If you’ve been waiting for the market to recover before listing your house, now is a good time to start getting it ready. New information from the Mortgage Banker’s Association shows mortgage applications to purchase homes is on the rise. Plus, the S&P 500 reached a two-month high and the Nasdaq finished at its highest close in three months. And, homebuilder confidence is rebounding. Click here to read more This Week in Real Estate.
As several states begin the process of reopening following the COVID-19 pandemic, a new Lending Tree study released This Week in Real Estate shows Google searches for “homes for sale” grew by 54% to end the month of April, purchase activity was higher for the fourth consecutive week, and the fiscal stimulus is impacting consumer sentiment. Click here to read more about business impacting the real estate market this week.
We’re getting a better idea of how the worldwide coronavirus pandemic is impacting home sales as ATTOM Data Solutions releases its First Quarter Home Sales Report. Plus, a growing number of states are relaxing their social distancing protocols, but is it enough to cause the real estate market to thaw? And, homeownership rates are up despite the COVID-19 pandemic. We take a closer look This Week in Real Estate.
* U.S. Home Sellers Realized Average Price Gain of $67,100 in First Quarter of 2020. ATTOM Data Solutions released its First Quarter 2020 U.S. Home Sales Report Thursday, which shows that home sellers nationwide realized a home price gain of $67,100 on the typical sale, up from $66,264 in the fourth quarter of 2019 and up from $59,000 in the first quarter of last year. That $67,100 typical home-seller profit represented a 33.7 percent return on investment compared to the original purchase price, down from the post-recession high of 34.4 percent in the fourth quarter of 2019 but up from 32.8 percent a year ago. “The national housing market continued at full throttle in the first quarter of 2020, setting new price and profit records as it entered its ninth straight year of gains. After it looked like things were settling down last year, the market has again roared ahead, with significant increases,” said Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM Data Solutions. “It is extremely important to note that the latest momentum is likely to hit a wall and reverse because of the drastic economic slowdown caused by the Coronavirus pandemic. Millions of Americans are newly unemployed, and most people are practicing social distancing, which could bring things to a halt just as the Spring buying season begins. Despite that cloud, the numbers for Q1 still do remain upbeat.”
* Home Purchase Applications Rise as Coronavirus Slowdown Begins to Thaw. With a growing number of states indicating over the last week that they are moving toward relaxing the social distancing protocols put in place to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, it appears that the real estate market may be beginning to thaw. In recent weeks, home purchase applications have declined sharply as people simply weren’t applying for mortgages. But that trend may be reversing, as new data from the Mortgage Bankers Association shows that home purchase mortgage applications recently rose to the highest level in nearly a month. “The news in this week’s release is that purchase applications, still recovering from a five-year low, increased 12% last week to the strongest level in almost a month,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting.
* Homeownership Rate Up in the First Quarter 2020. According to the Census Bureau’s Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS), the U.S. homeownership rate reaches 65.3% in the first quarter 2020. This is 1.1 percentage points higher than the rate of 64.2% in the first quarter of 2019, but not statistically different from the previous quarter reading of 65.1%. Strong owner household formation with around 2.7 million homeowners added in the first quarter has driven up the homeownership rate, especially under the decreasing mortgage interest rates and strong new home sales and existing home sales in the first two months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the economy. The HVS provides a timely measure of household formations – the key driver of housing demand. The housing stock-based HVS revealed that the number of households increased to 124.4 million in the first quarter of 2020, 2.0 million higher than a year ago.
As a marketing agent, I want to sell homes for more, not merely sell more homes. That’s why I focus on strategic pricing, negotiating, marketing and networking. My last listing went pending in less than a week, during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re interested in selling, let’s talk!
According to the Census Bureau, HUD and Commerce Department This Week in Real Estate the market to start the year for newly built single-family homes experienced significant growth year-over-year. Permits in January reached their highest level since June 2007 and housing starts were 21.4% above January 2019. Below are a few highlights from the third week of February that influence our business:
* Housing Starts Mark a Solid Start in 2020. Relative to January 2019 total housing starts are 21.4 percent above the annual pace of 1.29 million units. The three-month moving average for single-family in January is an annual rate of 1,008,000 units, which is the highest pace since the Great recession. Single-family permits have registered a 20.2 percent gain compared to a year ago. This is in line with the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, which held builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes at a solid level of 74 in February. Regional data show, on a year-over-year basis positive conditions for single-family construction in the West (+24.7 percent) and Midwest (+17.7 percent) while South (-3.7 percent) and Northeast (-15.4 percent) have posted declines.
* Single-Family Building Permits Rise to a 12-Year High. Permits for new houses rose to a more than 12-year high in January as builders began shifting into high gear amid a property shortage. Single-family home
authorizations, as permits are known, jumped to 987,000 at a seasonally adjusted annual pace, the highest since June 2007, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. The January rate was a gain of 6.4% from December.Overall permits, including multifamily units and single-family homes, jumped 9.2% to an annual pace of 1.551 million, the highest level since March 2007.
* $221M Lost to Wire Transfer Fraud in 2019. Incidents and losses due to real estate wire fraud continue to increase, according to the FBI’s 2019 Internet Crime Report. The report shows there were 11,677 victims in 2019 with $221 million in losses. This compares to 11,300 reported victims and $150 million in losses in 2018. According to the FBI, only 15 percent of all wire fraud incidents are reported. Overall, the FBI reported that IC3 received 467,361 complaints in 2019 – an average of nearly 1,300 every day – and recorded more than $3.5 billion in losses to individual and business victims. The most frequently reported complaints were phishing and similar ploys, non-payment/non-delivery scams and extortion. The most financially costly complaints involved business email compromise, romance or confidence fraud, and spoofing, or mimicking the account of a person or vendor known to the victim to gather personal or financial information. Donna Gregory, the chief of IC3, said that in 2019 the center didn’t see an uptick in new types of fraud but rather saw criminals deploying new tactics and techniques to carry out existing scams. “Criminals are getting so sophisticated,” Gregory said. “It is getting harder and harder for victims to spot the red flags and tell real from fake.” While email is still a common entry point, frauds are also beginning on text messages—a crime called smishing—or even fake websites—a tactic called pharming. Individuals need to be extremely skeptical and double check everything, Gregory emphasized. “In the same way your bank and online accounts have started to require two-factor authentication—apply that to your life,” she said. “Verify requests in person or by phone, double check web and email addresses, and don’t follow the links provided in any messages.”
According to the Federal Reserve’s Flow of Funds report released This Week in Real Estate the value of U.S. owner-occupied homes increased to a record of $29.2 trillion in the third quarter of 2019. Home values rise as mortgage rates remain low. Fannie Mae believes the average fixed rate in 2020 will probably be 3.6% and if so, will be the lowest annual average ever recorded in Freddie Mac records going back to 1973. Below are a few highlights from the first full week of 2020…
* U.S. Home Values Rise to Record $29.2 Trillion, Fed Says. The value of all U.S. owner-occupied homes increased to a record $29.2 trillion in the third quarter, according to a Federal Reserve report known as the Flow of Funds. That was a gain of 4.2% from a year earlier, the slowest annualized increase since 2012. The collective value of U.S. homes is now 21% higher than the bubble peak reached in 2006. The Fed’s tally of home values for all U.S. residential real estate, whether occupied by homeowners or not, was $32.9 trillion, the report said.
* U.S. Mortgage Debt Hits a Record $15.8 Trillion. Outstanding U.S. mortgage debt rose to $15.8 trillion in the third quarter of 2019, according to the Federal Reserve. The biggest chunk of debt was held on homes, at $11.1 trillion, followed by commercial, with $3 trillion of loans, multifamily at $1.6 trillion and farms at $254.1 billion, according to the Fed data. Mortgage debt is rising as U.S. real estate values gain. Low mortgage rates boost real estate prices, and hence the volume of loans, because cheaper financing means buyers qualify for higher-balance mortgages and can bid more for properties they want. The average fixed rate probably will be 3.6% in 2020, which would be the lowest annual average ever recorded in Freddie Mac records going back to 1973.
* Homebuying Sentiment Up Sharply From 2018. Fannie Mae’s Home Purchase Sentiment Index (HPSI) finished out the year with little change from November to December, but with a strong increase over the December 2018 version. “The continued strength in the HPSI attests to the intention among consumers to purchase homes. This is consistent with the Fannie Mae forecast for 2020,” said Doug Duncan, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “The HPSI hit and remained near an all-time high in 2019, driven by the 16-percentage point year-over-year increase in the share of consumers believing it is a good time to buy. The HPSI’s strength supports our prediction of a healthy housing market in 2020, as well as consumers’ appetite and ability to absorb the expected increase in entry-level inventory.”
For the first time since at
least World War II, mortgage rates and the unemployment rate are below
4-percent. As a result, some economists are predicting home prices will
increase at a faster pace over the next 12 months than they have in 2019.
Corelogic says home prices
will likely increase by 5.8% through August 2020. That’s a faster pace than the
3.8% seen in August of this year.
First-time homebuyers, Generation
Z homebuyers and single female homebuyers are taking full advantage of this
46-percent of all loans Freddie
Mac has purchased this year came from first-time homebuyers, while there has
been a 200% and 500% increase in Gen Z and single female homebuyers,
* Labor Costs Likely to Push Home Prices Higher. In an article in CoreLogic’s Insights blog, Nothaft quotes National Association of Home Builder (NAHB) figures that say about 60 percent of a new home’s sales price reflects the construction costs of the home. The major components of building costs are those associated with purchasing and preparing a lot, acquiring permits and inspections, hiring labor and buying materials. There was a significant price run-up in the two major components of framing, lumber and steel. Labor costs are another matter. Much has been written about the shortage of construction labor. Many workers left the trades during the Great Recession and the industry has had trouble luring young people and especially young women into the field. Vacancies as a percent of construction job are now at the highest level in 18 years and compensation has risen accordingly. It is up 3 percent this year, about double the rate of inflation. Worker retention is an issue as well. Nothaft says rising land and labor costs will probably offset any savings builders might realize from lower lumber prices and overall costs for a new home will continue to rise.
* Mortgage Rates Drop Again – And First-Time Homebuyers Take Full Advantage. Mortgage rates dropped again, and according to Freddie Mac, the downward spiral has first-time buyers gaining ground. In fact, of all the loans Freddie Mac has purchased in 2019, 46% came from first-time homebuyers – a two-decade high for the company. According to representatives at online mortgage provider Better.com, the lender has seen a “huge uptick” in first-time homebuyers as well. There’s also been a 200% increase in Generation Z homebuyers (born 1997-2012) and a 500% increase in single female homebuyers aged 30-40. As Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, reported yesterday, “The fifty-year low in the unemployment rate, combined with low mortgage rates, has led to increased homebuyer demand this year. Much of this strength is coming from entry-level buyers.”
* Where Have All the Affordable Homes Gone? Housing affordability has been a growing concern in the housing ecosystem, but why is it such a problem? While home prices have been steadily rising for many years, Nothaft observed, “We find that lower-priced homes have appreciated much, much more than higher-priced homes.” Since May 2018, prices of homes more than 25% above the median have risen 3%, while homes in the lowest tier, those more than 25% below the median, have risen almost 5.5%. As demand rises on affordable homes, the supply has become increasingly constrained. Nothaft noted, “New construction, while picking up gradually over the last few years, is still well below what it was prior to the housing boom.” The current inventory for homes is tightest in the lowest price tiers, particularly in those between 50 and 100 percent of the median home price. On the affordable housing shortage, Nothaft concluded, “I don’t see that changing any time soon unless we find ways to reduce the cost of producing or delivering lower-priced homes into the marketplace and reducing some of the regulatory costs.” In the meantime, with demand rising on an increasingly scarce product, we can expect prices to continue rising on affordable homes for the foreseeable future.
Mortgage Rates May Tumble to Record 3.3% by 2019’s End. Fixed mortgage rates could fall to 3.3% by the end of the year as the nation’s economy slows, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors. That would put the rate just a smidge below the 3.31% seen in November of 2012 – the lowest average for a 30-year fixed mortgage in Freddie Mac data going back to 1971. “But lower rates may not help with affordability because home prices are re-accelerating higher, easily above the latest wage growth. Housing inventory has recently stopped rising, putting upward pressure on home prices of moderately priced homes,” Yun said. “But there is still a time to get the economy into a higher gear with increased home building of affordable homes and lessening trade tensions.”
* A Smaller Share of Prospective Buyers is Actively Looking For a Home. A national poll in the second quarter of 2019 revealed that 12% of adults are thinking about buying a home in the next 12 months. Of that group, 41% are already actively engaged in the process of finding a home to purchase, which is a smaller share than a year earlier, when 50% of prospective buyers were engaged in the search process. This finding suggests that the lower mortgage rate environment of 2019 has not had the expected effect of nudging more people to start looking for a home to buy. Across generations, about 40% of Millennials, Gen X’ers, and Boomer buyers have moved beyond just planning and begun the home search, compared to only 21% of Senior buyers. Geographically, prospective buyers in the Northeast are the most likely to be actively looking for a home (47%), followed by those in the West (43%), and those in the Midwest and South (both 39%). How long are buyers who are actively engaged in the search process hunting for a home? In the second quarter of 2019, 45% had been at it for less than 3 months while the other 55% had been trying to find the right home for 3 months or longer. Those shares were essentially unchanged from a year earlier, when they stood at 46% and 54%, respectively.
* Residential Construction Spending Drops Further Off 2018 Pace. Construction spending inched up by 0.1 percent in July, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.289 trillion compared to $1.288 trillion in June. The July figure is 2.7 percent lower than the rate of spending in July 2018. On an unadjusted basis, spending for the month was $119.214 billion and for the year-to-date (YTD) stands at $733.782 billion, down 2.1 percent from the $749.888 billion spent during the first seven months of 2018. Private sector spending on residential spending was at an annual rate of $506.743 billion compared to $503.515 billion in June, an increase of 0.6 percent but down 6.6 percent from the prior July. Single family construction was at a rate of $268.138 billion a 1.4 percent month-over-month gain but a decrease of 8.5 percent on an annual basis. For the YTD, total residential spending has totaled $289.891 billion, $150.219 billion of it on single-family houses. During the same period in 2018 the respective totals were $316.929 billion and $164.529 billion. These represent declines of 8.5 and 8.7 percent.
If a new Federal rule is approved it will have a sizeable impact on the real estate market. Federal regulators are close to approving a proposal to increase the appraisal threshold on residential home sales. What’s that mean for you? It means that certain home sales, of $400,000 and under, may not require an appraisal. Since 1994 the appraisal requirement has been set at $250,000.
The proposal is currently awaiting Fed approval to move forward. It has been approved by both the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.) and the OCC (Office of the Comptroller of the Currency), so experts believe it’s only a matter of time before the Fed approves the rule, it’s entered into the Federal Register and enacted as the law of the land.
Now, it’s important to mention this does not apply to ALL loans. New rules do NOT apply to loans that are wholly or partially insured or guaranteed by, or eligible for sale to, a government agency or government sponsored agency. That means loans sold to or guaranteed by the FHA, HUD, the VA or Fannie and Freddie Mac would still require an appraisal, per agency rules. However, the new rule would apply to approximately 40% of home sales.
The second quarter of the year marked a healthy springtime market for Eugene and Southern Oregon. New listings and
active listings surged, the average for days on market narrowed in most cities and even if closed transactions inched
downward, pending transactions for the second quarter showed signs of seasonal promise.
DAYS ON MARKET
Average days on market in the second quarter of 2019 was 42 days, a 6.7% decrease from year-ago figures. In Sweet
Home, days on market surged 44% to 46 days, while year-over-year averages fell in Albany, Lebanon and Roseburg.
CLOSED TRANSACTIONS AND PENDING SALES
The number of closed units dropped 6% this quarter from 2018. Pending sales fared better this quarter, jumping 18.4%
from the same time period in 2018. Closed transactions fell year-over-year in Albany, Roseburg Sweet Home and Leb-
anon, with the latter city experiencing a 21% dip in closed sales from year-ago figures. Pending sales fared better this
quarter, jumping 18.4% from the same time period in 2018.
AVERAGE SALES PRICE
Average sales price posted a moderate first quarter, up 2.6% year-over-year in the region to $300,783. Prices for homes in
Corvallis were up 10% this quarter, landing at $408,960, the highest average price in the region.
As with most markets this quarter, Eugene and Southern Oregon saw a boost in both new and active listings. New listings soared year-over-year by 63.5% to end the quarter at 1,442.