The #1 Reason to List Your House Right Now

The #1 Reason to List Your House Right Now | Simplifying The Market

The success of the U.S. residential real estate market, like any other market, is determined by supply and demand. This means we need to look at how many potential purchasers are in the market versus the number of houses that are available to buy.

With early 2020 housing data now rolling in, it’s quite evident there are two big stories impacting this year’s residential real estate market:

1. Buyer demand is already extremely strong
2. Housing supply is at a historically low level

Demand

ShowingTime is a firm that compiles data from property showings scheduled across the country. The latest ShowingTime Showing Index reveals how showings have increased in each of the country’s four regions for five months in a row.

Supply

Move.com also just released information indicating that the number of homes currently for sale has declined rapidly and now sits at the lowest level in almost a decade. They explained,

“National housing inventory declined 13.6 percent in January, the steepest year-over-year decrease in more than 4 years, pushing the supply of for sale homes in the U.S. to its lowest level since realtor.com began tracking the data in 2012.”

In response to these numbers, Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, said,

“Homebuyers took advantage of low mortgage rates and stable listing prices to drive sales higher at the end of 2019, further depleting the already limited inventory of homes for sale. With fewer homes coming up for sale, we’ve hit another new low of for sale-listings in January.”

The decrease in inventory impacted every price range, too. Here’s a graph showing the data released by move.com:The #1 Reason to List Your House Right Now | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Since there’s a historic shortage of homes for sale, putting your home on the market today could drive an excellent price and give you additional negotiating leverage when selling your house. Let’s get together to determine if listing your house now is your best move.

Homeownership Rate on the Rise to a 6-Year High

Homeownership Rate on the Rise to a 6-Year High | Simplifying The Market

Regardless of the lack of inventory on the market, the U.S. homeownership rate has climbed to a 6-year high. The United States Census Bureau reported that it increased to 65.1% in the fourth quarter of 2019, representing the highest level in the past six years. See the graph below:
Homeownership Rate on the Rise to a 6-Year High | Simplifying The Market
This increase does not come as a surprise. According to realtor.com,

“The largest cohort of the millennial generation turns 30-years-old in 2020 and they are hitting the housing market in full force. At the end of the fourth quarter of 2019, millennials made up the largest generational segment of homebuyers, growing their share of home purchase mortgages to 48 percent.”

With so many Millennials entering a homebuying phase of life and getting into the market, the Millennial Report also explains,

“Homeownership is an even bigger goal for younger generations. Of those with savings, 41 percent of Gen Z and 40 percent of younger millennials are saving to buy a home.”

Today’s low interest rates are providing a break to new homeowners too, regardless of generation, making homeownership more desirable and achievable at the same time. Freddie Mac explains,

“The combination of very low mortgage rates, a strong economy and more positive financial market sentiment all point to home purchase demand continuing to rise over the next few months.”

The increase in homeownership rate was also represented by race and ethnicity of the householders. HousingWire explains,

“The homeownership rate for black Americans in 2019’s fourth quarter rose to 44%, a seven-year high, increasing from the record low it reached in 2019’s second quarter. The rate for Hispanic Americans was 48.1%, a two-year high, the Census data showed…The rate for white Americans was 73.7%, an eight-year high.”

See the graph below:Homeownership Rate on the Rise to a 6-Year High | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

If you’re considering buying a home this year, let’s get together to set a plan that will help you get one step closer to achieving your dream.

Strength of the Economy Is Surprising the Experts

Strength of the Economy Is Surprising the Experts | Simplifying The Market

We’re currently in the longest economic recovery in U.S. history. That has caused some to ask experts to project when the next economic slowdown (recession) could occur. Two years ago, 67% of the economists surveyed by the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) for the Economic Forecasting Survey predicted we would have a recession no later than the end of this year (2020). The same study done just three months ago showed more than one third of the economists still saw an economic slowdown right around the corner.

The news caused concern among consumers. This is evidenced by a recent survey done by realtor.com that shows 53% of home purchasers (first-time and repeat buyers) currently in the market believe a recession will occur by the end of this year.

Wait! It seems the experts are changing their minds….

Now, in an article earlier this month, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) revealed only 14.3% of those economists now believe we’re in danger of a recession occurring this year (see graph below):Strength of the Economy Is Surprising the Experts | Simplifying The MarketThe WSJ article strongly stated,

“The U.S. expansion, now in its 11th year, will continue through the 2020 presidential election with a healthy labor market backing it up, economists say.”

This optimism regarding the economy was repeated by others as well.

CNBC, quoting Goldman Sachs economists:

“Just months after almost everyone on Wall Street worried that a recession was just around the corner, Goldman Sachs said a downturn is unlikely over the next several years. In fact, the firm’s economists stopped just short of saying that the U.S. economy is recession-proof.”

Barron’s:

“When Barron’s gathers some of Wall Street’s best minds—as we do every January for our annual Roundtable—we expect some consensus, some disagreement…But the 10 veteran investors and economists who convened in New York on Jan. 6 at the Barron’s offices agree that there’s almost no chance of a recession this year.”

Washington Post:

“The U.S. economy is heading into 2020 at a pace of steady, sustained growth after a series of interest rate cuts and the apparent resolution of two trade-related threats mostly eliminated the risk of a recession.”

Robert A. Dye, Chief Economist at Comerica Bank:

“I expect that the U.S. economy will avoid a recession in 2020.”

Bottom Line

There probably won’t be a recession this year. That’s good news for you, whether you’re looking to buy or sell a home.

Where Have All the Houses Disappeared To?

Where Have All the Houses Disappeared To? | Simplifying The Market

If you’re following what’s happening in the current housing market, you’ve seen how the lack of newly constructed homes is a major reason there’s a shortage of housing inventory available to today’s buyers. Another reason is that the inventory of existing homes for sale is shrinking. According to the most recent Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), sales are up 10.8% from the same time last year. That exceeds expectations and is great news.

The troubling news from the report is that the sold inventory is not being replaced. As NAR explained,

“Total housing inventory at the end of December totaled 1.40 million units, down 14.6% from November and 8.5% from one year ago. Unsold inventory sits at a 3.0-month supply at the current sales pace, down from the 3.7-month figure recorded in both November and December 2018. Unsold inventory totals have dropped for seven consecutive months from year-ago levels, taking a toll on home sales.”

The situation was also addressed in a recent Zillow article stating,

“The number of for-sale homes in the U.S. is at its lowest point in at least seven years, and the shortage appears poised to get worse before it gets better.”

Bill McBride of Calculated Risk further noted,

“Inventory always decreases sharply in December as people take their homes off the market for the holidays. However, based on the data I’ve collected, this was the lowest level for inventory in at least three decades (the previous low was 1.43 million in December 1993).”

Why is inventory falling so dramatically? I thought the housing market had softened.

A year ago, that was the case – but the market shifted again. Skylar Olsen, Director of Economic Research at Zillow, explains,

“A year ago, a combination of a government shutdown, stock market slump and mortgage rate spike caused a long-anticipated inventory rise. That supposed boom turned out to be a short-lived mirage as buyers came back into the market and more than erased the inventory gains. As a natural reaction, the recent slowdown in home values looks like it’s set to reverse back to accelerating growth right as we head into home shopping season with demand outpacing supply.”

What does this mean if you’re a homeowner thinking of selling?

Now is a great time to consider putting your home on the market. The competition (number of houses on the market) has not been this low in decades. It’s best not to wait for the inventory (both existing homes and new construction) to increase in the spring, as it always does.

Bottom Line

The supply of homes for sale is at a historic low. Buyer demand is surprisingly strong. Now would be a great time to sell.

The #1 Reason It Is Difficult to Find Your Dream Home

The #1 Reason It Is Difficult to Find Your Dream Home | Simplifying The Market

The headlines in real estate today all revolve around one major point: there is a shortage of homes available for sale. Price appreciation is accelerating again because there is a shortage of homes available for sale. First-time buyers are taking longer to purchase a home because there is a shortage of homes available for sale in the lower price points. Boomers are staying in their current homes longer because there is a shortage of homes available for sale to which they would move. In certain markets, affordability is becoming more challenging because there is a shortage of homes available for sale.

What’s the major reason for this lack of housing inventory?

The issue was examined in a recent article by the National Home Builders Association (NAHB). In the article, Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for NAHB, explained:

“Home building in the 2010s was a story of the Long Recovery. After the Great Recession, the number of home builders declined significantly, and housing production was unable to meet buyer demand…Years of population and household formation growth, combined with relatively reduced levels of home building, have left the market with a critical supply shortage.”

Here are the single-family home construction starts by decade for the last six decades:The #1 Reason It Is Difficult to Find Your Dream Home | Simplifying The MarketObviously, there’s a current shortage of homes for sale because not enough houses were built over the last ten years. To add to the challenge, the U.S. population expanded by more than 20 million people during the 2010s.

Below is a graph showing the number of starts per every million in population. The last decade shows that starts per population were less than half the average of the previous five decades.The #1 Reason It Is Difficult to Find Your Dream Home | Simplifying The Market

There’s good news coming!

The NAHB article explains that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

How confident home builders are in the housing market is a great indicator of how much building is about to get started. The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair,” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average,” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as “good” than “poor.”

Here are the HMI readings going back to 2008:The #1 Reason It Is Difficult to Find Your Dream Home | Simplifying The MarketThe 2019 confidence reading of 76 was the highest since 1999. The January 2020 index came in one point lower at 75. These readings indicate we should see an increase in new residential construction in 2020. Just last week, NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde stated:

“Low interest rates and a healthy labor market combined with a need for additional inventory are setting the stage for further home building gains in 2020.”

The increase in housing starts has already begun. According to the January report from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, single‐family housing starts were up 11.2% and attained the highest level in thirteen years.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seller thinking of moving up or down, 2020 could be your year with more new construction homes coming to market.

Housing Inventory Vanishing: What Is the Impact on You?

Housing Inventory Vanishing: What Is the Impact on You? | Simplifying The Market

The real estate market is expected to do very well this year as mortgage rates remain at historic lows. One challenge to the housing industry is the lack of homes available for sale. Last week, move.com released a report showing that 2020 is beginning with the lowest available housing inventory in two years. The report explains:

“Last month saw the largest year-over-year decline of housing inventory in almost three years with a dramatic 12 percent decline, pushing the number of homes for sale in the U.S. to the lowest level since January 2018.”

The report also revealed that the decline in inventory stretches across all price points, as shown in the following graph:Housing Inventory Vanishing: What Is the Impact on You? | Simplifying The MarketGeorge Ratiu, Senior Economist at realtor.com, explains how this drop in available homes for sale comes at a time when more buyers are expected to enter the market:

“The market is struggling with a large housing undersupply just as 4.8 million millennials are reaching 30-years of age in 2020, a prime age for many to purchase their first home. The significant inventory drop…is a harbinger of the continuing imbalance expected to plague this year’s markets, as the number of homes for sale are poised to reach historically low levels.”

The question is: What does this mean to you?

If You’re a Buyer…

Be patient during your home search. It may take time to find a home you love. Once you do, however, be ready to move forward quickly. Get pre-approved for a mortgage, be ready to make a competitive offer from the start, and understand that a shortage in inventory could lead to the resurgence of bidding wars. Calculate just how far you’re willing to go to secure a home, if you truly love it.

If You’re a Seller…

Realize that, in some ways, you’re in the driver’s seat. When there is a shortage of an item at the same time there is a strong demand for that item, the seller of that item is in a good position to negotiate. Whether it is price, moving date, possible repairs, or anything else, you’ll be able to demand more from a potential purchaser at a time like this – especially if you have multiple interested buyers. Don’t be unreasonable, but understand you probably have the upper hand.

Bottom Line

The housing market will remain strong throughout 2020. Understand what that means to you, whether you’re buying, selling, or doing both.

Homes Are More Affordable Today, Not Less Affordable

Homes Are More Affordable Today, Not Less Affordable | Simplifying The Market

There’s a current narrative that owning a home today is less affordable than it has been in the past. The reason some are making this claim is because house prices have substantially increased over the last several years.

It’s not, however, just the price of a home that matters.

Homes, in most cases, are purchased with a mortgage. The current mortgage rate is a major component of the affordability equation. Mortgage rates have fallen by over a full percentage point since December 2018. Another major piece of the affordability equation is a buyer’s income. The median family income has risen by approximately 3% over the last year.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) releases a monthly Housing Affordability Index. The latest index shows that home affordability is better today than at almost any point over the last 30 years. The index determines how affordable homes are based on the following:

“A Home Affordability Index 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 of 120 signifies that a family earning the median income has 20 percent more than the level of income needed pay the mortgage on a median-priced home, assuming a 20 percent down payment so that the monthly payment and interest will not exceed 25 percent of this level of income (qualifying income).”

The higher the index, therefore, the more affordable homes are. Here is a graph showing the index since 1990:Homes Are More Affordable Today, Not Less Affordable | Simplifying The MarketObviously, affordability was better during the housing crash when distressed properties – foreclosures and short sales – sold at major discounts (2009-2015). Outside of that period, however, homes are more affordable today than any other year since 1990, except for 2016.

The report on the index also includes a section that calculates the mortgage payment on a median priced home as a percentage of the median national income. Historically, that percentage is just above 21%. Here are the percentages since June of 2018:Homes Are More Affordable Today, Not Less Affordable | Simplifying The MarketAgain, we can see that affordability is much better today than the historical average and has been getting better over the last year and a half.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re thinking about buying your first home or moving up to the home of your dreams, don’t let the false narrative about affordability prevent you from moving forward. From an affordability standpoint, this is one of the best times to buy in the last 30 years.

The 2020 Real Estate Projections That May Surprise You

The 2020 Real Estate Projections That May Surprise You | Simplifying The Market

This will be an interesting year for residential real estate. With a presidential election taking place this fall and talk of a possible recession occurring before the end of the year, predicting what will happen in the 2020 U.S. housing market can be challenging. As a result, taking a look at the combined projections from the most trusted entities in the industry when it comes to mortgage rates, home sales, and home prices is incredibly valuable – and they may surprise you.

Mortgage Rates

Projections from the experts at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac all forecast mortgage rates remaining stable throughout 2020:The 2020 Real Estate Projections That May Surprise You | Simplifying The MarketSince rates have remained under 5% for the last decade, we may not fully realize the opportunity we have right now.

Here are the average mortgage interest rates over the last several decades:

  • 1970s: 8.86%
  • 1980s: 12.70%
  • 1990s: 8.12%
  • 2000s: 6.29%

Home Sales

Three of the four expert groups noted above also predict an increase in home sales in 2020, and the fourth sees the transaction number remaining stable:The 2020 Real Estate Projections That May Surprise You | Simplifying The MarketWith mortgage rates remaining near all-time lows, demand should not be a challenge. The lack of available inventory, however, may moderate the increase in sales.

Home Prices

Below are the projections from six different expert entities that look closely at home values: CoreLogic, Fannie Mae, Ivy Zelman’s “Z Report”, the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Freddie Mac, and the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA).The 2020 Real Estate Projections That May Surprise You | Simplifying The MarketEach group has home values continuing to improve through 2020, with four of them seeing price appreciation increasing at a greater pace than it did in 2019.

Is a Recession Possible?

In early 2019, a large percentage of economists began predicting a recession may occur in 2020. In addition, a recent survey of potential home purchasers showed that over 50% agreed it would occur this year. The economy, however, remained strong in the fourth quarter, and that has caused many to rethink the possibility.

For example, Goldman Sachs, in their 2020 U.S. Outlook, explained:

“Markets sounded the recession alarm this year, and the average forecaster now sees a 33% chance of recession over the next year. In contrast, our new recession model suggests just a 20% probability. Despite the record age of the expansion, the usual late-cycle problems—inflationary overheating and financial imbalances—do not look threatening.”

Bottom Line

Mortgage rates are projected to remain under 4%, causing sales to increase in 2020. With growing demand and a limited supply of inventory, prices will continue to appreciate, while the threat of an impending recession seems to be softening. It looks like 2020 may be a solid year for the real estate market.

Expert Insights on the 2020 Housing Market

Expert Insights on the 2020 Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

When closing out another year, it’s normal to wonder what’s ahead for the housing market. Though there will be future inventory issues, we expect interest rates to stay low and appreciation to continue.  

Here’s what three experts are saying we’ll likely see in 2020:

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com

“I think the biggest surprise from the forecast is how long the market is staying in this low inventory environment, especially as Millennials are in a major home-buying phase…sellers will contend with flattening price growth and slowing activity with existing home sales down 1.8%. Nationwide you can look to flat home prices with an increase of less than 1%.”

Mike Fratantoni, Chief Economist at Mortgage Banker Association (MBA)

“Interest rates will, on average, remain lower…These lower rates will in turn support both purchase and refinance origination volume in 2020.”

Skylar Olsen, Director of Economic Research at Zillow

“If current trends hold, then slower means healthier and smaller means more affordable. Yes, we expect a slower market than we’ve become accustomed to the last few years…consumers will continue to absorb available inventory and the market will remain competitive in much of the country.”

As we can see, we’re still going to have a healthy market. It is forecasted to be a more moderate (or normal) market than the last few years, but strong enough for Americans to continue to believe in homeownership and to capitalize on the opportunities that come with low interest rates.

Bottom Line

If you’re wondering what’s happening in our local market, let’s get together today.

2020 Forecast Shows Continued Home Price Appreciation

2020 Forecast Shows Continued Home Price Appreciation | Simplifying The Market

Questions continue to rise around where home prices will head in 2020. The latest forecast from CoreLogic shows continued appreciation at 5.4% over the next year:
2020 Forecast Shows Continued Home Price Appreciation | Simplifying The Market
Additionally, ARCH Mortgage Insurance Company in their current Housing and Mortgage Market Review revealed their latest ARCH Risk Index, which estimates the probability of home prices being lower in two years. Based on the most recent results, 32 of the 50 U.S. states (plus D.C.) had a minimal probability of lowering by 2021.2020 Forecast Shows Continued Home Price Appreciation | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Experts forecast home price appreciation to continue at a moderate rate as we move through 2020 and beyond. With appreciation growing, let’s get together and plan for your next move.