Last week, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reported their Housing Market Index (HMI) hit an all-time high in the 35-year history of the series with a score of 83. The index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sale expectations for the next six months, as well as the traffic of prospective buyers of new homes.
As the following chart shows, confidence dropped dramatically when stay-in-place orders were originally mandated earlier this year. Since then, it has soared back.Looking at the three-month moving averages for HMI scores, confidence increased in every region of the country:
The Northeast increased 11 points to 76
The Midwest jumped 9 points to 72
The South rose 8 points to 79
The West increased 7 points to 85
Confidence Is Validated by the Numbers
This confidence is definitely warranted. According to a recent NAHB report, single-family housing starts increased 4.1% to a 1.02 million annual rate, and single-family permits increased 6% to a 1.04 million unit rate, meaning newly constructed homes are on the rise.
A separate report from the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) shows mortgage applications for new home purchases increased by 33.3% compared to a year ago. Joel Kan, Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting at MBA, commented on the numbers:
“The housing market continued to exceed expectations in August, as housing demand for new homes stayed strong and the job market continued to recover…The new home market has maintained its path of recovery throughout the summer, and record-low mortgage rates and households seeking more space will likely continue to drive demand into the fall.”
If you’re thinking about putting your house on the market but are afraid you may not find a home to buy, let’s connect to discuss new construction opportunities in our area.
Earlier this year, many economists and market analysts were predicting an apocalyptic financial downturn that would potentially rattle the U.S. economy for years to come. They immediately started to compare it to the Great Depression of a century ago. Six months later, the economy is still trying to stabilize, but it is evident that the country will not face the total devastation projected by some. As we continue to battle the pandemic, forecasts are now being revised upward. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) just reported:
“The U.S. economy and labor market are recovering from the coronavirus-related downturn more quickly than previously expected, economists said in a monthly survey.
Business and academic economists polled by The Wall Street Journal expect gross domestic product to increase at an annualized rate of 23.9% in the third quarter. That is up sharply from an expectation of an 18.3% growth rate in the previous survey.”
What Shape Will the Recovery Take?
Economists have historically cast economic recoveries in the form of one of four letters – V, U, W, or L.
A V-shaped recovery is all about the speed of the recovery. This quick recovery is treated as the best-case scenario for any economy that enters a recession. NOTE: Economists are now also using a new term for this type of recovery called the “Nike Swoosh.” It is a form of the V-shape that may take several months to recover, thus resembling the Nike Swoosh logo.
A U-shaped recovery is when the economy experiences a sharp fall into a recession, like the V-shaped scenario. In this case, however, the economy remains depressed for a longer period of time, possibly several years, before growth starts to pick back up again.
A W-shaped recovery can look like an economy is undergoing a V-shaped recovery until it plunges into a second, often smaller, contraction before fully recovering to pre-recession levels.
An L-shaped recovery is seen as the worst-case scenario. Although the economy returns to growth, it is at a much lower base than pre-recession levels, which means it takes significantly longer to fully recover.
Many experts predicted that this would be a dreaded L-shaped recovery, like the 2008 recession that followed the housing market collapse. Fortunately, that does not seem to be the case.
The same WSJ survey mentioned above asked the economists which letter this recovery will most resemble. Here are the results:
What About the Unemployment Numbers?
It’s difficult to speak positively about a jobs report that shows millions of Americans are still out of work. However, when we compare it to many forecasts from earlier this year, the numbers are much better than most experts expected. There was talk of numbers that would rival the Great Depression when the nation suffered through four consecutive years of unemployment over 20%.
The first report after the 2020 shutdown did show a 14.7% unemployment rate, but much to the surprise of many analysts, the rate has decreased each of the last three months and is now in the single digits (8.4%).
Economist Jason Furman, Professor at Harvard University‘s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers during the previous administration, recently put it into context:
“An unemployment rate of 8.4% is much lower than most anyone would have thought it a few months ago. It is still a bad recession but not a historically unprecedented event or one we need to go back to the Great Depression for comparison.”
The economists surveyed by the WSJ also forecasted unemployment rates going forward:
The following table shows how the current employment situation compares to other major disruptions in our economy:
The economic recovery still has a long way to go. So far, we are doing much better than most thought would be possible.
Real estate continues to be called the ‘bright spot’ in the current economy, but there’s one thing that may hold the housing market back from achieving its full potential this year: the lack of homes for sale.
Buyers are actively searching for and purchasing homes, looking to capitalize on today’s historically low interest rates, but there just aren’t enough houses for sale to meet that growing need. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac,explains:
“Mortgage rates have hit another record low due to a late summer slowdown in the economic recovery…These low rates have ignited robust purchase demand activity…However, heading into the fall it will be difficult to sustain the growth momentum in purchases because the lack of supply is already exhibiting a constraint on sales activity.”
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), right now, unsold inventory sits at a 3.1-month supply at the current sales pace. To have a balanced market where there are enough homes for sale to meet buyer demand, the market needs inventory for 6 months. Today, we’re nowhere near where that number needs to be. If the trend continues, it will get even harder to find homes to purchase this fall, and that may slow down potential buyers. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, notes:
“The overall lack of sustained new listings growth could put a dent in fall home sales despite high interest from home shoppers, because new listings are key to home sales.”
The realtor.comWeekly Recovery Report keeps an eye on the number of listings coming into the market (houses available for sale) and the total number of listings staying in the market compared to the previous year (See graph below):Buyers are clearly scooping up homes faster than they’re being put up for sale. The number of total listings (the orange line) continues to decline even as new listings (the blue line) are coming to the market. Why? Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research at realtor.com, notes:
“The post-pandemic period has brought a record number of homebuyers back into the market, but it’s also failed to bring a consistent number of sellers back. Homes are selling faster, and sales are still on an upward trend, but rapidly disappearing inventory also means more home shoppers are being priced out. If we don’t see material improvement to supply in the next few weeks, we could see the number of transactions begin to dwindle again even as the lineup of buyers continues to grow.”
Does this mean it’s a good time to sell?
Yes. If you’re thinking about selling your house, this fall is a great time to make it happen. There are plenty of buyers looking for homes to purchase because they want to take advantage of low interest rates. Realtors are also reporting an average of 3 offers per house and an increase in bidding wars, meaning the demand is there and the opportunity to sell for the most favorable terms is in your favor as a seller.
If you’re considering selling your house, this is the perfect time to connect so we can talk about how you can benefit from the market trends in our local area.
Earlier this year, realtor.com announced the release of the Housing Recovery Index, a weekly guide showing how the pandemic has impacted the residential real estate market. The index leverages a weighted average of four key components of the housing industry by tracking each of the following:
Housing Demand – Growth in online search activity
Home Price – Growth in asking prices
Housing Supply – Growth of new listings
Pace of Sales – Difference in time-on-market
The index compares the current status “to the January 2020 market trend, as a baseline for pre-COVID market growth. The overall index is set to 100 in this baseline period. The higher a market’s index value, the higher its recovery and vice versa.”
The graph below charts the index by showing how the real estate market started out strong in early 2020, and then dropped dramatically at the beginning of March when the pandemic paused the economy. It also shows the strength of the recovery since the beginning of May.Today, the index stands at its highest point all year, including the time prior to the economic shutdown.
The Momentum Is Still Building
Though there is some evidence that the overall economic recovery may be slowing, the housing market is still gaining momentum. Zillow tracks the number of homes that are put into contract on a weekly basis. Their latest report confirms that buyer demand is continuing to dramatically outpace this same time last year, and the percent increase over last year is growing.Clearly, the housing market is not only outperforming the grim forecasts from earlier this year, but it is also eclipsing the actual success of last year.
Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, explains it best:
“On an aggregated level, the housing economy remains rock solid despite the shock and awe of the pandemic.”
Whether you’re considering buying or selling, staying on top of the real estate market over the coming months will be essential to your success.
There has been much talk around the possibility that Americans are feeling less enamored with the benefits of living in a large city and now may be longing for the open spaces that suburban and rural areas provide.
In a recent Realtor Magazinearticle, they discussed the issue and addressed comments made by Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR):
“While migration trends were toward urban centers before the pandemic, real estate thought leaders have predicted a suburban resurgence as home buyers seek more space for social distancing. Now the data is supporting that theory. Coronavirus and work-from-home flexibility is sparking the trend reversal, Yun said. More first-time home buyers and minorities have also been looking to the suburbs for affordability, he added.”
NAR surveyed agents across the country asking them to best describe the locations where their clients are looking for homes (they could check multiple answers). Here are the results of the survey:
39% rural area
25% small town
14% urban area/central city
13% resort community/recreational area
According to real estate agents, there’s a strong preference for less populated locations such as suburban and rural areas.
Real Estate Brokers and Owners Agree
Zelman & Associates surveys brokers and owners of real estate firms for their monthly Real Estate Brokers Report. The last report revealed that 68% see either a ‘moderate’ or ‘significant’ shift to more suburban locations. Here are the results of the survey:
No one knows if this will be a short-term trend or an industry game-changer. For now, there appears to be a migration to more open environments.
Last Friday, the Bureau for Labor Statistics released their Employment Report for August 2020. The big surprise was that the unemployment rate fell to 8.4%, a full percent lower than what many analysts had forecasted earlier in the week. Though it is tough to look at this as great news when millions of Americans are still without work, the number of unemployed is currently much lower than most experts had projected it would be just a few months ago.
Not Like the Great Depression or Even the Great Recession
Jason Furman, Professor of Practice at Harvardexplained:
“An unemployment rate of 8.4% is much lower than most anyone would have thought it a few months ago. It is still a bad recession but not a historically unprecedented event or one we need to go back to the Great Depression for comparison.”
During the Great Depression, the unemployment rate was over 20% for four consecutive years (1932 – 1935). This April, the rate jumped to 14.7%, but has fallen each month since.
During and after the Great Recession (2007-2009), the unemployment rate was at 9% or greater for thirty consecutive months (April 2009 – October 2011). Most economists believe the current rate will continue to fall monthly as the economy regains its strength.
What Happens Going Forward?
The outcome will be determined by how quickly we can contain the virus. In their last Economic Forecasting Survey, the Wall Street Journal reported the economists surveyed believe the annual unemployment rates will be 6.6% in 2021 and 5.5% in 2022. Though that will still be greater than the 3.5% rate that we saw earlier this year, it is lower than the annual rate reported in 2011 (8.5%), 2012 (7.9%), and 2013 (6.7%).
There are still millions of Americans struggling through this economic downturn. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. The unemployment situation did not get as bad as many had predicted, and the recovery is taking place faster than most thought would happen.
The year 2020 will certainly be one to remember, with new realities and norms that changed the way we live. This year’s real estate market is certainly no exception to that shift, with historic highlights continuing to break records and challenge what many thought possible in the housing market. Here’s a look at four key areas that are fundamentally defining the market this year.
Housing Market Recovery
The economy was intentionally put on pause this spring in response to the COVID-19 health crisis. Many aspects of the common real estate transaction were placed on hold at the same time. Thankfully, technology and innovation helped the industry power forward, and business gradually ramped back up as shelter-in-place orders were lifted.
The result? Total transformation of the market from rock-bottom lows to exceptional highs. Today, the housing recovery is being called truly remarkable by many experts and is far exceeding expectations. From pending home sales to purchase applications, buyers are back in business and homes are selling – fast.
According to the Housing Market Recovery Index by realtor.com, the market has surpassed pre-pandemic levels, and has regained the strength we remember from February of this year (See graph below):
Record-Breaking Mortgage Rates
Historically low mortgage rates are another 2020 game-changer. Today’s low rate is one of the big motivating factors bringing buyers back into the market. The average rate reached an all-time low on multiple occasions this year, and it continues to hover in record-low territory.
When rates are this low, buyers have a huge opportunity to get more for their money when purchasing a home, something many are eager to find while continuing to spend more time than expected at home this year, and likely beyond.
Continued Home Price Appreciation
One of the key drivers of home price appreciation this year is historically low inventory. Inventory was low going into the pandemic, and it is still sitting well below the level needed for a normal market. Although sellers are slowly making their way back into the game, buyers are scooping up homes faster than they’re coming up for sale.
This is a classic supply and demand scenario, forcing home prices to rise. Selling something when there is a higher demand for what is available naturally bumps up the price. If you’re ready to sell your house today, this may be the optimal time to make your move. As Bill Banfield, EVP of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans, notes:
“The pandemic has not stopped the consistent home price growth we have witnessed in recent years.”
Even as home prices continue to rise, affordability is working in favor of today’s homebuyers. According to many experts, rates this low are off-setting rising home prices, which increases buyer purchasing power – an opportunity not to be missed, especially if your family’s needs have changed. If you now need space for a home office, gym, virtual classroom, and more, it may be time to reconsider your current house.
“Those shopping for a home can afford 10 percent more home than they could have one year ago while keeping their monthly payment unchanged. This translates into nearly $32,000 more buying power.”
With mortgage rates hitting historic lows, home prices appreciating, affordability rising, and the market recovering like no other, 2020 has been quite a year for real estate – perhaps one we’ve never seen before and may never see again. Let’s connect today if you’re ready to take advantage of this year’s record-breaking opportunities.
Homebuying has been on the rise over the past few months, with record-breaking sales powering through the market in June and July. Buyers are actively purchasing homes, and the momentum is continuing into the fall. It is, however, becoming harder for buyers to find homes to purchase. If you’ve been thinking about selling your house, the coming weeks might just be the timing you’ve been waiting for.
“Pending home sales in July achieved another month of positive contract activity, marking three consecutive months of growth.
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings, rose 5.9% to 122.1 in July. Year-over-year, contract signings rose 15.5%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.”
This means that for the past several months, buyers have signed an increasing number of contracts to purchase homes – well above where the market was at this time last year. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR notes:
“We are witnessing a true V-shaped sales recovery as homebuyers continue their strong return to the housing market…Home sellers are seeing their homes go under contract in record time, with nine new contracts for every 10 new listings.”
Below is a graph that shows the impressive recovery of homes sales compared to previous years. The deep blue v marks the slowdown from this spring that turned into an exponential jump in sales that followed through the summer, skyrocketing above years past:
What Does This Mean for Sellers?
If you were thinking about putting your house on the market in the spring, but decided to wait due to the health crisis, it may be time to make your move. Buyers are in the market right now. With so few homes available to purchase, homeowners today are experiencing more bidding wars, creating an optimal time to sell.
Is This Trend Going to Continue?
As CNBC notes, there are no signs of slowing buyer demand this fall:
“The usual summer slowdown in the housing market is not happening this year. Buyers continue to show strong demand, spurred by the new stay-at-home world of the coronavirus and by record low mortgage rates.”
Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com,concurred:
“In a typical year in the housing market, buyer interest begins to wane before seller interest causing the usual seasonal slowdown as we move into the fall. Due to a delayed spring season and low mortgage rates, we could see buyer interest extend longer than usual into the typically quieter fall. Whether this means more home sales will depend on whether sellers participate or decide to stay on the sidelines.”
As Hale mentioned, homeowners who are willing to sell their houses right now will play a big role in whether the trend continues. The market needs more homes to satisfy ongoing buyer demand. Maybe it’s time to leverage your equity and move up while eager home shoppers are ready to purchase a house just like yours.
If your current home doesn’t meet your family’s changing needs, let’s connect to help you sell your house and make the move you’ve been waiting for all year.
The year 2020 will be remembered as one of the most challenging times of our lives. A worldwide pandemic, a recession causing historic unemployment, and a level of social unrest perhaps never seen before have all changed the way we live. Only the real estate market seems to be unaffected, as a new forecast projects there may be more homes purchased this year than last year.
As we come to the end of this tumultuous year, we’re preparing for perhaps the most contentious presidential election of the century. Today, it’s important to look at the impact past presidential election years have had on the real estate market.
Is there a drop-off in home sales during a presidential election year?
BTIG, a research and analysis company, looked at new home sales from 1963 through 2019 in their report titled One House, Two House, Red House, Blue House. They noted that in non-presidential years, there is a -9.8% decrease in November compared to October. This is the normal seasonality of the market, with a slowdown in activity that’s usually seen in fall and winter.
However, it also revealed that in presidential election years, the typical drop increases to -15%. The report explains why:
“This may indicate that potential homebuyers may become more cautious in the face of national election uncertainty.”
Are those sales lost forever?
No. BTIG determined:
“This caution is temporary, and ultimately results in deferred sales, as the economy, jobs, interest rates and consumer confidence all have far more meaningful roles in the home purchase decision than a Presidential election result in the months that follow.”
In a separate study done by Meyers Research & Zonda, Ali Wolf, Chief Economist, agrees that those purchases are just delayed until after the election:
“History suggests that the slowdown is largely concentrated in the month of November. In fact, the year after a presidential election is the best of the four-year cycle. This suggests that demand for new housing is not lost because of election uncertainty, rather it gets pushed out to the following year.”
Will it matter who is elected?
To some degree, but not in the overall number of home sales. As mentioned above, consumer confidence plays a significant role in a family’s desire to buy a home. How may consumer confidence impact the housing market post-election? The BTIG report covered that as well:
“A change in administration might benefit trailing blue county housing dynamics. The re-election of President Trump could continue to propel red county outperformance.”
Again, overall sales should not be impacted in a significant way.
If mortgage rates remain near all-time lows, the economy continues to recover, and unemployment continues to decrease, the real estate market should remain strong up to and past the election.
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 salesincreased by 24.7%, setting another record for the category. The Wall Street Journalreported 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.