The New Normal

December 2020 - MVP - Social Media Image B

“2020 will be known for a lot of things, and a record-breaking year for real estate will certainly be one of its more unexpected legacies,” prominent economist Daryl Fairweather said.1 And he’s right: most of us would have expected the housing market to suffer from circumstances like a once-in-a-hundred-years pandemic and historic inventory shortages.

But, rather than a slowdown, we are continuing to experience a surprisingly robust real estate market across the country. And experts estimate that these conditions are likely to last well into the new year. Fannie Mae Senior VP and Chief Economist Doug Duncan predicts that existing home sales will ultimately “be up a percent or more in 2021.” He believes home prices will continue to rise due to limited inventory, but he is confident the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates low into the future, which will be “very good for households.”2

Market conditions like fewer available listings, changing criteria for desired homes, and record-low mortgage rates are changing the way people buy and sell homes, most likely in a lasting way. But this sustained activity, even in the uncertainty that is 2020, proves that our country still views real estate as a sound investment. The only question now is how you can take advantage of the housing market’s “new normal” in 2021?

FEWER LISTINGS = A SELLER’S MARKET

Inventory, meaning the number of homes for sale, is at a record low across the country. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports there are fewer homes on the market today than the association has seen in data going all the way back to 1982.3 Currently, the total housing inventory is about 1.47 million units, which is a decline of 19.2% from one year ago.4

Experts do predict some relief on the horizon. MarketWatch had previously anticipated housing starts would occur at a pace of 1.45 million and building permits would come in at a pace of 1.52 million.5 But it turns out that the market exceeded expectations: compared with last year, housing starts are up 11% and permitting for new homes occurred at a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 1.55 million. That represents a 5% increase from August and an 8% increase from a year ago.

For now, the fact that there are fewer listings creates an advantageous housing market for sellers. There are several reasons why.

For one, buyers have to act fast to snap up available homes. As a result, most properties that come on the market stay for an average of just 21 days before they are sold.6 “That is the fastest ever recorded in our monthly series,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

Another benefit is that sellers are enjoying higher net returns on their listings. This is thanks to the tough competition for homes, which often results in bidding wars between buyers. Nationwide, the median home price in September rose to $311,800. That translates to about $40,000 (15%) more than just a year ago.7

This seller’s market is not simply a product of the pandemic. In fact, in the country’s top 100 metro markets, inventory has been dwindling since the first quarter of 2020.8 This means that even with increased construction, buyers can’t simply wait for things to go back to normal before reentering the market. Rather, all signs indicate that this is the new normal.

What It Means for Homeowners: 

These higher home prices show that buyers are willing to spend more on a home right now than they did last year. So, if there ever were a time to list for top dollar—and expect to receive asking price quickly—that time is now. Ask us for a free consultation of your home’s value today.

What It Means for Homebuyers:

Due to low inventory, buyers could easily find themselves in a bidding war. Time is of the essence in a seller’s market, so you’ll need to get your financing in order and be preapproved for a loan before you begin your home search. We can connect you with a trusted mortgage professional to get you started.

BUYERS BENEFIT FROM LOW MORTGAGE RATES AND A BIGGER PLAYING FIELD

Don’t worry, homebuyers. This “new normal” of real estate has benefits for you too.

For example, people used to base their next home purchase on how far the commute was to work or in which public school district it was. But now, thanks to the pandemic shifting the locus of jobs and work, they are free to consider what they need from a home to make it a place they truly want to be in as they work, teach, exercise, cook, and live.

Often, this equates to needing more space in different types of areas. Realtor.com consumer surveys show that people are desiring quieter neighborhoods, home offices, updated kitchens, and access to the great outdoors.9 The search for these criteria is driving residents out of densely populated metropolitan areas and into the suburbs.10 And this exodus from cities is good news for buyers: it opens up more possibilities for inventory that they could not have considered pre-pandemic.

Another advantage for buyers is the record-low mortgage rates. The average rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hit a record low in mid-October when rates fell to 2.81%. That’s the lowest since Freddie Mac began conducting the survey in 1971, and well below last year’s 3.69%.11 Similarly, a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage can be had for as low as 2.35% compared to 3.15% a year ago.

Thanks to these rates, buyers are afforded the opportunity to buy nearly $32,000 more home than they could one year ago, while keeping their monthly payment the same.12 So even though home prices are high now, it is currently more affordable to buy a home now than it was last year.

If you want to take advantage of these rock-bottom mortgage rates, you need to act fast. Though rates are projected to stay low, housing economists predict that the window of opportunity to get the best rate could be closing in the coming months. Mike Fratantoni, chief economist at the Mortgage Bankers Association, said he expects the average rate on a 30-year mortgage to rise to 3.5% by the end of 2021.13

What It Means for Homeowners:

Record-low mortgage rates offer you the opportunity to lower your monthly payment—or even take out some equity—with a refinance. With those additional funds, you could even choose to invest in a second home in a new desirable location. Reach out to us for a referral to a trusted mortgage professional or an agent in those markets.

What It Means for Homebuyers:

The time is now to determine how much home you can comfortably afford and make a plan to find it. We can set up a search for you to find homes that best meet your new needs, even if they’re in neighborhoods you wouldn’t have considered before.

A RECORD-SETTING YEAR FOR HOME SALES IS JUST THE BEGINNING

Despite the seemingly adverse buyer conditions, 2020 experienced a 14-year high number of home sales, NAR reports. Existing-home sales, which include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, rose 9.4% in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.54 million.14 That’s a 21% increase from a year ago!

Every region of the country has seen a surge in sales activity. According to George Ratiu, senior economist for Realtor.com, part of the reason for these continued sales is that the pandemic has created a paradigm shift in the patterns of real estate.15 For example, housing needs are typically resolved by late summer and early fall to coincide with the commencement of the new school year. With homeschooling and remote work, however, buyers have been freed to continue their home search into the traditionally slow winter months.

Another reason for the robust market is that Millennials are finally putting their money into homeownership. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the homeownership rate for 25-to-34-year-olds rose to 40.7% by the end of last year.16 This is significant because Millennials, the generation of people in their mid-20s to late-30s, currently surpasses Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation. As the remaining percentage of this group starts investing in homes in the near future, demand will persist.

All of these factors indicate that the housing market is poised to remain strong as we head into the new year. And as Jonathan Woloshin, head of U.S. real estate at UBS Global Wealth Management, believes, they could “buoy the housing market for years to come.”17

What It Means for Homeowners:

It’s tempting to believe that homes will basically sell themselves in a market like this. But we’re still seeing properties that are overpriced and under-marketed sit unsold. We can help you optimize the process of selling your home so you can get the best possible offer.

What It Means for Homebuyers:

Preparation is key to success in a seller’s market like this, but don’t let yourself become paralyzed. We are here to answer your questions and offer sound advice to guide you through all the options that are available to you.

REAL ESTATE IS A SAFE BET

Your other investments might have been on roller coasters this year, but the real estate market has been steady, competitive, and strong throughout. That makes it a good choice for your financial future.

National real estate numbers can give us a pulse on the market, but real estate happens in our own backyard. As your local market experts, we can help you understand the finer points of the market that impact sales and home values in your own neighborhood. 

If you’re considering buying or selling a home in 2021, contact us now to schedule a free consultation. We’ll work with you to develop an actionable plan to meet your goals.

Sources:

  1. Redfin – https://www.redfin.com/news/housing-market-news-september-2020/
  2. Housing Wire – https://www.housingwire.com/articles/fannie-maes-doug-duncan-offers-his-predictions-for-2021/
  3. CNBC – https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/22/september-existing-home-sales-jump-9point5percent.html
  4. NAHB – http://eyeonhousing.org/2020/10/existing-home-sales-surge-despite-record-low-supply
  5. MarketWatch – https://www.marketwatch.com/story/new-home-construction-slows-slightly-in-august-driven-by-pullback-in-multifamily-starts-2020-09-17
  6. National Association of Realtors – https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/existing-home-sales-soar-9-4-to-6-5-million-in-september
  7. Business Insider – https://www.businessinsider.com/how-2020-broke-the-housing-market-inventory-could-run-out-2020-9
  8. Forbes – https://www.forbes.com/sites/petertaylor/2020/10/11/covid-19-has-changed-the-housing-market-forever-heres-where-americans-are-moving-and-why/#74e7355761fe 
  9. Realtor.com – https://www.realtor.com/research/top-consumer-home-features-coronavirus/ 
  10. Wealth Advisor – https://www.thewealthadvisor.com/article/covid-19-has-changed-housing-market-forever-heres-where-americans-are-moving-and-why
  11. Washington Post –https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/10/15/30-year-mortgage-rate-drops-record-low/
  12. Forbes – https://www.forbes.com/advisor/mortgages/buying-a-home-low-mortgage-rates/
  13. BankRate – https://www.bankrate.com/mortgages/refinance-window-could-close-soon/
  14. National Association of Realtors – https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/existing-home-sales-soar-9-4-to-6-5-million-in-september
  15. Forbes – https://www.forbes.com/sites/petertaylor/2020/10/11/covid-19-has-changed-the-housing-market-forever-heres-where-americans-are-moving-and-why/#74e7355761fe
  16. TD Economics – https://economics.td.com/us-falling-mortgage#:~:text=The%20homeownership%20rate%20among%20millennials,47.7%25%20at%20a%20comparable%20age.&text=This%20means%20that%201.4%20million,that%20of%20the%20older%20generation
  17. Axios Media –https://www.axios.com/real-estate-market-819e3c85-3765-4014-91c0-b545be6d5935.html

December 2020 Market Update

Supply Down 48%; Contracts Up 35%
Eviction Moratorium to Expire 12/31

2020-12 Infographic

For Buyers:

Existing protections in place for homeowners during times of financial hardship have come to the forefront in 2020. While both renters and homeowners alike were struck with unemployment and loss of income this year, homeowners in particular were provided with more immediate relief and a pathway to recovery than their renting counterparts.  Case in point, there are few experts in the field predicting a foreclosure crisis for homeowners; however, there are many housing experts concerned about an eviction crisis for renters after the eviction moratorium ends December 31st. Under normal circumstances in Arizona a homeowner typically has to miss multiple monthly payments before the lender files a Notice of Trustee Sale, which then provides another 90 days for the homeowner to remediate the situation prior to foreclosure. However, a renter can be at risk of eviction within a few shorts weeks after missing a single rent payment depending on their landlord’s disposition and rental agreement.

The CARES Act extended another layer of protection for homeowners through forbearance, allowing them to postpone their payments in 3 month increments for up to a year without an effect on their credit. Many lenders have already put in place refinance options after forbearance for homeowners who have accumulated thousands of dollars in unpaid mortgage payments. There is no such plan for renters after the eviction moratorium. Their rents will be due in full and if they haven’t received rental assistance or sufficient unemployment benefits to cover the amount owed, they will be facing eviction and their credit will be affected.

So for those questioning whether or not purchasing a home is a good financial decision, the answer is yes.  The value of owning a home is not just in its market value, but in stabilizing monthly housing costs during a period of rising rents and the comfort of more protection during times of financial and job insecurity. Losing one’s home, whether rented or owned, is one of the most stressful things a human being can endure.

For Sellers:

If you are one of the many homeowners facing the end of a forbearance period sometime in the next 3-4 months, you have at least 5 options to remediate your situation. 1) STAY IN YOUR HOME and consult your retirement plan administrator about tapping into your retirement account without penalty until December 31st to cover your unpaid payments; 2) STAY IN YOUR HOME and consult a lender about refinancing your unpaid payments into a new loan; 3) MOVE OUT and rent your home for more than your mortgage payment to cover missed payments or replenish your retirement account; 4) MOVE OUT and consult a lender about acquiring a new loan on a more affordable home; 5) MOVE OUT and sell your home for more than your mortgage balance, walk away with your equity and credit intact to purchase another day.

None of these options were viable solutions for homeowners facing the 2008 housing crash 12 years ago.  These options are why there is little risk of a foreclosure crisis and price crash in 2021. Because population growth has consistently outpaced housing growth every year over the past 10 years, rents and values are projected to continue rising through 2021 in Greater Phoenix unless builders are able and willing to ramp up production at ludicrous speed. They are doing their best, but even 25,549 permits issued and 19,889 sales closed on brand new single family homes through October this year hasn’t proven to be enough to satisfy the level of demand for housing that has descended on Greater Phoenix. Sellers need not worry about their home values declining anytime soon.

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Contact the real estate experts at NextHome Valleywide in Chandler, AZ at 480-621-6828 for more information.  If you are currently looking to Buy or Sell a home in the Phoenix metro , Scottsdale or East Valley area and are not sure where to turn we can help! Search for homes at Valleywide.realestate where you can find single family homes, golf and lakefront properties, 55+ communities, townhomes and much more. Visit our blog at NextHome Valleywide for a monthly Phoenix Market Update.

November 2020 Market Update

Demand for Homes Up 36%
Rents Up 17% Since April

2020-11 Infographic

For Buyers:

The Rent vs. Buy scenario has become heavily in favor of buying over the last 5 months. Eviction moratoriums due to the pandemic have greatly reduced turnover rates in a rental market that is already short of supply. Lease rates on listings through the Arizona Regional MLS have increased 17% since April overall; and for a home between 1,500-2,000sf the median lease price in the 4th Quarter is $1,850 a month, up a whopping $255 from the 4th Quarter last year.  While leases have been rising, home values have also risen 16%; however declining interest rates have kept the monthly payments level. The median sales price for a 1,500-2,000sf home is currently $316,000, up $27,000 since April. Despite this 9% increase (assuming a $15,000-$30,000 investment and interest rate under 3%), purchasing a home could possibly save a renter hundreds of dollars on their monthly budget while simultaneously building equity and ensuring a level of stability in their housing cost.

For Sellers:

While many people are waiting for the final results of the 2020 election, at least one thing is for certain in Greater Phoenix. The housing market will not crash in 2021 regardless of the outcome. It may be hard to believe, but the new and resale housing markets don’t move quickly. Unlike the stock market where it takes a push of a button to sell a stock and record the price, it takes longer to sell a home between the marketing time and escrow process. In today’s market, it may take up to a week to negotiate an offer and another 30-45 days for the price to be publicly recorded. When a market weakens, it takes longer.

Supply in Greater Phoenix has been gradually shrinking for 6 years and was the driver behind price appreciation until the pandemic. To put things in perspective, the Arizona Regional MLS should seasonally have between 25,000-30,000 listings active at this time of year; as of November 9th there are under 8,600. That type of shortage doesn’t happen overnight and new construction will not be able to fill the gap quickly.  Listings Under Contract should seasonally have between 9,000-10,000 in escrow at this time of year; as of November 9th there are over 13,000. This level was reached in June and has stayed consistent for nearly 5 months. Even if demand were to scale back in 2021 and return to a normal level, the market would not see a massive drop in prices; just a slowing in appreciation.

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Contact the real estate experts at NextHome Valleywide in Chandler, AZ at 480-621-6828 for more information.  If you are currently looking to Buy or Sell a home in the Phoenix metro , Scottsdale or East Valley area and are not sure where to turn we can help! Search for homes at Valleywide.realestate where you can find single family homes, golf and lakefront properties, 55+ communities, townhomes and much more. Visit our blog at NextHome Valleywide for a monthly Phoenix Market Update.

October 2020 Market Update

Homes Under Contract Up 36%
Median Sale Price Up 18%

2020-10 Infographic

For Buyers:

A common complaint in the resale market is “there’s nothing for sale”. However from July through September, the Realtor® community added 30,340 brand new listings to the Arizona Regional MLS and sold 27,746, leaving just 8,203 remaining listings for sale. That makes this 3rd Quarter the 2nd best in Greater Phoenix history for closings, falling just 436 sales short of 2005. If that’s not impressive enough, there are another 13,502 properties currently under contract and scheduled to close in the next 30-45 days; up 36% from this time last year. With this information we can conclude that there is plenty for sale, but many listings are simply not in Active status longer than 24 hours in order to be counted. Getting the supply count to rise right now is like trying to fill a bathtub when the drain is wide open.

Over half of all listings that went under contract in the 3rd Quarter were Active for only 9 days or less prior to contract. To quote the movie “Spaceballs”, that’s ludicrous speed! As exhausting and stressful as it is for buyers and their agents, supply and demand measures indicate prices in Greater Phoenix will continue to rise well into 2021. Hopefully the short-term pain will lead to long-term gain for those who ultimately win a successful contract.

For Sellers:

Appreciation has accelerated significantly since June of this year. The median sale price is up 18% since last October, but the current measure of $329,900 is up 12% from where it was just 4 months ago at $295,000.  While that’s exciting for sellers, the speed at which homes are selling is causing some to worry they will not find somewhere to go after their home closes. As a result, Realtors® are dusting off rarely used seller contingency addendums stating that any accepted contract will be contingent on the seller finding a home them-
selves prior to close.

Compared to last year, sellers are asking 15-20% more for their homes in all price ranges between $150K-$500K. Between $500K-$1M, list prices are up 9-13% and 3-8% for price ranges over $1M. The highest percentage of sales over asking price in the last 30 days are occurring between $200K-$400K with a measure of 34-45%. While that’s a high percentage, it’s not the majority of sales. Most properties are still closing at or below asking price. However for those who did go over asking price under $400K, most winning bids were within $7,000 of list.

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY

Contact the real estate experts at NextHome Valleywide in Chandler, AZ at 480-621-6828 for more information.  If you are currently looking to Buy or Sell a home in the Phoenix metro , Scottsdale or East Valley area and are not sure where to turn we can help! Search for homes at Valleywide.realestate where you can find single family homes, golf and lakefront properties, 55+ communities, townhomes and much more. Visit our blog at NextHome Valleywide for a monthly Phoenix Market Update.

September 2020 Market Update

17% Spike in Contracts Over $600K
35% of Home Sales Over Asking

2020-09 Infographic

For Buyers:

The first few weeks of August saw a surprising 17% spike in listings under contract over $600K. This is highly unusual as typically contract activity declines in the 2nd half of the year, especially on the high end; but this is the year 2020 and it’s been full of surprises. What is causing this spike in buyer demand in the luxury market? Luxury sales are partially influenced by stock market performance and corporate profits. August was a good month for the stock market, but the 2nd quarter was not good for corporate profits at all. In fact, they fell to levels we haven’t seen in a decade. The answer may lie in what’s been dubbed “wealth flight”. Some states like California are considering increases in income taxes, corporate taxes and a new “wealth tax” in the wake of the pandemic. As a result, the threat of new taxes on already hurting balance sheets is enough for companies and their employees to make the decision to move. This, coupled with the work-from-home movement, is fueling demand in Metro Phoenix where taxes and the cost of housing are comparatively more affordable than other cities.

For buyers waiting for prices to decline, there is no indication of that happening soon despite apocalyptic predictions of another foreclosure wave; at least not while the Valley has a net increase in population moving to the area. A reasonable expectation over the next year is that prices will continue to rise sharply in the short term, then possibly rise slower if affordability rates begin to suffer. The only beam of hope for buyers right now is a boost in new construction.

For Sellers:

For at least 12 years, builders have been reluctant to ramp up production of new housing supply to accommodate population growth; which is understandable considering they were burned severely when the housing market crashed in 2008. This reluctance has led the market to our current shortage of homes for sale and a frenzy of competition for existing resale homes. However, last July saw over 3,000 single family permits filed; the largest number filed in a month since March 2007. This should provide some much needed relief for buyers and some added competition for sellers in the coming months. While exciting, this increase in new home permits is not alarming. The biggest month recorded was July 2004 with 6,291 permits filed.

That said, 35% of homes closed through the Arizona Regional MLS in August sold over asking price. As incredible as that sounds, this isn’t the first time Greater Phoenix has seen this measure spike. In fact, 2005, 2009 and 2012 all saw higher percentages; each peak was short-lived over the course of just 2-3 months before sharply dropping again. This is because as more sellers test market limits and ask for higher and higher prices, their likelihood of selling over asking price drops significantly.

DOWNLOAD YOUR COPY

Contact the real estate experts at NextHome Valleywide in Chandler, AZ at 480-621-6828 for more information.  If you are currently looking to Buy or Sell a home in the Phoenix metro , Scottsdale or East Valley area and are not sure where to turn we can help! Search for homes at Valleywide.realestate where you can find single family homes, golf and lakefront properties, 55+ communities, townhomes and much more. Visit our blog at NextHome Valleywide for a monthly Phoenix Market Update.