Why 6-7% interest rates won’t crash our market

If you’re like me, all you are reading in the news is how the skyrocketing interest rates are affecting the real estate market. Headlines say stuff like how the rate has nearly doubled, how sales have decreased, some even are saying the market is going to crash.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

Youtubers and journalists need something exciting to get your attention. If you saw a headline or video that pretty much said everything is going to be okay, would you be interested?

I think part of this drama is also that you have people whose data is correct but how they use it is wrong, or their data doesn’t give much of a historic comparison.

Affordability seems to be the main topic today. These people are talking about how much more a mortgage payment would be today compared to the all time low we saw last year……DUH! Short term thinking I say.

Here is why I don’t think a 6 or even 7% interest rate is going to do much more than curb unsustainable appreciation and slow down people moving just because they feel like moving. To begin with, people will always have changing needs for housing. Families will grow, there will be divorces, marriages, job transfers, job losses and all the other lifestlye/life cycle changes.

But here are the main reasons I am not worried: The Debt-to-Income ratio and longer term history.

Let me take you back to the early 2000s. The real estate market was crazy. Houses were selling fast in multiple offers. Prices were going up like crazy. Know what the interest rate was back then? Barely under 6%. And back in the late 90s when the market was also booming, it was about 7.5%.

A house in the Bluegrass that was worth about $250k back in 2004ish would be worth about $425k today. The principal and interest portion of your loan at 6% on a conventional loan with 5% down would have been $1423 back then and $2420 today. Yeah, that sounds like a lot more. It is, but let’s keep going here.

So the real difference between then and now with property taxes and insurance included would be about $1200 a month. To qualify for the mortgage on that $250k house back then would require an annual income of about $73k. Today that house would be worth about $425k and would need about $126k in income. The median household income has gone up 80% over that time according to the census. The value of that same house has not gone up quite as much.

So there you have it. I think if the market has historically been very good in the past during times when rates were higher than they are today, and since household income has pretty much grown congruent to home values in the Bluegrass, we will weather this period very well.

Then why is the market so slow right now? Simple. People are in shock and upset that rates went up so fast. Once they realize they can’t go back in time, they will move forward with their plans. I predict that (short of a major economic crisis that pulls down EVERYTHING) buyers will be out in force next spring. Prices will remain stable. It will be a good market. It won’t be a market that you’ll read headlines about because remember, you only see real estate in the headlines when things are exceptionally good or exceptionally bad.

Good time to buy rental property?

I get asked this quite a bit. Some people want a long term rental and some are interested in airbnb-ing a property.

Here is the one single thing to know when considering any type of rental: There is no good or bad time. The numbers work or they don’t. If the numbers don’t work it, they don’t work even if it is a Buyer’s Market. If the numbers work, then you buy regardless of what the market is like.

What do I mean by this? Long story short, the house has to support itself without you having to throw in your own money every month. That is called cash flow. Positive cash flow means the house supports itself. It covers your mortgage, taxes, property insurance, maintenance and has at least a little left over for a profit. Negative cash flow is when the expenses exceed the rent.

Now, what about Long Term Rental verses Short Term Rental? I personally think Short Term Rentals are risky right now. I know, I know…..Many of you have made good money with your Airbnbs the past couple of years. I do not dispute that. My concern is that this trendy investment option will get oversaturated AND slow down drastically during tougher economic times. It is much more volatile than long term rentals. If you want a shot at huge returns and can stomach volatility, it’s easier to invest in stocks. So what I tell people when they ask me if they should get an Airbnb is to do it only IF they want to invest in real estate in general. If you do, then you can switch between short and long term rental as demand swings. Move your furniture out and you’ve got a long term rental. Best of both worlds for you.

How the market is changing

This is hard to believe, but I am busier with buyers than I have been all year. Buyers are out there shopping. Many listings I have shown have another showing taking place as I arrive or one coming in as soon as I am locking the door on my way out. There is a lot of activity. I think buyers are excited to have choices now. They seem excited to get to see so many houses. I showed 6 houses yesterday to one buyer. Six months ago I would shown a buyer one house. If they didn’t buy it, we would wait patiently until the next one came on the market.

Buyers seem to be pushing back a little on price. Only a few I have shown have gotten multiple offers. Also, out of maybe 14 or so houses I have shown in the past 3 days to 3 different buyers, only two of them have sold before I could show them to my clients. Six months ago, that number would have been much higher.

It’s going to be a weird rest of the year I think. It has changed so fast. We will have sellers who aren’t living in reality and think they get to call the shots. There will be realtors who also are stuck in the old market and not realize they need to hone their negotiating skills. There will be buyer’s who think it’s a Black Friday sale and want to offer 80% of the list price. This is when having a good realtor who knows what is going on in real time really helps!

Real estate market-No monster under the bed

Quit reading everything about the housing market……well, maybe except for this post.

There is soooo much doom and gloom in the news out there regarding the market. It’s all written to grab your attention. It’s mostly accurate data just misinterpreted by people who are journalists and not actually in real estate. If you want to know how not to end a sentence in a prepositional phrase, ask a writer. You want to know about the real estate market, ask a realtor.

It drives me crazy how much the news impacts people’s decisions. There are so many people out there right now afraid to buy a house or afraid they should sell their house before the market crashes. I totally get that there is an investment side to homeownership. It is typically somebody’s largest asset and those who own their homes tend to have a higher net worth than those who rent.

But, there is another side and that is the fact that you have to pay to live somewhere. If you rent, somebody owns where you live. If you sell to beat any crash, you will still have to pay to live somewhere.

Since you’ve gotta pay to live somewhere and you’ve gotta have somewhere to live, I have always thought that the best time to buy a house is as soon as you can afford it and your life is stable enough where you expect to live there for at least several years. Possible fluctuating values and interest rates don’t matter as much when viewed against throwing money away in rent. If prices were to dip a little, the money you lose will likely be less than all the rent you would have paid over the same timeline. If rates go down, you can refinance your mortgage. If you currently own and home and are happy living there and it serves it purpose well, then stay put until it doesn’t.

The real estate market is just like any other market. It moves like the waves on a beach. It is always going back and forth. Sometimes the tide comes in, sometimes it goes out. It never stays the same for long and nobody should expect that. You can’t control the timing of the market but you CAN control your time in the market.

What’s the rest of 2022 going to be like?

Not fun, that’s for sure.

After working in bad, good and in between markets over the past 17 years, we are entering a period where buyers and sellers are not going to be happy. Buyers won’t like that they missed out on the super low interest rates. Sellers won’t like that they missed out on the absolute hottest real estate market in all of history.

Here are some predictions:

  1. Pricing a house will become difficult. Typically you look back over the past 6 months of sales of similar houses to determine value. Well, we can’t really justify using comparable sales from when the market was so hot that about any house went for way over the list price and had 5-15 offers.
  2. Price reductions. Let me tell you something. A price reduction does not mean the market is bad. It just means the price wasn’t right from the get go. Sellers will be in denial and will want to keep pricing their houses as if buyer’s can still get a 3% interest rate. Trust me, having been in this business during the absolute work market ever, I can attest to the fact that when priced right, any house will sell quickly in any market.
  3. Home inspectors will have to start waking up and working again after practically being unemployed for the past two years.
  4. Realtors will have a whole lot more free time since the number of sales are slowing. This does not mean the market is bad. What determines a good or bad market is not the number of transactions but the balance between sellers in the market and buyers in the market. Just about everybody other than clickbait Youtubers agree that the market is cooling into a slight seller’s market. If there are 2 sellers out there and 2 buyers out there, that is a good, balanced market. Realtors are the only people that care about the number of transactions out there. Why? Because we get paid for transactions.

Want to know what I expect for 2023?

Assuming rates don’t go crazy and the general economy doesn’t collapse, I think when buyer’s emerge next spring they will have acclimated to inflation, acclimated to paying around 6% interest and they will resume buying houses.