Fall in mortgage interest rates won’t spark recovery

The sharp fall in mortgage interest rates seen since the start of the year has not spurred much of a recovery in housing market activity. Home sales and housing starts have more-or-less held their ground, and house price growth has been on a steady downward trend since May last year. With concerns around the economic outlook growing, we doubt housing market activity will see much of recovery in the second half of the year. That said, stronger earnings growth has given rents a boost, and subdued home sales will support rental demand even as household formation slows over the next couple of years.
Matthew Pointon Senior Property Economist
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US Housing Market Update

Are too many homes being built?

Increased demand for larger homes to accommodate working from home and continued migration to the sunbelt will support housing demand even as population growth slows. We therefore don’t think the recent surge in housing starts, and rise in the number of homes authorised but not started, pose a risk to the housing market.

22 October 2021

US Housing Market Data Response

Existing Home Sales (Sep.)

The 7.0% m/m rise in existing home sales in September does not mark the start of an upward trend in activity. With mortgage rates rising, inventory close to record lows and home buying sentiment at 39-year lows sales are set to trend down over the next six-months. Beyond that, a gradual improvement in supply and less rampant house price growth will help sales slowly rise to around 5.75m annualised by end-2023.

21 October 2021

US Housing Market Data Response

Housing Starts (Sep.)

Single-family starts and building permits have been stable over the past three months at around 1.1m annualised, as strong new home demand has run up against shortages of materials and labour. We expect new home demand will remain robust even as mortgage rates rise, but constraints on the supply side will continue. Overall, that means single-family starts will see only a small rise over the next year or so, ending 2022 at around 1.2m annualised.

19 October 2021

More from Matthew Pointon

US Housing Market Update

House prices will avoid a dangerous bubble

House price expectations have taken off since the start of the year, and that raises the risk of a self-reinforcing bubble forming. However, there are no signs that lenders are rapidly loosening credit conditions on the back of higher house prices, and that argues against a repeat of a mid-2000s credit cycle. Rather, rising mortgage interest rates, a stabilisation in down payments and stretched affordability mean that house price gains will slow over the second half of the year.

1 June 2021

US Housing Market Update

Will expensive home sales keep booming?

Sales of expensive homes have done particularly well over the past year, with the share of existing homes sold for over $500,000 surging from 15% a year ago to a record high 26% in April. An extreme shortage of cheaper homes for sale, coupled with a jump in purchasing power thanks to larger down payments and lower mortgage rates, helps explain that shift. Inventory shortages will continue to drive buyers toward expensive homes, but purchasing power is set to ease. Overall, we expect the share of new and existing homes sold for more than $500,000 to edge back to around 20% to 22% over the next couple of years.

26 May 2021

US Housing Market Data Response

Case-Shiller/FHFA & New Home Sales (Mar./Apr.)

House price growth accelerated in March, reaching a record high of 13.9% y/y on the FHFA measure. But there are signs that the boom in prices is now weighing on housing demand and activity. New home sales dropped 5.9% m/m in April, and a steady decline in mortgage applications for home purchase points to a further moderation in sales over the next couple of months. That will help take some of the heat out of the market and bring house price growth back down to earth by the end of the year.

25 May 2021
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