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Home sales dive 10% in May – when is a sales rebound expected?

(REAL ESTATE) Home sales plummet in May, which we all expected, but when will sales begin to recover in light of this pandemic?

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As you would expect, May marks the third consecutive month of home sales declines amidst a global pandemic. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), existing home sales fell 9.7% in May compared to April, down a whopping 26.6% compared to this time last year.

The silver lining is that values continue to improve, with a median existing home price of $284,600 nationally, up 2.3% from May 2019, marking the 99th month of year-over-year gains.

Inventory levels rose 6.2% from April, and are down 18.8% from May 2019. Average days on market didn’t move much, at 26 days being equal to May 2019, and down from 27 days in April.

“Sales completed in May reflect contract signings in March and April – during the strictest times of the pandemic lockdown and hence the cyclical low point,” said Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

He added, “Home sales will surely rise in the upcoming months with the economy reopening, and could even surpass one-year-ago figures in the second half of the year.”

Sales also reflected an uptick in suburban sales over urban home sales. Dr. Yun cited work from home demands, however, anecdotally we would add some people moving away from densely populated areas in response to recent unrest.

What will ease housing conditions?

As he has observed repeatedly in recent years, Dr. Yun points to home builders. “New home construction needs to robustly ramp up in order to meet rising housing demand. Otherwise, home prices will rise too fast and hinder first-time buyers, even at a time of record-low mortgage rates.”

Mortgage Banker’s Association’s (MBA’s) SVP and Chief Economist, Dr. Mike Fratantoni’s insight pointed to inventory challenges as well: “As buyers are returning to the market, as evidenced by the strong, nine-week rebound in MBA’s purchase application data, the lack of homes for sale will be a real constraint. Although demand certainly dropped in March and April due to the crisis, supply dropped even more, and has thus far kept home prices from declining. We expect that home-price growth will pick up over the summer due to insufficient supply levels.”

Dr. Fratantoni noted, “The market is supported by strong demand from first-time homebuyers, who represented 34% of home purchases in May. Millennial-driven demand will be a tailwind for the market for the next several years.”

“Although the real estate industry faced some very challenging circumstances over the last several months, we’re seeing signs of improvement and growth, and I’m hopeful the worst is behind us,” said NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc.

Lani is the Chief Operating Officer at The American Genius - she has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH and Austin Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

Real Estate Big Data

Gen Z is far more open to homeownership than millennials [study]

(REAL ESTATE) After years of hearing how millennials delay homeownership, it’s refreshing to hear Gen Z has a totally different perspective.

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gen z vs. millennials

We’ve written for years about millennials and their reluctance to purchase homes, especially in the wake of the pandemic. Financial hesitancy is a trait long associated with millennials, but according to Hana Ben-Shabat, Gen Z is making a definitive push for homeownership where the prior generation has stagnated.

Hana Ben-Shabat is the author of Gen Z 360: Preparing for the Inevitable Change in Culture, Work, and Commerce, and she founded Gen Z Planet, a firm that “[helps] brands prepare and adjust to the changes that Generation Z is bringing to the workplace and the consumer market.”

Her insight is clearly valuable, making her assertion that Gen Z is more likely to buy homes less speculation and more prophecy.

“Considering their focus on securing their future, home ownership is a piece of the puzzle,” Ben-Shabat says. In a related survey, she notes that 87 percent of Gen Z participants expressed interest in owning a home sometime in the future; only 63 percent of millennials echoed that sentiment.

Gen Z participants also had a stronger inclination toward viewing homeownership as a financially smart decision rather than a burden.

Gen Z’s open-mindedness toward purchasing homes may seem surprising at first glance. Ben-Shabat acknowledges the financial hardships placed on this generation, and posits that, having seen millennials struggle with student debt and the recession of 2008, this generation has arguably more incentive to stay away from large investments.

But she also points out that Gen Z buyers are “determined to learn from the mistakes of others and secure their financial future as early as possible,” adding that they “benefited from a wave of consumer financial education that began after the housing crisis of 2008.

This makes for a generation that is both clear and educated regarding their financial goals and how to achieve them.

It’s also worth noting, as Ben-Shabat does, that millennials have a more tenuous grasp of DIY culture and the financial decisions that accompany it than their Generation Z counterparts. As “digital natives,” Gen Z buyers don’t object as strongly to purchasing starter homes and renovating; millennials, by contrast, find themselves purchasing more expensive properties that are “ready to move in” due to waiting an extended time before shifting toward homeownership.

Ben-Shabat’s observations foreshadow an increased market shift toward Generation Z ownership, especially in smaller, more affordable locations. As for the economic ramifications of the paradigm change, only time (and Ben-Shabat’s website) will tell.

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Real Estate Big Data

It’s actually really great news that home sales just dipped slightly

(REAL ESTATE) Home sales took a small dip in July, according to the National Association of Realtors – why is this GOOD news?

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In a different market, home sales slipping would be terrible news, but in this overheated housing market, it’s welcome news. Pending home sales (contracts signed) slipped in July by 1.8%, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Marking the second month of declines, all regions fell except the West which rose 1.9%. Compared to July of last year, sales fell 8.5%, so why is this good news?

“The market may be starting to cool slightly, but at the moment there is not enough supply to match the demand from would-be buyers,” said Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economist. “That said, inventory is slowly increasing and home shoppers should begin to see more options in the coming months.”

Inventory levels have been high for several years now, and housing starts are millions of units behind where they should be, so several markets are overheated.

“Homes listed for sale are still garnering great interest, but the multiple, frenzied offers – sometimes double-digit bids on one property – have dissipated in most regions,” Dr. Yun said. “Even in a somewhat calmer market, a number of potential buyers are still choosing to waive appraisals and inspections.”

NAR reports that 27% of buyers bypassed appraisal and inspection contingencies to speed up the homebuying process.

Pending home sales slid 6.6% in the Northeast, 0.9% in the South, and 3.3% in the Midwest. While a slowing of sales doesn’t fix the inventory crisis, it sure does slightly loosen conditions. It won’t have a strong impact on housing prices, and a 1.8% dip may feel more like stagnant activity, but it truly is a sign of hope.

NAR is pressing lawmakers to take immediate action, from local to federal; they’re pressing for changes to stop the proverbial bleeding, like permitting law adjustments to allow commercial real estate be transformed to residential units in response to the shortage of housing, and builders unable to keep up.

We’ll still see comedic sketches online about the housing market as a reflection of a dip in homebuyer morale, but hopefully we’ll see those slow as well. Fingers crossed.

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Real Estate Big Data

Housing affordability and food insecurity are linked – a crisis is unfolding

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) You wouldn’t think housing affordability and people’s ability to buy food are linked, but they are and a finance problem is emerging.

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housing affordability and food insecurity

A report out today from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) substantiates the relationship between housing affordability and food security. Although this shouldn’t be news to anyone, in the wake of the pandemic, hints of a housing bubble, and with inflation on the rise, many more households are being forced to choose between housing or food.

According to the NAR, “the cost of housing have a critical impact on their ability to have enough food on the table.”

Using the U.S. Census Bureau Household Pulse Survey, NAR analyzed the number of households that found it difficult to pay their expenses. About 7% of all households, or 35.1 million, found it difficult to meet their expenses.

Breaking it down even farther, about 23.3 million homeowners were having difficulty. This is about 38% of all homeowners across the U.S.

Renters only comprised about 11.8 million households with difficulty, but this is about 66% of all renter households. As eviction moratoriums and forbearance periods are expiring, these figures should be worrisome.

The NAR also reports about 8.1 million households are without enough food. About 10% of Americans experience food insecurity.

Renters experience food insecurity at higher rates than homeowners.

Although there are many programs that give out free groceries and that supplement food budgets, renters still find it difficult to meet expenses.

Rents are increasing, faster than wages, which is one reason families are on “the edge of affordability.” For example, although Texas housing rates have risen just 6.7% over the past year, the family income has not. This puts pressure on the family to pay for a roof over their head or to buy food. Affordable housing is an issue that directly relates to food insecurity.

NAR reports that their members care about their community. Among the 67% of REALTORS® who volunteer, a little more than 1/3 of them gave to food banks. Another 20% gave to food delivery for elderly and housebound individuals. REALTORS® donated to frontline workers and for school meals for children.

Despite the help, more can be done. Look into food banks and volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood.

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