If you think the real estate market is bad now, just wait. That is the argument from James Stack of InvesTech Research. Stack accurately called the last housing crisis and also forecast the slowdown in 2018. Now he is saying that 2019 is going to be the worst year for a long time. “Expect home sales to continue on a downward trend in the next 12-plus months. And there’s a significant downside risk to housing prices if a recession takes hold”, says Stack. He does admit that it is too hard to say if housing is currently in a bubble, but that prices are very likely to fall.
FINSUM: Mortgage rates have risen sharply and prices are quite elevated, so it is no wonder prices have fallen. However, real estate hasn’t seen the exuberance it did pre-Crisis, so we do not think this will be a meltdown by any means.
Real estate has been the metaphorical whipping boy of data releases this year. The market has been largely slumping for months, with home sales mostly slowing as rates rose. Now more data has been released, and despite generally bearish sentiment, the numbers still surprised to the downside. In the month of November, pending US home sales felling a whopping 7.7% from a year previously. To be clear, pending sales mean signed contracts to buy homes (closings are usually 45 days later), which mean they are a good leading indicator.
FINSUM: Is it any wonder that four rate hikes this year have hurt the housing market? The question is whether the same will happen to the economy and real estate is just showing the effects first.
It would be easy to think that real estate is headed towards a buyer’s market. Inventory has been increasing, prices gains have slowed or disappeared, rates are rising, and prices are very high. However, despite all of this, many real estate experts think 2019 will still be a better year to be a seller than a buyer. The reason why is that inventory may only increase slightly, which will keep prices relatively high and not lead to massive price cuts like in the last housing downturn. A recession still looks a little way off, which could also insulate prices as the employment market stays tight.
FINSUM: We think the housing market is definitely going to see prices stay flat or fall next year, mostly because demand is falling as rates rise. However, we do agree that the bottom is not going to fall out by any means.
One of the surest signs in the economy right now is that real estate is in trouble. Data coming out of the sector has been consistently weak for months and shows a clear downtrend in the housing market. Rates seem to be playing a big part of that, as demand for housing has sunk as rates have risen. That could prove one of the few brakes on the Fed’s relentless rate hike path. The fall in real estate comes at a time when the market should be surging, as unemployment is at extreme lows and Millennials are entering their peak home buying years.
FINSUM: Besides stocks and bonds freaking out, real estate is one of the areas showing a lot of weakness, and this it is perhaps one of the few aspects that could stop the Fed.
Luxury real estate is an interesting corner of the housing market for a number of reasons. It is not subject to the same sort of macro trends that affect the rest of the real estate market, such as mortgage rates directly influencing pricing and demand. Therefore, it is often overlooked as a barometer of the sector. However, if you pay attention, luxury real estate actually works as a solid leading indicator of the broader real estate market. While it is insulated, it is not immune from the same forces as its mass market brethren, and rates, stock prices, foreign buying and beyond all affect it. For instance, the chief economist at Redfin comments that “When people have more wealth because of stock gains, they have more money to spend on luxury homes … But if some luxury buyers think the stock market isn’t going to do as well, there may be an increase in investment in real estate because it’s seen as a safer place to put money”.
FINSUM: The problem with correlating the stock market and luxury housing is that both stocks rising and falling can boost luxury real estate, as rising shares mean more wealth to splash out on homes, while a weaker market can boost the sector because of safe haven characteristics.