Today, many people are asking themselves if they should buy or sell a home in 2020. Some have shifted their plans or put them on hold over the past couple of months, and understandably so. Everyone seems to be wondering if the market is going to change and when the economy will turn around. If you’re trying to figure out what’s going to happen and how to play your cards this year, you’re not alone. This spring in the 2020 NAR Flash Survey: Economic Pulse, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has been tracking the behavior changes of homebuyers and sellers. In a reaction to their most recent survey, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, noted the beginnings of a turn in the market:
“After a pause, home sellers are gearing up to list their properties with the reopening of the economy…Plenty of buyers also appear ready to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates and the stability that comes with these locked-in monthly payments into future years.”
What does the survey indicate about sellers?
Sellers are positioning themselves to make moves this year. More than 3 in 4 potential sellers are preparing to sell their homes as stay-at-home directives continue to be lifted and they feel more confident, which means more homes will start to be available for interested buyers.
Just this week, Zillow also reported an uptick in listings, which is great news for the health of the market:
“The number of new for-sale listings overall has shown improvement, up 5.9% last week from the previous week. New listings of the most-expensive homes…are now seeing the biggest resurgence, up 8%. The uptick is likely a sign sellers are feeling more confident because of improving buyer demand, as newly pending sales have also jumped up during the same period.”
What does the survey note about buyers?
The recent pandemic has clearly impacted buyer preferences, showing:
- 5% of the respondents said buyers are shifting their focus from urban to suburban areas.
- 1 in 8 Realtors report changes in desired home features, with home offices, bigger yards, and more space for their families becoming increasingly important.
- Only 17% said buyers stopped looking due to concerns about their employment or loss of a job.
If you’re thinking about putting your house on the market, let’s connect today. We can strategize about preparation and marketing when the timing is right for you. There’s a good chance an eager buyer is looking for a home just like yours when you’re ready to sell.
In the wake of COVID-19, many who live in more populated city limits today are beginning to rethink their current location. Being in close proximity to everything from the grocery store to local entertainment is definitely a perk, especially if you can also walk to some of these hot spots and have a short commute to work. The trade-off, however, is that highly populated cities can lack access to open space, a yard, and other desirable features. When it comes to social distancing, as we’ve experienced recently, the newest trend seems to be around re-evaluating a once-desired city lifestyle and trading it for suburban or rural living. George Ratiu, Senior Economist at Realtor.com notes:
“With the re-opening of the economy scheduled to be cautious, the impact on consumer preferences will likely shift buying behavior…consumers are already looking for larger homes, bigger yards, access to the outdoors and more separation from neighbors. As we move into the recovery stage, these preferences will play an important role in the type of homes consumers will want to buy. They will also play a role in the coming discussions on zoning and urban planning. While higher density has been a hallmark of urban development over the past decade, the pandemic may lead to a re-thinking of space allocation.”
The Harris Poll recently surveyed 2,000 Americans, and 39% of the respondents who live in urban areas indicated the COVID-19 crisis has caused them to consider moving to a less populated area.
Today, moving outside the city limits is also more feasible than ever, especially as Americans have quickly become more accustomed to, and more accepting of, remote work. The number of people working from home has also spiked considerably, even before the pandemic came into play this year.
If you have a home in the suburbs or a rural area, you may see an increasing number of buyers looking for a property like yours. If you’re thinking of buying and don’t mind a commute to work in exchange for a little elbow room, you may want to consider looking at homes for sale outside the city. Let’s connect today to discuss the options available in our area.
On May 8, the unemployment rate for April 2020 was released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. At 14.7%, the rate is the highest it has been since the Great Depression when it reached 24.9%. Today’s data represents real families and lives affected by the COVID-19 economic slowdown. Without a doubt, the numbers are alarming, and headlines broadcast doomsday scenarios that can, quite frankly, feel overwhelming. However, there is hope that as businesses reopen, most people will become employed again soon.
Although this chart appears to be daunting, the our next chart, labelled “U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Weekly Unemployment Filings in millions” shows another picture we must bear in mind. See below:
Looking over the last several weeks, the number of unemployment claims has decreased week-over-week since the beginning of April. Carlos Rodriguez, CEO of Automatic Data Processing (ADP) states based on what he is seeing:
He goes on to say that this doesn’t mean all companies are hiring, but it could mean they are at the point where they’re not cutting jobs anymore. Let’s hope this trend continues.
What will the future bring?
Most experts predict that while unemployment is high right now, it won’t be that way for long. The length of unemployment during this crisis is projected to be significantly shorter than the duration seen in the Great Recession and the Great Depression. While forecasts may be high, the numbers are trending down and the length of time is not expected to be indefinite.
Don’t let the headlines rattle you. There’s hope on the horizon as we start to safely reopen businesses throughout the country. Unemployment affects our families, our businesses, and our country. Our job is to rally around those impacted and do our part to support them through this difficult time.
For nearly two months, most of us have been following strict stay-at-home orders from our state and local governments. It is a whole new way of life that has put our daily lives on pause. On the other hand, many of us have also found a sense of comfort by slowing down and spending time at home, highlighting the feeling of security that comes with having a much-needed safe place for our families to live. The latest results of the Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS) provided by the U.S. Census Bureau shows how Americans place immense value in homeownership, and it is continuing to grow in the United States. The results indicate that the homeownership rate increased to 65.3% for the first quarter of 2020, a number that has been rising since 2016 and is the highest we’ve seen in eight years (see graph to the right):
Why is the rate increasing? The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) explained:
“Strong owner household formation with around 2.7 million homeowners added in the first quarter has driven up the homeownership rate, especially under the decreasing mortgage interest rates and strong new home sales and existing home sales in the first two months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the economy.”
The NAHB also emphasizes the year-over-year increase in each generational group:
“The homeownership rates among all age groups increased in the first quarter 2020. Households under 35, mostly first-time homebuyers, registered the largest gains, with the homeownership rate up 1.9 percentage points from a year ago. Households ages 35-44 experienced a 1.2 percentage points gain, followed by the 55-64 age group (a 0.9 percentage point increase), the 45-54 age group (a 0.8 percentage point gain), and the 65+ group age (up by 0.2 percentage point).” (See chart below)
Homeownership is an important part of the American dream especially in moments like this when many are feeling incredibly grateful for the home they have to shelter in place with their families. COVID-19 may be slowing our lives down, but it is showing us the emotional value of homeownership too.
If you’re considering buying a home this year, let’s connect to set a plan that will help you get one step closer to achieving your dream.
Given how we have seen more unemployment claims than ever before over the past several weeks, fear is spreading widely. Some good news, however, shows that more than 4 million initial unemployment filers have likely already found a new job, especially as industries such as health care, food and grocery stores, retail, delivery, and more increase their employment opportunities. Breaking down what unemployment means for homeownership, and understanding the significant equity Americans hold today, are important parts of seeing the picture clearly when sorting through this uncertainty.
One of the biggest questions right now is whether this historic unemployment rate will initiate a new surge of foreclosures in the market. It’s a very real fear. Despite the staggering number of claims, there are actually many reasons why we shouldn’t see a significant number of foreclosures like we did during the housing crash twelve years ago. The amount of equity homeowners have today is a leading differentiator in the current market. Today, according to John Burns Consulting, 58.7% of homes in the U.S. have at least 60% equity. That number is drastically different than it was in 2008 when the housing bubble burst. The last recession was painful, and when prices dipped, many found themselves owing more on their mortgage than what their homes were worth. Homeowners simply walked away at that point. Now, 42.1% of all homes in this country are mortgage-free, meaning they’re owned free and clear. Those homes are not at risk for foreclosure (see graph here):
In addition, CoreLogic notes the average equity mortgaged homes have today is $177,000. That’s a significant amount that homeowners won’t be stepping away from, even in today’s economy (see chart below):
In essence, the amounts of equity homeowners have today positions them to be in a much better place than they were in 2008.
The fear and uncertainty we feel right now are very real, and this is not going to be easy. We can, however, see strength in our current market through homeowner equity that has not been there in the past. That may be a bright spark to help us make it through.
With businesses starting to slowly open back up again in some parts of the country, it’s important to understand how housing can have a major impact on the recovery of the U.S. economy. As we’ve mentioned before, buying a home is a driving financial force in this process. Today, many analysts believe one of the first things we’ll be able to safely bring back is the home building sector, creating more jobs and impacting local neighborhoods in a big way. According to Robert Dietz in The Eye on Housing:
“The pace of new home sales will post significant declines during the second quarter due to the impacts of higher unemployment and shutdown effects of much of the U.S. economy, including elements of the real estate sector in certain markets. However, given the momentum housing construction held at the start of 2020, the housing industry will help lead the economy in the eventual recovery.”
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) notes the impact new construction can have on the job market:
“Building 1,000 average single-family homes creates 2,900 full-time jobs and generates $110.96 million in taxes and fees for all levels of government to support police, firefighters and schools, according to NAHB’s National Impact of Home Building and Remodeling report.”
These employment opportunities, along with the home purchase, drive the economy in a major way. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently shared a report that notes the full economic impact of home sales. This report summarizes:
“The total economic impact of real estate related industries on the state economy, as well as the expenditures that result from a single home sale, including aspects like home construction costs, real estate brokerage, mortgage lending and title insurance.”
Here’s the breakdown of how the average home sale boosts the economy: As noted above in the circle on the right, the impact is almost double when you purchase new construction, given the sheer number of workers it requires to design, build, equip, and finalize the sale of the home. The NAHB paints a clear picture of these roles:
“The NAHB model shows that job creation through housing is broad-based. Building new homes and apartments generates jobs in industries that produce lumber, concrete, lighting fixtures, heating equipment and other products that go into a home remodeling project. Other jobs are generated in the process of transporting, storing and selling these products.
Additional jobs are generated for professionals such as architects, engineers, real estate agents, lawyers and accountants who provide services to home builders, home buyers and remodelers.”
The same NAR report also breaks down the average economic impact by state:
On an emotional level, what’s most important for today’s consumers to feel confident about is the safety component that goes into the process. Mitigating the risk of essential personnel at this moment in time is more crucial than ever as we all aim to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Fortunately, the NAHB has put immense effort into a plan that prioritizes the health and safety of home builders and contractors:
“This is why NAHB and construction industry partners have developed a Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Plan specifically tailored to construction job sites. The plan is customizable and covers areas that include manager and worker responsibilities, job site protective measures, cleaning and disinfecting, responding to exposure incidents, and OSHA record-keeping requirements.”
Buying a home is a substantial economic driver today, and as new construction is beginning to pick back up again, it will be an even stronger recovery force throughout the country. If you’re in a position to buy a home this year, you can have a significant impact on your local neighborhoods and safely make the move you’ve been waiting for. It’s a win-win.
A big challenge facing the housing industry is determining what impact the current pandemic may have on home values. Some buyers are hoping for major price reductions because the health crisis is straining the economy.
The price of any item, however, is determined by supply and demand, which is how many items are available in relation to how many consumers want to buy that item.
In residential real estate, the measurement used to decipher that ratio is called months supply of inventory. A normal market would have 6-7 months of inventory. Anything over seven months would be considered a buyers’ market, with downward pressure on prices. Anything under six months would indicate a sellers’ market, which would put upward pressure on prices.
Going into March of this year, the national supply stood at three months – a strong seller’s market. While buyer demand has decreased rather dramatically during the pandemic, the number of homes on the market has also decreased. The recently released Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed we currently have 3.4 months of inventory. This means homes should maintain their value during the pandemic.
What are the experts saying about the pace of home sales through the pandemic?
Here’s a look at what some experts recently reported on the matter:
“Supported by our analysis of home price dynamics through cycles and other periods of economic and housing disruption, we expect home price appreciation to decelerate from current levels in 2020, though easily remain in positive territory year over year given the beneficial factors of record-low inventories & a historically-low interest rate environment.”
“The fiscal stimulus provided by the CARES Act will mute the impact that the economic shock has on house prices. Additionally, forbearance and foreclosure mitigation programs will limit the fire sale contagion effect on house prices. We forecast house prices to fall 0.5 percentage points over the next four quarters. Two forces prevent a collapse in house prices. First, as we indicated in our earlier research report, U.S. housing markets face a large supply deficit. Second, population growth and pent up household formations provide a tailwind to housing demand. Price growth accelerates back towards a long-run trend of between 2 and 3% per year.”
“The housing supply remains at historically low levels, so house price growth is likely to slow, but it’s unlikely to go negative.”
Even though the economy has been placed on pause, it appears home prices should remain steady throughout the pandemic.
Through all the volatility in the economy right now, some have put their search for a home on hold, yet others have not. According to ShowingTime, the real estate industry’s leading showing management technology provider, buyers have started to reappear over the last several weeks. In the latest report, they revealed:
“The March ShowingTime Showing Index® recorded the first nationwide drop in showing traffic in eight months as communities responded to COVID-19. Early April data show signs of an upswing, however.”
Why would people be setting appointments to look at prospective homes when the process of purchasing a home has become more difficult with shelter-in-place orders throughout the country?
Here are three reasons for this uptick in activity:
- Some people need to move. Whether because of a death in the family, a new birth, divorce, the end of a lease, financial hardship or a job transfer, some families need to make a move as quickly as possible.
- Real estate agents across the country have become very innovative, utilizing technology that allows purchasers to virtually:
- View homes
- Meet with mortgage professionals
- Consult with their agent throughout the process
All of this can happen within the required safety protocols, so real estate professionals are continuing to help families make important moves.
- Buyers understand that mortgage rates are a key component when determining their monthly mortgage payments. Mortgage interest rates are very close to all-time lows and afford today’s purchaser the opportunity to save tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the loan.
Looking closely at the third reason, we can see that there’s a big difference between purchasing a house last December and purchasing one now (see chart below):
Many families have decided not to postpone their plans to purchase a home, even in these difficult times. If you need to make a move, let’s connect today so you have a trusted advisor to safely and professionally guide you through the process.
Last week, we discussed how most projections from financial institutions are calling for a quick V-shaped recovery from this economic downturn, and there’s research on previous post-pandemic recoveries to support that expectation.
In addition, we noted how there are some in the business community who believe we may instead be headed for a U-shaped recovery, where the return to previous levels of economic success won’t occur until the middle of next year. Yesterday, Reuters released a poll of U.S. and European economists which revealed that most surveyed are now leaning more toward a U-shaped recovery. Here are the results of that poll:
Why the disparity in thinking among different groups of economic experts?
The current situation makes it extremely difficult to project the future of the economy. Analysts normally look at economic data and compare it to previous slowdowns to create their projections. This situation, however, is anything but normal.
Today, analysts must incorporate data from three different sciences into their recovery equation:
1. Business Science – How has the economy rebounded from similar slowdowns in the past?
2. Health Science – When will COVID-19 be under control? Will there be another flareup of the virus this fall?
3. Social Science – After businesses are fully operational, how long will it take American consumers to return to normal consumption patterns? (Ex: going to the movies, attending a sporting event, or flying).
The challenge of accurately combining the three sciences into a single projection has created uncertainty, and it has led to a wide range of opinions on the timing of the recovery.
Right now, the vast majority of economists and analysts believe a full recovery will take anywhere from 6-18 months. No one truly knows the exact timetable, but it will be coming.
Many American businesses have been put on hold as the country handles with the worst pandemic in over one hundred years. As the states are deciding on the best strategy for slowly the spread of the virus and safely reopening, the big question is: How long will it take the economy to fully recover?
Let’s look at the possibilities. Here are the three types of recoveries that follow most economic slowdowns (the definitions are from the financial glossary at Market Business News):
- V-shaped recovery: an economic period in which the economy experiences a sharp decline. However, it is also a brief period of decline. There is a clear bottom (called a trough by economists) which does not last long. Then there is a strong recovery.
- U-shaped recovery: when the decline is more gradual, i.e., less severe. The recovery that follows starts off moderately and then picks up speed. The recovery could last 12-24 months.
- L-shaped recovery: a steep economic decline followed by a long period with no growth. When an economy is in an L-shaped recovery, getting back to where it was before the decline will take years.
What type of recovery will we see this time?
No one can answer this question with one hundred percent certainty. However, most top financial services firms are calling for a V-shaped recovery. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo Securities, and JP Morgan have all recently come out with projections that call for GDP to take a deep dive in the first half of the year but have a strong comeback in the second half.
Is there any research on recovery following a pandemic?
There have been two extensive studies done that look at how an economy has recovered from a pandemic in the past. Here are the conclusions they reached:
1. John Burns Consulting:
“Historical analysis showed us that pandemics are usually V-shaped (sharp recessions that recover quickly enough to provide little damage to home prices), and some very cutting-edge search engine analysis by our Information Management team showed the current slowdown is playing out similarly thus far.”
2. Harvard Business Review:
“It’s worth looking back at history to place the potential impact path of Covid-19 empirically. In fact, V-shapes monopolize the empirical landscape of prior shocks, including epidemics such as SARS, the 1968 H3N2 (“Hong Kong”) flu, 1958 H2N2 (“Asian”) flu, and 1918 Spanish flu.”
The research says we should experience a V-shaped recovery.
Does everyone agree it will be a ‘V’?
No. Some are concerned that, even when businesses are fully operational, the American public may be reluctant to jump right back in.
As Market Business News explains:
“In a typical V-shaped recovery, there is a huge shift in economic activity after the downturn and the trough. Growing consumer demand and spending drive the massive shift in economic activity.”
If consumer demand and spending do not come back as quickly as most expect it will, we may be heading for a U-shaped recovery.
In a message last Thursday, Chris Hyzy, Chief Investment Officer for Merrill and Bank of America Private Bank, agrees with other analysts who are expecting a resurgence in the economy later this year:
“We’re forecasting real economic growth of 30% for the U.S. in the 4th quarter of this year and 6.1% in 2021.”
His projection, however, calls for a U-shaped recovery based on concerns that consumers may not rush back in:
“After the steep plunge and bottoming out, a ‘U-shaped’ recovery should begin as consumer confidence slowly returns.”
The research indicates the recovery will be V-shaped, and most analysts agree. However, no one knows for sure how quickly Americans will get back to “normal” life. We will have to wait and see as the situation unfolds from state to state.