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Real Estate: It’s Still a Lack of Supply, Not a Lack of Demand

One of the major questions real estate experts are asking today is whether prospective homebuyers still believe purchasing a home makes sense. Some claim rapidly rising home prices are impacting demand and, by extension, leading to the recent slowdown in sales activity.

However, demand isn’t the real issue. Instead, it’s the lack of supply (homes available for sale). An article from the Wall Street Journal shows this is true for new home construction:

Home builders have sold more homes than they can build. Now they are limiting their sales in an effort to catch up.”

The article quotes David Auld, CEO of D.R. Horton Inc. (the largest homebuilder by volume in the United States since 2002), explaining how they don’t have enough homes for the number of buyers coming into their models:

“Through our history, to have somebody walk into our models and to tell them, ‘We don’t have a house for you to buy today’, is something that is foreign to us.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com, also explains that, in the existing home sale market, the slowdown in sales was a supply challenge, not a lack of demand. Responding to a recent uptick in listings coming to market, she notes:

“. . . if these changing inventory dynamics continue, we could see a wave of real estate activity heading into the latter part of the year.”

Again, the buyers are there. We just need houses to sell to them.

If the slowdown in sales was the result of demand waning, we would start to see home prices beginning to moderate – but this isn’t the case. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist for First American, explains:

“There’s a lot of conversation around rising prices and falling quantity in the housing market, and there’s this concept, or this idea, that it’s a demand-side problem . . . . But, if demand were falling dramatically, we would actually see less price pressure, less home price growth.”

Instead, we’re seeing price appreciation accelerate throughout this year, as evidenced by the year-over-year percentage increases reported by CoreLogic:

  • January: 10%
  • February: 10.4%
  • March: 11.3%
  • April: 13%
  • May: 15.4%
  • June: 17.2%

(July numbers are not yet available)

There’s a shortage of listings, not buyers, and there are three very good reasons for purchasers to still be interested in buying a home this year.

1. Affordability isn’t the challenge some are claiming it to be.

Though home prices have risen dramatically over the last 18 months, mortgage rates remain near historic lows. Because of these near-record rates, monthly mortgage payments are affordable for most buyers.

While homes are less affordable than they were last year, when we adjust for inflation, we can see they’re also more affordable than they were in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and much of the 2000s.

2. Owning is a better long-term decision than renting.

A recent study shows renting a home takes up a higher percentage of a household’s income than owning one. According to the analysis, here’s the percentage of income homebuyers and renters should expect to pay now versus at the end of the year.Real Estate: It’s Still a Lack of Supply, Not a Lack of Demand | Simplifying The MarketWhile the principal and interest of a monthly mortgage payment remain the same over the lifetime of the loan, rents increase almost every year.

3. Owners build their wealth. Renters build their landlord’s wealth.

Whether you’re a homeowner or an investor, real estate builds wealth through growing equity year-over-year. If you own, your household is gaining the benefit of that wealth accumulation. Fleming says:

The major financial advantage of homeownership is the accumulation of equity in the form of house price appreciation . . . . We have to take into account the fact that the shelter that you’re owning is an equity-generating or wealth-generating asset.”

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, elaborates in a recent article:

“. . . once the home is purchased, appreciation helps build equity in the home, and becomes a benefit rather than a cost. When accounting for the appreciation benefit in our rent versus own analysis, it was cheaper to own in every one of the top 50 markets, including the two most expensive rental markets, San Francisco and San Jose, Calif.”

Today, that equity buildup is substantial. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports:

“The median sales price of single-family existing homes rose in 99% of measured metro areas in the second quarter of 2021 compared to one year ago, with double-digit price gains in 94% of markets.”

In 94% of markets, there was a greater than 10% increase in median price. That means if you bought a $400,000 home in one of those markets, your net worth increased by at least $40,000. If you rented, the landlord was the recipient of the wealth increase.

Bottom Line

For many reasons, housing demand is still extremely strong. What we need is more supply (house listings) to meet that demand.

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What Does Being in a Sellers’ Market Mean?

Whether or not you’ve been following the real estate industry lately, there’s a good chance you’ve heard we’re in a serious sellers’ market. But what does that really mean? And why are conditions today so good for people who want to list their house?

It starts with the number of houses available for sale. The latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows housing supply is still astonishingly low. Today, we have a 2.6-month supply of homes at the current sales pace. Historically, a 6-month supply is necessary for a ‘normal’ or ‘neutral’ market in which there are enough homes available for active buyers (see graph below):What Does Being in a Sellers’ Market Mean? | Simplifying The MarketWhen the supply of houses for sale is as low as it is right now, it’s much harder for buyers to find homes to purchase. That creates increased competition among purchasers which leads to more bidding wars. And if buyers know they may be entering a bidding war, they’re going to do their best to submit a very attractive offer. As this happens, home prices rise, and sellers are in the best position to negotiate deals that meet their ideal terms.

Right now, there are many buyers who are ready, willing, and able to purchase a home. Low mortgage rates and the ongoing rise in remote work have prompted buyers to think differently about where they live – and they’re taking action. If you put your house on the market while supply is still low, it will likely get a lot of attention from competitive buyers.

Bottom Line

Today’s ultimate sellers’ market holds great opportunities for homeowners ready to make a move. Listing your house now will maximize your exposure to serious buyers who will actively compete against each other to purchase it. Let’s connect to discuss how to jumpstart the selling process.

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A Look at Home Price Appreciation and What It Means for Sellers

When you hear the phrase home price appreciation, what does it mean to you? Through context clues alone, chances are you know it has to do with rising home prices. And as a seller, you know rising home prices are good news for your potential sale. But let’s look past the dollar signs and dive deeper into the concept. To truly understand home price appreciation, you need to know how it works and why it matters to you.

Investopedia defines appreciation like this:

Appreciation, in general terms, is an increase in the value of an asset over time. The increase can occur for a number of reasons, including increased demand or weakening supply, or as a result of changes in inflation or interest rates. This is the opposite of depreciation, which is a decrease in value over time.” 

When we consider this definition and how it applies to real estate, a few words stick out: supply and demand. In today’s real estate market, we’re experiencing high buyer demand and very few sellers listing their homes for sale (see maps below):A Look at Home Price Appreciation and What It Means for Sellers | Simplifying The MarketNo matter the industry, anytime there’s more demand than supply, prices naturally rise. It happens because buyers are willing to pay more to secure the scarce product or service they’re looking for. That’s exactly what’s happening in today’s real estate market. Buyers are competing with one another to purchase a home, leading to bidding wars that drive prices up. For sellers, the rising prices mean that opportunity is knocking.

According to Quicken Loans, the national average home price appreciation rate is between 3-5% in a typical year. Today, home prices are appreciating well beyond the norm thanks to high demand. Here are the latest expert projections on the rate of home price appreciation for this year (see chart below):A Look at Home Price Appreciation and What It Means for Sellers | Simplifying The Market

Compared to the normal pace of 3-5% appreciation per year, the current average forecast of nearly 11.5% is significant.

For sellers, this means that with the current rise in prices, your house may be worth more than you realize. That price appreciation helps give your equity a boost. Equity is the difference between what you owe on the home and its market value based on factors like price appreciation. It works like this (see chart below):A Look at Home Price Appreciation and What It Means for Sellers | Simplifying The MarketYou can use your built-up equity to power a move into your dream home, or you can put it toward life-changing goals like funding an education or opening a business.

But don’t wait. While price appreciation is strong now, those same experts say it’ll start to appreciate at a more normalized pace next year. If you list your house sooner rather than later, you’ll be in a better position to capitalize on the higher-than-average home price appreciation we’re seeing today.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of selling your house, there really is no time like the present. Let’s connect so you can get an expert market analysis of your home and its potential.

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Looking for a Place To Call Home? Consider a Condominium.

It’s no secret that one of the top stories in today’s real estate market is low housing supply and high buyer demand. If you’re a first-time buyer looking for a starter home or are someone who’s interested in downsizing, it may be worth considering a condominium (condo) as a worthwhile option.

In fact, trends indicate condos are gaining popularity among buyers. In the latest Existing Homes Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the data shows condo sales rising throughout the first half of this year (see graph below):Looking for a Place To Call Home? Consider a Condominium. | Simplifying The MarketThere are a few reasons more and more people are opting to buy condos – the benefits of condo life can be quite compelling. Let’s explore the main perks to find out if a condo is a good fit for you.

Affordability

According to the NAR report, the median sales price of a condo is roughly $59,000 less than the median price of a single-family detached home (see graph below). This makes condos a great option for first-time homebuyers, those with limited down payment savings, or those looking to save money by downsizing.Looking for a Place To Call Home? Consider a Condominium. | Simplifying The Market

Maintenance

A recent article from BankRate adds low maintenance as another perk of a condo lifestyle. Generally, exterior maintenance for condos is handled by a Homeowner’s Association (HOA). This can include things like landscaping and upholding a certain standard of cleanliness and condition for walkways, siding, and roofs. If you’re looking for a lower-maintenance option or see the appeal in being hands-off with upkeep, condos may be a good choice for you. With exterior maintenance off your plate, you’ll have more time for yourself and your hobbies.

Amenities

You can use that free time to enjoy some of the value-adding features your condo community may have, which could include dog parks, pools, a rentable clubhouse and grilling area for events, and more. If being able to host or attend community social outings is important to you, condos may give you more opportunities to enjoy the company of your neighbors. As a bonus, some condos even have gyms and on-site security teams.

Ultimately, the choice is yours. Condos are great options that often come with various features and benefits that may be important for your lifestyle. Fannie Mae sums up the appeal nicely:

Condominiums, or condos, can be great alternatives to detached homes. City dwellers, singles, couples, seniors, and many others may find condos that suit their needs and budgets. Others may simply prefer low-maintenance living. Buyers who feel ‘priced out’ of homes may discover condos offer an affordable homeownership alternative.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a home, it may be time to consider a condo as an option. Let’s connect to explore if one would be a good fit for your homeownership needs.

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The Community and Economic Impacts of a Home Sale

If you’re thinking of buying or selling a house, chances are you’re focusing on the many extraordinary ways it’ll change your life. What you may not realize is that decision impacts people’s lives far beyond your own. Home purchases and sales are significant drivers of economic activity. They have a major impact on your community and the entire U.S. economy via the multiple industries and professionals that take part in the process.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) releases a report each year that highlights just how much economic activity a home sale generates. The chart below shows how the sale of both a newly built home and an existing home impact the economy:The Community and Economic Impacts of a Home Sale | Simplifying The MarketTo dive a level deeper, NAR also provides a detailed look at how that varies state-by-state for newly-built homes (see map below):The Community and Economic Impacts of a Home Sale | Simplifying The MarketAs you can see, a single home sale can have a massive effect on the overall economy. Ali Wolf, Chief Economist for Zonda, talks about this in a recent article, noting there’s a significant impact at each distinct phase of the transaction:

The housing market contributes to the economy in four main stages: during planning and land development, throughout the actual construction of the home, at the point of sale, and upon moving in.

When you buy or sell a home, you’re leaving a lasting impression on the community at large in addition to fulfilling your own needs. That’s because each stage of the process involves numerous contractors, specialists, lawyers, town and city officials, and so many other professionals. Every individual you work with, from your trusted real estate advisor to the architects who design new homes, has their own team of professionals involved behind the scenes.

Bottom Line

Homebuyers and sellers are economic drivers in their community and beyond. If you’re thinking of buying or selling, let’s connect today to start the process. It won’t just change your life; it’ll make a powerful impact on our entire community.

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Surprising Shift Favors Homeowners: Buyers Now Prefer Existing Homes

In April, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) posted an article, Home Buyers’ Preferences Shift Towards New Construction, which reported:

60% of people who were looking to buy a home in 2020 said they’d prefer new construction to an existing home.

However, it seems buyers are now shifting their preferences back to existing homes.

The latest Consumer Confidence Survey reveals the percentage of Americans planning to buy a home in the next six months is virtually the same as it was back in March. However, the percentage that plan to buy a newly constructed home is lower for that same period.

NAHB confirms this sentiment in their latest Housing Trends Report. The organization explains that existing homes are now the top preference among today’s buyers. Here’s a breakdown of those findings:Surprising Shift Favors Homeowners: Buyers Now Prefer Existing Homes | Simplifying The Market

Why the shift?

There are several reasons why buyer preference is shifting. Here are two that impact purchasers looking to move in now:

  • The process may move faster. Builders may not be able to guarantee when the house will be complete and ready for move-in due to supply chain challenges with materials like lumber and appliances. If you buy an existing home, not only is it ready, it also likely has a refrigerator, range, and other necessary home appliances already.
  • There are no unexpected costs during the buying process. With the price of land, labor, and lumber being so volatile, many builders are including an escalation clause in the price negotiation to cover rising expenses. With an existing home, the final price you will pay is negotiated upfront.

Bottom Line

If you’re a homeowner looking to sell, your house is more attractive to a greater number of buyers as compared to earlier in the year. This might be the time for us to connect to discuss the possibility.

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Sellers: Make Today’s Home Price Appreciation Work for You

Home prices continue to rise as we move through the summer, and that’s good news for sellers who are looking to maximize their home’s potential. If you’re on the fence about whether to list your house now or later, the question you should really ask is: will this price appreciation last?

Here’s what three leading industry experts have to say about what lies ahead:

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“At a broad level, home prices are in no danger of a decline due to tight inventory conditions, but I do expect prices to appreciate at a slower pace by the end of the year.”

Selma Hepp, Deputy Chief Economist, CoreLogic:

“The imbalance between robust demand and dismal availability of for-sale homes has led to a continual bidding over asking prices, which reached record levels in recent months . . . . Nevertheless, with more new listings and new home construction, home price acceleration that has built momentum, and continues to reach new highs, will likely slow later this summer but remain in double digits.”

George Ratiu, Chief Economist, realtor.com:

Many sellers are going to take advantage of higher prices. This summer is going to signal the move to the next chapter, and this will very much be the year they’re going to put their home on the market.”

What It Means for You:

The experts agree that the summer months give sellers a great opportunity to capitalize on today’s home prices. And while prices aren’t expected to depreciate, the rise in prices is forecast to moderate over the next few years. That means selling your house today could set you up for a bigger win.

Bottom Line

Listen to the experts. If you’re ready to make a move, let’s connect to discuss selling your house sooner rather than later so you can take advantage of today’s home price appreciation before it moderates.

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4 Reasons Why the End of Forbearance Will Not Lead to a Wave of Foreclosures

With forbearance plans about to come to an end, many are concerned the housing market will experience a wave of foreclosures like what happened after the housing bubble 15 years ago. Here are four reasons why that won’t happen.

1. There are fewer homeowners in trouble this time

After the last housing crash, about 9.3 million households lost their home to a foreclosure, short sale, or because they simply gave it back to the bank.

As stay-at-home orders were issued early last year, the overwhelming fear was the pandemic would decimate the housing industry in a similar way. Many experts projected 30% of all mortgage holders would enter the forbearance program. Only 8.5% actually did, and that number is now down to 3.5%.

As of last Friday, the total number of mortgages still in forbearance stood at  1,863,000. That’s definitely a large number, but nowhere near 9.3 million.

2. Most of the 1.86M in forbearance have enough equity to sell their home

Of the 1.86 million homeowners currently in forbearance, 87% have at least 10% equity in their homes. The 10% equity number is important because it enables homeowners to sell their houses and pay the related expenses instead of facing the hit on their credit that a foreclosure or short sale would create.

The remaining 13% might not all have the option to sell, so if the entire 13% of the 1.86M homes went into foreclosure, that would total 241,800 mortgages. To give that number context, here are the annual foreclosure numbers of the three years leading up to the pandemic:

  • 2017: 314,220
  • 2018: 279,040
  • 2019: 277,520

The probable number of foreclosures coming out of the forbearance program is nowhere near the number of foreclosures coming out of the housing crash 15 years ago. The number does, however, draw a similar comparison to the three years prior to the pandemic.

3. The current market can absorb any listings coming to the market

When foreclosures hit the market in 2008, there was an excess supply of homes for sale. The situation is exactly the opposite today. In 2008, there was a 9-month supply of listings for sale. Today, that number stands at less than 3 months of inventory on the market.

As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains when addressing potential foreclosures emerging from the forbearance program:

“Any foreclosure increases will likely be quickly absorbed by the market. It will not lead to any price declines.”

4. Those in power will do whatever is necessary to prevent a wave of foreclosures

Just last Friday, the White House released a fact sheet explaining how homeowners with government-backed mortgages will be given further options to enable them to keep their homes when exiting forbearance. Here are two examples mentioned in the release:

  • “For homeowners who can resume their pre-pandemic monthly mortgage payment and where agencies have the authority, agencies will continue requiring mortgage servicers to offer options that allow borrowers to move missed payments to the end of the mortgage at no additional cost to the borrower.”
  • “The new steps the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are announcing will aim to provide homeowners with a roughly 25% reduction in borrowers’ monthly principal and interest (P&I) payments to ensure they can afford to remain in their homes and build equity long-term. This brings options for homeowners with mortgages backed by HUD, USDA, and VA closer in alignment with options for homeowners with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

When evaluating the four reasons above, it’s clear there won’t be a flood of foreclosures coming to the market as the forbearance program winds down.

Bottom Line

As Ivy Zelman, founder of the major housing market analytical firm Zelman & Associates, notes:

“The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent.”

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A Look at Housing Supply and What It Means for Sellers

One of the hottest topics of conversation in today’s real estate market is the shortage of available homes. Simply put, there are many more potential buyers than there are homes for sale. As a seller, you’ve likely heard that low supply is good news for you. It means your house will get more attention, and likely, more offers. But as life begins to return to normal, you may be wondering if that’s something that will change.

While it may be tempting to blame the pandemic for the current inventory shortage, the pandemic can’t take all the credit. While it did make some sellers hold off on listing their houses over the past year, the truth is the low supply of homes was years in the making. Let’s take a look at the root cause and what the future holds to uncover why now is still a great time to sell.

Where Did the Shortage Come From?

It’s not just today’s high buyer demand. Our low supply goes hand-in-hand with the number of new homes built over the past decades. According to Sam Khater, VP and Chief Economist at Freddie Mac:

“The main driver of the housing shortfall has been the long-term decline in the construction of single-family homes.”

Data in a recent report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) tells the same story. New home construction has been lagging behind the norm for quite some time. Historically, builders completed an average of 1.5 million new housing units per year. However, since the housing bubble in 2008, the level of new home construction has fallen off (see graph below):A Look at Housing Supply and What It Means for Sellers | Simplifying The MarketThe same NAR report elaborates on the impact of this below-average pace of construction:

. . . the underbuilding gap in the U.S. totaled more than 5.5 million housing units in the last 20 years.” 

“Looking ahead, in order to fill an underbuilding gap of approximately 5.5 million housing units during the next 10 years, while accounting for historical growth, new construction would need to accelerate to a pace that is well above the current trend, to more than 2 million housing units per year. . . .”

That means if we build even more new houses than the norm every year, it’ll still take a decade to close the underbuilding gap contributing to today’s supply-and-demand mix. Does that mean today’s ultimate sellers’ market is here to stay?

We’re already starting to see an increase in new home construction, which is great news. But newly built homes can’t bridge the supply gap we’re facing right now on their own. In the State of the Nation’s Housing 2021 Report, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) says:

“…Although part of the answer to the nation’s housing shortage, new construction can only do so much to ease short-term supply constraints. To meet today’s strong demand, more existing single-family homes must come on the market.

Early Indicators Show More Existing-Home Inventory Is on Its Way

When we look at existing homes, the latest reports signal that housing supply is growing gradually month-over-month. This uptick in existing homes for sale shows things are beginning to shift. Based on recent data, Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, has this to say:

“It looks like existing inventory is starting to inch up, which is good news for a housing market parched for more supply.”

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, echoes that sentiment:

“As the inventory is beginning to pick up ever so modestly, we are still facing a housing shortage, but we may have turned a corner.”

So, what does all of this mean for you? Just because life is starting to return to normal, it doesn’t mean you missed out on the best time to sell. It’s not too late to take advantage of today’s sellers’ market and use rising equity and low interest rates to make your next move.

Bottom Line

It’s still a great time to sell. Even though housing supply is starting to trend up, it’s still hovering near historic lows. Let’s connect to discuss how you can list your house now and use the inventory shortage to get the best possible terms for you.

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3 Hot Topics in the Housing Market Right Now

If you’re a prospective buyer or seller, it’s important to understand the current real estate market conditions and how they affect you. The Counselors of Real Estate (CRE) just released its Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate report. Here are three hot topics from the list and how they impact today’s housing market.

Technology Acceleration and Innovation

The past year ushered in many changes to the real estate industry, especially when it comes to technology. The CRE report elaborates on this:

“Lockdown-driven changes in our work, in the economy, in social structures, and in our personal behavior have pushed our reluctance aside. The acceleration and adoption of technology during the pandemic has impacted everything, and real estate is no exception.

For real estate, innovations like digital documentation, virtual tours, and video chat enable agents to connect with clients no matter their location. These options are ideal for prospective buyers and sellers who aren’t local to the area or those that need the added flexibility signing documents online or doing virtual tours provide. That’s why many trusted real estate advisors will continue to use these technologies moving forward to best serve their clients.

Remote Work and Mobility

Working from home became the reality for many individuals during the pandemic, and the latest list from the CRE identified remote work and mobility as an important influence on the real estate market. As the report notes:

the pandemic universally caused a movement away from urban cores, particularly for those with higher incomes who could afford to move and for lower-income individuals seeking lower costs of living. Most of these relocations remained within their original region—84%—and, while some are returning, it is unknown as to the permanence of these movements or whether they represent a true urban exodus.

With the added mobility remote work offers, where people are moving and where they can ultimately purchase a home is less dependent on a physical office location. This newfound flexibility is giving remote workers the opportunity to move to more affordable areas and buy more home for their money.

Housing Supply and Affordability

Finally, the limited supply of houses for sale and the related affordability challenges also makes CRE’s list of key factors this year:

“According to the National Association of Realtors®, the state of America’s housing inventory is dire, with a chronic shortage of affordable and available homes needed to support the nation’s population.”

There is good news. Homes are still more affordable than they have been historically thanks to today’s low mortgage rates. And while housing supply is still low, we’re seeing steady increases in the number of homes coming to market, which gives hope to homebuyers. As the supply of homes for sale improves, buyers will have more options.

Bottom Line

New technology, remote work, housing supply, and home affordability are key factors in the housing market right now for both buyers and sellers. If you want to better understand how these topics can impact you, let’s connect today.