Fannie Mae Projects Total Single-Family Home Sales of 4.42 Million in 2023

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After rebounding at a 2.6% annualized rate in Q3 2022 on the strength of net exports, real gross domestic product (GDP) is projected to turn negative again in the fourth quarter as the temporary boost from international trade moderates, according to November 2022 commentary from the Fannie Mae Economic and Strategic Research (ESR) Group.

The ESR Group also expects declines in residential fixed and business investment, as well as slowing personal consumption growth, to contribute to negative growth in Q4 2022, and it continues to expect the economy to tip into a modest recession in the first quarter of 2023.

Full-year 2022 GDP growth is now expected to be 0.0%, an upgrade of one-tenth from the previous forecast, while forecasted 2023 GDP was downgraded by one-tenth to a 0.6% contraction. Additionally, the ESR Group’s inaugural forecast for 2024 shows economic growth rebounding to 2% on a Q4/Q4 basis, reflecting the beginning of an expected economic recovery.

Finally, although inflation showed signs of cooling in October, the possibility of a strong labor market contributing to more persistent wage pressures in the future suggests to the ESR Group that the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) will once again raise the federal funds rate at its next meeting, and it forecasts the federal funds rate topping out at approximately 5% in early 2023.

The ESR Group made only modest updates to its forecast of total single-family home sales in 2022 and 2023, which are projected to be 5.67 million and 4.42 million, respectively. In 2024, single-family home sales are expected to rebound 18.6% from the year prior to 5.25 million, reflecting an anticipated modest pullback in mortgage rates, the broader economic recovery, and a continued lack of housing supply that should support new home construction.

A significant contributor to the ESR Group’s pessimistic home sales path remains the so-called “lock-in effect,” in which homeowners have a significant financial disincentive to move because they hold mortgages well below current market rates. Right now, the ESR Group estimates that, as of October month-end, more than 80% of borrowers had a mortgage rate at least 200 basis points below current market rates, by far the largest share in decades.

“The economy continues to slide toward a modest recession, which we anticipate will begin in the new year, with housing leading the slowdown,” says Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. “Higher interest rates have ignited the typical reduction in residential fixed investment, which historically has led into either an economic slowdown or recession. From our perspective, the good news is that demographics remain favorable for housing, so the sector appears well-positioned to help lead the economy out of what we expect will be a brief recession.”

Image: Erik Mclean on Unsplash

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