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Why Mortgage Rates Could Continue To Decline

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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Expert Quotes on the 2024 Housing Market Forecast

If you’re thinking about buying or selling a home soon, you probably want to know what you can expect from the housing market in 2024. In 2023, higher mortgage rates, confusion over home price headlines, and a lack of homes for sale created some challenges for buyers and sellers looking to make a move. But what’s on the horizon for the new year?

The good news is, many experts are optimistic we’ve turned a corner and are headed in a positive direction.

Mortgage Rates Expected To Ease

Recently, mortgage rates have started to come back down. This has offered hope to buyers dealing with affordability challenges. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, explains how they may continue to drop:

Mortgage rates have already retreated from recent peaks near 8 percent and may fall further . . .

Jessica Lautz, Deputy Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), says:

“For home buyers who are taking on a mortgage to purchase a home and have been wary of the autumn rise in mortgage rates, the market is turning more favorable, and there should be optimism entering 2024 for a better market.”

The Supply of Homes for Sale May Grow

As rates ease, activity in the housing market should pick up because more buyers and sellers who had been holding off will jump back into action. If more sellers list, the supply of homes for sale will grow – a trend we’ve already started to see this year. Lisa Sturtevant, Chief Economist at Bright MLS, says:

Supply will loosen up in 2024. Even homeowners who have been characterized as being ‘locked in’ to low rates will increasingly find that changing family and financial circumstances will lead to more moves and more new listings over the course of the year, particularly as rates move closer to 6.5%.”

Home Price Growth Should Moderate

And mortgage rates pulling back isn’t the only positive sign for affordability. Home price growth is expected to moderate too, as inventory improves but is still low overall. As the Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES) from Fannie Mae, a survey of over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts, says:

“On average, the panel anticipates home price growth to clock in at 5.9% in 2023, to be followed by slower growth in 2024 and 2025 of 2.4 percent and 2.7 percent, respectively.” 

To wrap it up, experts project 2024 will be a better year for the housing market. So, if you’re thinking about making a move next year, know that early signs show we’re turning a corner. As Mike Simonsen, President and Founder of Altos Research, puts it:

“We’re going into 2024 with slight home-price gains, somewhat easing inventory constraints, slightly increasing transaction volume . . . All in all, things are looking up for the U.S. housing market in 2024.”

Bottom Line

Experts are optimistic about what 2024 holds for the housing market. If you’re looking to buy or sell a home in the new year, the best way to ensure you’re up to date on the latest forecasts is to partner with a trusted real estate agent. 

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Why Now Is Still a Great Time To Sell Your House

If you were worried buyer demand disappeared when mortgage rates went up, the data shows there are plenty of interested buyers still out there. The housing market isn’t as frenzied as it was during the ‘unicorn’ years when buyer demand was through the roof, mortgage rates were historically low, and home values rose like we’ve never seen before. But that doesn’t mean the market is at a standstill.

Nationally, demand is still high compared to the last normal years in the housing market and plenty of buyers are making moves right now. Here’s the data to prove it.

Showing Traffic Is Up

The ShowingTime Showing Index is a measure of how frequently buyers are touring homes. The graph below uses that index to show buyer activity over the past eight Octobers:

 

In the graph, the ‘unicorn’ years are shown in pink. You can see demand has dipped some since then. That’s in response to higher mortgage rates. But, when you compare 2023 to the blue bars on the left that represent the last normal years in the market (2018-2019), you can tell buyers are still more active than the norm.

But showing traffic isn’t the only way to see buyer demand is still high. The number of offers other sellers are getting and the average days homes are on the market tell the same story.

Sellers Are Still Seeing Multiple Offers

According to the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), sellers are receiving an average of 2.5 offers on their houses. Let’s look at how that compares to recent years (see graph below):

 

It’s true that’s fewer than the number of offers sellers were receiving during the ‘unicorn’ years (shown in pink). But compared to last year, the number is up slightly. And it’s higher than it was in the more normal, pre-‘unicorn’ years in the housing market too.

Homes Priced Right Are Selling Fast

And it’s not just that sellers are still typically getting multiple offers more than the norm, they’re also seeing their homes sell fast. That’s a direct result of strong buyer demand. According to Zillow:

“. . . low inventory levels are spurring surprisingly strong competition . . . demand has remained resilient, and attractive, appropriately priced listings are moving quickly.”

To help showcase that homes for sale are still going quickly, let’s look at data from NAR on the median days on market for this same time of year from 2018 through now (see graph below):

  

As the graph shows, this year homes are sitting on the market only slightly longer than they were during the frenzy of the ‘unicorn’ years. And compared to the last normal years in the market, homes are still selling much faster than they did back then. That’s good news for sellers because it means there are eager buyers out there right now.

Bottom Line

You haven’t missed your chance to sell at a time when sellers are receiving multiple offers, and homes are selling fast. When you’re ready to sell your house, connect with a local real estate agent to get the ball rolling.

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Experts Project Home Prices Will Rise over the Next 5 Years

Even with so much data showing home prices are actually rising in most of the country, there are still a lot of people who worry there will be another price crash in the immediate future. In fact, a recent survey from Fannie Mae shows that 23% of consumers think prices will fall over the next 12 months. That’s nearly one in four people who are dealing with that fear – maybe you’re one of them.

To help ease that concern, here’s what the experts say will happen with home prices not just next year, but over the next five years.

Experts Project Ongoing Appreciation

While seeing a small handful of expert opinions may not be enough to change your mind, hopefully, a larger group of experts will reassure you. Here’s that larger group.

The Home Price Expectation Survey (HPES) from Pulsenomics is a great resource to show what experts forecast for home prices over a five-year period. It includes projections from over 100 economists, investment strategists, and housing market analysts. And the results from the latest quarterly release show home prices are expected to go up every year through 2027 (see graph below):

 

And while the projected increase in 2024 isn’t as large as 2023, remember home price appreciation is cumulative. In other words, if these experts are correct after your home’s value rises by 3.32% this year, it should go up by another 2.17% next year.

If you’re worried home prices are going to fall, here’s the big takeaway. Even though prices vary by local area, experts project they’ll continue to rise across the country for years to come at a pace that’s more normal for the market.

What Does This Mean for You?

If you’re not convinced yet, maybe these numbers will get your attention. They show how a typical home’s value could change over the next few years using the expert projections from the HPES. Check out the graph below:

 

In this example, let’s say you bought a $400,000 home at the beginning of this year. If you factor in the forecast from the HPES, you could potentially accumulate more than $71,000 in household wealth over the next five years.

Bottom Line

If you’re someone who’s worried home prices are going to fall, rest assured a lot of experts say it’s just the opposite – nationally, home prices will continue to climb not just next year, but for years to come. If you have any questions or concerns about what’s next for home prices in your local area, connect with a real estate agent.

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3 Reasons To Sell Your House Before the New Year [INFOGRAPHIC]

Some Highlights

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Is Owning a Home Still the American Dream for Younger Buyers?

Everyone has their own idea of the American Dream, and it’s different for each person. But, in a recent survey by Bankrate, people were asked about the achievements they believe represent the American Dream the most. The answers show that owning a home still claims the #1 spot for many Americans today (see graph below):

 

In fact, according to the graph, owning a home is more important to people than retiring, having a successful career, or even getting a college degree. But is the dream of homeownership still alive for younger generations?

A recent survey by 1000watt dives into how the two generations many people believed would be the renter generations (Gen Z and millennials) feel about homeownership. Specifically, it asks if they want to buy a home in the future. The resounding answer is yes (see graph below):

While there are plenty of reasons why someone might prefer homeownership to renting, the same 1000watt survey shows, that for 63% of Gen Z and millennials, it’s that your place doesn’t feel like “home” unless you own it – maybe you feel the same way.

That emotional draw is further emphasized when you look at the reasons why Gen Z and millennials want to become homeowners. For all the financial benefits homeownership provides, in most cases it’s about the lifestyle or emotional benefits (see graph below):

 

What Does This Mean for You?

If you’re a part of Gen Z or are a millennial and you’re ready, willing, and able to buy a home, you’ll want a great real estate agent by your side. Their experience and expertise in the local housing market will help you overcome today’s high mortgage rates, low inventory, and rising home prices to find your first home and turn your dream into a reality.

Working with a local real estate agent to find your dream home is the key to unlocking the American Dream.

Bottom Line

Buying a home is a big, important decision that represents the heart of the American Dream. If you want to accomplish your goal, begin by talking to a local real estate expert to start the process today.

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Why the Economy Won’t Tank the Housing Market

If you’re worried about a coming recession, you’re not alone. Over the past couple of years, there’s been a lot of recession talk. And many people worry, if we do have one, it would cause the unemployment rate to skyrocket. Some even fear that a spike in unemployment would lead to a rash of foreclosures similar to what happened 15 years ago.

However, the latest Economic Forecasting Survey from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reveals that, for the first time in over a year, less than half (48%) of economists believe a recession will actually occur within the next year:

Economists are turning optimistic on the U.S. economy . . . economists lowered the probability of a recession within the next year, from 54% on average in July to a more optimistic 48%. That is the first time they have put the probability below 50% since the middle of last year.”

If over half of the experts no longer expect a recession within the next year, you might naturally think those same experts also don’t expect the unemployment rate to jump way up – and you’d be right. The graph below uses data from that same WSJ survey to show exactly what the economists project for the unemployment rate over the next three years (see graph below):

 

If those expert projections are correct, more people will lose their jobs in the upcoming year. And job losses of any kind are devastating for those people and their loved ones.

However, the question here is: will there be enough job losses to cause a wave of foreclosures that will crash the housing market? Based on historical context from Macrotrends and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the answer is no. That’s because the unemployment rate is currently near all-time lows (see graph below):

 

As the orange bar in the graph shows, the average unemployment rate dating back to 1948 is 5.7%. The red bar shows, the last time the housing market crashed, in the immediate aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, the average unemployment rate was up to 8.3%. Both of those bars are much higher than the unemployment rate today (shown in the blue bar).

Moving forward, projections show the unemployment rate is likely to stay beneath the 75-year average. And that means we won’t see a wave of foreclosures that would severely impact the housing market.

Bottom Line

Most economists no longer expect a recession to occur in the next 12 months. That’s why they also don’t expect a dramatic rise in the unemployment rate that would lead to a rash of foreclosures and another housing market crash. If you have questions about unemployment and its impact on the housing market, connect with a real estate professional.

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Are The Top 3 Housing Market Questions on Your Mind?

When it comes to what’s happening in the housing market, there’s a lot of confusion going around right now. You may hear one thing in conversation with your friends, see something totally different on the news, and read something on social media that contradicts both of those thoughts. And, if you’re thinking about making a move, that can leave you with a lot of lingering questions. That’s where a trusted local real estate agent comes in.

Here are the top 3 questions people are asking about today’s housing market, and the data to help answer them.

1. What’s Next for Mortgage Rates?

Mortgage rates are higher than they’ve been in recent years. And, if you’re looking to buy a home, that impacts how much you can afford. That’s why so many buyers want to know what’s ahead for mortgage rates. The answer to that question is: no one can say for certain, but here’s what we know based on historical trends.

There’s a long-standing relationship between mortgage rates and inflation. Basically, when inflation is high, mortgage rates tend to follow suit. Over the past year, inflation was up, so mortgage rates were as well. But inflation is easing now. And this is why the Federal Reserve has recently paused their federal funds rate hikes, which means many experts believe mortgage rates will begin to come down.

And in some ways, we’ve started to see hints of slightly lower mortgage rates in recent weeks. But it’s certainly been volatile and will likely continue to be that way going into next year. Some ongoing variation is to be expected, but the anticipation is, that in 2024, we’ll see a downward trend. As Aziz Sunderji, Strategist at Home Economics, says:

“The bottom line is that interest rates are likely to be lower-perhaps even lower than many optimists think – in the weeks and months to come.”

2. Where Are Home Prices Headed?

While there’s been a lot of concern prices would come crashing down this year, data shows that didn’t happen. In fact, home prices are rising in most of the nation. Experts say that trend will continue, just at a slower pace that’s much more normal for the housing market – and that’s a good thing.

To help show just how confident experts are in this continued appreciation, take a look at the Home Price Expectation Survey from Pulsenomics. It’s a survey of a national panel of over 100 economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists. As the graph below shows, the consensus is, that prices will keep climbing next year, and in the years to come.

 

3. Is a Recession Around the Corner?

While recession talk has been a common thing over the past few years, there’s good news on that front.

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) polls experts on this topic regularly. And last year at this time, most of them thought a recession would have happened by now. But as experts look at all the leading indicators today, they’re changing their minds and saying a recession is getting less and less likely. The latest results show that more experts now think we’re not headed for another recession (see chart below):

 

This is big news for the housing market. And while the 48% to 52% split may seem close to half and half, the key thing to focus on is that the majority of these experts think we’ve avoided a recession already.

Bottom Line

The big takeaway? The data shows there isn’t cause for concern – there are actually more signs of hope. Reach out to a local real estate agent to talk more about the housing market questions on your mind heading into the new year. 

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Is Wall Street Buying Up All the Homes in America?

If you’re thinking about buying a home, you may find yourself interested in the latest real estate headlines so you can have a pulse on all of the things that could impact your decision. If that’s the case, you’ve probably heard mention of investors, and wondered how they’re impacting the housing market right now. That could leave you asking yourself questions like:

  • How many homes do investors own?
  • Are institutional investors, like large Wall Street Firms, really buying up so many homes that the average person can’t find one?

To answer those questions, here’s the real story of what’s happening based on the data.  

Let’s start with establishing how many single-family homes (SFHs) there are and what portion of those are rentals owned by investors. According to SFR Investor, which studies the single-family rental market in the United States, there are eighty-two million single-family homes in this country. But how many of them are actually rentals?

According to data shared in a recent post, sixty-eight million (82.93%) of those homes are owner-occupied – meaning the person who owns the home lives in it. If you subtract that sixty-eight million from the total number of single-family homes (82 million), that leaves just about fourteen million homes left that are single-family rentals (SFRs).

Do institutional investors own all of those remaining fourteen million homes? Not even close. Let’s take it one step further. There are four categories of investors:

  • The mom & pop investor who owns between 1-9 SFRs
  • The regional investor who owns between 10-99 SFRs
  • Smaller national investor who owns between 100-999 SFRs
  • The institutional investor who owns over 1,000 SFRs

These categories show that not all investors are large institutional investors. To help convey that even more clearly, here are the percentages of rental homes owned by each type of investor (see chart below):

 

As you can see in the chart, despite what the news and social media would have you believe, the green shows the vast majority are not owned by large institutional investors. Instead, most are owned by small mom & pop investors, like your friends and neighbors.

What’s actually happening is, that there are people out there, just like you, who believe in homeownership, and they view buying a home (or a second home) as an investment. Maybe they saw an opportunity to buy a second home over the last few years to use it as a rental and generate additional income. Or maybe they just decided to keep their first house rather than sell it when they moved up.

So, don’t believe everything you read or hear about institutional investors. They aren’t buying up all the homes and making it impossible for the average person to buy. That’s just not what the numbers show. Institutional investors are actually the smallest piece of the pie chart.

Bottom Line

While it’s true that institutional investors are a player in the single-family rental marketplace, they’re not buying up all of the houses on the market. If you have other questions about things you’re hearing about the housing market, connect with a trusted real estate professional so you have an expert to give you the context you need.

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Home Prices Still Growing – Just at a More Normal Pace

If you’re feeling a bit muddy on what’s happening with home prices, that’s no surprise. Some people are still saying prices are falling, even though data proves otherwise. Part of that misconception is because people are getting their information from unreliable sources. But it’s also coming from some media coverage misrepresenting what the data really shows.

So, to keep things simple, here’s what you really need to know using real data you can trust.

Normal Home Price Seasonality Explained

In the housing market, there are predictable ebbs and flows that happen each year. It’s called seasonality. Spring is the peak homebuying season when the market is most active. That activity is typically still strong in the summer but begins to wane as the cooler months approach.

Home prices follow along with seasonality because prices appreciate most when something is in high demand. That’s why there’s a reliable long-term home price trend. The graph below uses data from Case-Shiller to show the typical percent change for monthly home price movement from 1973 through 2022 (not adjusted, so you can see the seasonality):

 

As the data shows, at the beginning of the year, home prices grow, but not as much as they do when entering the spring and summer markets. That’s because the market is less active in January and February since fewer people move in the cooler months. As the market transitions into the peak homebuying season in the spring, activity ramps up, and home prices go up a lot more in response. Then, as fall and winter approach, prices still grow, just at a slower pace as activity eases again.

This Year, Seasonality Has Returned

Now, let’s look at how this year compares to that long-term trend (see graph below):

 

Here’s the latest data for this year from that same source. Just like before, the dark bars are the long-standing trend. The green bars represent what’s happened this year. As you can see, the green bars are beginning to fall in line with what’s normal for the market. That’s a good thing because it’s more sustainable price growth than we’ve seen in recent years.

In a nutshell, nationally prices aren’t falling, it’s just that price growth is beginning to normalize. Moving forward, there’s a chance the media will misrepresent this slowing of home price growth as prices falling. So don’t believe everything you see in the headlines. The data included here gives you the context you need to really understand what’s happening. So, if you see something in the headlines that’s confusing, don’t just take it at face value. Ask a trusted real estate professional for more information.

Remember, it’s normal to see home price growth slow down as the year goes on. And that definitely doesn’t mean home prices are falling. They’re just rising at a more moderate pace.

Bottom Line

Home price appreciation is returning to normal seasonality and that’s a good thing. If you have questions about what’s happening with prices in your local area, connect with a real estate professional.