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Report: Housing price relief on the horizon

Illustration of a key hanging off of a life preserver.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Consumers may receive a reprieve in housing costs in the coming months, possibly offsetting a restart in student loan payments and buoying consumer spending, analysts say.

Why it matters: The health of retailers and brands hinges on the willingness and ability of the consumer to spend.

Driving the news: A new national rental report by real estate brokerage HouseCanary shows that a perfect storm is brewing for single-family rental prices to drop, its senior director of research, Brandon Lwowski, tells Axios.

  • Inventory is at historic highs in terms of total active listings, growing to about 70,000 from 50,700 last year, while the average days on market rose 28.4% to about 30.
  • Also, mortgage rates, which were driving would-be home buyers into the rental market, are beginning to decline, he notes.

Of note: Home purchase prices are likely to remain elevated, given homebuilders have been disciplined in initiating new construction since the financial crisis, Lwowski says.

What we're watching: Halloween spending is an important indicator of how the holiday season might play out with the resumption of student loan payments, veteran retail analyst Nikki Baird says.

  • She says there's anecdotal evidence consumers spent heavily on celebrating, but the monthly retail sales survey for October from the Census Bureau will be a better barometer.

What they're saying: It's hard to see consumers spending less in the months ahead, says Baird, who is VP of strategy at retail tech provider Aptos.

  • Home values, which boost consumer confidence, continue to rise, she says.
  • And for geopolitics to impact the holidays, it needs to manifest itself tangibly on U.S. shores, Baird notes.
  • It also looks like the threat of further interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve is receding, she adds.

Reality check: "Inflation is coming down, but prices are not," Baird says.

  • And a government shutdown, which could lead to 2 million government workers not getting their paychecks, could dampen the holidays, she says.

The big picture: While rental prices are falling on average nationally, some areas are still seeing hikes, Lwowski says.

  • HouseCanary's report doesn't encompass urban apartments such as studio and one-bedroom units.

Meanwhile, about 8% of credit card balances were delinquent by the end of September, but the share of Americans who have debt in collections is hovering at a historic low, Axios reports.

The bottom line: There's a good chance that without a major disruptive event, the holiday might end up being better than expected, Baird says.

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