Bonus Content From the August Issue of Crypto is Easy

Doombergers say the US housing market will implode. Their facts:

Mortgage applications fell off a cliff in 2022, continuing a trend that started last year.

In recent months, new and existing home sales dropped and monthly supply hit its highest level since the peak of the 2008 financial crisis. Starts fell, too. Check the FRED charts.

The housing and mortgage industries saw mass layoffs this year.

Black Knight says prices are already falling. I’d wait until we have numbers from the most authoritative source, the Case-Shiller Index, but you have to figure prices will drop in the coming months. We know some pockets of the US have already seen big price cuts (not where I live, yet).

Add rising interest rates and millions of people who will lose their jobs in 2023. The housing market must collapse, right?

Maybe, maybe not.

Despite a rise in supply, overall housing inventory remains low and median days on the market remains in a downtrend.

Housing starts lag population growth and completions are mostly flat since 2018. Low rates on existing loans make it expensive for homeowners to move. Home equity is at an all-time high and growing. Rents continue to soar. Also on the FRED charts.

What if the tight inventory mitigates the impact of rising supply? What if unemployment doesn’t go up as much as the experts expect?

What if higher rents and lower home prices make home-buying more attractive to renters, even at higher mortgage rates?

Government programs let many people buy a house with as little as a 2.5% down payment and offer generous tax benefits for at least 90% of homebuyers. Throw in an extra $10,000 from student loan forgiveness that can go towards a down payment, and maybe the “marginal buyer” decides a mortgage is better than a lease? That would bring new buyers into the market, even at higher rates.

We know the housing market will suffer. 

The question is, how much? How soon? And is it enough to worry about or do anything about? Maybe a confluence of events will delay the housing market’s moment of financial reckoning for a few more years (or forever)?

If the experts don’t have enough data to make a compelling case in either direction, what makes you think you do?

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