This week, Chief Economist Danielle Hale discusses what small business optimism, consumer and producer inflation data, and retail sales data signal about the U.S. economy. She also highlights what these data imply for the Fed’s likely path forward.
0:10 – Business optimism trends 0:25 – Inflation trends 1:24 – Mortgage rates 1:40 – Construction trends 2:11 – Real estate listings trends
Buyers who wait for more inventory, lower interest rates or something else may never own a home. And given history, 2023 is a pretty good year to commit.
McDONOUGH, Ga. – Mortgage rates are finally falling across the fruited plains, with rates in the 5.6% range for a 30-year fixed mortgage not uncommon in early February. Couple that with declining home prices and an uptick in the residential real estate inventory, and it looks like the great American homebuyer finally has leverage after two years of home sellers calling the shots.
“2023 will be better for buyers,” said Magellan Realty LLC mortgage broker Alex Caras. “As the Federal Reserve keeps interest rates at the current levels, the buying market will start to open up more, reducing competition for existing homes.”
Construction woes brought on by the supply chain issues are also being eased, “so more new homes will be on the market,” Caras added.
Buyers getting an edge
Those are the macro reasons why U.S. homebuyers have a leg up going into the busy spring and summer real estate season. Buyers should have an edge thanks to these five realities, as well.
1. Mega-high prices are a thing of the past. “The price climbing we saw in 2020 and 2021 has hit a plateau,” said Guaranteed Rate Mortgage Senior Vice President of Lending Jennifer Beeston. “It took a good chunk of 2022 for many sellers to realize 2021 is long gone and they needed to be more realistic with the pricing and condition of their home.”
In addition, buyers see a return to a more balanced market in 2023. “Now, buyers actually can get inspections and can negotiate prices,” Beeston said. “That wasn’t the case with the drama of 2022.”
2. The Federal Reserve is hitting the brakes. The U.S. Federal Reserve is slowing down its policy of substantial interest rate increases that were prevalent in 2022.
“This means more buyers will be able to purchase a home at a lower rate,” Caras told TheStreet. “Home prices have been reduced to a more reasonable level as well, and this will continue for much of 2023 as the competition to purchase homes has lessened.”
3. The pandemic is over. Buyers will have an opportunity to negotiate again in 2023 and even more so in 2024.
“We’re likely going to see some distressed sales and sellers will need to become more realistic,” said Pulse International Realty founder Rena Kliot. “The spike in home prices is not sustainable and was in direct correlation to the pandemic. During the dark days of the pandemic, there were many desperate and emotional purchases.”
4. Changing residential market tastes. While single-family homes will continue to be popular, the U.S. condo market will return in full swing.
“Life as we knew it seems to be returning and that is drawing people back to urban dwelling – especially with condo living,” Kliot said. “Condo prices are now also more affordable or negotiable than single-family residences.”
5. Strong signals from the stock market. Across the U.S., there seems to be a general sigh of relief the worst has passed.
“Inflation has peaked, interest rates have peaked, and home prices have peaked for now,” said Elegran Real Estate managing director Jared Antin. “The stock market – notably the tech-heavy NASDAQ – has seen a significant rebound thus far in 2023, which instills a certain level of confidence in the consumer.”
The falling market through much of 2022 had the opposite effect, reducing consumer appetite for a new home with rising interest rates and inflation.
“Now, a more positive consumer base will help fuel a rebounding real estate market,” Antin noted.
One of the most important things a would-be home buyer should do right now is to stay hopeful and be prepared.
“Don’t assume that just because you’re having trouble finding a home now, or can’t afford a house at today’s rates, that you’ll never be a homeowner,” LendingTree senior economist Jacob Channel. “If you have patience and are willing to compromise on some things, like how many bathrooms your house needs to have or what specific neighborhood you require, you can make your dream of homeownership a reality.”
Additionally, being prepared financially when a good deal arises is critical right now.
“Be diligent about saving money and make all of your monthly payments on time to protect your credit,” Chanel told TheStreet. “Also, shop around and compare mortgage offers from different lenders or look into different mortgage loan programs – like FHA or USDA backed loans – so you can make the home buying experience more affordable.”
It’s down from last week’s 6.33%. Freddie Mac’s chief economist says it provides a “much-needed boost” for the housing market, but inventory is a concern.
Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate fell this week to its lowest level since September, a potential boost to the housing market which has been in decline for nearly a year.
Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac reported Thursday that the average on the benchmark 30-year rate fell to 6.15% from 6.33% last week. A year ago the average rate was 3.56%.
The average long-term rate reached a two-decade high of 7.08% in the fall as the Federal Reserve continued to boost its key lending rate in its quest to cool the economy and tame inflation.
The big rise in mortgage rates during the past year has throttled the housing market, with sales of existing homes falling for 10 straight months to the lowest level in more than a decade.
Though home prices have retreated as demand has declined, they are still nearly 11% higher than a year ago. Higher prices and a doubling of mortgage rates have made homebuying much less affordable for many people, but recent rate declines could give some homebuyers new hope.
“Rates are at their lowest level since September of last year, boosting both homebuyer demand and homebuilder sentiment,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Declining rates are providing a much-needed boost to the housing market, but the supply of homes remains a persistent concern.”
At its final meeting of 2022, the Federal Reserve raised its rate 0.50 percentage points, its seventh increase last year. That pushed the central bank’s key rate to a range of 4.25% to 4.5%, its highest level in 15 years.
Though inflation at the consumer level has declined for six straight months, Fed officials have signaled that they may raise the central bank’s main borrowing rate another three-quarters of a point in 2023, which would be in a range of 5% to 5.25%.
Rates for 30-year mortgages usually track the moves in the 10-year Treasury yield, which lenders use as a guide to pricing loans. Investors’ expectations for future inflation, global demand for U.S. Treasurys and what the Federal Reserve does with interest rates can also influence the cost of borrowing for a home.
The rate for a 15-year mortgage, popular with those refinancing their homes, also declined this week, to 5.28% from 5.52% last week. It was 2.79% one year ago.
For most of the country, loan limits will increase next year due to house price appreciation during the first half of 2022, which is factored into calculations FHA uses to determine the limits each year. The yearly increase calculations for FHA loans and those backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are written into law.
“The loan limits announced today reflect steep increases in home prices throughout much of the country and will ensure continued access to FHA-insured mortgage financing despite those increases,” said Assistant Secretary for Housing and Federal Housing Commissioner Julia Gordon.
Forward mortgage loan limits
Mortgage limits for the special exception areas of Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands are adjusted by FHA to account for higher costs of construction.
In 2023 the maximum loan limits for FHA forward mortgages will rise in 3,222 counties. In 12 counties, FHA’s loan limits will remain unchanged. By statute, the median home price for a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) is based on the county within the MSA that has the highest median price.
HECM loan limits
The HECM maximum claim amount will increase from $970,800 this year to $1,089,300 for FHA case numbers assigned on or after Jan. 1, 2023. This maximum claim amount is applicable to all areas, including the special exception areas of Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
To find a complete list of FHA loan limits, areas at the FHA ceiling, and areas between the floor and the ceiling, visit FHA’s Loan Limits Page.
Home prices rose 8.6% in 3Q, with 46% of metros seeing double-digit price growth – a drop from 80% in 2Q. Of the top 10 high-price-increase metros, 7 are in Fla.
WASHINGTON – An overwhelming majority of metro markets saw home price gains in the third quarter of 2022, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). That increase was in spite of rising mortgage rates that approached 7% and declining sales.
Of the 185 metros NAR tracks, 46% had double-digit price increases, though that’s down from 80% in the second quarter.
The national median single-family existing-home price climbed 8.6% year-to-year to $398,500. While still a notable price increase, it’s down from the 14.2% recorded in the previous quarter.
“Much lower buying capacity has slowed home price growth and the trend will continue until mortgage rates stop rising,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “The median income needed to buy a typical home has risen to $88,300 – that’s almost $40,000 more than it was prior to the start of the pandemic back in 2019.”
Among the major U.S. regions, the South registered the largest share of single-family existing-home sales (44%) and the greatest year-over-year price appreciation (11.9%) in the third quarter. Prices were up 8.2% in the Northeast, 7.4% in the West, and 6.6% in the Midwest.
Fla. has 7 of top 10 metros for price growth
North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton – 23.8%
Lakeland-Winter Haven – 21.2%
Myrtle Beach-Conway-North Myrtle Beach, S.C.-N.C. – 21.1%
Panama City – 20.5%
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach – 19.6%
Port St. Lucie – 19.4%
Greenville-Anderson-Mauldin, S.C. – 18.9%
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol, Tenn.-Va. – 18.8%
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater – 18.8%
10 most expensive markets in the U.S.
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. – $1,688,000; 2.3%
San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. – $1,300,000; -3.7%
“The more expensive markets on the West Coast will likely experience some price declines following this rapid price appreciation, which is the result of many years of limited home building,” Yun says. “The Midwest, with relatively affordable home prices, will likely continue to see price gains as incomes and rents both rise.”
Higher cost for monthly payments
In the third quarter of 2022, stubbornly high home prices and increasing mortgage rates reduced housing affordability. The monthly mortgage payment on a typical existing single-family home with a 20% down payment was $1,840. That’s a marginal increase from the second quarter ($1,837) but a significant year-to-year jump of $614 – or 50%.
Families typically spent 25% of their income on mortgage payments, down from 25.3% in the prior quarter, but up from 17.2% one year ago.
“A return to a normal spread between the government borrowing rate and the home purchase borrowing rate will bring the 30-year mortgage rates down to around 6%,” Yun says. “The usual spread between the 10-year Treasury yield and the 30-year mortgage rate is between 150 to 200 basis points, rather than the current spread of 300 basis points.”
First-time buyer challenges
First-time buyers looking to purchase a typical home during the third quarter of 2022 continued to feel the impact of housing’s growing unaffordability. For a typical starter home valued at $338,700 with a 10% down payment loan, the monthly mortgage payment rose to $1,808 – nearly identical to the previous quarter ($1,807) but an increase of almost $600 (49%), from one year ago ($1,210).
First-time buyers typically spent 37.8% of their family income on mortgage payments, up from 36.8% in the previous quarter. A mortgage is considered unaffordable if the monthly payment (principal and interest) amounts to more than 25% of the family’s income.
A family needed a qualifying income of at least $100,000 to afford a 10% down payment mortgage in 59 markets, up from 53 in the prior quarter. Yet, a family needed a qualifying income of less than $50,000 to afford a home in 17 markets, down from 23 in the previous quarter.
For those looking for the good news about today’s real estate market. A bit of a deep dive, about 60 minutes worth but excellently delivered. Three main facts tell us it’s not all doom and gloom. Combine them with the time of year and the general fear that has most buyers/sellers on the sidelines, spells opportunity. (40:00). We can help should you decide to take advantage of today’s market.
Historical trends, what happens after quantitative tightening (12:00)
Demographics, there’s a lot of millennials (24:50)
Inventory levels, yes they are still historically low (22:00)
They now make up 45% of all homebuyers, up from 37% last year, even as affordability issues persist. Repeat buyers may have pulled back due to rising interest rates.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – First-time home buyers have returned to the housing market, and those who can afford a home are finding success after years of setbacks. The share of buyers purchasing a home for the first time has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels.
First-time buyers now represent 45% of all buyers, up from 37% of buyers surveyed last year, according to Zillow’s 2022 Consumer Housing Trends Report. If they can overcome affordability challenges, first-time buyers could be well positioned to continue increasing their share in today’s shifting market, with more options and time to decide on the right home.
The share of first-time buyers plummeted during the pandemic amid rapidly rising home values and tough competition, even with high demand coming from the large millennial generation. Zillow research found younger, likely first-time shoppers were losing out to older, repeat buyers who were able to tap the equity in their existing homes and use cash to make a stronger offer. A Zillow survey found younger buyers were more likely to report losing to an all-cash buyer at least once, as was the case for 45% of Gen Z and 38% of millennial buyers, compared to 30% of all buyers.
“First-time buyers now appear to be making relative gains as high mortgage interest rates disproportionately encourage current homeowners to stay put,” said Zillow population scientist Manny Garcia. “The flow of homes into the market is slowing, suggesting homeowners are likely comparing their current low mortgage rate to today’s rates and deciding not to move. While rising mortgage rates are hurting affordability for all buyers, first-time buyers may be less deterred by higher rates because they’re comparing a monthly mortgage payment to what they’re paying in rent.”
First-time buyers are making up a larger share of a smaller pie. Newly pending home sales were down 29% in August, compared to a year prior, as buyers struggle to keep up with higher home prices and interest rates. Home values remain 14.1% higher than last year, even after two consecutive month-over-month declines. When combined with rising mortgage interest rates, the typical monthly payment on a home is nearly 60% higher today than it was a year ago.
Recent Zillow research finds those affordability challenges have driven up demand for the lowest-priced homes in each market. While there are fewer buyers overall, first-time buyers may find more competition for starter homes.
The silver lining is that today’s much-needed market rebalancing has the potential to especially benefit first-time buyers, who have the flexibility to shop without trying to time the purchase of their new home with the sale of an existing home. Listings typically lingered 16 days on the market in August before going under contract, compared to eight days in June, meaning buyers have twice as much time to decide on a home compared to this time last year.
First-time buyers may also have more bargaining power as a growing number of sellers drop their prices. The share of listings with a price cut grew to roughly 28% in August, according to Zillow’s latest monthly market report.
As the market changes, aspiring first-time buyers may need to change their approach. These five tips are a good starting point:
Understand what’s affordable. As mortgage interest rates fluctuate, aspiring buyers can start with a mortgage calculator to understand what they can realistically afford on a monthly basis. Take into account some of the hidden costs of homeownership, such as property tax, insurance and HOA dues, which can add up to more than $750 per month. But it’s always best to leave some wiggle room in the budget for unexpected maintenance projects and emergency repairs. First-time shoppers should also explore down payment assistance programs they may qualify for.
Finance first. First-time buyers can gain a competitive edge by getting pre-approved for a mortgage. A Zillow survey finds 86% of sellers prefer a buyer who has been pre-approved, as opposed to pre-qualified, for a mortgage. This financial check gives sellers more certainty that a buyer will close on time, and it allows buyers to make a stronger, faster offer the minute the right home hits the market. Buyers can start the pre-approval process online. Don’t hesitate to try, try, try again. Nearly half of all first-time buyers (47%) are denied a mortgage at least once before ultimately getting approved.
Hire the right agent. An experienced agent will have a finger on the pulse of their local market and know all the changes happening in it, and they can help buyers make strategic decisions to win. They’ll know when to come in with an offer under list price or when to expect a bidding war. Buyers should plan on interviewing their top candidates and asking the right questions.
Shop smarter with tech. New real estate technology can help first-time buyers make faster, smarter decisions. Virtual 3D Home tours and interactive floor plans give shoppers a more authentic experience of a home, allowing them to quickly narrow down their options and tour fewer homes in person.
Keep the contingencies. With less competition, first-time buyers should have the leverage to include important contingencies in their offers that could potentially save them a lot of money in the long run. An inspection contingency can identify major structural, mechanical or safety issues that could be extremely costly to repair and cause buyer’s remorse. A financing or appraisal contingency will ensure a buyer can walk away with their earnest money if a home fails to be appraised for the offer price or if their financing falls through.
Access this weekly report for real-time data on residential market activity across the Bright MLS footprint. October 17, 2022 Lisa Sturtevant, PhD
Here are the highlights for the week ending October 16, 2022:
Inventory continues to increase throughout the Bright footprint. The average number of active listings during the week ending October 16 was up 17.5% compared to the same week a year ago. Active listings edged up 0.9% compared to last week, which is the second weekly increase in a row. Despite these increases, overall supply across the region remains very low.
Market activity is still below 2019 levels as buyers and sellers continue to remain on the sidelines. On the buyer side, both closed sales and new purchase contracts were down significantly compared to last year at this time and were even lower than before the pandemic. Closed sales this week were about 14% lower than the same week during 2019, while the number of new purchase contracts tracked 22% lower than during the same week in 2019.
There was a slight uptick in both new purchase activity and new listings compared to a week ago. Typically, both the number of new purchase contracts and new listings decline during the second week of October. This year, however, there were slight increases, with new purchase contracts 2.1% higher than a week ago and new listings up 3.0% week-to-week. These weekly increases could indicate some buyers and sellers are starting to act in anticipation of higher mortgage rates later this fall.
Homes are still selling relatively quickly. The median days on market was 15 during the week ending October 16, which is up four days compared to last year and is one day longer than a week ago. The median days on market is still much lower than 2019, when homes typically took 25 days to sell.
Fannie Mae Joins Freddie, FHA to Use Rent Payments
By Talis Shelbourne
A majority of mortgage providers will now allow renters with thin credit scores to include on-time rent payments in the data a lender uses when considering approvals.
WASHINGTON – Fannie Mae launched its Multifamily Positive Rent Payment Reporting pilot program last week, offering a national lifeline to aspiring homeowners with no established credit history.
The program is expected to have a significant impact on cities with high renter populations and on groups that often have difficulty establishing credit.
Fannie Mae, officially the Federal National Mortgage Association, was created by Congress during the Great Depression. The public-private “government-supported enterprise” purchases mortgages from financial institutions.
Fannie Mae had already updated its computer-automated system last year to include bank records showing consistent rent payments by individuals. The system, called the Desktop Underwriter, is used by lenders to evaluate the creditworthiness of mortgage applicants.
The change meant individuals could collect documentation of their rent payments made via check, electronically through a rental management’s payment portal and through other electronic methods connected to a bank and provide those to a mortgage lender as evidence of a good rental history. Freddie Mac and FHA loans previously announced rent-payment considerations.
This latest rent reporting program allows the renters of multifamily properties to report their rent payment history. As an incentive, Fannie Mae will cover the first year of costs associated with reporting that data.
According to Fannie Mae, if a renter misses a payment, they are automatically unenrolled so it does not damage their credit score; landlords, however, are allowed to report missed rent payments to credit agencies on their own, which would negatively impact credit history.
Credit is an essential part of the home buying process, and experts advise prospective homeowners achieve a credit score of at least 620 to get the best rates for a mortgage.
The lender ultimately decides to approve the loan. In some cases, Fannie Mae will purchase a loan to “guarantee” it, which means it is responsible for the debt if the borrower defaults.
Interest rates for the average 30-yr, fixed-rate mortgage according to Freddie Mac’s PMMS hit:
4% in March 😟 5% in April 😰 6% in early-September 😨 7% (well, almost) in late-September 😱
The slowdown continues, but we have yet to see the impact of the most recent (massive) jump in mortgage rates on homebuyer demand.
August existing home sales dropped for the 7th straight month. Price growth decelerated further to “just” 8% YoY. [Source: Realtor.com]
Meanwhile, pending sales for August dropped 2% MoM and 24% YoY. The NAR now forecasts existing home sales to fall 15% YoY in 2022, with new home sales down 21% YoY. [Source: NAR]
Home price growth slowed to 15.8% YoY in July, from 18.1% YoY in June. That may not seem like much, but it’s the biggest 1-month drop in the index’s history.
Case-Shiller is the gold standard for home price appreciation because it tracks the sales prices of very similar homes across 20 big cities. It’s an ‘apples to apples’ comparison. But that accuracy comes at a cost…the data is 2 months old by the time we get it.
An extremely volatile week for the bond market (after the Fed raised rates 75bps) saw 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages briefly exceed 7% [with no points], before dropping back to around 6.75%. [Source: Mortgage News Daily]
Freddie Mac’s closely watched PMMS survey saw the interest rate on the average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage climb to 6.7%. Keep in mind that this figure includes an average 0.9 points purchased. Without those points, the rate would have been at/ahead of 7%.
Still a Seller’s Market
Demand is falling and inventory has risen, but in most markets, well-priced homes are still selling very, very quickly.
In fact, the average Days on Market for sold properties has only edged up from 14 (in June & July) to 16 in August. In 2011 that figure was 96! Looked at another way, 81% of homes sold in August had been on the market less than a month.
That said, the average number of offers received for each property sold has plunged from a frenzied 5.5 in April 2022 to 2.5 in August. That’s actually getting pretty close to “normal” pre-pandemic levels of competition.
National Housing Stats
They Said It
“Success demands singleness of purpose. You need to be doing fewer things for more effect instead of doing more things with side effects. It is those who concentrate on one thing at a time who advance in this world.” — Gary Keller, The One Thing
“Our house is clean enough to be healthy and dirty enough to be happy” — Robyn Griggs Lawrence
The average duration of homeownership in the US is around 12 years. So if someone in your sphere of influence (SOI) bought a home in the last few years, there’s no reason to actively stay in touch with them, right? Wrong. Take the inverse of 12 (that’s 1/12) and you get 8.3%.
This means that, mathematically, 8% of your SOI is going to move in the next year…for reasons that you (and often they) couldn’t have predicted. Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky said “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” In real estate, you probably lose 80–90% of the past clients that you don’t stay in contact with.