crisis, over nine million people went through foreclosure.   https://www.attomdata.com/news/market-trends/foreclosures/attom-q1-2022-u-s-foreclosure-market-report/ https://www.attomdata.com/news/market-trends/foreclosures/attom-year-end-2021-u-s-foreclosure-market-report/

Third, the foreclosure market is an all-time low – from a high of about 3 million homes in foreclosure to 78,000 last quarter.

Tighter lending standards have led to less foreclosures in the market. Now, that makes a lot of sense, right? If you have a highly qualified or a better qualified borrower, you’re going to see less defaults and we’re seeing exactly that. That certainly is not going to play into a crash. If you needed a further example of that, this is a look at the loans that have been given to people with a credit score less than 620. So, again, go back to the housing crisis. So many loans – this is in volume in billons of loans with a credit score less than 620. And where do we stand as the third quarter of 2021, the most recent information from the Federal Reserve, a fraction of where we were back then. So we can clearly say lending standards are different. That story is different. One of the major contributors back in 2008 is not around.   https://www.newyorkfed.org/medialibrary/interactives/householdcredit/data/xls/HHD_C_Report_2021Q3.xlsx

Fourth, lending standards are tighter which can be attributed to less foreclosures in the market. Qualified buyers mean less defaults. During the crisis we saw about 4 times the amount of loans approved for individuals with a credit score less than 620.

The other question though a lot of people bring up is well, as homes get expensive, as homes have risen, people aren’t going to be able to support that debt and that’s a challenge. Well, mortgage debt is not a challenge. Again, this is from the Federal Reserve. This is the household debt service ratio for mortgages and that’s as a percentage of disposal personal income.  https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/MDSP

Fifth, mortgage debt is not a challenge. According to the Federal Reserve, the household debt ratio is the lowest it has been since the 1970s. Why? Because of rising wages. Today, we are much better positioned than we were back in the financial crisis.

Finally, cash out refinances are extremely low. The difference in annual mortgage payments for cash out refinances was over $3,000 and $4,000 back during the housing crisis, while we hover around the $34 mark right now. There is very little change in the mortgage payment as somebody goes through a cash out refinance.

We learned a lot of lessons during the housing crash, and can see how the market dynamics are very different today. So, what is to come in the remainder of 2022? The Fed started off the month by raising the Fed funds rate. How will this affect home prices?

MBA: https://www.mba.org/docs/default-source/research-and-forecasts/forecasts/mortgage-finance-forecast-apr-2022.pdf NAR: https://cdn.nar.realtor/sites/default/files/documents/forecast-q2-2022-us-economic-outlook-04-27-2022.pdf Fannie Mae: https://www.fanniemae.com/media/43346/display Freddie Mac: https://www.freddiemac.com/research/forecast/20220418-quarterly-forecast-purchase-market-will-remain-solid-even-mortgage-rates-rise HPES: https://pulsenomics.com/surveys/#home-price-expectations CoreLogic: https://www.corelogic.com/intelligence/u-s-home-price-insights/            Zelman: https://www.zelmanassociates.com/

Looking at the most recent updated home price forecast from the top seven forecasters, we see 9% appreciation for 2022.

The most recent updated home price forecast from the seven forecasters that we watch, these are for 2022 prices, average of these forecasters is 9% appreciation. Many people are saying are homes going to lose value later in the year? Certainly not what experts are saying for this year. If you see these experts, they start to fall between 8 and 10%. We started off the year at about 5% appreciation and we’ve risen slowly each month since then. We said these forecasters had a bias to the upside, meaning they were raising their forecast and we’re certainly seeing that today.   https://pulsenomics.com/surveys/#home-price-expectations

Beyond 2022, we will see a much more normal rate of appreciation like the pre-pandemic rate of 3.8%.

What the home price expectation survey does as well is they look at cumulative house of price appreciation by 2026. If we look at these, they sort of rank them by the optimist, the pessimist, and then the average of all panelists in the middle. Optimists say 46.5% appreciation. Pessimists, 10% appreciation. All the panelists, 26% appreciation by 2026. So, depending on where you sit, I think even if you’re a pessimist in this market, they’re calling for appreciation here between now and 2026.   https://pulsenomics.com/surveys/#home-price-expectations

The home price expectation survey forecasts 26% cumulative home price appreciation by 2026.

... the 30-year fixed mortgage will likely peak at between 5.0% and 5.7%. There is some variability in the relationship, so we might see rates as high as the low 6% range.  Bill McBride, Author, Calculated Risk

As buyers search for homes, we’ve seen interest rates in the first four months of this year rise dramatically. We started the year about 3.1%, and now we’re just over 5.25% on the average 30 year fixed.

New data from the Harris Poll show 84% of Americans plan to cut back spending as a result of price spikes… More than 70% of respondents said they’re feeling the effects of inflation the most in gas prices and groceries.   Bloomberg

Prices are rising all around us, and that is affecting affordability.

Looking at the change in mortgage payment going back to January of 2021. This is based on a loan amount of $300,000 principle and interest only. But if you look at January of 2021, mortgage rates were at historic lows. A typical mortgage payment was about $1,200, a little north of that. Fast-forward to where we are today in this rising mortgage rate environment, and things are different. If we think about where mortgage rates are projected to go and let’s say mortgage rates later this year are around 5.5% as we look at what the experts are saying and what’s projected to happen, that mortgage payment jumps up to over $1,700. if you’re talking about $1,200 to $1,700, that’s roughly a $500 difference.   https://www.freddiemac.com/pmms https://www.mortgagecalculator.net/

Consider a loan amount of $300,000 (principle and interest only). In January 2021, your monthly payment would have been about $1,200. Fast forward to today’s rates, and you are looking at about $1,650 a month for the same home. Projections have this payment increasing by about $500 within the next few months.

The Housing Affordability Index. It goes all the way back to 1990. And if you follow along with us, you’ve definitely seen this before, but really had to break this down and look at it. Is that the higher the bar, the more affordable homes are. If you look at where we are over on the right today at 135.4, that’s the index that NAR is measuring here. Homes are not as affordable as they were over the past 10 or 12 years, and certainly not as affordable as they were in those orange bars, which was the housing crisis. That’s when distressed properties dominated the market. Homes are being sold at a massive discount. We’re certainly not there but as we’ve seen prices rise, mortgage rates rise, homes are not as affordable as they were even over the past couple of years. It’s important to remember that affordability is really a measure of three key things. We mentioned prices and mortgage rates, but it’s also wages. Right now, all three of those things are ticking up but historically, over the past couple of years, mortgage rates have kind of offset some of the rising prices. Well, we’re not sitting in that seat anymore so people are feeling affordability challenges.   https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/ https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/housing-affordability-declines-in-february

The Housing Affordability Index shows that homes are more affordable than any time leading up to the housing crisis. So, when people say homes aren’t affordable anymore, we have to ask, “As compared to when?”

You can’t read an article about residential real estate without the author mentioning the affordability challenges that today’s buyers face. There’s no doubt homes are less affordable today than they were over the last two years, but that doesn’t mean homes are now unaffordable.

There are three measures used to establish home affordability: home prices, mortgage rates, and wages. Let’s look closely at each of these components.

1. Home Prices

The most recent Home Price Insights report by CoreLogic shows home values have increased by 19.1% from last January to this January. That was one reason affordability declined over the past year.

2. Mortgage Rates

While the current global uncertainty makes it difficult to project mortgage rates, we do know current rates are almost one full percentage point higher than they were last year. According to Freddie Mac, the average monthly rate for last February was 2.81%. This February it was 3.76%. That increase in the mortgage rate also contributes to homes being less affordable than they were last year.

3. Wages

The one big, positive component in the affordability equation is an increase in American wages. In a recent article by RealtyTrac, Peter Miller addresses that point:

“Prices are up, but what about wages? ADP reports that job holder incomes increased 5.9% last year but rose 8.0% for those who switched employers. In effect, some of the higher cost to buy a home has been offset by more cash income.”

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) also recently released information that looks at income and affordability. The NAR data provides a comparison of the current median family income versus the qualifying income for a median-priced home in each region of the country. Here’s a graph of their findings:

Key Factors That Impact Affordability Today | MyKCM

As the graph shows, the median family income (shown in blue on the graph) is greater than the qualifying income needed to buy a median-priced home (shown in green on the graph) in all four regions of the country. While those figures may vary in certain locations within each region, it’s important to note that, in most of the country, homes are still affordable.

So, when you think about affordability, remember that the picture includes more than just home prices and mortgage rates. When prices rise and rates rise, it does impact affordability, and experts project both of those things will climb in the months ahead. That’s why it’s less affordable to buy a home than it was over the past two years when prices and rates were lower than they are today. But wages need to be factored into affordability as well. Because wages have been rising, they’re a big reason that, while less affordable, homes are not unaffordable today.

Bottom Line

To find out more about affordability in our local area, get in contact with a lender so you can make an informed financial decision. Remember, while less affordable, homes are not unaffordable, which still gives you an opportunity to buy today.

As we move into 2022, both buyers and sellers are wondering, what’s next? Will there be more homes available to buy? Will prices keep climbing? How high will mortgage rates go? For the answer to those questions and more, we turn to the experts. Here’s a look at what they say we can expect in 2022.

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist, First American:

“Consensus forecasts put rates at about 3.7% by the end of next year. So, that’s still historically low, but certainly higher than they are today.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, realtor.com:

Affordability will increasingly be a challenge as interest rates and prices rise, but remote work may expand search areas and enable younger buyers to find their first homes sooner than they might have otherwise. And with more than 45 million millennials within the prime first-time buying ages of 26-35 heading into 2022, we expect the market to remain competitive.”

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“With more housing inventory to hit the market, the intense multiple offers will start to ease. Home prices will continue to rise but at a slower pace.”

George Ratiu, Manager of Economic Research, realtor.com:

“We also expect a growing number of homeowners to bring properties to market, taking some pressure off high prices and offering buyers more options.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American:

Strong demographic demand will continue to act as the wind in the housing market’s sails.”

What Does This Mean for Buyers?

Hope is on the horizon for 2022. You should see your options grow as more homes are listed and some of the peak intensity of buyer competition starts to ease. Just remember, rising rates and prices are a great motivator for you to find the home of your dreams sooner rather than later so you can buy while today’s affordability is still in your favor.

What Does This Mean for Sellers?

Make no mistake – this sellers’ market will remain in 2022 as home prices are projected to continue climbing, just at a more moderate pace. Selling your house while buyer demand is so high will truly put you in the driver’s seat. But don’t wait too long. With more listings projected to become available, your ideal window of opportunity to stand out from the crowd won’t last forever. Work with an agent who knows your local market and current inventory conditions to ensure you have the support you need to make an educated and informed decision about selling in the coming year.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling, 2022 may be your year.

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