45-Day Snapshot & Outlook

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Sellers still have the advantage with lower-than-normal inventory in the housing market.
  • Mortgage rates remain high, even after coming down off their peak, discouraging hopeful home buyers.
  • Continued decrease will reinvigorate the market on both sides.

With prices remaining high and low inventory numbers, hopeful sellers and buyers are still uneasy about today’s housing market.

With the median U.S. sale price was $382,600 in December 2023, resulting in the sixth straight month of year-over-year price increases. Following a rise pas t 8% in October 30-year mortgage rates at the end of January 2024 were 6.84% – still remaining higher than most owner’s locked-in rates.

Mortgage lenders taking cues from Federal interest rates, increased mortgage rates in tandem with the Fed.

“Mortgage rates should trend lower throughout the year as inflation pressures ease and the Fed begins to cut short-term interest rates.”

  • Greg McBride, Bankrate CFO

McBride anticipates the as the easing of interest rates continues over 2024, so shall the mortgage rates potentially dipping below 6% be the end of the year. A dangerous projection shows a sharp economic slowdown that would bring forth a decline in mortgage rates but could have disastrous effects.

WILL HOUSING SALES DECLINE & WHERE IS THE INVENTORY?

While prices stood firm in 2023, the volume of sales decreased significantly. Sales slowed five months in a row before November 2023, and ended with a downturn in December. 2024 started with better numbers because of lowering rates stated NAR chief Lawrence Yun. NAR forecasting that sales will rise by 13% in 2024. Chen Zhao of Redfin stated that while they expect to see and increase it will not be as significant while rates remain above 6%.  

On the inventory side of things, the overall number of units sat at 1 million in December representing 3.2-month supply, short of the 5 to 6 months usually needed for a balanced market.

“There are simply not enough homes for sale.”

  • Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist NAR

For low inventory levels to improve significantly, we would need a surge in homeowners willing to list their properties, along with a large amount of new construction. Yun believes a small bump in single family home construction, with a similar rise in homeowners listing their houses giving up their lower mortgage rates.

As we take everything into account it does not seem hopeful at this time, with the Fed remaining stagnant on rate decreases due to being lower than the central banks anticipated target number. Greg McBride, Bankrate CFO, warns buyers to be wary about purchasing at this time and not biting off more than they can chew. It is a good time stay flexible in the market and for homeowners to remain in a low locked-in rate from years past rather than look to take on a heavier mortgage rate that will not be beneficial with the current terms.

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