How The Dallas Housing Market Could Be A ‘Canary In The Coal Mine’ For The Economy

We may not be due for another housing-led recession, but rising mortgage rates could make things tighter for homebuyers and sellers.

By Jill AmentNovember 27, 2018 3:38 pm

Before the great recession, we were warned. Then, the home-price bubble – which many people mistakenly thought of as a piggy bank that would magically balloon to infinity all on its own – suddenly popped. The rest was history, and the experience provided a hard lesson in economic panic. Fast forward to today: After years of recovery and rising home prices, there are signs that the go-go housing market isn’t booming anymore.  Are we headed toward another bust? As the Wall Street Journal reports, the “canary in the coal mine” is right here in Texas.

Laura Kusisto, who reports on the U.S. housing market for the Journal, says the publication chose to look at trends in Dallas. The city’s housing market didn’t experience a gigantic boom or a corresponding bust ten years ago, when other communities were struggling. But today, that’s all changed.

“Home prices now have grown about 50 percent in Dallas since the last peak,” Kusisto says. “So, that gives you kind of a flavor for just how red hot this market has been.”

Kusisto says that rapid rise could be a danger sign. Low mortgage rates have masked the true cost of home ownership

“One of the measures that we use for whether home price gains are sustainable is whether they’ve been in line with income growth,” Kusisto says. “And traditionally, Dallas has been a market where home price gains have tracked really closely with how much incomes have grown.”

And now, mortgage rates are on the rise, forcing buyers to consider less expensive homes, and preventing those at the low end of the income scale from buying at all.

Kusisto says the housing market is unlikely to trigger an economic meltdown like the one that happened in 2008.

“There’s just no signs of that level [of] speculation, mortgage credit is much tighter, we’ve seen less new supply,” Kusisto says.

But she says that in Dallas, high-end homebuilders might struggle to sell homes, even if the overall market avoids disaster.

Written by Shelly Brisbin.