After a brutal couple months (which equates to 250937 days in corona years), stats show that the housing market could actually be leading the economy's recovery. Mortgage applications rose to an 11-year high. Interest rates are at all-time lows. Average home prices across the country hit a record high of $365k. Buyers are like, what pandemic?
Americans' home-spending habits aren't changing as drastically as they have during past recessions, showing that people are confident that this too shall pass and the economy will get back on track. 8.5 out of 10 experts agree: the economy will begin to recover in the second half of 2020. Which is pretty much like, right now.
Why is everyone betting on the strength of the housing market?
While this data might be comforting to some, others are concerned about rising home prices and the widening gap in affordable housing. Home prices have gone up faster than most people's incomes, and the pandemic is only accelerating that trend. It remains to be seen what will happen long term (mostly because the crystal ball everyone pretends to have doesn't exist), but for now, it looks like our economy is slowly but surely on its way to recovery.
Remember when interest rates hit a recent low of about 3.29% a few weeks ago? Well, lots has happened since then. With that drop came a rush of homeowners wanted to refinance their existing homes. Lenders got so overwhelmed that they controlled the sudden influx of refinances by shooting rates back up, and it's been a rollercoaster ride for rates ever since.
The Fed then announced that it would buy back $500 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds and $200 billion in government mortgage-backed securities. I know--what does that even mean?? In layman's terms, this move should help stabilize rates and keep them low. They're already back to 3.5% as of this week!
In hopes of protecting the economy from this whole coronavirus fiasco, the Fed just slashed interest rates this week and they are now at a record low of 3.29%!
To put it into real-life terms, a $600k loan at today's 3.3% rate vs. last year's 4.5% rate saves you close to $412 a month for the next 30 years. That's like 537 additional rolls of toilet paper each month until you're retired! (Do the math here if you want to calculate your own financial situation and how much uninterrupted bathroom time you can afford.)
But here's the catch: we can’t predict how long this will last. If this whole virus outbreak craze levels off soon, rates would likely bounce back up. On the other hand, if the outbreak continues to spread, it could drive rates down even further. It’s all unpredictable at this point, so you may want to lock in a solid rate now for buying or refi, juuuuust in case they creep up again. Lmk if you need a lender!
Thanks to rising home prices, conforming loan limits just got a boost. Compared to last year's loan limit of $726,525, most of the Bay Area can now borrow up to $765,600 with a mortgage backed by my two favorite F-words........Fannie and Freddie, duh (what did you think I was going to say?). This means that buyers can now enjoy more purchasing power before going into the more restrictive jumbo loan territory, leaving everyone looking for a home priced near that cutoff point saying F YEAH!
In 2017, Business Insider writer Sam Dogen (also renowned author of my favorite finance and real estate blog Financial Samurai) became a stay-at-home dad after he sold his SF rental property for $2.75 million, leaving him with a $1.8 million profit after paying off the mortgage, taxes, and fees. Umm, can we say GOALS? Now a couple years later, he wants to buy property in SF again. Why now, you ask? (Or maybe you didn’t ask and I’m gonna tell you anyway?)
Well, Dogen says property prices in the US have softened and mortgage rates have collapsed. All while rent prices continue to rise! Plus he thinks the fact that 2020 is an election year, the stock market is thriving AF, and the amount of foreign buyers has dramatically decreased, all point to now being a good time to start looking into purchasing. He listed about 87** other reasons if you’re interested in reading all of them (**ok fine slight exaggeration, but honestly, there were a lot and they were all pretty convincing).
*Disclaimer: Every economist, journalist, and psychic will have varying degrees of optimism and pessimism about where the housing market is going—up, down, all around. If you want to compare different points of view and form your own educated prediction, here are a few other market forecasts to satisfy your inner nerd: Realtor.com, Redfin, Forbes, Freddie Mac, and Zillow.
All things real estate.