Housing market has looked ‘bubblicious’: Economist

US existing home sales squeaked past November forecasts, rising 0.8% for the month and bringing the seasonally adjusted annual rate to 3.82 million units sold. As much as the housing market needs fresh, first-time buyers to participate, inflated prices and elevated mortgage rates could still be squeezing prospective buyers from making a purchase.

National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun and Middleburg Communities Chief Economist Brad Case join Yahoo Finance Live to weigh in on home price trends to expect in 2024 and beyond.

Yun notes that mortgage rates have come down, which will bring more buyers but insists home sales performance can’t be gauged until well into 2024 because home buying “is not a snap decision.” Case sees the high mortgage interest rates and the overall “bubblicious” nature of the market as factors that are holding people back from buying homes at the moment, and into 2024.

For more expert insight and the latest market action, click here to watch this full episode of Yahoo Finance Live.

Video Transcript

BROOKE DIPALMA: Lawrence, we’ll kick things off with you. I guess, the big takeaway here is what exactly does rates need to come down to in order for more homes to go on the market come 2024?

LAWRENCE YUN: Oh, well, the rates have come down. It was hitting 8% late October, now, a little under 7%. So that will certainly bring more buyers now for the closing activity because home buying process is not a snap decision where people just switch from one day to the next. It takes time, several months from the mindset change, from the sideline to considering mortgage application to mortgage approval, home search, contract approval.

So it takes several months. So I think we will begin to see better home sales performance in a couple of months. But more low mortgage rate clearly has changed some of the dynamics already.

BRAD SMITH: Yeah. And, you know, when we think about ultimately, Brad, where the new home buyers are also going to be playing a role in this, according to this most recent reading, first time home buyers were responsible for 31% of sales in November up from 28%. And this also comes with a larger reading that we’ve been looking through on the inflationary picture that shows shelter costs are still the leading driver as of right now.

And so all that considered, where will we eventually be seeing some of that, kind of, pullback? And I mean, a lot of this, because it’s baked in, is going to be, kind of, longer run and a stickier side of inflation. So what is the expectation from the consumer side and the confidence that you’d be tracking there?

BRAD CASE: Yeah, I think the prices– the consumer inflation in house prices is likely to continue coming down for quite some time actually. I think the thing that really is likely to hold back home buyers going forward is the concern that house prices may start to come down.

It’s nice to see the existing home sales up and it’s nice to see mortgage interest rates down. That’s going to be helpful to people. But what’s really a problem is not just how high house prices are right now, but also the possibility that they may come down over the next couple of years.

BROOKE DIPALMA: And, you know, when you think about 2024 and you think about the medium home price, we did see at roughly $387,000. I guess, Lawrence, a question for you, how high will housing medium home prices go in 2024? Do you think that we hit a peak already and we’ll continue to see them come down?

BRAD CASE: Well, I think, you know, the market–

BROOKE DIPALMA: Sorry.

BRAD CASE: –the house, buying market has been stuck because people don’t want to take on a higher mortgage interest rate and also because they don’t want to recognize that the last year or so has really been, sort of, bubblicious in the housing market. And if they transact, they may be in a position of looking at a lower price than they would have gotten if they had done it earlier this year. It’s hard to know, sort of, which direction we’re going to go. It’s just a possibility of the downturn in house prices that, I think, is holding a bunch of people back.



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