Displaying items by tag: inventory
May was a rough month for the housing market, new data shows. Much of the media narrative has been on the strength of the housing market of late, but the most recent data shows that home sales fell almost 10% in May. Further, home price growth decelerated from 4.6% to 4.5% in the same month. Some economists think home price growth figures are being artificially inflated by the total lack of homes for sale, with inventory very low.
FINSUM: It is hard to tell how healthy the housing market actually is. In one way, it does look healthy, but the lack of inventory and its relationship to prices reminds us when corporate bonds market seize up and there is so little inventory that prices stay “high” because of the lack of liquidity. This is an obvious exaggeration, but there could be some truth in it.
The US real estate market is in a worrying period. New builds, home sales, and inventory have all been showing weak signs for the last few months, and it seems to portend the start of a reversal in the market after a long run higher. This week will see if the current downward trend holds, or whether the data was an aberration. New data this week will cover new and existing home sales, which the market will be watching closely for signs of a downturn.
FINSUM: Housing and building-related stocks have suffered this year on a worsening outlook. Our instinct is that housing has a hit a wall and may be at the start of a correction.
There is a very particular kind of housing problem currently affecting the US—a serious shortage of homes at the lower end of the cost spectrum. Not only is inventory thin, but the housing stock available for first time buyers is in poor condition and prices are rising quickly (10% in the last year). The average starter home on the market is 9 years older than it was in 2012 and is 2% smaller. That price growth is outpacing other categories.
FINSUM: So the big worry we have is that with all the price appreciation happening, prices are more primed to fall considerably as rates hit a tipping point where they start to curtail mortgage borrowing.
While there has been some speculation that the US housing market may be facing a tough period ahead, new data is showing that prices might continue rising. The big worries are that rates will rise quickly, hurting mortgage demand, while at the same time, the new tax package will reduce home-buying because of the lack of deductibility of mortgage interest above a threshold. However, new data shows that housing inventory continues to sink. There are few homes for sale compared to buyer demand, and the building rate of new homes is weak. This means there is much more demand in the market than there is supply.
FINSUM: We are not very worried about home prices, especially in the lower and middle pars of the spectrum. The largest ever US generation—Millennials—is entering the key home buying period of their lives.
The US stock market had a stellar 2017, with S&P 500 soaring 21.8% in the year. However, while still rising, REITs lagged far behind at just 8.7%. This year, the bad news has continued, with stocks overall up 6% and REITs down more than 2%. The underperformance has led to a debate amongst REIT managers as to why times are rough. Some think that it is because of the view that we are in a rising rate environment and the perception that there is a coming surge in new office buildings, apartment complexes, and storage units. Others, though, think that REITs are simply being forgotten because the big party has been in tech shares.
FINSUM: We do not think REITs are being forgotten, we just think they are getting less attractive because the both the macro cycle (higher rates coming) and their industry cycle (there is more inventory now) are shifting.