Category Archives: Housing Market Updates

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Existing Home Sales Cooling Off This Summer [INFOGRAPHIC]

Existing Home Sales Cooling Off This Summer [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Existing Home Sales Cooling Off This Summer [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • According to the National Association of Realtors’ latest Existing Home Sales Report, sales in June were down 2.2% from last year.
  • Inventory of homes for sale showed a modest improvement of 0.5% over last year’s figures, but still remains under the 6-month supply needed for a normal market.
  • NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun had this to say: “There continues to be a mismatch since the spring between the growing level of homebuyer demand in most of the country in relation to the actual pace of home sales, which are declining. The root cause is without a doubt the severe housing shortage that is not releasing its grip on the nation’s housing market.”

Supply & Demand Will Determine Future Home Values

Supply & Demand Will Determine Future Home Values | Simplifying The Market

Will home values continue to appreciate throughout 2018? The answer is simple: YES! – as long as there are more purchasers in the market than there are available homes for them to buy. This is known as the theory of “supply and demand,” which is defined as:

“The amount of a commodity, product, or service available and the desire of buyers for it, considered as factors regulating its price.”

When demand exceeds supply, prices go up. Every month this year, demand (buyer traffic) has increased as compared to last year and for the first five months of 2018, supply (the number of available listings) had decreased as compared to last year. However, a recent report by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed the first year-over-year increase in supply in three years.

Here are the numbers for supply and demand as compared to last year since the beginning of 2018:

Supply & Demand Will Determine Future Home Values | Simplifying The Market

The increase in the June numbers doesn’t mean that prices won’t continue to appreciate. In that same report, Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economist, explained:

“It’s important to note that despite the modest year-over-year rise in inventory, the current level is far from what’s needed to satisfy demand levels.

Furthermore, it remains to be seen if this modest increase will stick, given the fact that the robust economy is bringing more interested buyers into the market, and new home construction is failing to keep up.”

Bottom Line

The reason home prices are still rising is that there are many purchasers looking to buy but very few homeowners ready to sell. This imbalance is the reason prices will remain on the uptick.

Are Lending Standards Propping Up Home Prices?

Are Lending Standards Propping Up Home Prices? | Simplifying The Market

Back in 2005, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan described the dramatic increases in residential real estate values as a “froth in housing markets.” Greenspan went on to say:

“The increase in the prevalence of interest-only loans and the introduction of more-exotic forms of adjustable-rate mortgages are developments of particular concern…some households may be employing these instruments to purchase homes that would otherwise be unaffordable, and consequently their use could be adding to pressures in the housing market.”

Greenspan was warning that the loosening of lending standards could lead to disaster. And it did.

With home prices again appreciating at percentages well above historic norms, many are wondering whether the market is again becoming “frothy.” Mortgage standards are much stricter now, however, than they were in 2005.

The Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center issues a monthly index which measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default. A lower score indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards. A higher score indicates that lenders are willing to tolerate defaults and are taking more risks.

Their July Housing Credit Availability Index revealed credit availability rose to 5.9%. For context, they went on to explain:

“Significant space remains to safely expand the credit box. If the current default risk was doubled across all channels, risk would still be well within the pre-crisis standard of 12.5 percent from 2001 to 2003 for the whole mortgage market.”

Here is a graph depicting the Urban Institute’s findings:

Are Lending Standards Propping Up Home Prices? | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Though it may be slightly easier to get a mortgage today than it was a year ago, lending standards are nowhere near where they were during the build-up to the housing bubble.

Buying Is Now 26.3% Cheaper Than Renting in the US

Buying Is Now 26.3% Cheaper Than Renting in the US | Simplifying The Market

The results of the latest Rent vs. Buy Report from Trulia show that homeownership remains cheaper than renting, with a traditional 30-year fixed rate mortgage, in 98 of the 100 largest metro areas in the United States.

In the six years that Trulia has conducted this study, this is the first time that it was cheaper to rent than buy in any of the metropolitan areas.

It’s no surprise, however, that those two metros are San Jose and San Francisco, CA, where median home prices have jumped to over $1 million dollars this year. Home values in San Jose have risen 29% in the last year, while rents have remained relatively unchanged.

For the 98 metros where homeownership wins out, 97 of them show a double-digit advantage when buying. The range is an average of 2.0% less expensive in Honolulu (HI), all the way up to 48.9% in Detroit (MI), and 26.3% nationwide!

Below is a map of the 100 metros that were studied. The darker the blue dot on the metro, the cheaper it is to buy there.

Buying Is Now 26.3% Cheaper Than Renting in the US | Simplifying The Market

In order to calculate the true cost of renting vs. buying, Trulia includes all assumed renting costs, including one-time costs (like security deposits), and compares them to the monthly costs of owning a home (insurance, mortgage payments, taxes, and maintenance) including one-time costs (down payments, closing costs, sale proceeds). They also assume that households stay in their home for seven years, put down a 20% down payment, and take out a 30-year fixed rate mortgage. The full methodology is included with the study results here.

Below is a chart created with the data from the last six years of the study, showing the impact of the median home price, rental price, and 30-year fixed rate interest rate used to calculate the ‘cheaper to buy’ metric.

Buying Is Now 26.3% Cheaper Than Renting in the US | Simplifying The Market

In 2016, when buying was 41.3% less expensive than renting, the average mortgage rate was the driving force behind the difference. Rates this year are the highest they have been in six years which has narrowed the gap, all while home price appreciation has also been driven up by a lack of homes for sale.

Cheryl Young, Trulia’s Chief Economist, had this to say,

“One point deserves emphasizing: The ultra-costly San Francisco Bay Area is not a harbinger for the nation as a whole. While renting may outweigh buying in San Jose and San Francisco, it is unlikely that renting will tip the scales nationally anytime soon.”

Bottom Line

Homeownership provides many benefits beyond the financial ones. If you are one of the many renters out there who would like to evaluate your ability to buy this year, let’s get together to find your dream home.

The #1 Reason to Put Your House on The Market TODAY!

The #1 Reason to Put Your House on The Market TODAY! | Simplifying The Market

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) released the results of their latest Existing Home Sales Report which revealed that home sales declined 0.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million in June from 5.41 million in May, and are 2.2% below a year ago. Some may look at these numbers and think that now is a bad time to sell their house, but in fact, the opposite is true.

The national slowdown in sales is directly tied to a lack of inventory available for the buyers who are out in the market looking for their dream homes! In fact, the inventory of homes for sale had fallen year-over-year for 36 consecutive months before posting a modest 0.5% gain last month and has had an upward impact on home prices.

NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun had this to say,

“It’s important to note that despite the modest year-over-year rise in inventory, the current level is far from what’s needed to satisfy demand levels. Furthermore, it remains to be seen if this modest increase will stick, given the fact that the robust economy is bringing more interested buyers into the market, and new home construction is failing to keep up.”

The few houses that are on the market are selling fast! According to NAR’s Realtors Confidence Index, properties were typically on the market for 26 days.

Bottom Line

If you are one of the many homeowners who is debating listing your house for sale this year, the time is now! Let’s get together to discuss the specifics of our market!

4 Reasons Why We Are Not Heading Toward Another Housing Bubble

4 Reasons Why We Are Not Heading Toward Another Housing Bubble | Simplifying The Market

With home prices continuing to appreciate above historic levels, some are concerned that we may be heading for another housing ‘boom & bust.’ It is important to remember, however, that today’s market is quite different than the bubble market of twelve years ago.

Here are four key metrics that will explain why:

  1. Home Prices
  2. Mortgage Standards
  3. Foreclosure Rates
  4. Housing Affordability

1. HOME PRICES

There is no doubt that home prices have reached 2006 levels in many markets across the country. However, after more than a decade, home prices should be much higher based on inflation alone.

Last week, CoreLogic reported that,

“The inflation-adjusted U.S. median sale price in June 2006 was $247,110 (or $199,899 in 2006 dollars), compared with $213,400 in March 2018.” (This is the latest data available.)

2. MORTGAGE STANDARDS

Many are concerned that lending institutions are again easing standards to a level that helped create the last housing bubble. However, there is proof that today’s standards are nowhere near as lenient as they were leading up to the crash.

The Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center issues a monthly index which,

“…measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default—that is, go unpaid for more than 90 days past their due date. A lower HCAI indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards, making it harder to get a loan. A higher HCAI indicates that lenders are willing to tolerate defaults and are taking more risks, making it easier to get a loan.”

Their July Housing Credit Availability Index revealed:

“Significant space remains to safely expand the credit box. If the current default risk was doubled across all channels, risk would still be well within the pre-crisis standard of 12.5 percent from 2001 to 2003 for the whole mortgage market.”

3. FORECLOSURE RATES

A major cause of the housing crash last decade was the number of foreclosures that hit the market. They not only increased the supply of homes for sale but were also being sold at 20-50% discounts. Foreclosures helped drive down all home values.

Today, foreclosure numbers are lower than they were before the housing boom. Here are the number of consumers with new foreclosures according to the Federal Reserve’s most recent Household Debt and Credit Report:

  • 2003: 203,320 (earliest reported numbers)
  • 2009: 566,180 (at the valley of the crash)
  • Today: 76,480

Foreclosures today are less than 40% of what they were in 2003.

4. HOUSING AFFORDABILITY

Contrary to many headlines, home affordability is better now than it was prior to the last housing boom. In the same article referenced in #1, CoreLogic revealed that in the vast majority of markets, “the inflation-adjusted, principal-and-interest mortgage payments that homebuyers have committed to this year remain much lower than their pre-crisis peaks.”

They went on to explain:

“The main reason the typical mortgage payment remains well below record levels in most of the country is that the average mortgage rate back in June 2006, when the U.S. typical mortgage payment peaked, was about 6.7 percent, compared with an average mortgage rate of about 4.4 percent in March 2018.”

The “price” of a home may be higher, but the “cost” is still below historic norms.

Bottom Line

After using these four key housing metrics to compare today to last decade, we can see that the current market is not anything like that bubble market.

Lack of Listings Slowing Down the Market

Lack of Listings Slowing Down the Market | Simplifying The Market

As the real estate market continues to move down the road to a complete recovery, we see home values and home sales increasing while distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) continue to fall to their lowest points in years. There is no doubt that the housing market will continue to strengthen throughout 2018.

However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory!

Here’s what a few industry experts have to say about the current inventory crisis:

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors

“Inventory coming onto the market during this year’s spring buying season…was not even close to being enough to satisfy demand, that is why home prices keep outpacing incomes and listings are going under contract in less than a month – and much faster – in many parts of the country.”

Sam Khater, Chief Economist for Freddie Mac

“While this spring’s sudden rise in mortgage rates [took] up a good chunk of the conversation, it’s the stubbornly low inventory levels in much of the country that are preventing sales from really taking off like they should… Most markets simply need a lot more new and existing supply to cool price growth and give buyers enough choices.”

Alexandra Lee, Housing Data Analyst for Trulia

This seasonal inventory jump wasn’t enough to offset the historical year-over-year downward trend that has continued over 14 consecutive quarters…Despite the second-quarter gain, inventory was down 5.3% from a year ago. Still, this represents an easing of the double-digit drops we’ve been seeing since the second quarter of 2017.”

Bottom Line

If you are thinking about selling, now may be the time. Demand for your house will be strongest while there is still very little competition which could lead to a quick sale for a great price.

Housing Will Not Fall Victim to Next Economic Storm

Housing Will Not Fall Victim to Next Economic Storm | Simplifying The Market

Some experts are calling for a slowdown in the economy later this year and most economists have predicted that the next recession could only be eighteen months away. The question is, what impact will a recession have on the housing market?

Here are the opinions of several experts on the subject:

Ivy Zelman in her latest “Z Report”:

“While economic activity appears to have accelerated so far in 2018, some prominent economic forecasters have become more cautious about growth prospects for 2019 and 2020…

All told, while solid long-term demographic underpinnings support our positive fundamental outlook for housing, in the event micro-economic headwinds surface, we would expect housing transaction volumes and home prices to weather the storm.”

Aaron Terrazas, Zillow’s Senior Economist:

“While much remains unknown about the precise path of the U.S. economy in the years ahead, another housing market crisis is unlikely to be a central protagonist in the next nationwide downturn.”

Mark Fleming, First American’s Chief Economist:

“If a recession is to occur, it is unlikely to be caused by housing-related activity, and therefore the housing sector should be one of the leading sources to come out of the recession.”

Mark J. Hulbert, Financial Analyst and Journalist:

“Real estate may be one of your best investments during the next bear market for stocks. And by real estate, I mean your home or other residential properties.”

U.S. News and World Report:

“Fortunately – and hopefully – the history of recessions and current issues that could harm the economy don’t lead many to believe the housing market crash will repeat itself in an upcoming decline.”

How Long Do Most Families Live in a House?

How Long Do Most Families Live in a House? | Simplifying The Market

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) keeps historical data on many aspects of homeownership. One of their data points, which has changed dramatically, is the median tenure of a family in a home, meaning how long a family stays in a home prior to moving.

As the graph below shows, over the last twenty years (1985-2008), the median tenure averaged exactly six years. However, since 2014, that average is almost ten years – an increase of almost 50%.

How Long Do Most Families Live in a House? | Simplifying The Market

Why the dramatic increase?

The reasons for this change are plentiful!

The fall in home prices during the housing crisis left many homeowners in a negative equity situation (where their home was worth less than the mortgage on the property). Also, the uncertainty of the economy made some homeowners much more fiscally conservative about making a move.

With home prices rising dramatically over the last several years, 95.3% of homes with a mortgage are now in a positive equity situationaccording to CoreLogic.

With the economy coming back and wages starting to increase, many homeowners are in a much better financial situation than they were just a few short years ago.

One other reason for the increase was brought to light by NAR in their 2018 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report. According to the report,

“Sellers 37 years and younger stayed in their home for six years…”

These homeowners, who are either looking for more space to accommodate their growing families or for better school districts to do the same, are likely to move more often (compared to typical sellers who stayed in their homes for 10 years). The homeownership rate among young families, however, has still not caught up to previous generations, resulting in the jump we have seen in median tenure!

What does this mean for housing?

Many believe that a large portion of homeowners are not in a house that is best for their current family circumstance; they could be baby boomers living in an empty, four-bedroom colonial, or a millennial couple living in a one-bedroom condo planning to start a family.

These homeowners are ready to make a move, and since a lack of housing inventory is still a major challenge in the current housing market, this could be great news.

The #1 Reason to List Your House for Sale NOW!

The #1 Reason to List Your House for Sale NOW! | Simplifying The Market

If you are debating whether or not to list your house for sale this year, here is the #1 reason not to wait!

Buyer Demand Continues to Outpace the Supply of Homes for Sale

The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun recently commented on the current lack of inventory:

“Inventory coming onto the market during this year’s spring buying season – as evidenced again by last month’s weak reading – was not even close to being enough to satisfy demand. 

That is why home prices keep outpacing incomes and listings are going under contract in less than a month – and much faster – in many parts of the country.”

The latest Existing Home Sales Report shows that there is currently a 4.1-month supply of homes for sale. This remains lower than the 6-month supply necessary for a normal market, and 6.1% lower than last year’s inventory level.

The chart below details the year-over-year inventory shortages experienced over the last 12 months:

The #1 Reason to List Your House for Sale NOW! | Simplifying The Market

Anything less than a six-month supply is considered a “seller’s market.”

Bottom Line

Let’s get together to discuss the supply conditions in our neighborhood so that I can assist you in gaining access to the buyers who are ready, willing, and able to buy right now!