Inflation and Fed Activity:
Dr. Rossell predicts that while the Federal Reserve will hike rates an additional 0.25% in May, this will be the last upward push for the foreseeable future. Inflation is running just under 5% as of late April, reflecting a relatively steady decline over the past several months. Dr. Rossell anticipates that by Q4 inflation will be running at 2%-3%, triggering a Fed-easing campaign by end-of-year.
Data released in April from the National Association of Realtors® reflects steadily contracting residential sales, with March’s 2.4% dip in existing home sales in line with declines during 13 of the last 14 months. Dr. Rossell assures us that this slowdown, while protracted, is temporary. The anticipated Fed-easing this fall will lead to mortgage rate normalization, which in turn will lead to a more active market in the later part of 2023.
The housing boom of late 2020 and 2021 equated to three years of housing activity condensed into an 18-month period, as consumers scrambled to take advantage of historically low mortgage rates. Dr. Rossell reminds us that current market stagnation is a residual effect of this overheated activity, exacerbated by continuously high mortgage rates. Many consumers considering non-urgent transactions are in standby mode, ready to hit the go button as mortgage affordability continues to improve through the second half of the year.
While new single-family home starts were up 2.7% YOY in March, the market remains hundreds of thousands of homes short of demand. In addition to single-family builds, over half a million new rental units are also coming online in 2023. While fresh rental inventory may make renting more attractive in the short run for prospective home buyers, Dr. Rossell is confident that consumers will stay cognizant of the fundamental truth that home ownership represents a crucial wealth-building cornerstone for Americans.
Until Congress resolves the current partisan-driven debt ceiling standoff, we are likely to experience a few weeks of rockiness in both the stock and bond markets. Dr. Rossell is confident that a deal to raise the debt ceiling will be reached by June, but until then, we should prepare for a bit of a bumpy market ride.
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