When shelter-in-place orders brought the economy to a screeching halt earlier this year, many believed the residential housing market would follow suit. Countless analysts predicted buyer demand would disappear and home values would depreciate for the first time in almost a decade. That, however, didn’t happen. It appears the opposite is taking place.
After the bottom fell out of the real estate market immediately following the shutdown, it has come roaring back – and seems to still be gaining steam. Here’s a look at two recent reports – one from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and one from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) – showing this growing strength.
Builder Confidence Hits All-Time High
Last week, it was reported that applications for new home purchases with home builders were 39% higher than in July of 2019. That has builder confidence soaring.
Each month, NAHB releases its Housing Market Index, a survey of NAHB members who rate market conditions for the sale of new homes at the present time and over the next six months, as well as prospective buyer traffic for new homes.
This month, they reported that builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes increased to the highest reading in the 35-year history of the series. NAHB Chairman, Chuck Fowke, explained:
“The demand for new single-family homes continues to be strong, as low interest rates and a focus on the importance of housing has stoked buyer traffic to all-time highs…Housing has clearly been a bright spot during the pandemic and the sharp rebound in builder confidence over the summer has led NAHB to upgrade its forecast for single-family starts, which are now projected to show only a slight decline for 2020.”
The number of newly constructed homes being built will be almost at the same level as last year, even though the economic shutdown crushed home building earlier in the year.
Existing Homes Are Also Selling Like Hotcakes
Last Friday, NAR released its Existing Home Sales Report. The report revealed that month-over-month sales increased by 24.7%, setting another record for the category. The Wall Street Journal reported that the increase crushed expert forecasts:
“Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a 14.2% monthly increase in sales of previously-owned homes, which make up most of the housing market.”
Home sales increased by 8.7% year-over-year.
Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR, explained how the resale market is just as hot as the new construction market:
“The housing market is well past the recovery phase and is now booming with higher home sales compared to the pre-pandemic days. With the sizable shift in remote work, current homeowners are looking for larger homes and this will lead to a secondary level of demand even into 2021.”
In addition, the Housing Market Recovery Index, which is released monthly by realtor.com, also showed the market is recovering nicely. The latest index reading was 104.8, which means the housing market is doing better than it was in January and February of this year. As a reference, the highest point in the index was a 106.5 in early March, just prior to the health crisis setting in.
Both the newly constructed and existing home sale markets are posting numbers greater than a year ago. Real estate is back. If you’re thinking of buying or selling, let’s connect so you have the expert counsel you need along the way.
Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its latest Employment Situation Summary. Going into the release, the expert consensus was for 1.58 million jobs to be added in July, and for the unemployment rate to fall to 10.5%.
When the official report came out, it revealed that 1.8 million jobs were added, and the unemployment rate fell to 10.2% (from 11.1% last month). Once again, this is excellent news as this was the third consecutive month the unemployment rate decreased.There is, however, still a long way to go before the job market fully recovers. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) put a potential date on that recovery:
“July’s payroll growth, at 1.8 million, still leaves total payrolls 12.9 million lower than in February. And yet if job gains continued at July’s pace, that deficit will be erased by March 2021. If payrolls reclaim their last peak in 13 months, that would be remarkably fast. It took more than six years after the last recession.”
Permanent vs. Temporary Unemployment
During a pandemic, it’s important to differentiate those who have lost their jobs on a temporary basis from those who have lost them on a permanent basis. Morgan Stanley economists noted in the same WSJ article:
“The rate of churn in the labor market remains incredibly high, but a notable positive detail in this month’s report was the downtick in the rate of new permanent layoffs.”
To address this, the core unemployment rate becomes increasingly important. It identifies the number of people who have permanently lost their jobs. This measure subtracts temporary layoffs and adds unemployed who did not search for a job recently. Jed Kolko, Chief Economist at Indeed and the founder of the index reported:
“Core unemployment fell in July for the first time in the pandemic. That’s the good news I was hoping for.”
What about the housing market?
The housing market has continued to show tremendous resilience during the pandemic. Commenting on the labor report, Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), tweeted:
“Housing continues to rebound in another positive labor market report. Home builder and remodeler job gains of 24K for July. Residential construction employment down just 56.4K compared to a year ago. Total residential construction employment at 2.85 million.”
We should remain cautious in our optimism, as the recovery is ultimately tied to our future success in mitigating the ongoing health crisis. However, as Mike Fratantoni, Chief Economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, reminds us: “The pace of job growth slowed in July, but the gains over the past three months represent an impressive rebound during the ongoing economic challenges brought forth by the pandemic.”
With the strength of the current housing market growing every day and more Americans returning to work, a faster-than-expected recovery in the housing sector is already well underway. Regardless, many are still asking the question: will we see a wave of foreclosures as a result of the current crisis? Thankfully, research shows the number of foreclosures is expected to be much lower than what this country experienced during the last recession. Here’s why.
According to Black Knight Inc., the number of those in active forbearance has been leveling-off over the past month (see graph below):Black Knight Inc. also notes, of the original 4,208,000 families granted forbearance, only 2,588,000 of these homeowners got an extension. Many homeowners have once again started to pay their mortgages, paid off their homes, or never went delinquent on their payments in the first place. They may have applied for forbearance out of precaution, but never fully acted on it (see graph below):The housing market, and homeowners, therefore, are in a much better position than many may think. Much of that has to do with the fact that today’s homeowners have more equity than most realize. According to John Burns Consulting, over 42% of homes are owned free and clear, meaning they are not tied to a mortgage. Of the remaining 58%, the average homeowner has $177,000 in equity. That number is keeping many homeowners afloat today and giving them options to avoid foreclosure.
While ATTOM Data Solutions indicates that there is a potential for the number of foreclosures to increase throughout the country, it’s important to understand why they won’t rock the housing market this time around:
“The United States faces a possible foreclosure surge over the coming months that could more than double the number of households threatened with eviction for not paying their mortgages.”
That number may sound massive, but it is actually much smaller than it seems at first glance. Today’s actual quarterly active foreclosure number is 74,860. That’s over 7.5x lower than the number of foreclosures the country saw at the peak of the housing crash in 2009. When looking at the graph below, it’s clear that even if the number of quarterly foreclosures today doubles, as ATTOM Data Solutions indicates is a possibility (not a given), they will only reach what historically-speaking is a normalized range, far below what up-ended the housing market roughly 10 years ago.Equity is growing, jobs are returning, and the economy is slowly recovering, so the perfect storm for a wave of foreclosures is not realistically in the housing market forecast. As Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist for First American notes:
“Alone, economic hardship and a lack of equity are each necessary, but not sufficient to trigger a foreclosure. It is only when both conditions exist that a foreclosure becomes a likely outcome.”
While our hearts are with anyone who may end up in foreclosure as a result of this crisis, we do know that today’s homeowners have more options than they did 10 years ago. For some, it may mean selling their house and downsizing with that equity, which is a far better outcome than foreclosure.
Homeowners today have many options to avoid foreclosure, and equity is surely helping to keep many afloat. Even if today’s rate of foreclosures doubles, it will still only hit a mark that is more in line with a historically normalized range, a very good sign for homeowners and the housing market.
Today, home prices are appreciating. When we hear prices are going up, it’s normal to think a home will cost more as the trend continues. The way the housing market is positioned today, however, low mortgage rates are actually making homes more affordable, even as prices rise. Here’s why.
According to the Mortgage Monitor Report from Black Knight:
“While home prices have risen for 97 consecutive months, July’s record-low mortgage rates have made purchasing the average-priced home the most affordable it’s been since 2016.”
How is that possible?
Black Knight continues to explain:
“As of mid-July, it required 19.8% of the median monthly income to make the mortgage payment on the average-priced home purchase, assuming a 20% down payment and a 30-year mortgage. That was more than 5% below the average of 25% from 1995-2003.
This means it currently requires a $1,071 monthly payment to purchase the average-priced home, which is down 6% from the same time last year, despite the average home increasing in value by more than $12,000 during that same time period.
In fact, buying power is now up 10% year-over-year, meaning the average home buyer can afford nearly $32,000 more home than they could at the same time last year, while keeping their monthly payment the same.”
This is great news for the many buyers who were unable to purchase last year, or earlier in the spring due to the slowdown from the pandemic. By waiting a little longer, they can now afford 10% more home than they could have a year ago while keeping their monthly mortgage payment unchanged.
With mortgage rates hitting all-time lows eight times this year, it’s now less expensive to borrow money, making homes significantly more affordable over the lifetime of your loan. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, shares what low mortgage rates mean for affordability:
“In July, house-buying power got a big boost as the 30-year, fixed mortgage rate made history by moving below three percent. That drop in the mortgage rate from 3.23 percent in May to 2.98 percent in July increased house-buying power by nearly $15,000.”
The map below shows the last time homes were this affordable by state:In six states – Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, and West Virginia – homes have not been this affordable in more than 25 years.
If you’re thinking of making a move, now is a great time to take advantage of the affordability that comes with such low mortgage rates. Whether you’re thinking of purchasing your first home or moving into a new one and securing a significantly lower mortgage rate than you may have on your current house, let’s connect today to determine your next steps in the process.
So far, it’s been quite a ride this year, and our nation has truly seen its fair share of hurdles. From COVID-19 to record unemployment and then the resulting recession, just to name a few, the second quarter of 2020 has had more than a few challenges. Amidst the many roadblocks, however, the U.S. homeownership rate rose again, signaling great strength in the recovery of the housing market and an indication that even in a time of crisis, Americans still feel confident about buying a home.
Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau announced:
“The homeownership rate of 67.9 percent was 3.8 percentage points higher than the rate in the second quarter 2019 (64.1 percent) and 2.6 percentage points higher than the rate in the first quarter 2020 (65.3 percent).”
The increase is also represented by race and ethnicity of the householder:There are many reasons why the homeownership rate in this country is rising, and one of the key factors is historically-low mortgage rates. Rates hovering at all-time lows are helping to drive affordability and enabling more potential homeowners to enter the market today. According to Ralph McLaughlin, Chief Economist for Haus:
“Mortgage rates are the icing on the cake for households that were thinking about buying…They found an unexpected opportunity during the worst economic downturn America has seen since the Great Depression.”
In addition, many potential homebuyers have been using their time this year to search for homes that offer more space than their current rental apartments. Many of these homebuyers are younger and, as noted by Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, are the buyers driving the homeownership rate in an upward direction:
“Big jump in the homeownership rate today, mostly driven by younger households. We saw a spike in the number of owners, and a decline in the number of renters. This is the highest rate of homeownership since 2008.”
This growth is outstanding news for the housing market and for those who have recently found their new homes. If homeownership is on your shortlist this year, maybe now is a great time to meet with a real estate professional to evaluate your current situation. Perhaps historically low mortgage rates can help you to become a homeowner too.
If you’re thinking of buying a home this year, let’s connect today to take your dream one step closer to reality.
Announcement from the census: As a result of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), data collection operations for the CPS/HVS were affected during the second quarter of 2020. In-person interviews were suspended for the duration of the second quarter and replaced with telephone interview attempts when contact information was available. If the Field Representative was unable to get information on the sample unit, the unit was made a Type A no interview (no one home, refusal, etc.). See the FAQ for more information.
In June, the number of first-time homebuyers accounted for 35% of the existing homes sold, a trend that’s been building steadily throughout the year. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR):
“The share of first-time buyers increased in March through June—right into the heart of the pandemic period and the surge in unemployment—and is now trending higher than the 29% to 32% average in past years since 2012.” (See graph below):
Why the rise in first-time homebuying?
NAR continues to say:
“The major factor is, arguably, low mortgage rates. As of the week ended July 16, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropped to 2.98%. With rates so low that are locked in under a 30-year mortgage, the typical mortgage payment, estimated at $1,036, has fallen below the median rent, at $1,045. For potential home buyers who were thinking of purchasing a home anyway before the pandemic outbreak and who are likely to remain employed, the low mortgage rate may be the clincher.”
Clearly, historically low mortgage rates are encouraging many to buy. With the average mortgage payment now estimated at a lower monthly cost than renting, it’s a great time for first-time homebuyers to enter the market. According to the Q2 2020 Housing Trends Report from the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB):
“Eighty-four percent of Gen Z’s planning to buy a home are first timers, compared to 68% of Millennials, 52% of Gen X’s, and 21% of Boomers. Looking at results by region shows that over 60% of prospective buyers in the Northeast and South are buying a home for the first time. The share is above 55% in the Midwest and West.”
There are, however, challenges for first-time buyers. A recent survey conducted by NeighborWorks America also notes that understanding the homebuying process may be the most significant barrier for many hopeful homeowners:
“Homeownership is a particular challenge for many, despite high levels of interest. Americans believe there are many benefits to homeownership and half of non-owners will seek information about the process in the next few years…a large share of non-owners say the process is too challenging and only a minority know where to find advice if they wanted it. And although many would seek the guidance of community and non-profit programs, only one in three non-owners are aware of such services.”
If you’re among the first-time homebuyers who feel the process is complicated, you’re not alone. If you’re not sure where to begin or you simply want help in figuring out how to save for a home, finding a trusted real estate advisor to work with is a critical step toward your success. A real estate professional can help you understand the process, review your current situation, and guide you with a plan to help you to feel confident when buying a home.
If you’re interested in purchasing a home and need help getting started, let’s connect today so you can take advantage of the support available to guide you through each step of the way.
The health crisis we face as a country has led businesses all over the nation to reduce or discontinue their services altogether. This pause in the economy has greatly impacted the workforce and as a result, many people have been laid off or furloughed. Naturally, that would lead many to believe we might see a rush of foreclosures like we saw in 2008. The market today, however, is very different from 2008.
The concern of more foreclosures based on those that are out of work is one that we need to understand fully. There are two reasons we won’t see a rush of foreclosures this fall: forbearance extension options and strong homeowner equity.
1. Forbearance Extension
Forbearance, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), is “when your mortgage servicer or lender allows you to temporarily pay your mortgage at a lower payment or pause paying your mortgage.” Thisis an option for those who need immediate relief. In today’s economy, the CFPB has given homeowners a way to extend their forbearance, which will greatly assist those families who need it at this critical time.
Under the CARES Act, the CFPB notes:
“If you experience financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic, you have a right to request and obtain a forbearance for up to 180 days. You also have the right to request and obtain an extension for up to another 180 days (for a total of up to 360 days).”
2. Strong Homeowner Equity
Equity is also working in favor of today’s homeowners. This savings is another reason why we won’t see substantial foreclosures in the near future. Today’s homeowners who are in forbearance actually have more equity in their homes than what the market experienced in 2008.
The Mortgage Monitor report from Black Knight indicates that of all active forbearances which are past due on their mortgage payment, 77% have at least 20% equity in their homes (See graph below):Black Knight notes:
“The high level of equity provides options for homeowners, policymakers, mortgage investors and servicers in helping to avoid downstream foreclosure activity and default-related losses.”
Many think we may see a rush of foreclosures this fall, but the facts just don’t add up in this case. Today’s real estate market is very different from 2008 when we saw many homeowners walk away when they owed more than their homes were worth. This time, equity is stronger and plans are in place to help those affected weather the storm.
Inventory is arguably the biggest challenge for buyers in today’s housing market. There are simply more buyers actively looking for homes to purchase than there are sellers selling them, so the scale is tipped in favor of the sellers.
According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), total housing inventory is down 18.8% from one year ago. Inventory is well below what was available last year, and the houses that do come to the market are selling very quickly.
Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac notes:
“Simply put, new housing supply is not keeping up with rising demand. We estimate that the housing market is undersupplied by 3.3 million units, and the shortage is rising by about 300,000 units a year. More than half of all states have a housing shortage.”
Why is inventory so low?
There are many reasons why it’s hard to find a home to buy today, stemming from an undersupply of newly constructed homes to sellers pressing pause on their moving plans due to the current health pandemic. One of the key factors making it even more challenging, however, is the amount of time current homeowners are staying in their homes. There has truly been a fundamental shift in the market that started about 10 years ago: people are staying put longer, and it’s contributing to the shortage of houses for sale.
In the 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, NAR explained:
“In 2019, the median tenure for sellers was 10 years…After 2008, the median tenure in the home began to increase by one year each year. By 2011, the median tenure reached nine years, where it remained for three consecutive years, and jumped up again in 2014 to 10 years.”
As shown in the graph below, historical data indicates that staying in a home for 5-7 years used to be the norm, until the housing bubble burst. Since 2010, that length of time has trended upward, toward 9-10 years, largely due to homeowners aiming to recoup their equity:Thankfully, with the strength the market has gained over the last 10 years, today’s homeowners are in a much better equity position. Now is a fantastic time for homeowners who are ready to make a move to break the 10-year trend and sell their houses, especially while buyer demand is so high and inventory is so low. It’s a prime time to sell.
In addition, with today’s historically low interest rates, there’s an opportunity for sellers to maintain a low monthly payment while getting more house for their money. Think: move-up opportunity, more square footage, or finding the features they’re really looking for rather than doing costly renovations. With more new homes poised to enter the market this year, homeowners ready to make a move may have a golden opportunity to do so right now.
There are simply not enough houses for sale today. If you’re ready to leverage your equity and sell your house, let’s connect today. It’s a great time to move while demand for homes to buy is extremely high.
- A recent study shared by NAR notes that both buyers and sellers think an agent is more helpful than ever during the current health crisis.
- Expertise and professionalism are highly valued and can save buyers and sellers time and effort along the way.
- If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home this year, let’s connect to be sure you have a trusted professional on your side.
The pandemic has caused consumers to re-examine the components that make up the “perfect home.” Many families are no longer comfortable with the locations and layouts of their existing homes. The allure of city life (more congested) seems to be giving way to either suburban or rural life (less congested). The fascination with an open floor plan seems to be fading as people are finding a need for more privacy while working from home.
Recently, news.com released a report that revealed how buyers’ views of listings are leaning heavily to more suburban and rural properties. Here are the year-over-year percentage increases in views per property type:
- Urban – 7%
- Suburban – 13%
- Rural – 16%
In the report, Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research for realtor.com, gives these numbers some context:
“This migration to the suburbs is not a new trend, but it has become more pronounced. After several months of shelter-in-place orders, the desire to have more space and the potential for more people to work remotely are likely two of the factors contributing to the popularity of the burbs.”
Realtor Magazine also just reported that the desire to move is strongest in our city markets:
“Nearly 30% of respondents living in a high-density urban area say that the pandemic is prompting them to want to move by the end of the year…This is more than double the rate of those living in rural parts of the country, where residents are much more likely to stay put rather than to relocate.”
New Construction Also Seeing a Surge in Views
Since the pandemic has altered how consumers think about floor plans, builders are anticipating how future homes will change. In a recent press release by Zillow, it was explained that:
- Builders believe as people spend more time at home during the pandemic, buyers are realizing which features of their homes are working and not working.
- Homebuilders predict open-concept floor plans will be a thing of the past, as people now value more walls, doors, and overall privacy.
- New construction, which offers the chance to personalize home features, saw its listing page views grow by 73% over last May.
The Virus is Even Impacting the Luxury Second-Home Market
It appears that COVID-19 is impacting the luxury market too. In an article released last week titled, Luxury Buyers Return to Market in Force, Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com reported:
“Stay at home orders and social distancing have put a new value on the extra space. We’re seeing this in the luxury market as well, which could mean there is renewed interest from high-end buyers to find a second-home that is within driving distance from their primary residence.
Much like the suburbs are gaining favor with home shoppers, second home markets are seeing increased interest from luxury buyers…Views of luxury properties accelerated 56% in The Hamptons, 28% in Palm Springs and 24% in Greenwich compared to January trends.”
It appears that a percentage of people are preparing to leave many American cities. Some of these moves will be permanent, while others will be temporary (such as a getaway to a second home). In either case, many consumers are on the move. Real estate professionals are ready and willing to help in any way they can.