November Market Update 2023

Market Update

November Market Update 2023

Fed Policy is Working, But Mostly Just on Housing

 
Home prices remain near all-time highs, largely due to the sustained low inventory levels, and despite the average 30-year mortgage rate hitting a 23-year high in October at 7.79%. It’s hard to overstate the full significance of higher mortgage rates on the housing market; but, in short, they are the primary driver of market slowdown. For example, when accounting for the cost of financing a mortgage, a buyer’s monthly cost for a median home today is actually 11% higher than in June 2022 when prices were at their peak. Looking further back to when the Fed began to raise rates at the beginning of 2022, the median monthly cost of a home has increased 76% from then until now.
 
So why have prices stayed elevated even as the cost of financing has skyrocketed over the past 22 months? For sellers, prices have to stay high or else they wouldn’t enter the market. Approximately 75% of U.S. homeowners have mortgage rates of less than 4%, according to JPMorgan, which has kept sellers from entering the market. If prices broadly contracted, even fewer sellers would come to market because they likely couldn’t afford a new house because their profit margin would be too low. Sellers who are coming to market now need to make a profit so that they can finance less of their next home in order to counteract the higher mortgage rate. 
 
Inflation isn’t helping the market, either. People feel less wealthy than they did three years ago, and they’re right to feel that way. In just the three years from September 2020 to September 2023, the dollar has lost about 15% of its buying power, the same amount it lost over the preceding 10 years (September 2010 to September 2020). Even though inflation is declining, prices are rising more slowly than last year — which is good, but it doesn't make anything more affordable. The combination of declining purchasing power and higher mortgage rates only reduces market participants, slowing the market.
 
High mortgage rates aren’t going away anytime soon because inflation is still about twice as high as the Fed would like. So far, most of the economic slowing the Fed intended by raising rates seems to be isolated to the housing market. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported that the number of homes sold dropped 2.0% month over month and 15.4% year over year to the lowest number of sales in the four years that NAR reports. Real GDP rose significantly in Q3 2023, indicating strong U.S. economic growth rather than economic slowdown. It’s unlikely that the Fed will hike rates at the December meeting, and very unlikely that they will reduce rates in the near future. We can expect mortgage rates between 7% and 8% in 2024, which will continue to slow the market.
 
 

Local Lowdown

 
In the East Bay, home prices haven’t been largely affected by rising mortgage rates. Increasing demand and low, but rising inventory helped drive the home price appreciation that the East Bay experienced in the first half of the year. Notably, single-family home prices rose 17% in Alameda and 7% in Contra Costa this year. In the fourth quarter, we expect prices to remain fairly stable, but slight price contractions are normal this time of year.
 
Typically, demand begins to decline in the fall and bottoms out in January, so the consistently low supply should be less of an issue. With mortgage rates at a 23-year high, buyers have more incentive to compete over the most desirable homes. Because of the cost of financing, homebuyers aren’t settling for less than the best home they can find.
 
As demand slows, buyers are gaining more negotiating power and paying slightly less than they were four months ago. In June 2023, the average seller received 105% of list price compared to 103% of list in October. That being said, inventory will almost certainly remain historically low for the rest of the year, and will likely remain low in 2024, which will create price support.
 

As always, Arrive Real Estate Group remains committed to helping our clients achieve their current and future real estate goals. Our team of experienced professionals are happy to discuss the information we’ve shared in this newsletter. We welcome you to contact us with any questions about the current market or to request an evaluation of your home.


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