The Fed’s Gilded Age: A Tale of Today’s Housing Market (REAL Home Prices Rising At 14.6% YoY As REAL Hourly Earnings Fall (-0.41% YoY)

Welcome to The Fed’s Gilded Age … for housing! The gilded age refers to the thin-veneer of gold covering up problems in the late 1800s.

Today’s gilded age is largely fueled by The Federal Reserve’s uber-easy monetary policies combined with absurd Federal government policies. The result? Thanks to inflation, REAL home prices are growing at 14.6% YoY while REAL hourly earnings are declining (-0.41% YoY).

Redfin predicts a more balanced housing market in 2022. Part of their rationale is that they predict mortgage rates will rise to 3.6%. This growth in the mortgage rate is predicted to slow home price growth to 3.2% from double digit growth currently.

While this scenario is plausible, it will require a change in direction of the 10-year Treasury yield which has been declining since 1981. 5.39% YoY inflation may encourage The Fed to raise rates.

Today’s REAL 30-year mortgage rate is -3.08% while the REAL 10-year Treasury yield is -4.67%. It will require a reduction in inflation AND an increase in the nominal rate to get to 3.6%.

With the Freddie Mac 30-year survey rate at 3.10, will a 50 basis point increase in mortgage rates send the market crashing? Not likely.

After all, the US economy is under the thumb of The Federal Reserve.

US Homeowner Equity Surged +29.3% YoY (California The Biggest Gainer) Thanks Mostly To Federal Reserve

Since Q2 2020, US homeowners have been big winners in terms of home price gains and equity in their homes. Unfortunately, this means that renters are big losers. Once again, The Federal Reserve is benefiting once segment of the population while punishing the other segment.

Homeowner Equity Q2 2021

CoreLogic analysis shows U.S. homeowners with mortgages (roughly 63% of all properties*) have seen their equity increase by a total of nearly $2.9 trillion since the second quarter of 2020, an increase of 29.3% year over year.

*Homeownership mortgage source: 2016 American Community Survey.

Figure 1 National Homeowner Equity YOY Change

National Homeowner Equity

In the second quarter of 2021, the average homeowner gained approximately $51,500 in equity during the past year.

California, Washington, and Idaho experienced the largest average equity gains at $116,300, $102,900 and $97,000 respectively. Meanwhile, North Dakota experienced the lowest average equity gain in the second quarter of 2021 at $10,600.

Figure 4 National Homeowner Equity Average Equity Gain

10 Select Metros Change

CoreLogic provides homeowner equity data at the metropolitan level, in this graphic 10 of the largest cities, by housing stock are depicted. 

Negative equity has seen a recent decrease across the country. San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA, is the least challenged, with Negative Equity Share of all mortgages at 0.6%.

Figure 5 National Homeowner Equity

Loan-to-Value Ratio (LTV)

The graph represents National Homeowner Equity Distribution across multiple LTV Segments.

Figure 6 National Homeowner Equity Loan-to-Value Ratio

Since growing home equity lead to lower default risk (or at least losses to the mortgage holder), we are seeing mortgage delinquencies fall after the Covid surge.

Of the top ten cities, Chicago leads in negative equity.

Maybe Fed Chair Jerome Powell is trying to soothe us, like Sam and Dave.