On today show we’re taking a look at a major shift in the rental housing market. This change is a direct result of the rapid increase in interest rates. A lot has been written in recent months about the so-called lock in effect. I recently attended a talk by Dr. Doug Duncan, chief economist at Fannie Mae. He was speaking at a real estate meet up in Silicon Valley last week, where he shared a tremendous amount of data that the chamber Fannie Mae uses to understand what’s happening in the housing market. And I talked, Dr. Duncan shared that 90% of existing residential mortgages in the United States are more than 100 basis points below current interest rates. Furthermore, 70% of residential mortgages are 200 basis points low current mortgage interest rates. These people sell their homes and buy a replacement home, their housing cost will go up dramatically just due to interest rates. Financially, these people cannot afford to sell. They are locked in to their current low interest rate mortgage. This is going to put a tremendous amount of pressure on new supply entering the market.

This is exactly what we’re saying in the current market. There are very few homes for sale. Prices have stabilized after falling in the fourth quarter of last year. In many markets, we are seeing prices rising again due to the shortage and supply combined with an excess of demand. of course it makes no sense to look at the averages because the averages obscure what is happening in the real economy. We see that homes at the affordable end of the spectrum are continuing to fly off the shelf. Homes at the luxury end of the spectrum are taking longer to sell.

Buyers last year were cancelling contracts with new home builders over rising interest rates. Today builders are seeing an increase in demand for new homes. However, the demand for new homes is overwhelmingly at the affordable end of the spectrum. 

Let’s go back and ask the question why do people sell their homes? People sell their homes when they want to move or they feel that the need to move. Older adults are sometimes ageing out of their homes. Sometimes people move for employment reasons. Sometimes they move for lifestyle choices, so what happens if someone needs to move but does not want to sell their house? They are locked in. I expect a large percentage of these homes to show up in the rental market. This is likely to translate into a supply surge of rental properties in the market. The forecast surge in demand for rental properties due to higher borrowing costs is likely to be satisfied by the unexpected supply of rental properties. 

The rental market vacancy statistics that are maintained by the large national brokerages tend to focus on the larger scale commercial rental properties. Individual single-family homes in the rental market tend to fall below the radar.

This could result in market vacancy metrics that are inaccurate over the coming months.