2019 Forecasting and Millennial Homeownership
National Association of Realtors chief economist Lawrence Yun presented his 2019 forecast This Week in Real Estate at NAR’s annual conference in Boston. Mr. Yun estimates there will be 5.345 million home sales in 2018, down 3% from last year, and will increase to 5.4 million sales in 2019, a 1% increase. Additionally, Mr. Yun expects median home prices to increase 3.1% in 2019 and 2.6% growth in 2020. Below are a few highlights from the final week of October that influence our business:
2019 Forecast: Existing Home Sales to Stabilize and Price Growth to Continue
Consumers should expect home sales to flatten and home prices to continue to increase, though at a slower pace, according to a residential housing and economic forecast session at NAR’s 2018 Realtors Conference & Expo. “2017 was the best year for home sales in ten years, and 2018 is only down 1.5 percent year to date. Statistically, it is a mild twinge in the data and a very mild adjustment compared to the long-term growth we’ve been experiencing over the past few years. The current market conditions are fundamentally different than what we were experiencing before the recession 10 years ago,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. “Most states are reporting stable or strong market conditions, housing starts are under-producing instead of over-producing and we are seeing historically low foreclosure levels, indicating that people are living within their means and not purchasing homes they cannot afford. This is a stronger, more stable market compared to the loosely regulated market leading up to the bust.” With a few months of data remaining in 2018, Yun estimates that existing-home sales will finish at a pace of 5.345 million—a decrease from 2017 (5.51 million). In 2019, sales are forecasted to increase to 5.4 million, a 1 percent increase. The national median existing-home price is expected to rise to around $266,800 in 2019 (up 3.1 percent from 2018 this year and $274,000 in 2020. “Home price appreciation will slow down – the days of easy price gains are coming to an end – but prices will continue to rise.”
Construction Spending Holds Ground
The U.S. Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce announced that construction spending during September 2018 was estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.330 trillion, about the same as the revised August estimate of $1.329 trillion. Notably, September’s spending is 7.2% above the September 2017 estimate of $1.24 trillion. Of that, residential construction spending was at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $556.4 billion in September, 0.6% above the revised August estimate of $553 billion. NAHB Chairman Randy Noel said despite rising affordability concerns, builders continue to report firm demand for housing, especially as Millennials and other newcomers enter the market. “The recent decline in lumber prices from record-high levels earlier this summer is also welcome relief, although builders still need to manage construction costs to keep homes competitively priced,” Noel stated.
Millennial Homeownership Rate Rises to 37%
According to the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS), the U.S. homeownership rate was 64.4% in the third quarter of 2018, which is not statistically different from its last quarter reading. The national homeownership rate demonstrated stability during a quarter in which housing markets softened due to declining affordability conditions. This follows the rate dropping to a cycle low of 62.9% in the second quarter 2016. Compared to the peak of 69.2% in 2004, however, the homeownership rate is still lower by almost five percentage points. The count of total households, however, increased to 121 million in the third quarter of 2018 from 119 million a year ago. Newly-gained households are predominantly owner households, while renter households only increased by 60,000. The homeownership rates among all age groups under 64 increased over the last year. Millennial households, mostly first-time homebuyers, registered the largest gains among all households, a 1.2 percentage point increase from a year ago. Millennials are gradually returning to the for-sale housing market, where gains in home price are slowing down. The homeownership rates of households ages 45-54 and 55-64 experienced a 0.8 percentage point increase.