My biggest fear for the housing market in 2020-2024 wasn’t a conspiracy housing bubble boy 70% price crash back to the lows of 2012 in a calendar year. It was that real home price growth would take off in an unhealthy way. By unhealthy, I talk about home prices growing above 4.6% on a nominal basis, which would facilitate higher real home price growth than what we usually saw in the previous expansion. Today the Case Shiller Index showed 10.4% annual growth in 2020. https://www.spglobal.com/spdji/en/
As you can see below real home prices are heating up again.
Naturally, suppose you believed in a housing affordable crisis, a student loan debt crisis and that all Millennials are all living in the basement, then ya you got suckered by a bunch of trolling non-economic data people who I can easily say are the worst talented Americans ever regarding housing economics but awesome trolling grifters. If Housing 2020 and 2021 hasn’t convinced you this, then they played you all very well, kudos for them.
The MBA Purchase application data in 2021 is running above my peak rate of growth of 11% year over year, currently showing 13.1% year over year growth trends
From Calculated Risk:
Housing is the cost of shelter to your own capacity to own the debt; it’s not an investment. For the most part, people buy homes to live in, not trade them like a stock. They typically plan to live there for a long time as well. Housing tenure used to be 5 years from 1985-2007 and now is running at 10 years currently.
It’s sporadic post-1996 to have even a monthly home sales print below 4,000,000 because mortgage rates are low. Don’t overthink this; even 5% mortgage rates in 2018 didn’t crash home sales. 2019 Sales levels were only at 5.3 million roughly; the previous cycle wasn’t a booming speculative credit debt bubble. Even 2020 total existing-home sales ended at 5,640,000, which is only 130,000 more than the 2017 total levels.
Running with my constant theme that housing would have its weakest recovery in the years 2008-2019. The metrics I use for this is that we wouldn’t hit 300 in the purchase application index until years 2020-2024 or start a year with 1,500,000 housing starts until. Purchase application data is already over 300 and we are working on that 1,500,000 total starts number.
This is just a basic demographic story; housing demographics were too young and too old in 2008-2019 to get demand to these levels. We had a credit bubble to deleverage as well; currently homeowners in America have never looked this good. Fixed low debt cost vs. rising wages and nested equity on top. Whistle folks, it doesn’t get any economically sexier than that.
We have the best housing demographic patch ever recorded in U.S. history, running into their first-time homebuyer median age of 33. Ages 27-33 are massive, 32,458,118! Think of these home buyers as built-in demographic replacement demand. If we get any movement on Americans buying up, downsizing, and investors, combining all these groups keeps housing Demand Stable!
Now the next stage of our housing tracking will be when mortgage rates rise. When does this cool down the rate of growth of prices? This isn’t going to be a sexy story or worthy of grifting terrible junk YouTube sites, but this is America, and trash sells well. What we saw in the past is that mortgage rates above 4% cool down the rate of growth in home prices in 2013/2014, and 4.75%-5% did the same in 2018/2019.
Nominal home prices cooled down when rates rose and remember real home prices went negative year over year in 2019 which I wrote was very Healthy! for the U.S. housing market.
We have reached the limits of home prices catching up with per capita income. This was similar to what we had in 2002. However, demographics better now, and mortgage rates are lower now than then. Inventory is lower now as well.
From Len Kiefer: A must follow on twitter (Brother From Another Mother)
We want to see higher rates because that means the economy is recovering; that was the AB economic model’s premise, which I wrote on April 7th, 2020. The 10-year yield getting above 1.33% was a must in 2021.
We want to see the 10-year yield get into a range between 1.33% -1.60%. This is a good thing, currently at 1.37%. Bond yields and mortgage rates can still fall because we haven’t had a 10% plus correction in stocks since March of 2020; we are overdue. That is your best thesis for a bond market rally short-term driving yields lower.
If higher mortgage rates cool the growth rate in Housing, this is the single most healthy outcome we can have because we are in a dislocated hot housing market right now, and that isn’t healthy.
I talked about this in length with HousingWire recently.
Remember, be the detective not the troll.
We will have a great housing summit on March 4th on HousingWire. Some of our most talented housing economists will be part of a panel I will be moderating, a great discussion for sure.
Logan Mohtashami is a Lead Analyst for Housing Wire, financial writer, and blogger covering the U.S. economy with a specialization in the housing market. Logan Mohtashami, now retired, was a senior loan officer at AMC Lending Group, which has been providing mortgage services for California residents since 1987.