It’s been eight years since the sub-prime mortgage shutdown in 2007. Overall, the market seems to be doing fairly well, and while the U.S. economy may still not be firing on all cylinders, it’s certainly pointed in the right direction. But this belies a dirty little secret: the mortgage industry is still backed by the tax payer. There has been no meaningful injection of capital from private markets back into mortgages, and while Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac paid back the treasury department (i.e., us, the taxpayers) a little over a year ago, they’re currently sitting on precious little capital to back any losses on the $5 trillion on their balance sheets.
Everyone is familiar with the concept of homeownership, but you may be less familiar with the economic indicator, “household formation” — and it’s something to which you should pay attention if you’re not buying or selling right now, but planning to do in the future. As the Wall Street Journal explains, “When the economy stumbles and joblessness rises, more people tend to move in with family or double up with roommates. When the economy expands, the opposite takes place as people strike out on their own.” That’s household formation. Yesterday, Reuters reported the latest figures on homeownership and household formation. Check out the article for better insight into the future of housing prices, housing starts, and rental rates.
You never want to ignore when Amazon enters a new business: and they just have. If you’re looking for home repair, or any other general labor, Amazon may be the place you go in the future. Amazon Home Services is their new offering, covering over 700 different categories, and already live in 40 states. The Search Engine Journal covers in more detail why Amazon may be the next layer in local services: from their Happiness Guarantee to the ability to order products and services at the same time, it looks like they’re about to give Angie’s List a run for their money.
With inflation remaining well below their target rate, experts are predicting that this week’s meeting of the Fed will move away from any notion of raising interest rates in June. But while the overall interest rate may be below the point the Fed is targeting, that’s not the case for rent prices. According to the labor department, rent prices were up 3.5% in March from a year earlier. For more detailed financial analysis and explanation, see the original story in the Wall Street Journal. But, in the short term, you can read this news as, it’s still a good time to buy.
A healthy housing market, balanced between buyers and sellers, is considered to be one with about 6 months of inventory. Today, there is just a 4.6 month supply, but at the same time, many homes on the market aren’t moving — they’re going stale (where “stale” is considered anything that’s been on the market longer than a month). According to CNBC two things are driving this, both artifacts of the housing bubble and bust. First, everyone is more data driven, and data is more widely available. Second, the housing market is now seeing the kind of herd mentality we’re used to seeing in the stock market. Are you missing an opportunity, on either side of the buy–sell equation, because you’re caught up following the herd?