Imagine the housing market of early 2020-2022 as an orchestra. The musicians are comprised of loan officers like myself, realtors, and the buyers and sellers who’ve been trading real estate over the past two years. Imagine the buyers and sellers as the drums – setting the pace. I’m playing the horn within the brass section – as loudly and as long as I can – pausing only to take the next breath. Realtors are playing the strings – leading the melody. The maestro………there is no clear maestro.
I wrote in March 2020 about the pandemic’s impact on the mortgage market: https://alexjaffe.com/volatility
And then in September 2020 its recovery https://alexjaffe.com/stability.
In March 2022, there was a crescendo: https://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/markets/mortgage-rates-03252022
I’ve been fortunate to have been a loan officer for almost 15 years (June 2007) and built a career I’m proud of. Beginning in ~June 2020, the housing market – we musicians in the orchestra – began all playing together in unison, building up to the March 2022 crescendo. Rates were historically low, credit was widely available and encouraged by government stimulus, and mortgage lending in 2020 and 2021 had its very best of years. With low inventory, historically affordable financing, and high sentiment in favor of home buying, home prices took off and rose to historically high levels.
But some time near the end of 2021 our previously harmonious music became too loud…our orchestra’s notes becoming discordant.
The federal reserve is the soloist, their music center stage and to whom our attention is justifiably focused. They add and subtract stimulus to the economy to encourage maximum employment and price stability. But in late 2021 they realized in hindsight they added too much stimulus to the economy. Inflation rose and in 2022 reached a 41-year high. Starting in March the music we’ve been playing together hit a very loud crescendo, and interest rates sharply rose back to average (rather than historically low) levels. Home purchase sentiment, which measures Americans’ opinions on whether they think now is good time to buy, reached historically low levels. Many Americans think interest rates and home prices however will be higher over the next 12 months.
Prior to June 2020 I would have told you throughout my career I worked too many hours, more than is healthy for myself and my family. But I had no idea how hard I could work, not until I joined this orchestra. For two years I’ve worked some days to the point where in the evening my brain physically hurt, but the drums beat on, there was no intermission.
But now we’ve hit and passed this crescendo….rates are no longer historically low, but are rather historically average. Home prices are the highest ever. According to Black Knight, a data analytics company, average monthly payments have hit historical highs. The national payment to income ratio hit highs not seen except for parts of ’06-‘08.
Home sales and mortgage application data show that it’s a challenging 2022. Yesterday, Freddie Mac’s (an entity of the federal government) weekly average survey published that rates reached a high not seen since February 2011: https://www.freddiemac.com/
Despite it all, home buyer interest remains so very strong. Financing exists to help people purchase homes – and having a home you’re happy with is essential. But home buyers are concerned about affordability, and rightfully so. The conversations I’m having are different now; talking with clients about finances and plans for the present and future are so very important. That’s my job – that’s what I’m here for – the ability to give advice is what I’ve built my career on. I particularly focus on educating my clients and helping them do what’s best for them financially. I’m proud of that career – having over 15 years now helped more than 2,300 clients finance their home, more than 600 of those clients financing within the last 2 years. It’s enough business to get me ranked as a top producer in various publications for most of these years – Washingtonian, Scotsman’s Guide, National Mortgage News…ranking in the top ten of loan officers for financed home purchases in the district.
But the music in our orchestra has quieted, now that buyers need to be more discerning about making important financial decisions. It’s almost eerily quiet, I’m playing my music expertly and carefully, all of you can hear it more clearly now that it’s quieted. I’m using my experience and being thoughtful in my work to do so. I like playing in this orchestra. I’ll be tooting my horn. I’m glad for the opportunity to make music together with you.