This past year, rising mortgage rates have slowed the red-hot housing market. Over the past nine months, we’ve seen fewer homes sold than the previous month as home price growth has slowed. All of this is due to the fact that the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate has doubled this year, severely limiting homebuying power for consumers. And, this month, the average rate for financing a home briefly rose over 7% before coming back down into the high 6% range. But we’re starting to see a hint of what mortgage interest rates could look like next year.
Inflation Is the Enemy of Long-Term Interest Rates
As long as inflation is high, we’ll see higher mortgage rates. Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve seen indications that inflation may be cooling, giving us a glimpse into what may happen in the future. The mortgage market is eagerly awaiting positive news on inflation. As Ali Wolf, Chief Economist at Zonda, says:
“The housing market is expected to face continued uncertainty heading into 2023 as consumers, financial markets, and policymakers work through their respective challenges in today’s economy. . . . we are watching for any additional stability in the MBS market, signs of cooling inflation, and/or less aggressive Federal Reserve action to give us confidence that mortgage rates are past their peak.”
What Does This Mean for the Future of Mortgage Rates?
As we get through the inflation battle and start to see that coming down, we should expect mortgage rates to follow. We’ve seen nods of this over the past couple of weeks. As the Federal Reserve works to bring inflation down, mortgage rates will come down as well. Bill McBride from Calculated Risk says:
“My current view is inflation will ease quicker than the Fed currently expects.”
As we look toward next year, we certainly hope he’s right.
Mortgage rates will come down – it’s just a matter of time. The hope is we continue to see more positive news on inflation, and that’ll bring mortgage rates down. This will give prospective homebuyers more buying power and lead to more homeowners throughout the country.
For over 78 years, Veterans Affairs (VA) home loans have provided millions of veterans with the opportunity to purchase homes of their own. If you or a loved one have served, it’s important to understand this program and its benefits.
Here are some things you should know about VA loans before you start the homebuying process.
What Are VA Loans?
VA home loans provide a pathway to homeownership for those who have served our nation. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs describes the program like this:
“VA helps Servicemembers, Veterans, and eligible surviving spouses become homeowners. As part of our mission to serve you, we provide a home loan guaranty benefit and other housing-related programs to help you buy, build, repair, retain, or adapt a home for your own personal occupancy.”
Top Benefits of the VA Home Loan Program
In addition to helping eligible buyers achieve their homeownership dreams, VA loans have several other great benefits for buyers who qualify. According to the Department of Veteran Affairs:
- Qualified borrowers can often purchase a home with no down payment.
- Many other loans with down payments under 20% require Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). VA Loans do not require PMI, which means veterans can save on their monthly housing costs.
- VA-Backed Loans often offer competitive terms and mortgage interest rates.
A recent article from Veterans United sums up just how impactful this loan option can be:
“For the vast majority of military borrowers, VA loans represent the most powerful lending program on the market. These flexible, $0-down payment mortgages have helped more than 24 million service members become homeowners since 1944.”
John Bell, Acting Executive Director of the Department of Veterans Affairs Loan Guaranty Service, also explains why this program is so powerful:
“It provides early ownership for many people that would not have that opportunity to begin with. Since there’s no down payment, it allows people to hold their wealth and it gives them the ability to have long term financial security by being able to own a house and let that equity grow.”
Homeownership is the American Dream. Our veterans sacrifice so much in service of our nation, and one way we can honor and thank them is to ensure they have the best information about the benefits of VA home loans. Thank you for your service.
Now that the end of 2022 is within sight, you may be wondering what’s going to happen in the housing market next year and what that may mean if you’re thinking about buying a home. Here’s a look at the latest expert insights on both mortgage rates and home prices so you can make your best move possible.
Mortgage Rates Will Continue To Respond to Inflation
There’s no doubt mortgage rates have skyrocketed this year as the market responded to high inflation. The increases we’ve seen were fast and dramatic, and the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate even surpassed 7% at the end of last month. In fact, it’s the first time they’ve risen this high in over 20 years (see graph below):
In their latest quarterly report, Freddie Mac explains just how fast the climb in rates has been:
“Just one year ago, rates were under 3%. This means that while mortgage rates are not as high as they were in the 80’s, they have more than doubled in the past year. Mortgage rates have never doubled in a year before.”
Because we’re in unprecedented territory, it’s hard to say with certainty where mortgage rates will go from here. Projecting the future of mortgage rates is far from an exact science, but experts do agree that, moving forward, mortgage rates will continue to respond to inflation. If inflation stays high, mortgage rates likely will too.
Home Price Changes Will Vary by Market
As buyer demand has eased this year in response to those higher mortgage rates, home prices have moderated in many markets too. In terms of the forecast for next year, expert projections are mixed. The general consensus is home price appreciation will vary by local market, with more significant changes happening in overheated areas. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, says:
“House price appreciation has slowed in all 50 markets we track, but the deceleration is generally more dramatic in areas that experienced the strongest peak appreciation rates.”
Basically, some areas may still see slight price growth while others may see slight price declines. It all depends on other factors at play in that local market, like the balance between supply and demand. This may be why experts are divided on their latest national forecasts (see graph below):
While higher mortgage rates are creating affordability challenges for homebuyers this year, there is some good news for those people still looking to buy a home.
As the market has cooled this year, some of the intensity buyers faced during the peak frenzy of the pandemic has cooled too. Here are just a few trends that may benefit you when you go to buy a home today.
1. More Homes To Choose from
During the pandemic, housing supply hit a record low at the same time buyer demand skyrocketed. This combination made it difficult to find a home because there just weren’t enough to meet buyer demand. According to Calculated Risk, the supply of homes for sale increased by 39.5% for the week ending October 28 compared to the same week last year.
Even though it’s still a sellers’ market and supply is still lower than more normal levels, you have more to choose from in your home search. That makes finding your dream home a bit less difficult.
2. Bidding Wars Have Eased
One of the top stories in real estate over the past two years was the intensity and frequency of bidding wars. But today, things are different. With more options, you’ll likely see less competition from other buyers looking for homes. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average number of offers on recently sold homes has declined. This September, the average was 2.5 offers per sale. In contrast, last September, the average was 3.7 offers per sale.
If you tried to buy a house over the past two years, you probably experienced the bidding war frenzy firsthand and may have been outbid on several homes along the way. Now you have a chance to jump back into the market and enjoy searching for a home with less competition.
3. More Negotiation Power
And when you have less competition, you also have more negotiating power as a buyer. Over the last two years, more buyers were willing to skip important steps in the homebuying process, like the appraisal or inspection, to try to win a bidding war. But the latest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows the percentage of buyers waiving those contingencies is going down.
As a buyer, this is good news. The appraisal and the inspection give you important information about the value and condition of the home you’re buying. And if something turns up in the inspection, you have more power today to renegotiate with the seller.
A survey from realtor.com confirms more sellers are accepting offers that include contingencies today. According to that report, 95% of sellers said buyers requested a home inspection, and 67% negotiated with buyers on repairs as a result of the inspection findings.
While buyers still face challenges today, they’re not necessarily the same ones you may have been up against just a year or so ago. If you were outbid or had trouble finding a home in the past, now may be the moment you’ve been waiting for.
If you’re thinking about selling your house but wondering if buyers are still out there, know that there are still people who are searching for a home to buy today. And your house may be exactly what they’re looking for.
While the millennial generation has been dubbed the renter generation, that namesake may not be appropriate anymore. Millennials, the largest generation, are actually a significant driving force for buyer demand in the housing market today. Here’s why.
Millennial Homebuying Power
While there’s no denying higher mortgage rates are making it more challenging to afford a home today, many millennials are still eager and able to buy homes – whether it’s their first or they’re moving up. That’s in large part because of the value they place on education.
A recent article from First American says millennials may be the most educated generation in our nation’s history. Because of that, they tend to earn higher wages, and that translates to greater homebuying power. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, explains:
“In 2020, millennials with a bachelor’s degree had a median household income of over $100,000, while those with at least a graduate degree had a median household income of over $120,000. Compare those income levels with the median household income of millennials with just a high school degree (or some college) of $60,000 and the earning power benefits of higher education are undeniable. . . . Millennials’ pursuit of higher education is good news for the housing market. . . because education is the key to unlock both greater earning power and, in turn, homeownership.”
And since wages are one of the key things that factor into affordability when it comes to buying a home, these higher earnings can help millennials achieve their homeownership goals.
Millennials Continue To Be a Driving Force of Demand
A number of studies have looked into how the millennial generation views homeownership and how they’re uniquely positioned to define the housing market moving forward. As the largest generation, the volume of potential millennial homebuyers will have an impact on the market for years to come. As an article in Forbes explains:
“At about 80 million strong, millennials currently make up the largest share of homebuyers (43%) in the U.S., according to a recent National Association of Realtors (NAR) report. Simply due to their numbers and eagerness to become homeowners, this cohort is quite literally shaping the next frontier of the homebuying process. Once known as the ‘rent generation,’ millennials have proven to be savvy buyers who are quite nimble in their quest to own real estate. In fact, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say they are the key to the overall health and stability of the current housing industry.”
If you’re thinking of selling your house but are hesitant because you’re worried that buyer demand has disappeared in the face of higher mortgage rates, know that isn’t the case for everyone. While demand has eased this year, millennials are still looking for homes. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, says in an article:
“While not the frenzy of 2021, the largest living generation, the Millennials, will continue to age into their prime home-buying years, creating a demographic tailwind for the housing market.”
With all the headlines and talk in the media about the shift in the housing market, you might be thinking this is a housing bubble. It’s only natural for those thoughts to creep in that make you think it could be a repeat of what took place in 2008. But the good news is, there’s concrete data to show why this is nothing like the last time.
There’s Still a Shortage of Homes on the Market Today, Not a Surplus
For historical context, there were too many homes for sale during the housing crisis (many of which were short sales and foreclosures), and that caused prices to fall dramatically. Supply has increased since the start of this year, but there’s still a shortage of inventory available overall, primarily due to almost 15 years of underbuilding homes.
The graph below uses data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to show how the months’ supply of homes available now compares to the crash. Today, unsold inventory sits at just a 3.2-months’ supply at the current sales pace, which is significantly lower than the last time. There just isn’t enough inventory on the market for home prices to come crashing down like they did last time, even though some overheated markets may experience slight declines.
Mortgage Standards Were Much More Relaxed Back Then
During the lead-up to the housing crisis, it was much easier to get a home loan than it is today. Running up to 2006, banks were creating artificial demand by lowering lending standards and making it easy for just about anyone to qualify for a home loan or refinance their current home.
Back then, lending institutions took on much greater risk in both the person and the mortgage products offered. That led to mass defaults, foreclosures, and falling prices. Today, things are different, and purchasers face much higher standards from mortgage companies.
The graph below uses Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) to help tell this story. In that index, the higher the number, the easier it is to get a mortgage. The lower the number, the harder it is. In the latest report, the index fell by 5.4%, indicating standards are tightening.
This graph also shows just how different things are today compared to the spike in credit availability leading up to the crash. Tighter lending standards over the past 14 years have helped prevent a scenario that would lead to a wave of foreclosures like the last time.
The Foreclosure Volume Is Nothing Like It Was During the Crash
Another difference is the number of homeowners that were facing foreclosure after the housing bubble burst. Foreclosure activity has been lower since the crash, largely because buyers today are more qualified and less likely to default on their loans. The graph below uses data from ATTOM Data Solutions to help paint the picture of how different things are this time:
Not to mention, homeowners today have options they just didn’t have in the housing crisis when so many people owed more on their mortgages than their homes were worth. Today, many homeowners are equity rich. That equity comes, in large part, from the way home prices have appreciated over time. According to CoreLogic:
“The total average equity per borrower has now reached almost $300,000, the highest in the data series.”
Rick Sharga, Executive VP of Market Intelligence at ATTOM Data, explains the impact this has:
“Very few of the properties entering the foreclosure process have reverted to the lender at the end of the foreclosure. . . . We believe that this may be an indication that borrowers are leveraging their equity and selling their homes rather than risking the loss of their equity in a foreclosure auction.”
This goes to show homeowners are in a completely different position this time. For those facing challenges today, many have the option to use their equity to sell their house and avoid the foreclosure process.
If you’re concerned we’re making the same mistakes that led to the housing crash, the graphs above should help alleviate your fears. Concrete data and expert insights clearly show why this is nothing like the last time.