As remote work continues on for many businesses and Americans weigh the risks of being in densely populated areas, will more people start to move out of bigger cities? Spending extra time at home and dreaming of more indoor and outdoor space is certainly sparking some interest among homebuyers. Early data shows an initial trend in this direction of moving from urban to suburban communities, but the question is: will the trend continue?
According to recent data from Zillow, there is a current surge in urban high-end listings in some larger metro areas. The month-over-month increase in these homes going on the market indicates more urban homeowners may be ready to make a move out of the city, particularly at the upper end of the market (See graph below):
With the ongoing health crisis, it’s no surprise that many people are starting to consider this shift. A July survey from HomeLight notes the top reasons people are actually moving today:
More space, proximity to fewer people, and a desire to own at a more affordable price point are highly desirable features in this new era, so the list makes sense.
John Burns Consulting notes:
“The trend is accelerating faster than anyone could have predicted. The need for more space is driving suburban migration.”
In addition, Sheryl Palmer, CEO of Taylor Morrison, a home building company, indicates:
“Most recently, we’re really seeing a pickup in folks saying they want more rural or suburban locations. Initially, there was a lot of talk about that, but it’s really coming through our buyers today.”
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) also shares:
“New home demand is improving in lower density markets, including small metro areas, rural markets and large metro exurbs, as people seek out larger homes and anticipate more flexibility for telework in the years ahead. Flight to the suburbs is real.”
The question remains, will this interest in suburban and rural living continue? Some, like Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR) think the possibility is there, but it is still quite early to tell for sure. Yun notes:
“Homebuyers considering a move to the suburbs is a growing possibility after a decade of urban downtown revival…Greater work-from-home options and flexibility will likely remain beyond the virus and any forthcoming vaccine.”
While much of the energy behind this trend has largely been accelerated by the current health crisis, monitoring the momentum over time is critically important. Businesses are discovering new and innovative ways to function in remote environments, so the shift has the potential to stick. Much like the economic recovery, however, the long-term impact may hinge largely on the health situation throughout this country.
Early data is showing a shift from urban to suburban markets, but keeping an eye on this trend will help us understand how it will ultimately play out. It may just be a temporary swing in a new direction until Americans once again feel a sense of comfort in the cities they’ve grown to love.
Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its latest jobs report. It revealed that the economic shutdown made necessary by COVID-19 caused the unemployment rate to jump to 14.7%. Many anticipate that next month the percentage could be even higher. These numbers represent the extreme hardship so many families are experiencing right now. That pain should not be understated.
However, the long-term toll the pandemic will cause should not be overstated either. There have been numerous headlines claiming the current disruption in the economy is akin to the Great Depression, and many of those articles are calling for total Armageddon. Some experts are stepping up to refute those claims.
In a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article this past weekend, Josh Zumbrun, a national economics correspondent for the Journal explained:
“News stories often describe the coronavirus-induced global economic downturn as the worst since the Great Depression…the comparison does more to terrify than clarify.”
Zumbrun goes on to explain:
“From 1929 to 1933, the economy shrank for 43 consecutive months, according to contemporaneous estimates. Unemployment climbed to nearly 25% before slowly beginning its descent, but it remained above 10% for an entire decade...This time, many economists believe a rebound could begin this year or early next year.”
This was not a structural collapse of the economy, but instead a planned shutdown to help mitigate the virus. Once the virus is contained, the economy will immediately begin to recover. This is nothing like what happened in the 1930s. In the same WSJ article mentioned above, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who has done extensive research on the depression in the 1930s, explained:
“The breakdown of the financial system was a major reason for both the Great Depression and the 2007-09 recession.” He went on to say that today - “the banks are stronger and much better capitalized.”
The nation’s collective heart goes out to all. The BLS report, however, showed that ninety percent of the job losses are temporary. In addition, many are getting help surviving this pause in their employment status. During the Great Depression, there were no government-sponsored unemployment insurance or large government subsidies as there are this time.
Today, many families are receiving unemployment benefits and an additional $600 a week. The stimulus package is helping many companies weather the storm. Is there still pain? Of course. The assistance, however, is providing much relief until most can go back to work.
We should look at the current situation for what it is – a predetermined pause placed on the economy. The country will recover once the pandemic ends. Comparisons to any other downturn make little sense. Bernanke put it best:
“I don’t find comparing the current downturn with the Great Depression to be very helpful. The expected duration is much less, and the causes are very different.”
Over 10% of all residential homes are purchased by investors, and that number continues to rise. Who are these investors?
Many have speculated that the large institutional conglomerates such as Blackstone, American Homes 4 Rent, and Colony Starwood dominate investor purchases. However, a special report on investor home buying by CoreLogic, Don’t Call it a Comeback: Housing Investors Have Been Here for Years, shows this is not the case.
Ralph McLaughlin, CoreLogic’s Deputy Chief Economist and author of the report, explained his findings at the recent National Association of Real Estate Editors conference in Austin:
“Investor buying activity in the U.S. is at record highs. And our records go back confidently, about 20 years…
What’s going on and why? Well, it turns out, it’s not the big institutional guys that are leading the increase in home buying. It’s actually the smaller guys. It’s those that have bought between one and ten properties over this 20-year period, they’re the ones that are really leading the increase in investor home buying.”
Here is the breakdown of the percentage of purchasers by type of investor over the last six years according to the report:As the graph shows, the percentage of “Mom & Pop” investors is currently dominating the number of homes purchased by investors, as the percentage of homes purchased by both professional and institutional investors is falling.
Most houses purchased by an investor are bought by small investors looking to diversify their financial portfolio by adding a real estate component. If you are investing in real estate as either a landlord or someone who fixes-up and flips the house, let's chat about the ways you can build or liquidate your current portfolio of properties.
There has been a great amount written on millennials and their impact on the housing market. However, the headlines often contradict each other. Some claim this generation is becoming the largest share of first-time home buyers, while others claim millennials don’t want to own a home, blaming them for the dip in homeownership rate.
While it is true that millennials have achieved milestones like getting married, having kids, and buying homes later in life than their parents and grandparents did, they are not solely to blame for today’s housing market trends.
Freddie Mac’s Insight Report explored the impact of the Silent and Baby Boomer Generations on the housing market.
If millennials are unable to find a home to buy at a young age like their predecessors, then who is living in those homes?
The answer: Seniors born after 1931 are staying in their homes longer than previous generations, instead choosing to “age in place.”
Freddie Mac found that,
“this trend accounts for about 1.6 million houses held back from the market through 2018, representing about one year’s typical supply of new construction, or more than half of the current shortfall of 2.5 million housing units estimated in December’s Insight.
Older Americans prefer to age in place because they are satisfied with their communities, their homes, and their quality of life.”
According to the National Association of Realtors, inventory of homes for sale is currently at a 3.5-month supply, which means that nationally we are in a seller’s market. A ‘normal’ housing market requires 6-7 months inventory, a level we have not achieved since August 2012.
“The most important fundamental in today’s housing market is the lack of houses for sale. This shortage has been identified as an important barrier to young adults buying their first homes.”
If you are one of the many seniors who desires to retire in the same area you’ve always lived, you’re not alone. Will your current house fit your needs throughout retirement? If you have any questions about demand for your house, let’s get together to discuss the opportunities available today!
There is a lot of uncertainty regarding the real estate market heading into 2019. That uncertainty has raised concerns that we may be headed toward another housing crash like the one we experienced a decade ago.
Here are four reasons why today’s market is much different:
A major challenge in 2006 was the number of foreclosures. There will always be foreclosures, but they spiked by over 100% prior to the crash. Foreclosures sold at a discount and, in many cases, lowered the values of adjacent homes. We are ending 2018 with foreclosures at historic pre-crash numbers - much fewer foreclosures than we ended 2006 with.
Ten years ago, many homeowners irrationally converted much, if not all, of their equity into cash with a cash-out refinance. When foreclosures rose and prices fell, they found themselves in a negative equity situation where their homes were worth less than their mortgage amounts. Many just walked away from their houses which led to even more foreclosures entering the market. Today is different. Over forty-eight percent of homeowners have at least 50% equity in their homes and they are not extracting their equity at the same rates they did in 2006.
One of the causes of the crash ten years ago was that lending standards were almost non-existent. NINJA loans (no income, no job, and no assets) no longer exist. ARMs (adjustable rate mortgages) still exist but only as a fraction of the number from a decade ago. Though mortgage standards have loosened somewhat during the last few years, we are nowhere near the standards that helped create the housing crisis ten years ago.
Though it is difficult to afford a home for many Americans, data shows that it is more affordable to purchase a home now than it was from 1985 to 2000. And, it requires much less of a percentage of your income today than it did in 2006.
The housing industry is facing some rough waters heading into 2019. However, the graphs above show that the market is much healthier than it was prior to the crash ten years ago.
In a recent article, National Housing Inventory Crisis Reaches Inflection Point, realtor.com reported that:
This increase in housing inventory has sparked two different reactions. Some are saying this is the first sign of a potential collapse while others are saying it is a welcomed reprieve from the lack of inventory that has stalled the market recently. As Zelman & Associates reported in a recent ‘Z Report’:
“With the rate of home price appreciation starting to decelerate alongside the uptick in inventory, we expect significant debate whether this is a bullish or bearish sign.”
There are those who look at the increase in inventory as a sign that we are returning to the market we saw last decade. However, a closer look shows that we are nowhere near the levels of inventory we reached before the crash in 2008.
A normal market would have about 6-months inventory, but the latest Existing Home Sales Report issued by the National Association of Realtors revealed that:
“Unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace up from 4.1 months a year ago.”
A decade ago, prices began to rapidly depreciate in June 2007. At that time, we had a 9.1-month supply (more than double what it is today) and inventory kept rising until it hit a peak of 11.1 months in April of 2008.
With the current levels of buyer demand, any such increase in months supply is highly unlikely. As Danielle Hale, realtor.com’s Chief Economist explains:
“After years of record-breaking inventory declines, September's almost flat inventory signals a big change in the real estate market. Would-be buyers who had been waiting for a bigger selection of homes for sale may finally see more listings materialize. But don't expect the level to jump dramatically.
Plenty of buyers in the market are scooping up homes as soon as they're listed, which will keep national increases relatively small for the time being.”
The increase in inventory will allow many families who had been unable to find a home to finally become homeowners. Again, we quote from the ‘Z Report’:
“In our view, the short-term narrative will probably be confusing, but more sustainable growth and affordability will likely be the end result.”
If you are either a first-time or second-time buyer who has given up, let’s get together discuss the inventory available in our market.