Category: Housing Market Updates

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Unemployment: Hope on the Horizon

Unemployment: Hope on the Horizon | Simplifying The Market

Tomorrow, the unemployment rate for April 2020 will be released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It will hit a peak this country has never seen before, with data representing real families and lives affected by this economic slowdown. The numbers will alarm us. There will be headlines and doomsday scenarios in the media. There is hope, though, that as businesses reopen, most people will become employed again soon.

Last month’s report indicated we initially lost over 700,000 jobs in this country, and the unemployment rate quickly rose to 4.4%. With the release of the new data, that number will climb even higher. Experts forecast this report will show somewhere between a 15% – 20% national unemployment rate, and some anticipate that number to be even greater (see graph below):Unemployment: Hope on the Horizon | Simplifying The Market

What’s happened over the last several weeks? 

Here’s a breakdown of this spring’s weekly unemployment filings:Unemployment: Hope on the Horizon | Simplifying The MarketThe good news shown here indicates the number of additional unemployment claims has decreased week over week since the beginning of April. Carlos Rodriguez, CEO of Automatic Data Processing (ADP) says based on what he’s seeing:

“It’s possible that companies are already anticipating some kind of normalization, opening in certain states and starting to post jobs.” 

He goes on to say that this doesn’t mean all companies are hiring, but it could mean they are at the point where they’re not cutting jobs anymore. Let’s hope this trend continues.

What will the future bring?

Most experts predict that while unemployment is high right now, it won’t be that way for long. The length of unemployment during this crisis is projected to be significantly shorter than the duration seen in the Great Recession and the Great Depression.Unemployment: Hope on the Horizon | Simplifying The MarketWhile forecasts may be high, the numbers are trending down and the length of time isn’t expected to last forever.

Bottom Line

Don’t let the headlines rattle you. There’s hope coming as we start to safely reopen businesses throughout the country. Unemployment affects our families, our businesses, and our country. Our job is to rally around those impacted and do our part to support them through this time.

Why Home Equity Is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market

Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

Given how we have seen more unemployment claims than ever before over the past several weeks, fear is spreading widely. Some good news, however, shows that more than 4 million initial unemployment filers have likely already found a new job, especially as industries such as health care, food and grocery stores, retail, delivery, and more increase their employment opportunities. Breaking down what unemployment means for homeownership, and understanding the significant equity Americans hold today, are important parts of seeing the picture clearly when sorting through this uncertainty.

One of the biggest questions right now is whether this historic unemployment rate will initiate a new surge of foreclosures in the market. It’s a very real fear. Despite the staggering number of claims, there are actually many reasons why we won’t see a significant number of foreclosures like we did during the housing crash twelve years ago. The amount of equity homeowners have today is a leading differentiator in the current market.

Today, according to John Burns Consulting, 58.7% of homes in the U.S. have at least 60% equity. That number is drastically different than it was in 2008 when the housing bubble burst. The last recession was painful, and when prices dipped, many found themselves owing more on their mortgage than what their homes were worth. Homeowners simply walked away at that point. Now, 42.1% of all homes in this country are mortgage-free, meaning they’re owned free and clear. Those homes are not at risk for foreclosure (see graph below): Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | Simplifying The MarketIn addition, CoreLogic notes the average equity mortgaged homes have today is $177,000. That’s a significant amount that homeowners won’t be stepping away from, even in today’s economy (see chart below):Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | Simplifying The MarketIn essence, the amount of equity homeowners have today positions them to be in a much better place than they were in 2008.

Bottom Line 

The fear and uncertainty we feel right now are very real, and this is not going to be easy. We can, however, see strength in our current market through homeowner equity that has not been there in the past. That may be a bright spark to help us make it through.

Confused About the Economic Recovery? Here’s Why.

Confused About the Economic Recovery? Here’s Why. | Simplifying The Market

As we continue to work through the health crisis that plagues this country, more and more conversations are turning to economic recovery. While we look for signs that we’ve reached a plateau in cases of COVID-19, the concern and fear of what will happen as businesses open up again is on all of our minds. This causes confusion about what an economic recovery will look like. With this in mind, it’s important to understand how economists are using three types of sciences to formulate their forecasts and to work toward clearer answers.

  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. People 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).

Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, says:

“Although the uncertainty of the crisis means forecasts of economic activity are more unclear than usual, we expect that most of the economic damage from the virus will be contained to the first half of the year. Going forward, we should see a recovery starting in the second half of 2020.”

This past week, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released the advanced estimate for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first quarter of 2020. That estimate came in at -4.8%. It was a clear indicator showing how the U.S. economy slowed as businesses shut down and consumers retreated to their homes in fear of the health crisis and of contracting COVID-19.Confused About the Economic Recovery? Here’s Why. | Simplifying The MarketExperts agree that the second quarter of 2020 will be an even greater slowdown, a sign more businesses are feeling the effects of this health crisis. The same experts, however, project businesses will rebound, and a recovery will start to happen in the second half of this year.

Bottom Line

As time goes on, we’ll have more clarity around what the true economic recovery will look like, and we’ll have more information on the sciences that will affect it. As the nation’s economy comes back to life and businesses embrace new waves of innovation to serve their customers, the American spirit of grit, growth, and prosperity will be alive and well.

Why the Housing Market Is a Powerful Economic Driver

Why the Housing Market Is a Powerful Economic Driver | Simplifying The Market

With businesses starting to slowly open back up again in some parts of the country, it’s important to understand how housing can have a major impact on the recovery of the U.S. economy. As we’ve mentioned before, buying a home is a driving financial force in this process. Today, many analysts believe one of the first things we’ll be able to safely bring back is the home building sector, creating more jobs and impacting local neighborhoods in a big way. According to Robert Dietz in The Eye on Housing:

 “The pace of new home sales will post significant declines during the second quarter due to the impacts of higher unemployment and shutdown effects of much of the U.S. economy, including elements of the real estate sector in certain markets. However, given the momentum housing construction held at the start of 2020, the housing industry will help lead the economy in the eventual recovery.”

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) notes the impact new construction can have on the job market:

“Building 1,000 average single-family homes creates 2,900 full-time jobs and generates $110.96 million in taxes and fees for all levels of government to support police, firefighters and schools, according to NAHB’s National Impact of Home Building and Remodeling report.”

These employment opportunities, along with the home purchase, drive the economy in a major way. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently shared a report that notes the full economic impact of home sales. This report summarizes:

“The total economic impact of real estate related industries on the state economy, as well as the expenditures that result from a single home sale, including aspects like home construction costs, real estate brokerage, mortgage lending and title insurance.”

Here’s the breakdown of how the average home sale boosts the economy:Why the Housing Market Is a Powerful Economic Driver | Simplifying The MarketAs noted above in the circle on the right, the impact is almost double when you purchase new construction, given the sheer number of workers it requires to design, build, equip, and finalize the sale of the home. The NAHB paints a clear picture of these roles:

“The NAHB model shows that job creation through housing is broad-based. Building new homes and apartments generates jobs in industries that produce lumber, concrete, lighting fixtures, heating equipment and other products that go into a home remodeling project. Other jobs are generated in the process of transporting, storing and selling these products.
Additional jobs are generated for professionals such as architects, engineers, real estate agents, lawyers and accountants who provide services to home builders, home buyers and remodelers.”

The same NAR report also breaks down the average economic impact by state:Why the Housing Market Is a Powerful Economic Driver | Simplifying The MarketOn an emotional level, what’s most important for today’s consumers to feel confident about is the safety component that goes into the process. Mitigating the risk of essential personnel at this moment in time is more crucial than ever as we all aim to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Fortunately, the NAHB has put immense effort into a plan that prioritizes the health and safety of home builders and contractors:

“This is why NAHB and construction industry partners have developed a Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Plan specifically tailored to construction job sites. The plan is customizable and covers areas that include manager and worker responsibilities, job site protective measures, cleaning and disinfecting, responding to exposure incidents, and OSHA record-keeping requirements.”

Bottom Line

Buying a home is a substantial economic driver today, and when new construction picks back up again, it will be an even stronger recovery force throughout the country. If you’re in a position to buy a home this year, you can have a significant impact on your local neighborhoods and safely make the move you’ve been waiting for. It’s a win-win.

Buying a Home Right Now: Easy? No. Smart? Yes.

Buying a Home Right Now: Easy? No. Smart? Yes. | Simplifying The Market

Through all the volatility in the economy right now, some have put their search for a home on hold, yet others have not. According to ShowingTime, the real estate industry’s leading showing management technology provider, buyers have started to reappear over the last several weeks. In the latest report, they revealed:

“The March ShowingTime Showing Index® recorded the first nationwide drop in showing traffic in eight months as communities responded to COVID-19. Early April data show signs of an upswing, however.”

Why would people be setting appointments to look at prospective homes when the process of purchasing a home has become more difficult with shelter-in-place orders throughout the country?

Here are three reasons for this uptick in activity:

1. Some people need to move. Whether because of a death in the family, a new birth, divorce, financial hardship, or a job transfer, some families need to make a move as quickly as possible.

2. Real estate agents across the country have become very innovative, utilizing technology that allows purchasers to virtually:

  • View homes
  • Meet with mortgage professionals
  • Consult with their agent throughout the process

All of this can happen within the required safety protocols, so real estate professionals are continuing to help families make important moves.

3. Buyers understand that mortgage rates are a key component when determining their monthly mortgage payments. Mortgage interest rates are very close to all-time lows and afford today’s purchaser the opportunity to save tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the loan.

Looking closely at the third reason, we can see that there’s a big difference between purchasing a house last December and purchasing one now (see chart below):Buying a Home Right Now: Easy? No. Smart? Yes. | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Many families have decided not to postpone their plans to purchase a home, even in these difficult times. If you need to make a move, let’s connect today so you have a trusted advisor to safely and professionally guide you through the process.

Rise to the Top of the Pool by Selling Your House Today

Rise to the Top of the Pool by Selling Your House Today | Simplifying The Market

With the release of the latest Economic Pulse Flash Survey from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), results show that people selling their houses today are holding strong on price. According to the most recent data, 74% of real estate agents noted that sellers are not dropping listing prices to attract more buyers.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, noted: 

“The housing market faced an inventory shortage before the pandemic. Given that there are even fewer new listings during the pandemic, home sellers are taking a calm approach and appear unwilling to lower prices to attract buyers during the temporary disruptions to the economy.”

This inventory shortage, which spread widely throughout the housing market going into today’s economic slowdown, created an environment where there were not enough homes for sale for those who wanted to buy them. With that backdrop setting the stage, Yun also notes:

“With the current quarantine recommendations in place, fewer sellers are listing homes, which will limit buyer choices.”

So, with buyer choices already limited going into this season, and more sellers removing listings today, if you’ve been thinking about listing your house, it’s a great time to do so. Many others in your neighborhood may be waiting to make a move or removing their listings, so staying on the market – or jumping into it – could work to your advantage.

Buyers today are serious ones, and with prices holding steady in this low-inventory market, you can feel confident about selling today. Embracing the process virtually, where available, could help your house hit the top of an eager buyer’s list. While your neighbors miss out on this opportunistic time, you don’t have to.

Bottom Line

If buyer choices are limited in your neighborhood, selling now may help your listing rise to the top of the pool. Let’s connect today to make sure you have the expert help you need to succeed in the selling process.

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.

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.