Spring is the peak home buying season for many parts of the country. After years of softer home sale activity — thanks to low housing inventory, affordability issues, and more — this Spring home buying season could prove to be one of the best in years. Why?
Call it the “Goldilocks” economic scenario — and here are several bullets that should help housing not just this Spring, but for the foreseeable future:
- The Fed has stated they will not raise rates in 2019. Yay!!! There is actually a better chance of a rate cut before 2019 comes to an end. This means home loan rates won’t go too high.
- Inflation remains subdued – for now. Low inflation means lower rates.
- Home price gains are slowing year-over-year to healthier levels, and at equilibrium with personal wage gains. In years past, housing prices were gaining 10% to 15% or more, and wages were growing at 2%. Now we are seeing house prices increase 4% to 5% year-over-year, just slightly more than wages.
- Housing inventory is increasing. This is a big change from years past and should it continue, buyers will continue to come to the market and take advantage of the “Goldilocks” conditions.
- The Labor market remains solid. People buy homes because they feel good about their job and their future. Unemployment is at a 50-year low. This is very positive for housing.
- Europe can’t get out of their own way. Their economies are weak and that is keeping their bonds yields ultra-low. This is putting downward pressure on US bond yields. Yes – you can thank Europeans for your low home loan rates.
- The stock market is right at all-time highs. This means higher 401K and IRA values create a positive wealth effect that should provide a nice tailwind for housing. People with money spend it.
- Consumer Confidence and Sentiment are increasing again thanks to the Fed no longer hiking rates, the strong job market, and stocks up nicely in 2019. “Confident” consumers purchase homes.
- No fear of a US recession as Friday’s March Jobs Report showed 196,000 new jobs created, a great rebound higher from February’s 33,000 – which had stoked some recession chatter.
- Home loan rates continue to hover near 14-month lows, thanks to the many bullets above.
After last week’s risk-filled events, the upcoming week is rather light on economic data with the highlight being the inflation reading Consumer Price Index. We don’t see inflation rising anytime soon, and that has been backed up by the Fed’s assertion that inflation will remain subdued for several years ahead.
Remember that inflation is the driver of long-term interest rates like mortgages – so if inflation remains low, so will mortgage rates.
The bond markets will have to absorb a total of $78B in Treasury auctions of 3- and 10-year notes along with 30-year bonds from Tuesday through Thursday. The added supply into the market could cause price/rate volatility.
The ongoing talks and headlines between the US and China will continue to impact both stocks and bonds in the upcoming week. It seems like some sort of deal is near, with headlines showing that 90% of the talks are over. Should a deal come to pass, it will have a long-lasting positive effect on the US and Chinese economy – remember, bonds generally don’t like good news.
Reports to watch:
- With a slow week ahead for data, reports begin on Wednesday with the inflation reading Consumer Price Index, followed by the Producer Price Index on Thursday.
- As usual, Weekly Initial Jobless Claims will be released on Thursday, with Consumer Sentiment on Friday.