As we start the fourth quarter of 2023, significant changes have unfolded in the real estate market. The Federal Reserve's aggressive stance on combating inflation through interest rate hikes has had widespread implications, especially in the real estate sector. Here's an update on the current situation.
The Federal Reserve's decision to raise interest rates has introduced complex challenges to the housing market, primarily stemming from the effects of Long and Variable lags. As the Fed raises interest rates, these lags in the transmission of monetary policy can take months, even years, to fully manifest. Thus, the long and variable lags associated with Fed rate hikes introduce uncertainty and challenges for homebuyers and sellers, corporations, and policymakers trying to navigate a delicate balance in the broader economy. The variability in these lags means that the impact on the housing market can be unpredictable and uneven across different regions and segments of the market. As interest rates increase, prospective homebuyers face higher borrowing costs, which can deter them from entering the housing market. This is also true for a home seller contemplating replacing their existing home.
Mortgage lenders and real estate professionals are also closely monitoring market conditions and adjusting their strategies accordingly. Overall, while the effects of the Fed's interest rate hikes on the housing market are complex and subject to varying lags, it is clear that these developments require a nuanced approach to navigate the evolving landscape of real estate in a rising rate environment.
According to MBA’s latest Weekly Applications Survey data, "mortgage rates have now reached a 23-year high, with the average 30-year mortgage rate now just shy of 8%, dragging mortgage application activity down to a low last seen in 1996. The speed and magnitude of these rate increases and resulting dislocation in our industry is painful and unprecedented in the absence of larger economic turmoil."
In a letter Monday addressed to the Fed Board of Governors and Chair Jerome Powell, the National Association of Home Builders, the Mortgage Bankers Association, and the National Association of Realtors wrote a letter calling on the Federal Reserve to stop raising interest rates as the industry suffers through surging housing costs and a "historic shortage" of available homes for sale.
In response to these challenges, prospective homebuyers are carefully evaluating their options, and some are choosing to delay their home purchases or explore more affordable locations. Additionally, the housing industry may see a shift in the types of homes that are in demand, with a potential increase in interest for more budget-friendly options and a decrease in demand for high-end properties.
Surprisingly, this environment may present a win-win for buyers entering the market. If you purchase a home now and rates rise, you've secured a lower rate. If rates decrease, you have the opportunity to refinance at a more favorable rate. While a 7-8% interest rate may seem high, it's not historically so. However, with near-record-high prices and limited inventory, these interest rates place pressure on homebuyers. Since most sellers are sitting on the sidelines due to higher rates, we are not likely to see much increase in inventory. The combination of the current rate hike and inventory challenges has led to rising home prices in some areas. The National Association of Realtors estimates that "inventory would need to double to bring down prices."
The effects of rate hikes have varied across different areas, with some experiencing a slowdown in price appreciation, particularly in high-demand regions. Conversely, the higher-end market has witnessed reduced demand and a more pronounced cooling effect. Real estate is far from one-size-fits-all, so if you seek guidance to navigate this complex market, don't hesitate to contact me. I'm here for you.
Bounce Williams | Realtor | DRE: 01387798