The California housing market faces economic challenges and inflationary pressures, impacting consumer sentiment. However, there are positive signs with increased home purchase sentiment and a decline in mortgage delinquency rates. While concerns remain, the market demonstrates resilience in the face of adversity.
The California Housing Market: Resilience Shines Through Economic Challenges and Inflationary Pressures
May 15, 2023 – Despite some worries looming over the economy, it’s essential to highlight the positive aspects that have emerged. Inflation dropped to its lowest level in nearly two years, providing a glimmer of hope. However, consumers and business owners have become increasingly pessimistic due to concerns like the debt ceiling, bank failures, recession fears, and persistent inflation. These factors have affected public sentiment and influenced the housing market outlook.
Improved Home Purchase Sentiment
Fortunately, there is a silver lining when it comes to home purchase sentiment. The Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) saw a notable increase in April, reaching its highest level since May 2022. The index rose by 5.5 points to 66.8. All six components of the HPSI experienced a month-over-month increase, including consumers’ expectations on mortgage rates. While nearly half of the respondents still anticipate mortgage rates to rise next year, a significant 22% expect them to drop. However, given the high costs of borrowing and affordability constraints, only about one in four respondents believe it’s an excellent time to buy a home.
Declining Mortgage Delinquency Rates
Another positive development can be seen in the mortgage delinquency rate. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s National Delinquency Survey, the delinquency rate for mortgage loans on residential properties decreased in the first quarter of 2023. It reached the lowest level for any first quarter since 1979, when the survey began tracking delinquency rates. The improvement was broad-based, spanning across FHA, VA, conventional loans, and all states. This positive trend can be attributed to the strong performance of existing mortgages, which aligns with the resilient job market.
Consumer Sentiment Faces Challenges
However, consumer sentiment took a hit in early May. The preliminary read of the Consumer Sentiment Index for May revealed a decline, with consumers expressing less optimism about current conditions and future expectations. The index dropped to its lowest level in six months. Additionally, the medium-to-long-term inflation expectations reached a 12-year high, indicating that consumers expect higher inflation to persist. Despite their remarkable resilience thus far, persistent inflation and a slowing economy continue to dampen consumer mood.
Small Business Optimism Struggles
Small business owners are also grappling with challenges and a gloomy economic outlook. According to the National Federation of Independent Business’s Small Business Optimism Index, their confidence reached its lowest point in over a decade in April. While some positive news emerged regarding inflation, with fewer business owners planning to raise prices or increase compensation, labor challenges, and the talent search continue to weigh on their overall optimism.
Gradual Easing of Consumer Prices
Consumer prices remain elevated but have been gradually easing in recent months. In April, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased by 0.4%, resulting in a 4.9% increase over the past year. Excluding food and energy, the core CPI rose by 0.4% in the month and 5.5% over the year. Shelter costs rose by 7.5% over the last year, contributing significantly to the monthly increase. Although inflation remains a concern, the gradual improvement in recent months, especially in energy and food inflation, offers some encouraging news. It suggests that the Federal Reserve’s decision to pause on rate hikes might be on the horizon, as highlighted by the April CPI release.
While the California housing market faces some challenges due to economic concerns and inflationary pressures, there are positive developments to be acknowledged. Home purchase sentiment has improved, mortgage delinquency rates are declining, and inflation.