Home Sales Likely To Weaken In Near Term

Home Sales Likely To Weaken In Near Term

Fannie Mae researchers: Mortgage rates in 2024 will retreat from recent highs and average 6.8% by year’s end; in turn, home sales will increase modestly over the year.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Economic growth remains likely to decelerate and ultimately result in a mild recession in 2024, followed by a return to growth in 2025, according to the November 2023 commentary from the Fannie Mae Economic and Strategic Research (ESR) Group.

While the combination of ongoing employment gains and decelerating inflation has increased the likelihood of a soft landing, the ESR group contends that, between a likely slowdown in consumption growth stemming from an imbalance between spending and incomes and the rising real federal funds rate weighing on consumer and business activity, a downturn remains the most likely outcome.

With mortgage rates having previously neared the 8% mark, the ESR Group expects existing home sales to decline further in the near term but bottom out in early 2024.

Regardless of whether the economy manages a soft landing or enters a mild recession, the ESR Group forecasts mortgage rates in 2024 to retreat from their recent highs and average 6.8% by the fourth quarter.

As such, it expects home sales to begin to increase modestly over 2024 but to remain constrained by the likely persistence of the so-called “lock-in effect” and the low supply of homes for sale. New home sales and starts, which have remained comparatively resilient over the past year, are expected to remain so in 2024.

“The economy is now slowing from the otherwise robust first estimate of third quarter growth,” said Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae senior vice president and chief economist. “The slowdown in employment gains has continued, and stress is growing on consumers’ ability to sustain their high levels of spending unsurprising results that we attribute to the often-lagged economic effect of monetary policy tightening.

“At the same time, housing has been and continues to be under serious affordability pressure, resulting in recessionary-level home sales activity. While many current owners with low mortgage rates will likely continue to be discouraged from listing their homes, we expect mortgage rates to trend modestly downward in 2024, which should help kickstart a gradual recovery in home sales into 2025.”

About the ESR Group: Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research Group, led by Chief Economist Doug Duncan, studies current data, analyzes historical and emerging trends, and conducts surveys of consumer and mortgage lender groups to provide forecasts and analyses on the economy, housing, and mortgage markets.

Note: Opinions, analyses, estimates, forecasts, and other views of Fannie Mae’s ESR group should not be construed as indicating Fannie Mae’s business prospects or expected results, are based on a number of assumptions, and are subject to change without notice.

© Fannie Mae Economic and Strategic Research Group

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