What is unusual about today's market is the conversion of lower prices and low rates - some refer to this as hitting the sweet spot on a "V" curve.
But to answer your question more directly, yes, I think most agents should understand this. Questions like this one are good ones to weave into your interview with potential agents as you select one that will add value, and an understanding of market dynamics is certainly important.
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As a practical matter, this really offers the buyer two options. One is to make a lower offer on the house he/she might have bid on when rates were lower. This, Nycdrone, supports your premise. And it happens.
The other option is that the buyer reduces his/her expectations. He/she goes a notch or two down the property ladder--bidding on a 3 bedroom home rather than a 4 bedroom home, or a townhouse rather than a single-family house. And this happens as well. In this scenario, there isn't substantial downward pressure on prices (except at the upper end)--rather, all the buyers downsize their sought-after homes. And the sellers end up selling to folks who, with lower interest rates, would have bought somewhat more expensive (larger, nicer) homes.
As a practical matter, both happen. So there is some downward pressure on homes (from folks who either need or want the same home they could have bought last year for 4.5% but now end up having to pay 6%). But others will just sacrifice a bit on home size, location, etc.
And there are plenty of other "pressure valves" in the system, too. For instance, when interest rates topped 16%, home prices didn't fall to 30%-50% of what they'd been 10-15 years earlier. Some folks just didn't sell. Buyers might have tried offering 35% less, but few homeowners were willing (or able) to accept the lower amount. So a lot of buying/selling activity just got deferred or delayed. On top of that, lots of buyers and sellers got creative with owner financing, wrap mortgages, and the like. So, even when interest rates were 16%, not everyone was stuck with that when buying or selling.
So, I agree with your basic premise (difficult to disagree with basic economics). The bond market is the purest demonstration of the inverse relationship between interest rates and pricing. It's just that in real estate there are a lot of other complicating factors.
Implicit in your question (or maybe explicit) is the belief that many agents don't understand basic economics. I'd agree 100%. But agents aren't alone. Most people--and that includes doctors and lawyers as well as bus drivers and janitors--don't understand economics. We just have to recognize that: (1) the American educational system seems to have generally overlooked that subject; and (2) a professional (doctor, lawyer, Realtor, etc.) may be entirely proficient in his/her area of expertise but pretty much ignorant outside of that knowledge domain.
You made me realize the discrepancy in my perception, that how this affects me personally in a home search is somewhat less than what I had originally thought. Much appreciated for the epiphany.
Very informative and straight to the point posts. Look forward to reading more of your posts!
Completely disagree because I believe gov't policy and lowered interest rates that are part of the run up. But thanks for that viewpoint, I think that's the first time I've heard it put that way.
I think you underscore the point that I shouldn't assume most agents should know nor should I blame them for not knowing. I think though , this will make choosing an agent a bit more difficult as I will be forced to wonder if I've passed on a good realtor who disagrees. I'm simply going to have to put less weight on this point when choosing an agent. Many Thanks for your answer.
Yes, discuss your perceptions of the market with your agent and what parameters you'll be using to select a property. Your overall idea regarding rates and prices really won't come into play much as you go through the basics of bed & bath count, location and other home purchase parameters.
Your theory is most useful on a macro level, but as an agent we deal with the micro world of individual cities, neighborhoods and homes.
As an agent and lender for many years, I track rates daily and know the trend from day to day and week to week. Major moves which would impact home pricing are rare. Rates tend to bounce within a range and often defy our ability to predict.
Last week after having been up, rates settled back down a bit. When discussing pricing on my listings with my sellers, this is not a factor I site as to whether we should adjust our price. Recent new listings, pending and sold changes are far more impactful than a shift of a few basis points.
But to get back to your question, yes discuss your wants, needs and desires for your new home, your beliefs regarding the market and how that will impact your decision making. This way you and your agent can best decide how to work together to achieve your goal, buying a house.
Additionally, the relationship between prices and interest rates isn't mathematically general (meaning it's not always true without any exceptions). The universal law of gravitation is an example of something that's generally true.
On the other hand, the relationship--while not directly causal in every case--is certainly worth noting, and has plenty of supporting empirical data. Dan Chase's "buying power" argument gets at the heart of the issue for me. I run a similar analysis to determine my cost of money, and I factor it along with various trending data into my offer price. Yet, that relationship is somewhat irrelevant for investors buying with cash or creative financing, because the prior will usually buy at below market-value prices, and the latter is willing to pay a higher interest rate simply for the convenience of not having to take out new financing.
In a closed system, your premise is valid and makes sense. In the actual market there are so many forces at work the agent who predicts X with any certainty is the one you may want to run from. Unemployment, consumer confidence, rumors about where rates may go next, congressional action such as the tax credit or loss of the mortgage write off, local issues such as lay off news, new housing starts, the shadow inventory... just to name a few other factors to consider.
If I could put all this data into a computer model I might be as accurate as a weather forecast, after several generations of refining it.
If you have a theory that you feel confident in and you were my client, I would listen, do my best to understand and ask how you want me to proceed in light of your beliefs. I may or may not completely share them, but that would not prevent me from acting on your behalf in the way we agree to.
NYC-troll: *Generally*, when interest rates rise, home prices go down.
Mack: Really? Can you prove that?
NYC-troll: Who needs proof, it stands to reason.
Mack: Sure, but, does it jibe with historical fact?
NYC-troll: Hey, everybody, you get it, don't you?
Mack: That's nice and all, but again - does it jibe with historical fact?
NYC-troll: Ah, you - over there - glad to see you agree with me, don't you?
Mack: So, it doesn't jibe with the historical record?
NYC-troll: You're a troll who won't play nice.
I'm not certain why we should take the word of an anonymous poster that it is a matter of fact that, "*Generally*, when interest rates rise, home prices go down." In light of your extreme resistance to document it, I'd have to go with number 3. In fact, based on the last few years, it would seem that there's a stronger correlation with lower interest rates resulting in lower home prices.
I would caution agents to be careful quoting either statement without the ability to document it, because if your client decides to do a little research, it could prove quite embarrassing. And telling that client, "Well, I thought it was true because Nycdrone-53799 wrote it on a Trulia Q&A . . . "
As far as a realtor quoting rates, that to me, as a lender, would be the worst thing possible. Without knowing all the details, credit score, all sorts of other issues which go into a rate, not to mention the volatility in the market. I guarantee you if they did this, I would be getting calls from from all sorts of people who, as soon as I quote them a rate, would tell me that so-and-so told them it was a different rate. Leave this kind of thing to the professionals. Anyone can go online to find a range of interest rates that would suffice.
At 4.25% a 30 year $100,000 mortgage costs $491.94 a month
At 6.25% a 30 year $100,000 mortgage costs $615.72 a month
At 7.75% a 30 year $100,000 mortgage costs $716.41 a month
That does look like buying at lower interest rates does save money. But does it really make sense? Could we be missing a critical piece such as buying power dropping as interest rates rise?
Lets look at this the other way.
A 30 year $100,000 mortgage costs $491.94 a month at 4.25%.
A 30 year $80,000 mortgage costs $492.57 a month at 6.25%
A 30 year $69,000 mortgage costs $494.32 a month at 7.75%
That very clearly shows that as interest rates rise buying power drops. As buying power drops if incomes do not rise (how can they with around 10% unemployment?) house prices must drop as people could not afford to buy at todays prices and income with tomorrows interest rates.
If interest rates rise (many economists think this MUST happen within a few years thanks to federal reserve policies and the federal debt levels) anyone trying to buy a house now MUST expect a drastic price drop in the future. If they ever want to sell this will create serious financial problems when they need to sell.
Here is the REAL problem. There has never been a better time to buy, buy now before you are priced out of the market, house prices only go up, and several other NAR approved messages that once translated into simple english all say "BUY NOW I REALLY NEED THAT COMMISSION."
Do not expect most used wooden box (house) salespeople to admit that buying now is a bad idea or that low interest rates create higher prices when that will cost them a commission. They want to eat today and will say anything to make their commission. If basic economics interferes with them making a commission basic economics must be wrong.
Amazing isn't it? you will find this type of scenario everywhere you go. sometimes people talk up a good game portraying to be a master of their trade. Sometimes you can weed those out, sometimes you can't. How many smart people fell for Bernie Madoff? lots of very smart people.
Should you run for the hills? Ofcourse not, otherwise you'd be paralyzed, but use your knowledge and instincts, and you'll be able to tell who the pro is from the amateur.
I have been a full time Broker for 20 years. I have been a real estate investor for 36 years. I suspect I may have been through more real estate cycles than you. I clearly remember investing in property when interest rates were between 13-17%. Up until a few years ago I had never seen rates below 5% and rarely in my 36 years did I see them in the 6% range. I suspect your perspective is very limited.
There is no consistent correlation between interest rates and prices. Interest rates are at historic lows, why aren't prices at or near historic highs as your premise would suggest? Interest rates are based are not based on real estate prices, though the interest rates can have an impact on home prices.
I won't argue with you that there are way too many agents out there with little or insufficient knowledge for the license they posses. I have believed this since I purchased my first property. However that's not really the point here. I believe your point was a direct correlation between interest rates and home prices and I'm sorry to say that if you were to study the historical sales data, you will find this simply isn't true. Just as cutting taxes (a popular argument put forth by many Republicans) will
create jobs. It may sound good, however there is no empirical evidence that taxes cuts ever created one job. In fact the times of the most robust growth in the country have typically been during times of higher tax rates. Perhaps we voters should run for the hills every time we hear a politician make this argument? (Just kidding)
Well, I suppose you are putting your reputation on the line.
Ten days now, nothing to back up your statements but indignation.
Why not just share with us the basis for your declaration, so anybody who remains interested can continue the conversation? Even if you just made it up in your head, be as straight with us as "real estate customers" want agents to be with them.
Part of my community service. What's your excuse - are you on a mission to spread misinformation?
We really don't have to tussle with each other, you know. All you need to do is to tell us where you learned that when interest rates have risen, housing prices have fallen. It's not like I'm testing you on some arcane theoretical point; simply, why did you say that when you can't support it with facts?
So, you really don't know what you're writing about, do you?
- Should we buyers run for the hills when we see an agent claim they don't know?
I think we agents should run from buyers who are misinformed and unwilling to change that condition.
Thanks, DP4, but that's not really the case. I take issue with the part that reads, "when interest rates rise, home prices go down." It should be a simple matter to research whether that's true, and I don't think NYC537 has bothered to do that. However, s/he has taken the time to "be alarmed" that agents "didn't know" or "disagree" - why is that? Why should agents know, when it's not clear that NYC knows?
The "buying power" thing is obvious, and, of course, we have learned that increased buying power does not necessarily raise home prices.
I think that agents should verify whether this is true on their own, before going around parroting this stuff.
Agents are not lenders. It's not our job to be an expert on rates. I'm assuming you drive a car so you MUST be an expert on cars, right?
- It was my understanding that most agents should know this like everyone should know the capitol of the United States.
Yeah, funny about that, huh?
Of course, it makes sense logically, the way it makes sense that ice should take up a smaller volume than water at room temperature. But it doesn't, and we can demonstrate that's the case.
I don't need to be told repeatedly, "but it makes sense." I need to see that it has happened. We've had interest rates as high as eighteen percent, and these are the lowest interest rates since the end of WWII, so it's not like there wouldn't be a table showing home prices shrinking as interest rates rise. So, where is it?
You're right, that's not the point.
"More to the point, I'm asking for some evidence that your declaration - *Generally*, when interest rates rise, home prices go down - is true. Not much to ask for, is it?"
You're right again, there's really no point in you continuing but I would sure encourage you to try. I see 4 others who replied and had no problem understanding the questions. My goal isn't to convince you of anything. Why is it then I need to suddenly justify the one person who ,
1. Didn't answer the question
2. Didn't say why he agrees or disagrees
A good writer does not blame his audience.
More to the point, I'm asking for some evidence that your declaration - *Generally*, when interest rates rise, home prices go down - is true. Not much to ask for, is it?
"Generally" meaning usually so with exceptions. I did add that the formula is subject to market conditions and supply and demand so to ignore a part of (a+b)(c+d) = x , is inaccurate.
Your lengthy experience along with the anecdotes that come with it are something I can humbly learn from and is why I post on this site. It seems though that you're dismissing interest rates entirely which I think is wrong. A few others have posted evidence as such, where in a case where income, and other factors stay the same, buying power drops as interest rates rise. If you find this analysis to be wrong , would be happy to hear you out on why.
"Interest rates are at historic lows, why aren't prices at or near historic highs as your premise would suggest?"
Because, as I've mentioned there are a lot of other factors in play. In this time, with historic lows in interest rates, things like foreclosures , supply and demand and the recession are some of the things that are overshadowing the interest rates. If interest rates were to shoot up a point or two, what would that do to home prices? Shouldn't most agents know the answer?
"I believe your point was a direct correlation between interest rates and home prices and I'm sorry to say that if you were to study the historical sales data, you will find this simply isn't true."
I never said there was a direct (inclusive) correlation. The historical data says, almost all asset classes, not just real estate, including certain commodities, have risen since 1913 none of which have to do with interest rates but this I don't expect agents to know.
I appreciate your reply but I believe you misunderstood the question.
I think you've each made your points, and it's time to move on before this debate crosses the line - it's already pretty close.
Ah, so it's your reputation that you're protecting? You certainly fooled me here cuz it doesn't look like you care at all. Oh the irony.
Ten days now, nothing to back up your statements but indignation."
I see that you CAN do some basic math. Let's see how high you can go.
I walked by the mirror and yep, it's still me. I suppose being anonymous invalidates everything I'm saying. More captivating logic.
"it would seem that there's a stronger correlation with lower interest rates resulting in lower home prices."
LOL. Well there must be a chart, a slide, a visual aid or a table demonstrating that there's a stronger correlation with lower interest rates resulting in lower home prices. And according to YOUR logic, you must now prove it to me. But the only thing you're going to probably prove is that you're a hypocrite.
"I would caution agents to be careful quoting either statement without the ability to document it, because if your client decides to do a little research, it could prove quite embarrassing. And telling that client, "Well, I thought it was true because Nycdrone-53799 wrote it on a Trulia Q&A . . . ""
How insulting is this to other agents? Good job alienating your peers.
"Not quite as embarrassing as passing yourself off as a homebuyer after, what, thirty-five years? You don't want to get into it with me, Dan, I promise you."
That's embarrasing? That's IMPRESSIVE. And what exactly are you going to do to Dan? Post more?
"That, Dan, is the hallmark of a con artist, not a teacher."
Sorry I didn't know I came here to teach and I didn't know the right to remain silent = guilt. Don't we have some stupid laws about this?
- Well then, we've established that you're being intentionally dishonest.
" I just think it is your place - not mine - to support the premise."
-Get used to disappointmnet. Here on the forums and in your future real estate purchases.
Here's how the conversation actually went...
Me: Question that everyone understood except Mr.Coy.
Coy: I'm only going to take a small part of that statement, take it out of context and demand you prove it to me.
Me: No, you're misunderstanding. Besides it's my thread and only want to hear opinions and asking for help.
Coy: Chart, or it's false because THIS MY WORLD! I'm also ignoring everyone else's statements because I know more than them and I'm Captain Ahab! And I gots me a whale I need to kill.
Me: Did you understand the question?
Coy: Where's my chart?
16 Others : Most of us agree some of us don't and here are the reasons why and answers to your questions.
Coy: I'm not going to pay any attention to any of you because I don't uderstand basic economic theories and simple math.
Me : ok, why don't you just refute my statement.
Coy: *crickets chirping*
Me : Thought so
Coy: no YOU do it. I'm here to refute anything that says real estate prices go down because I'm underwater in all my purchases this year so I can't afford not to act like this.
Me: Happy trolling
If the shoe fits..
Troll : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)
Still waiting for your response to my question, but I'm not holding my breath.
Thanks for answering. Have a quick question for you if you don't mind. If you find that your client has the view that the market is headed down in price over the next few years and would want to price that in when making offers, how would you deal with that situation/client? I guess it would also depend on whether you agree or not.