The housing market has been making big news lately, and it seems everyone has something to say about home prices, inventory and mortgage rates. To make sense of all the information floating around, editors of the LA Times met with Fannie Mae chief economist Douglas Duncan to get the scoop on what to believe about the current state of the market, and what to ignore. Here's a summary of Duncan's comments:
- There is no bubble, this is not a boom. Duncan does not view the housing market as robust, rather that rising home prices are simply bouncing back from very low bottoms. New construction is also moving at a slow but steady pace, however it is not expected to resume the pace it held at the height of the market.
- Don't fear the mortgage rates. Fannie Mae reports that there is little correlation between the increase in mortgage rates and home prices and Duncan predicts that while sales may decline, home prices will continue to increase. Duncan also doesn't see a second surge in rates in the future, but rather a gradual increase.
- There is no longer shame in renting. Ownership is still part of the dream, but renting has become a larger part of the norm. Investors have purchased single-family homes since the boom and families who were drastically burdened by the recession are renting to "recreate" the home ownership experience. And "downgrading" to renting no longer means that your home owning days are over, Duncan says many who lost their homes will own again.
- It's true, it is a good time to buy. Although home prices are up from their rock bottoms, they are still considerably low as are mortgage rates despite to recent spike. However Duncan warns, "You should only buy a house if you can afford it."
- Investors: a possible risk. Investors have played a crucial role in the market recovery. However it is possible that as new construction begins to take off, investors could sell their holdings, which could cause decline. Duncan urges investors to watch construction which acts as competition.
Riskin Associates has seen a renewed energy in the high-end market in the recent weeks. Many high-end listings in Montecito are receiving back to back showing requests and multiple offers, proving that the competition is stiff across all branches of the market.