When Will There be Another Housing Market Crash?

This post originally appeared on Mark Ferguson's InvestFourMore blog. Authored by Investability Real Estate, Inc. Chief Revenue Officer, Dennis Cisterna, the article leverages current market data and conditions to weigh in on if we are approaching another housing market crash.


How likely is another housing crash?

When some investors think of real estate, they assume that because prices are generally rising across the country, we must be headed toward another crash. The truth is that’s simply not the case. A bevy of factors have come together that are serving to safeguard the economy against another national crash.

Are mortgages as easy to get as they were before the housing crisis?

In 2005, subprime loans were rampant and as a result, the country over-leveraged itself. Subprime loans, the riskiest loan type given to borrowers with low credit scores, totaled more than $620 billion. Fast forward ten years and subprime originations make up only 5 percent of the mortgage market and add up to $56 billion. Compare that to 2005 when subprime origination made up 20 percent of the market. This represents a 91 percent decline from the height of bad loans that set up the economic crash.

Source: Inside Mortgage Finance; Equifax

Not only has subprime lending seen a major decline, but mortgages have also become much harder to attain due to stringent lending standards. According to CoreLogic’s Housing Credit Index, loans originated in 2016 were among the highest quality originated in the last 15 years. This is greatly due to the type of borrowers able to qualify for loans. The current average credit score for borrowers being granted mortgages is 739. In October 2009, the average FICO score was 686, according to Fair Isaac. The lowest one percent of mortgages issued have credit scores averaging 622-624. Compared to the average range in 2001 of 490-510, the standard to get financing has risen substantially, and as a result, the likelihood of default has dropped. Lenders have done this to ensure the economy doesn’t again become propped on bad loans like it was leading up to the Great Recession.

The difficulty in getting a mortgage combined with extremely high student debt strapping down the millennial generation continues to nudge people toward renting. Americans don’t have the savings they used to have that allowed them to put a down payment on a home. Historically, the average savings rate of a person’s income was 8.3 percent, but today that number is 5.5 percent. Rising education and housing costs continue to burden the new generation of potential home buyers, driving down home ownership rates in the U.S.

Source: Federal Reserve Bank

Interest rates are another important factor to consider. The Fed has only raised interest rates one half of a percent, but actual mortgage rates have come back down. That said, rates could eventually rise, so it’s wise for investors to prepare a strategy for when that occurs as it can impact their ability to finance an investment portfolio.

How will affordability affect the housing market?

The affordability index continues to be stacked against potential home buyers. As housing and rental prices steadily increase, wages continue to stay relatively stagnant. Historically, the average income-to-housing cost ratio in the U.S. has hovered near 30 percent, but in some metro areas, that number is currently closer to 40 and even 50 percent! This strips away the opportunity to save money as a significant portion of a person’s monthly income is going to keeping a roof over their head.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

How does supply and demand affect the housing market?

Housing supply is also an important dynamic to consider when looking at a then-and-now analysis of the housing market. Since mortgages were being given out with little regard to the borrower’s ability to pay back the loan, new home building skyrocketed to meet the new demand. In 2005, new home sales hit a 52 year high with 1.28 million new homes being built. Ten years later, only 500,000 new homes were constructed, dropping 61 percent from the peak ten years prior. An overall lack of inventory continues to be a driver in price appreciation.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

While there are risks for local bubbles in markets experiencing inorganic growth, like the Miami condo market for example, it’s wise for investors to focus more on their own investment strategy and less on speculation of the overall market. If able to identify and clearly understand a market and its economy, investors can find success with single-family investments.

BlogMichael Shai