By Michael Snyder
I am extremely concerned by what I am seeing in the housing market. When the Federal Reserve decided that it was going to start aggressively hiking interest rates, it was obvious that there would be a housing crash. I repeatedly warned my readers that prices would start declining and that home sales would fall precipitously. Needless to say, that is precisely what has happened. In fact, last week we learned that home sales have now dropped for nine months in a row…
Home sales declined for the ninth straight month in October, as higher interest rates and surging inflation kept buyers on the sidelines.
Sales of previously owned homes dropped 5.9% from September to October, according to the National Association of Realtors.
This is already the longest streak of declining sales ever recorded, and this new housing crash is just getting started.
But of course what we have already witnessed has been pretty breathtaking.
According to Zero Hedge, U.S. home sales in October 2022 were 28.4 percent lower than they were in October 2021…
This monthly decline pushed the year-over-year drop in existing home sales to -28.4% – its worst level since 2008!
Sadly, things are likely to get even worse in the months ahead.
The following are 3 major factors which will make 2023 a historically painful year for the housing market…
#1 The Federal Reserve
Fed officials keep assuring us that interest rates are going to go even higher.
This is literally suicidal behavior, but they are going to do it anyway even though they fully understand what this will do to the housing market.
In fact, an economist at the Dallas Fed just published research which shows that U.S. home prices could soon fall by as much as 20 percent…
U.S. home prices could tumble as much as 20% as the highest mortgage rates in two decades threaten to trigger a “severe” price correction, according to research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
Fed policymakers need to strike a delicate balance as they try to deflate the housing bubble without bursting it, Dallas Fed economist Enrique Martínez-García wrote in the analysis published this week.
#2 The Employment Market
Officials at the Federal Reserve also know that hiking interest rates even higher will cause unemployment to go up.
Carvana is laying off about 1,500 people, or 8% of its workforce, Friday following a free fall in the company’s stock this year, a weakening used vehicle market and concerns around the company’s long-term trajectory, according to an internal message first obtained by CNBC’s Scott Wapner.
The email from Carvana CEO Ernie Garcia, titled “Today is a hard day,” cites economic headwinds including higher financing costs and delayed car purchasing. He says the company “failed to accurately predict how this would all play out and the impact it would have on our business.”
If the Fed continues to raise rates, eventually millions of Americans could lose their jobs.
And because the vast majority of Americans are barely scraping by from month to month, all of a sudden we could have millions of homeowners that are unable to pay their mortgages.
Just like in 2008 and 2009, that would cause a catastrophic spike in foreclosures, and the ripple effects would be absolutely devastating for Wall Street.
#3 Underwater Mortgages
During the last housing crash, millions of homeowners found themselves deeply underwater on their mortgages as home prices fell rapidly.
If home prices end up plunging 20 percent or more in 2023, we will once again have vast numbers of Americans that owe far more on their homes than they are currently worth.
In 2008 and 2009, large numbers of people that found themselves in such a situation decided to simply walk away from their mortgages.
If the same thing were to happen again, it would cause an extraordinary amount of pain for lenders.
So let us hope that such a scenario does not materialize.
Unfortunately, we continue to get more numbers that indicate that we are heading into a very serious economic downturn.
For example, we just learned that the Conference Board’s index of leading economic indicators has now fallen for eight months in a row…
The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Indicators index showed that conditions further deteriorated in October, with the gauge down 0.8% from the previous month. That follows a 0.5% decline in September.
“The U.S. LEI fell for an eighth consecutive month, suggesting the economy is possibly in a recession,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, senior director of economic research at The Conference Board.
Meanwhile, yet another survey has found that the vast majority of U.S. consumers are currently living paycheck to paycheck…
A new employee report said on Friday that as many as 60% of U.S. consumers are living paycheck to paycheck.
The report, a collaboration between data analysis PYMNTS and LendingClub, said 55% of nearly 3,500 people surveyed said they have limited spending capacity, and 49% are shifting their shopping preferences.
The report said that 66% of those living paycheck to paycheck have slashed spending.
Most Americans will not be dealing with the harsh economic environment that is ahead from a position of financial strength.
When things get really bad, millions of people will suddenly not be able to pay their bills.
In particular, I feel really bad for those that purchased homes at or near the peak of the market. So many of them are going to end up losing those homes.
We may have been able to avoid another housing crash if our leaders had pursued much different policies.
But that didn’t happen, and now we are going to experience an immense amount of chaos in 2023 and beyond.
The Federal Reserve created the largest housing bubble in American history by flooding the system with money and pushing interest rates all the way to the floor.
Now they are violently bursting that bubble, and the months ahead are going to be extraordinarily painful for the housing market.