The biggest challenge to today’s housing market is the shortage of housing inventory for sale. A normal market would see a six-month supply of homes for sale. Currently, that number is below four months. This is the major reason home prices have continued to appreciate at higher levels than historic averages.
With housing prices appreciating at levels that far exceed historical norms, some are fearful that the market is heading for another bubble. To alleviate that fear, we just need to look back at the reasons that caused the bubble ten years ago.
The real estate market is moving more and more into a complete recovery. Home values are up. Home sales are up. Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have fallen dramatically. It seems that 2017 will be the year that the housing market races forward again.
There are some experts questioning whether the current pace of residential home sales is maintainable. Are too many people buying homes like in 2004-2006? Are we headed for another housing crisis? Actually, if we look closely at the numbers, we can see that we are looking at a very healthy real estate market.
Why the concern?
- The National Association of REALTORS® surveyed their members for their monthly Confidence Index.
- The REALTORS® Confidence Index is a key indicator of housing market strength based on a monthly survey sent to over 50,000 real estate practitioners. Practitioners are asked about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions.
- Homes sold in 60 days or less in 36 out of 50 states, and Washington D.C.
- Homes typically went under contract in 34 days in March!
In school, we all learned the theory of supply and demand. When the demand for an item is greater than the supply of that item, the price will surely rise.
According to the Beracha, Hardin & Johnson Buy vs. Rent (BH&J) Index, the U.S. housing market has continued to move deeper into buy territory, supporting the belief that housing markets across the country remain a sound investment.
The BH&J Index is a quarterly report that attempts to answer the question:
The media has extensively covered the rise in mortgage interest rates since last fall (from 3.42% last September to the current 4.1% according to Freddie Mac). However, a less covered aspect of the mortgage market is that requirements to get a mortgage have eased while rates have risen.
Some industry experts are claiming that the housing market may be headed for a slowdown as we proceed through 2017, based on rising home prices and a potential jump in mortgage interest rates. One of the data points they use is 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.
But, wait a minute…
Though the index skyrocketed from 2009 through 2013, we must realize that during that time, the housing crisis left the market with an overabundance of distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales). 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 (shaded in gray) and look at the current index as compared to the index from 1990 – 2008:
Though prices and rates appear to be increasing, we must realize that affordability is composed of three ingredients: home prices, interest rates, and income. And, incomes are finally rising.
ATTOM Data Solutions recently released their Q1 2017 U.S. Home Affordability Index. The report explained:
“Stronger wage growth is the silver lining in this report, outpacing home price growth in more than half of the markets for the first time since Q1 2012, when median home prices were still falling nationwide. If that pattern continues, it will help turn the tide in the eroding home affordability trend.”
Compared to historic norms, it is still a great time to buy from an affordability standpoint.
Traditionally, spring is the busiest season for real estate. Buyers come out in force and homeowners list their houses for sale hoping to capitalize on buyer activity. This year will be no different!
Buyers have already been out in force looking for their dream homes and more are on their way, but the challenge is that the inventory of homes for sale has not kept up with demand, which has lead to A LOT of competition for the homes that are available.
A recent Bloomberg article touched on the current market conditions:
“It’s the 2017 U.S. spring home-selling season, and listings are scarcer than they’ve ever been. Bidding wars common in perennially hot markets like the San Francisco Bay area, Denver and Boston are now also prevalent in the once slow-and-steady heartland, sending prices higher and sparking desperation among buyers across the country.”
Sam Khater, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic went on to explain why buyers are flocking to the market in big numbers:
“In today’s market, many buyers think the trough in [interest] rates is over. If you don’t get in now, it’s just going to be worse later. Rates will be higher, prices will be higher, and maybe inventory selection will be lower.”
In some markets, “thirty-five percent of properties are selling within the first week or two of hitting the market.” Homes are selling at a rapid clip in places like:
- Denver, CO
- Seattle, WA
- Oakland, CA
- Grand Rapids, MI
- Boise, ID
- Madison, WI
- Omaha, NE
Let’s get together to discuss your exact market conditions and help you create a strategy to secure your new home in this competitive atmosphere!