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The Trump effect. How will it impact the US economy and housing?

 

The American people have spoken and they have elected Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States. Change was clearly demanded, and change is what we will have.

The election was a shock for many, especially on the West Coast where we have not been overly affected by the long-term loss in US manufacturing or stagnant wage growth of the past decade. But the votes are in and a new era is ahead of us. So, what does this mean for the housing market?

First and foremost I would say that we should all take a deep breath. In a similar fashion to the UK’s “Brexit”, there will be a “whiplash” effect, as was seen in overnight trading across the globe. However, at least in the US, equity markets have calmed as they start to take a closer look at what a Trump presidency will mean.

On a macro level, I would start by stating that political rhetoric and hyperbole do not necessarily translate into policy. That is the most important message that I want to get across. I consider it highly unlikely that many of the statements regarding trade protectionism will actually go into effect. It will be very important for President Trump to tone down his platform on renegotiating trade agreements and imposing tariffs on China. I also deem it highly unlikely that a 1,000-mile wall will actually get built.

It is crucial that some of the more inflammatory statements that President-Elect Trump has made be toned down or markets will react negatively. However, what is of greater concern to me is that neither candidate really approached questions regarding housing with any granularity. There was little-to-no-discussion regarding housing finance reform, so I will be watching this topic very closely over the coming months.

As far as the housing market is concerned, it is really too early to make any definitive comment. That said, Trump ran on a platform of deregulation and this could actually bode well for real estate. It might allow banks the freedom to lend more, which in turn, could further energize the market as more buyers may qualify for home loans.

Concerns over rising interest rates may also be overstated. As history tells us, during times of uncertainty we tend to put more money into bonds. If this holds true, then we may see a longer-than-expected period of below-average rates. Today’s uptick in bond yields is likely just temporary.

Proposed infrastructure spending could boost employment and wages, which again, would be a positive for housing markets. Furthermore, easing land use regulations has the potential to begin addressing the problem of housing affordability across many of our nation’s housing markets – specifically on the West Coast.

Economies do not like uncertainty. In the near-term we may see a temporary lull in the US economy, as well as the housing market, as we analyze what a Trump presidency really means. But at the present time, I do not see any substantive cause for panic in the housing sector.

We are a resilient nation, and as long as we continue to have checks-and balances, I have confidence that we will endure any period of uncertainty and come out stronger.

 

 

 

Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

Oregon and South West Washington Real Estate Market Update

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

The labor market in Oregon/Southwest Washington continues to remain robust. During third quarter, the region added 13,800 new jobs, up from the 9,500 jobs that were created in the same period in 2015. Year-over-year, the region has grown at an impressive rate of 3.5%—well above the U.S. rate of 1.7%—and has one of the fastest rates of job creation in the nation. In September the unemployment rate was 5.5%, which is modestly below a year ago when it was 5.7%. I’m not surprised to see the unemployment rate trended lower given the growth in both the labor force as well as the participation rate (the number of people in the economy who are either employed or who are actively looking for work).

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • Continuing the trend seen in the second quarter, home sales are down by 7% compared the same quarter in 2016. In total, there were 18,100 home sales.
  • Sales rose at the fastest rate in Klamath County, which saw a 26.7% increase over the second quarter of 2015. There were also noticeable increases in transactions seen in Coos, Linn and Wasco Counties. The greatest decline was seen in Yamhill, Josephine, and Jefferson Counties.
  • While there were eight counties where sales rose, 18 counties actually saw fewer sales than last year.
  • Housing inventory continues to have a negative impact on sales, but it appears that sellers’ expectations of home prices may also be playing a role in slowing sales.

 

HOME PRICES

  • Average home prices over the past year rose by 8.1% to $335,000. This is down from 10.5% seen in the second quarter of the year. This may be an indicator that home price growth is beginning to revert toward historic averages.
  • When compared to the third quarter of 2015, Hood River took over as the market with the greatest price growth, with homes selling for 29% above that seen a year ago.
  • All but one county saw an annual increase in prices, with some counties seeing significant increases in average sale prices. That said, the number of areas where home price appreciation rose by double-digit percentages dropped from 18 to 11.
  • The key takeaway here is that home price appreciation is starting to slow but remains well above the historic average.

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average days it took to sell a home dropped by 14 when compared to the third quarter of 2015, and is 5 days less than last quarter.
  • The average time it took to sell a home in the region was 83 days.
  • Wasco County was the only area where the average time it takes to sell a home rose (from 88 to 97 days).
  • Homes sold fastest in Washington and Multnomah Counties, where it took 21 and 22 days respectively on average for homes to sell.

 

CONCLUSIONS

The speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, sales velocities, interest rates, and larger economics factors. Economic growth continues to trend well above the nation, and this region is one of the fastest growing in the country. The housing market continues to benefit greatly from this economic vitality. That said, the modest decline in home sales and prices is worthy of note. This suggests that peak price growth is now behind us and that we will start to see a slowing in the upward trend of home values. This actually is not a bad thing because tapering home prices will ultimately lead to a rise in the number of home sales, which still remain below historic averages. As such, I have moved the needle a little toward buyers, however, it certainly remains a seller’s market.

 

Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.