Single-Family Housing Market is Deadlocked as Owners with Lower Rates Sit Tight
The housing market in 2023 continues to display remarkable shifts, from record-low listings to changing millennial preferences. In this blog, we dissect the current housing landscape and its far-reaching effects on prices, rents, and homebuyer behavior.
Record-Low Home Listings: A Double-Edged Sword
Home listings have reached a remarkable low, marking the third-lowest count on record. The average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has surged by nearly 70 basis points from its recent low, leading to heightened debt costs. The Federal Reserve's benchmark policy rate hike in July further contributes to this trend. As a result, homeowners are reluctant to list their properties, disincentivized by the prospect of trading their lower-rate mortgages for higher-cost ones. The scarcity of listings has caused the number of existing homes on the market to plummet to a 16-month low, the third-lowest figure since the 1980s. Despite a cooling in buyer demand due to higher debt costs, the lack of available homes has propelled the median home price to climb for a fourth consecutive month.
Supply Scarcity Fuels Price Surge
Traditional market dynamics would dictate that a drop in home purchases would prompt sellers to readjust their prices to cater to subdued buyer demand. However, the current scenario presents a unique situation favoring sellers. The number of existing homes for sale fell below 900,000 nationwide in June, an event that has occurred only five times in history, all within the last 18 months. This shortage of supply has allowed sellers to regain control over price momentum, effectively reversing the declines seen earlier in the year. In June, the median home price exceeded $393,000, a milestone reached for the first time since the same month of the previous year, representing a roughly 3 percent increase from the December 2022 low.
Shifting Affordability and Luxury Rentals
As the real estate landscape evolves, the benefits of luxury rentals are expanding. While home prices and debt costs have continued to rise, apartment rent growth has slowed, enhancing the relative affordability of renting. This divergence in trends has widened the gap between an average Class A rental payment and the typical cost of a median-priced home in the United States. This gap now stands at around $660 per month, reinforcing the attractiveness of rental options as an alternative to homeownership.
Student Loan Resumption and Homeownership Hurdles
The looming resumption of student loan payments presents an additional hurdle for aspiring homeowners. According to Apartment List's 2022 annual survey, saving for a down payment was identified as the most significant obstacle to homeownership by over half of millennial renters. Additionally, around 85 percent of millennial renters planning to buy a home had less than $10,000 saved for a down payment. With student loan obligations set to resume in October, this financial challenge is expected to intensify. Nearly 15 million individuals aged 25 to 34 carry student debt, totaling over $500 billion owed.
Shifting Millennial Preferences and Rental Demand
Even before the increases in home prices and debt costs witnessed in the first half of 2023, young adults were already reconsidering their approach to homeownership. Apartment List's 2022 survey revealed that about one-fourth of millennial renter households had no plans to buy a home, a notable increase from the 15 percent reported in 2019. This shift in preference is bolstering demand for Class A rentals. The luxury tier's vacancy rates experienced a smaller increase compared to Class B and C properties during the first half of 2023.
Navigating a Changing Housing Landscape
The housing market of 2023 is characterized by its unique challenges and opportunities. From record-low listings to shifting millennial preferences, these trends are reshaping the dynamics of real estate. As buyers, sellers, and renters, staying informed about these trends is crucial for making informed decisions in a rapidly evolving housing market.