Windermere Real Estate

Top 10 Predictions for 2024

1 – Still no housing bubble

This was number one on my list last year and, so far, my forecast was spot on. The reason why I’m calling it out again is because the market performed better in 2023 than I expected. Continued price growth, combined with significantly higher mortgage rates, might suggest to some that the market will implode in 2024, but I find this implausible.

2 Mortgage rates will drop, but not quickly

The U.S. economy has been remarkably resilient, which has led the Federal Reserve to indicate that they will keep mortgage rates higher for longer to tame inflation. But data shows inflation and the broader economy are starting to slow, which should allow mortgage rates to ease in 2024. That said, I think rates will only fall to around 6% by the end of the year.

3 Listing activity will rise modestly

Although I expect a modest increase in listing activity in 2024, many homeowners will be hesitant to sell and lose their current mortgage rate. The latest data shows 80% of mortgaged homeowners in the U.S. have rates at or below 5%. Although they may not be inclined to sell right now, when rates fall to within 1.5% of their current rate, some will be motivated to move.

4 Home prices will rise, but not much

While many forecasters said home prices would fall in 2023, that was not the case, as the lack of inventory propped up home values. Given that it’s unlikely that there will be a significant increase in the number of homes for sale, I don’t expect prices to drop in 2024. However, growth will be a very modest 1%, which is the lowest pace seen for many years, but growth all the same.

5 Home values in markets that crashed will recover

During the pandemic there were a number of more affordable markets across the country that experienced significant price increases, followed by price declines post-pandemic. I expected home prices in those areas to take longer to recover than the rest of the nation, but I’m surprised by how quickly they have started to grow, with most markets having either matched their historic highs or getting close to it – even in the face of very high borrowing costs. In 2024, I expect prices to match or exceed their 2022 highs in the vast majority of metro areas across the country.

6 New construction will gain market share

Although new construction remains tepid, builders are benefiting from the lack of supply in the resale market and are taking a greater share of listings. While this might sound like a positive for builders, it’s coming at a cost through lower list prices and increased incentives such as mortgage rate buy downs. Although material costs have softened, it will remain very hard for builders to deliver enough housing to meet the demand.

7 Housing affordability will get worse

With home prices continuing to rise and the pace of borrowing costs far exceeding income growth, affordability will likely erode further in 2024. For affordability to improve, it would require either a significant drop in home values, a significant drop in mortgage rates, a significant increase in household incomes, or some combination of the three. But I’m afraid this is very unlikely. First-time home buyers will be the hardest hit by this continued lack of affordable housing.

8 Government needs to continue taking housing seriously

The government has started to take housing and affordability more seriously, with several states already having adopted new land use policies aimed at releasing developable land. In 2024, I hope cities and counties will continue to ease their restrictive land use policies. I also hope they’ll continue to streamline the permitting process and reduce the fees that are charged to builders, as these costs are passed directly onto the home buyer, which further impacts affordability.

9 Foreclosure activity won’t impact the market

Many expected that the end of forbearance would bring a veritable tsunami of homes to market, but that didn’t happen. At its peak, almost 1-in-10 homes in America were in the program, but that has fallen to below 1%. That said, foreclosure starts have picked up, but still remain well below pre-pandemic levels. Look for delinquency levels to continue rising in 2024, but they will only be returning to the long-term average and are not a cause for concern.

10 Sales will rise but remain the lowest in 15 years

2023 will likely be remembered as the year when home sales were the lowest since the housing bubble burst in 2008. I expect the number of homes for sale to improve modestly in 2024 which, combined with mortgage rates trending lower, should result in about 4.4 million home sales. Ultimately though, demand exceeding supply will mean that sellers will still have the upper hand.

Windermere Real Estate

2023 Top 10 Predictions Mid-Year Update

Here is a mid-year review and update of the 2023 Predictions that were made at the end of 2022. That original list is provided after this reëvaluation for the second half of 2023.

1 – Home Prices

I predicted that home prices would fall in 2023 but that the decline would not be systemic. As of April, year-over-year prices were down a little less than 2%, but they are up over 6% year-to-date. I’m standing by my forecast that the U.S. median home price in 2023 will be modestly lower than 2022, but prices will not erode in the way that some had anticipated.

2 Mortgage Rates

As I expected, mortgage rates remained above 6% during the first half of the year, but my prediction that they would drop below 6% in the tall is now unlikely. There are two reasons why got this wrong: the banking crisis and concerns that the debt ceiling would not be raised. As a result, mortgage rates have broken above 7% eight times so far this year and remain higher than I was anticipating by this point in 2023. Rates should settle as we move through the second half of the year and, while I still expect them to trend lower from present levels, they will hold above 6% unless there is a recession – which has about a 50% chance of happening.

3 Housing Supply

Although we did see an increase in the number ot homes tor sale in late spring, housing supply is still running at about 40% of its long-term average and will not likely improve this year. This is, in part, because there are currently an estimated 25+ million homeowners with mortgage rates around 3% who do not want to lose that low rate by selling, so they’re staying put – for now.

4 Seller’s Market

Due to the limited number of homes for sale, the market still technically favors sellers. That said, what defines a buyer’s or seller’s market varies by location but, with persistently low inventory levels, stand by my call that the market will continue to favor sellers in most markets through the end of 2023.

5 List Prices

I expected list prices to pull back further than they have, but sellers continue to be pretty bullish when it comes to pricing their homes due to the pervasive inventory constraints. That said, all markets are local, and there are some cities where list prices for single-family homes are down between 30-50% from their 2022 peaks.
However, overall, list prices around the country have not softened as much as I thought they would, and they will likely continue rising through the balance of the year.

6 Return to Work

The pace of workers heading back to the office has been slower than predicted. In fact, the share of people working in an office full time dropped to 42% in the second quarter of 2023 from 49% in the first quarter.
Meanwhile, the share of offices with hybrid work environments rose to 30% in the second quarter, which is up from 20% in the previous quarter. I still expect more workers to return to their offices in the coming months,
albeit at a slower pace than had forecasted.

7 New Construction Activity

As I predicted, builders have pulled back so far this year, with new home permits and starts falling by double digits when compared to last year. This sector continues to be impacted by high financing rates and construction costs and I do not anticipate much improvement in the second half of 2023.

8 Market Conditions Vary

As expected, markets around the country where home prices rose the fastest during the pandemic years are the ones experiencing the biggest price declines; however, in areas that did not appreciate as quickly, home prices are still holding above their 2022 highs.

9 Affordability

Housing affordabilitv continues to be an issue. While some markets have experienced price declines they are not enough to make housing affordable. Add to this the highest mortgage rates we’ve seen in over a decade and housing remains unaffordable to many. Unfortunately, these conditions will not improve for Duvers this vear.

10 Housing Shortage

In my 2023 forecast, I suggested that the government needed to do their part to help address our country’s significant housing shortage, and we are seeing some progress in this area with a number of states either pursuing legislation to tackle this problem or creating task forces to analyze it. It’s a good start, but more still needs to be done.

Top 10 Predictions for 2023

1. There is No Housing Bubble

Mortgage rates rose steeply in 2022 which, when coupled with the massive run-up in home prices, has some suggesting that we are recreating the housing bubble of 2007. But that could not be further from the truth. Over the past couple of years, home prices got ahead of themselves due to a perfect storm of massive pandemic-induced demand and historically low mortgage rates. While I expect year-over-year price declines in 2023, I don’t believe there will be a systemic drop in home values. Furthermore, as financing costs start to pull back in 2023, I expect that will allow prices to resume their long-term average pace of growth.

2. Mortgage Rates Will Drop

Mortgage rates started to skyrocket at the start of 2022 as the Federal Reserve announced their intent to address inflation. While the Fed doesn’t control mortgage rates, they can influence them, which we saw with the 30-year rate rising from 3.2% in early 2022 to over 7% by October.

Their efforts so far have yet to significantly reduce inflation, but they have increased the likelihood of a recession in 2023. Therefore, early in the year I expect the Fed to start pulling back from their aggressive policy stance, and this will allow rates to begin slowly stabilizing. Rates will remain above 6% until the fall of 2023 when they should dip into the high 5% range. While this is higher than we have become used to, it’s still more than 2% lower than the historic average.

3. Don’t Expect Inventory to Grow Significantly

Although inventory levels rose in 2022, they are still well below their long-term average. In 2023 I don’t expect a significant increase in the number of homes for sale, as many homeowners do not want to lose their low mortgage rate. In fact, I estimate that 25-30 million homeowners have mortgage rates around 3% or lower. Of course, homes will be listed for sale for the usual reasons of career changes, death, and divorce, but the 2023 market will not have the normal turnover in housing that we have seen in recent years.

4. No Buyer’s Market But a More Balanced One

With supply levels expected to remain well below normal, it’s unlikely that we will see a buyer’s market in 2023. A buyer’s market is usually defined as having more than six months of available inventory, and the last time we reached that level was in 2012 when we were recovering from the housing bubble. To get to six months of inventory, we would have to reach two million listings, which hasn’t happened since 2015. In addition, monthly sales would have to drop below 325,000, a number we haven’t seen in over a decade. While a buyer’s market in 2023 is unlikely, I do expect a return to a far more balanced one.

5. Sellers Will Have to Become More Realistic

We all know that home sellers have had the upper hand for several years, but those days are behind us. That said, while the market has slowed, there are still buyers out there. The difference now is that higher mortgage rates and lower affordability are limiting how much buyers can pay for a home. Because of this,
I expect listing prices to pull back further in the coming year, which will make accurate pricing more important than ever when selling a home.

6. Workers Return to Work (Sort of)

The pandemic’s impact on where many people could work was profound, as it allowed buyers to look further away from their workplaces and into more affordable markets. Many businesses are still determining their long-term work-from-home policies, but in the coming year I expect there will be more clarity for workers. This could be the catalyst for those who have been waiting to buy until they know how often they’re expected to work at the office.

7. New Construction Activity Is Unlikely to Increase

Permits for new home construction are down by over 17% year over year, as are new home starts. I predict that builders will pull back further in 2023, with new starts coming in at a level we haven’t seen since before the pandemic.

Builders will start seeing some easing in the supply chain issues that hit them hard over the past two years, but development costs will still be high. Trying to balance homebuilding costs with what a consumer can pay (given higher mortgage rates) will likely lead builders to slow activity. This will actually support the resale market, as fewer new homes will increase the demand for existing homes.

8. Not All Markets Are Created Equal

Markets where home price growth rose the fastest in recent years are expected to experience a disproportionate swing to the downside. For example, markets in areas that had an influx of remote workers, who flocked to cheaper housing during the pandemic, will likely see prices fall by a greater percentage than other parts of the country. That said, even those markets will start to see prices stabilize by the end of 2023 and resume a more reasonable pace of price growth.

9. Affordability Will Continue to Be a Major Issue

In most markets, home prices will not increase in 2023, but any price drop will not be enough to make housing more affordable. And with mortgage rates remaining higher than they’ve been in over a decade, affordability will continue to be a problem in the coming year, which is a concerning outlook for first-time buyers.

Over the past two years, many renters have had aspirations of buying but the timing wasn’t quite right for them. With both prices and mortgage rates spiraling upward in 2022, it’s likely that many renters are now in a situation where the dream of homeownership has gone. That’s not to say they will never be able to buy a home, just that they may have to wait a lot longer than they had hoped.

10. Government Needs to Take Housing More Seriously

Over the past two years, the market has risen to such an extent that it has priced out millions of potential home buyers. With a wave of demand coming from Millennials and Gen Z, the pace of housing production must increase significantly, but many markets simply don’t have enough land to build on. This is why I expect more cities, counties, and states to start adjusting their land use policies to free up more land for housing.

But it’s not just land supply that can help. Elected officials can assist housing developers by utilizing Tax Increment Financing tools, whereby the government reimburses a private developer as incremental taxes are generated from housing development. There are many tools like this at the government’s disposal to help boost housing supply, and I sincerely hope that they start to take this critical issue more seriously.