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Real Estate Big Data

Home sales have their best quarter in a decade despite low inventory levels

Inventory levels remain low, so in some markets it’s pretty tough to sell anything, but overall, home sales are improving.

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home sales

In the third quarter, home price increases slowed down to a “healthier pace,” and home sales experienced an “encouraging lift-off,” despite inventory shortages, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The median home price rose 5.5 percent over the year to $229,000, as sales rose 3.4 percent in just one quarter, up 8.3 percent from Q3 last year.

Best quarter in nearly a decade

Ending the third quarter, there were 2.21 million existing homes available for sale, which is below the 2.28 million homes for sale at the end of Q3 2014. The average supply during the third quarter was 4.9 months – down from 5.5 months a year ago.

Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist, says there’s no question the housing market had its best quarter in nearly a decade.

“The demand for buying picked up speed in many metro areas during the summer as more households entered the market, encouraged by favorable mortgage rates and improving local economies,” said Dr. Yun.

He added that “While price growth still teetered near or above unhealthy levels in some markets, the good news is that there was some moderation despite the stronger pace of sales.”

Affordability remains a point of concern

Dr. Yun says sales had the potential to be even higher last quarter given the decline in mortgage rates and favorable economic conditions.

“Unfortunately, the lack of any meaningful gains in housing supply pushed prices in some areas above what some potential buyers – especially first-time buyers – are able to afford,” said Dr. Yun.

NAR has been beating the drum of affordability for some time now, and this quarter is no different as they express concerns about buyers’ ability to become or remain homeowners.

California remains the most expensive

It is no shock that the majority of the most expensive housing markets this quarter were in California:

  1. San Jose, CA ($965,000)
  2. San Francisco, CA ($809,400)
  3. Anaheim-Santa Ana, CA ($715,300)
  4. Honolulu, HI ($714,000)
  5. San Diego, CA $554,400

The least expensive markets in the third quarter:

  1. Cumberland, MD ($82,400)
  2. Youngstown-Warren-Boardham, OH ($90,700)
  3. Decatur, IL ($101,400)
  4. Rockford, IL ($102,800)
  5. Elmira, NY ($108,800)

“Many of the metro areas with the fastest price appreciation over the past year were in the South – particularly in Florida,” says Yun. “A combination of solid job gains, above average shares of vacation and foreign buyers and little new construction being added was behind these areas’ faster price growth.”

Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.

Real Estate Big Data

Demand for urban vs. suburban housing remains even (unless you’re in SF)

(REAL ESTATE BIG DATA) Most would assume that housing market trends would show people moving out of cities and into the suburbs following COVID restrictions. But the demand for both has stayed surprisingly even.

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Houses part of the housing market against a blue sky.

Despite what most people think, the suburban housing market isn’t completely leaving the urban market behind in the dust. According to a 2020 Zillow Urban-Suburban Market Report, data shows both markets are “hot sellers.” To illustrate this trend, Zillow’s Economic Research team analyzed various points related to for-sale listings.

Data shows homes in both areas are selling quicker than they were at the beginning of the year. The trend of houses selling above their listed prices and home value growth has accelerated at about the same pace for both markets.

With the exception of the Northeast region, national year-over-year (YoY) pending sales trends are almost even across urban classifications since February. Due to a smaller urban inventory pool at the start of the pandemic, this might account for the slower acceleration rates of sales in the Northeastern states.

On Zillow, suburban homes are receiving about the same attention as they did in 2019, and “urban and rural page views each climbed 0.2 percentage points from last year.” Suburb listings do attract more traffic on Zillow, but urban listings are still holding their ground.

Based on home characteristics, there isn’t a higher demand for single-family homes versus condos. Overall, this means the urban market is still attracting an audience.

However, this isn’t true in all cases. The San Francisco metro area falls out of these patterns. A great increase of listings are just sitting on the market. With an inventory up 96% YoY, this is a significant jump compared to the surrounding suburbs. Sellers are flooding the market, but buyers haven’t changed their purchasing pace.

According to Bay Area Market Reports, “With the increase in inventory has come a big jump in the number of listings reducing asking price. In some market segments, sellers are now competing for buyers, instead of buyers competing for listings.”

Although “San Francisco list prices have fallen 4.9% YoY,” there aren’t enough people buying in that housing market. With more tech companies like Google and Facebook allowing employees to work remote, hundreds of employees are leaving the city. And with them, will renters and buyers that aren’t renewing their leases look elsewhere to settle down?

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Real Estate Big Data

Top 30 ‘work from home’ counties in U.S. ranked (Texas beat all y’all, btw)

(REAL ESTATE) NAR examines the shift in purchase decisions based on a rapidly changing workforce to work from home, and of course, Texas dominates the top 30. Maybe not the top 10, but the top 30.

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We typically ignore all of the new, rushed rankings of geographies during the COVID-times, but the National Association of Realtors (NAR) just put out a well thought out argument for their top 30 counties for working from home, taking into account internet connectivity, the percentage of workers in office-related jobs, home affordability, urbanization, and a county’s population growth.

Not to be a conspiracy theorist, but the top 10 looks like a map of the old Big 12 football conference schedule back when it was the Southwest Conference, just saying…

The report analyzes the aforementioned factors that “support the remote work trend,” which we firmly believe will drive real estate purchases for years to come as employers begin implementing more permanent flex work options.

Texas leads all states with 7 counties among the top 30, but for the sake of fairness, here is the top 10, in which we painfully acknowledge Georgia as the top spot stealer:

  1. Forsyth County, Georgia
  2. Douglas County, Colorado
  3. Los Alamos County, New Mexico
  4. Collin County, Texas
  5. Loudoun County, Virginia
  6. Hamilton County, Indiana
  7. Williamson County, Tennessee
  8. Delaware County, Ohio
  9. Broomfield County, Colorado
  10. Dallas County, Iowa

“The coronavirus pandemic greatly accelerated the number of workers who are able to work from home,” notes NAR Chief Economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun. “Possibly a quarter of the labor force may be permitted to work from anywhere outside of the office even after a vaccine is discovered – compared to only 5% prior to the pandemic – and this will greatly change the landscape of where people buy homes.”

NAR President Vince Malta observes that location options are not the only changes for potential homebuyers, but that as remote work becomes more commonplace, “we may see buyers seek larger properties that offer space for a potential home office and other features that have become more valuable as a result of this pandemic.” Aha!

Malta adds, “The growing trend and historically-low mortgage rates are spurring potential homebuyers to consider a broader range of options and rethink what’s important to them in the long term.”

In a statement, NAR indicates, “The growing number of people working remotely also impacts commercial real estate, particularly the office sector, with future office sizes and locations potentially changing as a result.”

Dr. Yun states that the future of commercial real estate “appears uncertain” as companies reorganize “from having a central business district headquarters to several suburban satellite offices.”

The bright spot, however, is retail. “One can reasonably expect to see some growth in the number of smaller stores in the top 30 counties coming at the expense of similar establishments near downtown office buildings,” Dr. Yun concluded.


Below is a breakdown of their methodology:
nar work from home

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Real Estate Big Data

Home purchase contract signings surge 5.9% in July

[REAL ESTATE BIG DATA] Positive NAR reports encourage strong homebuyer return into the housing market following pent-up demand.

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pending home sales contract signings

Like all other housing economic indicators, home purchase contract signings jumped 5.9% in July, according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI).

This marks the third consecutive month of growth, and all regions saw rising pending home sales during this time in annual and monthly improvements. Comparing the data to this time last year, contract signings are up 15.5%.

The index is used by the industry as an early indicator of upcoming closings. What do consumers do with this data? Typically not much.

But with all of the positive headlines, homebuyer Alexei F. in Austin, TX tells us that his family is inspired to begin house shopping a year earlier than previously planned.

“We are witnessing a true V-shaped sales recovery as homebuyers continue their strong return to the housing market,” said NAR’s Chief Economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun. “Home sellers are seeing their homes go under contract in record time, with nine new contracts for every 10 new listings.”

The global pandemic restricted the spring buying season, but NAR points out that most states are at least partially reopened, freeing up the pent-up demand.

Dr. Yun said in a statement that there are “no indications that contract activity will wane in the immediate future, particularly in the suburbs.”

Further, he forecasts that existing home sales (closings) will jump to 5.8 million in the second half of this year, creating a rebound and a small (1.1%) gain over 2019. In 2021, he anticipates that with a continuing low interest rate environment, and an economy he expects to expand by 4%, sales could reach 5.86 million.

“Anecdotally, Realtors are telling me there is no shortage of clients or home seekers, but that scarce inventory remains a problem,” Dr. Yun said.

“If 20% more homes were on the market, we would have 20% more sales, because demand is that high,” Dr. Yun observed, adding that he expects housing starts to average at 1.35 million in 2020 and to pick up in 2021, to 1.43 million.

July saw small to large surges regionally, and all have substantial growth compared to July of 2019:

  • The Northeast PHSI grew 25.2% to 112.3 in July, a 20.6% jump from a year ago.
  • In the Midwest, the index rose 3.3% to 114.6 last month, up 15.4% from July 2019.
  • Pending home sales in the South increased 0.9% to an index of 142.0 in July, up 14.9% from July 2019.
  • The index in the West rose 6.8% in July to 106.4, up 13.2% from a year ago.

contract signings

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