All eyes are on the American economy. As it goes, so does the world economy. With states beginning to reopen, the question becomes: which sectors of the economy will drive its recovery? There seems to be a growing consensus that the housing market is positioned to be that driving force, the tailwind that is necessary.
Some may question that assertion as they look back on the last recession in 2008 when housing was the anchor to the economy – holding it back from sailing forward. But even then, the overall economy did not begin to recover until the real estate market started to regain its strength. This time, the housing market was in great shape when the virus hit.
As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist of First American, recently explained:
“Many still bear scars from the Great Recession and may expect the housing market to follow a similar trajectory in response to the coronavirus outbreak. But, there are distinct differences that indicate the housing market may follow a much different path. While housing led the recession in 2008-2009, this time it may be poised to bring us out of it.”
Fleming is not the only economist who believes this. Last week, Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic, (@DrFrankNothaft) tweeted:
“For the first 6 decades after WWII, the housing sector led the rest of the economy out of each recession. Expect it to do so this time as well.”
And, Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for the National Association of Home Builders, in an economic update last week explained:
“As the economy begins a recovery later in 2020, we expect housing to play a leading role. Housing enters this recession underbuilt, not overbuilt…Based on demographics and current vacancy rates, the U.S. may have a housing deficit of up to one million units.”
Every time a home is sold it has a tremendous financial impact on local economies. As the real estate market continues its recovery, it will act as a strong tailwind to the overall national economy.
With over 90% of Americans now under a shelter-in-place order, many experts are warning that the American economy is heading toward a recession, if it’s not in one already. What does that mean to the residential real estate market?
What is a recession?
According to the National Bureau of Economic Research:
“A recession is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.”
COVID-19 hit the pause button on the American economy in the middle of March. Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley are all calling for a deep dive in the economy in the second quarter of this year. Though we may not yet be in a recession by the technical definition of the word today, most believe history will show we were in one from April to June.
Does that mean we’re headed for another housing crash?
Many fear a recession will mean a repeat of the housing crash that occurred during the Great Recession of 2006-2008. The past, however, shows us that most recessions do not adversely impact home values. Doug Brien, CEO of Mynd Property Management, explains:
“With the exception of two recessions, the Great Recession from 2007-2009, & the Gulf War recession from 1990-1991, no other recessions have impacted the U.S. housing market, according to Freddie Mac Home Price Index data collected from 1975 to 2018.”
CoreLogic, in a second study of the last five recessions, found the same. Here’s a graph of their findings:
What are the experts saying this time?
This is what three economic leaders are saying about the housing connection to this recession:
“The housing sector enters this recession underbuilt rather than overbuilt…That means as the economy rebounds – which it will at some stage – housing is set to help lead the way out.”
“Last time housing led the recession…This time it’s poised to bring us out. This is the Great Recession for leisure, hospitality, trade and transportation in that this recession will feel as bad as the Great Recession did to housing.”
John Burns, founder of John Burns Consulting, also revealed that his firm’s research concluded that recessions caused by a pandemic usually do not significantly impact home values:
“Historical analysis showed us that pandemics are usually V-shaped (sharp recessions that recover quickly enough to provide little damage to home prices).”
If we’re not in a recession yet, we’re about to be in one. This time, however, housing will be the sector that leads the economic recovery.
In a recent article, First American shared how millennials are not really any different from previous generations when it comes to the goal of homeownership; it is still a huge part of their American Dream. The piece, however, also reveals,
“Saving for a down payment is one of the biggest obstacles faced by first-time home buyers. Dispelling the 20 percent down payment myth could open the path to homeownership for many more.”
Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment”
Buyers often overestimate how much they need to qualify for a home loan. According to the same article:
“Americans still overestimate the qualifications needed to get a mortgage, resulting in qualified potential buyers not even considering homeownership. Indeed, the Urban Institute report revealed that 16 percent of consumers believed that the minimum down payment required by lenders is 20 percent or more, and another 40 percent didn’t know at all.”
While many potential buyers still think they need to put at least 20% down for the home of their dreams, they often don’t realize how many assistance programs are available with as little as 3% down. With a little research, many renters may actually be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined.
Myth #2: “I Need a 780 FICO® Score or Higher”
In addition to down payments, buyers are also often confused about the FICO® score it takes to qualify for a mortgage, believing a ‘good’ credit score is 780 or higher.
To debunk this myth, let’s take a look at Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans.As indicated in the chart above, 50.23% of approved mortgages had a credit score of 500-749.
Whether buying your first home or moving up to your dream home, knowing your options will make the mortgage process easier. Believe it or not – your dream home may already be within your reach.
CoreLogic recently released a report entitled, United States Residential Foreclosure Crisis: 10 Years Later, in which they examined the years leading up to the crisis all the way through to present day.
With a peak in 2010 when nearly 1.2 million homes were foreclosed on, over 7.7 million families lost their homes throughout the entire foreclosure crisis.
Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic, had this to say,
“The country experienced a wild ride in the mortgage market between 2008 and 2012, with the foreclosure peak occurring in 2010. As we look back over 10 years of the foreclosure crisis, we cannot ignore the connection between jobs and homeownership. A healthy economy is driven by jobs coupled with consumer confidence that usually leads to homeownership.”
Since the peak, foreclosures have been steadily on the decline by nearly 100,000 per year all the way through the end of 2016, as seen in the chart below.
If this trend continues, the country will be back to 2005 levels by the end of 2017.
As the economy continues to improve, and employment numbers increase, the number of completed foreclosures should continue to decrease.
There’s a current narrative that owning a home today is less affordable than it has been in the past. The reason some are making this claim is because house prices have substantially increased over the last several years.
It’s not, however, just the price of a home that matters.
Homes, in most cases, are purchased with a mortgage. The current mortgage rate is a major component of the affordability equation. Mortgage rates have fallen by over a full percentage point since December 2018. Another major piece of the affordability equation is a buyer’s income. The median family income has risen by approximately 3% over the last year.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) releases a monthly Housing Affordability Index. The latest index shows that home affordability is better today than at almost any point over the last 30 years. The index determines how affordable homes are based on the following:
“A Home Affordability Index value of 100 means that a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home. An index of 120 signifies that a family earning the median income has 20 percent more than the level of income needed pay the mortgage on a median-priced home, assuming a 20 percent down payment so that the monthly payment and interest will not exceed 25 percent of this level of income (qualifying income).”
The higher the index, therefore, the more affordable homes are. Here is a graph showing the index since 1990:Obviously, affordability was better during the housing crash when distressed properties – foreclosures and short sales – sold at major discounts (2009-2015). Outside of that period, however, homes are more affordable today than any other year since 1990, except for 2016.
The report on the index also includes a section that calculates the mortgage payment on a median priced home as a percentage of the median national income. Historically, that percentage is just above 21%. Here are the percentages since June of 2018:Again, we can see that affordability is much better today than the historical average and has been getting better over the last year and a half.
Whether you’re thinking about buying your first home or moving up to the home of your dreams, don’t let the false narrative about affordability prevent you from moving forward. From an affordability standpoint, this is one of the best times to buy in the last 30 years.
- Interest rates will be lower than they have been since before 1980 at 3.8% and are projected to remain steady throughout 2020!
- According to CoreLogic, home prices will appreciate at a rate of 5.4% over the course of the year.
- Experts predict that the number of homes sold next year will be equal to or outpace 2019.
Every three years, the Federal Reserve conducts its Survey of Consumer Finances. Data is collected across all economic and social groups. The latest survey data covers 2013-2016.
The study revealed that the median net worth of a homeowner is $231,400 – a 15% increase since 2013. At the same time, the median net worth of renters decreased by 5% ($5,200 today compared to $5,500 in 2013).
These numbers reveal that the net worth of a homeowner is over 44 times greater than that of a renter.
Owning a home is a great way to build family wealth.
As we’ve said before, simply put, homeownership is a form of ‘forced savings.’ Every time you pay your mortgage, you are contributing to your net worth by increasing the equity in your home.
That is why Gallup reported Americans picked real estate as the best long-term investment for the sixth year in a row. According to this year’s results, 35% of Americans chose real estate. Stocks followed at 27%, then savings accounts and gold.
If you want to find out how you can use your monthly housing cost to increase your family’s wealth, let’s get together to help you through the process.
- According to NAR’s latest Profile of Home Buyers & Sellers, the median age of all first-time homebuyers is 32.
- With more millennials entering a homebuying phase of life, they are driving a large portion of the buyer appetite in the market, keeping buyer activity strong.
- More and more “old millennials” (ages 25-36) are realizing that homeownership is now within their grasp, and they’re actively dominating the first-time homebuyer market!
Over the past year, mortgage rates have fallen more than a full percentage point. This is a great driver for homeownership, as today’s low rates provide consumers with some significant benefits. Here’s a look at three of them:
- Refinance: If you already own a home, you may want to decide if you’re going to refinance. It’s one way to lock in a lower monthly payment and save substantially over time, but it also means paying upfront closing costs too. You have to answer the question: Should I refinance my home?
- Move-up or Downsize: Another option is to consider moving into a new home, putting the equity you’ve likely gained in your current house toward a down payment on a new one that better meets your needs – something that’s truly a perfect fit for your family.
- Become a First-Time Homebuyer: There are many financial and non-financial benefits to owning a home, and the most important thing is to first decide when the time is right for you. You have to determine that on your own, but know that now is a great time to buy if you’re considering it. Just take a look at the cost of renting vs. buying
Why 2019 Was a Great Year for Homeownership
Last year at this time, mortgage rates were 4.63% (substantially higher than they are today). If you’re one who waited for a better time to make a move, market conditions have improved significantly. Today’s low mortgage rates combined with increasing wages are making homes much more affordable than they were just one year ago, so it’s a great time to get more for your money and consider a new home.
If you’ve been waiting since last year to make your move into homeownership, or to find a house that better meets your needs, today’s low mortgage rates may be just what you need to get the process going. Let’s get together to discuss how you can benefit from the current rates.
Some are reporting that there is trepidation regarding the real estate market in the United States. Apparently, the American people are quite comfortable.
Porch.com, a major network helping homeowners with their renovation projects, recently conducted a survey which asked Americans:
“What do you believe is the safest investment over the next 10 years?”
U.S. housing came in at number one, beating out other investments such as gold, stocks, bonds, and savings.
- The Federal Reserve Bank’s 2019 Consumer Expectations Housing Survey reported that 65% of Americans believe homeownership is a good financial investment, and that the percentage has increased in each of the last four years.
- The Gallup survey showed that Americans have picked real estate as the “best” investment for six straight years.
Based on all three surveys done this year, we can see that Americans still believe in homeownership as a great investment, and that feeling continues to grow.