- Dwi Oblo/Reuters
Everyone wants a house, and that’s a big problem.
According to recent data from the nonprofit Conference Board, the number of Americans indicating that they plan to buy a home in the next six months is at historic levels.
“Meanwhile, according to the Conference Board, although the share of households planning on buying a home in the next six months ticked down in April to 5.4%, that is significantly above the average of 3.6% recorded since 1978,” wrote Matthew Pointon, property economist at Capital Economics.
We’ve noted in the past that there is a substantial issue in the housing market right now. Too few homes are being built for the number of people that want to move in to them, thus driving up prices and keeping some lower-end or first-time buyers out of the market.
The Conference Board data and Pointon’s breakdown show, however, that it isn’t just that supply can’t keep up with simple demand. Supply can’t keep up with a historically massive amount of demand. This, in turn, creates the price inflation.
- Capital Economics
Part of the demand story is simply the effect of the right economy at the right time.
“Mortgage interest rates are still close to record lows, and jobs are being created at a decent pace,” wrote Pointon. “And with households expecting house prices to continue to rise, there is an incentive to buy now to benefit from those gains – particularly given the fact that the return on other assets is currently very low.”
Add those factors up, plus the sluggish housing-starts data and expensive land prices, and you get exploding housing costs.
“After accounting for seasonal variations, CoreLogic reported a very strong gain in house prices of 1.9% m/m in March,” said the note. “On the face of it, that is the largest monthly gain for 11 years.”
Pointon did note that CoreLogic does have a proclivity to get revised down, however, so this number may not be quite as high.
But there is one thing holding demand back: credit.
“The latest Ellie Mae data showed that the average FICO score for successful applications rose in March to 722, and that will be preventing many households from qualifying for a mortgage,” wrote Pointon.
This could mean that some of the historically high intention to buy a home may just be wishful thinking. Demand, however, is certainly higher, and that’s making the housing market’s pricing problem even worse.