What Impact Might COVID-19 Have on Home Values?

What Impact Might COVID-19 Have on Home Values? | Simplifying The Market

A big challenge facing the housing industry is determining what impact the current pandemic may have on home values. Some buyers are hoping for major price reductions because the health crisis is straining the economy.

The price of any item, however, is determined by supply and demand, which is how many items are available in relation to how many consumers want to buy that item.

In residential real estate, the measurement used to decipher that ratio is called months supply of inventory. A normal market would have 6-7 months of inventory. Anything over seven months would be considered a buyers’ market, with downward pressure on prices. Anything under six months would indicate a sellers’ market, which would put upward pressure on prices.

Going into March of this year, the supply stood at three months – a strong seller’s market. While buyer demand has decreased rather dramatically during the pandemic, the number of homes on the market has also decreased. The recently released Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed we currently have 3.4 months of inventory. This means homes should maintain their value during the pandemic.

This information is consistent with the research completed by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, which recently reported:

“Historical analysis showed us that pandemics are usually V-shaped (sharp recessions that recover quickly enough to provide little damage to home prices).”

What are the experts saying?

Here’s a look at what some experts recently reported on the matter:

Ivy Zelman, President, Zelman & Associates

“Supported by our analysis of home price dynamics through cycles and other periods of economic and housing disruption, we expect home price appreciation to decelerate from current levels in 2020, though easily remain in positive territory year over year given the beneficial factors of record-low inventories & a historically-low interest rate environment.”

Freddie Mac

“The fiscal stimulus provided by the CARES Act will mute the impact that the economic shock has on house prices. Additionally, forbearance and foreclosure mitigation programs will limit the fire sale contagion effect on house prices. We forecast house prices to fall 0.5 percentage points over the next four quarters. Two forces prevent a collapse in house prices. First, as we indicated in our earlier research report, U.S. housing markets face a large supply deficit. Second, population growth and pent up household formations provide a tailwind to housing demand. Price growth accelerates back towards a long-run trend of between 2 and 3% per year.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American

“The housing supply remains at historically low levels, so house price growth is likely to slow, but it’s unlikely to go negative.”

Bottom Line

Even though the economy has been placed on pause, it appears home prices will remain steady throughout the pandemic.

Uncertainty Abounds in the Search for Economic Recovery Timetable

Uncertainty Abounds in the Search for Economic Recovery Timetable | Simplifying The Market

Earlier this week, we discussed how most projections from financial institutions are calling for a quick V-shaped recovery from this economic downturn, and there’s research on previous post-pandemic recoveries to support that expectation.

In addition, we noted how there are some in the business community who believe we may instead be headed for a U-shaped recovery, where the return to previous levels of economic success won’t occur until the middle of next year. Yesterday, Reuters released a poll of U.S. and European economists which revealed that most surveyed are now leaning more toward a U-shaped recovery.

Here are the results of that poll:Uncertainty Abounds in the Search for Economic Recovery Timetable | Simplifying The Market

Why the disparity in thinking among different groups of economic experts?

The current situation makes it extremely difficult to project the future of the economy. Analysts normally look at economic data and compare it to previous slowdowns to create their projections. This situation, however, is anything but normal.

Today, analysts must incorporate data from three different sciences into their recovery equation:

1. Business Science – How has the economy rebounded from similar slowdowns in the past?

2. Health Science – When will COVID-19 be under control? Will there be another flareup of the virus this fall?

3. Social Science – After businesses are fully operational, how long will it take American consumers to return to normal consumption patterns? (Ex: going to the movies, attending a sporting event, or flying).

The challenge of accurately combining the three sciences into a single projection has created uncertainty, and it has led to a wide range of opinions on the timing of the recovery.

Bottom Line

Right now, the vast majority of economists and analysts believe a full recovery will take anywhere from 6-18 months. No one truly knows the exact timetable, but it will be coming.

Selling My Home – Should I Wait?

Open House - Voila | Real Estate Done Right

Spring is here, which typically means it’s the perfect time to list your house for sale. People are ready to head out to house hunt, after being cooped up at home during the winter. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing and there is a feeling of renewal that makes home shopping so attractive. But we are not experiencing a normal spring. COVID-19 has changed the fabric of commerce in a very short amount of time. Is it still a good idea to put your home on the market? The answer: it depends.

Pros to Listing Now

Mortgage rates are very competitive right now, spurring prospective homeowners who want to capitalize on those low rates. Since low rates mean lower mortgage payments, this is extremely attractive to potential buyers. There is also less buyer competition, which means there is less chance of finding themselves in a bidding war.

Cons to Listing Now

Potential buyers are feeling the uncertainty of the job market and may be concerned about their income. This may lead potential buyers to put their plans on hold until the situation stabilizes. Social distancing concerns also make it difficult to view homes, work with realtors or mortgage companies, and feel secure in making the right decisions during this time. Buyers and sellers alike are probably concerned about safely moving during the pandemic.

Find the Right Agent

So, what’s a seller to do? The most important step in selling your home in any situation is to find the right agent. Experienced agents have the tools that are necessary to get you the price you want in the quickest time possible. COVID-19 is changing the face of real estate, but the right agent can be ready with options that still make selling your home possible. Ask if your agent is experienced in virtual tours, digital consultation and document signing options. If he isn’t, shop around until you find an agent who is well versed in technology. The uncertainty of the times we’re living in has changed the look of everything we do. Shopping, entertainment and socializing have been put on hold until we flatten the curve. Even though the prospect of selling your home looks different, At Voila! it doesn’t have to be impossible. Let’s connect to discuss your options.

Keys to Selling Your House Virtually

Keys to Selling Your House Virtually | Simplifying The Market

In a recent survey by realtor.com, people thinking about selling their homes indicated they’re generally willing to allow their agent and some potential buyers inside if done under the right conditions. They’re less comfortable, however, hosting an open house. This is understandable, given the health concerns associated with social contact these days. The question is, if you need to sell your house now, what virtual practices should you use to make sure you, your family, and potential buyers stay safe in the process?

In today’s rapidly changing market, it’s more important than ever to make sure you have a digital game plan and an effective online marketing strategy when selling your house. One of the ways your agent can help with this is to make sure your listing photos and virtual tours stand out from the crowd, truly giving buyers a detailed and thorough view of your home.

So, if you’re ready to move forward, virtual practices may help you win big when you’re ready to sell. While abiding by state and local regulations is a top priority, a real estate agent can help make your sale happen. Agents know exactly what today’s buyers need, and how to put the necessary digital steps in place. For example, according to the same survey, when asked to select what technology would be most helpful when deciding on a new home, here’s what today’s homebuyers said, in order of preference:

  • Virtual tour of the home
  • Accurate and detailed listing information
  • Detailed neighborhood information
  • High-quality listing photos
  • Agent-led video chat

After leveraging technology, if you have serious buyers who still want to see your house in person, keep in mind that according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), there are ways to proceed safely. Here are a few of the guidelines, understanding that the top priority should always be to obey state and local restrictions first:

  • Limit in-person activity
  • Require guests to wash their hands or use an alcohol-based sanitizer
  • Remove shoes or cover with booties
  • Follow CDC guidance on social distancing and wearing face coverings

Getting comfortable with your agent – a true trusted advisor – taking these steps under the new safety standards might be your best plan. This is especially important if you’re in a position where you need to sell your house sooner rather than later.

Nate Johnson, CMO at realtor.com ® notes:

“As real estate agents and consumers seek out ways to safely complete these transactions, we believe that technology will become an even more imperative part of how we search for, buy and sell homes moving forward.”

It sounds like some of these new practices might be here to stay.

Bottom Line

In a new era of life, things are shifting quickly, and virtual strategies for sellers may be a great option. Opening your doors up to digital approaches may be game-changing when it comes to selling your house. Let’s connect so you have a trusted real estate professional to help you safely and effectively navigate through all that’s new when it comes to making your next move.

Will This Economic Crisis Have a V, U, or L-Shaped Recovery?

Will This Economic Crisis Have a V, U, or L-Shaped Recovery? | Simplifying The Market

Many American businesses have been put on hold as the country deals with the worst pandemic in over one hundred years. As the states are deciding on the best strategy to slowly and safely reopen, the big question is: how long will it take the economy to fully recover?

Let’s look at the possibilities. Here are the three types of recoveries that follow most economic slowdowns (the definitions are from the financial glossary at Market Business News):

  • V-shaped recovery: an economic period in which the economy experiences a sharp decline. However, it is also a brief period of decline. There is a clear bottom (called a trough by economists) which does not last long. Then there is a strong recovery.
  • U-shaped recovery: when the decline is more gradual, i.e., less severe. The recovery that follows starts off moderately and then picks up speed. The recovery could last 12-24 months.
  • L-shaped recovery: a steep economic decline followed by a long period with no growth. When an economy is in an L-shaped recovery, getting back to where it was before the decline will take years.

What type of recovery will we see this time?

No one can answer this question with one hundred percent certainty. However, most top financial services firms are calling for a V-shaped recovery. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo Securities, and JP Morgan have all recently come out with projections that call for GDP to take a deep dive in the first half of the year but have a strong comeback in the second half.Will This Economic Crisis Have a V, U, or L-Shaped Recovery? | Simplifying The Market

Is there any research on recovery following a pandemic?

There have been two extensive studies done that look at how an economy has recovered from a pandemic in the past. Here are the conclusions they reached:

1. John Burns Consulting:

“Historical analysis showed us that pandemics are usually V-shaped (sharp recessions that recover quickly enough to provide little damage to home prices), and some very cutting-edge search engine analysis by our Information Management team showed the current slowdown is playing out similarly thus far.”

2. Harvard Business Review:

“It’s worth looking back at history to place the potential impact path of Covid-19 empirically. In fact, V-shapes monopolize the empirical landscape of prior shocks, including epidemics such as SARS, the 1968 H3N2 (“Hong Kong”) flu, 1958 H2N2 (“Asian”) flu, and 1918 Spanish flu.”

The research says we should experience a V-shaped recovery.

Does everyone agree it will be a ‘V’?

No. Some are concerned that, even when businesses are fully operational, the American public may be reluctant to jump right back in.

As Market Business News explains:

“In a typical V-shaped recovery, there is a huge shift in economic activity after the downturn and the trough. Growing consumer demand and spending drive the massive shift in economic activity.”

If consumer demand and spending do not come back as quickly as most expect it will, we may be heading for a U-shaped recovery.

In a message last Thursday, Chris Hyzy, Chief Investment Officer for Merrill and Bank of America Private Bank, agrees with other analysts who are expecting a resurgence in the economy later this year:

“We’re forecasting real economic growth of 30% for the U.S. in the 4th quarter of this year and 6.1% in 2021.”

His projection, however, calls for a U-shaped recovery based on concerns that consumers may not rush back in:

“After the steep plunge and bottoming out, a ‘U-shaped’ recovery should begin as consumer confidence slowly returns.”

Bottom Line

The research indicates the recovery will be V-shaped, and most analysts agree. However, no one knows for sure how quickly Americans will get back to “normal” life. We will have to wait and see as the situation unfolds.

The Pain of Unemployment: It Will Be Deep, But Not for Long

The Pain of Unemployment: It Will Be Deep, But Not for Long | Simplifying The Market

There are two crises in this country right now: a health crisis that has forced everyone into their homes and a financial crisis caused by our inability to move around as we normally would. Over 20 million people in the U.S. became instantly unemployed when it was determined that the only way to defeat this horrific virus was to shut down businesses across the nation. One second a person was gainfully employed, a switch was turned, and then the room went dark on their livelihood.

The financial pain so many families are facing right now is deep.

How deep will the pain cut?

Major institutions are forecasting unemployment rates last seen during the Great Depression. Here are a few projections:

  • Goldman Sachs – 15%
  • Merrill Lynch – 10.6%
  • Wells Fargo – 7.3%

How long will the pain last?

As horrific as those numbers are, there is some good news. The pain will be deep, but it won’t last as long as it did after previous crises. Taking the direst projection from Goldman Sachs, we can see that 15% unemployment quickly drops to 6-8% as we head into next year, continues to drop, and then returns to about 4% in 2023.

When we compare that to the length of time it took to get back to work during both the Great Recession (9 years long) and the Great Depression (12 years long), we can see how the current timetable is much more favorable.The Pain of Unemployment: It Will Be Deep, But Not for Long | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

It’s devastating to think about how the financial heartache families are going through right now is adding to the uncertainty surrounding their health as well. Hopefully, we will soon have the virus contained and then we will, slowly and safely, return to work.

Today’s Homebuyers Want Lower Prices. Sellers Disagree.

Today’s Homebuyers Want Lower Prices. Sellers Disagree. | Simplifying The Market

The uncertainty the world faces today due to the COVID-19 pandemic is causing so many things to change. The way we interact, the way we do business, even the way we buy and sell real estate is changing. This is a moment in time that’s even sparking some buyers to search for a better deal on a home. Sellers, however, aren’t offering a discount these days; they’re holding steady on price.

According to the most recent NAR Flash Survey (a survey of real estate agents from across the country), agents were asked the following two questions:

1. “Have any of your sellers recently reduced their price to attract buyers?”

Their answer: 72% said their sellers have not lowered prices to attract buyers during this health crisis. 

2. “Are home buyers expecting lower prices now?”

Their answer: 63% of agents said their buyers were looking for a price reduction of at least 5%.Today’s Homebuyers Want Lower Prices. Sellers Disagree. | Simplifying The Market

What We Do Know  

In today’s market, with everything changing and ongoing questions around when the economy will bounce back, it’s interesting to note that some buyers see this time as an opportunity to win big in the housing market. On the other hand, sellers are much more confident that they will not need to reduce their prices in order to sell their homes. Clearly, there are two different perspectives at play.

Bottom Line

If you’re a buyer in today’s market, you might not see many sellers lowering their prices. If you’re a seller and don’t want to lower your price, you’re not alone. If you have questions on how to price your home, let’s connect today to discuss your real estate needs and next steps.

Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again.

Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | Simplifying The Market

With all of the unanswered questions caused by COVID-19 and the economic slowdown we’re experiencing across the country today, many are asking if the housing market is in trouble. For those who remember 2008, it’s logical to ask that question.

Many of us experienced financial hardships, lost homes, and were out of work during the Great Recession – the recession that started with a housing and mortgage crisis. Today, we face a very different challenge: an external health crisis that has caused a pause in much of the economy and a major shutdown of many parts of the country.

Let’s look at five things we know about today’s housing market that were different in 2008.

1. Appreciation

When we look at appreciation in the visual below, there’s a big difference between the 6 years prior to the housing crash and the most recent 6-year period of time. Leading up to the crash, we had much higher appreciation in this country than we see today. In fact, the highest level of appreciation most recently is below the lowest level we saw leading up to the crash. Prices have been rising lately, but not at the rate they were climbing back when we had runaway appreciation.Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | Simplifying The Market

2. Mortgage Credit

The Mortgage Credit Availability Index is a monthly measure by the Mortgage Bankers Association that gauges the level of difficulty to secure a loan. The higher the index, the easier it is to get a loan; the lower the index, the harder. Today we’re nowhere near the levels seen before the housing crash when it was very easy to get approved for a mortgage. After the crash, however, lending standards tightened and have remained that way leading up to today.Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | Simplifying The Market

3. Number of Homes for Sale

One of the causes of the housing crash in 2008 was an oversupply of homes for sale. Today, as shown in the next image, we see a much different picture. We don’t have enough homes on the market for the number of people who want to buy them. Across the country, we have less than 6 months of inventory, an undersupply of homes available for interested buyers.Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | Simplifying The Market

4. Use of Home Equity

The chart below shows the difference in how people are accessing the equity in their homes today as compared to 2008. In 2008, consumers were harvesting equity from their homes (through cash-out refinances) and using it to finance their lifestyles. Today, consumers are treating the equity in their homes much more cautiously.Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | Simplifying The Market

5. Home Equity Today

Today, 53.8% of homes across the country have at least 50% equity. In 2008, homeowners walked away when they owed more than what their homes were worth. With the equity homeowners have now, they’re much less likely to walk away from their homes.Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

The COVID-19 crisis is causing different challenges across the country than the ones we faced in 2008. Back then, we had a housing crisis; today, we face a health crisis. What we know now is that housing is in a much stronger position today than it was in 2008. It is no longer the center of the economic slowdown. Rather, it could be just what helps pull us out of the downturn.

What If I Need to Sell My Home Now? What Can I Do?

What If I Need to Sell My Home Now? What Can I Do? | Simplifying The Market

Every day that passes, people have a need to buy and sell homes. That doesn’t stop during the current pandemic. If you’ve had a major life change recently, whether with your job or your family situation, you may be in a position where you need to sell your home – and fast. While you probably feel like timing with the current pandemic isn’t on your side, making a move is still possible. Rest assured, with technology at your side and fewer sellers on the market in most areas, you can list your house and make it happen safely and effectively, especially when following the current COVID-19 guidelines set forth by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

You may have a new baby, a new employment situation, a parent who moved in with you, you just built a home that’s finally ready to move into, or some other major part of your life that has changed in recent weeks. Buyers have those needs too, so rest assured that someone is likely looking for a home just like yours.

According to the NAR Flash Survey: Economic Pulse taken April 5 – 6, real estate agents indicate, not surprisingly, that there’s a noticeable decline in current homebuyer interest. That said, 10% of agents said in the same survey that they saw no change or even an increase in buyer activity. So, while buyer interest is low compared to normal spring markets, there are still buyers in the market. Don’t forget, you only need one buyer – the right one for your home.

Here’s the other thing – people are spending a lot of time on the Internet right now, given the stay-at-home orders implemented across the country. Buyers are actively looking at homes for sale online. Some of them are reaching out to real estate professionals for virtual tours and getting ready to make offers too. Homes are being sold in many markets.

There Is Less Competition Right Now

The same survey indicates that 56% of NAR members said sellers are removing their homes from the market right now. This can definitely work in your favor. If other sellers are removing their listings, your home has a better chance of rising to the top of a buyer’s search list and being seen. Keep in mind, listings will pick up again soon, as 57% of the respondents note that sellers are only planning to delay the process by a couple of months. If you need to sell right now, don’t wait for the competition to get back into the market again.

This year, delayed listings from the typically busy spring season will push into the summer months, so more competition will be coming to the market as the pandemic passes. Getting ahead of that wave now might be your biggest opportunity.

Your Trusted Real Estate Advisor Can Help

Real estate agents are working hard every single day under untraditional circumstances, utilizing technology to help both buyers and sellers who need to continue with their plans. We’re using virtual tours to show homes currently on the market, staying connected with the buyers and sellers through video chats, and leveraging resources to complete transactions electronically. We’re making sure the families we support remain safe and can keep their real estate needs on track, especially as life is changing so rapidly.

Bottom Line

Homes are still being bought and sold in the midst of this pandemic. If you need to sell your house and would like to know the current status in our local market, let’s work together to create a safe and effective plan that works for you and your family.

Recession? Yes. Housing Crash? No.

Recession? Yes. Housing Crash? No. | Simplifying The Market

With over 90% of Americans now under a shelter-in-place order, many experts are warning that the American economy is heading toward a recession, if it’s not in one already. What does that mean to the residential real estate market?

What is a recession?

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research:

“A recession is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.”

COVID-19 hit the pause button on the American economy in the middle of March. Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley are all calling for a deep dive in the economy in the second quarter of this year. Though we may not yet be in a recession by the technical definition of the word today, most believe history will show we were in one from April to June.

Does that mean we’re headed for another housing crash?

Many fear a recession will mean a repeat of the housing crash that occurred during the Great Recession of 2006-2008. The past, however, shows us that most recessions do not adversely impact home values. Doug Brien, CEO of Mynd Property Management, explains:

“With the exception of two recessions, the Great Recession from 2007-2009, & the Gulf War recession from 1990-1991, no other recessions have impacted the U.S. housing market, according to Freddie Mac Home Price Index data collected from 1975 to 2018.”

CoreLogic, in a second study of the last five recessions, found the same. Here’s a graph of their findings:Recession? Yes. Housing Crash? No. | Simplifying The Market

What are the experts saying this time?

This is what three economic leaders are saying about the housing connection to this recession:

Robert Dietz, Chief Economist with NAHB

“The housing sector enters this recession underbuilt rather than overbuilt…That means as the economy rebounds – which it will at some stage – housing is set to help lead the way out.”

Ali Wolf, Chief Economist with Meyers Research

“Last time housing led the recession…This time it’s poised to bring us out. This is the Great Recession for leisure, hospitality, trade and transportation in that this recession will feel as bad as the Great Recession did to housing.”

John Burns, founder of John Burns Consulting, also revealed that his firm’s research concluded that recessions caused by a pandemic usually do not significantly impact home values:

“Historical analysis showed us that pandemics are usually V-shaped (sharp recessions that recover quickly enough to provide little damage to home prices).”

Bottom Line

If we’re not in a recession yet, we’re about to be in one. This time, however, housing will be the sector that leads the economic recovery.