Timing, as they say, is “everything.” Predicting the housing market is tricky. Even the best economists can get it wrong. Aptly, however, there is that group of naysayers who always believe the homes are overpriced and we are in a housing market bubble status. And you know what they say about a broken clock, it’s correct twice a day.
There’s no way around it, housing market trends are cyclical. Eventually, the housing market will crash and home prices will recede. But, like the phoenix, will again be reborn to go through it’s life cycle. According to Harvard’s Teo Nicolais (extension.harvard.edu/faculty-directory/teo-nicolais), there are four phases to the housing cycle. The cycles were described in 1876 by economist Henry George and modernized by Glenn R. Mueller to include recovery, expansion, hypersupply, and recession. Nicolais predicts that, aside from the occasional slowdown, there won’t be an honest to goodness housing crash until 2024.
You may be saying, “But Dan, the market feels just like the housing market bubble before the last crash.” And in some respect, you may be correct. At that time, home sale inventory was low, and home prices seemed on a never-ending climb. However, even though we have similar conditions, the current housing market is in a different cycle than where we were thirteen years ago.
Back in 2005 I reported that the active inventory of Montgomery County single family homes for sale for June 2005 increased to 2,004 units. Homes were selling at rapid rate, as the number of contracts increase 2.5 percent during June 2005 compared to 2004. And there was almost a 13 percent price appreciation from the previous year. The 2005 housing market was clearly in a rapid expansion phase. Oversupply began in late 2006 when Montgomery County single family home inventory hovered around 4,000 units for the better part of the summer and fall. And of course, the rest is history.
There is some disagreement about the current phase of the housing market. Some say the market is in the beginning of an expansion cycle, while others (like me) believe we are still in the recovery cycle. Yes, Inventory is tight. But as I reported recently, not all homes are selling. Which is contrary to the expansion of 2005, when it seemed as if all homes sold quickly regardless of condition. Home prices are increasing, but at a more reasonable rate than they did thirteen years ago. Although it may feel that houses sell in less than a week, the average days on market for homes that sell is currently 33 days in Montgomery County (according to MLS stats), and 78 days nationwide according to Zillow.
Another factor that is playing into current housing market conditions is mortgage interest rates. Unlike the housing market bubble of thirteen years ago, interest rates are increasing and is anticipated to help mitigate the home price spikes.
Sure, there are regional markets, such as Seattle and Denver, that lead the country in home price gains (typically double digits). But most everywhere else, real estate prices are improving gradually. Moreover, regional markets each have their own hot neighborhoods that grab the headlines too. Hot neighborhoods tend to be where investors, flippers and first-time home buyers converge.
Is there a housing market bubble? Are we headed to a market crash like we experienced in 2007? No, at least not in the short term. More likely, the market may be affected in the near future by a mild (and overdue) economic slowdown. Unfettered, the housing market will continue its herky-jerky pace.
Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.