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Home Sales Increase Amid Market Cooldown

First American Financial Corporation has released First American’s proprietary Potential Home Sales Model for November 2022. The Potential Home Sales Model measures what the healthy market level of home sales should be based on economic, demographic, and housing market fundamentals.

November 2022 Potential Home Sales

  • Potential existing-home sales increased to a 5.24 million seasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR), a 2.5% month-over-month increase.
  • This represents a 50.4% increase from the market potential low point reached in February 1993.
  • The market potential for existing-home sales decreased 18.2% compared with a year ago, a loss of 1,164,600 (SAAR) sales.
  • Currently, potential existing-home sales is 1,546,000 (SAAR), or 22.8% below the pre-recession peak of market potential, which occurred in April 2006.

Chief Economist Analysis: Market Potential for Existing-Home Sales Increased 2.5 percent in November

“Housing market potential in 2023 will remain largely dependent on the path of mortgage rates, which will be heavily influenced by inflation. In November 2022, housing market potential increased by 2.5% relative to October, boosted by a slight month-over-month decline in mortgage rates,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist at First American. “Even with the modest monthly increase in housing market potential, year-over-year potential existing-home sales remain down 18 percent, a decline of 1,164,600 potential existing-home sales. The steep annual decline in market potential is largely the result of higher mortgage rates, which prevent both buyer and seller from participating in the market.”

Rate-Sensitivity is Real

“Median house-buying power in November compared with one year ago fell by $158,000 – that’s the second largest annual decline in over 25 years, only exceeded by October’s year-over-year decline. The primary driver of the decline in house-buying power was the extraordinary increase mortgage rates over the last year,” said Fleming. “The 30-year, fixed mortgage rate jumped from 3.1% in November 2021 to 6.8% in November of this year, reducing house-buying power by $170,000, holding income constant. However, household income has not remained static, but has risen, helping prevent the loss to house-buying from being more severe. Such a significant rate-driven decline to consumer purchasing power reduced market potential by 772,000 potential home sales compared with a year ago.

“Compared with October, mortgage rates eased a bit, boosting house-buying power by a modest $4,000 and increasing market potential by 25,000 potential home sales. The monthly increase in housing market potential due to the modest 0.1 percentage point decline in the 30-year, fixed mortgage rate demonstrates the rate sensitivity of prospective home buyers,” said Fleming. “Buyers will jump back into the market if they find a home that fits their monthly mortgage budget, and even a modest decline in mortgage rates can help increase their budget.”

The Case for Optimism

“There is reason to be hopeful that mortgage rates, and thereby the housing market, will stabilize in 2023. The popular 30-year, fixed mortgage rate is loosely benchmarked to the 10-year Treasury bond, so as the Federal Reserve continues tightening monetary policy to combat inflation, we can expect more upward pressure on Treasury bonds and, therefore, mortgage rates,” said Fleming. “But the Fed will slow the pace of monetary tightening when there is sustained evidence that inflation is receding, and there is good reason to believe that inflation may slow in 2023. Core goods inflation is already cooling, shelter inflation is expected to do the same in the coming months and, in theory, tighter monetary policy should cool services demand.

“If inflation decelerates toward the Fed’s target range in the second half of 2023 as is currently expected, then it’s possible that mortgage rates may decline modestly in the latter half of the year,” said Fleming. “While mortgage rates will remain high compared with pandemic-era lows, stable and potentially modestly lower mortgage rates will elevate housing market potential in 2023.”

Next Release

The next Potential Home Sales Model will be released on January 19, 2023 with December 2022 data.

To read the full release, including more data and methodology, click here.

About Author: Demetria Lester

Demetria C. Lester is a reporter for DS News and MReport magazines with more than eight years of writing experience. She has served as content coordinator and copy editor for the Los Angeles Daily News and the Orange County Register, in addition to 11 other Southern California publications. A former editor-in-chief at Northlake College and staff writer at her alma mater, the University of Texas at Arlington, she has covered events such as the Byron Nelson and Pac-12 Conferences, progressing into her freelance work with the Dallas Wings and D Magazine. Currently located in Dallas, Texas, Lester is an avid jazz lover and likes to read. She can be reached at [email protected].

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