28 October 2016

How will the 2016 Election affect the Housing Market?

Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Whichever candidate wins the White House will have the power to shape the nation’s housing market and overall economy for years to come.

What you may not know is that presidential elections themselves can affect everything from mortgage rates and housing prices to stock market values and corporate investment.

A range of studies show that — during a typical election year — the uncertainty produced by the race can have more impact on housing and the economy than the actual outcome in November. Of course, the 2016 election is anything but “typical.”

Voters: “Two Flawed Candidates”

To start, both Clinton and Trump are viewed negatively by large swaths of Americans, according to numerous polls. This may prompt large numbers of voters to choose between “the lesser of two evils” instead of backing the candidate who most closely matches their views.

And though Trump’s anti-trade, anti-immigrant and inflammatory remarks about women, minorities and Muslims has won considerable support among white working-class voters, it has fractured the Republican Party.

Nobody “has ever seen a major party nominee put financial conditions on the United States defense of NATO allies, openly fight with the family of a fallen American soldier, or entice Russia to meddle in a United States presidential election by hacking his opponent” said the Times.

“And while coded appeals to racism or nationalism aren’t new … overt calls to temporarily bar Muslims from entry to the United States or questioning a federal judge’s impartiality based on his Mexican heritage are new.”

Thanks to statements like these, a number of Republicans officials have denounced Trump. Some have even pledged to vote for Clinton.

The result of both candidacies is that the two major parties have essentially switched places, with Republicans now polling better among blue-collar voters (once reliable Democrats), and Democrats doing better with college-educated professionals and many entrepreneurs.

Housing Market is Stronger than in 2012

Fortunately, the U.S. housing market is stronger than it was during the 2012 election, and so is the overall economy.

In November 2012, home sales were rising, but the market was still recovering from the economic downturn of 2008. By comparison, home sales through May 2016 have seen the biggest increase since 2007.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median value for new homes sold in June 2012 was $232,600. By June 2016, that figure had soared to $306,700.

In late 2012, 30-year mortgage rates were 3.34 percent and 15-year rates averaged 2.75 percent. Today, lenders are quoting 30-year rates near 3.25 percent and 15-year rates in the mid-2s.

Unemployment has plummeted from an average of 8.1 percent in 2012 to less than four percent today. In addition, consumer spending in the second quarter of 2016 rose by a whopping 4.2 percent, and retail sales jumped by 3.1 percent over the same period in 2015.

Elections = Uncertainty

Unfortunately, the main byproduct of presidential elections is uncertainty, especially elections in which an incumbent isn’t running.

As a rule, markets don’t like uncertainty — the uncertainty of who will win and (in Trump’s case) of what an inexperienced politician might do in office.

For this reason, business investment and stock markets often become sluggish – and industry can become almost paralyzed – during election years, particularly when the outcome is likely to affect regulation, taxation and trade policy.

Since 1833, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has gained an average of 10.4 percent in the year before a presidential election, but only six percent during the election year, according to the Stock Trader’s Almanac.

Although Republican candidates are typically perceived as more “business friendly” than Democrats and, therefore, more friendly to Americans’ wallets, research indicates that a candidate’s party affiliation has very little impact on the stock markets.

“Wall Street is very powerful when it comes to the economy, and they don’t like change,” said Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist of Windermere Real Estate, “As such, they are always going to favor the more centrist candidate – in this case Secretary Clinton as opposed to Mr. Trump”.

“Markets don’t like uncertainty and … if Trump becomes president, I believe that there will be a massive injection of uncertainty into the markets, and that could negatively impact housing.”

The Effect on Home Prices

A presidential election’s effect on home prices is usually less pronounced than it is on stock values, but most experts say that home values rise more slowly during election years than off years.

A Movoto.com study of the California real estate market reveals that home prices usually rise 1.5 percent less during an election year than in the year before an election, and they rise 0.8 percent less than in the year after the election.

This seemingly small difference could cost homeowners thousands of dollars in lost value.

However, a recent study by the California Association of Realtors (CAR) disputes this conventional wisdom. The CAR study found no evidence that elections have a negative impact on home sales or prices. In fact, the study discovered that growth in home sales at the end of an election year — at least in California — actually outperforms non-election years by 7.1 percent.

The authors of the Movoto.com study speculate that election years may be stressful for many Americans, making them less likely to purchase high-ticket items — like houses. Because an election’s results can affect their personal finances, fewer home buyers are willing to take the plunge until the dust settles and the new President’s policies become known.

Realtytoday.com reports that it’s usually harder to sell homes during election years, so sellers may want to list their properties either the year before or the year after an election in order to receive the maximum value.

Above is a shortened version of the original piece b
y Pete Gerardo, a business writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times and numerous trade magazines, published on mymortgageinsider.com. 

In the next blog-post, I will look at the local housing market in SE Florida and any possible election effects.

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