Houses

The consequences of the Ukraine conflict are rippling through the global economy. The Middle Tennessee housing market will likely not be immune from those effects, according to Greater Nashville Realtors President Steve Jolly.

The early months of 2022 have mimicked 2021. A combination of low inventory and record demand for new homes has led to a crunched real estate market with exorbitant prices. Last month, there were 300 fewer new listings than there were last February. The lack of inventory has pushed the median home price in Davidson County up 27 percent — $90,000 — year-over-year.

Right now, it remains unclear how Russia’s assault on Ukraine will affect the housing market in Middle Tennessee.

“The conflict’s impact on the market has been muted so far,” Jolly said. “But further escalation of the conflict could exacerbate existing supply chain issues and accelerate inflation which could make consumers more hesitant to buy.”

“It’s all bad for the economy and housing — it’s just a matter of how bad,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, said in an interview with Realtor.com. “There’s a number of different ways in which Russia’s actions will hurt housing.”

He added that the luxury real estate market will likely feel the shockwaves the most because many of those buyers pull money from stocks and crypto assets — which have been extremely volatile since Russia’s invasion — to purchase property.

Ultimately, the already-accelerated rate of inflation is expected to rise even further, CCIM Chief Economist K.C. Conway told the Post.

“This is going to hurt renters, buyers and obviously builders who continue to grapple with ballooning material costs,” Conway said.

Conway predicts gas prices will be the harbinger of any future ebb within the housing market — both on the demand and supply side.

Gas prices have skyrocketed. Less than a week after the invasion, oil prices climbed to more than $110 a barrel.

Conway adds that in an economy where consumer sentiment has fallen to record lows, higher gas prices are likely to make consumers think twice before making big purchases like a home.

If gas prices remain elevated, as Conway and others forecast, it won’t just affect demand. It could also wreak havoc on the supply side, which is still in disarray from the pandemic.

“When you have elevated oil prices, that works its way through commodities and ultimately into construction,” Conway said. “It’s a higher distribution and shipping costs, high lumber. It’s all of those things that end up getting pushed into other commodities, which ultimately affect the supply side of the equation.”

The National Association of Home Builders reported that construction material costs have risen 22 percent year-over-year due to inflation. Lumber prices have soared even higher, rising 40 percent over the past 13 months alone.

A prolonged conflict and more expansive economic sanctions have the potential to constrain the supply chain even more, which would lead to higher prices on the housing front.

The conflict is creating significant uncertainty, but for now, Jolly and some experts are reluctant to change their forecasts for the spring housing market, despite acknowledging that the future is more unpredictable than it was before.

One of Moody’s senior housing experts noted that often in times of uncertainty, the United States’ real estate market can be a safe haven for international wealth. Russian oligarchs have poured money into properties in the United States for years. With Russia’s economy tanking, it's likely that rubles will find their way to real estate in the states, despite President Biden’s attempts to sanction Russian investment.