When the Federal Reserve tinkers with interest rates, it creates all kinds of economic distortions. This is very obvious in the housing market. Over the last couple of years, the Fed blew up a giant housing bubble. Now, the central bank has pricked that bubble. In this episode of the Friday Gold Wrap podcast, host Mike Maharrey looks at the housing market as a microcosm of the broader economy.
The Federal Reserve has raised rates once – a mere 25 basis points (with another hike on the table today). So, it’s just getting started, but has it already popped the housing bubble? It sure looks that way. The question is how long will it take for the air to really start coming out.
As mortgage rates push up, mortgage applications continue to fall. As of last week, applications were down 17%, and at the lowest level since May 2020 when the economy was shut down for COVID, according to last week’s Mortgage Bankers Association’s weekly Purchase Index. The index has dropped 30% from peak demand in late 2020 and early 2021.
Here’s another sign that the air is coming out of housing bubble 2.0.
Existing home sales fell 10.3% year-on-year in December. Sales, including single-family houses, townhouses, condos, and co-ops, dropped to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.99 million homes, according to the National Association of Realtors. This ranks as the biggest year-over-year drop since May 2011 — in the midst of Housing Bust 1.0.