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Real Estate Big Data

Home sales slip in February, prices jump 15% annually

(REAL ESTATE) Home sales fell in February, home prices continue to rise, and inventory levels loosened slightly – let’s dive into what this teeter totter of data means.

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Home sales: House sellers prepping home with For Sale sign out front

Existing home sales slid 7.2% in February across all regions, compared to January, and fell 2.4% from a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The median home sales price jumped 15% from a year ago, hitting $357,300, the 120th consecutive month of annual price increases (the longest streak on record).

Inventory levels loosened slightly rising to 870,000 units, the equivalent of 1.7 months of supply at the current monthly sales pace.

These conditions continue to plague housing affordability, which is particularly frustrating for first time home buyers who are pre-approved, with down payment in hand, ready to buy, but continue to be squeezed out of the market.

“Housing affordability continues to be a major challenge, as buyers are getting a double whammy: rising mortgage rates and sustained price increases,” said Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economist. “Some who had previously qualified at a 3% mortgage rate are no longer able to buy at the 4% rate.”

But it’s not just about affordability.

“Monthly payments have risen by 28% from one year ago,” said Dr. Yun, “which interestingly is not a part of the consumer price index – and the market remains swift with multiple offers still being recorded on most properties.”

Moving forward, Dr. Yun asserts that inflation will continue to hit consumers’ savings, but expects the pace of price appreciation to slow as demand cools and housing supply improves (if housing starts continue to improve).

The average days on market shrank again, down to 18 days in February, from 19 in January, and 20 in February 2021. That sounds promising, but with 84% of all homes sold in February staying on the market for under a month.

One bright spot of the report was the uptick in first-time buyers which accounted for 29% of sales in February, having dipped down to 27% in January.

Meanwhile, all-cash sales accounted for 25% of transactions in February, down from 27% in January (yet up from only 22% in February 2021). Talk about mixed news for first time buyers.

Regionally, existing home sales fell 11.5% in February in the Northeast, 11.3% in the Midwest, 5.1% in the South, and 4.7% in the West.

Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) Chief Economist, Dr. Mike Fratantoni said, “It is tempting to blame the decline on the recent run-up in mortgage rates. However, given that last month’s sales numbers represent closings, the decline in sales came at a time earlier this year when rates were lower. The more likely reasons for the drop in sales were the ongoing lack of housing inventory and the resulting increase in home values that priced some buyers out of the market.”

He concluded that, “From a lending perspective, while the number of sales declined somewhat, with 15% home-price growth, the dollar volume of sales and purchase originations have increased over the past year.”

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Real Estate Big Data

Home prices jump double digits in majority of American metros [report]

(REAL ESTATE) Housing affordability was already a widespread challenge before current economic pressures were applied, but now home prices are skyrocketing.

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homeownership home prices

As home sales slide and mortgage rates rise, home prices in 70% of 185 measured metros saw a double digit annual increase in Q1, according to the newest data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), up from 66% in the previous quarter.

The Southern region accounted for 45% of home sales in Q1, and experienced a 20.1% increase in annual home prices (compared to 14.3% just the quarter prior). Home prices in the Midwest jumped 8.5% annually in Q1, while The Northeast rose 6.7%, and the West increased 5.9%.

The median sales price of a single family existing home has now hit an astonishing $368,200.

“Prices throughout the country have surged for the better part of two years, including in the first quarter of 2022,” said NAR Chief Economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun. “Given the extremely low inventory, we’re unlikely to see price declines, but appreciation should slow in the coming months.”

Yun expects supply levels to improve, and for “more pullback in housing demand as mortgage rates take a heavier toll on affordability,” given that “there are no indications that rates will ease anytime soon.”

At first blush, price appreciation sounds lovely to anyone that owns a home, given that it is the largest investment most Americans will ever make.

But regarding today’s report, several homeowners told us that they now feel trapped, and that if they sold their current home, even if they purchased a new house at that same price, they would likely have to downgrade.

Affordability is an ongoing problem weighing down the housing sector. NAR reports that the monthly mortgage payment on a typical existing single-family home with a 20% down payment rose to $1,383 (up $319, or 30%, from one year ago). Families now typically spend 18.7% of their income on mortgage payments (but only spent 14.2% one year ago).

“Declining affordability is always the most problematic to first-time buyers, who have no home to leverage, and it remains challenging for moderate-income potential buyers, as well,” Dr. Yun observed.

Map of how home prices are behaving nationally

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Real Estate Big Data

Office occupancy is on the rise, but its knocking down morale

(BIG DATA) Despite work from home policies still in place and the flexibility some employers are offering, office occupancy is increasing steadily.

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Empty startup office with open floor plan, abandoned while working from home.

As coronavirus numbers dwindle and some officials begin calling for a fourth COVID-19 shot, more and more people previously working at home after being kicked out of shuttered office buildings are returning to the bullpen.

The National Association of Realtors reports that more than 80% of metro areas in the United States have seen an increase in in-person working.

Boston saw the largest office occupancy growth over the past year. Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. have the most open space.

NAR researcher Scholastica Cororaton says office occupancy is also increasing in areas with a big tech presence. San Jose, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle lead those areas.

“The rising occupancy in these tech metro areas indicates that tech companies are contributing to the demand for office space,” Cororaton wrote. “Even as nationally, 45% of mathematical and computer workers work from home for at least some part of the time.”

The way companies are returning to work vary and are sparking anger. For instance, Google employees must now be in the office three days a week. On the other hand, Apple begins its return to office plan next week. It starts with employees coming back one day a week which will eventually grow to two days and then three days a week. Apple employees have revolted against the idea and are have threatened to quit.

Many in leadership are pleased with the return to the office to boost productivity and collaboration. However, employees are finding they’re showing up in person to just log in to Zoom again, which has stirred up even more frustration.

On top of the redundancy of work that could be done at home, a study shows only 3% of white-collar employees want to work in the office all week. 86% want to stay home for at least a few days.

Plus, the return to the office drives up costs, with gas prices seeing soaring and inflation at a 40-year-high.

Since the second half of 2021, 30 million square feet of office space has been taken up, however, about 100 million square feet remain.

NAR reports filling that space up again could take through the end of 2024.

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Real Estate Big Data

Why Gen Z is far more open to homeownership than Millennials

(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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Woman thinking representing mental toughness.

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% of Gen Z participants expressed interest in owning a home sometime in the future; only 63% 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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