This may surprise you, but higher interest rates aren’t always bad! In fact, sometimes they can be really good for the real estate market. Jay Vorhees at JVM Lending gives us some good reasons why. I’ve summarized those points below with commentary.
After the most recent presidential election, interest rates went up 3/8-1/2%, and the real estate market seemed to come to a standstill. It scared everyone into thinking that higher rates would severely impact the market overall. But, it was really just “uncertainty” that kept everyone on the sidelines, and not the higher rates.
Rates might continue to rise, but that’s a good thing, and here’s why:
- Slowly climbing rates often push would-be home-buyers off the fence. Higher interest rates heat up the market by pushing people to buy sooner, rather than later.
- Higher rates give the Fed “ammo” for the next recession. One of the Fed’s most powerful recession-fighting tools is lowering rates. But, if rates are already low, that tool becomes worthless. To restore the power of this, we need higher rates.
- Retirees and savers get higher returns. Artificially low rates that benefit big banks and borrowers hurt savers who live off of their savings. The higher the rates, the better for retirees and savers.
- Banks lend more money with high interest rates. There is a much better incentive to lend when rates are higher. More economic growth, higher wages and more home-buyers result from higher rates, too.
- Stronger dollar and continued tamed inflation. A stronger dollar makes traveling abroad cheaper, investing in the U.S. more appealing, and importing goods cheaper. Higher rates also keep inflation in check for a variety of reasons.
Higher rates hurt mortgage companies that rely on refinance business instead of purchases, and it hurts home-buyers to the extent that their payments will increase.
But the payment factor is often overstated. A rate increase of 1/2% might push a payment up about $150 for a $500,000 loan. That is real money, but it won’t break the bank for most of our borrowers whose income is well into the six-figure range.
What are your thoughts and how would higher rates affect you directly?
My sons are Millennials. My Walnut Creek Lifestyle freelance writer is a Millennial. More and more of my clients and colleagues are Millennials, as that generation continues to age into home-buyers.
So, realtors like myself are starting to notice more trends with the market geared toward that age group. It’s a different real estate market for Millennials than it was for their parents – nowadays, they are graduating with huge student loan debts, having trouble finding lucrative work out of college, and then struggling to pay sky-high rents and mortgages once they do get jobs.
That said, Millennials are driving the real estate market right now, which has made the following observations more obvious.
From San Francisco realtor John Solaegui:
- There is a low inventory of single-family homes in San Francisco
- Millennial buyers don’t care about parking spaces (though this might be more prevalent in San Francisco – it’s contradicted by the graphic above!) with the rise of ridesharing apps – they’d prefer having decks or gardens for outdoor entertaining
- Areas like Noe Valley, Glen Park, Bernal Heights and The Sunset in San Francisco are extremely popular with Millennial buyers right now
From the California Association of Realtors’ REALTOR Magazine:
- Millennials are cashing in on equity at a historic rate, thanks to rising home prices
- One-third of Millennials say they are considering applying for a HELOC (home equity line of credit) in the next 18 months – much more than Gen-X or Baby Boomers
- HELOC’s are popular with Millennials because they can consolidate debt and afford home remodels with them
I think this is an interesting trend in our market. Home prices are high, but so are the debts and loans owed by Millennials, so we’re seeing more and more interest in new ways around that issue. And even more interestingly, Millennials are changing the way we market homes – who cares about parking when you don’t have a car, right?
As promised, I said I would write a couple of blogs from a Carol Rodini speaking event I attended. The first blog gives her thoughts on how China and Saudi Arabia may affect the real estate market in the coming months. Today, we’re discussing a general Bay Area real estate overview.
Carol said that we (in the East Bay) are usually 6-8 months behind the other side of the Bay – meaning San Francisco and the Peninsula. What is currently happening there (and we may see this in the later part of the year) is that the media is reporting a growth of inventory. This type of news has adverse effects on real estate. In reality, there are two types of real estate: desirable and non-desirable. The media bundles them together, but Carol pointed out how they are different.
Prices have gone down on high-end properties, and buyers are getting hesitant and willing to stand by and watch what happens. For example, a house in San Francisco that was listed for $1.5 million sent out 30 disclosure packages. One buyer submitted a pre-emptive offer of $1.75 million all cash and the seller didn’t take it because they thought they could get more and wanted to market it a bit longer. On the offer due date, none came in. So they went back to the cash buyer and that person said no.
A few takeaways:
1. You can’t be over-priced in this market.
2. Buyers in the city are no longer playing the competition game.
3. Sellers need to be aggressive with their pricing, by pricing it slightly under market. The reason? Millennials buy with their stock options. And with the market volatility and changes, this is making them a bit more hesitant.
The East Bay will have a great spring. We traditionally see a bit of a slow-down in the summer, and depending on what the stock market does, we may follow in the steps of the city. Our average price point is much lower and we are seeing a bunch of first-time home buyers that can’t afford San Francisco or the Peninsula who are looking at the East Bay – at least until the prices drop on the other side of the Bay.