Housing Market's Impact on Latest 121-Month Economic Expansion

Home prices began falling just before the start of the recession and continued to decline at a more rapid pace throughout 2008 and 2009. However, from June 2009 through May 2019, home prices and rents have continued to grow. Through May 2019, home prices increased a cumulative 50% and single-family rents increased 33% in the United States. In the first quarter of 2019, 1.1 million new owners joined the housing economy, while the number of renters increased by 458,000. (Figure 3)

With increasing home prices after the recession, many first-time buyers delayed homeownership, choosing to rent for longer. However, in 2018, millennial buyers – those born from 1981 to 1996 – reversed this trend by becoming the largest cohort for finance-home purchases, accounting for 44% of home-purchase mortgage applications. These millennial buyers are looking for affordability and not buying in the typical coastal cities seen in the past. According to CoreLogic Market Condition Indicators (MCI), in May 2019, four of the top 10 metros for millennial buyers were undervalued (Pittsburgh; Rochester, New York; Wichita, Kansas and Grand Rapids, Michigan), five metros were at value (Buffalo, New York; Milwaukee; Albany, New York; Provo, Utah and Des Moines, Iowa) and one metro was overvalued (Salt Lake City). Metros in California had the lowest percentage of millennials applying for a mortgage.

Despite an unemployment rate near a 50-year low, inflation rates below the Federal Reserve Board’s 2% target and strong GDP growth (3.1%) in the first quarter of 2019, concerns of a looming recession have been rising. The report explores recent recession indicators and looks at how the housing economy could weather the next dip.

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