Today’s Buyers Are Serious about Purchasing a Home

Today’s homebuyers are not just talking about their plans, they’re actively engaged in the buying process – and they’re serious about it. A recent report by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) indicates:

“…. Of American adults considering a future home purchase in the second quarter of 2020, about half (49%) are not simply planning it, they are actively engaged in the process to find a home. That is a significantly higher share than the comparable figure a year ago (41%), which suggests that the COVID-19 crisis and its accompanying record-low mortgage rates have converted some prospective buyers into active buyers.”

It’s no surprise that buyers are out in full force today. Many Americans now need more space to work from home, and the current low mortgage rates are providing an extra boost of motivation to enter the housing market.

If you’re considering selling your house, know that today’s buyers are serious about making a move. Your opportunity to sell your house in a market with high demand is growing, especially as more millennials enter the housing market too. The same report also notes:

Of Millennials planning a home purchase in the next year, 57% are already actively searching for a home.”

Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, explains:

“When breaking down house-buying power by educational attainment for millennials in 2019, we find that the higher the education, the higher the household income, and the higher the house-buying power. In 2019, median house-buying power for millennials increased 16 percent relative to 2018.”

As demand for homes to buy grows and more millennials enter the market with growing buying power, the opportunity to sell your house grows too.

Bottom Line

Today’s buyers are serious ones and more millennials are helping to fuel that charge. So, if you’re considering selling your home, let’s connect today to determine your next steps in the process while buyers are actively looking.


Posted on August 5, 2020 at 5:44 am
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

Experts Weigh-In on the Remarkable Strength of the Housing Market

America has faced its share of challenges in 2020. A once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, a financial crisis leaving millions still unemployed, and an upcoming presidential election that may prove to be one of the most contentious in our nation’s history all continue to test this country in unimaginable ways.

Even with all of that uncertainty, the residential real estate market continues to show great resilience. Here’s a look at what the experts have said about the housing market over the past few weeks.

Ivy Zelman, CEO of Zelman & Associates:

“Whether in terms of pending contract activity or our proprietary buyer demand ratings, the various measures of demand captured in this month’s survey can only be described as shockingly strong, in spite of the resurgence in COVID-19 cases.”

Logan Mohtashami, Lead Housing Analyst at HousingWire:

“Existing home sales are still down year over year by 11.3%, but as crazy as this might sound, we have a shot at getting positive year-over-year growth…We may see an existing home sales print of 5,510,000 in 2020.”

Matthew Speakman, Zillow Economist:

“In a remarkable show of resilience, the housing market has stared the pandemic right in the eye and hasn’t blinked.”

Todd Teta, Chief Product Officer for ATTOM Data Solutions:

“The housing market across the United States pulled something of a high-wire act in the second quarter, surging forward despite the encroaching economic headwinds resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic.”

Ali Wolf, Chief Economist of Meyers Research:

“The housing recovery has been nothing short of remarkable. The expectation was that housing would be crushed. It was—for about two months—and then it came roaring back.”

Clare Trapasso, Senior News Editor of realtor.com:

“Despite the crippling and ongoing coronavirus pandemic, millions out of work, a recession, a national reckoning over systemic racism, and a highly contentious presidential election just around the corner, the residential real estate market is staging an astonishing rebound.”

Bill Banfield, EVP of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans:

“The pandemic has not stopped the consistent home price growth we have witnessed in recent years.”

Economic & Strategic Research Group at Fannie Mae:

Recent home purchase measures have continued to show remarkable strength, leading us to revise upward our home sales forecast, particularly over the third quarter. Similarly, we bumped up our expectations for home price growth and purchase mortgage originations.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American:

“It seems hard to deny that when one looks at many of the housing market statistics, a “V” shape is quite apparent.”

Bottom Line

The experts seem to agree that residential real estate is doing remarkably well. If you’re thinking of jumping into the housing market (whether buying or selling), this may be the perfect time.

 

 

 


Posted on August 3, 2020 at 2:19 pm
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

Will We See a Surge of Homebuyers Moving to the Suburbs?

As remote work continues on for many businesses and Americans weigh the risks of being in densely populated areas, will more people start to move out of bigger cities? Spending extra time at home and dreaming of more indoor and outdoor space is certainly sparking some interest among homebuyers. Early data shows an initial trend in this direction of moving from urban to suburban communities, but the question is: will the trend continue?

According to recent data from Zillow, there is a current surge in urban high-end listings in some larger metro areas. The month-over-month increase in these homes going on the market indicates more urban homeowners may be ready to make a move out of the city, particularly at the upper end of the market (See graph below):

Why are people starting to move out of larger cities?

With the ongoing health crisis, it’s no surprise that many people are starting to consider this shift. A July survey from HomeLight notes the top reasons people are actually moving today:

  1. More interior space
  2. Desire to own
  3. Move from city to suburbs
  4. More outdoor space

More space, proximity to fewer people, and a desire to own at a more affordable price point are highly desirable features in this new era, so the list makes sense.

John Burns Consulting notes:

“The trend is accelerating faster than anyone could have predicted. The need for more space is driving suburban migration.”

In addition, Sheryl Palmer, CEO of Taylor Morrison, a home building company, indicates:

“Most recently, we’re really seeing a pickup in folks saying they want more rural or suburban locations. Initially, there was a lot of talk about that, but it’s really coming through our buyers today.”

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) also shares:

“New home demand is improving in lower density markets, including small metro areas, rural markets and large metro exurbs, as people seek out larger homes and anticipate more flexibility for telework in the years ahead. Flight to the suburbs is real.” 

Will the shift pick up speed and continue on?

The question remains, will this interest in suburban and rural living continue? Some, like Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR) think the possibility is there, but it is still quite early to tell for sure. Yun notes:

“Homebuyers considering a move to the suburbs is a growing possibility after a decade of urban downtown revival…Greater work-from-home options and flexibility will likely remain beyond the virus and any forthcoming vaccine.”

While much of the energy behind this trend has largely been accelerated by the current health crisis, monitoring the momentum over time is critically important. Businesses are discovering new and innovative ways to function in remote environments, so the shift has the potential to stick. Much like the economic recovery, however, the long-term impact may hinge largely on the health situation throughout this country.

Bottom Line

Early data is showing a shift from urban to suburban markets, but keeping an eye on this trend will help us understand how it will ultimately play out. It may just be a temporary swing in a new direction until Americans once again feel a sense of comfort in the cities they’ve grown to love.

 

 


Posted on July 30, 2020 at 4:50 pm
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

Guidance and Support Are Key When Buying Your First Home

In June, the number of first-time homebuyers accounted for 35% of the existing homes sold, a trend that’s been building steadily throughout the year. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“The share of first-time buyers increased in March through June—right into the heart of the pandemic period and the surge in unemployment—and is now trending higher than the 29% to 32% average in past years since 2012.” (See graph below):

Why the rise in first-time homebuying?

NAR continues to say:

“The major factor is, arguably, low mortgage rates. As of the week ended July 16, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropped to 2.98%. With rates so low that are locked in under a 30-year mortgage, the typical mortgage payment, estimated at $1,036, has fallen below the median rent, at $1,045. For potential home buyers who were thinking of purchasing a home anyway before the pandemic outbreak and who are likely to remain employed, the low mortgage rate may be the clincher.”

Clearly, historically low mortgage rates are encouraging many to buy. With the average mortgage payment now estimated at a lower monthly cost than renting, it’s a great time for first-time homebuyers to enter the market. According to the Q2 2020 Housing Trends Report from the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB):

“Eighty-four percent of Gen Z’s planning to buy a home are first timers, compared to 68% of Millennials, 52% of Gen X’s, and 21% of Boomers. Looking at results by region shows that over 60% of prospective buyers in the Northeast and South are buying a home for the first time. The share is above 55% in the Midwest and West.”

There are, however, challenges for first-time buyers. A recent survey conducted by NeighborWorks America also notes that understanding the homebuying process may be the most significant barrier for many hopeful homeowners:

“Homeownership is a particular challenge for many, despite high levels of interest. Americans believe there are many benefits to homeownership and half of non-owners will seek information about the process in the next few years…a large share of non-owners say the process is too challenging and only a minority know where to find advice if they wanted it. And although many would seek the guidance of community and non-profit programs, only one in three non-owners are aware of such services.”

If you’re among the first-time homebuyers who feel the process is complicated, you’re not alone. If you’re not sure where to begin or you simply want help in figuring out how to save for a home, finding a trusted real estate advisor to work with is a critical step toward your success. A real estate professional can help you understand the process, review your current situation, and guide you with a plan to help you to feel confident when buying a home.

Bottom Line

If you’re interested in purchasing a home and need help getting started, let’s connect today so you can take advantage of the support available to guide you through each step of the way.

 


Posted on July 28, 2020 at 4:44 pm
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

Three of the Latest Reports Show Housing Market Is Strong

The residential real estate market is remaining resilient as the country still struggles to beat the COVID-19 pandemic. Three separate reports recently revealed how the housing market is still showing growth. Here’s a look at each one.

  1. Ivy Zelman’s Real Estate Broker Survey

The survey explains that purchaser demand remains strong:

“This month’s overall homebuyer demand rating…was easily the strongest sequential gain in our survey history…Strength continues to be led by the entry-level…While high-end demand is less robust in an absolute sense, there has also been relative improvement, with contacts attributing incremental improvement to the stock market’s rebound, record low mortgage rates and luxury customers trading out of high-priced cities.”

  1. The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index

The index reveals that builder confidence has returned to levels last seen prior to the pandemic:

“In a strong signal that the housing market is ready to lead a post-COVID economic recovery, builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes jumped 14 points to 72 in July, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). The HMI now stands at the solid pre-pandemic reading in March before the outbreak affected much of the nation.”

  1. The realtor.com Housing Market Recovery Index

This index leverages a weighted average of four key components of the housing industry, tracking each of the following:

  1. Housing Demand – Growth in online search activity
  2. Home Price – Growth in asking prices
  3. Housing Supply – Growth of new listings
  4. Pace of Sales – Difference in time-on-market

It then compares the current status “to the last week of January 2020 market trend, as a baseline for pre-COVID market growth. The overall index is set to 100 in this baseline period. The higher a market’s index value, the higher its recovery and vice versa.”

The latest results came in at 101, with realtor.com explaining:

“The U.S. Housing Market has recovered from the immediate disruption caused by the COVID pandemic and returned to January 2020 growth levels.”

Bottom Line

Real estate brokers, home builders, and industry data all agree that the housing market has surged back to pre-COVID levels, showing growth, strength, and incredible resilience.


Posted on July 27, 2020 at 3:43 pm
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

Home Sales Hit a Record-Setting Rebound

 

With a worldwide health crisis that drove a pause in the economy this year, the housing market was greatly impacted. Many have been eagerly awaiting some bright signs of a recovery. Based on the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), June hit a much-anticipated record-setting rebound to ignite that spark.

According to NARhome sales jumped 20.7% from May to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 4.72 million in June: 

“Existing-home sales rebounded at a record pace in June, showing strong signs of a market turnaround after three straight months of sales declines caused by the ongoing pandemic…Each of the four major regions achieved month-over-month growth.”

This significant rebound is a major boost for the housing market and the U.S. economy. According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR, the momentum has the potential to continue on, too:

“The sales recovery is strong, as buyers were eager to purchase homes and properties that they had been eyeing during the shutdown…This revitalization looks to be sustainable for many months ahead as long as mortgage rates remain low and job gains continue.”

With mortgage rates hitting an all-time low, dropping below 3% for the first time last week, potential homebuyers are poised to continue taking advantage of this historic opportunity to buy. This fierce competition among buyers is contributing to home price increases as well, as more buyers are finding themselves in bidding wars in this environment. The report also notes:

“The median existing-home price for all housing types in June was $295,300, up 3.5% from June 2019 ($285,400), as prices rose in every region. June’s national price increase marks 100 straight months of year-over-year gains.”

The graph above  shows home price increases by region, powered by low interest rates, pent-up demand, and a decline in inventory on the market:Yun also indicates:

“Home prices rose during the lockdown and could rise even further due to heavy buyer competition and a significant shortage of supply.”

Bottom Line

Buyers returning to the market is a great sign for the economy, as housing is still leading the way toward a recovery. If you’re ready to buy a home this year, let’s connect to make sure you have the best possible guide with you each step of the way.


Posted on July 23, 2020 at 4:17 pm
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

Two Reasons We Won’t See a Rush of Foreclosures This Fall

The health crisis we face as a country has led businesses all over the nation to reduce or discontinue their services altogether. This pause in the economy has greatly impacted the workforce and as a result, many people have been laid off or furloughed. Naturally, that would lead many to believe we might see a rush of foreclosures like we saw in 2008. The market today, however, is very different from 2008.

The concern of more foreclosures based on those that are out of work is one that we need to understand fully. There are two reasons we won’t see a rush of foreclosures this fall: forbearance extension options and strong homeowner equity.

  1. Forbearance Extension

Forbearance, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), is when your mortgage servicer or lender allows you to temporarily pay your mortgage at a lower payment or pause paying your mortgage.” This is an option for those who need immediate relief. In today’s economy, the CFPB has given homeowners a way to extend their forbearance, which will greatly assist those families who need it at this critical time.

Under the CARES Act, the CFPB notes:

 “If you experience financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic, you have a right to request and obtain a forbearance for up to 180 days. You also have the right to request and obtain an extension for up to another 180 days (for a total of up to 360 days).” 

  1. Strong Homeowner Equity

Equity is also working in favor of today’s homeowners. This savings is another reason why we won’t see substantial foreclosures in the near future. Today’s homeowners who are in forbearance actually have more equity in their homes than what the market experienced in 2008.

The Mortgage Monitor report from Black Knight indicates that of all active forbearances which are past due on their mortgage payment, 77% have at least 20% equity in their homes (See graph below):

Black Knight notes:

“The high level of equity provides options for homeowners, policymakers, mortgage investors and servicers in helping to avoid downstream foreclosure activity and default-related losses.”

Bottom Line

Many think we may see a rush of foreclosures this fall, but the facts just don’t add up in this case. Today’s real estate market is very different from 2008 when we saw many homeowners walk away when they owed more than their homes were worth. This time, equity is stronger and plans are in place to help those affected weather the storm.


Posted on July 22, 2020 at 8:33 pm
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

WHERE WILL THE HOUSING MARKET GO FROM HERE?

There’s one big question on every prospective buyer and seller’s mind right now. Where’s the market headed for the rest of the year?

There’s no denying this has been a tumultuous year for our country. But unlike the last time we saw an economic downturn, real estate is set up to help us out of it, not into it.

However, the current imbalance between buyer demand and low inventory puts the market in a peculiar place. Without more homes coming to market, real estate can’t play its role.

The biggest piece that’s holding sellers back is the unknown. Without an idea of what’s ahead, people will continue to sit on their hands until they feel safe.

This is where you need to step up because your communities need reassurance now. Here are the 3 topics that will help them understand where the market is headed this year.

Economic Recovery

What role will housing play?

The National Bureau of Economic Research officially announced that we’re in a recession, but that doesn’t mean what most people think.

According to the NBER, a recession is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, normally visible in production, employment, and other indicators.

The pandemic’s effects on businesses across the country have understandably led to slowed economic activity, but we’re already seeing signs projections of a recovery in the second half.

Moreover, a recent Wall Street Journal report found that more than 9 out of 10 economists surveyed believe the recovery has already begun this quarter or will begin in the third quarter of this year.

But the fear that’s holding many potential buyers and sellers back from moving forward with their initial plans is very real: they also think a housing crash will follow.

Mark Fleming, chief economist at First American, explained, Many still bear scars from the Great Recession and may expect the housing market to follow a similar trajectory in response to the coronavirus outbreak. But, there are distinct differences that indicate the housing market may follow a much different path.” 

More experts have echoed Fleming’s thoughts on housing, stating that the real estate market will most likely play the opposite role of what it did for the Great Recession. This time, it will help stimulate the economy and bring us out of a decline faster.

Is the Economic Recovery Already Underway? | Keeping Current Matters

While buying or selling a home provides both personal satisfaction and financial benefits, it’s equally important to let your clients know that it’s an economic stimulator too.

The market conditions that led to the housing collapse– overbuilt stock and risky mortgages- are the exact opposite of what we’re seeing today. Low-inventory and stricter lending practices have set real estate up to remain strong, despite our country’s economic fragility.

High Buyer Demand

This year is seeing more buyer interest than the last

While this year’s turbulence may have temporarily deterred some buyers from making a move, we’re seeing a steady increase coming back to market as businesses begin to reopen in some states.

A big piece of what’s driving buyers to act now is historically low mortgage rates, which greatly increases affordability.

According to Freddie Mac“Purchase demand activity is up over twenty percent from a year ago, the highest since January 2009. Mortgage rates have hit another record low due to declining inflationary pressures, putting many homebuyers in the buying mood.” 

This “buying mood” combined with low inventory is driving an increasingly competitive market. This puts sellers in a great position to sell fast and for a fair price. It also means buyers should be pre-approved and ready to act as soon as they find the home of their dreams.

Low Inventory

How to build seller confidence

While prospective buyers are returning to the market in masses, there’s still one piece of the equation that remains skeptical: sellers.

If inventory was low before the health crisis, it’s hit rock bottom. Understandably, many of those who were thinking of selling this year have put their plans on hold, with fear of the market’s future and the safety of their family top of mind.

But equity is growing. Home values are appreciating. And economists are forecasting that real estate will not only remain strong but help the economy out of this recession.

Real Estate Will Lead the Economic Recovery | Keeping Current Matters

This is the information you should be pushing out to your communities, especially while recession talk continues to feed the fear that we’re headed for another housing crisis.

“Sellers have yet to come back in full force, limiting the availability of homes for sale,” said Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research for realtor.com“Total active listings are declining from a year ago at a faster rate than observed in previous weeks, and this trend could worsen as buyers regain confidence and come back to the market before sellers.”

If you have prospective sellers that have put their plans on hold, regaining their confidence is key. First off, make sure you’re open and honest about the safety precautions you’re taking for all showings. If you have a plan, share it. This infographic is a great place to start.

Next, make sure they know demand for housing will only grow as states continue phased reopening. This puts sellers in a strong position to get their house sold quickly and easily, with more equity in their pocket to put into a new home.

Waiting could mean more homes coming to the market, which also means more competition among other sellers in the neighborhood. The sooner sellers take action, the better position they’ll be in to make sure their home stands out to buyers.

Bottom Line

The real estate forecast for the rest of the year varies in projections, but supply and demand will always determine prices. If supply remains low and demand continues to be fueled by low-interest rates, prices will continue to rise as most experts project.

But some people are still reluctant to open up their minds and their homes to the thought of selling. Without this piece of the equation, the market can’t play its part in our economic recovery.


Posted on July 21, 2020 at 5:36 pm
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

A Remarkable Recovery for the Housing Market

For months now the vast majority of Americans have been asking the same question: When will the economy turn around? Many experts have been saying the housing market will lead the way to a recovery, and today we’re seeing signs of that coming to light. With record-low mortgage rates driving high demand from potential buyers, homes are being purchased at an accelerating pace, and it’s keeping the housing market and the economy moving.

Here’s a look at what a few of the experts have to say about today’s astonishing recovery. In more than one instance, it’s being noted as truly remarkable.

Ali Wolf, Chief Economist, Meyers Research

“The housing recovery has been nothing short of remarkable…The expectation was that housing would be crushed. It was—for about two months—and then it came roaring back.”

Fannie Mae

“Recent home purchase measures have continued to show remarkable strength, leading us to revise upward our home sales forecast, particularly over the third quarter. Similarly, we bumped up our expectations for home price growth and purchase mortgage originations.”

Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research for realtor.com

“All-time low mortgage rates and easing job losses have boosted buyer confidence back to pre-pandemic levels.”

James Knightley, Chief International Economist, ING

“At face value this is remarkable given the scale of joblessness in the economy and the ongoing uncertainty relating to the path of Covid-19…The outlook for housing transactions, construction activity and employment in the sector is looking much better than what looked possible just a couple of months ago.”

Bottom Line 

The strength of the housing market is a bright spark in the economy and leading the way to what is truly being called a remarkable recovery throughout this country. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, maybe this is your year to make a move after all.


Posted on July 21, 2020 at 3:41 pm
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

Thinking of Selling Your House? Now May be the Right Time

Inventory is arguably the biggest challenge for buyers in today’s housing market. There are simply more buyers actively looking for homes to purchase than there are sellers selling them, so the scale is tipped in favor of the sellers.

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), total housing inventory is down 18.8% from one year ago. Inventory is well below what was available last year, and the houses that do come to the market are selling very quickly.

Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac notes:

“Simply put, new housing supply is not keeping up with rising demand. We estimate that the housing market is undersupplied by 3.3 million units, and the shortage is rising by about 300,000 units a year. More than half of all states have a housing shortage.”

Why is inventory so low?

There are many reasons why it’s hard to find a home to buy today, stemming from an undersupply of newly constructed homes to sellers pressing pause on their moving plans due to the current health pandemic. One of the key factors making it even more challenging, however, is the amount of time current homeowners are staying in their homes. There has truly been a fundamental shift in the market that started about 10 years ago: people are staying put longer, and it’s contributing to the shortage of houses for sale.

In the 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, NAR explained:

“In 2019, the median tenure for sellers was 10 years…After 2008, the median tenure in the home began to increase by one year each year. By 2011, the median tenure reached nine years, where it remained for three consecutive years, and jumped up again in 2014 to 10 years.”

As shown in the graph below, historical data indicates that staying in a home for 5-7 years used to be the norm, until the housing bubble burst. Since 2010, that length of time has trended upward, toward 9-10 years, largely due to homeowners aiming to recoup their equity:Thankfully, with the strength the market has gained over the last 10 years, today’s homeowners are in a much better equity position. Now is a fantastic time for homeowners who are ready to make a move to break the 10-year trend and sell their houses, especially while buyer demand is so high and inventory is so low. It’s a prime time to sell.

In addition, with today’s historically low interest rates, there’s an opportunity for sellers to maintain a low monthly payment while getting more house for their money. Think: move-up opportunity, more square footage, or finding the features they’re really looking for rather than doing costly renovations. With more new homes poised to enter the market this year, homeowners ready to make a move may have a golden opportunity to do so right now.

Bottom Line

There are simply not enough houses for sale today. If you’re ready to leverage your equity and sell your house, let’s connect today. It’s a great time to move while demand for homes to buy is extremely high.


Posted on July 20, 2020 at 3:58 pm
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

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