The demand for homes this year is extraordinary as record-breaking numbers of hopeful buyers continue to shop for homes. In a normal year, the peak homebuying season comes to a close by early fall. However, 2020 is anything but a normal year, and the housing market is no exception. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains:
“Home sales traditionally taper off toward the end of the year, but in September they surged beyond what we normally see during this season…I would attribute this jump to record-low interest rates and an abundance of buyers in the marketplace, including buyers of vacation homes given the greater flexibility to work from home.”
What’s drawing so many buyers to the market?
“Mortgage rates today are on average more than a full percentage point lower than rates over the last five years.”
If you’re a homebuyer right now, there’s no question that you want to take advantage of this opportunity – and you’re not alone. Competition among buyers is definitely increasing as more buyers enter the market and mortgage interest rates remain so low.
Who’s planning to buy a home right now?
Today’s affordability is appealing to all generations and seems to be especially attractive to younger buyers who want to begin growing their wealth through homeownership. There’s a distinct increase this year in the percentage of those in younger generations searching for homes. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) notes:
“Between the third quarters of 2019 and 2020, the share of Gen Z adults planning a home purchase rose three points to 14%. Millennials, however, are the generation most likely to be considering buying a home (22%).”
Here’s a graph showing the year-over-year increase in homebuying interest by generation:According to Mark Fleming, Chief Economist for First American, millennials are reaching their prime home-buying years, a likely driver in this increase:
“Record low mortgage rates and millennials continuing to age into their prime home-buying years has boosted demand, but a lack of housing supply remains a challenge.”
What’s the biggest challenge for today’s buyers?
Finding a home, however, as Fleming notes above, is clearly a challenge today. Yun also explains:
“There is no shortage of hopeful, potential buyers, but inventory is historically low.”
With so many buyers actively searching for homes this year and so few houses for sale, it’s more important than ever to work with a trusted real estate professional to navigate today’s market. From pre-approval to bidding wars and guidance on down payment assistance resources, having an agent by your side might make the difference in your ability to land your dream home.
Let’s connect if you’re ready to buy a home. More buyers mean more competition, so you need an expert guide to help you stand out from the crowd.
Back in March, as the nation’s economy was shut down because of the coronavirus, many were predicting the real estate market would face a major collapse. Some forecasts called for a 15-20% decline in transactions. However, six months later, it seems as though the housing market has fully recovered.
Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, announced last week:
“Since hitting a low point during the initial stages of the pandemic, the only major industry to display immunity to the economic impacts of the coronavirus is the housing market. Housing has experienced a strong V-shaped recovery and is now exceeding pre-pandemic levels.”
The Economic & Strategic Research Group at Fannie Mae upgraded its forecast for home sales last week:
“Housing data over the past month continued to show a strong V-shape rebound, helping drive the broader economy. Existing home sales jumped to a pace not seen since 2006…We have substantially upgraded our forecasts for both new and existing home sales. For 2020, total home sales are now expected to be 1.3% higher than in 2019.”
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) agrees. In their last Pending Sales Report, NAR shared projections from Chief Economist Lawrence Yun:
“Yun forecasts existing-home sales to ramp up to 5.8 million in the second half. That expected rebound would bring the full-year level of existing-home sales to 5.4 million, a 1.1% gain compared to 2019.”
Yun’s forecast for 2021 was even more optimistic, stating, “Home sales will ramp up again next year, increasing between 8% – 12%.”
The housing market has come roaring back and looks as though it may even surpass last year’s success.
Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, hit the nail on the head when he said, “On an aggregated level, the housing economy remains rock solid despite the shock and awe of the pandemic.”
When shelter-in-place orders brought the economy to a screeching halt earlier this year, many believed the residential housing market would follow suit. Countless analysts predicted buyer demand would disappear and home values would depreciate for the first time in almost a decade. That, however, didn’t happen. It appears the opposite is taking place.
After the bottom fell out of the real estate market immediately following the shutdown, it has come roaring back – and seems to still be gaining steam. Here’s a look at two recent reports – one from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and one from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) – showing this growing strength.
Builder Confidence Hits All-Time High
Last week, it was reported that applications for new home purchases with home builders were 39% higher than in July of 2019. That has builder confidence soaring.
Each month, NAHB releases its Housing Market Index, a survey of NAHB members who rate market conditions for the sale of new homes at the present time and over the next six months, as well as prospective buyer traffic for new homes.
This month, they reported that builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes increased to the highest reading in the 35-year history of the series. NAHB Chairman, Chuck Fowke, explained:
“The demand for new single-family homes continues to be strong, as low interest rates and a focus on the importance of housing has stoked buyer traffic to all-time highs…Housing has clearly been a bright spot during the pandemic and the sharp rebound in builder confidence over the summer has led NAHB to upgrade its forecast for single-family starts, which are now projected to show only a slight decline for 2020.”
The number of newly constructed homes being built will be almost at the same level as last year, even though the economic shutdown crushed home building earlier in the year.
Existing Homes Are Also Selling Like Hotcakes
Last Friday, NAR released its Existing Home Sales Report. The report revealed that month-over-month sales increased by 24.7%, setting another record for the category. The Wall Street Journal reported that the increase crushed expert forecasts:
“Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a 14.2% monthly increase in sales of previously-owned homes, which make up most of the housing market.”
Home sales increased by 8.7% year-over-year.
Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR, explained how the resale market is just as hot as the new construction market:
“The housing market is well past the recovery phase and is now booming with higher home sales compared to the pre-pandemic days. With the sizable shift in remote work, current homeowners are looking for larger homes and this will lead to a secondary level of demand even into 2021.”
In addition, the Housing Market Recovery Index, which is released monthly by realtor.com, also showed the market is recovering nicely. The latest index reading was 104.8, which means the housing market is doing better than it was in January and February of this year. As a reference, the highest point in the index was a 106.5 in early March, just prior to the health crisis setting in.
Both the newly constructed and existing home sale markets are posting numbers greater than a year ago. Real estate is back. If you’re thinking of buying or selling, let’s connect so you have the expert counsel you need along the way.
Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its latest Employment Situation Summary. Going into the release, the expert consensus was for 1.58 million jobs to be added in July, and for the unemployment rate to fall to 10.5%.
When the official report came out, it revealed that 1.8 million jobs were added, and the unemployment rate fell to 10.2% (from 11.1% last month). Once again, this is excellent news as this was the third consecutive month the unemployment rate decreased.There is, however, still a long way to go before the job market fully recovers. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) put a potential date on that recovery:
“July’s payroll growth, at 1.8 million, still leaves total payrolls 12.9 million lower than in February. And yet if job gains continued at July’s pace, that deficit will be erased by March 2021. If payrolls reclaim their last peak in 13 months, that would be remarkably fast. It took more than six years after the last recession.”
Permanent vs. Temporary Unemployment
During a pandemic, it’s important to differentiate those who have lost their jobs on a temporary basis from those who have lost them on a permanent basis. Morgan Stanley economists noted in the same WSJ article:
“The rate of churn in the labor market remains incredibly high, but a notable positive detail in this month’s report was the downtick in the rate of new permanent layoffs.”
To address this, the core unemployment rate becomes increasingly important. It identifies the number of people who have permanently lost their jobs. This measure subtracts temporary layoffs and adds unemployed who did not search for a job recently. Jed Kolko, Chief Economist at Indeed and the founder of the index reported:
“Core unemployment fell in July for the first time in the pandemic. That’s the good news I was hoping for.”
What about the housing market?
The housing market has continued to show tremendous resilience during the pandemic. Commenting on the labor report, Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), tweeted:
“Housing continues to rebound in another positive labor market report. Home builder and remodeler job gains of 24K for July. Residential construction employment down just 56.4K compared to a year ago. Total residential construction employment at 2.85 million.”
We should remain cautious in our optimism, as the recovery is ultimately tied to our future success in mitigating the ongoing health crisis. However, as Mike Fratantoni, Chief Economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, reminds us: “The pace of job growth slowed in July, but the gains over the past three months represent an impressive rebound during the ongoing economic challenges brought forth by the pandemic.”
With the strength of the current housing market growing every day and more Americans returning to work, a faster-than-expected recovery in the housing sector is already well underway. Regardless, many are still asking the question: will we see a wave of foreclosures as a result of the current crisis? Thankfully, research shows the number of foreclosures is expected to be much lower than what this country experienced during the last recession. Here’s why.
According to Black Knight Inc., the number of those in active forbearance has been leveling-off over the past month (see graph below):Black Knight Inc. also notes, of the original 4,208,000 families granted forbearance, only 2,588,000 of these homeowners got an extension. Many homeowners have once again started to pay their mortgages, paid off their homes, or never went delinquent on their payments in the first place. They may have applied for forbearance out of precaution, but never fully acted on it (see graph below):The housing market, and homeowners, therefore, are in a much better position than many may think. Much of that has to do with the fact that today’s homeowners have more equity than most realize. According to John Burns Consulting, over 42% of homes are owned free and clear, meaning they are not tied to a mortgage. Of the remaining 58%, the average homeowner has $177,000 in equity. That number is keeping many homeowners afloat today and giving them options to avoid foreclosure.
While ATTOM Data Solutions indicates that there is a potential for the number of foreclosures to increase throughout the country, it’s important to understand why they won’t rock the housing market this time around:
“The United States faces a possible foreclosure surge over the coming months that could more than double the number of households threatened with eviction for not paying their mortgages.”
That number may sound massive, but it is actually much smaller than it seems at first glance. Today’s actual quarterly active foreclosure number is 74,860. That’s over 7.5x lower than the number of foreclosures the country saw at the peak of the housing crash in 2009. When looking at the graph below, it’s clear that even if the number of quarterly foreclosures today doubles, as ATTOM Data Solutions indicates is a possibility (not a given), they will only reach what historically-speaking is a normalized range, far below what up-ended the housing market roughly 10 years ago.Equity is growing, jobs are returning, and the economy is slowly recovering, so the perfect storm for a wave of foreclosures is not realistically in the housing market forecast. As Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist for First American notes:
“Alone, economic hardship and a lack of equity are each necessary, but not sufficient to trigger a foreclosure. It is only when both conditions exist that a foreclosure becomes a likely outcome.”
While our hearts are with anyone who may end up in foreclosure as a result of this crisis, we do know that today’s homeowners have more options than they did 10 years ago. For some, it may mean selling their house and downsizing with that equity, which is a far better outcome than foreclosure.
Homeowners today have many options to avoid foreclosure, and equity is surely helping to keep many afloat. Even if today’s rate of foreclosures doubles, it will still only hit a mark that is more in line with a historically normalized range, a very good sign for homeowners and the housing market.
Today, home prices are appreciating. When we hear prices are going up, it’s normal to think a home will cost more as the trend continues. The way the housing market is positioned today, however, low mortgage rates are actually making homes more affordable, even as prices rise. Here’s why.
According to the Mortgage Monitor Report from Black Knight:
“While home prices have risen for 97 consecutive months, July’s record-low mortgage rates have made purchasing the average-priced home the most affordable it’s been since 2016.”
How is that possible?
Black Knight continues to explain:
“As of mid-July, it required 19.8% of the median monthly income to make the mortgage payment on the average-priced home purchase, assuming a 20% down payment and a 30-year mortgage. That was more than 5% below the average of 25% from 1995-2003.
This means it currently requires a $1,071 monthly payment to purchase the average-priced home, which is down 6% from the same time last year, despite the average home increasing in value by more than $12,000 during that same time period.
In fact, buying power is now up 10% year-over-year, meaning the average home buyer can afford nearly $32,000 more home than they could at the same time last year, while keeping their monthly payment the same.”
This is great news for the many buyers who were unable to purchase last year, or earlier in the spring due to the slowdown from the pandemic. By waiting a little longer, they can now afford 10% more home than they could have a year ago while keeping their monthly mortgage payment unchanged.
With mortgage rates hitting all-time lows eight times this year, it’s now less expensive to borrow money, making homes significantly more affordable over the lifetime of your loan. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, shares what low mortgage rates mean for affordability:
“In July, house-buying power got a big boost as the 30-year, fixed mortgage rate made history by moving below three percent. That drop in the mortgage rate from 3.23 percent in May to 2.98 percent in July increased house-buying power by nearly $15,000.”
The map below shows the last time homes were this affordable by state:In six states – Arkansas, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, and West Virginia – homes have not been this affordable in more than 25 years.
If you’re thinking of making a move, now is a great time to take advantage of the affordability that comes with such low mortgage rates. Whether you’re thinking of purchasing your first home or moving into a new one and securing a significantly lower mortgage rate than you may have on your current house, let’s connect today to determine your next steps in the process.
There’s great opportunity for today’s homeowners to sell their houses and make a move, yet due to the impact of the ongoing health crisis, some sellers are taking their time coming back to the market. According to Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research at realtor.com:
“Sellers continue returning to the market at a cautious pace and further improvement could be constrained by lingering coronavirus concerns, economic uncertainty, and civil unrest.”
For homeowners who need a little nudge of motivation to get back in the game, it’s good to know that buyers are ready to purchase this season. After spending several months at home and re-evaluating what they truly want and need in their space, buyers are ready and they’re in the market now. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains:
“A number of potential buyers noted stalled plans due to the pandemic and that has led to more urgency and a pent-up demand to buy…After being home for months on end – in a home they already wanted to leave – buyers are reminded how much their current home may lack certain desired features or amenities.”
The latest Market Recovery Survey from NAR shares some of the features and amenities buyers are looking for, especially since the health crisis has shifted many buyer priorities. The most common home features cited as increasingly important are home offices and space to accommodate family members new to the residence (See graph below):The survey results also show that among buyers who indicate they would now like to live in a different area due to COVID-19, 47% have an interest in purchasing in the suburbs, 39% cite rural areas, and 25% indicate a desire to be in small towns.
As we can see, buyers are eager to find a new home, but there’s a big challenge in the market: a lack of homes available to purchase. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com explains:
“The realtor.com June Housing Trends Report showed that buyers still outnumber sellers which is causing the gap in time on market to shrink, prices to grow at a faster pace than pre-COVID, and the number of homes available for sale to decrease by more than last month. These trends play out similarly in the most recent week’s data with the change in time on market being most notable. In the most recent week homes sat on the market just 7 days longer than last year whereas the rest of June saw homes sit 2 weeks or more longer than last year.”
In essence, home sales are picking up speed and buyers are purchasing them at a faster rate than they’re coming to the market. Hale continues to say:
“The housing market has plenty of buyers who would benefit from a few more sellers. If the virus can be contained and home prices continue to grow, this may help bring sellers back to the housing market.”
If you’re considering selling and your current house has some of the features today’s buyers are looking for, let’s connect. You’ll likely be able to sell at the best price, in the least amount of time, and will be able to take advantage of the low interest rates available right now when buying your new home.
Over the past several weeks, Freddie Mac has reported the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropping to record lows, all the way down to 3.03%. Last week’s reported rate reached the lowest point in the history of the survey, which dates back to 1971 (See graph below):
What does this mean for buyers?
This is huge for homebuyers. Those currently taking advantage of the increasing affordability that comes with historically low interest rates are winning big. According to Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac:
“The summer is heating up as record low mortgage rates continue to spur homebuyer demand.”
In addition, move.com notes:
“Summer home buying season is off to a roaring start. As buyers flooded into the market, realtor.com® monthly traffic hit an all-time high of 86 million unique users in June 2020, breaking May’s record of 85 million unique users. Realtor.com® daily traffic also hit its highest level ever of 7 million unique users on June 25, signaling that despite the global pandemic buyers are ready to make a purchase.”
Clearly, buyers are capitalizing on today’s low rates. As shown in the chart below, the average monthly mortgage payment decreases significantly when rates are as low as they are today.A lower monthly payment means savings that can add up significantly over the life of a home loan. It also means that qualified buyers may be able to purchase more home for their money. Maybe that’s a bigger home than what they’d be able to afford at a higher rate, an increasingly desirable option considering the amount of time families are now spending at home given today’s health crisis.
If you’re in a position to buy a home this year, let’s connect to initiate the process while mortgage rates are historically low.
Last week, a very well-respected real estate analytics firm surprised many with their home price projection for the next twelve months. CoreLogic, in their latest Home Price Index said:
“The economic downturn that started in March 2020 is predicted to cause a 6.6% drop in the HPI by May 2021, which would be the first decrease in annual home prices in over 9 years.”
The forecast was surprising as it was strikingly different than any other projection by major analysts. Six of the other eight forecasts call for appreciation, and the two who project depreciation indicate it will be one percent or less.
Here is a graph showing all of the projections:There’s a simple formula to determine the future price of any item: calculate the supply of that item in ratio to the demand for that item. In housing right now, demand far exceeds supply. Last week mortgage applications to buy a home were 33% higher than they were at the same time last year. The available inventory of homes for sale is 31% lower than it was last year. Normally, these numbers should call for homes to continue to appreciate.
Because of the uncertainty with the pandemic, any economic prediction is extremely difficult. However, looking at the limited supply of homes for sale and the tremendous demand for housing, it is difficult to disagree with the majority of analysts who are calling for price appreciation.
- Real estate has outranked stocks, savings accounts, and gold as the best long-term investment among Americans for the past 7 years.
- The belief in the stability of housing as a long-term investment remains strong, despite the many challenges our economy faces today.
- Of the four listed, real estate is also the only investment you can also live in. That’s a big win!