Category Archives: Housing Market Updates

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Why We Aren’t Headed for a Housing Crash

Why We Aren't Headed for a Housing Crash Simplifying The Market

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.

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

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

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.

Expert Home Price Forecasts for 2024 Revised Up

Expert Home Price Forecasts for 2024 Revised Up Simplifying The Market

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.

Some Experts Say Mortgage Rates May Fall Below 6% Later This Year

Some Experts Say Mortgage Rates May Fall Below 6% Later This Year Simplifying The Market

There’s a lot of confusion in the market about what’s happening with day-to-day movement in mortgage rates right now, but here’s what you really need to know: compared to the near 8% peak last fall, mortgage rates have trended down overall.

And if you’re looking to buy or sell a home, this is a big deal. While they’re going to continue to bounce around a bit based on various economic drivers (like inflation and reactions to the consumer price index, or CPI), don’t let the short-term volatility distract you. The experts agree the overarching downward trend should continue this year.

While we won’t see the record-low rates homebuyers got during the pandemic, some experts think we should see rates dip below 6% later this year. As Dean Baker, Senior Economist, Center for Economic Research, says:

“They will almost certainly not fall to pandemic lows, although we may soon see rates under 6.0 percent, which would be low by pre-Great Recession standards.

And Baker isn’t the only one saying this is a possibility. The latest Fannie Mae projections also indicate we may see a rate below 6% by the end of this year (see the green box in the chart below):

 a screenshot of a graph

The chart shows mortgage rate projections for 2024 from Fannie Mae. It includes the one that came out in December, and compares it to the updated 2024 forecast they released just one month later. And if you look closely, you’ll notice the projections are on the way down.

It’s normal for experts to re-forecast as they watch current market trends and the broader economy, but what this shows is experts are feeling confident rates should continue to decline, if inflation cools.

What This Means for You

But remember, no one can say for sure what will happen (and by when) – and short-term volatility is to be expected. So, don’t let small fluctuations scare you. Focus on the bigger picture.

If you’ve found a home you love in today’s market – especially where finding a home that meets your budget and your needs can be a challenge – it’s probably not a good idea to try to time the market and wait until rates drop below 6%.

With rates already lower than they were last fall, you have an opportunity in front of you right now. That’s because even a small quarter point dip in rates gives your purchasing power a boost.

Bottom Line

If you wanted to move last year but were holding off hoping rates would fall, now may be the time to act. Connect with a real estate agent to get the ball rolling. 

Don’t Let the Latest Home Price Headlines Confuse You

Don’t Let the Latest Home Price Headlines Confuse You Simplifying The Market

Based on what you’re hearing in the news about home prices, you may be worried they’re falling. But here’s the thing. The headlines aren’t giving you the full picture.

If you look at the national data for 2023, home prices actually showed positive growth for the year. While this varies by market, and while there were some months with slight declines nationally, those were the exception, not the rule.

The overarching story is that prices went up last year, not down. Let’s dive into the data to set the record straight. 

2023 Was the Return to More Normal Home Price Growth

If anything, last year marked a return to more normal home price appreciation. To prove it, here’s what usually happens in residential real estate.

In the housing market, there are predictable ebbs and flows that take place each year. It’s called seasonality. It goes like this. Spring is the peak homebuying season when the market is most active. That activity is usually still strong in the summer, but begins to wane toward the end of the year. Home prices follow along with this seasonality because prices grow the most when there’s high demand.

The graph below uses data from Case-Shiller to show how this pattern played out in home prices from 1973 through 2022 (not adjusted, so you can see the seasonality):

 

As the data shows, for nearly 50 years, home prices match typical market seasonality. At the beginning of the year, home prices grow more moderately. That’s because the market is less active as fewer people move in January and February. Then, as the market transitions into the peak homebuying season in the spring, activity ramps up. That means home prices do too. Then, as fall and winter approach, activity eases again and prices grow, just at a slower rate.

Now, let’s layer the data that’s come out for 2023 so far (shown in green) on top of that long-term trend (still shown in blue). That way, it’s easy to see how 2023 compares.

As the graph shows, moving through the year in 2023, the level of appreciation fell more in line with the long-term trend for what usually happens in the housing market. You can see that in how close the green bars come to matching the blue bars in the later part of the year.

But the headlines only really focused on the two bars outlined in red. Here’s the context you may not have gotten that can really put those two bars into perspective. The long-term trend shows it’s normal for home prices to moderate in the fall and winter. That’s typical seasonality.

And since the 49-year average is so close to zero during those months (0.10%), that also means it’s not unusual for home prices to drop ever so slightly during those times. But those are just blips on the radar. If you look at the year as a whole, home prices still rose overall.

What You Really Need To Know

Headlines are going to call attention to the small month-to-month dips instead of the bigger year-long picture. And that can be a bit misleading because it’s only focused on one part of the whole story.

Instead, remember last year we saw the return of seasonality in the housing market – and that’s a good thing after home prices skyrocketed unsustainably during the ‘unicorn’ years of the pandemic.

And just in case you’re still worried home prices will fall, don’t be. The expectation for this year is that prices will continue to appreciate as buyers re-enter the market due to mortgage rates trending down compared to last year. As buyer demand goes up and more people move at the same time the supply of homes for sale is still low, the upward pressure on prices will continue.

Bottom Line

Don’t let home price headlines confuse you. The data shows that, as a whole, home prices rose in 2023. If you have questions about what you’re hearing in the news or about what’s happening with home prices in your local area, connect with a trusted real estate professional.

What’s Really Happening with Mortgage Rates?

What’s Really Happening with Mortgage Rates? Simplifying The Market

Are you feeling a bit unsure about what’s really happening with mortgage rates? That might be because you’ve heard someone say they’re coming down. But then you read somewhere else that they’re up again. And that may leave you scratching your head and wondering what’s true.

The simplest answer is: that what you read or hear will vary based on the time frame they’re looking at. Here’s some information that can help clear up the confusion.

Mortgage Rates Are Volatile by Nature

Mortgage rates don’t move in a straight line. There are too many factors at play for that to happen. Instead, rates bounce around because they’re impacted by things like economic conditions, decisions from the Federal Reserve, and so much more. That means they might be up one day and down the next depending on what’s going on in the economy and the world as a whole.

Take a look at the graph below. It uses data from Mortgage News Daily to show the ebbs and flows in the 30-year fixed mortgage rate since last October:

 

If you look at the graph, you’ll see a lot of peaks and valleys – some bigger than others. And when you use data like this to explain what’s happening, the story can be different based on which two points in the graph you’re comparing.

For example, if you’re only looking at the beginning of this month through now, you may think mortgage rates are on the way back up. But, if you look at the latest data point and compare it to the peak in October, rates have trended down. So, what’s the right way to look at it?

The Big Picture

Mortgage rates are always going to bounce around. It’s just how they work. So, you shouldn’t focus too much on the small, daily changes. Instead, to really understand the overall trend, zoom out and look at the big picture.

When you look at the highest point (October) compared to where rates are now, you can see they’ve come down compared to last year. And if you’re looking to buy a home, this is big news. Don’t let the little blips distract you. The experts agree, overall, that the larger downward trend could continue this year

Bottom Line

Connect with a professional if you have any questions about what you’re reading or hearing about the housing market.

Winning Plays for Buying a Home in Today’s Market [INFOGRAPHIC]

Winning Plays for Buying a Home in Today’s Market [INFOGRAPHIC] Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

Houses Are Still Selling Fast

Houses Are Still Selling Fast Simplifying The Market

Have you been thinking about selling your house? If so, here’s some good news. While the housing market isn’t as frenzied as it was during the ‘unicorn’ years when houses were selling quicker than ever, they’re still selling faster than normal.

The graph below uses data from Realtor.com to tell the story of median days on the market for every January from 2017 all the way through the latest numbers available. For Realtor.com, days on the market means from the time a house is listed for sale until its closing date or the date it’s taken off the market. This metric can help give you an idea of just how quickly homes are selling compared to more normal years:

 

When you look at the most recent data (shown in green), it’s clear homes are selling faster than they usually would (shown in blue). In fact, the only years when houses sold even faster than they are right now were the abnormal ‘unicorn’ years (shown in pink). According to Realtor.com:

“Homes spent 69 days on the market, which is three days shorter than last year and more than two weeks shorter than before the COVID-19 pandemic.”

What Does This Mean for You?

Homes are selling faster than the norm for this time of year – and your house may sell quickly too. That’s because more people are looking to buy now that mortgage rates have come down, but there still aren’t enough homes to go around. Mike Simonsen, Founder of Altos Research, says:

“. . . 2024 is starting stronger than last year. And demand is increasing each week.”

Bottom Line

If you’re wondering if it’s a good time to sell your home, the most recent data suggests it is. The housing market appears to be stronger than it usually is at this time of year. To get the latest updates on what’s happening in your local market, connect with a real estate agent.

Foreclosure Activity Is Still Lower than the Norm

Foreclosure Activity Is Still Lower than the Norm Simplifying The Market

Have you seen headlines talking about the increase in foreclosures in today’s housing market? If so, they may leave you feeling a bit uneasy about what’s ahead. But remember, these clickbait titles don’t always give you the full story.

The truth is, if you compare the current numbers with what usually happens in the market, you’ll see there’s no need to worry.

Putting the Headlines into Perspective

The increase the media is calling attention to is misleading. That’s because they’re only comparing the most recent numbers to a time where foreclosures were at historic lows. And that’s making it sound like a bigger deal than it is.

In 2020 and 2021, the moratorium and forbearance program helped millions of homeowners stay in their homes, allowing them to get back on their feet during a very challenging period.

When the moratorium came to an end, there was an expected rise in foreclosures. But just because foreclosures are up doesn’t mean the housing market is in trouble.

Historical Data Shows There Isn’t a Wave of Foreclosures

Instead of comparing today’s numbers with the last few abnormal years, it’s better to compare to long-term trends – specifically to the housing crash – since that’s what people worry may happen again.

Take a look at the graph below. It uses foreclosure data from ATTOM, a property data provider, to show foreclosure activity has been consistently lower (shown in orange) since the crash in 2008 (shown in red):

So, while foreclosure filings are up in the latest report, it’s clear this is nothing like it was back then.

In fact, we’re not even back at the levels we’d see in more normal years, like 2019. As Rick Sharga, Founder and CEO of the CJ Patrick Company, explains:

Foreclosure activity is still only at about 60% of pre-pandemic levels. . .”

That’s largely because buyers today are more qualified and less likely to default on their loans. Delinquency rates are still low and most homeowners have enough equity to keep them from going into foreclosure. As Molly Boesel, Principal Economist at CoreLogic, says:

“U.S. mortgage delinquency rates remained healthy in October, with the overall delinquency rate unchanged from a year earlier and the serious delinquency rate remaining at a historic low… borrowers in later stages of delinquencies are finding alternatives to defaulting on their home loans.”

The reality is, while increasing, the data shows a foreclosure crisis is not where the market is today, or where it’s headed.

Bottom Line

Even though the housing market is experiencing an expected rise in foreclosures, it’s nowhere near the crisis levels seen when the housing bubble burst. If you have questions about what you’re hearing or reading about the housing market, connect with a real estate agent.

Will a Silver Tsunami Change the 2024 Housing Market?

Will a Silver Tsunami Change the 2024 Housing Market? Simplifying The Market

Have you ever heard the term “Silver Tsunami” and wondered what it’s all about? If so, that might be because there’s been lot of talk about it online recently. Let’s dive into what it is and why it won’t drastically impact the housing market.

What Does Silver Tsunami Mean?

A recent article from HousingWire calls it:

“. . . a colloquialism referring to aging Americans changing their housing arrangements to accommodate aging . . .”

The thought is that as baby boomers grow older, a significant number will start downsizing their homes. Considering how large that generation is, if these moves happened in a big wave, it would affect the housing market by causing a significant uptick in the number of larger homes for sale. That influx of homes coming onto the market would impact the balance of supply and demand and more.

The concept makes sense in theory, but will it happen? And if so, when?

Why It Won’t Have a Huge Impact on the Housing Market in 2024

Experts say, so far, a silver tsunami hasn’t happened – and it probably won’t anytime soon. According to that same article from HousingWire:

“. . . the silver tsunami’s transformative potential for the U.S. housing market has not yet materialized in any meaningful way, and few expect it to anytime soon.”

Here’s just one reason why. Many baby boomers don’t want to move. Data from the AARP shows over half of the surveyed adults ages 65 and up plan to stay put and age in place in their current home rather than move (see chart below):

Clearly, not every baby boomer is planning to sell or move – and even those who do won’t do it all at once. Instead, it will be more gradual, happening slowly over time. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, says:

Demographics are never a tsunami. The baby boomer generation is almost two decades of births. That means they’re going to take about two decades to work their way through.”

Bottom Line

If you’re worried about a Silver Tsunami shaking up the housing market, don’t be. Any impact from baby boomers moving will be gradual over many years. Fleming sums it up best:

 

“Demographic trends, they don’t tsunami. They trickle.”