Here are expert opinions on the market. I disagree with all of them:
The year started out with signs showing that the Federal Reserve’s inflation-fighting tactic was effective in cooling down the hot pandemic housing market.
For the first time in 11 years, home prices dropped year-over-year in February as mortgage rates more than doubled following the Fed’s consecutive interest rate hikes, curbing affordability.
However, the median price of a home increased month-over-month for the second consecutive month in March. The median home price is projected to increase for a third month in a row in April to $393,300, which is 2% lower than the previous April’s median price of $401,700, according to data released in May by the National Association of Realtors (NAR).
One big factor behind the strengthening home prices and the decrease in sales volume — down 23% in April from a year ago — is the lack of housing inventory.
“Home sales are bouncing back and forth but remain above recent cyclical lows,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “The combination of job gains, limited inventory and fluctuating mortgage rates over the last several months have created an environment of push-pull housing demand.”
Where are home prices headed?
Generally speaking, high mortgage rates should prompt house prices to trend downward.
“Yet, housing supply remains so restricted, that any uptick in demand will put upward pressure on prices,” wrote First American Chief economist Mark Fleming in a blogpost. “This is the dynamic that played out in March, as the spring home-buying season ushered in more demand for homes, while insufficient supply prompted buyers to compete and bid up prices.”
No return to typical seasonality in the market
There will be a lot of uncertainty in the economy over the next few months and prospective home buyers are going to be more opportunistic, as opposed to following traditional seasonal market trends, says Bright MLS Chief Economist, Lisa Sturtevant.
“There will continue to be volatility in mortgage rates as we wait to see what the Fed will do at its upcoming meetings and as we watch economic data roll in over the summer,” says Sturtevant. “Prospective buyers are going to be watching rates closely, and many will try to make an offer on a home when they see rates dip. As a result, we should expect less seasonality this year than we had prior to the pandemic.”
More sellers returning to the market
While inventory will remain low this year, we should expect to see more sellers who had been on the sidelines list their home for sale this summer and into the fall, says Sturtevant.
Many existing homeowners have been “locked in” with super low mortgage rates, which has discouraged discretionary moves.
“However, some people have to move, and others will decide to move for a bigger or smaller home, or to change jobs or neighborhoods, despite rates remaining elevated,” says Sturtevant.
The uptick in new home construction has provided more opportunities for move-up buyers who may have been staying in place because they did not have anywhere to move to.
“One thing that could shut down new listings is if we see a sharp spike in mortgage rates to 8 or 9%, a situation that is still unlikely but not out of the realm of possibilities,” she says.
New home construction
Instability of regional banks is a concern for builder and land developer financing going forward, says Robert Dietz, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders.
Lending conditions for builders have tightened, and the interest rate for development and construction loans is now well above 10%, which threatens housing supply.
Single-family spec home building loans had an effective rate of 13% in the first quarter of 2023 compared to 9% in the first quarter of 2018.
“Our expectation is that the rate of these loans will move lower as the Fed cuts the federal funds rate, but our forecast is that will not happen until later in 2024,” Dietz told USA TODAY. “As a result, land development would be suppressed, and we risk loaning low on lots during a home building rebound in 2024. Lot development can take three years in a typical market.”
Zillow, Goldman Sachs, and every economist thought the 2023 market would be all negative.
Goldman Sachs originally forecasted home prices to fall by double digits. However, they have released a report titled – “As interest rates climb, the global housing market is surprisingly stable”. In it, they stated: “House prices [are] leveling out more quickly and at a higher level than would normally be expected given the rapid rise in mortgage rates. Home prices are defying expectations and RISING in major economies such as the U.S., Australia and Canada.”
Now Zillow is forecasting 3%-ish appreciation here for the next year – which sounds like the old normal:
We know that the perception is more important than the reality, especially for potential sellers. If they see some media coverage that is slightly positive, maybe more will come to market this year, instead of waiting for some vague unknown day in the future when the market gets ‘better’.
Zillow economists now believe they’re done issuing downward revisions. In fact, they think the national housing market correction could be nearing its bottom.
Heading forward, Zillow economists expect U.S. home values as tracked by the Zillow Home Value Index (ZHVI) to rise 0.5% between January 2023 and January 2024.
Among the 400 largest housing markets tracked by Zillow, the company expects 238 markets to see positive home price growth between January 2023 and January 2024, while it expects six markets to remain flat and 156 markets to notch a home price decline over the next 12 months. Simply put: Zillow expects only 39% of major markets to post a home price decline over the coming year.
Just what we need – a new model that comes to the same wrong conclusion……
A new model of forecasting home prices based on consumer demand predicts that prices for housing will decrease by 5% nationally and 12% in San Diego County by the end of this year. The model, which highlights online search activity, was recently published in a new study from the University of California San Diego’s Rady School of Management.
The model’s predictions have a proven accuracy rate of up to 70% and are unique to other price predictors — such as Zillow, Goldman Sachs and Redfin —because those consider a variety of factors like interest rates, wage growth, unemployment and housing supply. Whereas the housing search index created by Allan Timmermann of the Rady School and collaborators at Arhus University in Denmark, focuses on consumer demand by tracking the rate at which prospective buyers use the internet to search for homes.
“It is one of the purest measures of potential demand that you can get because the first thing you do when you’re looking for a house or interested in buying a house, is to go to the internet and look at what is available,” said Timmermann, a distinguished professor of finance at the Rady School. “Those in the market for a home leave a big footprint with their online search activity because of the time it takes – often several months – to find something that is the right fit.”
Cities like San Diego have housing prices dropping more than the national average because it’s where the market overheated the most during the pandemic, Timmermann said.
I was going to ignore one more forecast by a financial services company (what do they know about selling homes?), but this is from the squid, plus Derek mentioned it in the comment section.
None of these forecasts provide any evidence or reasons for their conclusions. They are just guessing, apparently, and merely searching for more eyeballs.
They are probably transfixed on the median sales price, one of the worst tools available.
San Diego County Detached and Attached Homes, Median Sales Price
There you go – the county’s median sales price has dropped 13% so far.
Do you see that much in the market?
I’ll give you a better example:
NSDCC Detached-Homes, Median Sales Price
Do you see houses between La Jolla and Carlsbad selling for 28% less than they did in March? Me neither. NSDCC sales dropped in half (207 vs 101), and the homes that are selling are smaller (average square footage is -13%) and more inferior which explains why the median sales price should be dropping. But nobody mentions the additional variables.
We are being dumbed down by the squid, and others.
The graph above is boring this time of year, so I added my predictions in the lighter colors. I’m figuring that the Fed will be relentless and the higher rates in the second half of the year will cause the pricing gap between sellers and buyers to be tougher to bridge.
It’s because there will be some decent sales in April and May that keep sellers optimistic that the perfect buyers are coming tomorrow….or next week….or well, heck, let’s just wait until 2024.
Here is the graph from last year:
For our contest participants, there are 120 new listings this month – and we’ve had 36 new listings every week for the last three weeks. It means our contest should wind up around 170-180 listings?
My guess was that the NSDCC annual sales would be +5%, and pricing +15% in 2022.
It was a tough year for prognostications!
NSDCC YoY Statistics
The smaller square footage takes a little bit of the sting out of it, but anyone who guessed right about the 2022 statistics was just plain lucky.
I was close on the annual price increase, but it doesn’t mean much after considering what the median sales price was last month – which is now back to the mid-2021 range.
I would have been way wrong on the sales prediction, even if the frenzy would have continued. The sales between January and May – when the frenzy was still raging – were down 28% YoY. It shows how insane the market was in 2021, and how unlikely it will be that we will ever seen anything like it again.
But have you seen ANY superior homes selling for a discount yet? Me neither, and one reason is because there are so few for sale. Once we wade into the spring selling season, we’re going to see how the market has divided in two segments – superior vs. inferior properties – and how the affluent buyers will pay the price for the top-quality homes.
The big question is what the realtors will do.
Any agent can sell a creampuff – the homes that are well-located, upgraded, tuned-up, easy-to-show, and priced attractively. But how many properties are in that category? Maybe 5% to 10% max? The overall market, and the changes in these dumb statistics that everyone thinks mean something, will be made in the trenches by the listing agents.
Will they game up and provide excellent salesmanship that keeps homes selling for about the same prices? Or will they be like prancing bullfighters and just get out of the way as the buyers come barreling through with their demands for discounts?
When we look at these stats next year, we will know the answer.
The local index peaked in May, so today’s local Case-Shiller reading for October is the fourth in a row that reflects the much-higher mortgage rates:
San Diego Non-Seasonally-Adjusted CSI changes
It looks like we may have seen the worst of it?
If so, and the monthly declines are tempered over the next couple of readings, it should mean that the index will be in the 380-390 range as we roll into the spring selling season – or about where it was a year ago.
It sure seems to be going better than most people thought it would!
As the national leader of real estate, Zillow is attempting to guide people with data, thankfully. Their Home-Value Index has been decent, and I’ll take the -7% for San Diego….which means our premium areas haven’t felt much decline at all.
Their comment on current conditions isn’t ground-breaking but at least it offers some hope:
Activity in the housing market has slowed to a crawl this winter but the stage is set for a spring thaw: buyers can count on the usual springtime flood of new listings, and less frenzied competition than the last two spring selling seasons in the New Year. But if home shoppers really want to experience some deserted open houses, there’s no time like the present, because this lull won’t last long.
Here are their latest predictions about our local areas, all of which have values that are higher YoY:
Rancho Santa Fe
Let’s enjoy our stay in Plateau City – we may be here for a while!