It doesn’t matter if you’re someone who closely follows the economy or not, chances are you’ve heard whispers of an upcoming recession. Economic conditions are determined by a broad range of factors, so rather than explaining them each in depth, let’s lean on the experts and what history tells us to see what could lie ahead. As Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst at Bankrate, says:
“Two-in-three economists are forecasting a recession in 2023 . . .”
As talk about a potential recession grows, you may be wondering what a recession could mean for the housing market. Here’s a look at the historical data to show what happened in real estate during previous recessions to help prove why you shouldn’t be afraid of what a recession could mean for the housing market today.
A Recession Doesn’t Mean Falling Home Prices
To show that home prices don’t fall every time there’s a recession, it helps to turn to historical data. As the graph below illustrates, looking at recessions going all the way back to 1980, home prices appreciated in four of the last six of them. So historically, when the economy slows down, it doesn’t mean home values will always fall.
Most people remember the housing crisis in 2008 (the larger of the two red bars in the graph above) and think another recession would be a repeat of what happened to housing then. But today’s housing market isn’t about to crash because the fundamentals of the market are different than they were in 2008. According to experts, home prices will vary by market and may go up or down depending on the local area. But the average of their 2023 forecasts shows prices will net neutral nationwide, not fall drastically like they did in 2008.
A Recession Means Falling Mortgage Rates
Research also helps paint the picture of how a recession could impact the cost of financing a home. As the graph below shows, historically, each time the economy slowed down, mortgage rates decreased.
Fortuneexplains mortgage rates typically fall during an economic slowdown:
“Over the past five recessions, mortgage rates have fallen an average of 1.8 percentage points from the peak seen during the recession to the trough. And in many cases, they continued to fall after the fact as it takes some time to turn things around even when the recession is technically over.”
In 2023, market experts say mortgage rates will likely stabilize below the peak we saw last year. That’s because mortgage rates tend to respond to inflation. And early signs show inflation is starting to cool. If inflation continues to ease, rates may fall a bit more, but the days of 3% are likely behind us.
The big takeaway is you don’t need to fear the word recession when it comes to housing. In fact, experts say a recession would be mild and housing would play a key role in a quick economic rebound. As the 2022 CEO Outlook from KPMG, says:
“Global CEOs see a ‘mild and short’ recession, yet optimistic about global economy over 3-year horizon . . .
More than 8 out of 10 anticipate a recession over the next 12 months, with more than half expecting it to be mild and short.”
If you’re a homeowner, odds are your equity has grown significantly over the last few years as home prices skyrocketed and you made your monthly mortgage payments. Home equity builds over time and can help you achieve certain goals. According to the latest Equity Insights Report from CoreLogic, the average borrower with a home loan has almost $300,000 in equity right now.
As you weigh your options, especially in the face of inflation and talk of a recession, it’s important to understand your assets and how you can leverage them. A real estate professional is the best resource to help you understand how much home equity you have and advise you on some of the ways you can use it. Here are a few examples.
1. Buy a Home That Fits Your Needs
If you no longer have the space you need, it might be time to move into a larger home. Or it’s possible you have too much space and need something smaller. No matter the situation, consider using your equity to power a move into a home that fits your changing lifestyle.
If you want to upgrade your house, you can put your equity toward a down payment on the home of your dreams. And if you’re planning to downsize, you may be surprised that your equity may cover some, if not all, of the cost of your next home. A real estate advisor can help you figure out how much equity you have and how you can use it toward the purchase of your next home.
2. Reinvest in Your Current House
According to a recent survey from Point, 39% of homeowners would invest in home improvement projects if they chose to access their equity. This is a great option if you want to change some things about your living space but you aren’t ready to make a move just yet.
Home improvement projects allow you to customize your home to suit your needs and sense of style. Just remember to think ahead with any updates you make, as some renovations add more value to your home and are more likely to appeal to future buyers than others. For example, a report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows refinishing or replacing wood flooring has a high cost recovery. Lean on a local professional for the best advice on which projects to invest in to get the greatest return on your investment when you sell.
3. Pursue Your Personal Goals
In addition to making a move or updating your house, home equity can also help you achieve the life goals you’ve dreamed of. That could mean investing in a new business venture, retiring or downsizing, or funding an education. While you shouldn’t use your equity for unnecessary spending, leveraging it to start a business or putting it toward education costs can help you achieve other lifelong goals.
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.
The housing market is rapidly changing from the peak frenzy it saw over the past two years. That means you probably have questions about what your best move is if you’re thinking of buying or selling this fall.
To help you make a confident decision, lean on the professionals for insights. Here are a few things experts are saying about the fall housing market.
“This fall, a more moderate pace of home selling, more listings to choose from, and softening price growth will provide some breathing room for buyers searching for a home during what is typically the best time to buy a home.”
“For homeowners deciding whether to make a move this year,remember that listing prices – while lower than a few months ago – remain higher than in prior years, so you’re still likely to find opportunities to cash-in on record-high levels of equity, particularly if you’ve owned your home for a longer period of time.”
Today’s cooling housing market, the rise in mortgage rates, and mounting economic concerns have some people questioning: should I still buy a home this year? While it’s true this year has unique challenges for homebuyers, it’s important to factor the long-term benefits of homeownership into your decision.
Consider this: if you know people who bought a home 5, 10, or even 30 years ago, you’re probably going to have a hard time finding someone who regrets their decision. Why is that? The reason is tied to how you gain equity and wealth as home values grow with time.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains:
“Home equity gains are built up through price appreciation and by paying off the mortgage through principal payments.”
Here’s a look at how just the home price appreciation piece can really add up over the years.
Home Price Growth Over Time
Even though home price appreciation has moderated this year, home values have still increased significantly in recent years. The map below uses data from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) to show just how noteworthy those gains have been over the last five years.
If you look at the percent change in home prices, you can see home prices grew on average by almost 64% nationwide over that period.
That means a home’s value can increase substantially in a short time. And if you expand that time frame even more, the benefit of homeownership and the drastic gains you stand to make become even clearer (see map below):
The second map shows, nationwide, home prices appreciated by an average of over 290% over roughly a thirty-year span.
While home price growth varies by state and local area, the nationwide average tells you the typical homeowner who bought a house thirty years ago saw their home almost triple in value over that time. This is why homeowners who bought their homes years ago are still happy with their decision.
Even if home price appreciation eases as the market cools this year, experts say home prices are still expected to appreciate nationally in 2023. That means, in most markets, your home should grow in value over the next year even if the pace is slower than it was during the peak market frenzy when prices skyrocketed.
The alternative to buying a home is renting, and rental prices have been climbing for decades. So why rent and fight annual lease hikes for no long-term financial benefit? Instead, consider buying a home. It’s an investment in your future that could set you up for long-term gains.