There are some industry pundits claiming that residential home values have risen too quickly and that current levels are on the verge of another housing bubble. It is easy to see how this thinking has taken form if we look at a graph of home prices from 2000 to today.
The graph definitely looks like a rollercoaster ride. And, as prices begin to reach 2006 levels again, it “seems logical” that the next part of the ride would be downhill. However, this graph includes the anomaly of the price bubble and the correction (the housing crash).
What if the bubble & bust didn’t occur?
Let’s assume that instead of the rise and fall in home prices that we saw last decade, we just had normal historic appreciation from 2000 to today. According to the 100+ experts that are surveyed for the Home Price Expectation Survey, normal annual appreciation for residential single family homes from 1987 to 1999 was 3.6%.
Starting with the median home price in 2000, we added 3.6% to it each year since then. Here is that graph intermixed with the above graph.
What this shows us is that, had the bubble and crash not occurred and instead we just had normal annual appreciation over this period, prices would actually be greater than they are today.
There is no reason for alarm as prices seem to be right in line with where they should be.
There are many benefits to homeownership. One of the top ones is being able to protect yourself from rising rents and lock in your housing cost for the life of your mortgage.
Don’t Become Trapped
Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at realtor.com,reported on what he calls a “Rental Affordability Crisis.” He warns that,
“Low rental vacancies and a lack of new rental construction are pushing up rents, and we expect that they’ll outpace home price appreciation in the year ahead.”
In the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University's 2015 Report on Rental Housing, they reported that 49% of rental households are cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on housing. These households struggle to save for a rainy day and pay other bills, such as food and healthcare.
It’s Cheaper to Buy Than Rent
In Smoke’s article, he went on to say,
“Housing is central to the health and well-being of our country and our local communities. In addition, this (rental affordability) crisis threatens the future value of owned housing, as the burdensome level of rents will trap more aspiring owners into a vicious financial cycle in which they cannot save and build a solid credit record to eventually buy a home.”
“While more than 85% of markets have burdensome rents today, it’s perplexing that in more than 75% of the counties across the country, it is actually cheaper to buy than rent a home. So why aren’t those unhappy renters choosing to buy?”
Know Your Options
Perhaps you have already saved enough to buy your first home. HousingWirereported that analysts at Nomura believe:
"It’s not that Millennials and other potential homebuyers aren’t qualified in terms of their credit scores or in how much they have saved for their down payment.
It’s that they think they’re not qualified or they think that they don’t have a big enough down payment.” (emphasis added)
Many first-time homebuyers who believe that they need a large down payment may be holding themselves back from their dream home. As we have reported before, in many areas of the country, a first-time home buyer can save for a 3% down payment in less than two years. You may have already saved enough!
Don’t get caught in the trap so many renters are currently in. If you are ready and willing to buy a home, find out if you are able. Let’s get together to determine if you could qualify for a mortgage now!
Some industry pundits are saying that the housing market may be heading for a slowdown. One of the data points they use is the falling numbers of the Housing Affordability Index, as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
Here is how NAR defines the index:
“The Housing Affordability Index measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national level based on the most recent price and income data.”
Basically, a value of 100 means a family earning the median income earns enough to qualify for a mortgage on a median priced home, based on the price and mortgage interest rates at the time. Anything above 100 means the family has more than enough to qualify.
The higher the index the easier it is to afford a home.
Why the concern?
The index has been declining over the last several years as home values increased. Some are concerned that too many buyers could be priced out of the market. Here is a snapshot of the index since 2009:
But, wait a minute…
Though the index has decreased over the last four years, we must realize that at that time there was an overabundance of housing inventory and as many as one out of three listings was a distressed property (foreclosure or short sale). All prices dropped dramatically and distressed properties sold at major discounts. Then, mortgage rates fell like a rock.
The market is recovering and values are coming back nicely. That has caused the index to fall.
However, let’s remove the crisis years and look at the current index as compared to the index from 1990 – 2008. We can see that, even though prices have increased, historically low mortgage rates have put the index in a better position than every year for the nineteen years prior to the crash.
The Housing Affordability Index is in great shape and should not be seen as a challenge to the real estate market’s continued recovery.
Many experts have been calling upon home builders to ramp up construction to help with the lack of existing inventory for sale. For the past two months, new home sales have surged, with July’s total coming in at the highest since October 2007.
The latest estimates from the US Census Bureau and Department of Housing and Urban Development show that sales in July were 31.3% higher than this time last year, and 12.4% higher than last month, at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 654,000.
Zillow’s Chief Economist, Svenja Gudell, echoed the reaction of some as she commented:
“July(‘s) new home sales data was a surprise, but a welcome one. For years, the market has been practically begging builders to both ramp up their efforts overall and to put more focus on serving the less expensive end of the market. Today's data confirms both are happening in earnest.”
“This rise in new home sales is consistent with our builders’ reports that market conditions have been improving. As existing home inventory remains flat, we should see more consumers turning to new construction.”
NAHB’s Chief Economist, Robert Dietz, believes this is just the start for new home sales if market conditions continue:
“July’s positive report shows there is a need for new single-family homes, buoyed by increased household formation, job gains and attractive mortgage rates. This uptick in demand should translate into increased housing production throughout 2016 and into next year.”
The existing home sales numbers for July will be released today and will shed more light on the overall health of the housing market.
New home sales hit their highest mark in over 9 years. Buyers are out in force to find a home that fits their needs. Many are turning to new construction, as the inventory of existing homes has not been able to keep up with demand.
In a recent post, CoreLogic looked at the correlation between stocks and the sales of upper-end properties ($1 Million+ sales price). The report revealed:
“The powerful ‘wealth effects’ generated by the rapid rise in equities between 2009 and 2015 drove a large rise in the sales of homes that sold for $1 million or more.
Historically, sales of homes priced $1 million or more averaged 1.2 percent of all home sales. The spread between high-end sales and equities widened during the housing bubble but then moved more closely in unison. By the time the equity markets had peaked in May 2015, the $1 million or more share of the market had nearly doubled, averaging 2.2 percent for the remainder of the year.”
This makes sense. As people see their wealth increasing, they feel more confident in their purchasing power. And, of course, that would also impact their decisions regarding real estate. The stock market dipped earlier this year and there was quite a bit of anecdotal evidence that the upper-end market was beginning to soften.
As we can see in the chart below, the market is again flourishing. That may rejuvenate the luxury market as we move through the rest of the year.
As we proceed through 2016 and enter 2017, the strength of the stock market will be a key factor in the strength of the luxury market. If the stock market falters, look for high-end sales to slow. If the market advances, as it has shown signs of doing most recently, the high-end market will advance.