Category: Housing Market Updates

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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.

How Technology Is Enabling the Real Estate Process

How Technology Is Enabling the Real Estate Process | Simplifying The Market

Today’s everyday reality is pretty different than it looked just a few weeks ago. We’re learning how to do a lot of things in new ways, from how we work remotely to how we engage with our friends and neighbors. Almost everything right now is shifting to a virtual format. One of the big changes we’re adapting to is the revisions to the common real estate transaction, which all vary by state and locality. Technology, however, is making it possible for many of us to continue on the quest for homeownership, an essential need for all.

Here’s a look at some of the elements of the process that are changing (at least in the near-term), due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing, and what you may need to know about each one if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home sooner rather than later.

1. Virtual Consultations – Instead of heading into an office, you can meet with real estate and lending professionals through video chat. Whether it’s your first initial needs analysis as a buyer or your listing appointment as a seller, you can still get the process started remotely and create a plan together. Your trusted advisor is still on your side.

2. Home Searches & Virtual Showings – According to theNational Association of Realtors (NAR), the Internet is one of the three most popular information sources buyers use when searching for homes. Your real estate agent can send you listing information and help you request a virtual showing when you’re ready to start looking. This means you can virtually walk through the homes on your wish list while keeping your family safe. As a seller, you can still have virtual open houses and virtual tours too, so as not to miss those buyers looking to find a home right now.

3. Document Signing – Although this is another area that varies by state, today more portions of the transaction are being done digitally. In many areas, your agent or loan officer can set up an account where you can upload all of the required documents and sign electronically right from your computer.

4. Sending Money – Whether you need to pay for an appraisal or submit closing costs, there are options available. Depending on the transaction and local regulations, you may be able to pay by credit card, and most banks will also allow you to wire funds from your account. Sometimes you can send a check by mail, and in some states, a mobile escrow agent will pick up a check from your home.

5. Closing Process – Again, depending on your area, a mobile notary may be able to bring the required documents to your home before the closing. If your state requires an attorney to be present, check with your legal counsel to see what options are available. Also, depending on the title company, some are allowing drive-thru closings, which is similar to doing a transaction at a bank window.

Although these virtual processes are starting to become more widely accepted, it does not mean that this is the way things are going to get done from now on. Under the current circumstances, however, technology is making it possible to continue much of the real estate transaction today.

Bottom Line

If you need to move today, technology can help make it happen; there are options available. Let’s touch base today to discuss your situation and our local regulations, so you don’t have to put your real estate plans on hold.

Will Surging Unemployment Crush Home Sales?

Will Surging Unemployment Crush Home Sales? | Simplifying The Market

Ten million Americans lost their jobs over the last two weeks. The next announced unemployment rate on May 8th is expected to be in the double digits. Because the health crisis brought the economy to a screeching halt, many are feeling a personal financial crisis. James Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, explained that the government is trying to find ways to assist those who have lost their jobs and the companies which were forced to close (think: your neighborhood restaurant). In a recent interview he said:

“This is a planned, organized partial shutdown of the U.S. economy in the second quarter. The overall goal is to keep everyone, households and businesses, whole.”

That’s promising, but we’re still uncertain as to when the recently unemployed will be able to return to work.

Another concern: how badly will the U.S. economy be damaged if people can’t buy homes?

A new concern is whether the high number of unemployed Americans will cause the residential real estate market to crash, putting a greater strain on the economy and leading to even more job losses. The housing industry is a major piece of the overall economy in this country.

Chris Herbert, Managing Director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, in a post titled Responding to the Covid-19 Pandemic, addressed the toll this crisis will have on our nation, explaining:

“Housing is a foundational element of every person’s well-being. And with nearly a fifth of US gross domestic product rooted in housing-related expenditures, it is also critical to the well-being of our broader economy.”

How has the unemployment rate affected home sales in the past?

It’s logical to think there would be a direct correlation between the unemployment rate and home sales: as the unemployment rate went up, home sales would go down, and when the unemployment rate went down, home sales would go up.

However, research reviewing the last thirty years doesn’t show that direct relationship, as noted in the graph below. The blue and grey bars represent home sales, while the yellow line is the unemployment rate. Take a look at numbers 1 through 4:Will Surging Unemployment Crush Home Sales? | Simplifying The Market

  1. The unemployment rate was rising between 1992-1993, yet home sales increased.
  2. The unemployment rate was rising between 2001-2003, and home sales increased.
  3. The unemployment rate was rising between 2007-2010, and home sales significantly decreased.
  4. The unemployment rate was falling continuously between 2015-2019, and home sales remained relatively flat.

The impact of the unemployment rate on home sales doesn’t seem to be as strong as we may have thought.

Isn’t this time different?

Yes. There is no doubt the country hasn’t seen job losses this quickly in almost one hundred years. How bad could it get? Goldman Sachs projects the unemployment rate to be 15% in the third quarter of 2020, flattening to single digits by the fourth quarter of this year, and then just over 6% percent by the fourth quarter of 2021. Not ideal for the housing industry, but manageable.

How does this compare to the other financial crises?

Some believe this is going to be reminiscent of The Great Depression. From the standpoint of unemployment rates alone (the only thing this article addresses), it does not compare. Here are the unemployment rates during the Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the projected rates moving forward:Will Surging Unemployment Crush Home Sales? | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

We’ve given you the facts as we know them. The housing market will have challenges this year. However, with the help being given to those who have lost their jobs and the fact that we’re looking at a quick recovery for the economy after we address the health problem, the housing industry should be fine in the long term. Stay safe.

Looking to the Future: What the Experts Are Saying

Looking to the Future: What the Experts Are Saying | Simplifying The Market

As our lives, our businesses, and the world we live in change day by day, we’re all left wondering how long this will last. How long will we feel the effects of the coronavirus? How deep will the impact go? The human toll may forever change families, but the economic impact will rebound with a cycle of downturn followed by economic expansion like we’ve seen play out in the U.S. economy many times over.

Here’s a look at what leading experts and current research indicate about the economic impact we’ll likely see as a result of the coronavirus. It starts with a forecast of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to Investopedia:

“Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the total monetary or market value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period. As a broad measure of overall domestic production, it functions as a comprehensive scorecard of the country’s economic health.”

When looking at GDP (the measure of our country’s economic health), a survey of three leading financial institutions shows a projected sharp decline followed by a steep rebound in the second half of this year:Looking to the Future: What the Experts Are Saying | Simplifying The MarketA recent study from John Burns Consulting also notes that past pandemics have also created V-Shaped Economic Recoveries like the ones noted above, and they had minimal impact on housing prices. This certainly gives hope and optimism for what is to come as the crisis passes.

With this historical analysis in mind, many business owners are also optimistic for a bright economic return. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey shows this confidence, noting 66% of surveyed business owners feel their companies will return to normal business rhythms within a month of the pandemic passing, and 90% feel they should be back to normal operation 1 to 3 months after:Looking to the Future: What the Experts Are Saying | Simplifying The MarketFrom expert financial institutions to business leaders across the country, we can clearly see that the anticipation of a quick return to normal once the current crisis subsides is not too far away. In essence, this won’t last forever, and we will get back to growth-mode. We’ve got this.

Bottom Line

Lives and businesses are being impacted by the coronavirus, but experts do see a light at the end of the tunnel. As the economy slows down due to the health crisis, we can take guidance and advice from experts that this too will pass.

Why the Stock Market Correction Probably Won’t Impact Home Values

Why the Stock Market Correction Probably Won’t Impact Home Values | Simplifying The Market

With the housing crash of 2006-2008 still visible in the rear-view mirror, many are concerned the current correction in the stock market is a sign that home values are also about to tumble. What’s taking place today, however, is nothing like what happened the last time. The S&P 500 did fall by over fifty percent from October 2007 to March 2009, and home values did depreciate in 2007, 2008, and 2009 – but that was because that economic slowdown was mainly caused by a collapsing real estate market and a meltdown in the mortgage market.

This time, the stock market correction is being caused by an outside event (the coronavirus) with no connection to the housing industry. Many experts are saying the current situation is much more reminiscent of the challenges we had when the dot.com crash was immediately followed by 9/11. As an example, David Rosenberg, Chief Economist with Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc., recently explained:

“What 9/11 has in common with what is happening today is that this shock has also generated fear, angst and anxiety among the general public. People avoided crowds then as they believed another terrorist attack was coming and are acting the same today to avoid getting sick. The same parts of the economy are under pressure ─ airlines, leisure, hospitality, restaurants, entertainment ─ consumer discretionary services in general.”

Since the current situation resembles the stock market correction in the early 2000s, let’s review what happened to home values during that time.Why the Stock Market Correction Probably Won’t Impact Home Values | Simplifying The MarketThe S&P dropped 45% between September 2000 and October 2002. Home prices, on the other hand, appreciated nicely at the same time. That stock market correction proved not to have any negative impact on home values.

Bottom Line

If the current situation is more like the markets in the early 2000s versus the markets during the Great Recession, home values should be minimally affected, if at all.

Economic Slowdown: What the Experts Are Saying

Economic Slowdown: What the Experts Are Saying | Simplifying The Market

More and more economists are predicting a recession is imminent as the result of the pullback in the economy caused by COVID-19. 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.”

Bill McBride, the founder of Calculated Risk, believes we are already in a recession:

“With the sudden economic stop, and with many states shutting down by closing down schools, bars and restaurants…my view is the US economy is now in a recession (started in March 2020), and GDP will decline sharply in Q2. The length of the recession will depend on the course of the pandemic.”

How deep will it go?

No one knows for sure. It depends on how long it takes to beat this virus. Goldman Sachs anticipates we will see a difficult first half of the year, but the economy will recover in the second half (see below):Economic Slowdown: What the Experts Are Saying | Simplifying The MarketThis aligns with the projection from Wells Fargo Investment Institute:

“Once the virus infection rate peaks, we expect a recovery to gain momentum into the final quarter of the year and especially into 2021.”

Again, no one knows for sure how long the pandemic will last. The hope is that it will resolve sometime over the next several months. Most agree that when it does, the economy will regain its strength quickly.

Bottom Line

This virus is not only impacting the physical health of Americans, but also the financial health of the nation. The sooner we beat it, the sooner our lives will return to normal.

Are We About to See a New Wave of Foreclosures?

Are We About to See a New Wave of Foreclosures? | Simplifying The Market

With all of the havoc being caused by COVID-19, many are concerned we may see a new wave of foreclosures. Restaurants, airlines, hotels, and many other industries are furloughing workers or dramatically cutting their hours. Without a job, many homeowners are wondering how they’ll be able to afford their mortgage payments.

In spite of this, there are actually many reasons we won’t see a surge in the number of foreclosures like we did during the housing crash over ten years ago. Here are just a few of those reasons:

The Government Learned its Lesson the Last Time

During the previous housing crash, the government was slow to recognize the challenges homeowners were having and waited too long to grant relief. Today, action is being taken swiftly. Just this week:

  • The Federal Housing Administration indicated it is enacting an “immediate foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages” for the next 60 days.
  • The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced it is directing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to suspend foreclosures and evictions for “at least 60 days.”

Homeowners Learned their Lesson the Last Time

When the housing market was going strong in the early 2000s, homeowners gained a tremendous amount of equity in their homes. Many began to tap into that equity. Some started to use their homes as ATM machines to purchase luxury items like cars, jet-skis, and lavish vacations. When prices dipped, many found themselves in a negative equity situation (where the mortgage was greater than the value of their homes). Some just walked away, leaving the banks with no other option but to foreclose on their properties.

Today, the home equity situation in America is vastly different. From 2005-2007, homeowners cashed out $824 billion worth of home equity by refinancing. In the last three years, they cashed out only $232 billion, less than one-third of that amount. That has led to:

  • 37% of homes in America having no mortgage at all
  • Of the remaining 63%, more than 1 in 4 having over 50% equity

Even if prices dip (and most experts are not predicting that they will), most homeowners will still have vast amounts of value in their homes and will not walk away from that money.

There Will Be Help Available to Individuals and Small Businesses

The government is aware of the financial pain this virus has caused and will continue to cause. Yesterday, the Associated Press reported:

“In a memorandum, Treasury proposed two $250 billion cash infusions to individuals: A first set of checks issued starting April 6, with a second wave in mid-May. The amounts would depend on income and family size.”

The plan also recommends $300 billion for small businesses.

Bottom Line

These are not going to be easy times. However, the lessons learned from the last crisis have Americans better prepared to weather the financial storm. For those who can’t, help is on the way.