With unadjusted house prices recently eclipsing their 2006 housing boom peak, housing affordability is a concern in the industry and for potential home buyers. Existing home owners, by definition, can afford one so, when we are speaking about housing affordability, it is really a conversation about first-time home buyers.
First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming was interviewed yesterday on CNBC and discussed housing supply and demand, affordability and challenges facing new home builders.
The three key drivers of the Real House Price Index (RHPI) are household income levels, the 30-year, fixed mortgage rate, and the unadjusted house price index. Changes to household income levels and the 30-year, fixed mortgage rate are considered together as consumer house-buying power. When household income rises and/or the mortgage rate falls, consumer house-buying power increases.
The Real House Price Index (RHPI) views house prices in relation to consumer house-buying power, incorporating household income, mortgage rates, and an unadjusted house price index. When incomes rise, consumer house-buying power increases. When mortgage rates or house prices rise, consumer house-buying power declines.
First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming was quoted Tuesday in a feature article on Forbes.com, explaining how rising rates can increase housing demand.
As the home-buying season continues, the inventory of homes for sale remains historically low, while demand is increasing. Not surprisingly, house prices continue to rise. In March, unadjusted house prices increased by 6.4 percent compared with a year ago and they are now 8.7 percent above the housing boom peak for unadjusted house prices reached in 2007. But, does that tell the real story?
First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming was interviewed yesterday on CNBC and explained the link between rising rates, housing supply and affordability.
California moved to the center of the new residential construction solar system last week as it became the first state to mandate solar panels on new residential homes. The mandate is part of California’s “Energy Efficiency Strategic Plan,” which includes the goal that both residential and commercial construction be zero net energy by 2030. The jury is split as to whether the benefits of the new requirement will outweigh the costs. On one hand, the mandate will significantly expand mainstream use of solar power. However, it will add thousands of dollars to the cost building a new of home when the shortage of affordable housing is a significant concern in California. Clean energy advocates claim lower energy bills will more than offset the extra cost. We put this notion to the test.
At the May Federal Reserve (Fed) meeting last week, all eyes were on the 10-year Treasury yield. In late April, that yield topped 3 percent for the first time in more than four years. With yields on the rise, housing market participants expect this to mean higher interest rates from central banks. It’s often overlooked that the popular 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage is benchmarked to the 10-year Treasury bond. In fact, as shown in the chart below, since the end of the recession, the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage has on average remained 1.7 percentage points higher than the 10-year Treasury bond yield. So, if that trend remains consistent, if the 10-year Treasury yield rises above 3 percent, then the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rate should also rise to 4.5 percent.
“The recent increase in the 10-year Treasury yield indicates higher mortgage rates are likely in the very near future. But, even as mortgage rates increase, we remain well below the historical average of about 8 percent for a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage – and house-buying power remains strong.”
Last week, the average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage rose 5 basis points to 4.46 percent, reaching its highest level since January of 2014. The consensus among economists is that the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage will approach 5 percent by the end of this year. All else held equal, this will make housing more expensive. However, some perspective is important. The historical average for the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage is about 8 percent so, even with the expected increase, mortgage rates will still be low by historical standards.