Let’s kick off this month discussing some of the biggest topics in real estate today.
Are we in a housing bubble?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Third, the foreclosure market is an all-time low – from a high of about 3 million homes in foreclosure to 78,000 last quarter.
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.
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?
Looking at the most recent updated home price forecast from the top seven forecasters, we see 9% appreciation for 2022.
Beyond 2022, we will see a much more normal rate of appreciation like the pre-pandemic rate of 3.8%.
The home price expectation survey forecasts 26% cumulative home price appreciation by 2026.
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.
Prices are rising all around us, and that is affecting affordability.
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 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?”
If you’re planning to sell your home this season, rising prices are great news for you. But it’s important to understand why prices are rising to begin with. One major factor is supply and demand.
In any industry, when there are more buyers for an item than there are of that item available, prices naturally rise. In those situations, buyers are willing to pay more to get the product or service they’re looking for when options are scarce. And that’s exactly what’s happening in the current real estate market.
Selma Hepp, Executive, Research & Insights and Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic, puts it like this:
“With so few homes, buyers are once again left with fierce competition that’s driving the share of homes that sold over the listing price up to 66% . . . With the continued imbalance between supply and demand, home prices are likely to have another year of strong gains and are expected to average about 10% growth for the year.”
Because it will take some time for housing supply to increase, experts believe prices will continue rising. The latest Home Price Expectations Survey forecasts what will happen with home prices over the next 5 years. As the graph below shows, while the rate of appreciation will moderate over the next few years, prices will continue rising through 2026:
What This Means When You Sell Your House
If you’re a homeowner, the projection for continued price appreciation this year opens up an opportunity to move. That’s because it may give your equity a major boost. Equity is the difference between what you owe on your house and its market value. The amount of equity you have increases as you make your monthly payments and as rising home prices drive up the market value for your home.
Growing equity is a powerful tool for homeowners. When you sell your house, the equity you’ve built comes back to you in the sale. That money could be enough to cover some (if not all) of your down payment on your next home.
Of course, if you want to know how much equity you have in your current house, it’s crucial to work with a real estate professional. They follow current market trends and can help you understand your home’s value when you’re ready to sell.
What This Means for Your Next Purchase
But today’s rising home values aren’t just good news if you’re ready to sell. Because price appreciation is forecast to continue in the years ahead, you can rest assured your next home will be an investment that should grow in value with time. That’s one of several reasons why real estate has been rated the best investment in a recent Gallup poll.
If you’re weighing whether or not you should sell your house this season, know rising home values may be opening up an opportunity to use equity to fuel your move.
If you’re thinking of selling your house, it may be because you’ve heard prices are rising, listings are going fast, and sellers are getting multiple offers on their homes. But why are conditions so good for sellers today? And what can you expect when you move? To help answer both of those questions, let’s turn to the data.
Today, there are far more buyers looking for homes than sellers listing their houses. Here are the maps of the latest buyer and seller traffic from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to help paint the picture of what this looks like:
Notice how much darker the blues are on the left. This shows buyer traffic is strong today. In contrast, the much lighter blues on the right indicate weak or very weak seller traffic. In a nutshell, the demand for homes is significantly greater than what’s available to purchase.
What That Means for You
You have an incredible advantage when you sell your house under these conditions. Since buyer demand is so high at a time when seller traffic is so low, there’s a good chance buyers will be competing for your house.
According to NAR, in February, the average home sold got 4.8 offers. When buyers have to compete with one another like this, they’ll do everything they can to make their offer stand out. This could play to your favor and mean you’ll see things like waived contingencies, offers over asking price, earnest money deposits, and more. Selling when demand is high and supply is low sets you up for a big win.
If you’re also looking to buy a house, you may be tempted to focus more on just the seller traffic map and wonder if it means you’ll have trouble finding your next home. But remember this: perspective is key. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, says:
“The limited number of homes for sale is a lesson in perspective. This same stat that frustrates would-be homebuyers also means that today’s home sellers enjoy more limited competition than last year’s home sellers.”
If you look at the big picture, the opportunity you have as a seller today is unprecedented. Last year was a hot sellers’ market. This year, inventory is even lower, and that means an even bigger opportunity for you. Even though finding your next home in a market with low inventory can be challenging, is that concern worth passing on some of the best conditions sellers have ever seen?
As added peace of mind, remember real estate professionals have been juggling this imbalance of supply and demand for nearly two years, and they know how to help both buyers and sellers find success when they move. A skilled agent can help you capitalize on the great opportunity you have as a seller today and guide you through the buying process until you find the perfect place to call your next home.
If you’re ready to move, you have an incredible opportunity in front of you today. Trust the experts.
Mortgage rates started out at 3.11% for the average 30-year,fixed at the beginning of the year, and they have just steadily climbed since then – up to 4.67%.
Rates are projected to continue rising, but at a more moderate pace, because the Fed has risen their rate and mortgage rates tend to follow.
So how does this affect home prices? Let’s take a look at the historical impact of rising rates on home prices when mortgage rates rose by more than a percentage point.
Looking back to October of 1993 (about 30 years), we can see an average of about 8% home price appreciation as mortgage rates are rising by more than a percentage point. So, rising rates have not had a negative impact on home prices.
So how do rising mortgage rates affect home sales?
Looking at the same data for the same period of time, we can see an average decrease of 11% in home sales as prices were rising. As rates rise, it can tend to reduce buyer activity – pricing some people out of the market.
It is important to note that first line (October 1993 to December 1994) where mortgage rates rose 2.38% to a final rate of 9.2%. We are NOT looking at a 2.5% increase in mortgage rates right now. That kind of increase is not in the projections. We are in a very, very different environment than we were back then. We are most likely looking at a 1.5% increase.
In rising mortgage rate environments, there is an overall 2% impact on home sales – a negligible impact – where 2005 & 2006 are the outliers leading up to the housing crisis.
Overall, rising mortgage rates don’t have a huge impact on home sales. Why? Because you have to consider the inventory component. Today, we are seeing drastically low inventory – lower than it was in January of 2021, which was a historical low. Home prices are projected to continue rising, because there just aren’t enough homes for sale. Supply and demand are what drives home price appreciation. So, when you see those headlines saying home sales are softening, it’s not because of rising mortgage rates. It’s because there aren’t enough homes to buy.
When we look at months inventory, historically we had between 4.5 and 5 months inventory on hand – a very, very different inventory level than what we have today.
Inflation is driving this increase in mortgage rates, and we can expect it to continue to rise, but it won’t be at as quite a rapid pace as what we’ve seen over the past few weeks.
Home price appreciation will slow, and mortgage rates will slow some of the frenzy. But, we’re not talking about depreciation. We’re talking about deceleration – appreciation at a more moderate rate.
We hope that all helps explain how the rising mortgage rate environment will affect the other factors in the market, so let’s move on to the forecasts for the spring housing market.
We are in a very, very busy market.
Here is the NAR (National Association of Realtors®) Buyer Traffic Map – strong activity overall.
Then, we see very, weak seller traffic overall. So, strong buyer demand combined with the lack of sellers keeps that upward pressure on prices.
However, we did see increased active listings in March.
Pending home sales have dropped, overall – not because there’s a lack of demand in the market, but because we can’t sell what we don’t have. Nonetheless, we seem to be in a healthy market.
We’re ahead in showings and activity, indicating, again, strong demand.
Price acceleration is also holding steady, indicating a very competitive market.
And we are still ahead of historical appreciation. Overall, these figures look to a strong spring market.
With all the uncertainty out there, let’s take a quick glance at 5 graphs that break down the most common concerns.
First, active listings as compared to new listings going back to August of 2021. The light blue bars represent active listings each month, and the dark blue bars represent new listings that are taken during the month. Active listings outpace new listings until March, where new listings actually outpace the active listings. This means as soon as something comes on the market, it sells.
Second, the single-family housing units completed tells the story of why it’s so hard to find a home right now – why prices have risen the way they’ve risen. And the simple answer is that for 14 straight years, we’ve been below the 50-year average in new construction, due to the fallout of the housing crisis in 2008. Builders were hit extremely hard, and are building back their capacity – their ability to bring new builds to market. This has constricted supply.
Third, we look at home ownership as a hedge against inflation. When you’re in an inflationary economy, you want to be invested in hard assets that outperform inflation. The light blue represents the inflation rate, and the dark blue represents home price appreciation. Historically, home price appreciation has outperformed inflation (with the exception of the housing crisis).
Fourth, we look at the home price expectation survey – a survey of 100 economists, real estate professionals, and market investor professionals determining what is going to happen with home prices. $96,000 in potential growth in household wealth over the next five years based solely on increased home equity if you purchased an average priced home (about $360,000).
Finally, a look at home price appreciation. Among the seven experts, the average home price appreciation is 6.7%. Not one is forecasting prices to go down.
Based on the Primary Mortgage Market Survey from Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has increased by 1.2% (3.22% to 4.42%) since January of this year. The rate jumped by more than a quarter of a point from just a week ago. Here’s a visual to show how mortgage rate movement throughout 2021 was steady compared to the rapid increase in mortgage rates this year:
Just a few months ago, Freddie Mac projected mortgage rates would average 3.6% in 2022. Earlier this month, Fannie Mae forecast mortgage rates would average 3.8% in 2022. As the chart above shows, rates have already surpassed those projections.
Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, explained in a press release last week:
“This week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increased by more than a quarter of a percent as mortgage rates across all loan types continued to move up. Rising inflation, escalating geopolitical uncertainty and the Federal Reserve’s actions are driving rates higher and weakening consumers’ purchasing power.”
Where Are Mortgage Rates Going from Here?
In a recent article by Bankrate, several industry experts weighed in on where rates might be headed going forward. Here are some of their forecasts:
Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst, Bankrate:
“With inflation figures continuing to surprise to the upside, mortgage rates will remain above 4.0% on the 30-year fixed.”
Nadia Evangelou, Senior Economist and Director of Forecasting, National Association of Realtors (NAR):
“While higher short-term interest rates will push up mortgage rates, I expect some of this impact to be mitigated eventually through lower inflation. Thus, I expect the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to continue to rise, although we aren’t likely to see the big jumps that occurred over the past few weeks.”
Len Kiefer, Deputy Chief Economist, Freddie Mac:
“Mortgage rates are likely to continue to move higher throughout the balance of 2022, although the pace of rate increases is likely to moderate.”
In a recent realtor.com article, another expert adds to the conversation:
Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, realtor.com:
“. . . As markets digest the Fed’s updated economic projections, I anticipate a continued increase in mortgage rates over the next several months. . . .”
What Does This Mean for You if You’re Looking To Buy a Home?
With both mortgage rates and home values expected to increase throughout the year, it would be better to buy sooner rather than later if you’re able. That’s because it’ll cost you more the longer you wait. But, there is a possible silver lining to buying a home right now. While you’ll be paying a higher price and a higher mortgage rate than you would have last year, rising prices do have a long-term benefit once you buy.
If you purchase a home today valued at $400,000 and put 10% down, you would be taking out a $360,000 mortgage. According to mortgagecalculator.net, at a 4.42% fixed mortgage rate, your mortgage payment would be $1,807 a month (this does not include insurance, taxes, and other fees because those vary by location).
Now, let’s put that mortgage payment into a new perspective based on the substantial growth in equity that comes with the escalation in home prices. Every quarter, Pulsenomics surveys a panel of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts about their expectations for future home prices in the United States. Last week, Pulsenomics released their latest Home Price Expectation Survey. The survey reveals that the average of the experts’ forecasts calls for a 9% increase in home values in 2022.
Based on those projections, a $400,000 house you buy today could be valued at $436,000 by this time next year. If you break that down, that means the equity in your home would increase by $3,000 a month over that period. That’s greater than the estimated monthly payment above. Granted, the increase in your net worth is tied to the home, but it is one way to put the home price appreciation to use in a way that benefits you.
Paying a higher price for a home and a higher mortgage rate can be a difficult pill to swallow. However, waiting will just cost you more. If you’re ready, willing, and able to buy a home, now will be a better time than a year, or even six months from now.
A recent survey revealed that many consumers believe there’s a housing bubble beginning to form. That feeling is understandable, as year-over-year home price appreciation is still in the double digits. However, this market is very different than it was during the housing crash 15 years ago. Here are four key reasons why today is nothing like the last time.
1. Houses Are Not Unaffordable Like They Were During the Housing Boom
The affordability formula has three components: the price of the home, wages earned by the purchaser, and the mortgage rate available at the time. Conventional lending standards say a purchaser should not spend more than 28% of their gross income on their mortgage payment.
Fifteen years ago, prices were high, wages were low, and mortgage rates were over 6%. Today, prices are still high. Wages, however, have increased, and the mortgage rate, even after the recent spike, is still well below 6%. That means the average purchaser today pays less of their monthly income toward their mortgage payment than they did back then.
In the latest Affordability Report by ATTOM Data, Chief Product Officer Todd Teta addresses that exact point:
“The average wage earner can still afford the typical home across the U.S., but the financial comfort zone continues shrinking as home prices keep soaring and mortgage rates tick upward.”
Affordability isn’t as strong as it was last year, but it’s much better than it was during the boom. Here’s a chart showing that difference:
If costs were so prohibitive, how did so many homes sell during the housing boom?
2. Mortgage Standards Were Much More Relaxed During the Boom
During the housing bubble, it was much easier to get a mortgage than it is today. As an example, let’s review the number of mortgages granted to purchasers with credit scores under 620. According to credit.org, a credit score between 550-619 is considered poor. In defining those with a score below 620, they explain:
“Credit agencies consider consumers with credit delinquencies, account rejections, and little credit history as subprime borrowers due to their high credit risk.”
Buyers can still qualify for a mortgage with a credit score that low, but they’re considered riskier borrowers. Here’s a graph showing the mortgage volume issued to purchasers with a credit score less than 620 during the housing boom, and the subsequent volume in the 14 years since.
Mortgage standards are nothing like they were the last time. Purchasers that acquired a mortgage over the last decade are much more qualified. Let’s take a look at what that means going forward.
3. The Foreclosure Situation Is Nothing Like It Was During the Crash
The most obvious difference is the number of homeowners that were facing foreclosure after the housing bubble burst. The Federal Reserve issues a report showing the number of consumers with a new foreclosure notice. Here are the numbers during the crash compared to today:
There’s no doubt the 2020 and 2021 numbers are impacted by the forbearance program, which was created to help homeowners facing uncertainty during the pandemic. However, there are fewer than 800,000 homeowners left in the program today, and most of those will be able to work out a repayment plan with their banks.
Rick Sharga, Executive Vice President of RealtyTrac, explains:
“The fact that foreclosure starts declined despite hundreds of thousands of borrowers exiting the CARES Act mortgage forbearance program over the last few months is very encouraging. It suggests that the ‘forbearance equals foreclosure’ narrative was incorrect.”
Why are there so few foreclosures now? Today, homeowners are equity rich, not tapped out.
In the run-up to the housing bubble, some homeowners were using their homes as personal ATM machines. Many immediately withdrew their equity once it built up. When home values began to fall, some homeowners found themselves in a negative equity situation where the amount they owed on their mortgage was greater than the value of their home. Some of those households decided to walk away from their homes, and that led to a rash of distressed property listings (foreclosures and short sales), which sold at huge discounts, thus lowering the value of other homes in the area.
Homeowners, however, have learned their lessons. Prices have risen nicely over the last few years, leading to over 40% of homes in the country having more than 50% equity. But owners have not been tapping into it like the last time, as evidenced by the fact that national tappable equity has increased to a record $9.9 trillion. With the average home equity now standing at $300,000, what happened last time won’t happen today.
As the latest Homeowner Equity Insights report from CoreLogic explains:
“Not only have equity gains helped homeowners more seamlessly transition out of forbearance and avoid a distressed sale, but they’ve also enabled many to continue building their wealth.”
There will be nowhere near the same number of foreclosures as we saw during the crash. So, what does that mean for the housing market?
4. We Don’t Have a Surplus of Homes on the Market – We Have a Shortage
The supply of inventory needed to sustain a normal real estate market is approximately six months. Anything more than that is an overabundance and will causes prices to depreciate. Anything less than that is a shortage and will lead to continued price appreciation. As the next graph shows, there were too many homes for sale from 2007 to 2010 (many of which were short sales and foreclosures), and that caused prices to tumble. Today, there’s a shortage of inventory, which is causing the acceleration in home values to continue.
Inventory is nothing like the last time. Prices are rising because there’s a healthy demand for homeownership at the same time there’s a shortage of homes for sale.
If you’re worried that we’re making the same mistakes that led to the housing crash, the graphs above show data and insights to help alleviate your concerns.
An increased supply and slowing of demand, likely due to rising interest rates, may causse the real estate market to be less competitive and see prices normalize.
2021 was an incredible year for real estate in the U.S. due to low mortgage rates, lots of demand, low inventory, and a rebounding job market. Supply and demand is still unbalanced headed into this spring, allowing sellers the upper hand. In an interview with the Associated Press, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors® answers some burning questions about this year in real estate.
Question: How do you see the housing market’s trajectory shaping up this year?
Answer: The mortgage rates will definitely be higher, which means that people who were barely able to qualify last year will not be able to do so this year. Combine that with some increase in supply. Builders have the profit motive. Lumber prices and other materials costs are rising, but they’re simply tacking on those additional costs to consumers, who are willing to buy. So, increased supply, some chopping off of demand from rising interest rates, should lead to less intense competitive market conditions. Price growth will be something around 5% in 2022, which will be a very normal rate of increase.
Question: Fair to say homeowners who are selling will still have an edge on buyers nationally?
Answer: We’re in a housing shortage of roughly 3 or 4 million. And given that homebuilders can probably at the maximum put up maybe 2 million homes, more likely 1.7 or 1.8 million homes (a year), this housing shortage will persist this year and probably linger on somewhat next year. Hence, the market in 2022 will still favor sellers.
Question: How high do you see mortgage rates going this year?
Answer: My best guess at the moment is about 3.7%. It could be a little lower or a little higher, but it’s going to certainly be higher than the 3% people enjoyed last year.
Question: To what degree will higher rates dampen home sales?
Answer: Rising home prices have hindered affordability, but now rising interest rates are another thing that will begin to shave off some of the demand potential from first-time buyers. My official forecast for home sales this year is they will come down about 2% from last year.
Question: Has the pandemic led to any enduring changes to the way Americans buy and sell homes?
Answer: The pandemic will come to an end. Hopefully, the sooner the better. But the work-from-home situation, that development is here to stay. That will be the key factor driving the housing market preference and demand.
Question: What’s the biggest worry you have about the housing market now?
Answer: The housing market is on a solid foundation, in the sense that we don’t have those loose lending conditions. Housing equity, minus the mortgage balance, is substantial.
We need to ensure that the housing supply continues to increase, and look at converting office and other spaces to affordable housing.
After almost two years of double-digit increases, many experts thought home price appreciation would decelerate or happen at a slower pace in the last quarter of 2021. However, the latest Home Price Insights Report from CoreLogic indicates while prices may have plateaued, appreciation has definitely not slowed. The following graph shows year-over-year appreciation throughout 2021. December data has not yet been released.
As the graph shows, appreciation has remained steady at around 18% over the last five months.
In addition, the latest S&P Case-Shiller Price Index and the FHFA Price Index show a slight deceleration from the same time last year – it’s just not at the level that was expected. However, they also both indicate there’s continued strong price growth throughout the country. FHFA reports all nine regions of the country still experienced double-digit appreciation. The Case-Shiller 20-City Index reveals all 20 metros had double-digit appreciation.
Why Haven’t We Seen the Deeper Deceleration Many Expected?
Experts had projected the supply of housing inventory would increase in the last half of 2021 and buyer demand would decrease, as it historically does later in the year. Since all pricing is subject to supply and demand, it seemed that appreciation would wane under those conditions.
Buyer demand, however, did not slow as much as expected, and the number of listings available for sale dropped instead of improved. The graph below uses data from realtor.com to show the number of available listings for sale each month, including the decline in listings at the end of the year.
Here are three reasons why the number of active listings didn’t increase as expected:
1. There hasn’t been a surge of foreclosures as the forbearance program comes to an end.
2. New construction slowed considerably because of supply chain challenges.
3. Many believed more sellers would put their houses on the market once the concerns about the pandemic began to ease. However, those concerns have not yet disappeared. A recent article published by com explains:
“Before the omicron variant of COVID-19 appeared on the scene, the 2021 housing market was rebounding healthily from previous waves of the pandemic and turned downright bullish as the end of the year approached. . . . And then the new omicron strain hit in November, followed by a December dip in new listings. Was this sudden drop due to omicron, or just the typical holiday season lull?”
No one knows for sure, but it does seem possible.
Home price appreciation might slow (or decelerate) in 2022. However, based on supply and demand, you shouldn’t expect the deceleration to be swift or deep.