Source: The New York Times —
Buyers, sellers and renters are in for more twists and turns, as soaring mortgage rates and stubborn inflation signal belt tightening ahead.
Everyone is feeling the squeeze.
“Mortgage rates are sky high, prices are sky high, and there’s no inventory,” said Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “This may be the worst time in my living history for the home buyer — it just doesn’t make sense.”
Mortgage rates recently broke 7 percent, the highest since 2002, and more than double what most borrowers paid near the start of the pandemic.
Between soaring prices and rising rates, the typical home buyer in October paid 77 percent more on their loan, per month, than they would have last year, according to Realtor.com. With a national median asking price of $425,000 and a 10 percent down payment, that works out to an additional $1,117 every month.
Home contract signings fell for the fourth straight month in September, down 31 percent, compared with September 2021, according to the National Association of Realtors. The same month, search interest in the phrase “U.S. Housing Bubble” reached a 15-year high, according to Google trends data. The searches were most popular in Idaho, where the median home price in Boise was $549,900 — an eye-popping 51 percent increase since September 2019, according to Realtor.com.
The days of record-low mortgage rates are over, but juiced-up home prices have not fallen in kind. And sales are stalling, as both buyers and sellers wait for the other shoe to drop.
To make sense of the current housing market, we spoke with economists, mortgage brokers and real estate agents to plot the course ahead. Much can change, especially with economic headwinds on the horizon, but they all agreed that the market is cooling fast. Home prices are going to drop, just not to the extent some buyers have hoped for. Sellers are going to have to work for their closings again. And renters may finally get a reprieve from surging prices, even as prices stay well above prepandemic levels.
How low will home prices go?
Most analysts don’t expect home prices to free fall as they did after the subprime mortgage crisis in 2008, in part because of stricter underwriting practices, a big bump in home price appreciation and a class of all-cash investors waiting to swoop in when prices dip. But the cuts are coming, analysts said, perhaps as deep as 20 to 30 percent in markets that saw the most appreciation, particularly in the Mountain West region and the South. Still, most homeowners will have gained some equity over the past two years, even after a slide in home values.
Existing home prices soared 45 percent from December 2019 to June 2022, the start of the pandemic to the summer peak in pricing, the biggest jump ever recorded in such a short window of time, according to Standard & Poor’s CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index.