One of the main factors of a real estate “Bubble” is the appearance and increase of the mortgage “default” rate. This usually goes hand in hand with years of issuing shady lending. We saw it in the 2008 real estate crash when default rates soared first at the “sub-prime” level but then the “A+” paper. Those who saw the movie, “The Big Short”, recall the number which was being posted on a white board outside one of the main character’s office. It was the “default” rate and was quickly into the double digit numbers. It kept soaring upward until the moment of implosion and government bail-out intervention. Many today are calling this market a “bubble”. But the default rates are just NOT there. The graph below from Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae, show the gradual decline in default rates. We are at historic lows. NOTE the numbers during the “crash”.
I bring this up because shaky or very ez money was the basis of the great default of the 2008 real estate market crash. Speculation, another cause of the crash, was driven by the availability of this ez money in which to invest in real estate. But one of the first indicators was the alarming default rate of first “sub-prime” and then “prime” loans. We can eliminate default rates as the canary in the coal mine. NOT happening this time.
What WILL drive a bubble to burst or gradually deflate? In our area it is affordability. Currently in Sonoma County only 1 in 5 can afford our median home price of $670,000. It’s an old equation–buyers quit buying, Seller needs to sell, Seller drops price to bring buy to their property. The other Sellers follow suit and you’ve got a decreasing value market. Stay tuned!