Category: Housing Market Updates

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Three Things to Understand About Unemployment Statistics

Three Things to Understand About Unemployment Statistics | Simplifying The Market

Tomorrow morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the latest Employment Situation Summary, which will include the most current unemployment rate. It will be a horrific number. Many analysts believe unemployment could be greater than 20%. These numbers represent families across the nation that are not sure when (or if) they will return to work. The emotional impact on these households is devastating.

There are, however, some small rays of light shining through on this issue. Here are three:

1. The actual number of unemployed is less than many are reporting

The number of people unemployed is sometimes over-exaggerated. It seems that every newscaster talks about the 40+ million people “currently” unemployed. It is true that, over the last ten weeks, over 40.7 million people have applied for unemployment. It is also true, however, that many of those people have already returned to work or gotten a new job. The actual number of people currently unemployed is 21.1 million. This is still a horrible number, but about half of what is often being reported.Three Things to Understand About Unemployment Statistics | Simplifying The Market

2. Of those still unemployed, most are temporary layoffs

Last month’s unemployment report showed that 90% of those unemployed believe their status is temporary. Friday’s report will probably show a decline in that percentage as the original number was somewhat optimistic. However, a recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank showed that employers believe over 75% of job losses are temporary layoffs and furloughs. This means 3 out of 4 people should be returning to work as the economy continues to recover.

3. Those on unemployment are receiving assistance

According to a recent study from the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago, 68% of those who are eligible for unemployment insurance receive benefits that exceed lost earnings, with 20% receiving benefits at least twice as large as their lost earnings.

Bottom Line

Tomorrow’s report will be difficult to digest. However, as the nation continues to reopen, many of those families who are impacted will be able to return to work.

Is it Time to Sell Your Vacation Home?

Is it Time to Sell Your Vacation Home? | Simplifying The Market

The travel industry is one of the major sectors that’s been hit extremely hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, it’s hard to know how long it will take for summer travelers to be back in action and for the industry to fully recover. Homeowners who rent their secondary properties on their own or through programs like Airbnb, which has over 660,000 listings in the U.S. alone, have been impacted in this challenging time. Some of these homeowners are considering selling their vacation homes, and understandably so.

A recent CNN article indicated:

“With global travel screeching to a halt during the pandemic, a number of Airbnb hosts are planning to sell their properties…These desperate moves come as hosts face the possibility of losing thousands of dollars a month in canceled bookings while bills, maintenance costs, and mortgage payments pile up.”

If you’re one of the property owners in this position, you too may be feeling the pain of decreased travel, especially as we prepare for the typical busy summer vacation season. A recent survey notes that 48% of Americans have already canceled summer travel plans due to the current health crisis. In addition, 36% indicated they don’t have vacation plans, and only 16% said they did not cancel their summer travel.

The same survey also asked, “How long will you wait before traveling again?” Not surprisingly, only 29% of respondents are planning to travel within the next 6 months. That means 71% are putting their plans on hold for at least 6 months, or are still unsure about future travel. That can continue to add to the significant income loss that many property renters felt this spring.Is it Time to Sell Your Vacation Home? | Simplifying The MarketIf you’re considering selling your rental property, know that there are two key factors indicating that selling your vacation home now may be your best move as a homeowner.

1. Inventory Shortage

The inventory of overall homes for sale is well below the demand from potential buyers, so many eyes may be searching for a home like yours. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), total housing inventory, meaning homes available to purchase, is down 19.7% from one year ago (see graph below):Is it Time to Sell Your Vacation Home? | Simplifying The MarketInventory across the country continues to be a challenge, with only a 4.1-month supply of listings available at the current sales pace. For a balanced market, where there are enough homes available for interested buyers to purchase, that number would need to bump up to a 6-month supply. This means we don’t have enough inventory for the number of buyers looking for homes, so selling in this scenario is ideal. Buyers are looking now, and some vacation homes make a great primary residence or second home for those eager to escape from more populated urban areas.

2. Home Prices

The lack of inventory is also keeping homes from depreciating in value. Today, prices are holding strong and experts forecast home price appreciation to continue throughout this year. Selling your home while prices are holding steady is a sound business move. You’ll likely have equity you’ve earned working for you as well. If your home has been vacant for the past few months, the forced savings you have built in your equity may help balance out possible rental income loss due to the slowdown in the travel industry.

Bottom Line

We don’t know exactly when heightened summer travel will return or what it will look like when it does. If you’re considering selling your vacation home, let’s connect today to determine your options in the current market.

Home Prices: It’s All About Supply and Demand

Home Prices: It’s All About Supply and Demand | Simplifying The Market

As we enter the summer months and work through the challenges associated with the current health crisis, many are wondering what impact the economic slowdown will have on home prices. Looking at the big picture, supply and demand will give us the clearest idea of what’s to come.

Making our way through the month of June and entering the second half of the year, we face an undersupply of homes on the market. Keep in mind, this undersupply is going to vary by location and by price point. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), across the country, we currently have a 4.1 months supply of homes on the market. Historically, 6 months of supply is considered a balanced market. Anything over 6 months is a buyer’s market, meaning prices will depreciate. Anything below 6 months is a seller’s market, where prices appreciate. The graph below shows inventory across the country since 2010 in months supply of homes for sale.Home Prices: It’s All About Supply and Demand | Simplifying The MarketRobert Dietz, Chief Economist for the National Home Builders Association (NAHB) says:

“As the economy begins a recovery later in 2020, we expect housing to play a leading role. Housing enters this recession underbuilt, not overbuilt. Estimates vary, but based on demographics and current vacancy rates, the U.S. may have a housing deficit of up to one million units.”

Given the undersupply of homes on the market today, there is upward pressure on prices. Looking at simple economics, when there is less of an item for sale and the demand is high, consumers are willing to pay more for that item. The undersupply is also prompting bidding wars, which can drive price points higher in the home sale process. According to a recent MarketWatch article:

 “As buyers return to the market as the country rebounds from the pandemic, a limited inventory of homes for sale could fuel bidding wars and push prices higher.”

In addition, experts forecasting home prices have updated their projections given the impact of the pandemic. The major institutions expect home prices to appreciate through 2022. The chart below, updated as of earlier this week, notes these forecasts. As the year progresses, we may see these projections revised in a continued upward trend, given the lack of homes on the market. This could drive home prices even higher.Home Prices: It’s All About Supply and Demand | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Many may think home prices will depreciate due to the economic slowdown from the coronavirus, but experts disagree. As we approach the second half of this year, we may actually see home prices rise even higher given the lack of homes for sale.

Economists Forecast Recovery to Begin in the Second Half of 2020

Economists Forecast Recovery to Begin in the Second Half of 2020 | Simplifying The Market

With the U.S. economy on everyone’s minds right now, questions about the country’s financial outlook continue to come up daily. The one that seems to keep rising to the top is: when will the economy begin to recover? While no one knows exactly how a rebound will play out, expert economists around the country are becoming more aligned on when the recovery will begin.

According to the latest Wall Street Journal Economic Forecasting Survey, which polls more than 60 economists on a monthly basis, 85.3% believe a recovery will begin in the second half of 2020 (see graph below):Economists Forecast Recovery to Begin in the Second Half of 2020 | Simplifying The MarketThere seems to be a growing consensus among these experts that the second half of this year will be the start of a turnaround in this country.

Chris Hyzy, Chief Investment Officer for Merrill notes:

“We fully expect the economy could begin to pick up in late June and July with a strong recovery in the fourth quarter.” 

In addition, five of the major financial institutions are also forecasting positive GDP in the second half of the year. Today, four of the five expect a recovery to begin in the third quarter of 2020, and all five agree a recovery should start by the fourth quarter (see graph below):Economists Forecast Recovery to Begin in the Second Half of 2020 | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

The vast majority of economists, analysts, and financial institutions are in unison, indicating an economic recovery should begin in the second half of 2020. Agreement among these leading experts is stronger than ever.

Why This Summer Is the 2020 Real Estate Season

Why This Summer Is the 2020 Real Estate Season | Simplifying The Market

With stay-at-home orders starting to gradually lift throughout parts of the country, data indicates homebuyers are jumping back into the market. After many families put their plans on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what we once called the busy spring real estate season is shifting into the summer. In 2020, summer is the new spring for real estate.

Joel Kan, Economist at The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) notes:

“Applications for home purchases continue to recover from April’s sizable drop and have now increased for five consecutive weeks…Government purchase applications, which include FHA, VA, and USDA loans, are now 5 percent higher than a year ago, which is an encouraging turnaround after the weakness seen over the past two months.”

Additionally, according to Google Trends, which scores search terms online, searches for real estate increased from 68 points the week of March 15th to 92 points last week. As we can see, more potential homebuyers are looking for homes virtually.

What’s the Opportunity for Buyers?

Another reason buyers are coming back to the market, even with forced unemployment and stay-at-home orders, is historically low mortgage rates. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac indicates:

“For the fourth consecutive week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been below 3.30 percent, giving potential buyers a good reason to continue shopping even amid the pandemic…As states reopen, we’re seeing purchase demand improve remarkably fast, now essentially flat relative to a year ago.”

With mortgage rates at such low levels and states gradually beginning to reopen, there’s more incentive than ever to buy a home this summer.

What’s the Opportunity for Sellers?

Finding a home to buy, however, is still a challenge, as this spring sellers removed many listings from the market. Though more people are now putting their houses up for sale this month as compared to last month, current inventory is still well below last year’s level.

According to last week’s Weekly Economic and Housing Market Update from realtor.com:

“Weekly Housing Inventory showed continued tightening. New Listings declined 28% compared with a year ago, as sellers grappled with uncertainty and hesitated bringing homes to market. Total Listings dropped 20% YoY, a faster rate than in prior weeks, leaving very few homes available for sale. As Time on Market was 15 days slower YoY, asking prices moved up 1.5% YoY.”

If you’re thinking of selling your house this summer, now may be your best opportunity. With so few homes on the market for buyers to purchase, this season may be the time for your house to stand out from the crowd. Trusted real estate professionals can help you list safely and effectively, keeping your family’s needs top of mind. Buyers are looking, and your house may be at the top of their list.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of selling, many buyers may be eager to find a home just like yours. Let’s connect today to make sure you can get your house in on the action this summer.

Experts Predict Economic Recovery Should Begin in the Second Half of the Year

Experts Predict Economic Recovery Should Begin in the Second Half of the Year | Simplifying The Market

One of the biggest questions we all seem to be asking these days is: When are we going to start to see an economic recovery? As the country begins to slowly reopen, moving forward in strategic phases, business activity will help bring our nation back to life. Many economists indicate a recovery should begin to happen in the second half of this year. Here’s a look at what some of the experts have to say.

Jerome Powell, Federal Reserve Chairman

“I think there’s a good chance that there’ll be positive growth in the third quarter. And I think it’s a reasonable expectation that there’ll be growth in the second half of the year…

So, in the long run, I would say the U.S. economy will recover. We’ll get back to the place we were in February; we’ll get to an even better place than that. I’m highly confident of that. And it won’t take that long to get there.”

Nonpartisan Analysis for the U.S Congress

“The economy is expected to begin recovering during the second half of 2020 as concerns about the pandemic diminish and as state and local governments ease stay-at-home orders, bans on public gatherings, and other measures. The labor market is projected to materially improve after the third quarter; hiring will rebound and job losses will drop significantly as the degree of social distancing diminishes.”

Neel Kashkari, President, Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank

“I think we need to prepare for a more gradual recovery while we hope for that quicker rebound.”

We’re certainly not out of the woods yet, but clearly many experts anticipate we’ll see a recovery starting this year. It may be a bumpy ride for the next few months, but most agree that a turnaround will begin sooner rather than later.

During the planned shutdown, as the economic slowdown pressed pause on the nation, many potential buyers and sellers put their real estate plans on hold. That time coincided with the traditionally busy spring real estate season. As we look ahead at this economic recovery and we begin to emerge back into our communities over the coming weeks and months, perhaps it’s time to think about putting your real estate plans back into play.

Bottom Line

The experts note a turnaround is on the horizon, starting as early as later this year. If you paused your 2020 real estate plans, let’s connect today to determine how you can re-engage in the process as the country reopens and the economy begins a much-anticipated rebound.

Housing Market Positioned to Bring Back the Economy

Housing Market Positioned to Bring Back the Economy | Simplifying The Market

All eyes are on the American economy. As it goes, so does the world economy. With states beginning to reopen, the question becomes: which sectors of the economy will drive its recovery? There seems to be a growing consensus that the housing market is positioned to be that driving force, the tailwind that is necessary.

Some may question that assertion as they look back on the last recession in 2008 when housing was the anchor to the economy – holding it back from sailing forward. But even then, the overall economy did not begin to recover until the real estate market started to regain its strength. This time, the housing market was in great shape when the virus hit.

As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist of First American, recently explained:

“Many still bear scars from the Great Recession and may expect the housing market to follow a similar trajectory in response to the coronavirus outbreak. But, there are distinct differences that indicate the housing market may follow a much different path. While housing led the recession in 2008-2009, this time it may be poised to bring us out of it.”

Fleming is not the only economist who believes this. Last week, Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic, (@DrFrankNothaft) tweeted:

“For the first 6 decades after WWII, the housing sector led the rest of the economy out of each recession. Expect it to do so this time as well.”

And, Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for the National Association of Home Builders, in an economic update last week explained:

“As the economy begins a recovery later in 2020, we expect housing to play a leading role. Housing enters this recession underbuilt, not overbuilt…Based on demographics and current vacancy rates, the U.S. may have a housing deficit of up to one million units.”

Bottom Line

Every time a home is sold it has a tremendous financial impact on local economies. As the real estate market continues its recovery, it will act as a strong tailwind to the overall national economy.

Will the Housing Market Turn Around This Year?

Will the Housing Market Turn Around This Year? | Simplifying The Market

Today, many people are asking themselves if they should buy or sell a home in 2020. Some have shifted their plans or put them on hold over the past couple of months, and understandably so. Everyone seems to be wondering if the market is going to change and when the economy will turn around. If you’re trying to figure out what’s going to happen and how to play your cards this year, you’re not alone.

This spring in the 2020 NAR Flash Survey: Economic Pulse, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has been tracking the behavior changes of homebuyers and sellers. In a reaction to their most recent survey, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, noted the beginnings of a turn in the market:

“After a pause, home sellers are gearing up to list their properties with the reopening of the economy…Plenty of buyers also appear ready to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates and the stability that comes with these locked-in monthly payments into future years.”

What does the survey indicate about sellers?

Sellers are positioning themselves to make moves this year. More than 3 in 4 potential sellers are preparing to sell their homes once stay-at-home orders are lifted and they feel more confident, which means more homes will start to be available for interested buyers.Will the Housing Market Turn Around This Year? | Simplifying The MarketJust this week, Zillow also reported an uptick in listings, which is great news for the health of the market:

“The number of new for-sale listings overall has shown improvement, up 5.9% last week from the previous week. New listings of the most-expensive homes…are now seeing the biggest resurgence, up 8%. The uptick is likely a sign sellers are feeling more confident because of improving buyer demand, as newly pending sales have also jumped up during the same period.”

What does the survey note about buyers?

The recent pandemic has clearly impacted buyer preferences, showing:

  • 5% of the respondents said buyers are shifting their focus from urban to suburban areas.
  • 1 in 8 Realtors report changes in desired home features, with home offices, bigger yards, and more space for their families becoming increasingly important.
  • Only 17% said buyers stopped looking due to concerns about their employment or loss of a job.

As we’ve mentioned before, buyer demand is strong right now, and many are simply waiting for more inventory to become available so they can make a move, especially as the country begins to reopen.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about putting your house on the market, let’s connect today. There’s a good chance an eager buyer is looking for a home just like yours.

Unemployment Report: No Need to Be Terrified

Unemployment Report: No Need to Be Terrified | Simplifying The Market

Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its latest jobs report. It revealed that the economic shutdown made necessary by COVID-19 caused the unemployment rate to jump to 14.7%. Many anticipate that next month the percentage could be even higher. These numbers represent the extreme hardship so many families are experiencing right now. That pain should not be understated.

However, the long-term toll the pandemic will cause should not be overstated either. There have been numerous headlines claiming the current disruption in the economy is akin to the Great Depression, and many of those articles are calling for total Armageddon. Some experts are stepping up to refute those claims.

In a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article this past weekend, Josh Zumbrun, a national economics correspondent for the Journal explained:

“News stories often describe the coronavirus-induced global economic downturn as the worst since the Great Depression…the comparison does more to terrify than clarify.”

Zumbrun goes on to explain:

“From 1929 to 1933, the economy shrank for 43 consecutive months, according to contemporaneous estimates. Unemployment climbed to nearly 25% before slowly beginning its descent, but it remained above 10% for an entire decade…This time, many economists believe a rebound could begin this year or early next year.”

Here is a graph comparing current unemployment numbers (actual and projected) to those during the Great Depression:Unemployment Report: No Need to Be Terrified | Simplifying The MarketClearly, the two unemployment situations do not compare.

What makes this time so different?

This was not a structural collapse of the economy, but instead a planned shutdown to help mitigate the virus. Once the virus is contained, the economy will immediately begin to recover. This is nothing like what happened in the 1930s. In the same WSJ article mentioned above, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who has done extensive research on the depression in the 1930s, explained:

“The breakdown of the financial system was a major reason for both the Great Depression and the 2007-09 recession.” He went on to say that today – “the banks are stronger and much better capitalized.”

What about the families and small businesses that are suffering right now?

The nation’s collective heart goes out to all. The BLS report, however, showed that ninety percent of the job losses are temporary. In addition, many are getting help surviving this pause in their employment status. During the Great Depression, there were no government-sponsored unemployment insurance or large government subsidies as there are this time.

Today, many families are receiving unemployment benefits and an additional $600 a week. The stimulus package is helping many companies weather the storm. Is there still pain? Of course. The assistance, however, is providing much relief until most can go back to work.

Bottom Line

We should look at the current situation for what it is – a predetermined pause placed on the economy. The country will recover once the pandemic ends. Comparisons to any other downturn make little sense. Bernanke put it best:

“I don’t find comparing the current downturn with the Great Depression to be very helpful. The expected duration is much less, and the causes are very different.”

Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020?

Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020? | Simplifying The Market

With the housing market staggered to some degree by the health crisis the country is currently facing, some potential purchasers are questioning whether home values will be impacted. The price of any item is determined by supply as well as the market’s demand for that item.

Each month the National Association of Realtors (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for the REALTORS Confidence Index.

Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand) during this pandemic.

Buyer Demand

The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020? | Simplifying The MarketThe darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes is in that area. The survey shows that in 34 of the 50 U.S. states, buyer demand is now ‘strong’ and 16 of the 50 states have a ‘stable’ demand.

Seller Supply

The index also asks: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020? | Simplifying The MarketAs the map above indicates, 46 states and Washington, D.C. reported ‘weak’ seller traffic, 3 states reported ‘stable’ seller traffic, and 1 state reported ‘strong’ seller traffic. This means there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the needs of buyers looking for homes right now.

With demand still stronger than supply, home values should not depreciate.

What are the experts saying?

Here are the thoughts of three industry experts on the subject:

Ivy Zelman:

“We note that inventory as a percent of households sits at the lowest level ever, something we believe will limit the overall degree of home price pressure through the year.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American:

“Housing supply remains at historically low levels, so house price growth is likely to slow, but it’s not likely to go negative.”

Freddie Mac:

“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.”

Bottom Line

Looking at these maps and listening to the experts, it seems that prices will remain stable throughout 2020. If you’re thinking about listing your home, let’s connect to discuss how you can capitalize on the somewhat surprising demand in the market now.