The Chicago Real Estate Minute

11 Indicators say you shouldn’t fear a market crash any time soon

Some data out there says the sky is about to fall. Real estate market data com­par­isons from the 2000s suggest otherwise. 

As the market changes, many worry that we’ll see a repeat of the “mortgage meltdown” from 2008. I’m here to tell you that, while the market may be bumpy for a while, there are signs in the real estate industry that indicate we’re not heading into another market crash.

Home Prices

The years before the 2008 mortgage crisis saw unprece­dent­ed home appre­ci­a­tion growth in most of the US. While we have seen sub­stan­tial growth in home values nation­wide over the past ten years, we have begun to see a slowing in growth –as opposed to the absolute freefall from jubi­la­tion to agony that occurred in the late 2000s.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay


The job market has remained strong, excep­tion­al­ly strong in fact. Per the Department of Labor, our national unem­ploy­ment rate is lower than it has been in decades. The last time the unem­ploy­ment rate was this low was 1969 — that’s 50 years!

Fewer Foreclosures

Whereas the late 2000s saw an expo­nen­tial swelling of fore­clo­sures, this year has seen the number decrease from a year ago. Through the first half of 2019, fewer than 0.25% (a quarter of one percent) of homes had a fore­clo­sure filing. In 2008, that number was four times higher.

Interest rates are lower

The current interest rates are among the lowest they have ever been, hovering in the 3.50 – 3.75% range. Rates in recent years have touched this level for periods of time, generally heading back higher. Lower interest rates mean less money spent on a person’s mortgage, which is likely why people are saving more than they were before.

Homes with equity

As of the most recent US Census stats, the percent of homes that have no mortgage what­so­ev­er has con­sis­tent­ly risen since the mortgage crisis and is currently at it’s highest number, at 37.19% of all US homes. As opposed to the funloving 2000s when people were using their homes as personal ATMs, this number shows that more people are con­tin­u­ing to pay down their mortgage, or even making added payments to get the home paid off.

Additionally, the total amount of home equity has gone up 150% over the past 10 years, and is currently the highest it has ever been.

Household Median Income

How much people make is another imper­a­tive aspect to keep in mind. The median household income is higher than it was before the crash, and indeed is the highest it has ever been.

Use of the “5/1 ARM” Mortgage

Likely the most relied upon mortgage people took out in the 2000s was the 5/1 ARM (Adjustable Rate Mortgage). When home­own­ers began thinking that home values would never go down, greed naturally set in and people wanted the most flex­i­bil­i­ty of what to do with their presumed never-ending stream of money. 

The 5/1 ARM is generally set up where the rate for the first five years is below the standard 30-year-fixed rate and adjusts there­after. The percent of mortgages using this loan is down to roughly half of it’s use pre-meltdown.

Higher Savings Rate

The percent of people putting dis­pos­able income towards their savings is currently almost twice as high as it was through­out many of the years leading up to the mortgage crisis and resulting housing bust. This also means that if we expe­ri­ence a market crash or things otherwise become finan­cial­ly tight, more people will have savings to fall back on.

Underwriting Standards

All you needed was a pulse and an ID” is often said of the com­plete­ly lax lending expec­ta­tions leading up to the market crash, which played a part in the meltdown itself. Abuse of the Stated income, NINA, NINJA, and No Doc loans were among some of the more notorious products available. Indeed, some of them do still exist today but are not used nearly as much. Credit scores, personal income, assets, and out­stand­ing loans are all taken much more into account these days (as they should be), vs. the just grab the bag of cash as you leave lender mentality of the 2000s.

Homeownership rate

Common thought is that the higher this rate, the better. People continue to want to own a home. The reality, however, is that over the last several decades the average has often rested around 63 – 64%. During the heyday pre-housing-collapse, it shot up as high as 69%. As of September 2019, we are back within the normal range.

Months of home supply

This is most often viewed as the ratio of homes for sale : homes sold. And yes, this has gone up from lower month’s supply in recent years. That said, it is sub­stan­tial­ly lower than it was in the years preceding the housing crash and resulting débâcle of a decade ago.

Final word: No market crash

The real estate market goes in cycles of 8 – 10 years of increases followed by some bumps in the road, and we are at the end of one of those cycles. People are also smarter with their money than they were in the 2000s, and many can recall firsthand how bad it was. We are seeing more of a normal market cor­rec­tion, which after enjoying several years of appre­ci­a­tion may still be a bitter pill. Nonetheless, the current major real estate signals suggest we’re not entering another market crash or housing crash.

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