Why Home Prices Keep Going Up
If you’ve ever dreamed of buying your own place, or selling your current house to upgrade, you’re no stranger to the rollercoaster of emotions changing home prices can stir up. It’s a tale of financial goals, doubts, and a dash of anxiety that many have been through.
But if you put off moving because you’re worried home prices might drop, make no mistake, they’re not going down. In fact, it’s just the opposite. National data from several sources says they’ve been going up consistently this year (see graph below):
Here’s what this graph shows. In the first half of 2022, home prices rose significantly (the green bars on the left side of the graphs above). Those increases were dramatic and unsustainable.
So, in the second half of the year, prices went through a correction and started dipping a bit (shown in red). But those slight declines were shallow and short-lived. Still, the media really focused on those drops in their headlines – and that created a lot of fear and uncertainty among consumers.
But here’s what hasn’t been covered fully. So far in 2023, prices are going up once more, but this time at a more normal pace (the green bars on the right side of the graphs above). And after price gains that were too high and then the corrections that followed in 2022, the fact that all three reports show more normal or typical price appreciation this year is good news for the housing market.
Orphe Divounguy, Senior Economist at Zillow, explains changing home prices over the past 12 months this way:
“The U.S. housing market has surged over the past year after a temporary hiccup from July 2022-January 2023. . . . That downturn has proven to be short lived as housing has rebounded impressively so far in 2023. . .”
Looking ahead, home price appreciation typically starts to ease up this time of year. As that happens, there’s some risk the media will confuse slowing price growth (deceleration of appreciation) with home prices falling (depreciation). Don’t be fooled. Slower price growth is still growth.
Why Are Home Prices Increasing Now?
One reason why home prices are going back up is because there still aren’t enough homes for sale for all the people who want to buy them.
Even though higher mortgage rates cause buyer demand to moderate, they also cause the supply of available homes to go down. That’s because of the mortgage rate lock-in effect. When rates rise, some homeowners are reluctant to sell and lose their current low mortgage rate just to take on a higher one for their next home.
So, with higher mortgage rates impacting both buyers and sellers, the supply and demand equation of the housing market has been affected. But since there are still more people who want to purchase homes than there are homes available to buy, prices continue to rise. As Freddie Mac states:
“While rising interest rates have reduced affordability—and therefore demand—they have also reduced supply through the mortgage rate lock-in effect. Overall, it appears the reduction in supply has outweighed the decrease in demand, thus house prices have started to increase . . .”
Here’s How This Impacts You
- Buyers: If you’ve been waiting to buy a home because you were afraid its value might drop, knowing that home prices have gone back up should make you feel better. Buying a home gives you a chance to own something that usually becomes more valuable over time.
- Sellers: If you’ve been holding off on selling your house because you were worried about how changing home prices would impact its value, it could be a smart move to work with a real estate agent and put your house on the market. You don’t have to wait any longer because the most recent data indicates home prices have turned in your favor.
If you put off moving because you were worried that home prices might go down, data shows they’re increasing across the country. Let’s connect so you can understand how home prices are changing in our local area.
Why Today’s Housing Inventory Shows a Crash Isn’t on the Horizon
You might remember the housing crash in 2008, even if you didn’t own a home at the time. If you’re worried there’s going to be a repeat of what happened back then, there’s good news – the housing market now is different from 2008. That is Why Todays’ Housing Inventory Shows a Crash Isn’t on the Horizon.
One important reason is there aren’t enough homes for sale. That means there’s an undersupply, not an oversupply like the last time. For the market to crash, there would have to be too many houses for sale, but the data doesn’t show that happening.
Housing supply comes from three main sources:
- Homeowners deciding to sell their houses
- Newly built homes
- Distressed properties (foreclosures or short sales)
Here’s a closer look at today’s housing inventory to understand why this isn’t like 2008.
Homeowners Deciding To Sell Their Houses
Although housing supply did grow compared to last year, it’s still low. The current months’ supply is below the norm. The graph below shows this more clearly. If you look at the latest data (shown in green), compared to 2008 (shown in red), there’s only about a third of that available inventory today.
So, what does this mean? There just aren’t enough homes available to make home values drop. To have a repeat of 2008, there’d need to be a lot more people selling their houses with very few buyers, and that’s not happening right now.
Newly Built Homes
People are also talking a lot about what’s going on with newly built houses these days, and that might make you wonder if homebuilders are overdoing it. The graph below shows the number of new houses built over the last 52 years:
The 14 years of underbuilding (shown in red) is a big part of the reason why inventory is so low today. Basically, builders haven’t been building enough homes for years now and that’s created a significant deficit in supply.
While the final blue bar on the graph shows that’s ramping up and is on pace to hit the long-term average again, it won’t suddenly create an oversupply. That’s because there’s too much of a gap to make up. Plus, builders are being intentional about not overbuilding homes like they did during the bubble.
Distressed Properties (Foreclosures and Short Sales)
The last place inventory can come from is distressed properties, including short sales and foreclosures. Back during the housing crisis, there was a flood of foreclosures due to lending standards that allowed many people to get a home loan they couldn’t truly afford.
Today, lending standards are much tighter, resulting in more qualified buyers and far fewer foreclosures. The graph below uses data from the Federal Reserve to show how things have changed since the housing crash:
This graph illustrates, as lending standards got tighter and buyers were more qualified, the number of foreclosures started to go down. And in 2020 and 2021, the combination of a moratorium on foreclosures and the forbearance program helped prevent a repeat of the wave of foreclosures we saw back around 2008.
The forbearance program was a game changer, giving homeowners options for things like loan deferrals and modifications they didn’t have before. And data on the success of that program shows four out of every five homeowners coming out of forbearance are either paid in full or have worked out a repayment plan to avoid foreclosure. These are a few of the biggest reasons there won’t be a wave of foreclosures coming to the market.
What This Means for You
Inventory levels aren’t anywhere near where they’d need to be for prices to drop significantly and the housing market to crash. According to Bankrate, that isn’t going to change anytime soon, especially considering buyer demand is still strong:
“This ongoing lack of inventory explains why many buyers still have little choice but to bid up prices. And it also indicates that the supply-and-demand equation simply won’t allow a price crash in the near future.”
The market doesn’t have enough available homes for a repeat of the 2008 housing crisis – and there’s nothing that suggests that will change anytime soon. That’s why housing inventory tells us there’s no crash on the horizon.
If you want to know more about the real estate market in your neighborhood, or condominium building, I can set up a search for you so you are notified of New Listings, Homes Under Contract, and those that have Sold! Feel free to call, text or you can reach me at Thom (at) MyMidtownMojo.com
Homebuyers Are Still More Active Than Usual
Even though the housing market is no longer experiencing the frenzy that was so characteristic of the last couple of years, it doesn’t mean today’s market is at a standstill. In actuality, buyer traffic is still strong today. Homebuyers are still more active than usual!
The ShowingTime Showing Index is a measure of how much buyers are touring homes. The graph below uses that index to illustrate buyer activity trends over time to help put today into the proper perspective.
It shows there’s seasonality in real estate. If you look at the last normal years in the market (shown in gray), there was a consistent pattern as buyer activity peaked in the first half of each year (during the peak homebuying season in the spring) and slowed as each year came to a close.
When the pandemic hit in March of 2020, that trend was disrupted as the market responded to the resulting uncertainty (shown in blue in the middle). From there, we entered the ‘unicorn’ years of housing (shown in pink). This is when mortgage rates were record-low and buyer demand was sky high. Similar seasonal trends still existed even during that time, just at much higher levels.
Now, let’s look at 2023. Traffic is down from the previous month and it’s also lower than the peaks we saw in the ‘unicorn’ years. But what’s happening isn’t a steep drop off in demand – it’s a slow return toward more normal seasonality. As the ShowingTime report explains:
“Showing traffic declined about 10% in May . . . This follows a typical seasonal pattern – disrupted by the pandemic but now beginning to return . . .”
And, to highlight this isn’t a drastic decline, let’s zoom in. Here’s a graph using just the May data for the last five years. It shows just how strong buyer demand still is.
What Does That Mean for You?
Buyers are still out there touring homes. They’re more active than they were in May 2022 (when sticker shock over higher mortgage rates started to set in) and certainly more than they were in the last normal years. So, remember, buyer activity is still strong. And it could actually be even stronger if it wasn’t constrained by the limited supply of homes for sale. According to U.S. News:
“Housing markets have cooled slightly, but demand hasn’t disappeared, and in many places remains strong largely due to the shortage of homes on the market.”
Don’t lose sight of just how active the market still is today. If your house isn’t on the market, it’s not getting in front of all those buyers who are looking to make a purchase right now. Let’s connect to start the process.
There’s Only Half the Inventory of a Normal Housing Market Today
Wondering if it still makes sense to sell your house right now? The short answer is, yes. Especially if you consider how few homes there are for sale today. There’s only half the inventory of a normal housing market today!
You may have heard inventory is low right now, but you may not fully realize just how low or why that’s a perk when you go to sell your house. This graph from Calculated Risk can help put that into perspective:
As the graph shows, while housing inventory did grow slightly week-over-week (shown in the blue bar), overall supply is still low (shown in the red bars). Compared to the same week last year, supply is down roughly 10% – and it was already considered low at that time. But, if you look further back, you’ll see inventory is down even more significantly.
To gauge just how far off from normal today’s inventory is, let’s compare right now to 2019 (the last normal year in the market). When you compare the same week this year with the matching week in 2019, supply is about 50% lower. That means there are half the homes for sale now than there’d usually be.
The key takeaway? We’re still nowhere near what’s considered a balanced market. There’s plenty of demand for your house because there just aren’t enough homes to go around. As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:
“There are simply not enough homes for sale. The market can easily absorb a doubling of inventory.”
So, if you want to list your house, know that there’s only about half the inventory there’d usually be in a more normal year. That means your house will be in the spotlight if you sell now and you may see multiple offers and a fast home sale. And here is some other good information to consider if you are thinking about selling.
With the number of homes for sale roughly half of what there’d usually be in a more normal year, you can rest assured there’s demand for your house. If you want to sell, let’s connect now so your house can shine above the rest while inventory is so low.
Where Are People Moving Today and Why?
Plenty of people are still moving these days. And if you’re thinking of making a move yourself, you may be considering the inventory and affordability challenges in the housing market and wondering what you can do to help offset those. A new report from Gravy Analytics provides insight into where people are searching for homes and what they’re prioritizing most right now. That information could help you plan your own move.
1. People Are Moving to Cities with Lower Housing Costs
One big factor motivating where buyers are going is affordability and that’s no big surprise. People are relocating to areas that have less expensive housing options. As a result, small cities are thriving. Hannah Jones, Economics Data Analyst at Realtor.com, summarizes why:
“Affordability is still very much front and center . . . a lot of what’s available is outside of the price range of many buyers. . . . so they look elsewhere for a little more bang for the buck.”
The takeaway for you? If you’re having trouble finding a home that fits your budget, it may help to browse other, more affordable locations nearby.
2. People Want to Live Where They Vacation
And, if you’re already expanding your search radius, you may be able to include a location that features your favorite type of destination, like a suburb near the beach or a mountain town. Data shows many other homeowners are making that type of move a priority today. According to the same report from Gravy Analytics:
“Whether it’s the opportunity to enjoy more weekend hikes in the mountains or to wake up to a lakeside sunrise, people are moving to areas that were once thought of as vacation spots.”
Even with today’s home prices and mortgage rates, here’s why a move like this could be possible for you. If you’re already a homeowner, the equity you’ll get when you sell your current house can help fuel that move and give you the down payment you’d need for your dream home.
3. People Who Work Remotely Are Taking Advantage of that Flexibility
“Many of these moves happened because employees untethered from their daily commutes began to care less about how far they lived from the office.”
If you’re a remote or hybrid worker, you don’t have to live in the same city, or sometimes even the same state, as your job. That means you can prioritize other things, like being closer to loved ones, when buying a home.
In fact, the same McKinsey Global Institute report notes for people who moved during the pandemic, 55% reported moving farther from the office. And since remote work is still a popular choice today, homebuyers will likely continue to take advantage of that flexibility.