Here's why the housing market could see more action this year - and what it means for affordability
Welcome back, readers — Phil Rosen here. On this day 54 years ago, the Beatles played their last-ever gig on a rooftop in London.
And just the same, today marks my last Monday writing to you from California this winter.
That's not to say I'm on par with the Beatles, but I've never really believed in coincidence. I'll leave that verdict for you.
Now — into the housing market we go.
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1. The recent jump in lumber prices suggests housing activity may be crawling back to life. The key building commodity, which was one of the worst-performing commodities of 2022, is up 33% so far this year.
Its latest rise comes as pending home sales unexpectedly jumped in December and homebuilder confidence made a surprise comeback in January.
That's coincided with gradually easing mortgage rates. The average 30-year fixed-mortgage peaked above 7% last year, but now hovers closer to 6%.
All this is happening against a backdrop of cooling inflation and an ostensibly growing economy.
So buying a home is now slightly more reasonable, with rates easing from recent highs — but "more reasonable" is relative, and with prices still elevated, that doesn't mean affordable.
Prices are expected to climb modestly this year, albeit at a slower pace than the 10% jump seen last year.
Earlier this month, the National Association of Realtors reported that US existing-home sales fell again in December — the 11th consecutive monthly decline — to round out the weakest year for sales activity since 2014.
Sales of previously owned homes, which make up the majority of the housing market, plunged 17.8% last year compared to 2021, the report said.
Nadia Evangelou, senior economist for the NAR, told me recently the housing market could turn around in 2023, but unaffordability would remain a prevailing theme.
"There's no breathing room for first-time homebuyers," Evangelou said. "The share of first-time home buyers may shrink even further from the 2022's all-time lows. Both rents and home-owning will become more expensive… the continued housing shortage will not allow home prices to drop."
What's your housing outlook for this year? Tweet me (@philrosenn) or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let me know.
In other news:
2. US stock futures fall early Monday, as investors brace for a week of interest-rate decisions and big corporate earnings reports. Here are the latest market moves.
3. Earnings on deck: Canon, Ryanair, and more, all reporting.
4. This top-1% fund manager shared five ways investors can hunt down deeply discounted stocks. Scott Barbee shared the strategies he used to beat out 99% of his peers — and explained why investors can find some of the best bargains in the red-hot energy and materials sectors.
5. The recent stock rally is driven by optimism that things aren't as bad as feared — but a Wells Fargo strategist said that may not last. "I think right now, we're getting a bit of that relief, but when you really lower the bar it's hard to trip over," Anna Han told Bloomberg. She added that stocks' upbeat January has been "odd to see."
6. Elon Musk said he's worried about the Fed "crushing" the value of the entire stock market. In Tesla's latest earnings call, the billionaire warned that policymakers pose "quite a serious danger" to markets. Get the full details.
7. Asia's richest person doubled down on his defense against fraud allegations ahead of a massive share sale. Adani Group issued an 18-page presentation responding to short-seller Hindenburg's accusations. It's titled "Myths of Short Seller."
8. BiggerPockets' housing-market guru shared three real-estate investing strategies to use as home prices around the country take a hit. The current uncertainty in the housing market can be paralyzing for investors, but there's still opportunities to make money, he explained. He also shared two top cities to invest in right now.
9. This financially independent 34-year-old said that building wealth through real estate is a numbers game. It's important to be "as efficient with your capital as possible," James Berkley explained. He shared how to win the game by avoiding "lazy money."
10. Bitcoin is headed for its best start to the year since 2013. Risk appetite is growing among investors ahead of a smaller expected Fed hike this week. Over recent weeks, the cryptocurrency market has regained its $1 trillion market cap.
Curated by Phil Rosen in Los Angeles. Feedback or tips? Tweet @philrosenn or email email@example.com
Edited by Max Adams (@maxradams) in New York and Hallam Bullock (@hallam_bullock) in London.
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