Home prices increased 19.8% in February year over year, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller national home price index. That is up from the 19.1% annual increase in January and is the third-highest reading in the index’s 35-year history.
The 10-city composite annual increase came in at 18.6%, up from 17.3% in the previous month. The 20-city composite was up 20.2%, rising from 18.9%.
Sun Belt cities continued to see the highest gains. Phoenix, Tampa, Florida, and Miami saw annual home price gains of 32.9% 32.6% and 29.7%, respectively. All 20 cities reported higher price increases in the year ending February 2022 versus the year ending January 2022.
Minneapolis, New York and Washington, D.C., saw the smallest price gains, although they were still in the double digits.
“The macroeconomic environment is evolving rapidly and may not support extraordinary home price growth for much longer,” wrote Craig Lazzara, managing director at S&P DJI, in a release. “The post-Covid resumption of general economic activity has stoked inflation, and the Federal Reserve has begun to increase interest rates in response. We may soon begin to see the impact of increasing mortgage rates on home prices.”
While mortgage rates began rising slowly at the start of this year, they didn’t really take off sharply higher until March. Given that this reading is a three-month running average through February, it doesn’t show much of an impact from rates. That could be coming next, though.WATCH NOWVIDEO02:04Home prices keep rising, despite drop in sales
“Today’s S&P Case Shiller Index highlights a housing market experiencing a renewed sense of urgency in February, as buyers worked through a small number of homes for sale in an effort to get ahead of surging mortgage rates. The imbalance between strong demand and insufficient supply pushed prices higher,” said George Ratiu, manager of economic research at Realtor.com
For a median-priced home financed with a 30-year loan, the monthly payment is $550 higher than a year ago, an increase of 46%, according to calculations by Realtor.com
Prices historically tend to lag sales by about six months, and pending sales, which measure signed contracts, have been falling for four straight months through February, according to the National Association of Realtors. March’s reading will be released Wednesday.
“As we move through the spring housing market, we are seeing clear signs of cooling demand. Many buyers are deciding to take a step back and re-evaluate their budgets and timelines,” added Ratiu.
National home prices grew at an unsustainable pace in December, supported by strong demand and record-low inventory. Home price appreciation is expected to slow in the coming quarters as rising mortgage rates price some homebuyers out of the market.
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, reported by S&P Dow Jones Indices, rose at a seasonally adjusted annual growth rate of 16.9% in December, following a 15.1% increase in November. National home prices are now 51.8% higher than their last peak during the housing boom in 2006. On a year-over-year basis, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index posted an 18.8% annual gain in December, the same increase as in November. Home price appreciation (YOY) has slowed since September 2021.
Meanwhile, the Home Price Index, released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), increased at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 15.6% in December, following a 15.3% increase in November. On a year-over-year basis, the FHFA Home Price NSA Index rose by 17.7% in December, the same gain as in November.
In addition to tracking national home price changes, S&P CoreLogic reported home price indexes across 20 metro areas in December. All 20 metro areas reported positive home price appreciation and their annual growth rates ranged from 8.6% to 34.4%. Among all 20 metro areas, thirteen metro areas exceeded the national average of 16.9%. San Diego led the way with a 34.4% increase, followed by Seattle with a 27.1% increase and Dallas with a 26.8% increase.
The scatter plot below lists the 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas’ annual growth rates in November and in December. The X-axis presents the annual growth rates in November; the Y-axis presents the annual growth rates in December. Five out of the 20 metro areas had a deceleration in home price growth, including Los Angeles, Miami, Tampa, Las Vegas, and Seattle.
Homeownership continues to swerve into unaffordable territory, with median-priced single-family homes becoming less affordable in three-quarters of the nation’s market, a report published by ATTOMData Solutions last week said.
Per the report, between October to December 2021, median home prices in 440 of the 575 counties analyzed by the data vendor saw notable home-price growth. As a result, 77% of counties included in the report have now been labeled as less affordable by ATTOM, up from 39% of counties in the fourth quarter of 2020.
The data vendor also noted that in the third quarter of 2021, 428 counties from the same data set were labeled as less affordable, up from 224 counties in the fourth quarter of 2020.
On average, the median national home price grew by 17% over the past year to $317,500, according to the report.
Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM, said in a statement that the financial comfort zone for homebuyers continues to shrink as home prices rise and mortgage rates tick upwards.
“Historically low rates and rising wages are still big reasons why workers can meet or come very close to standard lending benchmarks in a majority of counties we analyze,” Teta said. “ But the portion of wages required for major ownership expenses nationwide is getting closer to levels where banks become less likely to offer home loans.”
ATTOM found that ownership costs have risen in the fourth quarter of 2021, with the typical home consuming 25.2% of the average national wage of $65,546. In comparison, the fourth quarter of 2020 saw ownership costs at 21.5%.
However, ATTOM noted that the latest level is still within the 28% standard lenders prefer for how much homeowners should spend on mortgage payments, home insurance and property taxes.
The report added that house hunters unscathed financially by the pandemic have buoyed housing costs, as they “surged into the market amid a combination of mortgage rates hovering around 3 percent and a desire to trade congested virus-prone areas for the perceived safety of a house and yard, as well as the space for growing work-at-home lifestyles.”
“Amid very uncertain times, with the pandemic again threatening the economy, we will keep watching this key measure of housing market stability,” Teta concluded.
A real estate firm seeks to block a new Oregon law that bans real estate agents from forwarding “love letters” from homebuyers to sellers.
A lawsuit filed in federal court Friday by the conservative Pacific Legal Foundation on behalf of Total Real Estate Group alleges the state’s ban on these communications violates the First Amendment rights of real estate brokers and their clients.
“This censorship is based on mere speculation that sellers might sometimes rely on information in these letters to discriminate based on a protected class,” according to the lawsuit.
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum and Oregon Real Estate Commissioner Steve Strode could not be reached for comment.
Oregon is the first state to ban the practice. Under the law, which is scheduled to take effect in January, real estate agents will not be allowed to pass along personal pitches from buyers that can include details about people’s lives along with photographs and videos. Buyers will still be allowed to communicate directly with home sellers.
In hot markets where multiple bidders jockey for the same house, buyers will do just about anything to get their offer noticed – and that includes writing “love letters” in hopes of making a personal connection with a seller.
Increasingly, the real industry has grown uneasy that “love letters” could violate state and federal fair housing laws by revealing the buyer’s race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status or familial status. Many real estate agents refuse to accept or deliver them.
Democratic Rep. Mark Meek, the state lawmaker who sponsored the legislation, told USA TODAY in August that Oregon is not impeding free speech.
“We are limiting transmission of communications that are not relevant and could potentially be breaking fair housing laws,” he said.
No other state has followed Oregon’s lead.
Daniel Ortner, an attorney with the Pacific Legal Foundation, said the law is “a blatant First Amendment violation.”
“Love letters” can help first-time buyers compete with cash-rich buyers or institutional investors and can help sellers searching for buyers who will care for their homes and be good neighbors, Ortner said. The letters signal genuine interest in a property, he said.
Ortner said the law’s proponents have not produced any examples of fair housing complaints or lawsuits as a result of love letters.
“This is a solution in search of a problem. There is no evidence that it is a real problem that’s really resulting in discrimination,” he said. “And you can’t just go and ban whole types of communication in the fear that some small portion of it might somehow be used by someone.”
The backlash against love letters is part of an industrywide reckoning with its complicity in decades of housing discrimination and segregation that kept Black Americans from homeownership.
In 2019, Newsday published the findings of a three-year undercover investigation that exposed discriminatory home-selling practices by real estate agents that helped keep neighborhoods in Long Island, New York, segregated. Agents treated people of color unequally, especially Black residents, the investigation found.
Efforts to reform racist practices and increase Black homeownership intensified after the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Last year, the National Association of Realtors warned members love letters were not as harmless as they seemed.
But as stratospheric prices and record low housing inventory fuel bidding wars, love letters are more popular than ever.
Realtors said they don’t want to put their buyers at a disadvantage in competitive situations by refusing to pass them along. Besides, they said, sellers are swayed first and foremost by the offering price and terms.
But the right words can be persuasive. In 2019, the Redfin real estate brokerage studied the most effective strategies to win a bidding war. All-cash offers more than tripled a buyer’s odds. Writing a love letter came in second, increasing a buyer’s chances by 59%.
The average interest rates on 30- and 15-year mortgages fell to their lowest levels in more than a month as rates offered on home loans retreated across the board.
The average rate offered to homebuyers using a conventional 30-year fixed mortgage, the most popular type of home loan, fell to 3.25% from 3.29% the previous business day. The average for a 15-year fixed mortgage fell to 2.48% from 2.52% the previous business day. Both are the lowest they’ve been since early October.
Fixed mortgage rates tend to track 10-year Treasury yields, which usually rise with heightened inflation fears (and fall when those fears subside.) Investor concerns about soaring inflation have generally pushed yields to a much higher range since the summer, plus everyone is closely watching how the Federal Reserve interprets the latest inflation data and whether it will take drastic action to control it. Yields have fallen some since last week, when the Fed said it would begin to pull back on the easy money policies it put in place to help the economy through the pandemic.
The average 30-year rate hit a six-month high of 3.48% late last month, but even at that level, it was pretty low by historic standards. According to a Freddie Mac measure that dates back farther than our data, the 30-year hasn’t gone more than about half a percentage point higher than its record low of last winter. Three years ago, it was almost 5% and at the start of the 1990s, around 10%.
During the pandemic, these relatively low rates have bolstered buying power, allowing house hunters to buy more expensive homes with the same monthly budget and helping to fuel a fiercely competitive residential real estate boom that has only recently begun to cool slightly. For the same reasons, the uptick in rates over the past few months has discouraged borrowing, in particular refinancing activity. An index measuring the volume of applications to refinance an existing mortgage is at its lowest level since January 2020, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.
Mortgage rates, like the rates on any loan, are going to depend on your credit score, with lower rates going to people with better scores, all else being equal. The rates shown reflect the average offered by more than 200 of the country’s top lenders, assuming the borrower has a FICO credit score of 700-759 (within the “good” or “very good” range) and a loan-to-value ratio of 80%.
30-Year Mortgage Rates Drop
A 30-year fixed mortgage is by far the most common type of mortgage because it offers a consistent and relatively low monthly payment. (Shorter-term fixed mortgages have higher payments because the borrowed money is paid back more quickly.)
30-year fixed: The average rate fell to 3.25%, down from 3.29% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.37%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $435.21, or $6.61 less than a week ago.
30-year fixed (FHA): The average rate fell to 3.04% from 3.08% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.19%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $423.76, or $8.16 less than a week ago.
30-year fixed (VA): The average rate fell to 3.08% from 3.12% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.25%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments will cost about $425.93, or $9.28 less than a week ago.
A lower rate can lower your monthly payment, but it can also give you more buying power, something you’ll want if you’re considering jumping into this fiercely competitive real estate market. For example, at 3% on a 30-year mortgage, your payments for a $380,000 home would be about $1,900 a month, assuming a 20% down payment, typical homeowners’ insurance costs, and property taxes, per our mortgage calculator. If you lock in a rate at 2.9%, though, you’ll have the same monthly payment for a $383,500 home.
15-Year Mortgage Rate Falls
The major advantage of a 15-year fixed mortgageis that it offers a lower interest rate than the 30-year and you’re paying off your loan more quickly, so your total borrowing costs are far lower. But for the same reason—that the loan is paid back over a shorter time frame—the monthly payments will be higher.
15-year fixed: The average rate fell to 2.48% from 2.52% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 2.57%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $665.85, or $4.24 less than a week ago.
Besides fixed-rate mortgages, there are adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs), where rates change based on a benchmark index tied to Treasury bonds or other interest rates. Most adjustable-rate mortgages are actually hybrids, where the rate is fixed for a period of time and then adjusted periodically. For example, a common type of ARM is a 5/1 loan, which has a fixed rate for five years (the “5” in “5/1”) and is then adjusted every one year (the “1”).
Jumbo Mortgage Rates Are Down
Jumbo loans, which allow you to borrow bigger amounts for more expensive properties, tend to have slightly higher interest rates than loans for more standard amounts. Jumbo means over the limit that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are willing to buy from lenders, typically $548,250 for a single-family home (except in Hawaii, Alaska, and a few federally designated high-cost markets, where the limit is $822,375).
Jumbo 30-year fixed: The average rate fell to 3.44% from 3.45% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.54%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $445.70, or $5.58 less than a week ago.
Jumbo 15-year fixed: The average rate fell to 3.24% from 3.26% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 3.32%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $702.18, or $3.90 less than a week ago.
Refinance Rates Decline
Refinancing an existing mortgage tends to be slightly more expensive than getting a new one, especially in a low-rate environment.
30-year fixed: The average rate to refinance fell to 3.36% from 3.4% the previous business day. A week ago, it was3.5%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments would cost about $441.27, or $7.77 less than a week ago.
15-year fixed: The average rate to refinance fell to $2.58% from 2.62% the previous business day. A week ago, it was 2.68%. For every $100,000 borrowed, monthly payments at that rate will cost about $670.56, or $4.74 less than a week ago.
Our rates for “today” reflect national averages provided by more than 200 of the country’s top lenders one business day ago, and the “previous” is the rate provided the business day before that. Similarly, the week earlier references compare the data from five business days earlier (so bank holidays are excluded.) The rates assume a loan-to-value ratio of 80% and a borrower with a FICO credit score of 700 to 759—within the “good” to “very good” range. They’re representative of the rates customers would see in actual quotes from lenders, based on their qualifications, and may vary from advertised teaser rates.
S&P Dow Jones Indices (S&P DJI) today released the latest results for the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices, the leading measure of U.S. home prices. Data released today for July 2021 show that home prices continue to increase across the U.S. More than 27 years of history are available for the data series and can be accessed in full by going to https://www.spglobal.com/spdji/.
The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, covering all nine U.S. census divisions, reported a 19.7% annual gain in July, up from 18.7% in the previous month. The 10-City Composite annual increase came in at 19.1%, up from 18.5% in the previous month. The 20-City Composite posted a 19.9% year-over-year gain, up from 19.1% in the previous month.
Phoenix, San Diego, and Seattle reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities in July. Phoenix led the way with a 32.4% year-over-year price increase, followed by San Diego with a 27.8% increase and Seattle with a 25.5% increase. Seventeen of the 20 cities reported higher price increases in the year ending July 2021 versus the year ending June 2021.
Before seasonal adjustment, the U.S. National Index posted an 1.6% month-over-month increase in July, while the 10-City and 20-City Composites both posted increases of 1.3% and 1.5%, respectively.
After seasonal adjustment, the U.S. National Index posted a month-over-month increase of 1.5%, and the 10-City and 20-City Composites both posted increases of 1.4% and 1.5%, respectively. In July, all 20 cities reported increases before and after seasonal adjustments.
“July 2021 is the fourth consecutive month in which the growth rate of housing prices set a record,” says Craig J. Lazzara, Managing Director and Global Head of Index Investment Strategy at S&P DJI. “The National Composite Index marked its fourteenth consecutive month of accelerating prices with a 19.7% gain from year-ago levels, up from 18.7% in June and 16.9% in May. This acceleration is also reflected in the 10- and 20-City Composites (up 19.1% and 19.9%, respectively). The last several months have been extraordinary not only in the level of price gains, but in the consistency of gains across the country. In July, all 20 cities rose, and 17 gained more in the 12 months ended in July than they had gained in the 12 months ended in June. Home prices in 19 of our 20 cities now stand at all-time highs, with the sole outlier (Chicago) only 0.3% below its 2006 peak. The National Composite, as well as the 10- and 20-City indices, are likewise at their all-time highs.
“July’s 19.7% price gain for the National Composite is the highest reading in more than 30 years of S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller data. This month, New York joined Boston, Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, and Seattle in recording their all-time highest 12-month gains. Price gains in all 20 cities were in the top quintile of historical performance; in 15 cities, price gains were in the top five percent of historical performance.
“We have previously suggested that the strength in the U.S. housing market is being driven in part by a reaction to the COVID pandemic, as potential buyers move from urban apartments to suburban homes. July’s data are consistent with this hypothesis. This demand surge may simply represent an acceleration of purchases that would have occurred anyway over the next several years. Alternatively, there may have been a secular change in locational preferences, leading to a permanent shift in the demand curve for housing. More time and data will be required to analyze this question.
“Phoenix’s 32.4% increase led all cities for the 26th consecutive month, with San Diego (+27.8%) and Seattle (+25.5%) not far behind. As has been the case for the last several months, prices were strongest in the Southwest (+24.2%) and West (+23.7%), but every region logged double-digit gains and recorded all-time high rate increases.”
Table 1 below shows the housing boom/bust peaks and troughs for the three composites along with the current levels and percentage changes from the peaks and troughs.
From Peak (%)
From Trough (%)
From Peak (%)
Table 2 below summarizes the results for July 2021. The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices could be revised for the prior 24 months, based on the receipt of additional source data.
Sources: S&P Dow Jones Indices and CoreLogic
Data through July 2021
Table 3 below shows a summary of the monthly changes using the seasonally adjusted (SA) and non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) data. Since its launch in early 2006, the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices have published, and the markets have followed and reported on, the non-seasonally adjusted data set used in the headline indices. For analytical purposes, S&P Dow Jones Indices publishes a seasonally adjusted data set covered in the headline indices, as well as for the 17 of 20 markets with tiered price indices and the five condo markets that are tracked.
S&P Dow Jones Indices is the largest global resource for essential index-based concepts, data and research, and home to iconic financial market indicators, such as the S&P 500® and the Dow Jones Industrial Average®. More assets are invested in products based on our indices than products based on indices from any other provider in the world. Since Charles Dow invented the first index in 1884, S&P DJI has been innovating and developing indices across the spectrum of asset classes helping to define the way investors measure and trade the markets.
S&P Dow Jones Indices is a division of S&P Global (NYSE: SPGI), which provides essential intelligence for individuals, companies, and governments to make decisions with confidence. For more information, visit https://www.spglobal.com/spdji/.
After notable and expected downward revisions for prior months, May recorded a decline of 5.9% for sales of newly-constructed single family homes, according to estimates from the Census Bureau and HUD. The May seasonally adjusted annual rate (769k) was the lowest in a year, due to builders slowing sales as a consequence of higher material costs and declining availability of labor, material and lots.
Residential demand continues to be supported by low interest rates, a renewed consumer focus on the importance of housing, and solid demand in lower-density markets like suburbs and exurbs. However, higher building costs, longer delivery times, and general unpredictability in the residential construction supply-chain are having measurable impacts on new home prices. In May, the median price of a newly-built home was 18% higher than a year ago, at $374,400. As NAHB has estimated, higher lumber costs alone are increasing new home prices by $36,000 on average.
Higher costs have priced out buyers, particularly at the lower end of the market. A year ago, 44% of new home sales were priced below $300,000. In May 2021, only 26% of new home sales were priced below $300,000.
Looking back to the spring of last year, the April 2020 data (570,000 annualized pace) marks the low point of sales for the 2020 recession. The April 2020 rate was 26% lower than the prior peak, pre-recession rate set in January. Sales then mounted a historic surge from April until July, outpacing gains in actual construction. Sales have been above the pace of the post-Great Recession trend since the second half of last year. However, since January the trend has been declining and has now dipped below the long-run trend (as indicated by the blue dashed line in the graph above).
Sales-adjusted inventory levels remained healthy in May, although they did increase to a 5.1 months’ supply.
Completed ready-to-occupy homes continue to fall as a share of new home inventory. Such homes were just under 24% of inventory a year ago. They are only a little more than 11% of the total in May 2021.
Moreover, to see how sales patterns have changed in a high demand, low supply market — the count of new homes sold that had not started construction is up 76 percent over the last year. The count of new homes sold that are completed and ready to occupy is down 33 percent.
Regionally on a year-to-date basis new home sales rose in all four regions, up 48.7% in the Northeast, 33.5% in the Midwest, 32.3% in the South, and 5.6% in the West. These significant increases are due in part to lower sales volume during the Covid crisis a year ago.
“After a run up over the first few months of the year, rates have paused and hovered around three percent since March,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “Despite this favorable rate climate, there remains a shortage of homes for sale. The lack of housing supply has been compounded by labor disruptions and expensive building materials that are driving up the cost of new housing, making it difficult for homebuyers to find homes to purchase.”
30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.00 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending May 20, 2021, up from last week when it averaged 2.94 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.24 percent.
15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.29 percent with an average 0.7 point, up from last week when it averaged 2.26 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.70 percent.
The PMMS is focused on conventional, conforming, fully amortizing home purchase loans for borrowers who put 20 percent down and have excellent credit. Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.
According to Freddie Mac’s (OTCQB: FMCC) Quarterly Forecast, mortgage rates will continue to move up with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaging just above three percent through the end of 2021.
“As the economy continues to improve, we expect conditions to remain generally favorable for the housing and mortgage market,” said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist. “Higher mortgage rates have the potential, however, to dampen the robust demand we’ve been experiencing, and we therefore forecast total originations to decline to $3.5 trillion in 2021.”
Khater continued, “Other important obstacles to consider include high home prices and low housing supply that will certainly influence the trajectory of purchase activity specifically.”
According to Freddie Mac’s Forecast:
The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage is expected to be 3.2 percent in 2021 and 3.7 percent in 2022.
House price growth is expected to be 6.6 percent in 2021, slowing to 4.4 percent in 2022.
Home sales are expected to reach 7.1 million in 2021, falling to 6.7 million homes in 2022.
Purchase originations are expected to increase to $1.7 trillion in 2021 before dropping to $1.6 trillion in 2022.
Refinance originations are expected to be $1.8 trillion in 2021 before falling to $770 billion in 2022.
Overall, annual mortgage origination levels are expected to be $3.5 trillion in 2021 and $2.4 trillion 2022.
Freddie Mac makes home possible for millions of families and individuals by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Since our creation by Congress in 1970, we’ve made housing more accessible and affordable for homebuyers and renters in communities nationwide. We are building a better housing finance system for homebuyers, renters, lenders, investors, and taxpayers. Learn more at FreddieMac.com, Twitter @FreddieMac, and Freddie Mac’s blog FreddieMac.com/blog.
Single-family housing starts ended 2020 on a high note, rising 12% in December to a 1.338 million unit pace – the highest pace since 2006, according to the Census Bureau.
That’s up 27.8% from one year ago, a remarkable figure given the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, per industry officials.
“2020 will go down, quite unexpectedly, as one of the best years for home builders in recent memory, and proof that great challenges — and not just those posed by COVID — can be overcome with hard work and creativity,” said Matthew Speakman, Zillow economist. “Demand for homes remains sky high, despite the still-raging pandemic, as people look to take advantage of historically low mortgage rates and find their next home. “
An estimated 1.380 million housing units were started in 2020 – 7% percent above the 2019 figure of 1.29 million
Remarkably, most industry experts believe construction rates will climb even higher in 2021.
“We expect single-family construction to move up 9% in 2021 — a much-needed relief valve for homebuyers,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com. “While buyer demand has slowed since December, it remains notably higher than one year ago, giving builders a strong incentive to keep building.”
“Supply-side headwinds will remain in 2021,” added Odeta Kushi, First American deputy chief economist. “Given the underbuilding that took place in the decade following the Great Recession, it will take years for builders to close the deficit.”
Even with the promise of additional relief funding from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, most homebuyers are still looking for houses with large work-from-home areas — a sign that confidence in the eradication of the virus, and a restart of face-to-face interaction, remains low.
“The past year has also cemented the smooth transition towards touring homes virtually and digitalizing many parts of the mortgage process, making homebuying much safer in light of the ongoing public health situation,” said John Pataky, executive vice president at TIAA Bank.
Privately-owned housing starts in December also jumped from November — a 5.8% rise with a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.669 million. That’s also 5.2% above the December 2019 rate of 1.587 million.
Austin Niemiec, Rocket Pro TPO executive vice president, urged brokers to maintain a focus on purchasing and ensuring solid internal processes.
“Brokers should be ready to support clients looking to secure their dream home,” he said. “This will be another strong year for loan officers, and new houses will play an important role in making sure we assist buyers at a high level.”
In authorizations, units in buildings with five units or more were authorized at a rate of 437,000 in December. Privately owned housing units authorized by building permits in December were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,709,000 — 4.5% above the revised November rate of 1.635 million.
Single-family authorizations in December were at a rate of 1.226 million, a rise of 7.8% above the November figure of 1.137 million.
Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors chief economist, is optimistic the housing sector will be a major player in the economy’s recovery in 2021.
“More construction also means more local job creation,” he said. “The worst of the housing shortage could soon come to an end.”