Wednesday, April 11, 2018

CoreLogic on New Tax Law: "No material house price effect so far"

by Bill McBride on 4/11/2018 06:15:00 PM

From Frank Nothaft at CoreLogic: Tax Reform: Effect on Home Prices; No material price effect so far, though it is still early after reform

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act enacted in December was the largest change to the U.S. tax code in more than three decades. Tax reform has touched every person and industry. Let’s examine how it affects housing decisions made by families.

Overall, tax reform has lowered personal income taxes, not necessarily for each taxpayer but in the aggregate. An increase in after-tax income, at the margin, generally increases the amount of shelter consumed and the likelihood of being a homeowner. Economists refer to this as the ‘income effect’. Thus, the increase in after-tax income should be a net plus for housing demand and homeownership, holding all else constant.

But all else is not constant. Tax reform also lowered the maximum loan size for interest deductibility on new first-mortgage debt to $750,000, eliminated deductibility for some second liens, and capped the annual deduction for state and local income and property taxes at $10,000. Further, the hike in the standard deduction will substantially reduce the number of tax filers who itemize, and lower marginal tax rates reduce the value of deductions for those who do itemize. By raising the after-tax cost of homeownership, tax reform is expected, at the margin, to lower the amount of shelter consumed by owner-occupants and tilt tenure choice toward renting rather than owning. Economists refer to this as the ‘price effect’ because the relative cost of owning versus renting has changed.

Whether the ‘income’ or the ’price’ effect is stronger will determine whether demand for shelter and homeownership rates rise, fall, or are largely left unchanged.
CR note: My view is there are certain segments of the housing market that might see a negative impact. I discussed this in Question #10 for 2018: Will the New Tax Law impact Home Sales, Inventory, and Price Growth in Certain States?

• At 8:30 AM ET, The initial weekly unemployment claims report will be released.  The consensus is for 230 thousand initial claims, down from 242 thousand the previous week.