Half-full glasses and optimism are hard to come by lately and so often cynicism rules the day when it comes to economic forecasts for our country. Despite all that, I am choosing a set of rose-colored glasses for our outlook on the housing industry, and believe there is ample data to back an optimistic perspective. My brokerage has been closely tracking interest rates and economic activity all year, but two weeks ago when the biggest single day interest rate in decades took place, we dialed in. Our team signed up for every webinar and financing class possible, researched dozens of economists' opinions and sifted through all sorts of data. Here are 7 reasons backing our optimism, and why I believe home values won’t collapse and that this is a different rodeo than the 2008 crisis.
1. Supply outweighs almost every other point to be made. We are still in a housing supply crisis and short by millions of units. We have not built enough to keep up with the population and demand for all types of housing in almost all markets across the country. Even if builders ramped up production now, the delay in those hypothetical units being delivered to market does not service the demand now and in the immediate future. This was not the case in 2008 as new construction was over-built.
2. Millennials - in 2008 I was a 22 year old college student racking up a tab of student loans and looking at a dismal job market upon graduation. Home buying was not an option or even a desire at that point in time. Fast forward to now and there are 18% more people between the age of 25-34 since 2006, over 46 million strong- this is a huge crowd. These millennials now want to, and are ready to buy homes. Many of them need to as they get married, have kids and rent rates are becoming burdensome. Millennials create the demand that was lacking in 2008.
3. Home Equity - the last few years have created the greatest surge in home equity in history. 9.9 Trillion dollars or an average of $185k per household is the amount of equity Americans have in their homes. Even if prices level out or dip slightly most homeowners have an ample cushion of equity. Being “underwater” or “upside down” in their home was a common trend after 2008 where the margins for equity were very narrow (in part due to loose lending practices) and the housing bubble was the trigger for the recession not vice versa. What we have now is much different.
4. 4 Trillion Dollars is the amount of money that is sitting in consumer bank accounts. Chalk it up to government handouts, wage increases, lifestyle shifts with less travel, home budget awareness etc… There is a lot of money out there. We are a consumer driven economy which begs the assumption that that 4 Trillion will be spent on something, perhaps not in 2022, but in the near future it’s a safe bet that much of that money will find its way into the housing market.
5. Migration has been a demographic trend since before Covid, but has persisted and strengthened as many folks migrate from the top 25 metro areas to the South and Middle regions of the Country. In the Pacific Northwest this has also included an influx of California residents relocating up the coast. Movement is good for the real estate market.
6. Remote Work is a driving force impacting demand for larger square footage. Covid ultimately showed us the value of home and shifted lifestyle trends in favor of staying home, working from home, and needing bigger or better square footage. The ongoing risk of another potential shutdown keeps home top of mind for many Americans. Many homeowners have taken the last few years to execute remodel and home improvement projects. This feeds into the lifestyle shifts of emphasizing home, working from home, and ultimately adds to home values across the board.
7. The Dodd Frank Act is also a game changer in the then vs now comparison. Today’s homeowners are more qualified and at way less risk of default than two decades ago. Lending underwriting requirements, 30 year fixed interest rates, mortgage payments that include interest and principle are just a handful of things that protect homeowners which in turn is a bulwark in housing values and the overall housing market.
My colleagues and I speak with investors everyday who are wishing and hoping for a housing market crash that would open the floodgates to mythical deals with excessive cash-on-cash and a guaranteed “buy low, sell incredibly high someday strategy.” Our optimism in the housing market holding its value is often not welcomed by these folks, but that doesn’t phase us at Sound Realty Group. There are always going to be good real estate deals out there; it just might take some ingenuity and a creative perspective to source them, and put them together - good thing we specialize in just that.
By: Chelsea Shapiro, Sr. Broker at Sound Realty Group, Inc.
Sources - Guild Mortgage, BKCO Mortgage