Sonders on Housing, Unemployment, and GDP

Housing played a huge role in the 2008 market crash and “Great Recession”, and in her latest market commentary Charles Schwab Chief Investment Strategist Liz Ann Sonders offers some interesting insights into where the housing market now stands, and where it’s headed.

Sonders examines the current housing environment, as well as several historical patterns in housing, including the relationships between housing and unemployment and housing and GDP growth. Among some of her findings:

  • Real house prices have historically tended to stop falling when the unemployment rate has peaked, but they don’t begin rising significantly until the “full employment rate” — believed to be around 6% or 7% today — is reached;
  • Home affordability is at all-time highs;
  • The housing market recovery is following a similar path as other post-bubble recoveries, like those following the bursting of the Nasdaq bubble in 2000 and the bursting of the Nikkei bubble in 1990;

  • History shows that just because housing led the last expansion, it isn’t needed to be a leader in the next expansion.

Overall, Sonders says the housing environment is getting better, slowly. “We believe the prospects for housing are improving, though certainly not stellar, but our optimism about the economic recovery could feed into better-than-expected housing news as well,” she says.

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