July 2016 – Falling Interest Rates + Strong Economy

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Britain’s June vote to exit the EU has already had an impact on the market in the US, including here in San Francisco. Mortgage rates have dropped almost a quarter of a percent, making the monthly payments on our pricey housing slightly more affordable. The result is that it will support continuing increases in sales prices, as decreases in interest rates always do. For example, a $1,000,000 loan at 3.75% costs $4,631/month, but at 3.5% you can borrow $1,032,000 for the same monthly payment. And monthly payments are what buyers focus on.

The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco published its upbeat Economic Forecast in June which indicated continued strong job and economic growth, continued low business and mortgage interest rates (this was published prior to the vote in Britain), coupled with historically low unemployment and inflation below the Fed’s target of 2%. The conclusion is that they see Gross Domestic Product growth around 2% for the year, at a “pace consistent with moderate ongoing expansion, which we expect to continue over the next few years.”

Of interest was their findings about the cause of the lower labor force participation rates that have been occurring since 2001 that have been noted by many previous reports. It turns out that because of the considerable shift in the wage gains during this time period to the higher income households, that these households have fewer multiple earners. On the opposite end of the spectrum, lower wage earners continue to need multiple earners to make ends meet.

The Fed report hypothesizes that this is a shift that the upper-income households have made in the work-life balance and that the workforce participation in this group may remain low. It is also mimicked by the young workers in upper-income households, where labor force participation is also significantly lower than in the general population.

Median Sales Prices & Months Inventory – Single Family Homes

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Median Sales Prices & Months Inventory – Condo/Townhome

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New Listings & Median Days on Market – Single Family Homes

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New Listings & Median Days on Market – Condo/Townhome

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No Mass Exit from the Bay Area on the Horizon

At last month’s Building Boom forum, the Bay Area Council presented its latest poll of Bay Area residents, and said that the results show that a third of Bay Area residents “are likely to bolt the region in the next few years”. In truth, that is a big overstatement of the poll results.

What the poll actually asked for was a response to: “I am likely to move out of the Bay Area in the next few years.” What people answered was: 13% said they strongly agree with that statement and 21% said they somewhat agree.

That is certainly not a third of the residents saying they are likely to “bolt” in the next few years. Exactly where would they go? Jobs are here, families are here, the great weather is here. There’s a reason our population is growing – this is a fabulous place to work and live, in spite of high prices and congestion.

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This post was written by Rumana Jabeen

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