Instances of home building dipped in November after mortgage rates spiked 7%, making the creation of homes expensive for many American families.
While the rates are lower than in the past months, they are still double than last year. The high rates of mortgage and increased prices in homebuilding materials hinder many Americans from building their houses. According to recent data from the US Census Bureau, construction of new houses in America fell by 0.5% in November from October and down 16.4% from a year ago. The drop started this spring and continued throughout recent months because of increasing mortgage rates.
However, home building spiked in August following a significant fall in mortgage rates. But that was the last decrease in the rates as it kept going higher until recent weeks, reaching a 2-decade high in October. This has put house building to hold, pressuring many homeowners and construction companies. Consequently, building permits have also dwindled, dropping to 11.2% in October.
“The home building market weakened further in November, and it’s tough to forecast the bottom given relatively high mortgage rates,” explained Navy Federal Credit Union corporate economist Robert Frick.
“Potential homebuyers should see some relief next year in the form of lower mortgage rates and possibly lower home prices,” he added.
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Home builders’ confidence is down
According to a survey, many builders have lesser confidence this December. And this is affected by the weakening housing market, which worsened for over 12 months. In addition, the increasing mortgage rates, higher prices of homes, and supply chain disruptions all contribute to the gloomy mood of investors and builders in the market.
“NAHB is expecting weaker housing conditions to persist in 2023 and forecasts a recovery coming in 2024. Given the existing nationwide housing deficit of 1.5 million units and future lower mortgage rates anticipated with the Fed easing monetary policy in 2024,” said the chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), Rober Dietz.
“A slowdown in new construction is concerning because the housing market remains underbuilt relative to the long-term demand,” added Odeta Kushi, First American deputy chief economist.
“With many existing homeowners locked in to historically low, sub-3% mortgage rates, few have a financial incentive to sell their home only to purchase a new one with a much higher mortgage rate. A lack of existing-home inventory means that new home construction will be more essential in bridging the supply gap,” she added.
The Feds and its role in the housing market
According to Real Estate Consulting’s Kelly Mangold, first-time buyers have postponed buying new homes due to the higher rates of houses in the market. The prices, she explained, have affected their buying power, affecting the sellers as well. However, she emphasized that the Feds have a vital role in changing the housing market dynamics.
“Motivated buyers or those who are not financing a large portion of their home, such as a downsizing empty-nester, maybe in a position to find a good deal as builders are beginning to adjust their pricing to move inventory,” said Mangold
“With construction costs up more than 30% since inflation began to take off at the beginning of the year, there is little room for builders to cut prices,” added NAHB chairman Jerry Konter.
“A friendly enough Fed could easily break the range, but we have doubts about how much fuel the Fed will want to add to the fire. If anything, the Fed is more likely to try to temper the exuberance. Because the exuberance is counterproductive to the Fed’s goals,” added Matthew Graham, Mortgage Daily News chief operating officer.
“It’s still extremely unaffordable even with rates coming down, even with prices coming down in each of the last four months. We’re still less affordable than we were at the peak of the market in 2006, and you see that play out in the rate lock numbers,” explained Andrew Walden from Black Knight.
“As we move throughout 2023, you’re going to see prices continue to soften. You’re going to see incomes hopefully continue to grow and eat up some of that gap. And I think we are going to see rates come down from where they are today, but it’s going to take an extended period to get there,” he added.
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People must check their budget
The housing market has been fluctuating with changes happening along the corner. As the Feds drop and hike mortgage rates, coupled with external factors, it will take a lot of work for first-time homebuyers to make the purchase. However, experts say that people must check their budget and try and wait for the prices to go down before making a purchase.
“There are some very, very modest green shoots over the last few weeks, as rates have come down, but I am not ready to get sucked back into the conversation we had in August when we felt better,” said the CEO of Toll Brothers, Doug Yearley.
“There have been a handful of pieces of relatively good news for the housing market lately, but we’re far from out of the woods. Key indicators of homebuying demand will likely be teetering on a knife’s edge with every data release that comes out related to the Fed’s path to eventually bringing rates down,” added economist Taylor Marr from Redfin.
“Inventory levels are still tight, which is why some homes for sale still receive multiple offers. In October, 24% of homes received over the asking price. Conversely, homes sitting on the market for more than 120 days saw prices reduced by an average of 15.8%,” explained Lawrence Yun, an economist from NAR.
Photo Credit: Octavio Jones for Reuters