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How the Housing Market Will Evolve in 2023 | Omaha NE Homeowner’s Guide
A subdued year for housing
After two years of runaway home prices, the Federal Reserve stepped in to reverse engineer rampant inflation, and it has been utilizing the housing market as one of the main economic engines to achieve its objective. They increased the Federal Funds Rate from nearly 0% at the start of 2022 to 4.5% in December 2022, its highest level since 2007 and its fastest rise in more than 40 years.
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Long-term mortgage rates responded by rising from 3.25% in early 2022 to over 7.25% in October 2022, more than doubling. They eased below 6.5% recently as core inflation numbers improved for the third consecutive month. The Consumer Price Index core inflation, less the volatility of food and energy, is currently at 5.7%, after peaking at 6.7% in September 2022. The Fed’s core inflation goal is 2%, so they still have a long way to go. The overall U.S. economy has remained resilient, backed by a very strong labor market, sky-high job openings, and low unemployment.
Mortgage interest rates
The unrelenting Fed policies to combat inflation will eventually instigate an economic recession sometime in 2023. The coming recession is more likely to have less of an impact on employment, more of a “soft-cession” than a typical recession. As a result, the local housing market is going to be subdued in 2023, especially in the first half of the year.
Just as 2022 was all about rising mortgage rates and rising inflation, 2023 is going to be all about falling mortgage rates and falling inflation. After blowing past the 2% core inflation target in April 2021, it continuously rose for 18 months until peaking in September 2022. It did not hit 6.7% overnight.
It was more like a dimmer switch that was slowly increasing. Similarly, core inflation will not drop to 2% instantly, that same dimmer switch will apply in the future. It will take all of this year and into 2024 for it to come back down to the Fed’s target. As inflation eases, so will long term mortgage rates. Slowly, but surely, rates will drop below 6% and will continue their slow trajectory downward, dropping below 5.5% most likely by mid-year.
What does that mean for housing? Until mortgage rates drop below 5.5%, we can expect low housing supply, which favors sellers. We can also expect low housing demand, which favors buyers. Higher mortgage rates have severely impacted demand. The insane, fast-paced housing market of the COVID-19 pandemic years has vanished.
Demand for housing is similar to Great Recession levels, but this time it is matched up against an extremely limited supply. As mortgage rates drop, expect demand to improve, especially in the second half of 2023. Until then, home values will slowly decline, most assuredly in high-cost areas and in areas of the country that benefited the most from rampant appreciation during the pandemic.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns of 2020, inventory has dropped to record-low levels both in 2021 and 2022. The inventory hit catastrophic, low levels due to a limited number of homes coming on the market coupled with insatiable demand driven by record-low rates.
The inventory changed last year as rates finally rose higher, eating into demand. Homes no longer sold instantly, they lingered on the market and over time the inventory grew. Yet, even with higher rates, the inventory stopped growing and it has fallen short of reaching pre-pandemic levels.
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