Amid Bank Turmoil, The Housing Market Has Just Done Something Extraordinary

Amid Bank Turmoil, The Housing Market Has Just Done Something Extraordinary

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Amid Bank Turmoil, The Housing Market Has Just Done Something Extraordinary

While most Americans rarely worry about their bank, that faith was shaken this week when several (including Silicon Valley, Silvergate, and Signature) went under. Withdrawal runs and stock market chaos ensued, sending ripple effects far and wide.

Yet by some miracle, one facet of the economy that remained astonishingly unruffled was the housing market—which even showed a glimmer of good news.

Namely, mortgage rates fell this week to 6.6% for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, according to Freddie Mac. This marks the first drop after five weeks of pushing upward, cresting last week at 6.73%.

Plus, homebuyers who are bracing for another hefty rate hike to hit next week when the Federal Reserve meets again may instead find some relief. The Fed, after all, might be more interested in the short term in stabilizing an economy rocked by recent bank craterings rather than taming inflation.

That means mortgage rates might actually fall further.

And rates aside, other “housing market indicators were remarkably stable this week,”® Chief Economist Danielle Hale notes in her most recent analysis.

Here’s what the latest statistics mean for both homebuyers and home sellers in our latest column of “How’s the Housing Market This Week?“

Why bank failures can’t shake the housing market

In February, the median list price of homes hovered at $415,000—that’s 7.8% higher than a year earlier. And for the week ending March 11, home prices continued growing, but at a slower pace of just 6.3% compared to this same week last year.

“Growth in the typical asking price of for-sale homes steadied, matching last week’s pace, which was the lowest since June 2020,” says Hale.

Another data point highlighting the housing market’s current rock-solid stability is days on market. In February, listings lingered for 67 days before selling, which is 23 days longer than this same month a year earlier. And for the week ending March 11, days on market rose by just 18 days compared to last year.

“Homes are sitting on the market longer than last year, but the gap isn’t growing,” explains Hale. This suggests that listings may eventually start getting snapped up faster this spring, with Hale saying, “The usual seasonal pick-up in housing market pace is happening.”

The weak link in today’s housing market

While housing optimists have reason to be hopeful, pessimists have reason to worry pointing to the conspicuous lack of fresh home sellers entering today’s market.

New listings fell by 18% for the week ending March 11 compared to a year ago, marking a 36-week streak of declines. As Hale puts it, “The lack of new sellers is still a drag on home sales.”

Yet overall home inventory (of new listings and oldies that have been sitting on the market) continues to rise, up 61% from this same week last year.

“Instead of new sellers driving these increases, longer time on market is pushing the number of homes for sale higher,” notes Hale.

Homeowners on the fence about selling may want to take note that the very best time to sell a house is coming up quick: data shows that the optimal week to list is April 16-22, when homes receive 16.4% more views from buyers, and sell for a whopping $48,000 more on average than they did at the beginning of this year.

All eyes on mortgage rates

Where the market heads as the normally busy spring season kicks in likely hinges on whether or not the Fed hikes rates next week.

“Somewhat lower interest rates, including for mortgages, would normally boost home sales,” says Hale.

However, Hale also points out that even if rates drop, some sellers who may have considered jumping into the spring homebuying season may pull back because an economy in flux may weaken overall consumer confidence.

So, for now, the market remains in its steady holding pattern.

“Mortgage rates are an important determinant of where home prices will go,” says Hale. “And the outlook for mortgage rates has gotten considerably cloudier.”


Author: Margaret Heidenry


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