NAR Chief Economist Addresses Senate Committee

nar building washington dc

JULY 22, 2022

By Kerry Smith

Sales will weaken and for-sale inventory will grow, but it won’t do much to help affordability, Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said.

WASHINGTON – National Association of Realtors® (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun spoke before the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs as they dig deeper in an attempt to understand what’s happening in the U.S. housing market.

Yun told the committee that he doesn’t foresee a nationwide decline in home prices despite indications that price growth is set to slow. He testified that the potential for weaker sales should increase available for-sale inventory in some markets, but not enough to diminish persistent affordability constraints that, for many Americans, have kept homeownership out of reach for years.

“In the near term, I do not expect the situation to change appreciably,” Yun said Thursday. “Historic undersupply in the market, combined with continued demand, will likely drive ongoing issues with affordability for many Americans.

“Any short-term price adjustments, if they occur, will be less consequential compared to the immense longer-term housing affordability challenges we face as a country.”

Thursday’s hearing, Priced Out: The State of Housing in America, was recorded and can be viewed online.

The committee hearings come as the nation confronts a 6-million-unit housing shortage. The decades-in-the-making phenomenon has helped sustain year-over-year price growth for a record 124 consecutive months. A study of other circumstances influencing the market is also particularly compelling given COVID’s impact on U.S. housing and the more recent fluctuations in mortgage interest rates.

“When the Federal Reserve essentially went all-in in the early months of the pandemic … the decline in mortgage rates and the cautious reopening of the economy boosted housing demand,” said Yun. “The housing market always responds to changes in mortgage rates.”

Interest rates, which had been consistently in the 4-to-5% range in the decade preceding COVID-19, hovered near record lows of around 3% throughout much of 2020 and 2021. NAR’s most recent existing home sales report found that the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage in June was up to 5.52%.

“Any increases in available inventory observed over the first half of this year have been offset by the corresponding increases in consumer costs,” Yun said on Capitol Hill, explaining that rate increases of roughly 2.5 percentage points have added about $800 per month to a median-priced house payment.

“This affordability crunch is felt most acutely as we move down the income scale and by minority households, given the current income distribution in America,” he continued. “That is why housing supply must be addressed to moderate home price and rent gains.”

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


Will Home Prices and Rents Finally Fall? Our Bold Predictions on Real Estate in 2022

By Clare Trapasso
Dec 1, 2021

1 of a 3 part series
Highlights:

  • Prices will stay high, inventory will remain tight, and mortgage rates will rise
  • Prices aren’t anticipated to come down from the highs
  • “The pace of price growth is going to slow notably, bringing it more in line with buyers’ incomes”

Here’s what we already know: Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the real estate market has been on a wild ride of unprecedented highs and lows—record-high home prices on one side, record-low mortgage rates and available homes for sale on the other. It’s been a time of overwhelming stress for many, gigantic profits for some, and great disorientation for most of us.

Now the housing experts say the market is “normalizing.” But what does that mean? Will home prices and rents finally come down? Will more homes go up for sale? And what does the year ahead have in store for the real estate market?

The Realtor.com® 2022 housing forecast anticipates the market will continue slowing down from the frenzy seen in the spring when prices shot up to new heights. However, prices will stay high, inventory will remain tight, and mortgage rates will rise.

The bottom line: Even as the market calms down further, it’s still expected to be challenging for buyers, especially those purchasing their first homes.

“The 2022 housing market will continue to be a seller’s market with fast-moving homes and rising prices,” says Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “But the competition should be a bit less intense than we’ve seen recently.”

Home prices will stay high, but price growth will continue slowing

Home prices aren’t expected to keep zooming up into the stratosphere in 2022 the way they did this year. So buyers can breathe at least a shallow sigh of relief. Instead, Realtor.com economists anticipate they’ll increase at a much slower rate of just 2.9% over this year compared with an anticipated 12% rise in 2021.

This means the double-digit price growth that confounded buyers earlier this year is expected to taper off.

However, prices aren’t anticipated to come down from the highs they reached this year due to the continuing shortage of properties for sale and hordes of buyers continuing to enter the market. They just won’t go up so much as quickly.

“Price growth is expected to move back toward a normal range, but this is on top of recent high prices,” says Hale. “So prices will [still] hit new highs.”

While that’s not great news for buyers, homes aren’t expected to cost much more than they did just a few months ago.

“The pace of price growth is going to slow notably, bringing it more in line with buyers’ incomes,” says Hale. “With prices high and mortgage rates beginning to tick up, people won’t be able to be as aggressive in what they’re willing to pay.”