Lower Rates & Higher Consumer Confidence: Things Are Looking Up For The Housing Market In 2023.

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Consumer optimism ended the year on an upward trajectory. The Conference Board reported This Week in Real Estate that consumer confidence in December rose to its highest level in eight months. According to CoreLogic’s monthly Home Price Index, year-over-year home price growth increased for the 130th straight month in November – that is nearly an 11-year span. December data has not been finalized, but I believe when reported the Home Price Index will reflect 131 consecutive months of growth. Nadia Evangelou, senior economist and director of forecasting with the National Association of Realtors expects less mortgage rate volatility in 2023 with rates settling below 6%. Below are a few newsworthy events from the first week of 2023 that influence our business: 

CoreLogic’s Major US Housing Market Trends of 2022. Year-over-year home price growth increased for the 130th straight month in November, but gains have slowed significantly since the spring. Still, most homeowners were in positive-equity territory throughout the first three quarters of the year, and mortgage delinquencies and foreclosure rates remain near historic lows. According to CoreLogic’s monthly Home Price Index data, U.S. year-over-year home price growth reached 20.1% in April 2022, the highest level recorded in more than two decades. However, appreciation has tapered off every month since, falling to 8.6% in November. The year’s spike in interest rates is the primary factor in moderating home price growth, with Freddie Mac data putting 30-year fixed-rate mortgages at 3.22% in early January compared with a yearly high of 7.08% in mid-November. Despite the slowdown, a shortage of available homes for sale, strong mortgage underwriting standards, and an unemployment rate that has returned to pre-pandemic levels are keeping the housing market relatively healthy, making a major downturn unlikely. CoreLogic’s latest Loan Performance Index shows that, despite 2022’s surge in mortgage rates, almost all borrowers were able to meet their monthly payments this year. On an annual basis, mortgage delinquencies dropped for the 19th consecutive month in October. Foreclosure rates remained near record lows throughout most of 2022, bottoming out at 0.2% in February and remaining at 0.3% through October. Read the full story here.

Economist: Mortgage Rates Will Dip Below 6% Soon. Mortgage rates likely will settle below 6% and experience less volatility this year, predicts Nadia Evangelou, senior economist and director of forecasting at the National Association of REALTORS. But we’re not there yet: The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 6.48% this week, according to Freddie Mac. “Although rates remain more than double a year ago, they will likely stabilize as inflation will continue to slow down in the coming months,” Evangelou says. “While mortgage market activity has significantly shrunk over the last year, inflationary pressures are easing and should lead to lower mortgage rates in 2023.” “Home buyers are waiting for rates to decrease more significantly, and when they do, a strong job market and a large demographic tailwind of millennial renters will provide support to the purchase market,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Moreover, if rates continue to decline, borrowers who purchased in the last year will have opportunities to refinance into lower rates.” Read the full story here.

Consumer Confidence Bounced Back in December. Consumer confidence rose to an eight-month high in December as declining gas prices and easing inflation contributed to more optimistic views of the economy. The Consumer Confidence Index, reported by the Conference Board, increased 6.9 points from 101.4 to 108.3 in December, the highest level since April 2022. The Present Situation Index rose 8.9 points from 138.3 to 147.2, and the Expectation Situation Index climbed 5.7 points from 76.7 to 82.43, the highest since February 2022. Read the full story here. 

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