As we enter a new year, we welcome new expectations for the housing market as we think about the year ahead. Briefly looking back at 2018, the year started off on a different note than it ended, namely rates rose to their highest levels in decades by year’s end, and the market fully transitioned to a Buyer’s Market. How do we expect 2019 to pan out?
The year ahead is likely to be a bit tougher than 2018 and remain soft overall as a result of the Fed. Prices remaining at minimum stable would be a positive, and a small rate of price appreciation would be even better. When people see their home rise in value, they feel wealthier whereas declining home values can spark a feeling of an impending recession. Thinking about 2019, we identified 4 areas of focus 1) Interest Rates, 2) Millennials, 3) Inventory, and 4) Rentals.
We anticipate that interest rates will continue to rise in 2019 given the strong economic fundamentals and low unemployment rate in the US economy. Rates may begin to approach levels that finally squeeze some folks out of the market and into a smaller home than originally planned. Rising rates may also encourage some would be “Trade Ups” to stay put. Increasing rates is likely to impact first-time buyers most heavily as increased rates means less buying power. From a larger, national housing market perspective, this could also contribute to slowing sales as Buyers grapples with higher mortgage rates and recent rapid price increases over the past few years.
Millennials may be more at the forefront of the 2019 market than they were in 2018. This group could be a large driving force on the buy side of the market, especially for entry-level priced properties in New York City. The largest portion of Millennials will be ages 29-30 in 2019, a prime age for first-time homeownership. In a market such as New York, Millennials tend to be more affluent and savvy consumers, understanding the value in buying a property versus paying New York rent prices over the long term. Successful Millennials who have worked in industries such as Finance and Tech are likely armed with enough cash for a down payment. Studio-1-bedroom properties priced below $2M are appealing to this group of Buyers.
Inventory is likely to remain elevated in NYC in 2019. New Developments continue to come to market and close, projects remain in the pipeline, and resale inventory will continue to come to market as well. This will be especially evident in the luxury sector of the market ($4M+) which has been experiencing a glut of inventory versus demand, a factor resulting in the shift to a Buyer’s Market. Average asking prices were inflated approximately 10% throughout 2018, and we expect the same to hold true throughout 2019. This means that Sellers had to take a significant reduction from Ask in order to get deals done. It is important to remember that deals get done when the price is right!
Rent prices could likely see an uptick in 2019, attributed to the arrival of Amazon and increased demand. Amazon will bring with it a large number of high paying jobs, and thus increased demand from their employees as well as peripheral interest generated when a company such as Amazon picks a city as their home base. Google has also been discussing bringing a large number of net new jobs to NYC. Whether we see an increase in rent asking prices with concessions available or the dropping of concessions with asking prices remaining consistent resulting in a net effective increase in rent remains to be seen. We feel the latter is a probable scenario as landlords tend to drop concessions with demands increases as there is more competition for units. Additional rental inventory is something to watch in 2019 as it relates to pricing as this could be a factor that keeps a lid on rising rental prices.