Soaring prices and lack of supply weigh on activity

Mortgage rates have been stable at close to record lows since mid-July, but that hasn’t prevented a decline in housing demand. New home sales are down 28% from their peak last year and while existing home sales surprised on the upside in July, the pending index implies they will soon drop back. Soaring house prices, tight credit conditions and lack of inventory are weighing on buyer sentiment and sales. House price growth hit another record high in June, but with demand now easing we suspect it is approaching its peak. Indeed, a recent moderation in the size of home purchase mortgages points to an upcoming cooling in prices. Rental demand has bounced-back strongly, leading to rapidly tightening markets and accelerating rental growth. With the for-sale inventory set to remain tight, the outlook for rental demand is strong and that has spurred a swift recovery in apartment capital values and a boom in apartment starts.
Matthew Pointon Senior Property Economist
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US Housing Market Data Response

Mortgage Applications (Nov.)

A rise in mortgage rates to an eight-month high of 3.31% by the end of November failed to dampen home purchase demand, which surged to a nine-month high. The drop in 10-year Treasury yields from the arrival of the Omicron variant implies mortgage rates will fall back over the next couple of weeks, which may provide some further support to demand. But with affordability stretched we doubt the current level of home purchase applications can be sustained beyond the next few weeks.

1 December 2021

US Housing Market Data Response

Case-Shiller/FHFA House Prices (Sep.)

Annual house price growth fell for the first time in 16-months in September, and stretched affordability means it should continue to slow. It is too soon to say what impact the arrival of the Omicron variant will have on the housing market. But one immediate effect has been a fall in interest rates, which if sustained may give prices some support over the remainder of the year.

30 November 2021

US Housing Market Update

Why are pending and existing home sales diverging?

An increase in the quality of mortgage borrowers, and record low inventory, are boosting the mortgage closing rate and leading to an increase in the share of pending home sales converted into existing home sales. Those factors are not set to go into reverse anytime soon, so we don’t think existing sales will snap back to match the pending sales index over the next few months.

29 November 2021

More from Matthew Pointon

US Housing Market Update

How vulnerable are house prices to a rise in rates?

Our forecast for mortgage rates to rise to 4.2% by end-2023 will help slow house price gains, but we don’t think that increase will be enough to cause an outright fall in values. And with homes not particularly overvalued, inventory close to record lows and nearly all borrowers protected by fixed rates even a more substantial rise in interest rates is unlikely to cause a crash in values. For example, we think a surge in mortgage rates to 6% by end-2023 would only bring prices down by around 5% over the next 2½ years, taking values back to where they were at the start of 2021.

26 August 2021

US Housing Market Update

End of eviction ban won’t stop recovery in rents

The eviction ban has been extended to early October, but we doubt it will be renewed again. Given the strength of the labour market, significant government support and robust rental demand, the resumption of evictions will not boost the rental vacancy rate. In turn that will support rents, with REIS effective rental growth set to rise to 4.0% y/y by mid-2022. The threat of eviction will also cut arrears which have weighed on CPI rental growth in recent months, helping to close the gap with asking rent measures. In view of the wider interest, we are also sending this US Housing Market Update to clients of our US Commercial Property service.

19 August 2021

US Housing Market Focus

The death of house price cycles?

The housing market is highly cyclical, and the current price boom marks the fifth episode since 1970 where real house price growth has exceeded 5% y/y. But there are good reasons to think this will mark the last house price boom for next 30 years. Interest rates are already at record lows, and we expect they will rise gradually over the next 30 years. New regulations mean credit conditions have not loosened even as house prices have boomed, and that argues against a repeat of the mid-2000s boom. Overall, once the current cycle has passed, we expect house prices will grow more-or-less in line with earnings, leaving real house price growth at around 1.5% y/y from 2030 to 2050.

12 August 2021
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