With all the headlines and talk in the media about the shift in the housing market, you might think this is a housing bubble. So it’s only natural for those thoughts to creep in that make you think it could be a repeat of what took place in 2008. But the good news is that factual data shows why this is nothing like the last.
There’s Still a Shortage of Homes on the Market Today, Not a Surplus
For historical context, there were too many homes for sale during the housing crisis (many of which were short sales and foreclosures), and that caused prices to fall dramatically. Supply has increased since the start of this year, but there’s still an inventory shortage, primarily due to almost 15 years of underbuilding homes.
The graph below uses data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to show how the months’ supply of homes available now compares to the crash. Today, unsold inventory sits at just a 3.2-months pool at the current sales pace, which is significantly lower than last. There isn’t enough inventory for home prices to come crashing down like last time, even though some overheated markets may experience slight declines.
Mortgage Standards Were Much More Relaxed Back Then
It was much easier to get a home loan during the lead-up to the housing crisis than today. Running up to 2006, banks were creating artificial demand by lowering lending standards and making it easy for anyone to qualify for a home loan or refinance their current home.
Back then, lending institutions took on much more significant risk in the person and the mortgage products offered. That led to mass defaults, foreclosures, and falling prices. Today, things are different, and purchasers face much higher standards from mortgage companies.
The graph below uses Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) data from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) to help tell this story. In that index, the higher the number, the easier it is to get a mortgage. Conversely, the lower the number, the harder it is. In the latest report, the index fell by 5.4%, indicating standards are tightening.
This graph also shows how different things are today compared to the spike in credit availability leading up to the crash. Over the past 14 years, Tighter lending standards have helped prevent a scenario that would lead to a wave of foreclosures like the last time.
The Foreclosure Volume Is Nothing Like It Was During the Crash
Another difference is the number of homeowners facing foreclosure after the housing bubble burst. However, foreclosure activity has been lower since the crash, mainly because buyers today are more qualified and less likely to default on their loans. The graph below uses data from ATTOM Data Solutions to help paint the picture of how different things are this time:
Not to mention, homeowners today have options they didn’t have in the housing crisis when so many people owed more on their mortgages than their homes were worth. Today, many homeowners are equity rich. That equity comes, in large part, from the way home prices have appreciated over time. According to CoreLogic:
“The total average equity per borrower has now reached almost $300,000, the highest in the data series.”
Rick Sharga, Executive VP of Market Intelligence at ATTOM Data, explains the impact this has:
“Very few of the properties entering the foreclosure process have reverted to the lender at the end of the foreclosure. . . . We believe that this may be an indication that borrowers are leveraging their equity and selling their homes rather than risking the loss of their equity in a foreclosure auction.”
This goes to show homeowners are in a completely different position this time. For those facing challenges today, many have the option to use their equity to sell their house and avoid the foreclosure process.
If you’re concerned, we’re making the same mistakes that led to the housing crash; the graphs above should help alleviate your fears. Factual data and expert insights clearly show this is nothing like the last.