Next Market Downturn

The next market downturn (infographic from

The current US economy just hit a milestone by becoming the longest stretch of economic growth in our Nation’s modern history.  The expansion is now in the 121st month.  The previous expansion record was 120 months, and occurred between March 1991 and March 2001. Most attribute the dot-com bubble as the precipitating event that ended that period of expansion.  Many have been anticipating the end of the current expansion for several years.  And they will eventually be correct when this period of economic growth inevitably ends in a downturn, recession, or correction. To prepare, experts suggest to start saving for the next market downturn.

Earlier this year, I wrote about housing market mini-cycles are different from a full-blown recession.  Then (and now), housing indicators are mostly positive.  Although the next next market downturn is unlikely to be caused by another housing crisis, it doesn’t mean that the housing market won’t be affected by other economic factors. 

Whatever triggers the next recession will undoubtedly become an economic contagion that will spread across many industries, including housing.  The chain of events are generally characterized as: consumer sentiment drops which causes people to spend less money which causes businesses to slow which results in unemployment.  Home owners who lose their jobs may have difficulty in repaying their mortgages, and are at risk of default or losing their homes. 

Lessons for the next market downturn

Economic and financial lessons are learned with each recession.  The dot-com bubble recession in 2001 made many rethink the policy of raising interest rates when markets are signaling trouble.  Many are still studying the Great Recession, but one of the take-aways is that job creation is key in economic growth and prosperity. 

How will the next market downturn affect housing? The housing market typically responds to a recession through home price reductions.  A NAR Economist’s Outlook from October 23, 2018 (How Do Housing Market Conditions Compare in 2004 and 2018?; suggests that home prices will likely fall but not as sharply as we experienced in 2008.  This is mostly due to home sale inventory and home prices.  The housing market is much different than it was prior to the last recession.  According to the latest NAR press release on existing home sales (, the median existing home sale price during May increased 4.8 percent.  This is the 87th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.  Additionally, home sale inventory remains at historic lows.

Start saving

A recent press release from the JPMorgan Chase Institute indicates that the conventional wisdom about mortgage default may be incorrect (  The institute’s study was published in report “Trading Equity for Liquidity: Bank Data on the Relationship between Liquidity and Mortgage Default.”  A major conclusion is that having three months of housing costs in reserve can save your home in the event of recession and job loss.  This is counter to the conventional wisdom of the post-recession era policies of home buyers having “skin in the game” by making larger down payments.  Having home equity is also not a guarantee of making mortgage payments.  Home equity is relative to the housing market and home prices.  The study concluded that “liquidity is a more useful predictor of mortgage default than home equity, income level, and payment burden—especially for borrowers with limited liquidity at closing.” 

Even though the Great Recession officially ended ten years ago, the memories are still fresh.  There will be eventually a recession or market correction. And the main concern for most home owners is how to prepare.  Unfortunately, we can’t predict the exact timing and severity of a recession.  However, most experts suggest saving and having several months of reserves in case of job loss.

By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2019

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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.


Forget GDP – real estate is still a local phenomenon

real estate

Are you one of those who are ignoring the recent negative GDP report? Or are you chalking it up to the weather or other factors? If you are unaware, the May 29th news release by the U.S. Department of Commerce – Bureau of Economic Analysis ( reported that the Gross Domestic Product for the 1st Quarter 2014 was revised to -1%. Of the number of reasons cited was a negative contribution from residential fixed investment (basically poor home sales).

Although one poor quarter is not a trend, two consecutive quarters of negative GDP could be considered a recession. But this rule of thumb is not always accurate – after all, this is the second time during the current recovery we have had a negative GDP. Many economists are not concerned and expect a rebound, citing the recent employment report; while some are very concerned, citing the low employment participation along with declining personal income and spending.

I hear you saying: “Ok, even though home sales have been lacking, home prices have been increasing,” which is a sign of strength in the housing market. According to an analysis by Ray Valdez (The housing bubble and the GDP: a correlation perspective: Journal of Case Research in Business & Economics; June 2010, Vol. 3, p1), there is a strong relationship between GDP and home prices. Local data for Montgomery County MD during May 2014 not only indicates a year over year decrease in sales volume, but average home sale prices may have decreased bout 1% compared to May 2013. Other indications that the local housing market is cooling this year is the sharp increase of new listings, and a lower absorption rate of listed homes.

The BEA GDP release also cited Gross Domestic Income for the 1st Q as decreasing 2.3% (compared to the 2.6% increase the previous quarter). Putting income in perspective, Rick Newman of Yahoo’s “The Daily Ticker” (The Middle Class is Even Worse Off Than the Numbers Show); “The “average” American worker earns about $44,000 per year and saves around 4% of his income. And the “average” household has a net worth of approximately $710,000, including the value of homes, investments, bank accounts and so on. But many Americans, needless to say, fall well below those benchmarks, which fail to capture widespread financial distress…” Newman points to the growing wealth of the affluent as skewing income data: “The rich have always skewed wealth and income data to some extent, since they pull up averages and make ordinary people seem a bit better off than they really are. But the outsized gains of the super-rich during the past 25 years have become so disproportionate that some measures of prosperity may be losing their relevance.

If you’re concerned about mixed economic reports affecting the housing market and possibly your sale or purchase; you can take heart in the notion that the current environment is different than that of the Great Recession. Some economists expect a rebound, citing relatively low mortgage interest rates and some loosening lending standards as incentivizing home buyers.

Nevertheless, real estate is still a local phenomenon; and just like the differences between regional markets, external influences can create differences among geographical areas as well. If you’re planning to be in the market, consult with your real estate agent about recent neighborhood data and trends to assist you with your pricing strategy.

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By Dan Krell
Copyright © 2014

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.

Is recent housing bubble news cause for alarm

by Dan Krell
© 2013

real estate bubbleIf I said that we could experience another housing bubble, you might be concerned for my mental health.  But a couple of years ago I wrote about an impending housing shortage, which could spark another bubble similar to what occurred during 2004-2005.  The market-conditions similarities between 2004 and today are foreboding, if not intriguing. (Dan Krell © 2013)

There hasn’t been talk of a housing shortage since 2004; but looking at Montgomery County MD as an example, you might begin to see similarities between the housing bubble of 2005-2006 and today’s real estate market.

Monthly peek single family inventory in Montgomery County did not exceed 2,000 total active units in 2004; while the absorption rate was reported by the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors® ( to be about 80% during the winter of 2004.  During the following year, the winter active inventory greatly increased and the absorption rates dropped to about 40%.  The result was a housing market that reached critical mass, and a one year appreciation rate of about 18% for Montgomery County single family homes; which played a key role in the rampant real estate speculation in 2005-2006.

Active housing inventory has been declining since 2010; the greatest decrease occurring during 2012.  According to the monthly home sale statistics posted on the GCAAR website (, there were 1813 active single family inventory units for sale in Montgomery County during January 2012.  And although active single family units peaked for the year during the spring of 2012, active inventory dwindled to a low of 1198 active units for sale during January 2013 – a year over year decrease of about 40%. Additionally, the absorption rate of listed homes for sale is rapidly approaching 60%

Add the home price facet – on March 5th, CoreLogic ( reported that national home prices increased 9.7% during January 2013, as compared to January 2012.  This was reported to be the greatest year of year home price increase since 2006.

An additional and telling similarity between the pre-bubble years and present is the number of real estate investors jumping in to cash in on distressed properties.  Of course at the height of the real estate bubble of 2004-2006, real estate investing was transformed from the traditional “rehab and flip” to no rehab and flipping properties as quickly as possible.   A great number of homes sold today are to investors, either to rehab or to rent.

In 2004, like today, we were about three years post recession; albeit the recession of 2001 was not as protracted as the “Great Recession.”  At that time, like today, the Federal Reserve funds rate was historically low.

Although an “easy money” monetary policy is another similarity between the periods, a major difference is the availability of mortgage money.  Getting a mortgage is much more difficult today than it was in 2004-2005.  Buying a home without a down payment as well as qualifying for a mortgage without documenting income could have been a factor of the wide spread real estate speculation of 2005-2006.  Today, as a result of the bursting of the 2005-2006 housing bubble, underwriting qualifications are more demanding as are down payment requirements.

The housing bubble phenomenon is not a new or a recent experience; housing bubbles have occurred in the past and most likely will occur in the future.  When they occur, housing bubbles seem to coincide with a recessionary cycle.  And just like recessions, housing bubbles vary in duration and severity.  Sure, another housing bubble may be looming; but the next bubble may be confined to specific regions of the country, and possibly some local neighborhoods.

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of March 4, 2013. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.

Bold predictions for real estate and housing

by Dan Krell
© 2012

fortuneWe survived the “Mayan Apocalypse” of 2012, so what’s in store for the housing market and the real estate industry in 2013?

The “Long Slog:” Although analysts disagree about the date of the housing market bottom, most agree that the national housing market bottomed out sometime time in 2009-2010.  Many looked forward toward 2012 to be a phenomenal year for housing and a return to normalcy.  Certainly 2012 housing figures were better than those of 2011, but in many areas of the country (including locally), the market fell short of outperforming 2010.

Unlike the occasional Pollyanna story about the local housing market, analysts expect “the long slog” or “the long grind” that will take years (emphasis on the plural) to get back to normalcy.  No matter how you articulate it, and barring future economic setbacks, experts describe the climb out from the bottom as a long, slow trudge that will have high and low points along the journey.

Home sale prices: When real estate fell into a seemingly endless downward spiral in 2008, some sectors continued to do well.  Homes priced at and above one million dollars continued to outperform other sectors of the housing market through 2011.  The “upper bracket” sector began to show weaknesses in the early part of 2012; as luxury home sales slowed, mid-range home sales picked up momentum.  However, activity flipped toward the end of 2012; as upper bracket activity increased significantly, while activity in other price sectors decreased.  Until fiscal cliff, debt ceiling, and other government budget debates are resolved; local upper bracket home sales will be inconsistent during 2013.  This market bifurcation can skew local monthly average home sales figures, as well as possibly distorting monthly marketplace snapshots.

Hyper-local real estate: Regional and local variances in home sale prices will require home buyers and sellers to continue to focus on hyper-local data to determine selling prices.  One of the best ways for you to clarify neighborhood sales trends is to consult a local real estate agent for recent neighborhood comparables.

Mortgages & Appraisals:  Getting a mortgage may become be increasing difficult in 2013.  Recent reports of FHA losses and a possible bailout could force new guideline changes to help the venerable mortgage program.  Because of increased foreclosures and delinquencies, there is talk about FHA becoming increasingly credit score reliant, and increasing mortgage insurance premiums for riskier borrowers.

Appraisals will continue to be a lightening rod of criticism and a source frustration.  Since its inception, the Home Valuation Code of Conduct was confusing to everyone, and eventually became a scapegoat for many seemingly inconsistent valuations.  However, a low sales volume due to lack of resale inventory will also create issues with appraisals.

Pent-up demand: No need to worry about interest rates – yet.  Keeping mortgage interest rates low, the Federal Reserve has commented on continued purchases of mortgage backed securities as part of a larger stimulus program.  However, continued low mortgage interest rates may not be the reason for home buyer activity as much as pent up demand.  However, home buyers waiting on the sidelines to purchase a home have been met with low resale inventories during 2012.  For many home owners, the general lack of home equity remains the major reason to not sell a home; and it’s also a reason for low resale inventories to continue through 2013.  Continued low inventory environment will create a competitive environment for home buyers.

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of January 1, 2013. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.

Has the housing market improved in the last four years

Dan Krell, Realtor®
© 2012

HousingIn retrospect, the beginning of the global recession in late 2007 was the end of the housing boom and may have spawned the foreclosures crisis and the financial crisis of 2008.  And although this period of time will undoubtedly become the basis of many future dissertations examining the “Great Recession;” you might ask “how much has the state of housing improved since 2008?”

If you recall, the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA) was anticipated to have wide reaching changes in the mortgage and housing industries as well as supposed to have assisted struggling home owners.  This multifaceted piece of legislation consolidated many individual bills addressing issues that were thought to either be the cause or the result of the financial crisis.  Besides raising mortgage loan limits to increase home buyer activity, the historic legislation was the beginning of changes meant to “fix” Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as “modernizing” FHA to make the mortgage process easier for home buyers and refinancing easier for struggling home owners. Additionally, this law was the origination of the Hope for Homeowners program to assist home owners facing foreclosure (

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), originated from HERA, has been the “conservator” of the then sinking Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Since the FHFA took control, there has been conjecture as to what would become of the mortgage giants: some talked about closing their doors, while some talked about changing their role in the mortgage industry. Since FHFA became the oversight agency, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has strengthened their role in maintaining liquidity in the housing market by helping struggling home owners with their mortgages as well as freeing up lender capital by the continued purchases of loans (

The inception of Hope for Homeowners was the beginning of a string of government programs designed to assist home owners facing foreclosure, or assist underwater home owners refinance their mortgage.  Although there have been individual success stories, there has been criticism that these programs did not assist the expected numbers of home owners.  A January 24th CNNMoney article by Tami Luhby ( reported that “…the HAMP program, which was designed to lower troubled borrowers’ mortgage rates to no more than 31% of their monthly income, ran into problems almost immediately. Many lenders lost documents, and many borrowers didn’t qualify. Three years later, it has helped a scant 910,000 homeowners — a far cry from the promised 4 million…” and “HARP, which was intended to reach 5 million borrowers, has yielded about the same results. Through October, when it was revamped and expanded, the program had assisted 962,000…” (

HousingDespite the recent slowdown in foreclosure activity, there is disagreement about the projected number of foreclosures going into 2013.  A March 29th Corelogic news release (,000-completed-foreclosures-nationally-in-february.aspx) reported that there have been about 3.4 million completed foreclosures since 2008 (  And although an August 9th RealtyTrac® ( report indicated a 3% decrease from June to July and a 10% decrease from the previous year in foreclosure filings; July’s 6% year over year increase in foreclosure starts (initial foreclosure filings) was the third straight month of increases in foreclosure starts.

So, if you’re wondering if housing is better off today than it was four years ago, the answer may be a resounding “maybe;” It all depends on your situation.

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of September 3 , 2012. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.