Welcome to our June newsletter, where we’ll explore residential real estate trends in the East Bay and across the nation. As your local real estate experts, we feel it’s our duty to give you, our valued client, all the information you need to better understand our local real estate market. Whether you’re buying or selling, we want to make sure you have the best, most pertinent information, we’re here to support you.
Mortgage Rates Hit 13-Year Highs
It’s become hard to accurately describe the state of the housing market in the face of rising rates, historically low supply, and high but softening demand. Real estate professionals often say the market is cooling to indicate a turn from a sellers’ to a buyers’ market, but that feels like an overstatement. Additionally, some recent articles were published with titles like “Cracks in the Housing Market,” which also may make the reader erroneously think we are headed into a major correction. After much deliberation, we decided to define market hotness with a pepper analogy. The current market is going from the hottest pepper in the world, the Carolina Reaper, to the second hottest, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. Yes, the market is technically becoming less hot, but it’s still about as hot as it gets. Ultimately, we believe we are headed toward a steadier state of growth rather than a significant home price reversal.
In May, home prices increased around 16% year-over-year, which means that prices would double every 4.5 years if that trend were to continue. That kind of rapid growth is simply unsustainable and would eventually lead to a major market collapse. Based on what happened as a result of the 2006 housing bubble, we know that mass wealth destruction is not the path we want to take. The Federal Reserve (the Fed) is actively raising rates to bring down the growth rate by making borrowing more expensive, thereby lowering demand. Luckily, we are starting to see inflation respond to the Fed’s monetary policy, although it is still near a 40-year high.
In 2022, mortgage rates have moved to their highest point in 13 years. Every 1% rate increase raises the monthly mortgage payment significantly — by about 13%. In this environment of rising rates and rising inflation, all-cash purchases become more attractive because financing is more expensive and money is worth less over time. In the first quarter of 2022, all-cash purchases increased, reaching the highest levels since 1988. Because the Fed indicated the path of rate hikes for the rest of the year, we expect that mortgage rates will, at most, reach around 7% this year for prime borrowers. While it can feel like rates are high when they’ve risen from the all-time low only a few months earlier, a rate of 5% is still historically low. Since 1971 (the start of the data set), we’ve had 2,671 weekly 30-year mortgage data points, only 24% of which reflected rates below 5%.
The Local Lowdown
East Bay median single-family home prices reached all-time highs in Alameda and Contra Costa in May. At the same time, housing inventory increased in May. This serves as an early indicator that home supply may follow historically typical seasonal trends, though at a depressed level. The high demand and lack of new listings over the past year brought single-family home supplies to record lows as we entered 2022. Although the first quarter of 2022 had one of the lowest inventories on record, we were pleased to see that inventory increased, a trend that usually holds until mid-summer. With May inventory continuing to rise, the next two to three months will likely show us peak inventory levels for 2022.
If you are considering buying a home, buyers are better off locking in an interest rate sooner, rather than later as rates are still rising. We are starting to see softening in demand and an increase in price reductions. As always, Arrive Real Estate Group remains committed to helping our clients achieve their current and future real estate goals. Our team of experienced professionals are happy to discuss the information we’ve shared in this newsletter. We welcome you to contact us with any questions about the current market or to request an evaluation of your home.