On Monday, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) announced that the U.S. economy is officially in a recession. This did not come as a surprise to many, as the Bureau defines a recession this way:
“A recession is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, normally visible in production, employment, and other indicators. A recession begins when the economy reaches a peak of economic activity and ends when the economy reaches its trough. Between trough and peak, the economy is in an expansion.”
Everyone realizes that the pandemic shut down the country earlier this year, causing a “significant decline in economic activity.”
Though not surprising, headlines announcing the country is in a recession will cause consumers to remember the devastating impact the last recession had on the housing market just over a decade ago.
The real estate market, however, is in a totally different position than it was then. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, explained:
“Many still bear scars from the Great Recession and may expect the housing market to follow a similar trajectory in response to the coronavirus outbreak. But, there are distinct differences that indicate the housing market may follow a much different path. While housing led the recession in 2008-2009, this time it may be poised to bring us out of it.”
Four major differences in today’s real estate market are:
- Families have large sums of equity in their homes
- We have a shortage of housing inventory, not an overabundance
- Irresponsible lending no longer exists
- Home price appreciation is not out of control
We must also realize that a recession does not mean a housing crash will follow. In three of the four previous recessions prior to 2008, home values increased. In the other one, home prices depreciated by only 1.9%.
Yes, we are now officially in a recession. However, unlike 2008, this time the housing industry is in much better shape to weather the storm.
Tomorrow morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the latest Employment Situation Summary, which will include the most current unemployment rate. It will be a horrific number. Many analysts believe unemployment could be greater than 20%. These numbers represent families across the nation that are not sure when (or if) they will return to work. The emotional impact on these households is devastating.
There are, however, some small rays of light shining through on this issue. Here are three:
1. The actual number of unemployed is less than many are reporting
The number of people unemployed is sometimes over-exaggerated. It seems that every newscaster talks about the 40+ million people “currently” unemployed. It is true that, over the last ten weeks, over 40.7 million people have applied for unemployment. It is also true, however, that many of those people have already returned to work or gotten a new job. The actual number of people currently unemployed is 21.1 million. This is still a horrible number, but about half of what is often being reported.
2. Of those still unemployed, most are temporary layoffs
Last month’s unemployment report showed that 90% of those unemployed believe their status is temporary. Friday’s report will probably show a decline in that percentage as the original number was somewhat optimistic. However, a recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank showed that employers believe over 75% of job losses are temporary layoffs and furloughs. This means 3 out of 4 people should be returning to work as the economy continues to recover.
3. Those on unemployment are receiving assistance
According to a recent study from the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago, 68% of those who are eligible for unemployment insurance receive benefits that exceed lost earnings, with 20% receiving benefits at least twice as large as their lost earnings.
Tomorrow’s report will be difficult to digest. However, as the nation continues to reopen, many of those families who are impacted will be able to return to work.
As we enter the summer months and work through the challenges associated with the current health crisis, many are wondering what impact the economic slowdown will have on home prices. Looking at the big picture, supply and demand will give us the clearest idea of what’s to come.
Making our way through the month of June and entering the second half of the year, we face an undersupply of homes on the market. Keep in mind, this undersupply is going to vary by location and by price point. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), across the country, we currently have a 4.1 months supply of homes on the market. Historically, 6 months of supply is considered a balanced market. Anything over 6 months is a buyer’s market, meaning prices will depreciate. Anything below 6 months is a seller’s market, where prices appreciate. The graph below shows inventory across the country since 2010 in months supply of homes for sale.Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for the National Home Builders Association (NAHB) says:
“As the economy begins a recovery later in 2020, we expect housing to play a leading role. Housing enters this recession underbuilt, not overbuilt. Estimates vary, but based on demographics and current vacancy rates, the U.S. may have a housing deficit of up to one million units.”
Given the undersupply of homes on the market today, there is upward pressure on prices. Looking at simple economics, when there is less of an item for sale and the demand is high, consumers are willing to pay more for that item. The undersupply is also prompting bidding wars, which can drive price points higher in the home sale process. According to a recent MarketWatch article:
“As buyers return to the market as the country rebounds from the pandemic, a limited inventory of homes for sale could fuel bidding wars and push prices higher.”
In addition, experts forecasting home prices have updated their projections given the impact of the pandemic. The major institutions expect home prices to appreciate through 2022. The chart below, updated as of earlier this week, notes these forecasts. As the year progresses, we may see these projections revised in a continued upward trend, given the lack of homes on the market. This could drive home prices even higher.
Many may think home prices will depreciate due to the economic slowdown from the coronavirus, but experts disagree. As we approach the second half of this year, we may actually see home prices rise even higher given the lack of homes for sale.
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 once stay-at-home orders are 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. There’s a good chance an eager buyer is looking for a home just like yours.
With the housing market staggered to some degree by the health crisis the country is currently facing, some potential purchasers are questioning whether home values will be impacted. The price of any item is determined by supply as well as the market’s demand for that item.
Each month the National Association of Realtors (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for the REALTORS Confidence Index.
Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand) during this pandemic.
The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”The darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes is in that area. The survey shows that in 34 of the 50 U.S. states, buyer demand is now ‘strong’ and 16 of the 50 states have a ‘stable’ demand.
The index also asks: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”As the map above indicates, 46 states and Washington, D.C. reported ‘weak’ seller traffic, 3 states reported ‘stable’ seller traffic, and 1 state reported ‘strong’ seller traffic. This means there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the needs of buyers looking for homes right now.
With demand still stronger than supply, home values should not depreciate.
What are the experts saying?
Here are the thoughts of three industry experts on the subject:
“We note that inventory as a percent of households sits at the lowest level ever, something we believe will limit the overall degree of home price pressure through the year.”
“Housing supply remains at historically low levels, so house price growth is likely to slow, but it’s not likely to go negative.”
“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.”
Looking at these maps and listening to the experts, it seems that prices will remain stable throughout 2020. If you’re thinking about listing your home, let’s connect to discuss how you can capitalize on the somewhat surprising demand in the market now.
As we continue to work through the health crisis that plagues this country, more and more conversations are turning to economic recovery. While we look for signs that we’ve reached a plateau in cases of COVID-19, the concern and fear of what will happen as businesses open up again is on all of our minds. This causes confusion about what an economic recovery will look like. With this in mind, it’s important to understand how economists are using three types of sciences to formulate their forecasts and to work toward clearer answers.
- Business Science – How has the economy rebounded from similar slowdowns in the past?
- Health Science – When will COVID-19 be under control? Will there be another flareup of the virus this fall?
- People 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).
Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, says:
“Although the uncertainty of the crisis means forecasts of economic activity are more unclear than usual, we expect that most of the economic damage from the virus will be contained to the first half of the year. Going forward, we should see a recovery starting in the second half of 2020.”
This past week, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released the advanced estimate for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first quarter of 2020. That estimate came in at -4.8%. It was a clear indicator showing how the U.S. economy slowed as businesses shut down and consumers retreated to their homes in fear of the health crisis and of contracting COVID-19.Experts agree that the second quarter of 2020 will be an even greater slowdown, a sign more businesses are feeling the effects of this health crisis. The same experts, however, project businesses will rebound, and a recovery will start to happen in the second half of this year.
As time goes on, we’ll have more clarity around what the true economic recovery will look like, and we’ll have more information on the sciences that will affect it. As the nation’s economy comes back to life and businesses embrace new waves of innovation to serve their customers, the American spirit of grit, growth, and prosperity will be alive and well.
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 below):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.
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:
1. Some people need to move. Whether because of a death in the family, a new birth, divorce, financial hardship, or a job transfer, some families need to make a move as quickly as possible.
2. Real estate agents across the country have become very innovative, utilizing technology that allows purchasers to virtually:
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.
3. 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.
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 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.
This information is consistent with the research completed by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, which recently reported:
“Historical analysis showed us that pandemics are usually V-shaped (sharp recessions that recover quickly enough to provide little damage to home prices).”
What are the experts saying?
Here’s a look at what some experts recently reported on the matter:
Ivy Zelman, President, Zelman & Associates
“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.”
Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American
“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 will remain steady throughout the pandemic.