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Real Estate Big Data

April home sales shows how confusing we are as people

(REAL ESTATE BIG DATA) April home sales have shown some interesting figures, and could be indicative of humans or COVID-19, we’re still not sure which.

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April home sales

If humans have a couple of giant, recognizable traits, one would be adaptability, and the other would be being confusing. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 April home sales defied conventional logic, and our understanding of sales history.

Having 2 months of solid lock down, and not a predictable end in sight, one would expect all industries, especially housing, to start crumbling and possibly collapse. Who would want to risk going outside, and looking at someone else’s home when there’s a virus running rampant? Also keeping in mind that at any moment you could be told you no longer have a job, so couldn’t get a new home anyway. Why take that risk?

The turn of many realtors and associations towards tech, and virtual showings must have made a major impact because April home sales actually increased .6%. That may not seem like much, but we need silver linings where we can find them. This small increase could be the result of a few different things that maybe we can capitalize on.

Home sales

First for the sake of safety, some people such as chief investment officer at Bleakley Advisory Group, Peter Bookvar think people are trying to get out of the large city centers, and head to rural areas. Not only for better social distancing to steer clear of the Coronavirus, but homes and land are cheaper.

Speaking of cheaper homes, the overall median home price dropped from $339,000 in April of last year to $309,000 this year. Knowing you have to pay a whole car less this year might incentivize you into that new home. Plus with inventory dropping from 331,000 in March to 325,000 in April, homes are running out pretty fast.

Even as the inventory quickly dissipates, newly constructed homes are still out there making up 1 in 5 sales which is up from 1 in 6 last year. Sure the number of homes being constructed and listed have slowed 13%, but not as drastically as existing home listings dropping 36.3%

As far as locations of the homes being sold, the South dominates with an increase of 4.7% in sales, while the others dropped 26.5% in the Northeast and Midwest, and 33.5% for the West.

We see a ton of ups and downs in all different sectors of the housing industry, without a lot of correlation between any of it. But home sales are up this month, and that’s something to be happy about.

Basically COVID-19, instead of throwing a wrench into the gears, added a couple of new ones we’re still trying to figure out. I guess keep your head up, and be as positive as possible; regardless of how confusing the markets, and we as people are, we can also adapt and be stronger in the end.

Colin is a Web Producer at The American Genius that spends more time with reptiles than a normal person would expect. Care for animals is one of his many passions alongside writing, drawing, gaming, and thinking of things to add to bios.

Real Estate Big Data

Cities and states where renters eviction protection policies are still in place

(REAL ESTATE BIG DATA) Even though the national eviction ban has lapsed, 7 states and over 20 cities still have policies in place for renters eviction protection.

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UnTil Debt Do Us Part representing renters debt

Half of the renters in the United States still have some protections available due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Many of these renters were those who were tenants before, during, and “after” the pandemic though the effects are still lingering. Some new renters have had to enter the expensive rental market scene after being discouraged when attempting to buy a home. Those that are over the bidding wars, rising prices, and dwindling options are stepping out of the home buying process and are opting to rent instead, driving rental prices sky-high. It’s a lose-lose situation either way.

The Supreme Court ruled in August 2021 that the national moratorium on evictions was overreaching, even though the policy had been in place since September 2020. In response, many states and cities are setting their own limits.

Even though the national eviction ban has lapsed, 7 states and over 20 cities still have policies in place for protection. More than 15% of renters are behind on payments with the average debt owed is $3,700. Though in some areas, the debts amount to $10,000 per household.

New Jersey and New York tenants can’t be evicted until the new year in most counties. In New Mexico, renters also can’t be pushed out for late payments, but the end date for that protection has not been established.

In Connecticut and Virginia, landlords can’t evict tenants who have applied for federal aid. In LA, the eviction protection ends January 31, 2022, in Austin, TX, December 31, 2021, and in Seattle, January 16, 2022.

In Oregon, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, and Washington D.C., eviction proceedings are paused for those that have their renter’s federal assistance application pending. In Nevada, showing that you’ve applied for rental assistance is considered a defense against eviction until June 2023.

$45 billion in aid is allocated by Congress for federal rental assistance, but less than $13 billion has been used so far.

If you are still in need of assistance and don’t reside in any of the areas above, consult location advocates and learn your rights to see what protections are available to you.

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Real Estate Big Data

5 ways AI is shifting real estate and how to capitalize on it

(REAL ESTATE BIG DATA) Artificial intelligence is bringing a seismic shift to commercial real estate in everything from investing to sales to property management. Hold on!

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Woman working at desk with multiple desktops open to AI tools.

Forget about that location thing. Now real estate – especially commercial real estate – is about data, data, data. As in, Really. Big. Data. And AI is owed a large part of the credit for that.

A dizzying amount of data is being crunched and sorted and searched by artificial intelligence-enabled tools that are changing how deals get done and who will still have a job in the future.

The promise of AI to use data to predict the future is massive – and it promises to do that with more accuracy and efficiency, greater productivity, and less cost for commercial as well as residential real estate.

So, what, exactly, can AI do for commercial real estate? Let’s break it down.

What AI is

To put it simply, artificial intelligence is what lets Amazon’s Alexa talk to you and cars drive themselves. Its algorithms use data to mimic human intelligence, including learning and reasoning. Then there’s machine learning, where algorithms analyze enormous amounts of data to make predictions and assist with decision making. We’re putting them both under the same AI umbrella.

There are four main areas where AI is remaking the commercial real estate industry: development and investing; sales and leasing; marketing; and property management.

Development and investing

With its ability to quickly analyze a staggering amount of data, AI lets investors and developers make better data-driven decisions. More responsive financial modeling helps identify ideal use cases and project ROI under multiple scenarios using real-time data. Pulling in alternative data – say, environmental changes or infrastructure improvements – goes beyond traditional data points and can identify investment opportunities, such as neighborhoods beginning to gentrify. In fact, alternative, hyper-local data has become even more important as COVID-19 continues to upend property valuation models.

AI’s crystal ball comes from recognizing patterns in the data and continuing to learn from new information. It can forecast risk, market fluctuations, property values, demographic trends, occupancy rates and other considerations that can make or break a deal.

And it does all of this more efficiently, more accurately and less expensively than manual methods.

Sales and leasing

There’s a big question looming over AI and automation: Will technology put real estate brokers out of business? The short answer is, “No, but brokers need to step up their tech game.”

Keeping up with – and being open to – tech trends is essential. Clients’ ability to use online marketplaces to search for or list property will only grow, but there still is no substitute for expertise and the personal rapport that builds trust. Chatbots can’t negotiate (yet). Robots can’t show a space and weave details about the property into a story. (If you want to know more about using storytelling in real estate, check out this great marketing guide.)

But Big Data is such a powerful tool that brokers need to know how to harness it for themselves. Having more, and more nuanced, data about clients and properties means brokers can better match the two. They can be more confident in setting sales prices and rental rates. Becoming a “technology strategist” to help clients design an automation strategy for a property would be a great value add to their services. Even just starting out with a website chatbot to answer common questions would add a level of tech-savvy efficiency to communication with clients and prospects.

Marketing

Also a boon of Big Data for brokers: more sophisticated, targeted marketing for themselves, as well as for client properties.

Integrating AI with customer relationship management (CRM) tools brings a richer understanding of clients and prospects that can make choosing marketing channels and personalizing targeted content more precise.

Then there’s data-driven lead scoring. Property intelligence firm Reonomy says its commercial data mine – 52 million properties, 100 million companies, 30 million personal profiles, and 53 million tenants – can be searched in multiple ways to create custom prospect lists. (Check out Forbes.com’s “5 Ways Artificial Intelligence is Transforming CRMs” for a fascinating list of what AI can do, including analyzing conversations for sentiment analysis.)

Property and facility management

The Internet of Things (IoT) is already helping property and facilities managers control and predict energy costs, as well as proactively address maintenance issues. Integrating smart technology like thermostats and sensors with AI also means more efficient space planning. Smart security cameras and wi-fi tracking can create “people heat maps” that can identify underutilized or overcrowded areas.

IBM’s TRIRIGA does that and more. Part of the Watson project, TRIRIGA offers AI-driven insights to show how people are actually using a space and ensure a company has the right amount of space in the right areas. It can also analyze common questions from a chat log, then use that data to create an AI virtual assistant to automatically answer those questions – and update itself as it learns new data. Maintenance requests, room reservations and more can be fully automated.

Strategic space planning has become even more important during the pandemic, as work-from-home trends and safety concerns reshape offices as workers return. (Need ideas for your office? IBM’s Returning to the Workplace guide might be a good place to start.)

Barriers to adoption

There’s no question tech-enabled commercial real estate companies will have a competitive edge. The question is, when will more of them agree enough to adopt AI more widely?

PropTech with and without AI has exploded over the past few years – and that’s part of the problem. In an Altus Group survey, 89% of CRE executives said the PropTech space needs significant consolidation before it can effectively deliver on industry needs; 43% said that is already underway or will occur within 12 months.

Then there’s the undeniable learning curve that comes with any tech tool – an investment of time as well as money. The survey also showed concerns about regulatory requirements for data collection and management, having enough internal capacity, and nonstandard data formats.

Despite those perceived barriers, there’s also no question that innovation and disruption from AI are moving at a dizzying pace – and that commercial real estate needs to keep pace.

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Real Estate Big Data

Supply crisis hits housing – starts and permits fell in September

(REAL ESTATE) New data from the Commerce Department shows a dip in permits and starts, but if you look closely, multifamily is carrying that weight, so how is single family production going?

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family in their living room with moving boxes during the competitive housing market

Last month, housing starts fell 1.6%, which is only a slight dip, but permits fell 7.7%, and the gap between units completed and those still under construction is the largest on record, according to reporting from the U.S. Commerce Department.

While starts and permits hit a year low and while labor shortages, supply chain issues, and rising prices of raw materials, it should be noted that single-family starts actually remained unchanged, and permits for single family homes only fell 0.9%, so what we’re looking at here is a slowdown in the multifamily sector as sales heat up in single family housing..

Another factor at play here regarding still-tight inventory levels is the federal mortgage forbearance program as a response to the pandemic. As the program wraps up, more inventory will come online.

Dr. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR) explains: “The current mortgage default rate of at least three months is running high at 3.5% compared to less than 1% before the pandemic. However, foreclosures have been at historic lows so far due to the forbearance support. The default rate will certainly fall as long as the economy continues to generate jobs, but the end of the federal support program inevitably means some homeowners will need to sell. This will be another source of housing inventory.”

Because tight inventory levels have kept the market restricted and sales below what demand is, the residential real estate sector should see hope in this analysis.

But there is no sector safe from the supply chain crisis or prices rising again on raw materials. Reuters reports that many materials like windows and breaker boxes are in short supplies while the cost of building materials have surged, like copper which is up 16%, and lumber prices are jumping back up to record highs set in May.

Homebuilder confidence is up, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), but their most recent survey also indicates that “builders continue to grapple with ongoing supply chain disruptions and labor shortages that are delaying completion times.”

The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported today that mortgage applications for new home purchases are down 16.2% compared to September 2020, and applications are down 4% compared to August. It is notable that the average loan size hit $408,522, the highest on record, and another indicator of increasing construction costs.

Going forward, analysts expect the backlog of starts to continue as labor and supply chain issues persist. And although the news isn’t overtly positive, single family housing on its own is actually performing better than in 2020. There is light at the end of the tunnel for hopeful homebuyers.

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