Posted tagged ‘homeownership’

Longing for a Recovery in Housing

January 30, 2013

On only a few issues can I say that I would be happy to be wrong.  My views on likely home price appreciation and New Hampshire’s housing market  is one of them.     Housing is important to the state’s economic recovery and longer-term prospects for economic growth.  By way of shameless self-promotion, I will be on NH Public Radio’s “The Exchange” discussing some of my views on the topic.  I’m not a real estate economist so it will be interesting to hear how my views differ from someone who will also be a guest and who is a very good real estate economist,  (Russ Thibeault from Applied Economic Research).

The problem I have with most discussions of the  housing market is that housing is by far the economic metric that individuals have the most emotional, psychological and often direct financial attachment to.  Discussions of the housing market are the  most prone to hope, optimism, and wishful thinking, and the least amenable (and welcome) to dispassionate analysis.   If you want something to be true  it is as easy to find evidence to support your view as it is to dismiss evidence that contradicts it.  Every day we hear about the housing comeback nationally so we want to believe it is happening in NH, and we will look for any sign that it is.   I don’t see much evidence that the housing market is recovering as fast in NH as it is nationally and I don’t see factors in the near future that will contribute to it being so.   Long term, job and population growth are the best determinants of home price appreciation in a region and neither bodes well for a quick housing comeback in NH.  The chart below shows the relationship between year-over-year home price appreciation in each state and job growth during the same time period.  Each marker represents one state’s value on job growth (the horizontal or “x” axis) and its rate of home price appreciation over the same time period (the vertical or “y” axis).  Some states with large price declines are seeing out-sized rebounds but job and population growth largely determine price appreciation trends over the long-term (during bubble times that relationship breaks down but eventually it returns to trend),  NH is the red marker and reflects a state with both low job growth and appreciation rates over the past year.

job growth and home price appreciation

I know home sales have increased significantly in NH over the past year but I wonder how large a role  investor purchases for conversion to rental housing is playing in that trend.  For a number of reasons, that I will discuss in future posts, I think economic, demographic, financial, socioeconomic and social trends are likely to favor the performance of rental housing relative to homeownership in NH for several years.  Nationally and in almost all states, the homeownership rate fell during the housing market crash.  NH has a high homeownership rate and it barely dropped during the crash.  Many states are seeing homeownership rates begin to rebound and will see demand and price appreciation benefits from that.  Meanwhile, NH’s rate remains at historically high levels and given the demographic and other trends I don’t have time to discuss in this post, I think the rate will move lower and  closer to the state’s long-term rates.  That won’t help price appreciation.

Homeownership Rates

Gosh that sounds apocalyptic, its not, it just means that we shouldn’t soon expect the big price rebounds seen in many states.  Except I know we will expect exactly that, because residential real estate is about psychology and  about comparables and comparisons,  what has happened in the past.  Any industry strongly influenced by those factors is going to regularly disappoint.

The Rise and Fall of Homeownership Rates

November 16, 2012

The rate of home ownership increased significantly in the U.S. and in New Hampshire from the middle of the 1990’s until the housing market crash in the late 2000s.   The increased availability of financing (sometimes exotic) played a significant role,  as it did in the ultimate unwinding of the housing boom (nearly taking the nation’s financial system down along the way).  Home ownership rates are returning to levels closer to historical standards in the U.S., but not before a lot of household wealth in the form of homeowners equity was lost.  That has had a large impact on our recovery from recession.  One rule of thumb is that for every one dollar of household net worth lost, consumption expenditures by households will decline by 3-5 cents (the so called “wealth-effect”.   Using the lower figure (3 cents), implies that across the country, consumer expenditures were about $180 billion lower between 2007 and 2011 as a result of the housing market crash,  than they would have otherwise have been.

In NH, home ownership rates are higher than for the U.S. and they have yet to significantly move back toward their historical levels in the state.  They may never, but I have to think that until they do, putting a true value on houses in the state is going to be difficult.  In the meantime,  home price depreciation has had the same negative effect on household net worth in the Granite State and thus a substantial negative impact on consumer expenditures via the “wealth-effect”.


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