Skip to main content

The Big Story

Housing market recession? Depends on who you ask.

Quick Take:

Note: You can find the charts & graphs for the Big Story at the end of the following section.


Home prices decline for the first month this year

We knew the end of the streak was coming. Higher mortgage rates, which negatively affect affordability, combined with the typical summer sales slowdown and higher inventory have caused prices to decline month-over-month from the all-time high they reached in June 2022. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) data show that the median home price in the United States declined by 2.4%, and Realtor.com data indicate that the median price per square foot declined by 0.43%. These aren’t major declines, as you can see, especially when considering the decline in sales. According to NAR, the number of homes sold dropped 5.9% month-over-month and 20.2% year-over-year, which is substantial but not necessarily unexpected. Home sales in 2020 and 2021 were the highest since the 2006 housing bubble burst, which set the stage for the 2008 financial crisis, and normal seasonal trends were less pronounced or non-existent. It’s very easy to get wrapped up in the recent past, especially when it comes to large financial purchases, most of which (a new home!) are profoundly life-changing. We weren’t sure how long the break in historic seasonality would last, but it seems to have ended, and seasonality has mostly returned.


As we look at the pre-pandemic seasonal trends, home prices and inventory increased in the first half of the year and declined in the back half. The trend is essentially two steps forward and one step back over and over, so even when the second half of the year sees some price decline, year-over-year prices tend to be higher. In July, we reached the longest-running streak of year-over-year home price increases on record, with 125 consecutive months. This year, inventory may peak later than usual if sales continue to decline through what are typically the strongest sales months (May-August). From January 2020 to June 2022, the median price per square foot rose 54%, so there is definitely room for some price declines in the back half of this year.


The monster price gains in 2020-2022 were, of course, pandemic related, and the already tight housing supply dropped to shockingly low levels. However, with fewer sales than expected and more new inventory coming to market, active listings have nearly doubled from the all-time low reached in February 2022. More inventory can only benefit the market, as we are still 44% below July 2019 (pre-pandemic) levels. Housing starts have declined since this past April as the cost of building has gone up. The National Association of Homebuilders’ Housing Market Index, which measures homebuilder sentiment for the single-family home market, has declined every month of 2022. These declines in sales and home building have led NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun to use the term “housing recession” with some caveats. We believe, however, that the word “recession” is too dark a picture for the current market. Although the market still favors sellers over buyers, we are moving toward a more balanced market, which feels like quite a switch given how deeply we dove into a sellers’ market since mid-2020. The market is getting healthier and a little less hot, which is ultimately beneficial to everyone participating when we look at the big picture. Buyers are facing less competition, but they still must compete, and sellers are still generally getting at least asking price.


The U.S. housing market has become more nuanced over the past several months, depending on the region. Some parts of the country are trending closer to balance, while some are moving deeper into a seller’s market. Take a look below at the Local Lowdown for in-depth coverage of your area. As always, we will continue to monitor the housing and economic markets to best guide you in buying or selling your home.

Big Story Data


The Local Lowdown

Quick Take:

Note: You can find the charts/graphs for the Local Lowdown at the end of this section.


What about price growth?!

Prices tend to stagnate or decline slightly this time of year, which is exactly the case in Silicon Valley. The median single-family home and condo prices have declined off their peaks reached earlier this year. Since the peak, prices have contracted by 17% for single-family homes and 15% for condos. The price movements aren’t unexpected, as we are returning to more normal seasonal trends of price growth in the first half of the year and slight contraction in the second half. This is, of course, exacerbated by rising mortgage rates. Although the current average 30-year mortgage rate of 5.66% is still historically low, the hyper-low rates we experienced in 2020 and 2021 allowed many more buyers to enter the market. We saw firsthand what happens when demand booms in an already undersupplied market: Home prices skyrocketed. Since August 2020, single-family home prices have increased 15%, while condo prices declined slightly with the exception of Santa Cruz condos, which have increased 30%. When we link the price increases and seasonal trends with the 2.5% increase in 30-year mortgage rates, which increase the monthly mortgage payment by about 35%, we get a better picture of why sales have slowed and prices declined.

Sales increased in August, but remain low

Single-family home and condo sales increased month-over-month, while new listings declined, dropping inventory for the second month in a row. The number of homes for sale has trended lower over the past three years and settled at lower levels, which is likely the new normal for housing inventory in the country. Generally, smaller supply equates to fewer sales. For example, if 500 homes sold last year, but there are only 300 homes for sale on the market this year, it’s awfully difficult to hit more than 300 sales. There were 16% fewer homes on the market in August 2022 than in August 2020. Although 2022 has had one of the lowest inventories on record, we were pleased to see that inventory is following historical seasonal trends. With the drop in inventory in August, the peak inventory level for 2022 will undoubtedly be one of the lowest on record.


Additionally, the huge number of sales in 2021 implies a sales slowdown in the future, and the future is now. On average, people move about 12 times in their lifetime in the United States, meaning if a million more people than average buy a home one year, there’s a decent chance about a million fewer people will buy a home the next. Homes are generally not something people continuously buy year after year.


Months of Supply Inventory declined, implying a sellers’ market

Months of Supply Inventory (MSI) quantifies the supply/demand relationship by measuring how many months it would take for all current homes listed on the market to sell at the current rate of sales. The long-term average MSI is around three months in California, which indicates a balanced market. An MSI lower than three indicates that there are more buyers than sellers on the market (meaning it’s a sellers’ market), while a higher MSI indicates there are more sellers than buyers (meaning it’s a buyers’ market). From May to July, single-family home and condo MSI climbed higher (toward balance), but MSI fell in August, indicating we are still firmly in a sellers’ market.


Local Lowdown Data

The Big Story

July sees a huge mortgage rate drop and more inventory on the market

Quick Take:

Note: You can find the charts & graphs for the Big Story at the end of the following section.


Home prices continue to reach new highs even as demand declines

Home prices generally stagnate this time of year, so it’s more challenging to ascribe causation for why price growth has decelerated nationally to economic factors — inflation, mortgage rates, supply shortages, and looming recession — when they coincide with long-term seasonal trends. Historically, prices increase in the first half of the year and flatten in the back half. Prices in 2020 bucked this trend, increasing through October before flattening in the last quarter of the year. Although prices rose much higher in 2021, the historical trend returned. This year has, of course, come with different economic and psychological drivers than 2020 and 2021, especially in the housing market. 


For many, if not most of us, the pandemic brought us largely inside our homes, increasing the desire for larger, nicer private spaces. The mass movement to remote work meant that proximity to an office, usually a primary selling point in major metro areas, mattered less or not at all. Many of us experienced our home spaces, work spaces, and communal spaces becoming one, and realized that the home we usually spent little time in would simply no longer work for us. This need for a bigger space, combined with extremely low-rate financing, a substantial increase in disposable income, and more time to look for a new home created a boom in demand in an already undersupplied housing market. As a result, the median sale price rose higher and faster than any other point in history, up 36% over the past two years according to data provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. For reference, in the eight years preceding 2020, the median home price rose a total of 38%. 
As we know, housing isn’t the only asset to rise since 2020. Nearly everything has become more expensive, and inflation (CPI)*, which has rarely ever risen above 5%, ticked above that mark in the summer of 2021 and has only increased since then. The Federal Reserve, which has a dual mandate of price stability and maximum employment, has one major tool: raising the federal funds rate†. By doing so, the Fed indirectly affects the debt markets, thereby increasing other interest rates, such as mortgage rates. 


In the first half of this year, the average 30-year mortgage rate rose nearly 3%. It’s hard to overstate how significantly that rate increase affects affordability. To hopefully simplify the explanation, we will use a $1 million home that is fully financed for illustrative purposes. For a $1 million home, a 3% increase in interest rates raises the monthly mortgage cost by 42%. It’s fairly safe to say that income hasn’t risen by 42% for most people, which means that many potential buyers are priced out of buying homes, softening demand. For those potential buyers waiting for a correction of the residential real estate market, home prices would have to decline by 30% for the monthly costs to be equivalent — that is, $700,000 at 6% is the equivalent monthly mortgage cost of $1 million at 3%. If the housing market experienced such a large correction, there would likely be much larger concerns in the global economy than home prices. Barring a collapse of the entire financial system, supply would simply be too low for a major correction. Luckily for potential homebuyers, mortgage rates dropped by 0.50% in July, and many economists predict that the mortgage rates will flatten out around 5% even as the Fed continues to raise the federal funds rate. This is partially because the market largely understands and has already accounted for the Fed’s rate hike path, which will continue until inflation begins to meaningfully decline and recession worries wane. 


The economy has felt a little uneasy lately — a classic “will they, won’t they?” when it comes to the recession — but for now, we aren’t technically in a recession because job numbers are too good. Demand for homes has clearly softened, which is fine in a severely unbalanced market. We will likely see less significant price appreciation in the second half of the year due to seasonal norms and higher mortgage rates. The market remains competitive and homes are selling quickly. However, buyers are seeing more inventory than last year, which is good for the market. As always, we will continue to monitor the housing and economic markets to best guide you in buying or selling your home.

—* The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collects the prices of approximately 94,000 items from a sample of goods and services to calculate the Consumer Price Index (CPI).† The federal funds rate is the interest rate that banks get to borrow from the Federal Reserve. Also known as the Fed’s benchmark rate or the risk-free rate.


Big Story Data

The Local Lowdown

Quick Take:

Note: You can find the charts/graphs for the Local Lowdown at the end of this section.


Is the market balancing? Tentatively, maybe!

The median single-family home and condo prices in Silicon Valley continued to decline from their peaks reached earlier this year. These movements are within the bounds of normal price variability, but after large price gains, it feels like any downward movement signals a market correction. As mentioned in the Big Story, prices tend to stagnate in the summer and fall months when inventory is at its highest, so we aren’t ringing the alarm bells quite yet. Homes over the past five years have become less affordable, yet demand boomed. With 30-year mortgage rates potentially settling around 5%, fewer potential buyers will participate in the market than they did last year when mortgage rates were at all-time lows.


Supply is still historically low, which will protect prices from experiencing a major downturn. Prices will likely follow a similar trend as last year, holding relatively steady through the summer and fall months. If you’re following home prices closely, as we tend to do, you don’t need to worry about losing equity in your home, or softening demand, or even an official recession — so long as it doesn’t affect your job. The housing market remains strong in Silicon Valley.


Sales slowdown

Silicon Valley’s housing inventory declined in July, following historical seasonal trends. Inventory tends to peak in the summer months, which appears to be the case this year. We entered 2022 with the lowest inventory in history, but the number of homes for sale has more than doubled since December 2021. Although the supply of homes is still far from pre-pandemic levels, we’ve been pleased to see that inventory increased in the first half of the year. With the substantial drop in sales and new listings, down 22% and 17%, respectively, from June to July 2022, the peak inventory levels for 2022 will likely be the lowest on record.


The steep decline in sales indicates that demand is softening. We aren’t saying that demand is low, but it’s trending closer to balanced between buyers and sellers than we’ve seen in years.


Months of Supply Inventory inches toward a more balanced market

Months of Supply Inventory (MSI) quantifies the supply/demand relationship by measuring how many months it would take for all current homes listed on the market to sell at the current rate of sales. The long-term average MSI is around three months in California, which indicates a balanced market. An MSI lower than three indicates that there are more buyers than sellers on the market (meaning it’s a sellers’ market), while a higher MSI indicates there are more sellers than buyers (meaning it’s a buyers’ market). Notably, single-family home and condo MSIs have climbed significantly over the past four months, but they’re still well below three months of supply, indicating that Silicon Valley is still experiencing a sellers’ market.


Local Lowdown Data

The Big Story

To be, or not to be? That is the recession.

Quick Take:

Note: You can find the charts & graphs for the Big Story at the end of the following section.

Rising rates, rising prices, and economic slowdown, but homes still ahead

Economic outlooks seem to change month-to-month, and yet again, we find ourselves in a unique moment in time. The Fed rapidly switched from loose to contractionary monetary policy in March and recently increased the federal funds rate by 0.75% — the biggest increase since 1994. The effects have yet to curb inflation, which is still at a 40-year high (+8.5% CPI year-over-year). On a monthly basis, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) collects the prices of approximately 94,000 items from a sample of goods and services to calculate the Consumer Price Index (CPI). We didn’t look into everything in the BLS sample, but if you’re like us, it feels like everything we buy is closer to 50–100% higher than it was a year ago, or even several months ago. While prices are rising, the cost to borrow has also gotten more expensive, which is dampening demand. 


We are starting to see this play out in the housing market. We are noticing more inventory coming to market, coupled with fewer sales. We must, however, provide a caveat: The housing inventory is still historically low. As rates rise, especially as rapidly as they have this year, buyers can get priced out of the market quickly and must reconsider their budgets. 


A year ago, the average 30-year mortgage rates hit their lowest levels in history and have more than doubled since then, to 5.81%. Let’s take a look at some numbers to see how assets have performed in the first half of 2022: The S&P 500 declined 21% (the worst first half of the year since 1970), the NASDAQ is down 30%, and Bitcoin and Ethereum have dropped 59% and 71%, respectively. At the same time, U.S. housing prices increased by 15% nationally. Home prices, simply, rarely go down. Even if you weren’t directly affected by the 2006 housing bubble, you likely knew someone who was. One lasting effect of the housing bubble is the perception that home prices decline much like other risk assets, which isn’t the case. Stocks, bonds, and cryptocurrency are fungible assets that allow for large, multiplayer markets. The housing market has only recently become more efficient because of technology, but too many factors play into a home’s value, preventing regular downturns in the market. Large declines in liquid assets do affect demand for homes, though, as people tend to reconsider buying when they feel (and objectively are) less wealthy during dips in those markets.


But what about the Fed’s intention to slow down the economy by decreasing demand through raising rates? Won’t that cause a recession and lower home prices? We’ve already seen some slowdown in the Q1 2022 Real Gross Domestic Product (GDP)* data. The Fed’s goal is to slacken growth enough to curb inflation, but not enough to send the U.S. into a recession, which is a challenging needle to thread. The National Bureau of Economic Research, which officially declares recessions, defines a recession as a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy that lasts more than a few months and is normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales. With unemployment near all-time lows and a surplus of job openings, we may end up avoiding an official recession, even if GDP decelerates for multiple quarters. U.S. GDP is expected to outpace China’s this year for the first time since 1976, which sounds positive but could be a clear sign of a major slowdown given our economic ties.


Home prices are highly likely to continue rising despite rising rates. If you were waiting for rates to drop, they won’t. The low but rising supply continues to make the market competitive and, as more homes come to market, could mark the early stages of market normalization. As always, we will continue to monitor the housing and economic markets to best guide you in buying or selling your home.
*Real GDP is inflation-adjusted GDP, which is the broadest measure of goods and services produced. All references to GDP use Real GDP figures. 

Big Story Data

The Local Lowdown

Quick Take:

Note: You can find the charts/graphs for the Local Lowdown at the end of this section.

Home prices soften in May and June

The median single-family home and condo prices in Silicon Valley continued to decline from their April peaks, but they’re still historically high. After two years of significant price growth across markets and dwelling types, it’s hard not to think that rate increases have caused prices to creep near a ceiling. Without the aid of super low financing options, fewer potential buyers will participate in the market. So far in 2022, the average 30-year mortgage rate has increased over 2.5%, which equates to an approximately 33% increase in monthly mortgage payments. In other words, the new mortgage rate adds $730 per month on a $500,000 30-year fixed mortgage, for example (double that for a $1 million loan).


Even with the rate hikes, which are only expected to continue this year, home prices aren’t dropping outside of normal month-to-month variability, nor would we expect them to. Supply is still historically low, which will protect prices from experiencing a major downturn. Prices will likely follow a similar trend to last year, with mild growth through the summer and fall months. But, as we mentioned earlier, as rates increase, the same price becomes more expensive, unless you are buying with cash.


It’s so incredibly easy to get wrapped up in the recent past, during which home prices grew quickly. We can’t stress enough how uncommon that price growth was and, most likely, will continue to be. Because homes are not only living spaces but also investments, a steadier growth rate of 6–8% annually is still good for investing purposes.

Sales slowdown

Silicon Valley’s housing inventory continued to rise in June, following historical seasonal trends. Since March 2020, inventory has trended lower and settled at a depressed level. The number of single-family homes and condos on the market in June 2022 is 12% lower than in June 2020. Although the first half of 2022 had one of the lowest inventories on record, we were pleased to see that inventory increased, a trend that usually holds until mid-summer. With June inventory continuing to rise, the next two to three months will likely show us peak inventory levels for 2022, which will undoubtedly be the lowest peak inventory on record.


In June, sales declined along with new listings, potentially indicating that demand is softening. This isn’t to say demand is low, however, especially relative to supply. Sellers can expect multiple offers, and buyers should come with competitive offers.

Months of Supply Inventory increasing, but still a sellers’ market

Months of Supply Inventory (MSI) quantifies the supply/demand relationship by measuring how many months it would take for all current homes listed on the market to sell at the current rate of sales. The long-term average MSI is three months in California, which indicates a balanced market. An MSI lower than three indicates that there are more buyers than sellers on the market (meaning it’s a sellers’ market), while a higher MSI indicates there are more sellers than buyers (meaning it’s a buyers’ market). Although MSI has risen over the last three months, single-family home and condo MSIs are still low, indicating a sellers’ market.

Local Lowdown Data

Interest rates and the lending market are in flux right now, which is causing a lot of stress for both buyers and sellers alike. To keep you as informed as possible, we interviewed an incredible lender, Jamie Myers, who gave us the insider look into the lender’s perspective.
Give it a watch by pressing the link below, and then reach out if you have any additional questions. We would be happy to answer them ourselves, or we will try to ask Jamie directly for a follow-up!

The Big Story

Quick Take:

Note: You can find the charts & graphs for the Big Story at the end of the following section.

Prices continue to rise as mortgage rates hit 13-year highs

It’s become hard to accurately describe the state of the housing market in the face of rising rates, historically low supply, and high but softening demand. Real estate professionals often say the market is cooling to indicate a turn from a sellers’ to a buyers’ market, but that feels like an overstatement. Additionally, some recent articles were published with titles like “Cracks in the Housing Market,” which also may make the reader erroneously think we are headed into a major correction. After much deliberation, we decided to define market hotness with a pepper analogy. The current market is going from the hottest pepper in the world, the Carolina Reaper, to the second hottest, the Trinidad Moruga Scorpion. Yes, the market is technically becoming less hot, but it’s still about as hot as it gets. Ultimately, we believe we are headed toward a steadier state of growth rather than a significant home price reversal. Home prices will still fluctuate month-to-month, which is normal, but they will generally trend higher at a slower pace. A slower growth rate is a healthy growth rate.


In May, home prices increased around 16% year-over-year, which means that prices would double every 4.5 years if that trend were to continue. That kind of rapid growth is simply unsustainable and would eventually lead to a major market collapse. Based on what happened as a result of the 2006 housing bubble, we know that mass wealth destruction is not the path we want to take. The Federal Reserve (the Fed) is actively raising rates to bring down the growth rate by making borrowing more expensive, thereby lowering demand. Luckily, we are starting to see inflation respond to the Fed’s monetary policy, although it is still near a 40-year high.


In 2022, mortgage rates have moved about 2% higher for 30- and 15-year fixed mortgages, reaching 5.09% for the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and 4.32% for the average 15-year fixed-rate mortgage as of June 2, 2022. Every 1% rate increase raises the monthly mortgage payment significantly — by about 13%. In this environment of rising rates and rising inflation, all-cash purchases become more attractive because financing is more expensive and money is worth less over time. In the first quarter of 2022, all-cash purchases increased, reaching the highest levels since 1988. Economists now estimate that the average 30-year mortgage rate could climb above 6% in 2022. Because the Fed indicated the path of rate hikes for the rest of the year, we expect that mortgage rates will, at most, reach around 7% this year for prime borrowers.


If it feels like you missed a unique opportunity to finance a home at under 5%, we are sorry to say that you did. However, you are in good company and can still take advantage of low rates. While it can feel like rates are high when they’ve risen from the all-time low of only a few months earlier, a rate of 5% is still historically low. Since 1971 (the start of the data set), we’ve had 2,671 weekly 30-year mortgage data points, only 24% of which reflected rates below 5%.


The market has remained so hot because of supply — or lack thereof. In May, the housing supply ticked up ever so slightly but is still 49% lower than the number of homes on the market in May 2020. We are entering what is traditionally the hottest time of year for the housing market with a record low supply of homes. Through May 2022, which had the lowest inventory on record, home prices increased 15%. The chief economist at Realtor.com, Danielle Hale, explains that the market is about 5.8 million single-family homes short, which means we’re four to five years behind in building new homes. Although single-family housing starts — homes that have begun construction — have slowed recently, multi-unit housing (5+ units) starts have reached their highest numbers since 1986.


If you are considering buying a home, there aren’t many reasons to wait. Home prices and rates are still rising. The low but rising supply continues to make the market extremely competitive. We are starting to see some softening in demand, but not nearly enough to balance the supply side of the market.

Big Story Data

The Local Lowdown

Quick Take:

Note: You can find the charts/graphs for the Local Lowdown at the end of this section.

Home prices remain high as new listings meet high demand

Median single-family home and condo prices remained historically high in May, slightly below peak, with the exception of Santa Clara condo prices, which reached an all-time high. It isn’t clear that rising rates have brought down home prices so far, and in a rising rate environment, buyers are better off locking in an interest rate sooner rather than later. Since the start of 2022, the average 30-year mortgage rate has increased 2%, which equates to a 27% increase in monthly mortgage payments. Yet prices keep moving higher.


One reason that home prices continue to rise is that buying a home is not only a financial process, but also an emotional one. Over the past two years, our homes have become such a large part of our lives, with many of us moving to permanently remote or hybrid work. As more homes come to the market, as is typical in the first half of the year, buyers are more likely to find the home that’s right for them in what’s been an incredibly competitive market. Even with increases in mortgage rates (which, again, are still historically low), it’s reasonable to pay more for the well-being that comes with buying the right home. For most of us, our home is our largest asset and store of wealth, so treating it as such makes sense.

Months of Supply Inventory further indicates high demand and low supply

Homes are selling faster than ever. Buyers must put in competitive offers, which, on average, are around 10% above list price for single-family homes and 7% above list for condos.


Months of Supply Inventory (MSI) quantifies the supply/demand relationship by measuring how many months it would take for all current homes listed on the market to sell at the current rate of sales. The average MSI is three months in California, which indicates a balanced market. An MSI lower than three indicates that there are more buyers than sellers on the market (meaning it’s a sellers’ market), while a higher MSI indicates there are more sellers than buyers (meaning it’s a buyers’ market). Currently, single-family home and condo MSIs are exceptionally low, indicating a strong sellers’ market.

Local Lowdown Data

The market is seeing some surprising turns. Days on market are going up, but list-to-sales ratios are still where they were previously. These, in addition to other often overlooked factors, means that strategic shifts are happening for both buyers and sellers. Whichever side you are on, take a look at this month’s Market Update to see what you should be aiming to do. Then call us so we can work together to create the best plan for you!

Rising rates may not normalize the housing market, but they may help inflation
Quick Take:

-Record high home prices aren’t going away, even with rising rates. However, the rising rate environment will prevent a significant amount of money from entering the economy.
-With nearly full employment, the Fed is hyper-focused on price stability — the other half of the Fed’s dual mandate — which means higher mortgage rates through the rest of the year.
-Demand is softening slightly now that the average mortgage rate jumped 2% in the past four months.

Note: You can find the charts & graphs for the Big Story at the end of the following section.

Prices continue to rise as mortgage rates hit 13-year highs

After the Fed’s May meeting, Fed Chair Jerome Powell announced that they are raising their benchmark rate by 0.50%, the largest hike since 2000. Earlier this year, the Fed was expected to raise interest rates by 0.25% at least six times this year, going from 0% to 1.90%. Now that each increase will most likely be 0.50%, the market expects the federal funds rate to reach 2.75% to 3.00% by the end of the year, which would be the highest in 15 years. Although the fed funds rate doesn’t directly affect mortgage rates, the rate hike moves into the broader economy quickly. Over the past four months, mortgage rates have moved about 2% higher for both 30- and 15-year fixed mortgages. Economists now estimate that 30-year mortgage rates could climb above 6% by mid-2022, which is fast approaching. Because the Fed indicated the path of rate hikes for the rest of the year, we expect mortgage rates to top out at around 7% this year for prime borrowers.


A rising rate environment increases short-term demand as buyers try to lock in lower mortgage rates, which is what we are seeing now. The increased short-term demand is driving prices right now outside of supply, which begs the question: Will higher mortgage rates actually drive down prices? No, they sure won’t.


Using history as our guide, we can see that home prices continued to rise even as mortgage rates peaked at over 18% in the 1970s, which would translate to about $7,500 per month on a $500,000 loan. Luckily, we aren’t going back to those rates. Higher rates, however, will do exactly what the Fed intends, which is to take money out of the economy and decrease overall demand. The average 30-year mortgage rate was 3.11% in December 2021, rising to 5.10% by the end of April 2022. If you bought a home in December and financed it with a $500,000 mortgage loan at 3.11%, your monthly spend on principal and interest would be $2,138 — versus $2,715 if you got the same loan in April 2022 at 5.10%. Over the life of the loan, you’ll spend $207,720 more at 5.10%. From the Fed’s perspective, that equates to roughly $500 less per month to spend on goods and services, bringing down aggregate demand when we multiply that reduction of disposable income across households. The gradual rate increases are meant to avoid sending the economy into a recession.


In addition to rising rates, supply still drives home prices. In April, the housing supply ticked up ever so slightly, but it’s still 60% lower than the number of homes on the market in April 2020. We are entering what is traditionally the hottest time of year for the housing market with a record low supply of homes. Over the past four months, which had the lowest inventory on record, home prices increased 12%.


If you are considering buying a home, there aren’t many reasons to wait. Home prices and rates are still rising. The low supply continues to make the market extremely competitive. We are starting to see some softening in demand, but not nearly enough to balance the supply side of the market.

Big Story Data
The Local Lowdown
Quick Take:

-Home prices in Silicon Valley remained historically high in April; short-term demand boomed as buyers tried to lock in lower mortgage rates.
-The second quarter of 2022 will indicate whether the market is moving toward or away from normalization. April data show the number of new listings declined, signaling potential supply issues in the spring and summer seasons.
-Despite some minor softening of demand as rates increase, low housing supply will continue to drive prices up unless an unexpected number of new listings come to market.

Note: You can find the charts/graphs for the Local Lowdown at the end of this section.

Home prices continue to rise despite rising rates

Single-family home and condo prices rose to all-time highs in April 2022 across much of the Silicon Valley region. It’s still too early, however, to determine how increasing rates will affect the market. Mortgage rate hikes only lower demand in the long term. In the short term, demand increases as buyers try to lock in lower rates. Over the past four months, the average 30-year mortgage rate has increased 2%, which means a 27% increase in monthly mortgage payments, yet prices keep moving higher.


The factors now affecting home prices are anticipated to have mixed results, unlike the past two years when all factors caused prices to increase. Rising interest rates, which will hopefully curb the rising 40-year-high inflation rate, will make homes less affordable and dampen demand over the rest of the year. They may, however, also lower supply as current homeowners reconsider their plans to sell.


Many homebuyers are also home sellers, moving from one home to another. Newer homebuyers and homeowners who refinanced over the past two years locked in one of the lowest rates in history, making moving a more difficult financial decision. This could keep supply unseasonably low with fewer new listings coming to market, as we saw in April. In general, the Fed doesn’t have a tool to deal with supply-side issues: It uses monetary policy to affect demand, making money more or less expensive. As a result, the Fed’s rate hikes may result in unintentional effects on supply. In Silicon Valley, the lack of housing supply will keep prices rising in the coming months.

New listings dip, seasonally abnormal

In Silicon Valley, inventory continued to climb higher in April, which is great news for the highly undersupplied market. However, new listings declined slightly from March to April for single-family homes and condos, far from the seasonal norm and an early indicator that home supply will remain depressed this year. The high demand and lack of new listings over the past year brought single-family home and condo supplies to record lows across markets. We were pleased to see that inventory increased over the first four months of the year, a trend that usually holds until mid-summer. The next three months will be telling of how inventory levels will trend for the rest of the year.


Even though inventory is low, sales remain incredibly high, especially when we account for available supply. This trend once again highlights the high demand in the area. Sellers can expect multiple offers, and buyers should come with competitive offers.

Months of Supply Inventory further indicates high demand relative to supply

Homes are selling faster than ever. Buyers must put in competitive offers, which, on average, are around 13% above list price for single-family homes and 7% above list for condos.


Months of Supply Inventory (MSI) quantifies the supply/demand relationship by measuring how many months it would take for all current homes listed on the market to sell at the current rate of sales. The average MSI is three months in California, which indicates a balanced market. An MSI lower than three indicates that there are more buyers than sellers on the market (meaning it’s a sellers’ market), while a higher MSI indicates there are more sellers than buyers (meaning it’s a buyers’ market). Currently, single-family home and condo MSIs are exceptionally low, indicating a strong sellers’ market.

Local Lowdown Data

The Big Story

Will rising rates normalize the housing market?

Quick Take:

Note: You can find the charts & graphs for the Big Story at the end of the following section.

Early innings for rising rates

Mortgage rates rose faster than expected in the first quarter of 2022, already surpassing forecasts for the year. The 30-year average mortgage rate rose swiftly in the two weeks after the Fed’s March meeting, up 0.5% between March 17 and 31 to 4.67%. This rapid increase has spurred purchases as buyers try to lock in lower rates before they climb higher. The data reflect the urgency buyers face. Nationally, home prices have reached yet another milestone: hitting above $200 per square foot, the highest level in history. But is the urgency justified? The answer is 100% yes, assuming you find the right home for you. Let’s dig into the numbers a little.


The average 30-year mortgage rate was 3.11% in December 2021, rising to 4.67% by the end of Q1 2022. If you bought a home in December and financed it with a $500,000 mortgage loan at 3.11%, your monthly spend on principal and interest would be $2,138 — versus $2,584 if you got the same loan in March 2022 at 4.67%. Over the life of the loan, you’ll spend $160,560 more at 4.67%. In short, every percentage point matters significantly. As an aside, refinancing has decreased 60% below last year’s levels, according to the Mortgage Brokers Association. Economists and real estate experts seem torn between rates peaking just below or just above 5%. Because the Fed indicated the path of rate hikes for the rest of the year, mortgage rates increased in anticipation and are likely to be affected less when the Fed moves the federal funds rate in the future, if it sticks to its schedule. At this point, we can almost guarantee that rates will not decline substantially this year.
As we look at historical trends in inflation, we are curious about how effective the Fed’s rate hikes will be. Rates rose significantly in the 1970s, partially due to the inflation rate at the time. Mortgage rates peaked at over 18%, which is unimaginable today. As we look at the long-term data, we see that inflation tends to decline when the federal funds rate is above the inflation level. Currently, the federal funds rate is far below inflation, and the Fed doesn’t plan to lift it near the inflation level because of the economic shock that would ensue. The current cost to borrow is actually negative, which may incentivize more people to borrow and spend more in the short term, driving inflation higher. At current mortgage and inflation levels, the borrower, not the lender, gains around 3% from borrowing.


In addition to rising rates, supply still drives home prices. In March, the housing supply ticked up ever so slightly from the all-time low in February. We are entering the spring buying season, however, with the lowest inventory on record. From March 2020 to March 2022, the housing supply declined 62%. Over the past three months, which had the lowest inventory on record, home prices increased nearly 10%. Rising rates, in the short term, boost demand because potential homebuyers want to get ahead of the increase, but in the long term, they reduce demand. Because the market is so undersupplied, less demand is actually a good thing. Home prices simply cannot maintain the rapid increases. Although a housing bubble isn’t likely yet, a sustainable growth rate is better and safer for the long term.

The Big Story Data

The Local Lowdown

Quick Take:

Note: You can find the charts/graphs for the Local Lowdown at the end of this section.

Home prices close the first quarter at record highs

Single-family home prices rose to all-time highs in Silicon Valley, while condo prices are just under their peak. Because sales often have a one-month lag, with homes going under contract around a month before the sale is complete, we cannot yet determine how significantly increasing rates have hit the market. Mortgage rate hikes really only lower demand in the long term, but in the short term, demand increases as buyers try to lock in a lower rate. The Silicon Valley housing market has a major advantage in that high demand is constant. Despite the huge increases in home prices over the past 12 months, the lack of housing supply will keep prices rising in the coming months.
The Fed is expected to raise interest rates by 0.25% at least six times this year, going from 0% to 1.90%. We are now entering a period where factors that affect prices are more mixed, unlike the past two years when all the factors caused prices to increase. Rising interest rates, which will hopefully curb the still-rising, 40-year-high inflation rate, will make homes less affordable and dampen demand over the course of the year. But inventory is so low that even with less demand, the market will likely remain undersupplied. It might seem counterintuitive that home prices can still appreciate after increasing so much over the past two years, but with inventory at record lows, home prices in 2022 will still increase — though at a slower rate than in 2021. With high sales relative to the available inventory, we anticipate a competitive market in the year ahead.

Home prices close the first quarter at record highs

Silicon Valley, like the rest of the country, has a historically low housing inventory. The sustained high demand and lack of new listings over the past year brought single-family home and condo supplies to record lows across markets. Although the first quarter of 2022 had the lowest inventory on record, we are pleased to see that inventory is increasing. If this upward trend continues into the second quarter, that will be a large indicator that the housing market is normalizing.

Sales have still been incredibly high, especially when accounting for available supply, again highlighting demand in the area. Sellers can expect multiple offers, and buyers should come with competitive offers. The incredibly high demand we’ve seen over the past year might wane as interest rates increase; however, the supply is so low that the market can handle a drop in demand without negatively affecting prices. The 30-year average fixed-rate mortgage hasn’t climbed above 5% yet, but it almost certainly will. If mortgage rates reach 5%, demand will likely decline more substantially. In the next few months, demand will remain high relative to available supply.

Months of Supply Inventory further indicates high demand and low supply

Homes are still selling extremely quickly. The Days on Market reflects the high demand for homes in Silicon Valley. Buyers must put in competitive offers, which, on average, are 14% above the list price for single-family homes and 8% above list for condos.

Months of Supply Inventory (MSI) quantifies the supply/demand relationship by measuring how many months it would take for all current homes for sale on the market to sell at the current rate of sales. The average MSI is three months in California, which indicates a balanced market. An MSI lower than that indicates that there are more buyers than sellers on the market (meaning it’s a sellers’ market), while a higher MSI indicates there are more sellers than buyers (meaning it’s a buyers’ market). Currently, single-family home and condo MSIs are exceptionally low, indicating a strong sellers’ market.

Local Lowdown Data

The ability to transfer your property tax basis to any county in the State of CA opened up March 2021, but sellers are still figuring how it will benefit them.

Popular Sunnyvale Ranch House

California Assoc of Realtors put together a great website to provide more information for sellers to calculate how your property tax bill will change. The benefits of Prop 19 over the previous Prop 60/90 is that EVERY county in the state must accept the transfer of the tax basis. Previously, there were as few as 13 counties cooperating. https://www.prop19taxbreak.com/

Please reach out to Linda Baker for a personal, comprehensive review of your property value, or if you have further questions about transferring your property tax basis.

Linda Baker of Milestone Realty has been helping San Jose home buyers and sellers since 2003. Call Linda directly at 408-539-6691 to learn how the Milestone team can help you! [email protected]

We use cookies and tracking technology in connection with your activities on our website. By viewing and using our website, you consent to our use of cookies and tracking technology in accordance with our Privacy Policy.