Homebuilder Sentiment Fell Every Month This Year As Housing Market Weakens

Homebuilder sentiment has dropped every month in 2022 as multiple economic headwinds grip the housing market, according to data from the National Association of Home Builders.

The past two years have witnessed soaring home prices which have finally cooled in recent months as rising mortgage rates quell demand. Broader inflationary pressures have made building new properties more difficult, according to the most recent Housing Market Index released on Monday by the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo.

“In this high-inflation, high-mortgage rate environment, builders are struggling to keep housing affordable for home buyers,” National Association of Home Builders Chairman Jerry Konter said in a press release.

Some 62% of builders are currently using incentives such as mortgage buydowns and price reductions to increase sales. Meanwhile, construction costs have risen 30% this year, and only 35% of builders reduced prices this month; builders who elected to cut prices implemented an 8% reduction, marking an increase from the 5% and 6% levels seen earlier in the year.

“We are possibly nearing the bottom of the cycle for builder sentiment,” National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist Robert Dietz remarked in the press release, adding that the organization is “expecting weaker housing conditions to persist in 2023” followed by a “recovery coming in 2024.”

Despite evidence of downward pressures on prices, rising mortgage rates have severely worsened the typical family’s prospects for affording a home. According to an analysis from real estate brokerage Redfin, monthly mortgage payments on the typical house have surged more than 45% since the same time last year to reach $2,682, indicating that the annual salary required to afford such a property has increased from $73,668 to $107,281.

Actions from the Federal Reserve to roll back expansionary monetary policies are a primary factor behind rising mortgages. The 30-year fixed mortgage rate remained below 3% for much of the past two years, according to data from government-backed mortgage company Freddie Mac, before rising to more than 7% last month.

A projection released last week by National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun found that median home prices will rise 0.3% next year, which follows an increase of 9.6% this year. He expects the 30-year fixed mortgage rate to settle at 5.7%.

“Half of the country may experience small price gains, while the other half may see slight price declines,” Yun said in a statement. He forecasted that California markets such as San Francisco, where public safety challenges and high costs of living are discouraging the inflow of new residents, may see double-digit decreases in home prices, while all of the most robust housing markets will be located in the southern United States.

An earlier report from the National Association of Home Builders found that all five of the nation’s least affordable large and small housing markets, defined respectively as metropolitan areas with more or less than 500,000 residents, are currently located in California. A mere 3.7% of homes sold to residents of Los Angeles in the third quarter were affordable to families earning the median income of $91,100, while similar phenomena nationwide have produced a spillover effect in the apartment rental market.

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