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Housing Market Updates

Why Mortgage Rates Could Continue To Decline

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When you read about the housing market, you’ll probably come across some information about inflation or recent decisions made by the Federal Reserve (the Fed). But how do those two things impact you and your homebuying plans? Here’s what you need to know.

The Federal Funds Rate Hikes Have Stalled

One of the Fed’s primary goals is to lower inflation. In order to do that, they started raising the Federal Funds Rate to slow down the economy. Even though this doesn’t directly dictate what happens with mortgage rates, it does have an impact.

Recently inflation has started to cool, a signal those increases worked and are bringing inflation back down. As a result, the Fed’s hikes have gotten smaller and less frequent. In fact, there haven’t been any increases since July (see graph below):

And not only has the Fed decided not to raise the Federal Funds Rate the last three times the committee met, they’ve signaled there may actually be rate cuts coming in 2024. According to the New York Times (NYT):

“Federal Reserve officials left interest rates unchanged in their final policy decision of 2023 and forecast that they will cut borrowing costs three times in the coming year, a sign that the central bank is shifting toward the next phase in its fight against rapid inflation.”

This indicates the Fed thinks the economy and inflation are improving. Why does that matter to you and your plans to buy a home? It could end up leading to lower mortgage rates and improved affordability.

Mortgage Rates Are Coming Down

Mortgage rates are influenced by a wide variety of factors, and inflation and the Fed’s actions (or as has been the case recently, inaction) play a big role. Now that the Fed has paused the increases, it looks more likely mortgage rates will continue their downward trend (see graph below):

 

Although mortgage rates may remain volatile, their recent trend combined with expert forecasts indicate they could continue to go down in 2024. That would improve affordability for buyers and make it easier for sellers to move since they won’t feel as locked-in to their current, low mortgage rate.

Bottom Line

The Fed’s decisions have an indirect impact on mortgage rates. By not raising the Federal Funds Rate, mortgage rates are likely to continue declining. Rely on a trustworthy real estate expert to give you expert advice about changes in the housing market and how they affect you.

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Housing Market Updates

Why We Aren’t Headed for a Housing Crash

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If you’re holding out hope that the housing market is going to crash and bring home prices back down, here’s a look at what the data shows. And spoiler alert: that’s not in the cards. Instead, experts say home prices are going to keep going up.

Today’s market is very different than it was before the housing crash in 2008. Here’s why.

It’s Harder To Get a Loan Now – and That’s Actually a Good Thing

It was much easier to get a home loan during the lead-up to the 2008 housing crisis than it is today. Back then, banks had different lending standards, making it easy for just about anyone to qualify for a home loan or refinance an existing one.

Things are different today. Homebuyers face increasingly higher standards from mortgage companies. The graph below uses data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) to show this difference. The lower the number, the harder it is to get a mortgage. The higher the number, the easier it is:

a graph showing a line going up

The peak in the graph shows that, back then, lending standards weren’t as strict as they are now. That means lending institutions took on much greater risk in both the person and the mortgage products offered around the crash. That led to mass defaults and a flood of foreclosures coming onto the market.

There Are Far Fewer Homes for Sale Today, so Prices Won’t Crash

Because there were too many homes for sale during the housing crisis (many of which were short sales and foreclosures), that caused home prices to fall dramatically. But today, there’s an inventory shortage – not a surplus.

The graph below uses data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Federal Reserve to show how the months’ supply of homes available now (shown in blue) compares to the crash (shown in red):

a graph of a number of people

Today, unsold inventory sits at just a 3.0-months’ supply. That’s compared to the peak of 10.4 month’s supply back in 2008. That means there’s nowhere near enough inventory on the market for home prices to come crashing down like they did back then.

People Are Not Using Their Homes as ATMs Like They Did in the Early 2000s

Back in the lead up to the housing crash, many homeowners were borrowing against the equity in their homes to finance new cars, boats, and vacations. So, when prices started to fall, as inventory rose too high, many of those homeowners found themselves underwater.

But today, homeowners are a lot more cautious. Even though prices have skyrocketed in the past few years, homeowners aren’t tapping into their equity the way they did back then.

Black Knight reports that tappable equity (the amount of equity available for homeowners to access before hitting a maximum 80% loan-to-value ratio, or LTV) has actually reached an all-time high:

 a graph of a growing graph

That means, as a whole, homeowners have more equity available than ever before. And that’s great. Homeowners are in a much stronger position today than in the early 2000s. That same report from Black Knight goes on to explain:

“Only 1.1% of mortgage holders (582K) ended the year underwater, down from 1.5% (807K) at this time last year.”

And since homeowners are on more solid footing today, they’ll have options to avoid foreclosure. That limits the number of distressed properties coming onto the market. And without a flood of inventory, prices won’t come tumbling down. 

Bottom Line

While you may be hoping for something that brings prices down, that’s not what the data tells us is going to happen. The most current research clearly shows that today’s market is nothing like it was last time.

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For Sellers

Why Today’s Housing Supply Is a Sweet Spot for Sellers

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Wondering if it still makes sense to sell your house right now? The short answer is, yes. And if you look at the current number of homes for sale, you’ll see two reasons why.

An article from Calculated Risk shows there are 15.6% more homes for sale now compared to the same week last year. That tells us inventory has grown. But going back to 2019, the last normal year in the housing market, there are nearly 40% fewer homes available now:

a graph with red and blue squares

Here’s a breakdown of how this benefits you when you sell.

1. You Have More Options for Your Move

Are you thinking about selling because your current house is too big, too small, or because your needs have changed? If so, the year-over-year growth gives you more options for your home search. That means it may be less of a challenge to find what you’re looking for.

So, if you were holding off on selling because you were worried you weren’t going to find a home you like, this may be just the good news you needed. Partnering with a local real estate professional can help you make sure you’re up to date on the homes available in your area.

2. You Still Won’t Have Much Competition When You Sell

But to put that into perspective, even though there are more homes for sale now, there still aren’t as many as there’d be in a normal year. Remember, the data from Calculated Risk shows we’re down nearly 40% compared to 2019. And that large a deficit won’t be solved overnight. As a recent article from Realtor.com explains:

“. . . the number of homes for sale and new listing activity continues to improve compared to last year. However the inventory of homes for sale still has a long journey back to pre-pandemic levels.”

For you, that means if you work with an agent to price your house right, it should still get a lot of attention from eager buyers and could sell fast.

Bottom Line

If you’re a homeowner looking to sell, now’s a good time. You’ll have more options when buying your next home, and there’s still not a ton of competition from other sellers. If you’re ready to move, talk to a local real estate agent to get the ball rolling.

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Housing Market Updates

Expert Home Price Forecasts for 2024 Revised Up

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Over the past few months, experts have revised their 2024 home price forecasts based on the latest data and market signals, and they’re even more confident prices will rise, not fall.

So, let’s see exactly how experts’ thinking has shifted – and what’s caused the change.

2024 Home Price Forecasts: Then and Now

The chart below shows what seven expert organizations think will happen to home prices in 2024. It compares their first 2024 home price forecasts (made at the end of 2023) with their newest projections:

 a blue and white graph with text

The middle column shows that, at first, these experts thought home prices would only go up a little this year. But if you look at the column on the right, you’ll see they’ve all updated their forecasts and now think prices will go up more than they originally thought. And some of the differences are major.

There are two big factors keeping such strong upward pressure on home prices. The first is how few homes are for sale right now. According to Business Insider:

Low home inventory is a chronic problem in the US. This has generally kept home prices up . . .”

A lack of housing inventory has been pushing prices up for a long time now – and that’s not expected to change dramatically this year. But what has changed a bit is mortgage rates.

Late last year when most housing market experts were calling for home prices to rise only a little bit in 2024, mortgage rates were up and buyer demand was more moderate.

Now that rates have come down from their peak last October, and with further declines expected over the course of the year, buyer demand has picked up. That increase in demand, along with an ongoing lack of inventory, is what’s caused the experts to feel the upward pressure on prices will be stronger than they expected a couple months ago.

A Look Forward To Get Ahead of the Next Forecast Revisions

Real estate experts regularly revise their home price forecasts as the housing market shifts. It’s a normal part of their job that ensures their projections are always up-to-date and factor in the latest changes in the housing market.

That means they’ll continue to revise their projections as the housing market changes, just as they’ve always done. How those forecasts change next is anyone’s guess, but pay attention to mortgage rates.

If they trend down as the year goes on, as they’re expected to do, that could lead to more buyer demand and even higher home price forecasts.

Basically, it’s all about supply and demand. With supply still so limited, anything that causes demand to go up will likely cause prices to go up, too.

Bottom Line

At first, experts believed home prices would only go up a little this year. But now, they’ve changed their minds and forecast prices will grow even more than they originally thought. Connect with a local real estate agent so you know what to expect with prices in your area.

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The information contained, and the opinions expressed, in these article are not intended to be construed as investment advice. Let's Talk Real Estate and Keeping Current Matters, Inc. do not guarantee or warrant the accuracy or completeness of the information or opinions contained herein. Nothing herein should be construed as investment advice. You should always conduct your own research and due diligence and obtain professional advice before making any investment decision. Let's Talk Real Estate and Keeping Current Matters, Inc. will not be liable for any loss or damage caused by your reliance on the information or opinions contained herein.