We know that housing news is hard to keep up with and it’s not like it all comes out on one day. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if sales data, price information, construction stats, foreclosure information and consumer morale reports came out on one day in one report with a bow on top? Yeah, we do to as it is a very time consuming matter to follow and report to you when each independent report is released.
We thought that because the economy is so shaky right now, we would rapid fire the quick overview of the housing market at present with the latest data points available.
New home sector
- New home sales plummeted in February to their lowest level since recording began in 1963.
- Permits for new homes hit their lowest level in recorded history.
- Housing starts hit their lowest level since 1984.
- Some analysts are saying the new home sector may never recover.
Existing home sales and pricing
- Existing home sales drop to lowest level in nine years.
- S&P Case-Shiller home price index which studies 20 cities showed a decline in all cities but San Diego and Washington, D.C.
- The national median home price of existing homes fell to $156,100- the lowest point since 2002.
- Rents are up by double digits, vacancy rates are declining nationally.
- Multifamily developer optimism at highest levels since 2006 despite continued tight lending.
- Zestimates for rentals are live, impact multifamily.
Foreclosures and shadow inventory
- Vacancy rates of existing home hits 13%, up 12% from 2007.
- Foreclosure rates have eased up a bit (Q4 is the most recent data offered by the bank regulators, Q1 may look differently).
- CoreLogic reports 1.8 million is the current count of homes in the shadow inventory.
- Good news- pending home sales (contracts signed) ticked up in February, beat expectations.
- Mortgage rates are up, mortgage applications are down.
- Consumer morale dipped across the board.
Government regulations and changes
- The FDIC is seeking to require 20% down on all home loans, looks like this may become the law.
- The Office of the Comptroller of Currency tires of working with AGs and dozens of regulators on mortgage probes, settling with banks for much less. Infighting reveals weak point in regulation.
- Mortgage writedowns are off the table according to a snide Chase CEO. Looks like OCC got their way.
- Nevada, Missouri, Maryland and Illinois are considering legislation barring appraisers from using distressed sales as comparables.
There is a lot going on in the market and the above is a quick overview of some of the key indicators we look at as a news organization and that economists look to in order to evaluate the state of the sector.
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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