As we move into the latter half of the year, questions about what’s to come are top of mind for buyers and sellers. Near record-low mortgage rates coupled with rising home price appreciation kicked off a robust housing market in the first half of 2021, but what does the forecast tell us about what’s on the horizon?
Mortgage Rates Will Likely Increase, but Remain Low
Many experts are projecting a rise in interest rates. The latest Quarterly Forecast from Freddie Mac states:
“We forecast that mortgage rates will continue to rise through the end of next year. We estimate the 30-year fixed mortgage rate will average 3.4% in the fourth quarter of 2021, rising to 3.8% in the fourth quarter of 2022.”
However, even as mortgage rates rise, the anticipated increase is expected to be modest at most, and still well below historical averages. Rates remaining low is good news for homebuyers who are looking to maximize their purchasing power. The same report from Freddie Mac goes on to say:
“While higher mortgage rates will help slow the pace of home sales and moderate house price growth, we expect overall housing market activity will remain robust. Our forecast has total home sales, the sum of new and existing home sales, at 7.1 million in 2021….”
Home Price Appreciation Will Continue, but Price Growth Will Likely Slow
Joe Seydl, Senior Markets Economist at J.P. Morgan, projects home prices to continue rising as well, indicating buyers interested in purchasing a home should do so sooner rather than later. Waiting for rates or home prices to fall may not be wise:
“Homebuyers—interest rates are still historically low, though they are inching up. Housing prices have spiked during the last six-to-nine months, but we don’t expect them to fall soon, and we believe they are more likely to keep rising. If you are looking to purchase a new home, conditions now may be better than 12 months hence.”
Other experts remain optimistic about home prices, too. The graph below highlights 2021 home price forecasts from multiple industry leaders:
Inventory Remains a Challenge, but There’s Reason To Be Optimistic
Home prices are rising, but they should moderate as more housing inventory comes to market. George Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com, notes there are signs that we may see the current inventory challenges lessen, slowing the fast-paced home price appreciation and creating more choices for buyers:
“We have seen more new listings this year compared with 2020 in 11 of the last 13 weeks. The influx of new sellers over the last couple of months has been especially helpful in slowing price gains.”
New home starts are also showing signs of improvement, which further bolsters hopes of more options coming to market. Robert Dietz, Chief Economist at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), writes:
“As an indicator of the economic impact of housing, there are now 652,000 single-family homes under construction. This is 28% higher than a year ago.”
Finally, while it may not fundamentally change the market conditions we’re currently experiencing, another reason to be optimistic more homes might come to market: our improving economy. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, notes:
“A growing economy in the summer months has multiple implications for the housing market. Growing consumer confidence, a stronger labor market, and higher wages bode well for housing demand. While a growing economy and improving public health conditions may also spur hesitant existing owners to list their homes for sale, it’s unlikely to significantly ease the super sellers’ market conditions.”
Bottom Line: As we look at the forecast for prices, interest rates, inventory, and home sales, experts remain optimistic about what’s on the horizon for the second half of 2021. Let’s connect today to discuss how we can navigate the market together in the coming months.
The pandemic created a tremendous interest in vacation homes across the country. Throughout the last year, many people purchased second homes as a safe getaway from the challenges of the health crisis. With many professionals working from home and many students taking classes remotely, it made sense to see a migration away from cities and into counties with more vacation destinations.
The 2021 Vacation Home Counties Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that this increase in vacation home sales continues in 2021. The report examines sales in counties where “vacant seasonal, occasional, or recreational use housing account for at least 20% of the housing stock” and compares that data to the overall residential market.
Their findings show:
This coincides with data released by Zelman & Associates on the increase in sales of second homes throughout the country last year.
As the data above shows, there is still high demand for second getaway homes in 2021 even as the pandemic winds down. While we may see a rise in second-home sellers as life returns to normal, ongoing low supply and high demand will continue to provide those sellers with a good return on their investment.
Bottom Line: If you’re one of the many people who purchased a vacation home during the pandemic, you’re likely wondering what this means for you. If you’re considering selling that home as life returns to normal, you have options. There are still plenty of buyers in the market. If, on the other hand, you want to keep your second home, enjoy it! Current market conditions show that it’s a good ongoing investment.
It’s clear that consumers are concerned about how quickly home values are rising. Many people fear the speed of appreciation may lead to a crash in prices later this year. In fact, Google reports that the search for “When is the housing market going to crash?” has actually spiked 2450% over the past month.
In addition, Jim Dalrymple II of Inman News notes:
“One of the most noteworthy things that came up in Inman’s conversations with agents was that every single one said they’ve had conversations with clients about whether or not the market is heading into a bubble.”
To alleviate some of these concerns, let’s look at what several financial analysts are saying about the current residential real estate market. Within the last thirty days, four of the major financial services giants came to the same conclusion: the housing market is strong, and price appreciation will continue. Here are their statements on the issue:
Goldman Sachs’ Research Note on Housing:
“Strong demand for housing looks sustainable. Even before the pandemic, demographic tailwinds and historically-low mortgage rates had pushed demand to high levels. … consumer surveys indicate that household buying intentions are now the highest in 20 years. … As a result, the model projects double-digit price gains both this year and next.”
Joe Seydl, Senior Markets Economist, J.P.Morgan:
“Homebuyers—interest rates are still historically low, though they are inching up. Housing prices have spiked during the last six-to-nine months, but we don’t expect them to fall soon, and we believe they are more likely to keep rising. If you are looking to purchase a new home, conditions now may be better than 12 months hence.”
Morgan Stanley, Thoughts on the Market Podcast:
“Unlike 15 years ago, the euphoria in today’s home prices comes down to the simple logic of supply and demand. And we at Morgan Stanley conclude that this time the sector is on a sustainably, sturdy foundation . . . . This robust demand and highly challenged supply, along with tight mortgage lending standards, may continue to bode well for home prices. Higher interest rates and post pandemic moves could likely slow the pace of appreciation, but the upward trajectory remains very much on course.”
Merrill Lynch’s Capital Market Outlook:
“There are reasons to believe that this is likely to be an unusually long and strong housing expansion. Demand is very strong because the biggest demographic cohort in history is moving through the household-formation and peak home-buying stages of its life cycle. Coronavirus-related preference changes have also sharply boosted home buying demand. At the same time, supply is unusually tight, with available homes for sale at record-low levels. Double-digit price gains are rationing the supply.”
Bottom Line: If you’re concerned about making the decision to buy or sell right now, let’s connect to discuss what’s happening in our local market.
Homeowners ready to make a move are definitely in a great position to sell today. Housing inventory is incredibly low, driving up buyer competition. This gives homeowners leverage to sell for the best possible terms, and it’s fueling a steady rise in home prices.
In such a hot market, houses are selling quickly. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes are typically on the market for just 18 short days. Despite the speed and opportunity for sellers, there are still steps you can take to prep your house to shine so you get the greatest possible return.
1. Make Buyers Feel at Home
One of the ways to make this happen is to take time to declutter. Pack away any personal items like pictures, awards, and sentimental belongings. The more neutral and tidy the space, the easier it is for a buyer to picture themselves living there. According to the 2021 Profile of Home Staging by NAR:
“82% of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home.”
Not only will your house potentially attract the attention of more buyers and likely sell quickly, but the same report also notes:
“Eighteen percent of sellers’ agents said home staging increased the dollar value of a residence between 6% and 10%.”
As Jessica Lautz, Vice President of Demographics and Behavior Insights for NAR, says:
“Staging a home helps consumers see the full potential of a given space or property…It features the home in its best light and helps would-be buyers envision its various possibilities.”
2. Keep It Clean
On top of making an effort to declutter, it’s important to keep your house neat and clean. Before a buyer stops by, be sure to pick up toys, make the beds, and wash the dishes. This is one more way to reduce the number of things that can distract a buyer from the appeal of the home.
Ensure your home smells fresh and clean as well. Buyers will remember the smell of your house, and according to the same report from NAR, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms of the house to focus on if you want to attract more buyers.
3. Give Buyers Access
Buyers are less likely to make an offer on your house if they aren’t able to easily schedule a time to check it out. If your home is available anytime, that opens up more opportunities for multiple buyers to go from curious to eager. It also allows buyers on tight schedules to still get in to see your house.
While health continues to be a great concern throughout the country, it’s important to work with your agent to find the best safety measures and digital practices for your listing. This will drive visibility and create access options that also keep everyone in the process safe.
4. Price It Right
Even in a sellers’ market, it’s crucial to set your house at the right price to maximize selling potential. Pricing your house too high is actually a detriment to the sale. The goal is to drive high attention from competing buyers and let bidding wars push the final sales price up.
Work with your trusted real estate professional to determine the best list price for your house. Having an expert on your side in this process is truly essential.
Bottom Line: If you want to sell on your terms, in the least amount of time, and for the best price, today’s market sets the stage to make that happen. Let’s connect today to determine the best ways to maximize the sale of your house this year.
There has been a lot of discussion as to what will happen once the 2.3 million households currently in forbearance no longer have the protection of the program. Some assume there could potentially be millions of foreclosures ready to hit the market. However, there are four reasons that won’t happen.
1. Almost 50% Leave Forbearance Already Caught Up on Payments
According to the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), data through March 28 show that 48.9% of homeowners who have already left the program were current on their mortgage payments when they exited.
2. The Banks Don’t Want the Houses Back
Banks have learned lessons from the crash of 2008. Lending institutions don’t want the headaches of managing foreclosed properties. This time, they’re working with homeowners to help them stay in their homes.
As an example, about 50% of all mortgages are backed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA). In 2008, the FHFA offered 208,000 homeowners some form of Home Retention Action, which are options offered to a borrower who has the financial ability to enter a workout option and wants to stay in their home. Home retention options include temporary forbearances, repayment plans, loan modifications, or partial loan deferrals. These helped delinquent borrowers stay in their homes. Over the past year, the FHFA has offered that same protection to over one million homeowners.
Today, almost all lending institutions are working with their borrowers. The report from the MBA reveals that of those homeowners who have left forbearance,
The government also seems determined not to let individuals or families lose their homes. Bloomberg recently reported:
“Mortgage companies could face penalties if they don’t take steps to prevent a deluge of foreclosures that threatens to hit the housing market later this year, a U.S. regulator said. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) warning is tied to forbearance relief that’s allowed millions of borrowers to delay their mortgage payments due to the pandemic…mortgage servicers should start reaching out to affected homeowners now to advise them on ways they can modify their loans.”
The CFPB is proposing a new set of guidelines to ensure people will be able to retain their homes. Here are the major points in the proposal:
A final decision is yet to be made, and some do question whether the CFPB has the power to delay foreclosures. The entire report can be found here: Protections for Borrowers Affected by the COVID-19 Emergency Under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), Regulation X.
4. If All Else Fails, Homeowners Will Sell Their Homes Before a Foreclosure
Homeowners have record levels of equity today. According to the latest CoreLogic Home Equity Report, the average equity of mortgaged homes is currently $204,000. In addition, 38% of homes do not have a mortgage, so the level of equity available to today’s homeowners is significant.
Just like the banks, homeowners learned a lesson from the housing crash too.
“In the same way that grandparents and great grandparents were shaped by the Great Depression, much of the public today remembers the 2006 mortgage meltdown and the foreclosures, unemployment, and bank failures it created. No one with any sense wants to repeat that experience…and it may explain why so much real estate equity remains mortgage-free.”
What does that mean to the forbearance situation? According to Black Knight:
“Just one in ten homeowners in forbearance has less than 10% equity in their home, typically the minimum necessary to be able to sell through traditional real estate channels to avoid foreclosure.”
Bottom Line: The reports of massive foreclosures about to come to the market are highly exaggerated. As Ivy Zelman, Chief Executive Officer of Zelman & Associates with roughly 30 years of experience covering housing and housing-related industries, recently proclaimed:
“The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent.”
According to data from the most recent Origination Insight Report by Ellie Mae, the average FICO® score on closed loans reached 753 in February. As lending standards have tightened recently, many are concerned over whether or not their credit score is strong enough to qualify for a mortgage. While stricter lending standards could be a challenge for some, many buyers may be surprised by the options that are still available for borrowers with lower credit scores.
The fact that the average American has seen their credit score go up in recent years is a great sign of financial health. As someone’s score rises, they’re building toward a stronger financial future. As more Americans with strong credit enter the housing market, we see a natural increase in the FICO® score distribution of closed loans, as shown in the graph below:
If your credit score is below 750, it’s easy to see this data and fear that you may not be able to qualify for a mortgage. However, that’s not always the case. While the majority of borrowers right now do have a score above 750, there’s more to qualifying for a mortgage than just the credit score, and there are still options that allow people with lower credit scores to buy their dream home. Here’s what Experian, a global leader in consumer and business credit reporting, says:
There’s no doubt a higher credit score will give you more options and better terms when applying for a mortgage, especially when lending is tight like it is right now. When planning to buy a home, speaking to an expert about steps you can take to improve your credit score is essential so you’re in the best position possible. However, don’t rule yourself out if your score is less than perfect – today’s market is still full of opportunity.
Bottom Line: Don’t let assumptions about whether your credit score is strong enough put a premature end to your homeownership goals. Let’s connect today to discuss the options that are best for you.
The real estate market was on fire during the second half of 2020. Buyer demand was way up, and the supply of homes available for sale hit record lows. The price of anything is determined by the supply and demand ratio, so home prices skyrocketed last year. Dr. Lynn Fisher, Deputy Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) Division of Research and Statistics, explains:
“House prices nationwide recorded the largest annual and quarterly increase in the history of the FHFA Home Price Index. Low mortgage rates, pent up demand from homebuyers, and a limited housing supply propelled every region of the country to experience faster growth in 2020 compared to a year ago despite the pandemic.”
Here are the year-end home price appreciation numbers from the FHFA and two other prominent pricing indexes:
The past year was truly a remarkable time for homeowners as prices appreciated substantially. Lawrence Yun, Senior Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), reveals:
“A typical homeowner in 2020, just by being a homeowner, would have accumulated around $24,000 in housing wealth.”
What will happen with home prices this year?
Many experts believe buyer demand will soften somewhat as mortgage rates are poised to bump up slightly. Some also believe the inventory challenge will ease as more listings come to market this year.
Based on this, most forecasters anticipate we’ll see strong appreciation in 2021 – but not as strong as last year. Here are seven prominent groups and their projections:
Bottom Line: Home price appreciation will be strong this year, but it won’t reach the historic levels of 2020. Let’s connect if you’d like to find out what your house is currently worth in our local market.
Home values appreciated by about ten percent in 2020, and they’re forecast to appreciate by about five percent this year. This has some voicing concern that we may be in another housing bubble like the one we experienced a little over a decade ago. Here are three reasons why this market is totally different.
1. This time, housing supply is extremely limited
The price of any market item is determined by supply and demand. If supply is high and demand is low, prices normally decrease. If supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.
In real estate, supply and demand are measured in “months’ supply of inventory,” which is based on the number of current homes for sale compared to the number of buyers in the market. The normal months’ supply of inventory for the market is about 6 months. Anything above that defines a buyers’ market, indicating prices will soften. Anything below that defines a sellers’ market in which prices normally appreciate.
Between 2006 and 2008, the months’ supply of inventory increased from just over 5 months to 11 months. The months’ supply was over 7 months in twenty-seven of those thirty-six months, yet home values continued to rise.
Months’ inventory has been under 5 months for the last 3 years, under 4 for thirteen of the last fourteen months, under 3 for the last six months, and currently stands at 1.9 months – a historic low.
Remember, if supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.
2. This time, housing demand is real
During the housing boom in the mid-2000s, there was what Robert Schiller, a fellow at the Yale School of Management’s International Center for Finance, called “irrational exuberance.” The definition of the term is, “unfounded market optimism that lacks a real foundation of fundamental valuation, but instead rests on psychological factors.” Without considering historic market trends, people got caught up in the frenzy and bought houses based on an unrealistic belief that housing values would continue to escalate.
The mortgage industry fed into this craziness by making mortgage money available to just about anyone, as shown in the Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI) published by the Mortgage Bankers Association. The higher the index, the easier it is to get a mortgage; the lower the index, the more difficult it is to obtain one. Prior to the housing boom, the index stood just below 400. In 2006, the index hit an all-time high of over 868. Again, just about anyone could get a mortgage. Today, the index stands at 122.5, which is well below even the pre-boom level.
In the current real estate market, demand is real, not fabricated. Millennials, the largest generation in the country, have come of age to marry and have children, which are two major drivers for homeownership. The health crisis is also challenging every household to redefine the meaning of “home” and to re-evaluate whether their current home meets that new definition. This desire to own, coupled with historically low mortgage rates, makes purchasing a home today a strong, sound financial decision. Therefore, today’s demand is very real.
Remember, if supply is low and demand is high, prices naturally increase.
3. This time, households have plenty of equity
Again, during the housing boom, it wasn’t just purchasers who got caught up in the frenzy. Existing homeowners started using their homes like ATM machines. There was a wave of cash-out refinances, which enabled homeowners to leverage the equity in their homes. From 2005 through 2007, Americans pulled out $824 billion dollars in equity. That left many homeowners with little or no equity in their homes at a critical time. As prices began to drop, some homeowners found themselves in a negative equity situation where the mortgage was higher than the value of their home. Many defaulted on their payments, which led to an avalanche of foreclosures.
Today, the banks and the American people have shown they learned a valuable lesson from the housing crisis a little over a decade ago. Cash-out refinance volume over the last three years was less than a third of what it was compared to the 3 years leading up to the crash.
This conservative approach has created levels of equity never seen before. According to Census Bureau data, over 38% of owner-occupied housing units are owned ‘free and clear’ (without any mortgage). Also, ATTOM Data Solutions just released their fourth quarter 2020 U.S. Home Equity Report, which revealed:
“17.8 million residential properties in the United States were considered equity-rich, meaning that the combined estimated amount of loans secured by those properties was 50 percent or less of their estimated market value…The count of equity-rich properties in the fourth quarter of 2020 represented 30.2 percent, or about one in three, of the 59 million mortgaged homes in the United States.”
If we combine the 38% of homes that are owned free and clear with the 18.7% of all homes that have at least 50% equity (30.2% of the remaining 62% with a mortgage), we realize that 56.7% of all homes in this country have a minimum of 50% equity. That’s significantly better than the equity situation in 2008.
Bottom Line: This time, housing supply is at a historic low. Demand is real and rightly motivated. Even if there were to be a drop in prices, homeowners have enough equity to be able to weather a dip in home values. This is nothing like 2008. In fact, it’s the exact opposite.
The real estate market is expected to do very well in 2021, with mortgage rates that are hovering at historic lows and forecasted by experts to remain favorable throughout the year. One challenge to the housing industry, however, is the lack of homes available for sale today. Last week, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) released their Existing Home Sales Report, which shows that the inventory of homes for sale is currently at an all-time low. The report explains:
“Total housing inventory at the end of December totaled 1.07 million units, down 16.4% from November and down 23% from one year ago (1.39 million). Unsold inventory sits at an all-time low 1.9-month supply at the current sales pace, down from 2.3 months in November and down from the 3.0-month figure recorded in December 2019. NAR first began tracking the single-family home supply in 1982.” (See graph below):
What Does This Mean for You?
If You’re a Buyer:
Be patient during your home search. It may take time to find a home you love. Once you do, however, be ready to move forward quickly. Get pre-approved for a mortgage, be prepared to make a competitive offer from the start, and know that a shortage in inventory could mean you’ll enter a bidding war. Calculate just how far you’re willing to go to secure a home and lean on your real estate professional as an expert guide along the way. The good news is, more inventory is likely headed to the market soon, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, notes:
“To their credit, homebuilders and construction companies have increased efforts to build, with housing starts hitting an annual rate of near 1.7 million in December, with more focus on single-family homes…However, it will take vigorous new home construction in 2021 and in 2022 to adequately furnish the market to properly meet the demand.”
If You’re a Seller:
Realize that, in some ways, you’re in the driver’s seat. When there’s a shortage of an item at the same time there’s a strong demand for it, the seller is in a good position to negotiate the best possible terms. Whether it’s the price, moving date, possible repairs, or anything else, you’ll be able to request more from a potential purchaser at a time like this – especially if you have multiple interested buyers. Don’t be unreasonable, but understand you probably have the upper hand.
Bottom Line: The housing market will remain strong throughout 2021. Know what that means for you, whether you’re buying, selling, or doing both.
Historically low mortgage rates are a big motivator for homebuyers right now. In 2020 alone, rates hit new record-lows 16 times, and the trend continued into the early part of this year. Many hopeful homebuyers are now wondering if they should put their plans on hold and wait for the lowest rates imaginable. However, the reality is, acting sooner rather than later may be the actual win if you’re ready to buy a home.
According to Greg McBride, Chief Financial Analyst for Bankrate:
“As vaccines become more widely available and a return to normal starts to come into view, we’ll see mortgage rates bounce off the record lows.”
While only a slight increase in mortgage rates is projected for 2021, some experts believe they will start to rise. Over the past week, for example, the average mortgage rate ticked up slightly, reaching 2.79%. This is still incredibly low compared to the trends we’ve seen over time. According to Freddie Mac:
“Borrowers are smart to take advantage of these low rates now and will certainly benefit as a result.”
Here’s why. As mortgage rates rise, the increase impacts the overall cost of purchasing a home. The higher the rate, the higher your monthly mortgage payment, especially as home prices rise too. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, says:
“The forces behind the drop in rates have been shifting over the last few months and rates are poised to rise modestly this year. The combination of rising mortgage rates and increasing home prices will accelerate the decline in affordability and further squeeze potential homebuyers during the spring home sales season.”
What does this mean for buyers?
Right now, the inventory of houses for sale is also at a historic low, making it more challenging than normal to find a home to buy in many areas. As more buyers hit the market in the typically busy spring buying season, it may become even harder to find a home in the coming months. With this in mind, Len Keifer, Deputy Chief Economist for Freddie Mac, recommends taking advantage of both low mortgage rates and the opportunity to buy:
“If you’ve found a home that fits your needs at a price you can afford, it might be better to act now rather than wait for future rate declines that may never come and a future that likely holds very tight inventory.”
Bottom Line: While today’s low mortgage rates provide great opportunities for homebuyers, we may not see them stick around forever. If you’re ready to buy a home, let’s connect so you can take advantage of what today’s market has to offer.
This year will be remembered for many reasons, and optimism is one thing that’s been in short supply since the spring. We’re experiencing a global pandemic, social unrest, an economic downturn, and natural disasters, just to name a few. The challenges brought on by the health crisis have also forced many homeowners to reevaluate their space and what they need in a home going into 2021. So, experts are forecasting that next year is one in which we can be optimistic about real estate for three key reasons.
1. The Economy Is Expected to Continue Improving
Tim Duy from the University of Oregon puts it this way:
“There is nothing fundamentally ‘broken’ in the economy that needs to heal…there was no obvious financial bubble driving excessive activity in any one economic sector when the pandemic hit…With Covid-19 cases surging again, it is understandably hard to look optimistically to the other side of this winter…Don’t let the near-term challenges distract from the economic stage being set for next four years.”
2. Interest Rates Are Projected to Stay Low
In the latest projections from Freddie Mac, interest rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage are expected to remain at or near 3% next year. These low rates will continue to make homes more affordable, driving demand for housing in 2021.
3. Future Home Sales Are Forecasted to Grow
While the economy improves and interest rates remain low, homes are also expected to continue appreciating as more people buy in the coming year. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, says:
“We expect home sales in 2021 to come in 7.0% above 2020 levels, following a more normal seasonal trend and building momentum through the spring and sustaining the pace in the second half of the year.”
Bottom Line: Experts forecast that buyers and sellers are going to be active in 2021. If you’ve thought about buying or selling your home this year but have held off, now may be the time to take advantage of this market. Let’s connect to take the first step toward your new home today.
Tomorrow, Americans will decide our President for the next four years. That decision will have a major impact on many aspects of life in this country, but the residential real estate market will not be one of them.
Analysts will try to measure the impact feasible changes in regulations might have on housing, the effect of a possible first-time buyer program, and any number of other situations based on who wins. The housing market, however, will remain strong for four reasons:
1. Demand Is Strong among Millennials: The nation’s largest generation began entering the housing market last year as they reached the age to marry and have children – two key drivers of homeownership. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported:
“Millennials, long viewed as perennial home renters who were reluctant or unable to buy, are now emerging as a driving force in the U.S. housing market’s recent recovery.”
2. Mortgage Rates Are Historically Low: All-time low interest rates are also driving demand across all generations. Strong demand created by this rate drop has countered other economic disruptions (e.g., pandemic, recession, record unemployment).
In addition, Freddie Mac just forecasted mortgage rates to remain low through next year:
“One of the main drivers of the strong housing recovery is historically low mortgage interest rates…Given weakness in the broader economy, the Federal Reserve’s signal that its policy rate will remain low until inflation picks up, and no signs of inflation, we forecast mortgage rates to remain flat over the next year. From the third quarter of 2020 through the end of 2021, we forecast mortgage rates to remain unchanged at 3%.”
3. Prices Continue to Appreciate: The continued lack of supply of existing homes for sale coupled with the surge in buyer demand has experts forecasting strong price appreciation over the next twelve months.
4. History Says So: Though it’s true that the market slows slightly in November when it’s a Presidential election year, the pace returns quickly. Here’s an explanation as to why from the Homebuilding Industry Report by BTIG:
“This may indicate that potential homebuyers may become more cautious in the face of national election uncertainty. This caution is temporary, and ultimately results in deferred sales, as the economy, jobs, interest rates and consumer confidence all have far more meaningful roles in the home purchase decision than a Presidential election result in the months that follow.”
Ali Wolf, Chief Economist for Meyers Research, also notes:
“History suggests that the slowdown is largely concentrated in the month of November. In fact, the year after a presidential election is the best of the four-year cycle. This suggests that demand for new housing is not lost because of election uncertainty, rather it gets pushed out to the following year as long as the economy stays on track.”
Bottom Line: There’s no doubt this is one of the most contentious presidential elections in our nation’s history. The outcome will have a major impact on many sectors of the economy. However, as Matthew Speakman, an economist at Zillow, explained last week:
“While the path of the overall economy is likely to be most directly dictated by coronavirus-related and political developments in the coming months, recent trends suggest that the housing market – which has basically withstood every pandemic-related challenge to this point – will continue its strong momentum in the months to come.”
Earlier this year when the nation pressed pause on the economy and unemployment rates jumped up significantly, many homeowners were immediately concerned about being able to pay their mortgages, and understandably so. To assist in this challenging time, two protection plans were put into place to help support those in need.
First, there was a pause placed on initiating foreclosures for government-backed loans. This plan started on March 18, 2020, and it extends at least through December 31, 2020. Second, homeowners were able to obtain forbearance for up to 180 days, followed by a potential extension for up to another 180 days. This way, there is a relief period in which homeowners have the opportunity to halt payments on their mortgages for up to one year.
Not Everyone Understands Their Options
The challenge, according to Matt Hulstein, Staff Attorney at non-profit Chicago Volunteer Legal Services, is, “A lot of homeowners aren’t aware of this option.”
There’s definitely traction behind this statement. In a recent survey by The National Housing Resource Center, housing counselors from across the country noted that many homeowners really don’t know that there is help available. The following graph indicates the reasons why people who are in this challenging situation are not choosing to enter forbearance:
The Urban Institute explained:
“530,000 homeowners who became delinquent after the pandemic began did not take advantage of forbearance, despite being eligible to ask for the plan…These responses reflect a need to provide better information to all homeowners. (Lump-sum payment is not the only repayment option.)
Additionally, 205,000 homeowners who did not extend their forbearance after its term ended in June or July became delinquent on their loans. We need to examine who these people are and why are they not extending their option.”
Clearly, a more focused effort on education about forbearance and relief programs may make a big difference for many people, and a clear understanding of their options is mission-critical. Some communities, however, have been impacted by the economic challenges of the pandemic more so than others, further confirming the need to deliver education more widely. The Urban Institute also indicates:
“Black and Hispanic homeowners have been hit harder than white homeowners…nearly 21 percent of both Black and Hispanic homeowners missed or deferred the previous month’s mortgage payment, compared with 10 percent of white homeowners and about 13 percent of all homeowners with payments due.”
It’s important to note that any homeowner experiencing financial hardship has the right to request forbearance. If you’re unfamiliar with the plans available, contact your mortgage provider (the company you send your mortgage payment to each month) to discuss your options. It is a necessary next step, as you may qualify for mortgage relief options or forbearance.
One option many homeowners may not realize they have is the ability to sell their house in this time of need. With the growing equity that homeowners have available today, making a move might be the best option to protect your financial future.
Bottom Line: If you need additional information on your options, you can review the Protect Your Investment guide from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Homeowner’s Guide to Success from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). For the majority of people, our home is the most important asset we have, and you should use all the help available right now to be able to preserve your investment.
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%.”
Bottom Line: 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.”
Last Friday, the Bureau for Labor Statistics released their Employment Report for August 2020. The big surprise was that the unemployment rate fell to 8.4%, a full percent lower than what many analysts had forecasted earlier in the week. Though it is tough to look at this as great news when millions of Americans are still without work, the number of unemployed is currently much lower than most experts had projected it would be just a few months ago.
Not Like the Great Depression or Even the Great Recession
Jason Furman, Professor of Practice at Harvard explained:
“An unemployment rate of 8.4% is much lower than most anyone would have thought it a few months ago. It is still a bad recession but not a historically unprecedented event or one we need to go back to the Great Depression for comparison.”
During the Great Depression, the unemployment rate was over 20% for four consecutive years (1932 – 1935). This April, the rate jumped to 14.7%, but has fallen each month since.
During and after the Great Recession (2007-2009), the unemployment rate was at 9% or greater for thirty consecutive months (April 2009 – October 2011). Most economists believe the current rate will continue to fall monthly as the economy regains its strength.
What Happens Going Forward?
The outcome will be determined by how quickly we can contain the virus. In their last Economic Forecasting Survey, the Wall Street Journal reported the economists surveyed believe the annual unemployment rates will be 6.6% in 2021 and 5.5% in 2022. Though that will still be greater than the 3.5% rate that we saw earlier this year, it is lower than the annual rate reported in 2011 (8.5%), 2012 (7.9%), and 2013 (6.7%).
Bottom Line: There are still millions of Americans struggling through this economic downturn. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. The unemployment situation did not get as bad as many had predicted, and the recovery is taking place faster than most thought would happen.
Homebuying has been on the rise over the past few months, with record-breaking sales powering through the market in June and July. Buyers are actively purchasing homes, and the momentum is continuing into the fall. It is, however, becoming harder for buyers to find homes to purchase. If you’ve been thinking about selling your house, the coming weeks might just be the timing you’ve been waiting for.
According to the Pending Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):
“Pending home sales in July achieved another month of positive contract activity, marking three consecutive months of growth.
The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator of home sales based on contract signings, rose 5.9% to 122.1 in July. Year-over-year, contract signings rose 15.5%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.”
This means that for the past several months, buyers have signed an increasing number of contracts to purchase homes – well above where the market was at this time last year. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR notes:
“We are witnessing a true V-shaped sales recovery as homebuyers continue their strong return to the housing market…Home sellers are seeing their homes go under contract in record time, with nine new contracts for every 10 new listings.”
Below is a graph that shows the impressive recovery of homes sales compared to previous years. The deep blue v marks the slowdown from this spring that turned into an exponential jump in sales that followed through the summer, skyrocketing above years past:
What Does This Mean for Sellers?If you were thinking about putting your house on the market in the spring, but decided to wait due to the health crisis, it may be time to make your move. Buyers are in the market right now. With so few homes available to purchase, homeowners today are experiencing more bidding wars, creating an optimal time to sell.
Is This Trend Going to Continue?As CNBC notes, there are no signs of slowing buyer demand this fall:
“The usual summer slowdown in the housing market is not happening this year. Buyers continue to show strong demand, spurred by the new stay-at-home world of the coronavirus and by record low mortgage rates.”
Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, concurred:
“In a typical year in the housing market, buyer interest begins to wane before seller interest causing the usual seasonal slowdown as we move into the fall. Due to a delayed spring season and low mortgage rates, we could see buyer interest extend longer than usual into the typically quieter fall. Whether this means more home sales will depend on whether sellers participate or decide to stay on the sidelines.”
As Hale mentioned, homeowners who are willing to sell their houses right now will play a big role in whether the trend continues. The market needs more homes to satisfy ongoing buyer demand. Maybe it’s time to leverage your equity and move up while eager home shoppers are ready to purchase a house just like yours.
Bottom Line: If your current home doesn’t meet your family’s changing needs, let’s connect to help you sell your house and make the move you’ve been waiting for all year.
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.
Bottom Line: 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.
Mortgage rates are low . Sometimes it helps to see the dollars and cents you’ll save when you purchase a home while mortgage rates are low. Today’s low rates mean it’s less expensive to borrow money, so the savings over the life of your loan is significant. Message me to determine the best way to position yourself for a financially-savvy move in today’s market.
Katie Tedesco is a FULL-TIME REALTOR® with Watson Realty Corp.