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Real Estate Is Still Considered the Best Long-Term Investment
With all the headlines circulating about home prices and rising mortgage rates, you may wonder if it still makes sense to invest in homeownership right now. A recent poll from Gallup shows the answer is yes. In fact, real estate was voted the best long-term investment for the 11th consecutive year, consistently beating other investment types like gold, stocks, and bonds (see graph below):
If you’re thinking about purchasing a home, let this poll reassure you. Even with everything happening today, Americans recognize owning a home is a powerful financial decision.
Why Do Americans Still Feel So Positive About the Value of Investing in a Home?Purchasing real estate has typically been a solid long-term strategy for building wealth in America. As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), notes:
“. . . homeownership is a catalyst for building wealth for people from all walks of life. A monthly mortgage payment is often considered a forced savings account that helps homeowners build a net worth about 40 times higher than that of a renter.”That’s because owning a home grows your net worth over time as your home appreciates in value and as you pay down your mortgage. And, since building that wealth takes time, it may make sense to start as soon as you can. If you wait to buy and keep renting, you’ll miss out on those monthly housing payments going toward your home equity.
Bottom LineBuying a home is a powerful decision. So, it’s no wonder so many people view real estate as the best long-term investment. If you’re ready to start on your own journey toward homeownership, let’s connect today.
The Main Reason Mortgage Rates Are So High
Today’s mortgage rates are top-of-mind for many homebuyers right now. As a result, if you’re thinking about buying for the first time or selling your current house to move into a home that better fits your needs, you may be asking yourself these two questions:
1. Why Are Mortgage Rates So High? The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is largely influenced by the supply and demand for mortgage-backed securities (MBS). According to Investopedia:
“Mortgage-backed securities (MBS) are investment products similar to bonds. Each MBS consists of a bundle of home loans and other real estate debt bought from the banks that issued them . . . The investor who buys a mortgage-backed security is essentially lending money to home buyers.”Demand for MBS helps determine the spread between the 10-Year Treasury Yield and the 30-year fixed mortgage rate. Historically, the average spread between the two is 1.72 (see chart below):
Last Friday morning, the mortgage rate was 6.85%. That means the spread was 3.2%, which is almost 1.5% over the norm. If the spread was at its historical average, mortgage rates would be 5.37% (3.65% 10-Year Treasury Yield + 1.72 spread).
This large spread is very unusual. As George Ratiu, Chief Economist at Keeping Current Matters (KCM), explains:
“The only times the spread approached or exceeded 300 basis points were during periods of high inflation or economic volatility, like those seen in the early 1980s or the Great Financial Crisis of 2008-09."The graph below uses historical data to help illustrate this point by showing the few times the spread has increased to 300 basis points or more:
The graph shows how the spread has come down after each peak. The good news is, that means there’s room for mortgage rates to improve today.
So, what’s causing the larger spread and making mortgage rates so high today?
The demand for MBS is heavily influenced by the risks associated with investing in them. Today, that risk is impacted by broader market conditions like inflation and fear of a potential recession, the Fed’s interest rate hikes to try to bring down inflation, headlines that create unnecessarily negative narratives about home prices, and more.
Simply put: when there’s less risk, demand for MBS is high, so mortgage rates will be lower. On the other hand, if there’s more risk with MBS, demand for MBS will be low, and we’ll see higher mortgage rates as a result. Currently, demand for MBS is low, so mortgage rates are high.
2. When Will Rates Go Back Down?Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, answers that question in a recent blog:
“It’s reasonable to assume that the spread and, therefore, mortgage rates will retreat in the second half of the year if the Fed takes its foot off the monetary tightening pedal and provides investors with more certainty. However, it’s unlikely that the spread will return to its historical average of 170 basis points, as some risks are here to stay.”Bottom LineThe spread will shrink when the fear investors feel is eased. That’ll mean we should see mortgage rates moderate as the year goes on. However, when it comes to forecasting mortgage rates, no one can know for sure exactly what will happen.
Oops! Home Prices Didn’t Crash After All
During the fourth quarter of last year, many housing experts predicted home prices were going to crash this year. Here are a few of those forecasts:
Jeremy Siegel, Russell E. Palmer Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School of Business:
“I expect housing prices fall 10% to 15%, and the housing prices are accelerating on the downside.”Mark Zandi, Chief Economist at Moody’s Analytics:
"Buckle in. Assuming rates remain near their current 6.5% and the economy skirts recession, then national house prices will fall almost 10% peak-to-trough. Most of those declines will happen sooner rather than later. And house prices will fall 20% if there is a typical recession.” Goldman Sachs:
“Housing is already cooling in the U.S., according to July data that was reported last week. As interest rates climb steadily higher, Goldman Sachs Research’s G-10 home price model suggests home prices will decline by around 5% to 10% from the peak in the U.S. . . . Economists at Goldman Sachs Research say there are risks that housing markets could decline more than their model suggests.”
The Bad News: It Rattled Consumer ConfidenceThese forecasts put doubt in the minds of many consumers about the strength of the residential real estate market. Evidence of this can be seen in the December Consumer Confidence Survey from Fannie Mae. It showed a larger percentage of Americans believed home prices would fall over the next 12 months than in any other December in the history of the survey (see graph below). That caused people to hesitate about their homebuying or selling plans as we entered the new year.
The Good News: Home Prices Never CrashedHowever, home prices didn’t come crashing down and seem to be already rebounding from the minimal depreciation experienced over the last several months.
In a report just released, Goldman Sachs explained:
“The global housing market seems to be stabilizing faster than expected despite months of rising mortgage rates, according to Goldman Sachs Research. House prices are defying expectations and are rising in major economies such as the U.S.,. . . ”Those claims from Goldman Sachs were verified by the release last week of two indexes on home prices: Case-Shiller and the FHFA. Here are the numbers each reported:
Home values seem to have turned the corner and are headed back up.
Bottom LineWhen the forecasts of significant home price depreciation were made last fall, they were made with megaphones. Mass media outlets, industry newspapers, and podcasts all broadcasted the news of an eminent crash in prices.
Now, forecasters are saying the worst is over and it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as they originally projected. However, they are whispering the news instead of using megaphones. As real estate professionals, it is our responsibility – some may say duty – to correct this narrative in the minds of the American consumer.
Today’s Real Estate Market: The ‘Unicorns’ Have Galloped Off
Comparing real estate metrics from one year to another can be challenging in a normal housing market. That’s due to possible variability in the market making the comparison less meaningful or accurate. Unpredictable events can have a significant impact on the circumstances and outcomes being compared.
Comparing this year’s numbers to the two ‘unicorn’ years we just experienced is almost worthless. By ‘unicorn,’ this is the less common definition of the word:
“Something that is greatly desired but difficult or impossible to find.” The pandemic profoundly changed real estate over the last few years. The demand for a home of our own skyrocketed, and people needed a home office and big backyard.
Now, things are getting back to normal. The ‘unicorns’ have galloped off.
Comparing today’s market to those years makes no sense. Here are three examples:
Buyer Demand If you look at the headlines, you’d think there aren’t any buyers out there. We still sell over 10,000 houses a day in the United States. Of course, buyer demand is down from the two ‘unicorn’ years. But, according to ShowingTime, if we compare it to normal years (2017-2019), we can see that buyer activity is still strong (see graph below):
Home PricesWe can’t compare today’s home price increases to the last couple of years. According to Freddie Mac, 2020 and 2021 each had historic appreciation numbers. Here’s a graph also showing the more normal years (2017-2019):
We can see that we’re returning to more normal home value increases. There were several months of minimal depreciation in the second half of 2022. However, according to Fannie Mae, the market has returned to more normal appreciation in the first quarter of this year.
Foreclosures There have already been some startling headlines about the percentage increases in foreclosure filings. Of course, the percentages will be up. They are increases over historically low foreclosure rates. Here’s a graph with information from ATTOM, a property data provider:
There will be an increase over the numbers of the last three years now that the moratorium on foreclosures has ended. There are homeowners who lose their home to foreclosure every year, and it’s heartbreaking for those families. But, if we put the current numbers into perspective, we’ll realize that we’re actually going back to the normal filings from 2017-2019.
Bottom LineThere will be very unsettling headlines around the housing market this year. Most will come from inappropriate comparisons to the ‘unicorn’ years. Let’s connect so you have an expert on your side to help you keep everything in proper perspective.
Keys to Success for First-Time Homebuyers
Buying your first home is an exciting decision and a major milestone that has the power to change your life for the better. As a first-time homebuyer, it’s a vision you can bring to life, but, as the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shares, you’ll have to overcome some factors that have made it more challenging in recent years:
“Since 2011, the share of first-time home buyers has been under the historical norm of 40% as buyers face tight inventory, rising home prices, rising rents and high student debt loads.”That said, if you’re looking to purchase your first home, here are two things you can consider to help make your dreams a reality.
Save Money with First-Time Homebuyer ProgramsBeing able to pay for the initial costs and fees associated with homeownership can feel like a major hurdle. Whether that’s getting a loan, being able to put together a down payment, or having money for closing costs – there are a variety of expenses that can make buying your first home feel challenging.
Fortunately, there are a lot of public and private first-time homebuyer programs that can help you get a loan with little-to-no money upfront. CNET explains:
“A first-time homebuyer program can help make homeownership more affordable and accessible by offering lower mortgage rates, down payment assistance and tax incentives.” In fact, as Bankrate says, many of these programs are offered by state and local governments:
“Many states and local governments have programs that offer down payment or closing cost assistance – either low-interest-rate loans, deferred loans or even forgivable loans (aka grants) – to people looking to buy their first house . . .” To take advantage of these programs, contact the housing authority in your state and browse sites like Down Payment Resource.
The Supply of Homes for Sale Is Low, So Explore Every PossibilityIt’s a sellers’ market, meaning there aren’t enough homes on the market to meet buyer demand. So, how can you be sure you’re doing everything you can to find a home that works for you? You can increase your options by considering condominiums (condos) and townhomes. U.S. News tells us these housing types are often less expensive than single-family homes:
“Condos are usually less expensive than standalone houses . . . They are also less expensive to insure.”
One reason why they may be more affordable is because they’re often smaller. But they still give you the chance to get your foot in the door and achieve your dream of owning and building equity. Beyond that, another major perk is they typically require less maintenance. As U.S. News says in the same article:
“The strongest reason for purchasing a condo is that all external maintenance is usually covered by the condo association, such as landscaping, pool maintenance, external painting, paving, plowing and more. This fee also covers some internal maintenance, such as gas, electric, plumbing, HVAC and other mechanical systems.”
Townhomes and condos are great ways to get into homeownership. Owning your home allows you to build equity, increase your net worth, and can fuel a future move.
The best way to make sure you’re set up for success, especially if you’re just starting out, is to work with a trusted real estate agent. They can educate you on the homebuying process, help you understand your local area to find options that are right for you, and coach you through making an offer in a competitive market.
Bottom LineToday’s housing market provides some challenges for first-time homebuyers. But, there are still ways to achieve your goals, like utilizing first-time homebuyer programs and considering all of your housing options. Let’s connect so you have an expert on your side who can help you navigate the process.
With the correct person by your side, the buying and selling process doesn't have to be full of stress, doubt and anxiety - it can actually be FUN! Contact Jacquelyn Duke today to learn more.
Jacquelyn Duke, Realtor®
Licensed to Sell in the State of Iowa
1360 SW Park Square Dr Ste 106
Ankeny, IA 50023
Disclaimer: The material on this site is solely for informational purposes. No warranties or representations have been made.