The Right Expert Will Guide You Through This Unprecedented Market

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In a normal market, it’s good to have an experienced guide coaching you through the process of buying or selling a home. That person can advise you on important things like pricing your home correctly or the first steps to take when you’re ready to buy. However, the market we’re in today is far from normal. As a result, an expert isn’t just good to have by your side – an expert is essential.

Today’s housing market is full of extremes. Mortgage rates hovering near record-lows are driving high buyer demand. On the other hand, an absence of sellers is creating record-low housing inventory. This imbalance in supply and demand is leading to a skyrocketing rate of bidding wars and more houses selling over their asking price. This is driving home price appreciation and gains in home equity. These market conditions aren’t just extreme – they can be overwhelming. Having a trusted expert to coach you through the process of buying and selling a home gives you clarity, confidence, and success through each step.

Here are just a few of the ways a real estate expert is invaluable:

  • Contracts – We help with the disclosures and contracts necessary in today’s heavily regulated environment.
  • Experience – We’re well-versed in real estate and experienced with the entire sales process, including how it’s changed over the past year.
  • Negotiations – We act as a buffer in negotiations with all parties throughout the entire transaction while advocating for your best interests.
  • Education – We simply and effectively explain today’s market conditions and decipher what they mean for your individual goals.
  • Pricing – We help you understand today’s real estate values when setting the price of your home or making an offer to purchase one.

A real estate agent can be your essential guide through this unprecedented market, but truth be told, not all agents are created equal. A true expert can carefully walk you through the whole real estate process, look out for your unique needs, and advise you on the best ways to achieve success. Finding the right agent should be your top priority when you’re ready to buy or sell a home.

So, how do you choose the right expert?

It starts with trust. You’ll have to be able to trust the advice your agent is going to give you, so make 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 expert can, however, give you the best possible advice 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 help you plan the steps to take for success, advocate for you throughout the process, and coach you on the essential knowledge you need to make confident decisions toward your goals. That’s exactly what you want and deserve.

Bottom Line

If you’re planning to make a move this year, contact a local real estate professional who can answer your questions, give you the best advice, and guide you along the way.

 

Hope Is on the Horizon for Today’s Housing Shortage

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The major challenge in today’s housing market is that there are more buyers looking to purchase than there are homes available to buy. Simply put, supply can’t keep up with demand. A normal market has a 6-month supply of homes for sale. Anything over that indicates it’s a buyers’ market, but an inventory level below that threshold means we’re in a sellers’ market. Today’s inventory level sits far below the norm.

According to the Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“Total housing inventory at the end of April amounted to 1.16 million units, up 10.5% from March’s inventory and down 20.5% from one year ago (1.46 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.4-month supply at the current sales pace, slightly up from March’s 2.1-month supply and down from the 4.0-month supply recorded in April 2020. These numbers continue to represent near-record lows.”

Basically, while we are seeing some improvement, we’re still at near-record lows for housing inventory (as shown in the graph below). Here’s why. Since the pandemic began, sellers have been cautious when it comes to putting their homes on the market. At the same time that fewer people are listing their homes, more and more people are trying to buy them thanks to today’s low mortgage rates. The influx of buyers aiming to capitalize on those rates are purchasing this limited supply of homes as quickly as they’re coming to market.

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This inventory shortage doesn’t just apply to existing homes that are already built. When it comes to new construction, builders are trying to do their part to bring more newly built homes into the market. However, due to challenges with things like lumber supply, they’re also not able to keep up with demand. In their Monthly New Residential Sales report, the United States Census Bureau states:

“The seasonally‐adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of April was 316,000. This represents a supply of 4.4 months at the current sales rate.”

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Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, elaborates:

In the span of five decades, entry level construction fell from 418,000 units per year in the late 1970s to 65,000 in 2020.

While in 2020 only 65,000 entry-level homes were completed, there were 2.38 million first-time homebuyers that purchased homes. Not all renters looking to purchase their first home were in the market for entry-level homes, however, the large disparity illustrates the significant and rapidly widening gap between entry-level supply and demand.”

Despite today’s low inventory, there is hope on the horizon.

Regarding existing home sales, Sabrina Speianu, Senior Economic Research Analyst at realtor.com,explains:

“In May, newly listed homes grew by 5.4% on a year-over-year basis compared to the earlier days of the COVID-19 pandemic last year

In May, the share of newly listed homes compared to active daily inventory hit a historical high of 44.4%, 17.3 percentage points higher than last year and 15.1 percentage points above typical levels seen in 2017 to 2019. This is a reflection of quickly selling homes and, for buyers, it means that while they can expect fresh new listings every week, they will have to be prepared to move quickly on desirable homes.”

As for newly built homes, builders are also confident about what’s ahead for housing inventory. Robert Dietz, Chief Economist at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), shares:

Builder confidence in the market remains strong due to a lack of resale inventory, low mortgage interest rates, and a growing demographic of prospective home buyers.”

Things are starting to look up for residential real estate inventory. As the country continues to reopen, more houses are likely to be listed for sale. However, as long as buyer demand remains high, it will take time for the balance between supply and demand to truly neutralize.

Bottom Line

Although it may be challenging to find a house to buy in today’s market, there is hope on the horizon. Be sure to work with a trusted real estate professional to find your dream home this summer.

 

Why This Is Not Like 2008 Again

 

 

 

 

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During the Great Recession, just over a decade ago, the financial systems the world depended on started to collapse. It created a panic that drove some large companies out of business (ex. Lehman Brothers) and many more into bankruptcy.

The financial crisis that accompanied the current pandemic caused hardship to certain industries and hurt many small businesses. However, it hasn’t rattled the world economy. It seems that a year later, things are slowly getting back to normal for many companies.

Why is there a drastic difference between 2008 and now?

In a post from RealtyTrac, they explain:

“We changed the rules. We told banks they needed more reserves and that they could no longer underwrite toxic mortgages. It turns out that regulation — properly done — can help us navigate financial minefields.”

Here are the results of that regulation, captured in a graph depicting the number of failed banks since 2007.

 

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What was different this time?

The post mentioned above explains:

“In 2008 the government saw the foreclosure meltdown as a top-down problem and set aside $700 billion for banks under the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Not all of the $700 billion was used, but the important point is that the government did not act with equal fervor to help flailing homeowners, millions of whom lost their homes to foreclosures and short sales.

This time around the government forcefully moved to help ordinary citizens. Working from the bottom-up, an estimated $5.3 trillion went to the public in 2020 through such mechanisms as the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), expanded unemployment benefits, tax incentives, and help for local governments. So far this year we have the $1.9 billion American Rescue Plan with millions of $1,400 checks as well as proposals to spend trillions more on infrastructure…Bank deposits increased by nearly $2 trillion during the past year and credit card debt fell.”

Bottom Line

Many have suffered over the past year. However, the economic toll of the current recession was nowhere near the scope of the Great Recession, and it won’t result in a housing crisis.

Home Price Appreciation Is as Simple as Supply and Demand

 

 

 

 

 

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Home price appreciation continues to accelerate. Today, prices are driven by the simple concept of supply and demand. Pricing of any item is determined by how many items are available compared to how many people want to buy that item. As a result, the strong year-over-year home price appreciation is simple to explain. The demand for housing is up while the supply of homes for sale hovers at historic lows.

Let’s use three maps to show how this theory continues to affect the residential real estate market.

Map #1 – State-by-state price appreciation reported by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) for the first quarter of 2021 compared to the first quarter of 2020:

 

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As the map shows, certain states (colored in red) have appreciated well above the national average of 12.6%.

Map #2 – The change in state-by-state inventory levels year-over-year reported by realtor.com:

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Comparing the two maps shows a correlation between change in listing inventory and price appreciation in many states. The best examples are Idaho, Utah, and Arizona. Though the correlation is not as easy to see in every state, the overall picture is one of causation.

The reason prices continue to accelerate is that housing inventory is still at all-time lows while demand remains high. However, this may be changing.

Is there relief around the corner?

The report by realtor.com also shows the monthly change in inventory for each state.

Map #3 – State-by-state changes in inventory levels month-over-month reported by realtor.com:

 

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As the map indicates, 39 of the 50 states (plus the District of Columbia) saw increases in inventory over the last month. This may be evidence that homeowners who have been afraid to let buyers in their homes during the pandemic are now putting their houses on the market.

We’ll know for certain as we move through the rest of the year.

Bottom Line

Some are concerned by the rapid price appreciation we’ve experienced over the last year. The maps above show that the increases were warranted based on great demand and limited supply.

In Today’s Market, Listing Prices Are Like an Auction’s Reserve Price

 

 

 

 

 

 

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For generations, the process of buying and selling a home never really changed. A homeowner would try to estimate the market value of their house, then tack on a little extra to give themselves some negotiating room. That figure would become the listing price. Buyers would then try to determine how much less than the full price they could offer and still get the home. As a result, the listing price was generally the ceiling of the negotiation. The actual sales price would almost always be somewhat lower than what was listed. It was unthinkable to pay more than what the seller was asking.

Today is different.

The record-low supply of homes for sale coupled with very strong buyer demand is leading to a rise in bidding wars on many homes. Because of this, homes today often sell for more than the list price. In some cases, they sell for a lot more.

According to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR):

“For every listing there are 5.1 offers. Half of the homes are being sold above list price.”

You may need to change the way you look at the asking price of a home.

In this market, you likely can’t shop for a home with the former approach of negotiating to a lower price.

Due to the low supply of houses for sale, many homes are now being offered in an auction-like atmosphere in which the highest bidder wins the home. In an actual auction, the seller of an item agrees to take the highest bid, and many sellers set a reserve price on the item they’re selling. A reserve price is the minimum amount a seller will accept as the winning bid.

When navigating a competitive housing market, think of the list price of the house as the reserve price at an auction. It’s the minimum the seller will accept in many cases. Today, the asking price is often becoming the floor of the negotiation rather than the ceiling. Therefore, if you really love a home, know that it may ultimately sell for more than the sellers are asking. So, as you’re navigating the homebuying process, make sure you know your budget, know what you can afford, and work with a trusted advisor who can help you make all the right moves as you buy a home.

Bottom Line

Someone who’s more familiar with the housing market of the past than that of today may think it’s foolish to offer more for a home than the listing price. However, frequent and competitive bidding wars are creating an auction-like atmosphere in many real estate transactions right now. Contact a local real estate professional today so you have a trusted expert on your side to provide the best advice on how to make a competitive offer on a home.

Why You May Want To Cash in on Your Second Home

 

 

 

 

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When stay-at-home mandates were enforced last year, many households realized their homes didn’t really fulfill their new lifestyle needs. An office (in some cases two), a media room, space for children to learn, a gym, and a large yard are all examples of amenities that became highly desirable almost overnight.

Zelman & Associates recently reported that sales of primary residences grew by 9% in 2020. That increase in demand was met by the lowest supply of homes for sale in history. High demand and low supply caused prices to skyrocket over the past twelve months. Here are three home price indexes released most recently that show how home values have risen:

Prices increased by double digits in every region of the country and in 19 of 20 major metros. Chicago was the only exception, where prices still rose by 9%.

What does this mean to those who purchased a second home during the pandemic?

Many people didn’t want to give up a home in the city or close to their office. Instead, they purchased a larger second home farther away and moved there to stay safe and have more space. According to the same Zelman report, sales for second homes rose an astonishing 27% in 2020.

That large second-home retreat on a lake or in the mountains would demand a higher price than the average house. Let’s assume a buyer purchased such a home for $500,000. Assuming the middle 13.2% appreciation shown above, that home would now be worth about $566,000.

Those who bought second homes to improve their lifestyle during the height of the pandemic, or those who just wanted to be in a safer environment, also made a great investment.

What should these homeowners do now as the pandemic is receding, and the economy is reopening?

The buyers of those second homes now have a decision to make. Many will move back to the original home they still own (the one that’s closer to work, friends, and family). Should they keep the second home? That could depend on answers to questions like these:

  • Now that you may have to go back to the office (at least a few days a week) and students are required to physically attend school, would you still use the second house enough to warrant the expenses of an additional home?
  • Would you go to the second home on most weekends, or would you return to the movie theater, attend sporting events, eat out at fine restaurants, or spend your time traveling again?

Bottom Line

If you purchased a larger second home during the pandemic, you were able to make day-to-day life much easier for those important to you. You also made it much safer. If you decide selling makes sense, contact your local real estate professional today for an evaluation of your second home.

 

 

Dreaming of a Bigger Home? Why Not Buy It This Year?

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Are you clamoring for extra rooms or a more functional floorplan in your house? Maybe it’s time to make a move. If you’ll be able to work remotely for the long-term or your overall needs have simply changed, it’s a great time to sell your house and move up. Why? With mortgage rates in their favor and higher-priced home sales powering more moves across the country, sellers in today’s market are finding the space they need (and have always dreamed of) by purchasing a home in the upper end of the housing market.

Bidding wars are gaining traction, driving up the sale price of more and more homes throughout the country. This means sellers are able to leverage extra cash from higher-priced sales while also taking advantage of today’s low mortgage rates when they purchase their next home. It’s the perfect scenario to move up into a true dream home. According to the April Luxury Market Report from the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing:

“The Institute’s recent analysis of sales in 2020 for homes over 5,000 square feet support the continuing preference for larger homes. The analysis determined that there was a 17% increase in the number of 5,000+ sq ft homes sold when compared to the number of sales in 2019.

Luxury home prices continue to see record highs in the majority of affluent ex-urban communities, as the influence of being able to work from home is still driving buyers away from living in high density areas. Low interest rates also remain in play, allowing buyers to realize the affordability of owning a larger property, which further reinforces this trend.”

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), also explains:

“The market is hot pretty much everywhere and across all price points . . . The only area where there is sufficient inventory is in $1 million-plus homes . . . .”

While this price range certainly doesn’t fit every budget, if it’s in your reach this summer, you may want to make your move sooner rather than later. Today, more homes are available in this segment of the market, but as the report mentions, more buyers are investing here too, so competition may heat up sooner rather than later.

Bottom Line

If you’re planning to sell your current home to move into a larger one, contact your real estate advisor today. Discuss your current situation and learn about the opportunities in your local market.

6 Reasons to Celebrate National Homeownership Month

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Our homes are so much more than the houses we live in. For many, they’ve also become our workplaces, schools for our children, and safe harbors in which we’ve weathered the toughest moments of a global pandemic. Today, 65.6% of Americans call their homes their own, a rate that has risen to its highest point in 8 years.

As National Homeownership Month kicks off this June, homeowners have every reason to celebrate. A survey by Gallup just ranked real estate as the best investment you can make for the eighth year in a row. However, unlike other investment options, the benefits of owning a home aren’t purely financial. Here are the top ways Americans are winning by owning a home.

Non-Financial Benefits:

1. Civic Participation: Owning a home is owning a part of your neighborhood. Homeowners have a stronger connection to their neighborhoods and are more committed to volunteer work and other ways to get involved.

2. Pride of Ownership: Owning a home is having a space that is uniquely yours. You can customize it to your personal liking and make it reflect your personality and values.

3. A Safe Space: Owning a home gives you a sense of security and privacy – two things that have become even more valuable as we’ve tackled the challenges of the recent health crisis.

Financial Benefits:

1. Forced Savings: Owning a home builds equity. Your equity grows with each payment you make toward your mortgage. This form of forced savings can be used down the road to help you accomplish your biggest financial goals.

2. Appreciation: Owning a home is making an investment that steadily gains value, and experts project home values will continue to rise in the years to come.

3. Stability: Owning a home means having better control over your future housing payments. Over the years, a mortgage stays relatively steady, but rent costs continue to rise.

Bottom Line

If you hope to become a homeowner this year, contact a local real estate professional today to take the first steps toward achieving your goal.

Homes Across the Country Are Selling Fast [INFOGRAPHIC]

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Some Highlights

  • Four years ago, the average house spent 39 days on the market. Two years ago, homes were on the market for about 24 days. Today, that number has dropped to just 17 short days.
  • If you’re looking to sell your house quickly and on the best possible terms, today’s market can’t be beat. Reach out to a local real estate professional to discuss how to secure a speedy, top-dollar sale for your house.