Buyers: Are You Ready for a Bidding War?

With businesses reopening throughout the country and some experts indicating early signs of a much-anticipated economic recovery, more homebuyers are actively entering the housing market this summer. Today, housing is truly driving the U.S. economy forward. With so many buyers looking for homes to purchase and so few houses for sale right now, there’s a disconnect between supply and demand. This imbalance is pushing home prices upward while driving more bidding wars and multiple-offer scenarios. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com explains:

“People are surprised that prices are rising, not falling, because in the last recession home prices fell, the difference this time is the severe shortage of homes for sale…We are seeing bigger price increases with [a limited] number of homes…That is likely to lead to more competition and potentially multiple offers and bidding wars.”

According to the recent Realtors Confidence Index (RCI) survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), this trend is growing:

“On average, there were about three offers on a home that closed in May, up from just about two in April 2020 and in May 2019 (2.3 offers).”

HousingWire also indicates:

“42% of homeowners who made a purchase during the January to May time period ended up in a bidding war, demonstrating the strong demand for homes amid low inventory.”

With more people returning to work we’ll continue to see the number of interested buyers increase. So, if you’re among the many people looking for a home to buy this summer, it’s important to ensure you have the right guidance from the start. This way, you make sure your offer stands out from the crowd when it really counts. Here are two tips to follow.

  1. Hire a Trusted Local Expert

A trusted local real estate professional matters more than ever right now, as noted in a recent survey shared by NAR. In fact, according to respondents, 54% of buyers and 62% of sellers indicated that “Particularly during the pandemic, a real estate agent’s guidance is especially valued.”

We’re not in a normal market. We are in one of the greatest health crises our nation has ever seen. The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the journey consumers must take to purchase a home. To successfully navigate the landscape today, you need a true expert on your side.

  1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage

When there are more buyers than sellers on the market, the process to find a home becomes much more challenging. One way to show you’re serious about buying a home is to work with a lender to get pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. With a pre-approval letter, sellers will see your true desire to buy this year, potentially helping your offer rise to the top.

Bottom Line

If this is the year you’re ready to buy, let’s connect to get the process started so you can make sure your offer is a strong one when the competition heats up.

 


Posted on July 13, 2020 at 4:32 pm
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

America Rank Real Estate Best Investment for 7 yr Running.

  • Real estate has outranked stocks, savings accounts, and gold as the best long-term investmentamong Americans for the past 7 years.
  • The belief in the stability of housing as a long-term investment remains strong, despite the many challenges our economy faces today.
  • Of the four listed, real estate is also the only investment you can also live in. That’s a big win!

 


Posted on July 10, 2020 at 2:51 pm
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

Not All Agents Are Created Equal.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In today’s fast-paced world where answers are just a Google search away, there are some who may question the benefits of hiring a real estate professional when selling a house. The reality is, the addition of more information can lead to more confusion. A real estate agent can be your essential guide, but truth be told, not all agents are created equal. Finding the right agent for you and your family should be your top priority when you’re ready to sell your house.

The right agent is the person who can truly walk you through the whole process, look out for your best interest, and seamlessly lead you through all the steps along the way. In today’s complex market, the way we execute real estate transactions is changing constantly, especially as more elements can be done virtually. Making sure you have the best advice on your side is more important than ever.

So, how do you choose the perfect agent?

It starts with trust. You must trust the advice this person is going to give you, and you’ll want to begin by making sure you’re connected to a true professional. An agent can’t give you perfect advice because it’s impossible to know exactly what’s going to happen at every turn – especially in this unique market. A true professional agent can, however, give you the best advice possible based on the information and situation at hand, helping you make the necessary adjustments and best decisions along the way. The right agent – the professional – will get you the best offer available. That’s exactly what you want and deserve.

What do you need to trust your agent to do?

  1. Navigate the Process

There are over 230 possible steps that take place during a successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, someone who knows what these actions are, to ensure you have a positive selling experience?

  1. Negotiate on Your Behalf

Today, hiring a trusted and talented negotiator could save you thousands, perhaps tens of thousands of dollars. Each step – from the buyer submitting an original offer, to the possible renegotiation of that offer after a home inspection, to the potential cancelation of the deal based on a troubled appraisal – you need someone who can keep the deal together until it closes.

  1. Price Your House Competitively

There’s so much information in the news and on the Internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates. How do you know what’s going on in our local area? Who do you turn to in order to competitively and correctly price your home at the beginning of the selling process?

Dave Ramsey, known as the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring a trusted professional who has a finger on the pulse of the market and is eager to help you learn will make your experience an informed and educated one. You need someone who’s going to tell you the truth, not just what they think you want to hear.

Bottom Line

Today’s real estate market is highly competitive. Having a trusted professional who’s been there before to guide you through the process is a simple step that will give you a huge advantage when you’re ready to sell your house. Let’s make it happen together.

 


Posted on July 9, 2020 at 10:19 pm
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

Best Time to Sell? When Competition Is at an All-Time Low

In a recent survey of home sellers by Qualtrics, 87% of respondents said they were concerned their home won’t sell because of the pandemic and resulting economic recession. Of the respondents, 51% said they are “seriously worried.” That concern seems reasonable considering the current condition of the economy. The data, however, is showing that home purchasers are still very active despite the disruptions American families have experienced this year.

The latest Existing Home Sales Report published by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that 340,000 single-family homes sold in this country last month. NAR’s most recent Pending Sales Report (homes going into contract) surpassed last month’s number by over 44%, which far exceeded analysts’ projections of 15%. ShowingTime reported that appointments to see homes (both virtually and in-person) have increased in every region of the country and are up 21.4% nationwide over the same time last year.

While buyer activity is surging, the number of listings has fallen to an all-time low. Zelman Associates, in their latest residential real estate report, revealed that housing inventory as a percentage of households has fallen to 1.2%, which is half of the long-term average and lower than any other time in our history.

Bidding Wars Heating Up Again

With buyer demand growing and the supply of available homes shrinking, purchasers are again finding themselves needing to outbid other buyers. NAR, in a recent blog post, revealed:

“On average, there were about three offers on a home that closed in May, up from just about two in April 2020 and in May 2019 (2.3 offers).”

Bidding wars guarantee houses sell quickly at a price near or even slightly over the listing price.

Seller Advice

Fully preparing your home for sale can make a considerable difference in the time it takes to sell it. You can help eliminate buyer objections before they arise by making necessary repairs and improvements, some of which are suggested below.

OUTDOORS

  • Spruce up your garden and lawn; trim shrubbery and replace dead plants
  • Yard and patio should be neat; outdoor furniture should be clean and in good shape
  • Clean or paint your front door – remember first impressions last the longest!
  • Manicure your front yard; make sure your driveway and entryway are free of clutter

EXTERIOR

  • Check that house numbers, mailbox, and exterior lighting are all in good condition
  • Touch up with fresh paint as needed
  • Inspect chimney for cracks or earthquake damage
  • Repair loose trim, drain pipes, and fencing
  • Clean stains and window screens

LIVING AREAS

  • Apply fresh paint as needed… think about brightening your interiors with neutral-toned paint
  • Clean carpets
  • Replace burnt out light bulbs
  • Clean the fireplace and remove smoke stains from the wall and mantle
  • Clean window coverings
  • Replace damaged window blinds

KITCHEN

  • Sinks, appliances, and counter tops should sparkle; remove any clutter
  • Clean the oven, range, and other appliances
  • Clean tile and grout; replace if necessary

BATHROOMS

  • Clean mirrors, glass, chrome, and porcelain surfaces
  • Replace shower curtain if necessary
  • Fix any faucet drips or leaks
  • Clean grout and caulking; replace if necessary

CLOSETS

  • Doors and drawers should open and close easily
  • Remove clutter; tidy up shelves and racks
  • Shoes and clothes should be neatly arranged

GARAGE

  • Remove clutter and tidy up the shelves
  • Clean the floor

OVERALL

  • Check the basics around the house. It takes just a minute to check all doors, windows and cabinets to make sure they don’t stick, squeak or are too loose
  • Clean your furnace and water heater so buyers know they are looking at a house that has been well maintained

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of selling, don’t be concerned about putting your house on the market right now. There’s no better time to sell an item than when demand for it is high and supply is low. It is exactly at that time when you will negotiate your best possible deal.


Posted on July 8, 2020 at 6:37 pm
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

Taking Advantage of Home buying Affordability in Today’s Market

Everyone is ready to buy a home at different times in their lives, and despite the health crisis, today is no exception. Understanding how affordability works and the main market factors that impact it may help those who are ready to buy a home narrow down their optimal window of time to make a purchase.

There are three main factors that go into determining how affordable homes are for buyers:

  1. Mortgage Rates
  2. Mortgage Payments as a Percentage of Income
  3. Home Prices

The National Association of Realtors (NAR), produces a Housing Affordability Index, which takes these three factors into account and determines an overall affordability score for housing. According to NAR, the index:

“…measures whether or not a typical family earns enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a typical home at the national and regional levels based on the most recent price and income data.”

Their methodology states:

“To interpret the indices, a value of 100 means that a family with the median income has exactly enough income to qualify for a mortgage on a median-priced home. An index above 100 signifies that family earning the median income has more than enough income to qualify for a mortgage loan on a median-priced home, assuming a 20 percent down payment.”

So, the higher the index, the more affordable it is to purchase a home. Here’s a graph of the index going back to 1990:The green bar represents today’s affordability. We can see that homes are more affordable now than they have been at any point since the housing crash when distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) dominated the market. Those properties were sold at large discounts not seen before in the housing market.

Why are homes so affordable today?

Although there are three factors that drive the overall equation, the one that’s playing the largest part in today’s homebuying affordability is historically low mortgage rates. Based on this primary factor, we can see that it is more affordable to buy a home today than at any time in the last seven years.

If you’re considering purchasing your first home or moving up to the one you’ve always hoped for, it’s important to understand how affordability plays into the overall cost of your home. With that in mind, buying while mortgage rates are as low as they are now may save you quite a bit of money over the life of your home loan.

Bottom Line

If you feel ready to buy, purchasing a home this season may save you significantly over time based on historic affordability trends. Let’s connect today to determine if now is the right time for you to make your move.

 

 


Posted on July 7, 2020 at 3:42 pm
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

Latest Unemployment Report: Great News…for the Most Part

 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest Employment Situation Summary last Thursday, and it again beat analysts’ expectations in a big way. The consensus was for 3,074,000 jobs to be added in June. The report revealed that 4,800,000 jobs were added. The unemployment rate fell to 11.1% from 13.3% last month. Again, excellent news as the unemployment rate fell for the second consecutive month. However, there’s still a long way to go before the economy fully recovers as 17.8 million Americans remain unemployed.

Here are two interesting insights on the report:

What about a supposed misclassification?

The BLS addressed this at length in a blog post last week, and concluded by saying:

“Regardless of the assumptions we might make about misclassification, the trend in the unemployment rate over the period in question is the same; the rate increased in March & April and eased in May.”

They specifically noted the issue in the latest report by explaining that if they adjusted the rate for the potential miscalculation, it would increase from 11.1% to 12.1% (which is lower than the adjusted rate of 16.4% last month). They went on to say:

“However, this represents the upper bound of our estimate of misclassification and probably overstates the size of the misclassification error.”

Does the shutdown of parts of the economy skew the unemployment numbers?

Because the uniqueness of 2020 impacts the employment situation in so many ways, each jobs report is now examined with a microscope to make sure the headlines generated by the report accurately convey what’s happening in the job market.

One such analysis is done by Jed Kolko, Chief Economist at Indeed. He believes the extraordinary number of people in the “temporary” unemployed category confuses the broader issue of how many people have permanently lost their job. He adjusts for this when calculating his “core unemployment rate” (which subtracts temporary layoffs and adds unemployed who didn’t search for a job recently).

The bad news is that his analysis reveals that the number of permanently unemployed is still rising (from 4.6% in April to 5.9% last month). The good news, however, is when you use his methodology to look back at the Great Recession, today’s “core unemployment rate” is significantly lower (5.9% versus 10.5% in April 2010).

Bottom Line

Last week’s jobs report was much better than most expected. However, we should remain cautious in our optimism. As the Wall Street Journal explained in their analysis of the jobs report:

“U.S. job growth surged last month, underscoring the economy’s capacity for a quick rebound if businesses continue to reopen and consumers regain confidence. A recent coronavirus spike, however, could undermine trends captured in the latest jobs report.”


Posted on July 6, 2020 at 3:34 pm
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

Is the Health Crisis Driving Buyers Out of Urban Areas?

The pandemic has caused consumers to re-examine the components that make up the “perfect home.” Many families are no longer comfortable with the locations and layouts of their existing homes. The allure of city life (more congested) seems to be giving way to either suburban or rural life (less congested). The fascination with an open floor plan seems to be fading as people are finding a need for more privacy while working from home.

Recently, news.com released a report that revealed how buyers’ views of listings are leaning heavily to more suburban and rural properties. Here are the year-over-year percentage increases in views per property type:

  • Urban – 7%
  • Suburban – 13%
  • Rural – 16%

In the report, Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research for realtor.com, gives these numbers some context:

“This migration to the suburbs is not a new trend, but it has become more pronounced. After several months of shelter-in-place orders, the desire to have more space and the potential for more people to work remotely are likely two of the factors contributing to the popularity of the burbs.”

Realtor Magazine also just reported that the desire to move is strongest in our city markets:

“Nearly 30% of respondents living in a high-density urban area say that the pandemic is prompting them to want to move by the end of the year…This is more than double the rate of those living in rural parts of the country, where residents are much more likely to stay put rather than to relocate.”

New Construction Also Seeing a Surge in Views

Since the pandemic has altered how consumers think about floor plans, builders are anticipating how future homes will change. In a recent press release by Zillow, it was explained that:

  • Builders believe as people spend more time at home during the pandemic, buyers are realizing which features of their homes are working and not working.
  • Homebuilders predict open-concept floor plans will be a thing of the past, as people now value more walls, doors, and overall privacy.
  • New construction, which offers the chance to personalize home features, saw its listing page views grow by 73% over last May.

The Virus is Even Impacting the Luxury Second-Home Market

It appears that COVID-19 is impacting the luxury market too. In an article released last week titled, Luxury Buyers Return to Market in Force, Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com reported:

“Stay at home orders and social distancing have put a new value on the extra space. We’re seeing this in the luxury market as well, which could mean there is renewed interest from high-end buyers to find a second-home that is within driving distance from their primary residence.

Much like the suburbs are gaining favor with home shoppers, second home markets are seeing increased interest from luxury buyers…Views of luxury properties accelerated 56% in The Hamptons, 28% in Palm Springs and 24% in Greenwich compared to January trends.”

Bottom Line

It appears that a percentage of people are preparing to leave many American cities. Some of these moves will be permanent, while others will be temporary (such as a getaway to a second home). In either case, many consumers are on the move. Real estate professionals are ready and willing to help in any way they can.


Posted on July 2, 2020 at 3:57 pm
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

A Historic Rebound for the Housing Market

Pending Home Sales increased by 44.3% in May, registering the highest month-over-month gain in the index since the National Association of Realtors (NAR) started tracking this metric in January 2001. So, what exactly are pending home sales, and why is this rebound so important?

According to NAR, the Pending Home Sales Index (PHS) is:

“A leading indicator of housing activity, measures housing contract activity, and is based on signed real estate contracts for existing single-family homes, condos, and co-ops. Because a home goes under contract a month or two before it is sold, the Pending Home Sales Index generally leads Existing-Home Sales by a month or two.”

In real estate, pending home sales is a key indicator in determining the strength of the housing market. As mentioned before, it measures how many existing homes went into contract in a specific month. When a buyer goes through the steps to purchase a home, the final one is the closing. On average, that happens about two months after the contract is signed, depending on how fast or slow the process takes in each state.

Why is this rebound important?

With the COVID-19 pandemic and a shutdown of the economy, we saw a steep two-month decline in the number of houses that went into contract. In May, however, that number increased dramatically (See graph below):This jump means buyers are back in the market and purchasing homes right now. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR mentioned:

“This has been a spectacular recovery for contract signings and goes to show the resiliency of American consumers and their evergreen desire for homeownership…This bounce back also speaks to how the housing sector could lead the way for a broader economic recovery.”

But in order to continue with this trend, we need more houses for sale on the market. Yun continues to say:

“More listings are continuously appearing as the economy reopens, helping with inventory choices…Still, more home construction is needed to counter the persistent underproduction of homes over the past decade.”

As we move through the year, we’ll see an increase in the number of houses being built. This will help combat a small portion of the inventory deficit. The lack of overall inventory, however, is still a challenge, and it is creating an opportunity for homeowners who are ready to sell. As the graph below shows, during the last 12 months, the supply of homes for sale has been decreasing year-over-year and is not keeping up with the demand from homebuyers.

Bottom Line

If you decided not to sell this spring due to the health crisis, maybe it’s time to jump back into the market while buyers are actively looking for homes. Let’s connect today to determine your best move forward.


Posted on July 1, 2020 at 4:47 pm
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

Are new homes going to be available this year?

 

In today’s economy, everyone seems to be searching for signs that a recovery is coming soon. Many experts agree that it may actually already be in motion or will be starting by the 3rd quarter of this year. With the housing market positioned to lead the way out of this recession, builder confidence might be a bright spark that gets the recovery fire started. The construction of new homes coming right around the corner is a huge part of that effort, and it may drive your opportunity to make a move this year.

According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB): 

“New home sales jumped in May, as housing demand was supported by low interest rates, a renewed household focus on housing, and rising demand in lower-density markets. Census and HUD estimated new home sales in May at a 676,000 seasonally adjusted annual pace, a 17% gain over April.” 

In addition, builder confidence is also rising, opening up opportunity for newly constructed homes in the market. The NAHB also notes:

“In a sign that housing stands poised to lead a post-pandemic economic recovery, builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes jumped 21 points to 58 in June, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). Any reading above 50 indicates a positive market.”


As noted above, this upward trend is supported by builders reporting an increase in demand for single-family homes in suburban neighborhoods with lower-density populations, a result of the COVID-19 health crisis.

Moreover, the most recent Monthly New Residential Construction Report from the U.S. Census indicates that authorized building permits for new residential construction increased by 14.4% month-over-month from April to May, and housing starts were also up 4.3% over the same time period. (See graph below):

Although housing permits and starts are both considerably lower than they were at this time last year, indicating the new construction market is still working on building its way back up, the trends are moving in the right direction when it comes to having an impact on the U.S. economy. They’re also poised to create the much-needed new homes for Americans to purchase in a time when inventory is so scarce.

Dean Mon, Chairman of the NAHB notes:

“As the nation reopens, housing is well-positioned to lead the economy forward…Inventory is tight, mortgage applications are increasing, interest rates are low and confidence is rising. And buyer traffic more than doubled in one month even as builders report growing online and phone inquiries stemming from the outbreak.”

The gap between homes to buy and the high demand from purchasers may be narrowed by new construction, and the data shows that these homes are on their way into the housing market.

So, if you’ve debated whether or not to sell your house this year because you’re not sure where to move, a newly-built home – designed to your specific liking – may be your answer.

Bottom Line

With new residential construction right around the corner, you can feel confident about selling your house and having a place to move into. Maybe it’s time to finally design the home you’ve always wanted. Let’s connect today to discuss selling your house while demand from eager buyers is high


Posted on July 1, 2020 at 6:12 am
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

What Are Experts Saying About the Rest of 2020?

One of the biggest questions on everyone’s minds these days is: What’s going to happen to the housing market in the second half of the year? Based on recent data on the economy, unemployment, real estate, and more, many economists are revising their forecasts for the remainder of 2020 – and the outlook is extremely encouraging. Here’s a look at what some experts have to say about key areas that will power the industry and the economy forward this year.

Mortgage Purchase Originations: Joel Kan, Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting, Mortgage Bankers Association

“The recovery in housing is happening faster than expected. We anticipated a drop off in Q3. But, we don’t think that’s the case anymore. We revised our Q3 numbers higher. Before, we predicted a 2 percent decline in purchase originations in 2020, now we think there will be 2 percent growth this year.”
Home Sales: Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors

“Sales completed in May reflect contract signings in March and April – during the strictest times of the pandemic lock down and hence the cyclical low point…Home sales will surely rise in the upcoming months with the economy reopening, and could even surpass one-year-ago figures in the second half of the year.”
Inventory: George Ratiu, Senior Economist, realtor.com

“We can project that the next few months will see a slow-yet-steady improvement in new inventory…we projected a stepped improvement for the May through August months, followed by a return to historical trend for the September through December time frame.”
Mortgage Rates: Freddie Mac

“Going forward, we forecast the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to remain low, falling to a yearly average of 3.4% in 2020 and 3.2% in 2021.”
New Construction: Doug Duncan, Chief Economist, Fannie Mae

“The weaker-than-expected single-family starts number may be a matter of timing, as single-family permits jumped by a stronger 11.9 percent. In addition, the number of authorized single-family units not yet started rose 5.4 percent to the second-highest level since 2008. This suggests that a significant acceleration in new construction will likely occur.”
Bottom Line
The experts are optimistic about the second half of the year. If you paused your 2020 real estate plans this spring, let’s connect today to determine how you can re-engage in the process.


Posted on June 29, 2020 at 4:37 pm
Sunita Merchia | Posted in Real Estate Blog |

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