Panicked Sellers who missed the bull market, rushed to put their homes on the market, tried to stay ahead of rate hikes, all of which were futile as Buyers were already sidelined. Buyers that were in the market, were often embarrassed by their offers and didn’t even want to write them as they were wishful lowball offers. The beginning of July was much the same.
However, in the last week of July, activity started to pick up in the marketplace albeit still slowly. Contrary to the news, interest rates have in fact dipped under 5% and hovering in the low 4% range. Due to low demand, banks have pivoted to provide more attractive rates and more relevant loan programs for Buyers. Homes have started get into contract, but with an over 10% adjustment and more in some areas. For most homes on the market, after one or two price adjustments, Buyers who sent offers that were serviceable to a Seller, were able to get into contract with generous terms and pricing. In the last 3 weeks we have seen more Buyers engaging and looking around. Most Buyers are still in deal hunting mode, but more are coming off the sidelines. It is too soon to say there is any trend or recovery, just an observation at this juncture.
Inflation peaked at 9.1% in July, but recently retreated to 8.5%, which is hopefully a sign of more stabilization to come. Unfortunately, the Federal Reserve will continue to increase interest rates until this is under control which will impact mortgage rates.
Source – US Bureau of Labor Statistics
Interest rates previously increased from 2.875% in January to over 5% in May on a 30-year fixed jumbo loan. The good news is that jumbo mortgage rates are currently in the low 4% range at the moment. Since demand disappeared for mortgages, banks are pivoting to get Buyers interested again. As we don’t expect inflation to run rampant in the long run, these rate hikes will likely be temporary. Different loan programs are being explored such as Adjustable-Rate Mortgages (ARM), longer loan vesting periods and even interest only loans. If we believe that mortgage rate increases are temporary, then all that matters to a Buyer is being able to handle their payments in the short run, then refinance to a better program when inflation is under control.
Here are the nationwide 30-year fixed mortgage rates and also our local conventional and jumbo rates.
30 Year Fixed Mortgage Average Rate
Source - St Louis Federal Reserve
Snapshot of Wells Fargo Home Mortgage Rates
The Technology heavy NASDAQ index has had solid gains towards the end of July and beginning of August, making a 4% recovery from the beginning of the year. We are currently down 20% from the peak of this year, verses 24% down back in May. That is good news for the down payment of our Silicon Valley home buyers but we still have a ways to go to have a substantial change in down payment for Silicon Valley homebuyers.
Source – Yahoo! Finance
Unemployment continues to trend downward now to 4.2% from the COVID peak of 16%. In fact, we are having a hiring shortage in the valley. Finding a job is certainly not the issue.
Source – US Bureau of Labor Statistics
2022 Projections and Beyond
Three weeks is too soon to say that we are in anything resembling a recovery. The market is frozen in many markets as Buyers are in the wait and see mode and slowly poking their heads out. The biggest question is that if the Federal Reserve continues to raise rates, will banks be able to keep the rate at an attractive enough level to have Buyers engaged in buying homes. The other two variables are the state of the inflation rate as well as the health of the NASDAQ.
For Buyers, we advise that you get ahead of the market before things swing out of your favor. If this current trend holds, then the market could turn once again. Psychologically, humans seem to be programmed to move with the herd. When everyone is bidding hundreds of thousands over list price with no contingencies, Buyers feel that it is a great time to buy. When a Buyer could offer hundreds of thousand under list price with contingencies intact, they feel that it is a bad time to buy because no one else is buying and they are afraid to overpay in the moment. Savvy investors do not buy when everyone else is buying, they buy when no one else will. This is how wealth is created and opportunities capitalized upon, but only if we can overcome our fear of the unknown and the sense of security by following the herd.
For Sellers, it is important to understand that this market is unpredictable but trending downward. Even with a 10%+ adjustment off peak prices in April and May, because the market has been frozen, Sellers have been dropping their prices to entice Buyers to transact. If you must sell now, be aware that we might be selling lower than we expected. We are looking for a reasonable Buyer who can get close to our first, second or even third list prices. If the prices we are getting do not match what we are looking for, then we need to decide if we need to proceed with other plans until this market gets more in our favor.
We don’t have a crystal ball and certainly the market continues to be fluid. From the current indicators, the market could be thawing a bit, but still frozen at the moment.
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