Home buyers are beginning to believe we are heading into a housing bubble. It is easy to acknowledge this premonition, as year-after-year home price appreciation has continued to remain in the double digits.
However, we are here to put your mind at ease as this market is very different than it was during the housing crash 15 years ago. Follow along as we explain four fundamental reasons why today's market is nothing like the market was back then.
To understand this, one must understand the affordability formula. The affordability formula consists of three parts: the price of the home, wages earned by the purchaser, and the mortgage rate available at the time of purchase. Conventional lending standards suggest a purchaser should spend no more than 28% of their gross income on their mortgage payment.
Fifteen years ago, prices were high, wages were low, and mortgage rates were over 6%. While today's home prices are high, wages have increased significantly, and despite the latest spike, mortgage rates are still well below 6%. This means that todays average buyer spends less of their monthly income toward their mortgage payment than buyers did back then.
In the latest Affordability Report by ATTOM Data, Chief Product Officer Todd Teta speaks to this stating, "The average wage earner can still afford the typical home across the U.S., but the financial comfort zone continues shrinking as home prices keep soaring and mortgage rates tick upward."
Undeniably, affordability is not as strong as it was last year, but it is significantly better than it was during the boom. The graph below demonstrates that difference:
How did so many homes sell during the housing boom with such prohibitive costs?
Getting approved for a mortgage loan was significantly more attainable during the housing bubble than it is today. According to credit.org, a credit score between 550-619 is considered poor. They define those with a score below 620, by stating that, "Credit agencies consider consumers with credit delinquencies, account rejections, and little credit history as subprime borrowers due to their high credit risk."
While buyers can still qualify for a mortgage with a credit score within that range they are considered riskier borrowers. If you are in that range, read our How Long Does it Take to Save for a Down Payment article here. Below is a graph illustrating the mortgage volume issued to buyers with a credit score less than 620 during the housing boom, in compression to the following 14 years.
Mortgage standards are significantly different than they were last time. Buyers that obtained mortgages during the past decade are better qualified for the loans. Lets look at what that means moving forward.
The most obvious difference is the number of homeowners that were facing foreclosure after the housing bubble burst. The Federal Reserve issues a report showing the number of consumers with a new foreclosure notice. Here are the numbers during the crash compared to today:
Undoubtedly the 2020 and 2021 numbers are impacted by the forbearance program, which was created to help homeowners facing uncertainty during the pandemic. Keep in mind, there are less than 800,000 homeowners remaining in the program today, and the majority of those will be able to work out a repayment plan with their banks.
Rick Sharga, Executive Vice President of RealtyTrac, explains, "The fact that foreclosure starts declined despite hundreds of thousands of borrowers exiting the CARES Act mortgage forbearance program over the last few months is very encouraging. It suggests that the ‘forbearance equals foreclosure' narrative was incorrect."
Why are there significantly less foreclosures seen today? Well, homeowners today are equity rich. They are not tapped out.
During the build-up to the housing bubble, some homeowners were using their homes as personal ATM machines. We saw a plethora of people withdrawing their equity the moment it was built up. When home values began to fall, many homeowners found themselves in a negative equity situation where the amount they owed on their mortgage had surpassed the value of their home. Many were faced with the decision of walking away from their homes. When that happened it led to a rash of distressed property listings (foreclosures and short sales), which sold at huge discounts, thus lowering the value of comparable homes in the area.
Homeowners, have since learned their lessons. Prices have risen nicely over the last few years, leading to over 40% of homes in the country having more than 50% equity. But owners have not been tapping into it like they had previously, as indicated by the fact that national tappable equity has increased to a record $9.9 trillion. With the average home equity now standing at $300,000. What happened last time will not happen today.
As the latest Homeowner Equity Insights report from CoreLogic explains, "Not only have equity gains helped homeowners more seamlessly transition out of forbearance and avoid a distressed sale, but they've also enabled many to continue building their wealth."
There will be nowhere near the same number of foreclosures as we seen during the crash. What does that mean for the housing market today?
The supply of inventory needed to sustain a normal real estate market is approximately six months. Anything more than that is an overabundance and will causes prices to depreciate. Anything less than that is a shortage and will lead to continued price appreciation. The following graph demonstrates, the surplus of homes for sale between 2007 to 2010 (many of which were short sales and foreclosures). That caused prices to tumble. Today, there is a shortage of inventory, which is creating the increasing home values we are witnessing today.
Inventory is drastically different in comparison to last time. Prices are rising because there is a healthy demand for homeownership while at the same time there is a shortage of homes for sale.
if you are worried that we are making the same mistakes that led to the housing crash, the graphs above show data and insights to help alleviate your concerns. If you are considering buying or selling and would like to dive deeper into this subject we would be happy to schedule a consult with you. Call us today at 360.675.5953.