The KCM Crew of the Keeping Current Matters blog posted a great article yesterday called “Inventory: Only Challenge to the Real Estate Recovery,” and I want to share it with you:
The real estate market is in the midst of a major comeback. Sales are greater than any time since 2007. Consumer confidence is increasing. Economists are now saying housing is the major tailwind to our nation’s overall economic recovery.
However, there is one major challenge that could stall the housing market: a lack of inventory.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR) latest Existing Home Sales Report:
“Total housing inventory at the end of December fell 8.5 percent to 1.82 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 4.4-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 4.8 months in November, and is the lowest housing supply since May of 2005 when it was 4.3 months, which was near the peak of the housing boom.
Listed inventory is 21.6 percent below a year ago when there was a 6.4-month supply. Raw unsold inventory is at the lowest level since January 2001 when there were 1.78 million homes on the market.”
A recent survey by Redfin reveals that the challenge seems to be continuing into 2013. New listings taken in the first 14 days of the year decreased by 30% as compared to the first two weeks of 2012.
A lack of supply will be good news for prices in the short term. However, for a long term recovery in housing, an increase in current inventory is crucial.
Making predictions can be the ‘kiss-of-death’ for a blog. Even if we get four out of five correct (80%), there are those in the industry who will kill us on the one we got wrong. We believe strongly that when making a real estate decision for you and your family you must look forward and take into consideration how the housing market may change. For this reason, we are willing to take on the possible wrath of our counterparts by sticking out our necks and predicting these will be the major real estate news stories from now until the end of the year.
Interest Rates Rise
Many, including us, have been surprised that rates have not risen already. However, the next several months are going to see three distinct changes that will propel rates upward.
- As the government starts to leave the mortgage market, private industry will step in. Private industry demands a higher rate of return on their investments. Mortgages will be no different. Studies have shown that 30 year mortgage rates could increase by 1 to 3% over the current rate.
- In many higher priced markets, rolling back Conforming Loan Limits means that rates for the mortgages on these properties will resort back to the rates on private jumbo loans. The FHFA informed us that last year, the difference between mortgage rates for jumbo loans and jumbo-conforming mortgages has varied between about ½ and ¾ of a percentage point.
- As the economy gets better (and we believe it will), the pressure to keep rates low to stimulate growth will abate.
Some Loan Requirements Tighten but More Can Now Get a Loan
Lending institutions have already started to introduce stricter mortgage guidelines. Whether the Quality Residential Mortgage (QRM) requirements are instituted as originally proposed or eased somewhat, there is no doubt that guidelines will continue to tighten as we work through the year. However, we believe the private sector will again start introducing alternative mortgage financing but at a greater expense to the consumer. You WILL be able to get a mortgage. It will just cost you more.
Housing Sales Increase
Contracted sales have shown consistent improvement over the last six months and we feel this will continue and actually begin gaining even greater momentum. We believe there is a ‘pent-up’ buying demand caused by the volatility of the market over the last several years. When interest rates start to move upward and alternative financing becomes more available, these buyers will start to jump off the fence. We believe there will be a major upswing in sales over the next six months.
Distressed Properties Increase Markedly
More people are paying their mortgage on time and that is great news for housing in the long term. However, the numbers of distressed properties currently in the foreclosure process is still very swollen. These properties will begin coming to the market in the second half of the year as short sales and foreclosures. The numbers will be staggering in some areas.
Prices Continue to Soften in Most Markets
The current housing inventory for sale and the distressed properties about to come on the market will vastly outnumber the increased supply of purchasers we will see over the next six months. There will be more houses for sale then there will be buyers purchasing them. That oversupply will continue to put downward pressure on prices through the rest of this year and into 2012. You now know what we believe will take place in real estate between now and the end of the year. (Thanks to the KCM Crew for this great post.)