Comparing real estate metrics from one year to another can be challenging in a normal housing market. That’s due to possible variability in the market making the comparison less meaningful or accurate. Unpredictable events can have a significant impact on the circumstances and outcomes being compared.
Comparing this year’s numbers to the two ‘unicorn’ years we just experienced is almost worthless. By ‘unicorn,’ this is the less common definition of the word:
“Something that is greatly desired but difficult or impossible to find.”
The pandemic profoundly changed real estate over the last few years. The demand for a home of our own skyrocketed, and people needed a home office and big backyard.
Waves of first-time and second-home buyers entered the market.
Already low mortgage rates were driven to historic lows.
The forbearance plan all but eliminated foreclosures.
Home values reached appreciation levels never seen before.
It was a market that forever had been “greatly desired but difficult or impossible to find.” A ‘unicorn’ year.
Now, things are getting back to normal. The ‘unicorns’ have galloped off.
Comparing today’s market to those years makes no sense. Here are three examples:
If you look at the headlines, you’d think there aren’t any buyers out there. We still sell over 10,000 houses a day in the United States. Of course, buyer demand is down from the two ‘unicorn’ years. But, according to ShowingTime, if we compare it to normal years (2017-2019), we can see that buyer activity is still strong (see graph below):
We can’t compare today’s home price increases to the last couple of years. According to Freddie Mac, 2020 and 2021 each had historic appreciation numbers. Here’s a graph also showing the more normal years (2017-2019):
We can see that we’re returning to more normal home value increases. There were several months of minimal depreciation in the second half of 2022. However, according to Fannie Mae, the market has returned to more normal appreciation in the first quarter of this year.
There have already been some startling headlines about the percentage increases in foreclosure filings. Of course, the percentages will be up. They are increases over historically low foreclosure rates. Here’s a graph with information from ATTOM, a property data provider:
There will be an increase over the numbers of the last three years now that the moratorium on foreclosures has ended. There are homeowners who lose their home to foreclosure every year, and it’s heartbreaking for those families. But, if we put the current numbers into perspective, we’ll realize that we’re actually going back to the normal filings from 2017-2019.
There will be very unsettling headlines around the housing market this year. Most will come from inappropriate comparisons to the ‘unicorn’ years. A real estate professional is a great resource to help you keep everything in proper perspective.
There’s been some concern lately that the housing market is headed for a crash. And given some of the affordability challenges in the housing market, along with a lot of recession talk in the media, it’s easy enough to understand why that worry has come up.
But the data clearly shows today’s market is very different than it was before the housing crash in 2008. Rest assured, this isn’t a repeat of what happened back then. Here’s why.
It’s Harder To Get a Loan Now
It was much easier to get a home loan during the lead-up to the 2008 housing crisis than it is today. Back then, banks had different lending standards, making it easy for just about anyone to qualify for a home loan or refinance an existing one. As a result, lending institutions took on much greater risk in both the person and the mortgage products offered. That led to mass defaults, foreclosures, and falling prices.
Things are different today as purchasers face increasingly higher standards from mortgage companies. The graph below uses data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) to show this difference. The lower the number, the harder it is to get a mortgage. The higher the number, the easier it is.
Unemployment Recovered Faster This Time
While the pandemic caused unemployment to spike over the last couple of years, the jobless rate has already recovered back to pre-pandemic levels (see the blue line in the graph below). Things were different during the Great Recession as a large number of people stayed unemployed for a much longer period of time (see the red in the graph below):
Here’s how the quick job recovery this time helps the housing market. Because so many people are employed today, there’s less risk of homeowners facing hardship and defaulting on their loans. This helps put today’s housing market on stronger footing and reduces the risk of more foreclosures coming onto the market.
There Are Far Fewer Homes for Sale Today
There were also too many homes for sale during the housing crisis (many of which were short sales and foreclosures), and that caused prices to fall dramatically. Today, there’s a shortage of inventory available overall, primarily due to years of underbuilding homes.
The graph below uses data from theNational Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Federal Reserve to show how the months’ supply of homes available now compares to the crash. Today, unsold inventory sits at just a 2.6-months’ supply. There just isn’t enough inventory on the market for home prices to come crashing down like they did in 2008.
Equity Levels Are Near Record Highs
That low inventory of homes for sale helped keep upward pressure on home prices over the course of the pandemic. As a result, homeowners today have near-record amounts of equity (see graph below):
And, that equity puts them in a much stronger position compared to the Great Recession. Molly Boesel, Principal Economist at CoreLogic, explains:
“Most homeowners are well positioned to weather a shallow recession. More than a decade of home price increases has given homeowners record amounts of equity, which protects them from foreclosure should they fall behind on their mortgage payments.”
The graphs above should ease any fears you may have that today’s housing market is headed for a crash. The most current data clearly shows that today’s market is nothing like it was last time.
You’ve likely seen headlines about the number of foreclosures climbing in today’s housing market. That may leave you with a few questions, especially if you’re thinking about buying a house. Understanding what they really mean is mission-critical if you want to know the truth about what’s happening today.
According to a recent report from ATTOM, a property data provider, foreclosure filings are up 6% compared to the previous quarter and 22% since one year ago. As media headlines call attention to this increase, reporting on just the number could actually generate worry and may even make you think twice about buying a home for fear that prices could crash. The reality is, while increasing, the data shows a foreclosure crisis is not where the market is headed.
Let’s look at the latest information with context so we can see how this compares to previous years.
It Isn’t the Dramatic Increase Headlines Would Have You Believe
In recent years, the number of foreclosures has been down to record lows. That’s because, in 2020 and 2021, the forbearance program and other relief options for homeowners helped millions of homeowners stay in their homes, allowing them to get back on their feet during a very challenging period. And with home values rising at the same time, many homeowners who may have found themselves facing foreclosure under other circumstances were able to leverage their equity and sell their houses rather than face foreclosure. Moving forward, equity will continue to be a factor that can help keep people from going into foreclosure.
As the government’s moratorium came to an end, there was an expected rise in foreclosures. But just because foreclosures are up doesn’t mean the housing market is in trouble. As Clare Trapasso, Executive News Editor at Realtor.com,says:
“There’s no reason to panic, at least not yet. Foreclosure filings began ticking up . . . after the federal foreclosure moratorium ended. The moratorium was enacted in the early days of COVID-19, when millions of Americans lost their jobs, to prevent a tsunami of homeowners losing their properties. So some of these proceedings would have taken place during the pandemic but got delayed due to the moratorium. This is a bit of a catch-up.”
Basically, there’s not a sudden flood of foreclosures coming. Instead, some of the increase is due to the delayed activity explained above while more is from economic conditions. As Rob Barber, CEO of ATTOM,explains:
“This unfortunate trend can be attributed to a variety of factors, such as rising unemployment rates, foreclosure filings making their way through the pipeline after two years of government intervention, and other ongoing economic challenges. However, with many homeowners still having significant home equity, that may help in keeping increased levels of foreclosure activity at bay.”
To further paint the picture of just how different the situation is now compared to the housing crash, take a look at the graph below. It shows foreclosure activity has been lower since the crash by looking at properties with a foreclosure filing going all the way back to 2005.
While foreclosures are climbing, it’s clear foreclosure activity now is nothing like it was during the housing crisis. In addition to all of the factors mentioned above, that’s also largely because buyers today are more qualified and less likely to default on their loans.
Today, foreclosures are far below the record-high number that was reported when the housing market crashed.
Right now, putting the data into context is more important than ever. While the housing market is experiencing an expected rise in foreclosures, it’s nowhere near the crisis levels seen when the housing bubble burst, and that won’t lead to a crash in home prices.
67% of Americans say a housing market crash is imminent in the next three years. With all the talk in the media lately about shifts in the housing market, it makes sense why so many people feel this way. But there’s good news. Current data shows today’s market is nothing like it was before the housing crash in 2008. (more…)
If you’ve seen recent headlines about foreclosures surging in the housing market, you’re certainly not alone. There’s no doubt, the stories in the media can be pretty confusing right now. They may even make you think twice about buying a home for fear that prices could crash. The reality is, the data shows a foreclosure crisis is not where the market is headed, and understanding what that really means is mission critical if you want to know the truth about what’s happening today. Here’s a deeper look. (more…)