Let's look at a few timely trends we’ve seen in the last few weeks. Here's what's happening in the real estate market in September 2021.
1. The CDC fight is still on
The CDC eviction ban officially expired on July 31, but it only took three days for the agency to step in and re-up its policy. The move was a jolting one for landlords, especially with a recent Supreme Court opinion effectively calling any extension a violation of the Constitution.
President Biden himself called the reinstatement a Hail Mary of sorts -- a last-ditch effort to hold off evictions while the delta variant rampages through the U.S.
"I went ahead and did it," he said at an Aug. 5 press briefing. "But here's the deal: I can't guarantee you the Court won't rule if we don't have that authority, but at least we'll have the ability, if we have to appeal, to keep this going for a month at least -- I hope longer than that."
Groups of Realtors and landlords have already filed an emergency appeal with the Supreme Court, and the Justice Department responded in kind. There's no telling when the court will rule, but if Justice Brett Kavanaugh's previous letter is any indication, it's probably not good news for tenants.
2. Home price growth appears to be letting up -- at least slightly
Home prices seem to be losing steam. According to Realtor.com, the median listing price jumped just 8.6% year over year in the last week of July -- the fourth straight week growth has been in the single digits -- for 50 weeks prior, price growth was in the double digits!
To be fair, prices are still near all-time highs, but the rate at which those prices are increasing is tapering off. "This rate of growth is still higher than we've seen historically," said Realtor.com's chief economist Danielle Hale. "We expect prices to ease as we head into fall, as they have historically, which will mean still-strong pricing for sellers and a window of opportunity for buyers."
3. Inventory is rising
Slowing demand (or just burned-out buyers) are partially to blame for that slowing price growth. But another factor? That'd be a bump in inventory.
According to data, more sellers are finally coming to the table. Realtor.com has new listings up 2% year over year the week ending Aug. 21 and 6% the week prior. In total, new listings have increased in 19 out of the last 22 weeks.
Again, it's not an all-out turnaround. Total listings are still below last year's numbers, but the gap between the two is closing. Additionally, smaller homes are increasingly hitting the market, which should be good for investors focusing on affordable single-family rentals or fix-and-flips. Properties between 750 and 1,750 square feet now make up over 36% of listings.
4. Rents are continuing their upward climb
Rents have officially recovered -- and then some. The latest data has median rents up nearly 10% compared to last year, equating to about $143 more per month over 2020 and $175 more than 2019. Rents have jumped so much, buying a starter home is more affordable than renting in nearly half of the country's largest housing markets.
Riverside, California, has seen the biggest rent hikes, with a 30% jump over the year, while Tampa, Florida; Memphis, Tennessee; and Phoenix also topped the list. Rents also rose more on bigger properties (two-bedrooms, in particular) than on studios.
5. Mortgage rates are hanging tight
Interest rates are still hovering well below 3% on 30-year loans and have held there since mid-June. Rates on 15-year loans averaged a mere 2.17% in the third week of August, and five-year ARM rates are near their lowest point on record.
Be forewarned, though: The trend might be short-lived. The Federal Reserve is largely expected to begin tapering its purchases of mortgage-backed securities in 2022, which could send rates upward. So if you're eyeing a purchase or refinance? You might want to think about acting soon.
The bottom line
Real estate trends are always in flux. Check back next month for updates on the latest.