Western Washington Real Estate Market Update Q2

The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please contact me.

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Washington State employment jumped back up to an annual growth rate of 2.4% following a disappointing slowdown earlier in the spring. As stated in the first quarter Gardner Report, the dismal numbers earlier this year were a function of the state re-benchmarking its data (which they do annually).

The state unemployment rate was 4.7%, marginally up from 4.5% a year ago. My current economic forecast suggests that statewide job growth in 2019 will rise by 2.6%, with a total of 87,500 new jobs created.

HOME SALES

  • There were 22,281 home sales during the second quarter of 2019, representing a drop of 4.8% from the same period in 2018. On a more positive note, sales jumped 67.6% compared to the first quarterof this year.
  • Since the middle of last year, there has been a rapid rise in the number of homes for sale, which is likely the reason sales have slowed. More choice means buyers can be more selective and take their time when choosing a home to buy.
  • Compared to the second quarter of 2018, there were fewer sales in all counties except Whatcom and Lewis. The greatest declines were in Clallam, San Juan, and Jefferson counties.
  • Listings rose 19% compared to the second quarter of 2018, but there are still a number of very tight markets where inventory levels are lower than a year ago. Generally, these are the smaller — and more affordable — markets, which suggests that affordability remains an issue.

HOME PRICES

  • Year-over-year price growth in Western Washington continues to taper. The average home price during second quarter was $540,781, which is 2.8% higher than a year ago. When compared to first quarter of this year, prices were up 12%.
  • Home prices were higher in every county except King, which is unsurprising given the cost of homes in that area. Even though King County is home to the majority of jobs in the region, housing is out of reach for many and I anticipate that this will continue to act as a drag on price growth.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Lewis County, where home prices were up 15.9%. Double-digit price increases were also seen in Mason, Cowlitz, Grays Harbor, and Skagit counties.
  • The region’s economy remains robust, which should be a positive influence on price growth. That said, affordability issues are pervasive and will act as a headwind through the balance of the year, especially in those markets that are close to job centers. This will likely force some buyers to look further afield when searching for a new home.

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home matched the second quarter of 2018.
  • Snohomish County was the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 21 days to sell. There were five counties where the length of time it took to sell a home dropped compared to the same period a year ago. Market time rose in eight counties and two were unchanged.
  • Across the entire region, it took an average of 41 days to sell a home in the second quarter of 2019. This was the same as a year ago but is down 20 days compared to the first quarter of 2019.
  • As stated above, days-on-market dropped as we moved through the spring, but all markets are not equal. I suggest that this is not too much of an issue and that well-priced homes will continue to attract attention and sell fairly rapidly.

CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. I am leaving the needle in the same position as the first quarter as demand appears to still be strong.

The market has benefitted from a fairly significant drop in mortgage rates. With average 30-year fixed rates still below 4%, I expect buyers who have been sitting on the fence will become more active, especially given that they have more homes to choose from.

 

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

Posted on July 29, 2019 at 10:14 pm
Julia and Mark Krill | Category: Local Market Update | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Local Market Update – July 2019

The market in our region appears to be moderating. Inventory is up, prices are relatively stable and homes are taking a bit longer to sell. However, with less than two months of available inventory, supply is still far short of demand. Steady buyer activity, low interest rates and a thriving economy are making for a strong summer in the housing market.

Eastside

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The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was $950,000 in June, down 3% from the same time last year and up $21,000 from May. Many buyers are looking to take advantage of the Eastside jobs boom with Amazon announcing plans to build a 43-story tower in Bellevue and Google expecting to reach 1 million square feet of office space in Kirkland.

King County

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There was good news for buyers in June as a growing supply of homes helped boost inventory close to 2012 listing levels. The median price of a single-family home in King County was $695,000. That figure is a 3% drop from a year ago and virtually unchanged from May. 33% of homes sold above list price; another sign prices are moderating when compared to 52% of homes sold over list price this time last year.

Seattle

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Home inventory in Seattle inched slightly higher in June. However, with less than two months of supply, the city is still a solid seller’s market. Apple’s plan to turn Seattle into a key engineering hub can only add to demand. The median price of a single-family home in Seattle was $781,000, down 4% from a year ago and nearly unchanged from May.

Snohomish County

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After hovering around $500,000 since March, home prices in Snohomish County crept up in June. The median price of a single-family home was $515,500, as compared to $511,500 last June. Snohomish County continues to attract buyers priced out of the King County market, putting an additional strain on supply which stands a just 1.5 months of inventory.

This post originally appeared on the GetTheWreport.com. 

Posted on July 15, 2019 at 8:22 pm
Julia and Mark Krill | Category: Local Market Update | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Local Market Update – June

The pace of the housing market gained momentum in May, bringing an uptick in open house traffic and offers. A drop in interest rates and increased inventory were great incentives for buyers. Despite the increase in supply there is less than two months of inventory available – half the national average and far short of what is considered balanced. Industry experts are predicting a strong market as we segue into summer.

Eastside

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The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was $928,800 in May, down 3% from the same time last year and virtually unchanged from April. With a booming economy that continues to grow, news of Amazon’s expansion in Bellevue, the latest Microsoft acquisition and plans for a $1.2 billion office park in Redmond, demand for housing on the Eastside is unlikely to decrease any time soon.

King County

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Home sale activity in King County was brisk in May. According to a Windermere analysis, 7 out of 10 properties sold last month had 15 or fewer days on the market. More than half of the homes sold at or above list price. The median price of a single-family home was $700,000. While down 4% from the same time last year, that price was up about $22,000 from the previous month. Home to the fastest growing economy in the country,  King County is expected to draw even more buyers to the area this year.

Seattle

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Seattle employment continues to grow faster than in most of the country.  This has made the city a top location for workers, particularly millennials.  Demand has put a strain on available homes, reducing the supply to just seven weeks of inventory available. May home prices in Seattle were lower than they were a year ago, but showed a healthy increase from the previous month. The median price of a single-family home was $784,925 in May, down 5% from a year ago and up $30,000 from April.

Snohomish County

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In May, the median price of a single-family home in Snohomish County was $499,950. That number remains unchanged from a year ago, and also unchanged from March and April. Despite a 44% increase in inventory, the supply of homes for sale in this area is even tighter than in King County.  Brokers report that buyers are being drawn from King County and willing to trade a longer work commute for more affordable housing.

This was originally posted on GetTheWReport.com.

Posted on June 11, 2019 at 7:22 pm
Julia and Mark Krill | Category: Local Market Update | Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Local Market Update – May

April brought good news for homebuyers. Inventory increased, prices continued to moderate and mortgage rates remained low. While buyers have more choices, there is still less than two months of inventory on the market. Demand is expected to remain strong as we head into the prime spring real estate season.

Eastside

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The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was $927,500 in April, down 2% from the same time last year. The economy here remains robust, particularly in the tech sector. After snapping up substantial real estate in Bellevue earlier this year, Amazon announced in April it would lease two more towers. Buyer demand and scarce inventory are keeping the Eastside market competitive.

King County

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With the number of homes for sale in King County up 78% over last year, buyers have more choices and a bit more time to make a decision. However, there is still less than two months of inventory, half the national average. The median price of a single-family home in April was $690,000. That figure was down 5% from the same time last year, but up from the $677,725 median price in March.

Seattle

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With one of the strongest economies in the nation, demand here remains solid. While the number of homes for sale continued to rise, there is just five weeks of available inventory, far short of the four to six months that is considered balanced. The median price of a single-family home in Seattle hit $754,000 in April, down 8% from a year ago and up slightly from the prior month.

Snohomish County

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In Snohomish County, the median price of a single-family home fell by 1% from a year ago to $500,000, the same figure posted in March. A 57% increase in inventory combined with low interest rates have created a strong beginning to the spring market.

This post originally appeared on GetTheWReport.com
Posted on May 13, 2019 at 8:48 pm
Julia and Mark Krill | Category: Local Market Update | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Western Washington Real Estate Market Update Q1

The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please contact me.

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

Washington State employment slowed to an annual growth rate of 1.7% — a level not seen since 2012 — and continues a trend of slowing that started in the summer of 2018. I was a little surprised to see such a significant drop in employment growth, but it may be due to the state re-benchmarking their data (which they do annually). As such, I am not overly concerned about the lower-than-expected numbers but will be watching to see if this trend continues as we move through the spring months. The state unemployment rate was 4.5%, marginally below the 4.6% level a year ago.

My latest economic forecast suggests that statewide job growth in 2019 will be positive but is expected to slow. We should see an additional 84,000 new jobs, which would be a year-over-year increase of 2.2%.

HOME SALES

  • There were 13,292 home sales during the first quarter of 2019. Year-over-year, sales were down 12.3% and were 23.4% lower than the fourth quarter of 2018.​
  • It is quite likely that part of the slowdown can be attributed to the very poor weather in February. That said, anecdotal information from our brokers suggests that March was a very active month and I expect to see sales rise again through the spring selling season. Notably, pending home sales were only off by 3.5% from the first quarter of 2018.​
  • All counties contained in this report saw sales drop when compared to a year ago. The greatest drops were in the relatively small counties of San Juan, Clallam, Island, and Kitsap.​
  • The decline in interest rates during the first two months of the quarter nudged many home buyers off the fence. I believe this will cause a significant bump in sales activity in the second quarter numbers.

HOME PRICES

  • In combination with the factors discussed earlier, the 40% increase in listings has caused home price growth to taper to a year-over-year increase of 3.3%.
  • Home prices were higher in every county except Clallam. While the growth of prices is slowing, the strong local economy, combined with lower interest rates, will cause home prices to continue rising through 2019.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in San Juan County, where home prices were up 36.4%. Only one other county experienced a double-digit price increase.
  • As I have said for quite some time now, there must always be a relationship between incomes and home prices, and many areas around Western Washington are testing this ceiling. That said, the region’s economy continues to perform well and incomes are rising, which, in concert with low interest rates, will allow prices to continue to rise but at a significantly slower pace.

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home matched the same quarter of 2018.
  • Pierce County was the tightest market in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of 40 days to sell. There were seven counties that saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop compared to the same period a year ago. Market time rose in seven counties and one was unchanged.
  • Across the entire region, it took an average of 61 days to sell a home in the first quarter of 2019. This matches the level seen a year ago but is up by 10 days when compared to the fourth quarter of 2018.
  • In the last two Gardner Reports, I suggested that we should be prepared for days-on-market to increase, and that is now occurring. Given projected increases in inventory, this trend will continue, but this is typical of a regional market that is moving back toward balance.

 

CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. I am again moving the needle toward buyers as price growth moderates and listing inventory continues to rise.

I do not see any clouds on the horizon that suggest we will see a downturn in sales activity in 2019. That said, this will be the year we move closer to balance. Buyers who were sidelined by the significant increase in listings in the second half of 2018 are starting to get off the fence as mortgage rates drop. I foresee a buoyant spring market ahead.

 

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

Posted on April 29, 2019 at 10:12 pm
Julia and Mark Krill | Category: Local Market Update, The Gardner Report | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Local Market Update – April 2019

After months of softening, home prices began to rise in February. That trend continued in March. While prices in most areas were down from the same time last year, they increased over the prior month. New listings rose as well, offering buyers more options and more time to make the right choice. Despite the uptick in listings, inventory is still under two months of supply, far short of the three to six months that is considered balanced.

Eastside

>>>Click image to view full report.

Unlike most of King County, home prices on the Eastside grew over the prior year. The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside rose 3% to $950,000. That represents an increase of $50,000 over February. Amazon’s plans to relocate its worldwide operations team to Bellevue is expected to add thousands of employees to their Eastside campus and put even more demand on what is already tight inventory.

King County

>>>Click image to view full report.

 

The median price of single-family home in King County in March was $667,725. That figure was down 3% from the same time last year, but up from the $655,000 median price in February. The two areas that showed price increases year-over-year were the most expensive area in the county – the Eastside – and the least expensive – Southeast King County. The number of homes for sale was more than double that of a year ago, but still far short of enough to meet demand.

Seattle

 

>>>Click image to view full report.

The median price of a single-family home in Seattle hit $752,500 in March, down 8% from a year ago, but up $22,500 from February. Inventory rose 136% over last year. Despite the increase, new listings that were competitively priced saw many multiple and contingency-stripped offers.

Snohomish County

 

>>>Click image to view full report.

In Snohomish County, the median price of a single-family home grew 5.3% over last year to $500,000. That was an increase of $25,000 over February. A new passenger terminal at Paine Field is expected to provide a boost to the local economy and also lift demand for housing.

This post originally appeared on GetTheWReport.com.

Posted on April 11, 2019 at 9:47 pm
Julia and Mark Krill | Category: Local Market Update, Real Estate News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

Local Market Update – March 2019

The spring home buying season started early this year. Open houses had increased attendance and bidding wars returned. After months of softening, home prices in most of the region jumped significantly from the prior month. With just one month of data, we’ll have to wait and see if this is the start of a longer upward trend.

Eastside

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The Eastside was one area of King County that continued to see prices moderate. The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside was $900,000 in February, a drop of 5 percent from a year ago and down slightly from last month. However, supply here isn’t nearly enough to meet demand, a fact that most likely won’t change any time soon. Amazon’s latest expansion in Bellevue is expected to bring a significant wave of new employees to the city.

King County

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The median single-family home in King County sold for $655,000 in February. While up slightly less than 1 percent year-over-year, it was an increase of $45,000 over January. Southeast King County, which includes Kent, Renton and Auburn, saw the greatest gains with prices rising 4.5 percent over the previous year. While inventory has grown, it is less than half of the four to six months that is considered balanced.

Seattle

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More inventory and low interest rates helped bring buyers back into the market. The median price of a single-family home in Seattle hit $730,000 in February, down 6 percent from a year ago, but up $18,500 from January. With just six weeks of available supply, Seattle continues to have the tightest inventory in the county. Seattle’s record development boom shows little signs of easing, so we can expect strong demand to continue.

Snohomish County

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The median price of a single-family home in Snohomish County reached $474,947 in February. Although that is a 2 percent decrease from last year, it is $5,000 more than January. As buyers push outside of King County to search for more reasonably priced homes, Snohomish County continues to struggle to find enough inventory to meet growing demand.

This post originally appeared on the WindermereEastside.com Blog.

Posted on March 13, 2019 at 3:44 pm
Julia and Mark Krill | Category: Local Market Update | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Local Market Update – February 2019

January brought more good news for homebuyers. Prices were down, inventory was up and interest rates hovered near a nine-month low. Those factors drove more buyers into the market and resulted in an uptick in sales for the month. We’ll see how this transitioning market evolves as we head into the prime Spring home buying season.

Eastside

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The most expensive region in King County saw prices soften in January. The median price of a single-family home on the Eastside dropped 3 percent over last January to $910,000. It’s an excellent time for buyers to leverage the cooling market and negotiate terms that work best for their needs. Last January, 39 percent of the homes in this area sold for over asking price. This January, that figure dropped to 12 percent. With its favorable business climate and high rankings for both economic growth and technology capabilities, demand on the Eastside is projected to remain strong.

King County

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January marked the first time home prices in King County decreased year-over-year in seven years. The median price of a single-family home was $610,0000, a drop of 3 percent over the prior year. Inventory more than doubled. Unlike recent months, this was due primarily to more people putting their homes on the market, as opposed to homes taking longer to sell. Despite the surge in listings there is just two months of available inventory, far short of what is needed to meet demand.

Seattle

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The median price of a single-family home in the city was $711,500 in January, a decrease of 6 percent year-over-year. Despite a 107 percent increase in homes for sale compared to a year ago, Seattle continues to have the tightest inventory in King County with less than two months of supply. A booming economy that shows no signs of slowing continues to draw more people to the city. The area will have to significantly add more inventory to meet that growing demand.

Snohomish County

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The median price of a single-family home in January inched up 1 percent from last year to $455,000. That price is down from the median of $470,000 recorded in December. Snohomish County also saw a surge in inventory with the number of homes on the market double of what it was last year at this time.

This post originally appeared on the WindermereEastside.com Blog.

Posted on February 13, 2019 at 11:19 pm
Julia and Mark Krill | Category: Local Market Update | Tagged , , ,

Local Market Update – January

A cool-down in prices and a surge in inventory spelled out good news for buyers in December. Median home prices throughout the region continued to moderate. The number of homes for sale more than doubled over a year ago. Condo inventory more than quadrupled. While we’re still far short of the four to six months that are considered a balanced market, December moved us closer in that direction. As winter months traditionally bring slower sales and lower prices, we’ll be able to determine a more solid trend when the peak real estate season comes this spring.

Eastside

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The number of single-family homes and condos on the market in December tripled as compared to a year ago on the Eastside. With an abundance of choices for buyers, homes here took longer to sell. However, well-priced homes still sold within weeks rather than days, which was the case earlier in the year. As with all of King County, home prices here continued to moderate. The median price of a single-family home was $909,000. That’s down 3 percent from a year ago, but up from November’s median price of $885,000.

King County

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In December, the median price of a single-family King County home was $639,000. That is 0.6 percent more than the same time last year and a welcome respite from the double-digit increases we saw for much of 2018. Inventory was up as well, soaring 143 percent from a year prior. The trend toward a more balanced market is good news for buyers. Instead of having to make a decision in a matter of hours, buyers now can take the time to consider their options and negotiate a price and terms that work best for them.

Seattle

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Last December there were only 299 homes on the market in Seattle. This December there were 1,111. Despite the sharp uptick, Seattle has the tightest inventory in King County with less than two months of supply. Demand is predicted to stay high in 2019. With an abundance of high-paying jobs and not enough people to fill them, Seattle’s population is expected to grow at twice the national rate this year. Prices have continued to moderate from the unsustainable increases of last year. The median price of a single-family home inched up 2 percent from the year prior to $739,000.

Snohomish County

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The median price of a single-family home was up 4 percent from last year to $470,000 in December – the same price the area posted the previous month. Inventory has more than doubled in the past year due to more sellers listing their homes and fewer sales. However, at 2.6 months of supply the area has a long way to go before becoming a balanced market.

This post originally appeared on the WindermereEastside.com Blog.

Posted on January 14, 2019 at 6:35 pm
Julia and Mark Krill | Category: Buying a Home, Local Market Update, Real Estate News, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

2019 Economic and Housing Forecast

What a year it has been for both the U.S. economy and the national housing market. After several years of above-average economic and home price growth, 2018 marked the start of a slowdown in the residential real estate market. As the year comes to a close, it’s time for me to dust off my crystal ball to see what we can expect in 2019.

The U.S. Economy

Despite the turbulence that the ongoing trade wars with China are causing, I still expect the U.S. economy to have one more year of relatively solid growth before we likely enter a recession in 2020. Yes, it’s the dreaded “R” word, but before you panic, there are some things to bear in mind.

Firstly, any cyclical downturn will not be driven by housing.  Although it is almost impossible to predict exactly what will be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”, I believe it will likely be caused by one of the following three things: an ongoing trade war, the Federal Reserve raising interest rates too quickly, or excessive corporate debt levels. That said, we still have another year of solid growth ahead of us, so I think it’s more important to focus on 2019 for now.

The U.S. Housing Market

Existing Home Sales

This paper is being written well before the year-end numbers come out, but I expect 2018 home sales will be about 3.5% lower than the prior year. Sales started to slow last spring as we breached affordability limits and more homes came on the market.  In 2019, I anticipate that home sales will rebound modestly and rise by 1.9% to a little over 5.4 million units.

Existing Home Prices

We will likely end 2018 with a median home price of about $260,000 – up 5.4% from 2017.  In 2019 I expect prices to continue rising, but at a slower rate as we move toward a more balanced housing market. I’m forecasting the median home price to increase by 4.4% as rising mortgage rates continue to act as a headwind to home price growth.

New Home Sales

In a somewhat similar manner to existing home sales, new home sales started to slow in the spring of 2018, but the overall trend has been positive since 2011. I expect that to continue in 2019 with sales increasing by 6.9% to 695,000 units – the highest level seen since 2007.

That being said, the level of new construction remains well below the long-term average. Builders continue to struggle with land, labor, and material costs, and this is an issue that is not likely to be solved in 2019. Furthermore, these constraints are forcing developers to primarily build higher-priced homes, which does little to meet the substantial demand by first-time buyers.

Mortgage Rates

In last year’s forecast, I suggested that 5% interest rates would be a 2019 story, not a 2018 story. This prediction has proven accurate with the average 30-year conforming rates measured at 4.87% in November, and highly unlikely to breach the 5% barrier before the end of the year.

In 2019, I expect interest rates to continue trending higher, but we may see periods of modest contraction or levelling.  We will likely end the year with the 30-year fixed rate at around 5.7%, which means that 6% interest rates are more apt to be a 2020 story.

I also believe that non-conforming (or jumbo) rates will remain remarkably competitive. Banks appear to be comfortable with the risk and ultimately, the return, that this product offers, so expect jumbo loan yields to track conforming loans quite closely.

Conclusions

There are still voices out there that seem to suggest the housing market is headed for calamity and that another housing bubble is forming, or in some cases, is already deflating.  In all the data that I review, I just don’t see this happening. Credit quality for new mortgage holders remains very high and the median down payment (as a percentage of home price) is at its highest level since 2004.

That is not to say that there aren’t several markets around the country that are overpriced, but just because a market is overvalued, does not mean that a bubble is in place. It simply means that forward price growth in these markets will be lower to allow income levels to rise sufficiently.

Finally, if there is a big story for 2019, I believe it will be the ongoing resurgence of first-time buyers. While these buyers face challenges regarding student debt and the ability to save for a down payment, they are definitely on the comeback and likely to purchase more homes next year than any other buyer demographic.

Originally published on Inman News.

Posted on December 29, 2018 at 9:54 pm
Julia and Mark Krill | Category: Local Market Update, Real Estate News, The Gardner Report | Tagged , , , , , , , , ,