Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his military forces to invade Ukraine this week and the conflict has made headlines around the globe. Experts say financial markets across the world will likely feel the impact of what’s said to be the largest military operation in Europe since World War II.
In the U.S., experts say the housing market will likely be impacted too, with the biggest change perhaps being a change in consumer behavior.
The worst-hit segment may well prove to be the luxury housing sector. Wealthier home buyers tend to use assets such as stocks and cryptocurrency to pay for their purchases, and those have been especially volatile since the start of the conflict. At the same time, American consumers could well cut back on spending due to wariness and economic uncertainty caused by the events in Europe.
There are also fears of how a potential full-blown war in Europe might affect U.S. inflation, causing more people to be hesitant about making large purchases. Inflation is already at a 40-year high, and it’s hurting buyers, renters and also home builders due to higher construction costs.
“It’s all bad for the economy and housing. It’s just a matter of how bad,” 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.”
Food and oil prices could also keep rising due to the conflict, and if that happens consumers will have less money in their household budgets. Russia is the world’s second-largest oil producer and though the U.S. imports very little from the country, global energy markets will likely rise in tandem anyway.
“If oil prices go up that raises costs throughout the economy,” said realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale.
Some of the impacts of higher oil and gas prices include more expensive heating bills and added disruption to global supply chains. That would lead to yet more complications in the home building industry, where costs are already at record highs. The National Association of Home Builders says construction material prices are already up 22% year-over-year as it is, with lumber prices up 40% in the last year.
The increased cost of building materials, inflation and higher mortgage rates will combine to put a serious dent in new home affordability.
“Higher mortgage rates will slow homebuying demand over the course of 2022, and the Russia-Ukraine crisis will add short-term volatility to the bond market,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz.