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Will High-End U.S. Housing Boom Go Bust?

An interesting dichotomy has been developing in the U.S. housing market over the past year or so. The low-end, first time homebuyer market is booming, while high-end home buying languishes.

In the months following our first update on the nasty reality developing in high-end housing markets like uber-rich Greenwich, Connecticut, America elected Donald Trump. Optimism set in. The stock market popped following his Election Day victory. The real economy appears to have bottomed.

It’s time for a refresh to our high-end housing thesis.

“The strongest part of the market is still the entry level market,” says Hedgeye Housing analyst Josh Steiner. “That’s because rents have been rising above inflation for many years now.” Plus, the low-end housing market is extremely supply constrained.

“The high-end, however, is the exactly opposite,” Steiner says in the video above. Take the hedge fund capital of the world, Greenwich, CT for instance. It’s housing market is in deep trouble. When last we checked, there was a staggering amount of homes sitting on the market. Here’s the breakdown by home price category:

  • $3 million to $4 million: 17 months of supply which has risen 38% over the past year
  • $4 million to $5 million: 22 months of supply, +35% over the past year
  • $5 million to $10 million: 48 months of supply, +108% over the past year
  • Greater than $10 million: 128 months of supply, +63% over the past year

Let’s put that last bullet into perspective. At 128 months, that’s almost 13 years of supply.

Since Trump was elected, though, measures of Consumer Confidence have hit 15-year highs, GDP growth accelerated and the 10-year Treasury yield (a barometer of U.S. economic expectations) soared from 1.86% all the way up to 2.36%.

“It’s a little unclear post the election whether this upswing in market valuations and broader consumer confidence measures will manifest in the form of increased luxury consumption,” Steiner says.

As he points out, the S&P 500 is up 6% since Election Day. Wealthy people tend to “annuitize” – or convert investment gains into income – 3% to 5% of those unrealized gains, he says. And snce the top 10% of Americans by wealth distribution own 85% of all financial assets, this could obviously be a major tailwind to housing.

A few words of caution. “Historically, you always get this honeymoon phase from Election Day to Inauguration Day. But, the big question remains, then how much of that is directly translatable in spending,” Steiner says.

Time will tell.