Economic insights: February 2024

In the real estate industry, it is crucial to stay on top of market trends, of course, but also those of the global economy, which affects not only real estate, but most aspects of daily life.

Keep up to date with Luxury Portfolio International here, where Dr. Marci Rossell, chief economist for Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, shares her top five insights from the past month.

1. Inflation and recession

Per data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in December 2023 the Core Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index slowed to 2.9 percent year-over-year. Dr. Rossell anticipates an ongoing inflationary decline in coming months and sees no theoretical or empirical evidence to suggest a recession in 2024.

She anticipates that the Federal Reserve’s target 2 percent inflation rate will likely be met by early-to-mid-spring. 

2. Federal Reserve activity

Dr. Rossell believes the Fed could make its first rate cut as early as March. While some pundits are forecasting a less bullish second-quarter timeframe for the Fed’s first chop, Dr. Rossell notes that, either way, the market is already responding favorably to the expectation of impending cuts later this year. 

3. Mortgage rates

In mid-January, mortgage rates for 30-year fixed products dropped to just under 6.5 percent. While we will not see a return to the rock-bottom rates of the pandemic years, particularly given the fact that the Federal Reserve is no longer holding a portfolio of mortgage-backed securities, Dr. Rossell forecasts that by year’s end, mortgage rates will be back down to a market-clearing 5 to 6 percent. 

4. Inventory

Residential construction was at a six-month high in December, with Bloomberg reporting single-family starts rising 18 percent month-over-month.

In addition to new-build activity providing modest relief to current inventory constraints, easing mortgage rates will encourage homeowners to relinquish their pandemic-acquired rates, moving existing-home inventory back onto the market in the second half of the year.

Overall, Dr. Rossell says we can expect U.S. housing supply and demand to become much more balanced in 2024 compared to the past three years. 

5. Affordability

While a modest increase in inventory and declining mortgage rates will tempt buyers back into the market this spring, buyers should not expect to be met with any significant decrease in home prices.

As homes coming onto the market will be readily absorbed by pent-up demand, prices will likely remain elevated and may, in fact, see an overall increase of 3 to 4 percent by the end of the year.

Nonetheless, with U.S. consumer sentiment bolstered by cooling inflation, increasingly palatable mortgage rates, and strong jobs and wage markets, real estate professionals and their consumers should gear up for a happier and healthier 2024 for the residential real estate market. 

As LeadingRE’s chief economist, Dr. Marci Rossell explores how global economies, policies and politics affect the real estate industry and our everyday lives, either directly or indirectly. Dr. Rossell has a proven track record for analyzing the economic market as the former chief economist at CNBC and corporate economist at OppenheimerFunds.