Editors' pick: Originally published Dec. 5.
Yes, President-Elect Donald Trump may have chosen Ben Carson to lead the Department of Housing and Urban Development, but as the U.S. housing market revs its engines as 2016 draws to a close, an army of homeowners, real estate professionals and economists are focused on cheering on a potentially rosy market in 2017.
And with good reason.
According to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices released on November 29, U.S. housing prices rose, on average, by 5.5% from September, 2015 to September, 2016. Some U.S. regions showed double-digit growth for the time period - Seattle, saw an 11.0% year-over-year price increase, followed by Portland, Ore. with 10.9% and Denver with an 8.7% increase, according to the index.
The data point to further growth next year, experts say.
"The new peak set by the S&P Case-Shiller CoreLogic National Index will be seen as marking a shift from the housing recovery to the hoped-for start of a new advance," notes David M. Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices. "While seven of the 20 cities previously reached new post-recession peaks, those that experienced the biggest booms -- Miami, Tampa, Phoenix and Las Vegas -- remain well below their all-time highs. Other housing indicators are also giving positive signals: sales of existing and new homes are rising and housing starts at an annual rate of 1.3 million units are at a post-recession peak."
But there are question marks heading into the new year for the housing market. The surprise election of Donald Trump as president has industry professionals openly wondering how a new Washington regime will impact the real estate sector, one way or another.
For instance, Dave Norris, chief revenue officer of loanDepot, a retail mortgage lender located in Orange County, Calif., says dismantling the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, encouraging higher interest rates, and broadening consumer credit are potential scenario shifters for the housing market in the early stages of a Trump presidency.
Other experts contacted by TheStreet agree with Norris and say change is coming to the housing market, and it may be more radical than expected. To illustrate that point, here are five key takeaways from market experts on how a Trump presidency will shape the 2017 U.S. real estate sector.
Expect higher interest rates - The new administration will likely lead to higher interest rates, which will compress home and investment property values, says Allen Shayanfekr, chief executive officer of Sharestates, an online crowd-funding platform for real estate financing. "Specifically, loans are calculated through debt service coverage ratios and a borrower's ability to make their payments," Shayanfekr says. "Higher interest rates mean larger monthly payments and in turn, lower loan amount qualifications. If lenders tighten up, it will restrict the buyer market, causing either a plateau in market values or possibility a decrease depending on the margin of increased rates."
Housing reform will also impact home purchase costs - Trump's effect on interest rates will likely depress housing prices in some ways, says David Reiss, professor of law at Brooklyn Law School. "That's because the higher the monthly cost of a mortgage, the lower the price that the seller can get," he notes. Reiss cites housing reform as a good example. "Housing finance reform will increase interest rates," he says. "Republicans have made it very clear that they want to reduce the role of the federal government in the housing market in order to reduce the likelihood that taxpayers will be on the hook for another bailout. If they succeed, this will likely raise interest rates because the federal government's involvement in the mortgage market tends to push interest rates down."
Deportation effect - "If Donald Trump puts his campaign trail words into action, it could significantly impact the housing market, for better or worse," says Keith Canter, CEO of First Community Mortgage in Murfreesboro, Tenn. "For example, homebuilders rely on many of the undocumented immigrants Trump has promised to deport. If he follows through, builders will struggle to find workers. Labor costs will soar and so will home prices."
Freer markets, lower taxes - At the same time, Trump's pledge to deregulate the market and lower taxes could be a boon for the economy, creating increased housing demand which would further escalate the rise in home prices, says Canter. "This effect could vary geographically," he notes. "People in red states may have more confidence in Trump's ability to improve the economy and thus may be more likely to make a major purchase like a new home. Conversely, those in blue states may resist buying homes until the impact of a Trump presidency becomes clearer. There is even evidence that people from blue states are buying more real estate in red states to take advantage of a perceived higher consumer confidence on a regional basis."
"Wealth effect" an impactor - Robert Johnson, president and CEO of The American College of Financial Services, in Bryn Mawr, Penn., advises watching out for the "wealth effect" and its impact on the real estate market. "There is a wealth effect with respect to the housing market," he explains. "As stock prices rise, potential home buyers feel flush and are likely to purchase that first home or a larger home. But stock returns tend to be much lower in rising rate environments than in falling rate environments. From 1966 through 2013, the S&P 500 returned 15.2% when rates were falling and only 5.9% when rates were rising. Bottom line, stock investors should expect lower returns as rates rise over the next few months and years."
No doubt, Trump is bringing change to Washington, good or bad depending on your political viewpoint. But in bringing that change, a Trump administration may shake up the nation's housing market, as well - again, for good or bad, depending how you look the issue.