I have been an agent and investor since 2001. I have done business in good times, bad times, and every time in between. A lot of people think we are due for anther housing market crash because housing prices have increased in many areas of the country. Besides prices, there are many things that drive the housing market. In fact, prices cannot be used as an indicator of what the market will do because they are just a result of many other factors. Supply and demand are what push prices up or down. Supply is affected by foreclosures, homeowners’ willingness to move, new construction, and many other factors. Demand is driven by the economy, lending guidelines, potential homeowners confidence, wages, and much more. Dennis Cisterna III was kind enough to provide this article that discusses the key factors that drive the housing market. Dennis is Chief Revenue Officer of Investability Real Estate, Inc. and an expert on housing trends and economic indicators. I chose Dennis to write this piece because I was so impressed with his podcast interview on my show. Dennis talks about the actual numbers when it comes to new house builds, lending guidelines, and if we are in fact due for another housing crash anytime soon.
How likely is another housing crash?
When some investors think of real estate, they assume that because prices are generally rising across the country, we must be headed toward another crash. The truth is that’s simply not the case. A bevy of factors have come together that are serving to safeguard the economy against another national crash.
Are mortgages as easy to get as they were before the housing crisis?
In 2005, subprime loans were rampant and as a result, the country over-leveraged itself. Subprime loans, the riskiest loan type given to borrowers with low credit scores, totaled more than $620 billion. Fast forward ten years and subprime originations make up only 5 percent of the mortgage market and add up to $56 billion. Compare that to 2005 when subprime origination made up 20 percent of the market. This represents a 91 percent decline from the height of bad loans that set up the economic crash.
Source: Inside Mortgage Finance; Equifax
Not only has subprime lending seen a major decline, but mortgages have also become much harder to attain due to stringent lending standards. According to CoreLogic’s Housing Credit Index, loans originated in 2016 were among the highest quality originated in the last 15 years. This is greatly due to the type of borrowers able to qualify for loans. The current average credit score for borrowers being granted mortgages is 739. In October 2009, the average FICO score was 686, according to Fair Isaac. The lowest one percent of mortgages issued have credit scores averaging 622-624. Compared to the average range in 2001 of 490-510, the standard to get financing has risen substantially, and as a result, the likelihood of default has dropped. Lenders have done this to ensure the economy doesn’t again become propped on bad loans like it was leading up to the Great Recession.
The difficulty in getting a mortgage combined with extremely high student debt strapping down the millennial generation continues to nudge people toward renting. Americans don’t have the savings they used to have that allowed them to put a down payment on a home. Historically, the average savings rate of a person’s income was 8.3 percent, but today that number is 5.5 percent. Rising education and housing costs continue to burden the new generation of potential home buyers, driving down home ownership rates in the U.S.
Source: Federal Reserve Bank
Interest rates are another important factor to consider. The Fed has only raised interest rates one half of a percent, but actual mortgage rates have come back down. That said, rates could eventually rise, so it’s wise for investors to prepare a strategy for when that occurs as it can impact their ability to finance an investment portfolio.
How will affordability affect the housing market?
The affordability index continues to be stacked against potential home buyers. As housing and rental prices steadily increase, wages continue to stay relatively stagnant. Historically, the average income-to-housing cost ratio in the U.S. has hovered near 30 percent, but in some metro areas, that number is currently closer to 40 and even 50 percent! This strips away the opportunity to save money as a significant portion of a person’s monthly income is going to keeping a roof over their head.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
How does supply and demand affect the housing market?
Housing supply is also an important dynamic to consider when looking at a then-and-now analysis of the housing market. Since mortgages were being given out with little regard to the borrower’s ability to pay back the loan, new home building skyrocketed to meet the new demand. In 2005, new home sales hit a 52 year high with 1.28 million new homes being built. Ten years later, only 500,000 new homes were constructed, dropping 61 percent from the peak ten years prior. An overall lack of inventory continues to be a driver in price appreciation.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
While there are risks for local bubbles in markets experiencing inorganic growth, like the Miami condo market for example, it’s wise for investors to focus more on their own investment strategy and less on speculation of the overall market. If able to identify and clearly understand a market and its economy, investors can find success with single-family investments.
Dennis Cisterna is the Chief Revenue Officer of Investability Real Estate, Inc. He hosts a weekly podcast, The Real Investor, available on iTunes and Stitcher called to help real estate investors become more efficient and empowered in the residential investing space.
What can we make of the data from Dennis and the current housing market?
As you can see from the numbers Dennis has on the housing market, things are much better than they were before the last crash. Lending guidelines are much tougher no matter what you hear. I see posts on Facebook all the time about how people can get low-money-down loans now, and that means the housing crash is coming. Low-money-down loans have been available for decades, and that is not what caused the housing crash. Really bad loans to people who should not buy houses is what caused the housing crisis. Those loans do not exist anymore, as you can see by the data Dennis provided. Yes, it is possible to get a loan with less than a 600 credit score, but very few people are actually getting those loans. When you look at the housing market, you need to look at the real numbers of how many houses are being built, what kind of loans people are getting, and how much house people can afford. Houses are not being built like they were before. The loans people are getting are much higher quality, and the market is much more stable than it was before.
When will the housing market crash again?
The housing market will not grow forever, but it is hard to say when things will change. As Dennis said, real estate trends are very different in various parts of the country. Some parts of the country may see increasing prices for a few more years, while others may see a drop right away. I agree with Dennis that a housing crash like we saw in the mid 2000s is not coming anytime soon. I could see prices steadying out due to the affordability problems in some areas, especially if interest rates rise. Those two factors will not cause a crash when so few homes are being build and the quality of new loans is so high.