Fannie Mae Forecasts and the El Niño Housing Market
Fannie Mae dropped its forecast for the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to 4.4% for the rest of 2019 and the first half of 2020. That is down about 1/10th. You can take that forecast for what it’s worth in a marketplace with more influences than an El Niño event.
But if they are right, the rate stability can only be a good thing for the housing and mortgage markets.
There is enough potential negative swirling around, though, to make for some stormy weather in the housing market. Through the balance of 2019, Fannie expects single family mortgage originations to total about one trillion dollars. With 2020 producing about $1.24 trillion in mortgage originations to purchase a house, those are decent numbers.
The housing equivalent of those irregularly occurring and complex series of climate changes that are an El Niño will be inventory. It is the true unknown. Fannie Mae expects that total home sales in 2019 will likely mimic 2018 with no dramatic increases in new and existing home sales until 2020. With more and more 50- and 60-somethings deciding to age in place, the number of existing homes coming on the market will be almost as difficult to predict as the weather.
While builder sentiment about the market remains good, there do not seem to be any significant efforts to help the inventory crunch by building entry level homes. With land, material, and labor costs up, those homes just are not profitable. It appears builders might be content meeting the limited demand for higher end homes where there is the opportunity to make some money.