The US housing market has been losing its wheels despite the Federal Reserve’s rate cuts, and the severity of the problem came to the fore when the Commerce Department released its latest data.
— 🇪🇺 🇲🇨🇨🇭Dan Popescu 🇫🇷🇮🇹🇷🇴 (@PopescuCo) October 24, 2019
More signs that the US housing market is in trouble
Sales of new single-family homes in the US fell in September by 0.7 percent to 701,000 units. The August reading also witnessed a downward revision to 706,000 units as compared to the originally reported 713,000 units.
But what’s alarming is that the monthly price decline was the biggest seen since September 2014 despite tight inventories, a sign that a US housing market crash is here. The median price of a new house slid 8.8 percent year over year in September to $299,400. The month-over-month decline came in at 7.9 percent.
The drop in home prices seems a tad surprising given the tight inventory available on the market. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that in September, there were just 4.1 months of existing home inventory. This was lower than the 4.4 months of inventory that was available a year ago and far lower than the ideal inventory level of 6 to 7 months.
The NAR report also revealed that sales of existing homes in the US were down 2.2 percent in September to 5.38 million units. Economists anticipated a 0.7 percent decline to 5.45 million units.
Sales of previously owned U.S. homes declined 2.2% in September, a sign that high prices and slim inventory continue to weigh on the housing sector https://t.co/jqa7c29U5L
— TheUSHousingReport (@USHousingReport) October 22, 2019
The Commerce Department data says that new home inventory slid 0.6 percent in September to 321,000 units, and it would take 5.5 months to clear this inventory at the current pace. Still, prices crashed as flailing consumer confidence seems to have struck the US housing market.
Just last month, Nobel-prize winning economist Robert Shiller predicted that home prices are headed for a crash.
Nobel laureate Robert Shiller said he “wouldn’t be at all surprised” if U.S. house prices start to fall https://t.co/lenGO2DI1H
— Bloomberg (@business) September 5, 2019
His prophecy stands true now, and it is not surprising to see why.
The @FannieMae Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) decreased 2.3 points in September to 91.5, retreating from a survey high in August. Three of the six HPSI components decreased month over month, including an eight-percentage point drop in the… https://t.co/mzL6MHx2sX #CRE
— Connect Media (@connectCRE) October 8, 2019
Fannie Mae had recently reported that the Home Purchase Sentiment Index for September had slid 2.3 points, as Americans became more concerned about the security of their jobs. The US-China trade war has led to a manufacturing slowdown while hiring growth is also losing momentum.
Worth noting @ADP revised down its August report, showing employers added 38K fewer jobs than 1st reported. "Businesses have turned more cautious in their
hiring…If businesses pull back any further,
unemployment will begin to rise," Mark Zandi of Moody's says in the report. pic.twitter.com/Gr2kLjXcrY
— Joint Economic Committee Democrats (@JECDems) October 2, 2019
With the probability of a recession looming large, consumers can be expected to play it safe and not go for big-ticket purchases. That’s bad news for the US housing market.
US housing starts fall from a 12-year high @CNBC declined 9.4% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.256 million units last month as construction in the volatile multi-family housing segment dropped. #usEconomy #housingStarts #RealEstate https://t.co/6FtLa5A6r8
— Nik Kornaros (@nikoNorthState) October 17, 2019
What’s more, there was a sharp fall in US housing starts last month. This indicates that the US housing market inventory could get tighter. But as we have just seen, tighter inventories don’t guarantee higher prices anymore.
Builders will be forced to lower prices in order to entice tight-fisted consumers and clear off their inventories – but they already seem to be doing that as the sharp fall in the price of new homes indicates. If that’s indeed the case, then we shouldn’t be in denial and accept the fact that the US housing market crash has officially arrived.