The Housing Market Just Hit a Wall. What’s Next for Prices, Brokers, and Builder Stocks.

My summer portfolio strategy is to play the old disco hit “Baby Come Back” while slow dancing with my December brokerage statements. If it works, I have a business idea involving Hall, Oates, and a two-and-20 fee structure.

At least there’s real estate. Home equity is said to be hitting record highs. Then again, taking comfort there would be like slipping on a financial toupee—everyone knows that underlying conditions have deteriorated.

The latest reading on nationwide pricing comes from back in March. Since then, 30-year mortgage rates have shot up to nearly 6%, and applications from buyers have slowed. This past week, a pair of online brokers with a good read on house searches,


(ticker: RDFN) and


(COMP), announced layoffs.

Meanwhile, Redfin shares are down some 90% from their peak. Builders have gotten clobbered, too. Friends don’t let friends own leveraged exchange-traded funds with names like

Direxion Daily Homebuilders & Supplies Bull 3X Shares
(NAIL), especially when interest rates are rising, but if you’re curious, that one just lost 45% over five trading days.

Should investors buy shares of home builders here? Brokers? What’s next for house prices? And when will the stock market come back? Let me answer those in order of declining near-term confidence, starting at iffy.

Yes, buy builders. Prefer


(LEN) and

Toll Brothers

(TOL), says Jade Rahmani, who covers the group for KBW. He points out that builder shares trade at 60% of projected book value, which is where they tend to bottom during recessions, ignoring the 2008 financial crisis. Lennar will benefit from the pending sale of a real estate technology unit, and Toll focuses on affluent buyers, around 30% of whom pay cash, and so aren’t put off by high mortgage rates.

Price/earnings ratios across the group are astonishingly low, but…


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