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.
The Wall Street Journal says that wealthy New Yorkers are having a hard time believing that real estate prices are falling. After a decade long boom, they have difficulty believing home prices are actually dropping. Nonetheless, they are. Anecdotes abound, especially at the high end of the market, of residents losing millions even after ten-year holding periods. The big question home owners need to be asking themselves is whether New York is a bellwether of what is coming in US real estate, or whether it is just suffering from its own idiosyncratic problems.
FINSUM: In our view, this is mostly a unique-to-NYC problem. It is a combination of oversupply (from new builds), higher tax rates, lower demand from foreign buyers, and rising interest rates.
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.
There is a lot of focus on stocks, bonds, and oil right now, but a very important US asset class is sending increasingly bleak signals: real estate. Data out of the sector has been growing weaker for months, and now new figures reinforce the trend. US homebuilder confidence has fallen to its lowest level in two years. The National Association of Homebuilders commented that “While home price growth accommodated increasing construction costs during this period, rising mortgage interest rates in recent months coupled with the cumulative run-up in pricing has caused housing demand to stall. As a consequence, builders have adopted a more cautious approach to market conditions”.
FINSUM: The rea estate market is slowly but surely tightening up. However, because price gains were never as over-the-top as pre-Crisis we only expect shallow declines as the next recession unfolds.
Goldman Sachs has a new kind of fund it is offering, and we thought advisors might like to hear about it. In what are being called “tax-eating” funds, Goldman is offering the opportunity to invest in “opportunity funds”. These special funds, which are provided for in the new tax code, are designed to promote investment in low-income communities. Interestingly, the funds are deferred from capital gains tax until 2026, so clients can move their capital gains into these funds and shield them from taxes. Doing so will ultimately result in a 15% reduction in capital gains taxes on the original gains, and 0% taxes for any gains on the opportunity funds themselves.
FINSUM: Goldman Sachs has been doing this kind of investing for years, and now the tax change has really put wind in its sails. Seems like it may be worth looking into.