The latest Existing Home Sales Report issued by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that home sales have decreased for four consecutive months and are at their slowest pace in over two years. This has some industry leaders puzzled considering the fact that the economy is strengthening, unemployment is down, and wages are beginning to rise. This begs the question: “Where are the buyers?” Actually, agents in the field of most communities are still seeing strong desire from prospective purchasers. They have a list of potential buyers ready to go if the right houses come on the market and they claim it is not a shortage of demand, but is instead a shortage of inventory that is causing the market to soften.
Why is there a shortage of inventory?You only need to look at the graph below to understand: New construction sales over the last ten years are far below historic numbers from 1995-2002. A recent industry report looked at building permits and concluded:
“If construction over the past decade matched historic norms, accounting for population change, the country would have had 2.3 million more single-family home permits.”That decade of not building enough homes is the primary reason for the concerns about today’s market.
Wait, weren’t we talking about ‘existing’ home sales?Some may argue that NAR’s sales report deals with existing home sales and not new construction, and they would be correct. However, reports have shown that one of the main reasons why existing homeowners are not selling is because they can’t find homes that meet the needs of their current lifestyles. Historically, the upgrades in a newly constructed home were the answers to those needs. Over the last decade, however, there were fewer homes built to satisfy this move-up seller. Consequently, there are many homeowners who stayed in their homes for a longer tenure, instead of putting their homes up for sale.
Bottom LineAs more new homes are being built, there will be more housing inventory to satisfy current demand which will cause prices to moderate and sales volumes to increase.
Last week, in a new report from Zillow, it was revealed that there has been a rash of price cuts across the country. According to the report:
- There are more price cuts now than a year ago in over two-thirds of the nation’s largest metros
- About 14% of all listings had a price cut in June
- Since the beginning of the year, the share of listings with a price cut increased 1.2%
- This is the greatest January-to-June increase ever reported, and more than double the January-to-June increase last year
“A rising share of on-market listings are seeing price cuts, though these price cuts are concentrated at the most expensive price-points and primarily in markets that have seen outsized price gains in recent years.”
What this DOESN’T MEAN for the real estate market…This doesn’t mean home values have depreciated or are about to depreciate. A seller may put a home worth $300,000 on the market for $325,000 hoping a bidding war will occur and an overanxious buyer will pay more than its actual value. That has happened often over the last few years. If the seller gets no offers and reduces the price to $300,000, it doesn’t mean the home dropped in value. It is still worth $300,000. Home prices will continue to appreciate over the next 12 months. In this same report, Terrazas remarks:
“It’s far too soon to call this a buyer’s market, home values are still expected to appreciate at double their historic rate over the next 12 months, but the frenetic pace of the housing market over the past few years is starting to return toward a more normal trend.”
What this DOES MEAN for the real estate market…This does mean that sellers should be more conservative when it comes to the price at which they list their homes – especially sellers in the upper end of each market. Sellers have been listing their homes at inflated prices hoping a super-hot market will deliver a buyer willing to pay virtually any price to ensure they don’t lose the house. That strategy has worked somewhat successfully over the last two years. However, the time that strategy would have worked may have passed. Again, quoting Aaron Terrazas in the report:
“The housing market has tilted sharply in favor of sellers over the past two years, but there are very early preliminary signs that the winds may be starting to shift ever-so-slightly.”
Bottom LinePrices are not depreciating. However, if you want to sell your house quickly and with the least amount of hassles, pricing it correctly from the beginning makes the most sense.
[caption id="" align="alignnone" width="648"] Supply & Demand Will Determine Future Home Values |[/caption]
Supply and Demand Determine Home ValuesWill 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: 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 LineThe 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.
Every homeowner wants to make sure that they maximize their financial reward when selling their home, but how do you guarantee that you receive the maximum value for your house? Here are two ways to ensure that you get the highest price possible.
1. Price it a Little LowThis may seem counterintuitive, but let’s take a look at this concept for a moment. Many homeowners think that pricing their homes a little OVER market value will leave them with room for negotiation when, in actuality, it just dramatically lessens the demand for their houses (see chart below). Instead of the seller trying to ‘win’ the negotiation with one buyer, they should price their house so that demand for the home is maximized. By doing so, the seller will not be fighting with a buyer over the price but will instead have multiple buyers fighting with each other over the house. Realtor.com gives this advice:
“Aim to price your property at or just slightly below the going rate. Today’s buyers are highly informed, so if they sense they’re getting a deal, they’re likely to bid up a property that’s slightly underpriced, especially in areas with low inventory.”
2. Use a Real Estate ProfessionalThis, too, may seem counterintuitive as the seller may think that he or she will make more money by avoiding a real estate commission. With this being said, studies have shown that homes typically sell for more money when handled by real estate professionals. A study by Collateral Analytics, reveals that FSBOs don’t actually save any money, and in some cases may be costing themselves more, by not listing with an agent. The data showed that:
“FSBOs tend to sell for lower prices than comparable home sales, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate.”The results of the study showed that the differential in selling prices for FSBOs, when compared to MLS sales of similar properties, is about 5.5%. Sales in 2017 suggest the average sales price was near 6% lower for FSBO sales of similar properties.
Bottom LinePrice your house at or slightly below the current market value and hire a professional. This will guarantee that you maximize the price you get for your house.
We keep hearing that home affordability is approaching crisis levels. While this may be true in a few metros across the country, housing affordability is not a challenge in the clear majority of the country. In their most recent Real House Price Index, First American reported that consumer “house-buying power” is at “near-historic levels.” Their index is based on three components:
- Median Household Income
- Mortgage Interest Rates
- Home Prices
“Changing incomes and interest rates either increase or decrease consumer house-buying power or affordability. When incomes rise and/or mortgage rates fall, consumer house-buying power increases.”Combining these three crucial pieces of the home purchasing process, First American created an index delineating the actual home-buying power that consumers have had dating back to 1991. Here is a graph comparing First American’s consumer house-buying power (blue area) to the actual median home price that year from the National Association of Realtors (yellow line). Consumer house-buyer power has been greater than the actual price of a home since 1991. And, the spread is larger over the last decade.
Bottom LineEven though home prices are increasing rapidly and are now close to the values last seen a decade ago, the actual affordability of a home is much better now. As Chief Economist Mark Fleming explains in the report:
“Though unadjusted house prices have risen to record highs, consumer house-buying power stands at near-historic levels, as well, signaling that real house prices are not even close to their historical peak.”
Homes More Affordable TodayRising home prices have many concerned that the average family will no longer be able to afford the most precious piece of the American Dream – their own home. However, it is not just the price of a home that determines its affordability. The monthly cost of a home is determined by the price and the interest rate on the mortgage used to purchase it. Today, mortgage interest rates stand at about 4.5%. The average annual mortgage interest rate from 1985 to 2000 was almost double that number, at 8.92%. When comparing affordability of homeownership over the decades, we must also realize that incomes have increased. This is why most indexes use the percentage of median income required to make monthly mortgage payments on a typical home as the point of comparison. Zillow recently released a report comparing home affordability over the decades using this formula. The report revealed that, though homes are less affordable this year than last year, they are more affordable today (17.1%) than they were between 1985-2000 (21%). Additionally, homes are more affordable now than at the peak of the housing bubble in 2006 (25.4%). Here is a chart of these findings:
What will happen when mortgage interest rates rise?Most experts think that the mortgage interest rate will increase to about 5% by year’s end. How will that impact affordability? Zillow also covered this in their report: Rates would need to approach 6% before homes became less affordable than they had been historically.
Bottom LineThough homes are less affordable today than they were last year, they are still a great purchase while interest rates are below the 6% mark.
Economists and analysts know that the country has experienced economic growth for almost a decade. They also know that a recession can’t be too far off. A recent report by Zillow Research shed light on a survey conducted by Pulsenomics in which they asked economists, investment strategists and market analysts how they felt about the current housing market. That report revealed the possible timing of the next recession:
“Experts largely expect the next recession to begin in 2020.”That timing concurs with a recent survey of economists by the Wall Street Journal:
“The economic expansion that began in mid-2009 and already ranks as the second-longest in American history most likely will end in 2020 as the Federal Reserve raises interest rates to cool off an overheating economy, according to forecasters surveyed.”Here is a graph comparing the opinions of those surveyed by both the Wall Street Journal and Pulsenomics:
Recession DOES NOT Equal Housing CrisisAccording to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a recession is defined as follows:
“A period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters.”A recession means the economy has slowed down markedly. It does not mean we are experiencing another housing crisis. Obviously, the housing crash of 2008 caused the last recession. However, during the previous five recessions home values appreciated. According to the experts surveyed by Pulsenomics, the top three probable triggers for the next recession are:
- Monetary policy
- Trade policy
- A stock market correction
“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.”And U.S. News and World Report agreed:
“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.”
Bottom LineA recession is probably less than two years away. A housing crisis is not.
If you’ve entered the real estate market as a buyer or a seller, you’ve inevitably heard the mantra “location, location, location” in reference to identical homes increasing or decreasing in value based on where they’re located. In today’s housing market where home prices are appreciating quickly, it’s important to know that not every home appreciates at the same rate. The map below demonstrates that point on a state-by-state basis using data from the National Association of Realtors. Demand often dictates value, even for houses in the same area of the country! High demand for starter and trade-up homes have driven prices up in these categories by nearly 10% over the past year, while those in the premium markets have appreciated at closer to 6%.
Bottom LineIf you are debating whether or not to buy and/or sell a home this year, let’s get together to help you figure out exactly what’s going on in our market.
Should I wait to buy a home or should I buy now?We recently shared that national home prices have increased by 6.7% year-over-year. Over that same time period, interest rates have remained historically low which has allowed many buyers to enter the market. As a seller, you will likely be most concerned about ‘short-term price’ – where home values are headed over the next six months. As a buyer, however, you must not be concerned about price, but instead about the ‘long-term cost’ of the home. The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Freddie Mac, and Fannie Mae all project that mortgage interest rates will increase by this time next year. According to CoreLogic’s most recent Home Price Index Report, home prices will appreciate by 5.2% over the next 12 months.
What Does This Mean as a Buyer?If home prices appreciate by 5.2% over the next twelve months as predicted by CoreLogic, here is a simple demonstration of the impact that an increase in interest rate would have on the mortgage payment of a home selling for approximately $250,000 today:
Bottom LineIf buying a home is in your plan for this year, doing it sooner rather than later could save you thousands of dollars over the terms of your loan.
With home prices rising again this year, some are concerned that we may be repeating the 2006 housing bubble that caused families so much pain when it collapsed. Today’s market is quite different than the bubble market of twelve years ago. There are four key metrics that explain why:
- Home Prices
- Mortgage Standards
- Mortgage Debt
- Housing Affordability
1. HOME PRICESThere 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. Frank Nothaft is the Chief Economist for CoreLogic (which compiles some of the best data on past, current, and future home prices). Nothaft recently explained:
“Even though CoreLogic’s national home price index got to the same level it was at the prior peak in April of 2006, once you account for inflation over the ensuing 11.5 years, values are still about 18% below where they were.” (emphasis added)
2. MORTGAGE STANDARDSSome are concerned that banks are once again easing lending standards to a level similar to the one 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 Housing Credit Availability Index (HCAI). According to the Urban Institute:
“The HCAI 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.”The graph below reveals that standards today are much tighter on a borrower’s credit situation and have all but eliminated the riskiest loan products. [caption id="attachment_37442" align="alignnone" width="650"] Housing Credit Availability Index[/caption]