If you are older than 40, you remember the first seven years of the 21st century. These were the peak buying years of the Baby Boom Generation —which perverted home ownership into a fevered housing boom — which then became the worldwide economic crash of 2008. In the 30 years before that bust there had been about three other housing bubbles, followed by their inevitable bursting into housing busts.
The 2008 housing bust lasted a decade in Connecticut. There was low or no growth in prices, slow construction activity, and a depressed sense that the extreme cost of Connecticut homes had topped out. Then the Covid-19 pandemic sequestration stopped many things people do every day, including thinking about our homes – new or renewed.
But a funny thing happened last summer, after we were all force-fed our homes which had become our one place of working, learning, eating, exercising, even connecting (through our computers). Collectively many of us found that we loved our homes, but they can be improved upon. So as soon as the bonds of lock-down were loosened, a rush to revise where we live began.
Mortgage rates are still low, the number of houses that are up for sale (also known as “inventory”) is the lowest since 1963 according to Forbes, while personal savings are up after a year of having nowhere to spend income, and, “Voila!” the next housing bubble has happened. This means prices of everything related to homes — construction, prices, fixtures — are exploding and often impossible to obtain right now.
Coldwell Banker CEO Robert Gorman states that 40 percent of this new market is upsizing, 30 percent of homeowners see an increase in their home value, and 30 see the home office boom caused by Covid-19 sequestration as having caused a unique confluence of need and opportunity.
Consequently, CNBC cites that over 40 percent of homes are selling for more than their asking price, causing home prices to rise to be over 15 percent higher than they were last year according to real estate brokerage Redfin. The equity that we have in our homes has risen as well, as we simply owe less on homes that are, for now at least, worth more.
Yahoo News notes that this may be a new market, not a bubble as the national house market value that was at $26 trillion in pre-2008 crash dollars, with $11 trillion of that in mortgage debt, has jumped to $33 trillion in house value this year, and mortgage debt is at $12 trillion. That means that the net value of equity in our homes has gone up 40 percent as mortgages have been paid down and home worth has gone up. Concurrently, the value of the stock market has more than tripled since 2008, a bizarre rise in value.
As in any of the five housing booms that I have experienced over the last 45 years, first time buyers are greatly discouraged by this price jump. With 52 percent of 18-29 years living at home (the highest rate in over 100 years according to Norada Real Estate Investments) a boom for some shuts out a market for others.
The consequences of this boom are laughably predictable to anyone who experienced the 2001-2008 bubble. Architects think they are finally getting the recognition (and perhaps fees) they deserve. Builders are now seeing calls for potential work as threats, as their time and attention is fully stressed and their subcontractors are stretched beyond reliability. The frenzy for “missing out” on an opportunity to own what you want distorts the outlook of both buyers and sellers of all things involving homes.
As long as mortgage rates are low there is the lure of being able to afford what we want in homes, despite the rise in cost. But a century’s worth of experience in the mortgage-based housing industry has taught one simple truth: change is the only constant. While the patterns grow more familiar the older you are, the roller-coaster ride of the Boom-Bust world of home worth and marketability is unique to Real Estate.
We are shocked when groceries or utility bills or car prices go up by 5 percent in a year. But just as gasoline prices dramatically rise and fall, in this last year of Covid, our homes have swung wildly in their value and cost — up 15.4 percent according to the Wall Street Journal, with sales up over 16 percent. My mind wanders to the reality of the last “Roaring ’20s” a century ago, an era ended by the Great Depression after a decade of debt, partying and stock market speculation. I hope that history does not repeat itself.
Duo Dickinson is a Madison-based architect.
Originally Appeared Here