Michelle W Bowman: The U.S. housing and mortgage market - risks and resilience

Speech by Ms Michelle W Bowman, Member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, At the Women in Housing and Finance Public Policy Luncheon, Washington DC, 8 November 2021.

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
28 November 2021

Good afternoon, everyone. It is a pleasure to join you today. Thank you for the invitation. Developments in the housing and mortgage markets have a major effect on the economy and the financial system, so the Federal Reserve Board monitors these markets closely. I am happy to share some of my observations about these markets and to learn from your knowledge and experiences as well.

I know I am speaking to an audience with considerable expertise in these areas, and so you know already that 2020 and 2021 have been interesting times, to say the least, in housing and mortgage markets. I will focus my comments today on three areas: the strong increase in home prices in the past year and a half, the wind-down of forbearance programs enacted after the advent of COVID-19, and what we learned about the financial stability risks associated with nonbank mortgage companies during the pandemic. As I hope will become apparent during these remarks, these three topics may seem unrelated but they are actually connected.

I will start with some comments on home prices. Home prices had been rising at a moderate rate since 2012, but since mid-2020, their growth has accelerated significantly. In total, home prices in September were 21 percent higher than in June 2020. Home price increases are also widespread. In September, about 90 percent of American cities had experienced rising home prices over the past three months, and the home price increases were substantial in most of these cities.