Like the blind men with different interpretations of the same elephant, September forecasts by economists at the nation’s largest housing GSEs emphasize differing outcomes from the same forces shaping the nation’s housing economy.
After July’s disappointing existing sales report, which NAR’s Lawrence Yun attributed in part to chronically low inventories, Fannie Mae lowered its existing sales forecast for 2016 from 5.430 million homes in its August forecast to 5.422 million, an annual increase of only 3.3 percent, down from 6.3 percent in 2015. Fannie;s forecast for new home sales, however, made up the difference, and the forecast for total home sales remained the same, at 5.99 million units, or an annual increase of 4.2 percent, compared to 7 percent last year.
Freddie focused on what low inventories are doing to prices and raised its forecast for median price appreciation to 5.6 percent and 4.7 percent in 2016 and 2017, respectively. This is up from last month’s forecast of 5.3 percent for 2016 and 4.0 percent for 2017.
“We still expect house price growth to moderate over the next year as new supply comes to market and higher mortgage rates dampen homebuyers’ demand, but at a more moderate pace than before,” said Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist, Sean Becketti.
“The housing market remains a bright spot for the U.S. economy, with solid job gains and low mortgage interest rates sustaining the economy’s momentum in September. In most markets, low mortgage rates have more than offset the rise in house prices, preserving homebuyer affordability for the typical household. Homeowners are also taking advantage of low rates and house price appreciation that is increasing their home equity. The share of cash-out refinances grew to 41 percent in the second quarter of 2016, compared to 38 percent in the first quarter and 15 to 20 percent during the housing crisis,” Becketti said.