(New York)

Everyone know the housing market is facing some headwinds. Strong home price growth combined with higher rates is hurting demand. Accordingly, sales and new activity have been falling since the late spring. However, new data shows that home prices seem to have already entered a cyclical downturn that is only going to intensify. A combination of low affordability, slowing demand, and higher rates have conspired to bring down home prices, and it does not look like things will turn around quickly. The Fed is already warning about real estate being a “downside risk” for the economy.

FINSUM: The whole housing market seems to be slowly, but surely, stalling. Homebuilder stocks have been hammered, prices are falling, and rates are rising. It seems like we are in for a downturn.

(New York)

How does a REIT with great long-term business fundamentals and eye-popping yields sound? If that sounds good, take a look at Ventas. The REIT owns 1,200 properties, many focused on senior and assisted-living facilities. The long-term business looks very healthy as demographics—including retiring Baby Boomers—are a major growth opportunity for the REIT. The dividend yield is a strong 5.7%, and it appears safe, according to Morningstar.

FINSUM: Definitely seems like a REIT worth some more investigation. We like the combination of good yield and strong long-term fundamentals.

(New York)

The US economy is on fire. Growth is strong, consumer confidence is high, and (somewhat worryingly) the Fed is almost giddy. However, even the greatest optimists will have a gnawing fear caused by the US housing market, which has been in decline for the past handful of months. The huge rising gap between home prices and wages has finally stalled the market, all while rates move higher and dampen demand. The big risk that no one is pointing out, though, is how that trouble in housing will flow through to the broader economy. It will likely not be via mass mortgage defaults and foreclosures like last time, but rather through a severe tightening of purse strings. The big rise in home prices means Americans disproportionately hold their wealth in home values, so a decline will cause a major loss of wealth, and thus spending, seizing up the economy.

FINSUM: In 1978 a 20% decline in home prices would have caused a 1% decline in aggregate income. Today, the same decline would cause a five percent drop, or about $600 bn of lost equity. Housing may still lead the economy downward.

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