Solid evidence that we’re not in another housing bubble

As the median sales price of a home in Bend, Oregon, nears the heights reached before the housing market crash, it’s reasonable to wonder if we’re experiencing another bubble.

Although no one can predict the future, there are solid indications that the rise in housing prices is not due to speculation or unsound lending practices. Instead, the evidence supports the theory that supply and demand are driving housing prices.

Interest rates this week hit a calendar-year low, despite recent increases in the Federal Reserve’s benchmark rate. The average of 30-year fixed-rate loans dropped to 3.95 percent (assuming an average of 0.5 point — a fee a borrower pays that corresponds to 1 percent of the loan amount.) Rates such as these — very low from the long-term U.S. housing market perspective — increase the buying power of those looking for homes.

Another piece of evidence is the percentage of mortgage originations with a relatively low credit score. Credit scores of less than 620 drew the largest percentage of mortgage loans in the first quarter of 2007 than at any other time in the last 14 years. In fact, sub-620 credit scores in that quarter had a larger share of the market than credit scores between 620 and 659.

Today, sub-620 credit scores make up a small fraction of mortgage originations — it’s the smallest credit-score segment obtaining mortgages. The conclusion: People who are buying houses have the financial means to do so.

Labor market indicators and the trend in the United States’ gross domestic product also argue against a recession in the near future. In Bend specifically, there are a sizable number of residents whose livelihood does not rely on local economic activity. The diversification that Bend’s abundant home-based workforce adds to the local economy provides a foundation of support to the local real estate market.

Also, as Bill Valentine, of wealth management firm Valentine Ventures has said, there are more people who want to live in Bend than the local housing supply can keep up with. Bend’s population has grown by 5 percent from 2016, according to a U.S. Census Bureau estimate released this week. The Bulletin noted that equates to 12 people moving to Bend every day.

When CoreLogic’s national forecast calls for a 4.9 increase in home prices by March 2018 — and that’s a forecast that encompasses all of the United States, not just a growing city such as Bend — it seems reasonable that prices in Bend could continue to increase — and increase more than the national average.

“If you want to see where we’re headed, look to other exclusive mountain towns,” Valentine said. The median price of a home in Boulder, Colorado, for example, is almost $550,000, about 38 percent higher than in Bend.

Clearly Bend’s is a dynamic housing market. Whether you’re looking to buy a home or considering selling, I can use my background and experience to help guide you through the process. To learn more about how I can assist you in your real estate transaction, contact me at (541) 383-1426, or visit Bend Property Search to connect with me through my website.

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