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Real Estate Big Data

Time to fake gasp: Housing starts plummeted in April

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) The global pandemic has hard hit several sectors, and new home construction is one of them (to no one’s surprise).

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housing starts + construction

COVID-19 has hit the housing market, to literally no one’s surprise. Housing starts plummeted 30.2% in April as our globe struggled with how to social distance and survive an economic shut down. Home building activity hit a five-year low, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

Compared to April 2019, housing starts dipped 29.7% across all four regions, despite many states allowing builder activity to continue as “essential” during stay-at-home orders sidelined many. During the same period, permits for housing fell 21%.

Starts didn’t fall for lack of trying, rather supply chain interruptions that we suspect will continue into the summer during this adjustment phase of reopening the economy.

May will likely continue the trend of restricted building activity. Most economists expect a widespread contraction in the second quarter. Housing alone isn’t braced for impact, rather combining that with a hit to the gross domestic product (GDP) as consumer spending and business investment continue to retract.

One silver lining is that despite this negative news, new home construction didn’t decline nearly as sharply as various other sectors of the American economy, a hopeful sign for the market.

Further, on the “relatively low level of single family starts and completions,” the The Calculated Risk blog calls this period the “wide bottom,” as they forecast “following the recession, and now I expect some further increases in single family starts and completions once the crisis abates.”

So take a big deep breath and fake gasp at the fake shock you’re feeling about housing starts slowing in April. And get ready to do it again in four weeks about May, then again in June. We’re not at the bottom, nor are we nearing it, and the market is changing, but no one is surprised that as the global pandemic hits the global economy, there will be ripples throughout every sector.

Real Estate Big Data

Are you selling real estate in a high-cancer-risk area?

(BIG DATA) If you own a brokerage knowing your local ecosystem can be beneficial. Whether it’s a humble brag on your blog, or a letter to a local rep, knowing your environment is always a good idea.

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Check your housing environment for cancer risk and support your area.

As a realtor or brokerage owner, you know the importance of understanding your community’s ecosystem in order to shape your business strategy.

However, have you considered how environmental and quality may play a role in those decisions?

This study published in Cancer suggests that you should. According to the study, “of every 100,000 Americans, 451 of us will get cancer in a given year.” The study “found a difference of 39 cases (per 100,000) people, between areas with the highest and the lowest environmental quality.

This establishes a significant link between environmental qualities and cancer risks.

The study also showcases a map of the US and the air quality of various regions. Red and orange areas have the worst air quality, while blue and green areas have the best air quality. As you might expect, large metropolitan areas have the worst air quality, and things improve as you move into more rural areas. You do find the most exceptions throughout the southeastern region and a vertical stretch that runs from the tip of Texas to the Dakotas up north.

These kinds of signs can either be a major benefit or a major obstacle to attracting buyers to your real estate market.

According to the most recent Gallup polls, 47% of Americans worry a great deal about the quality of the environment. So, how do you adjust?

If you’re in a blue or green area, make sure to get the word out! People now consider environmental quality as part of the quality of life factor. Don’t let that benefit go unnoticed. Blog about it on your own website. Use your social media to share data like this from other sources, or other information praising the environmental quality and protections of your market.

Integrate it into your marketing materials where possible.

If you’re in a red or orange area, you’ve got a bit more work to do here, and it’s going to get a bit political. There is already plenty of concern about attempts at the federal level to handicap agencies dedicated to protecting the environment. Be wary of such measures at the state and city level, and be a voice for the real estate economy in shaping this policy.

Does going to places of legislative businesses give you the heebie-jeebies? Find local organizations dedicated to improving environmental quality. Sponsor a river or park clean up event. Show your support for events like Earth Day. Don’t have those kinds of events? Harness your entrepreneurial spirit and bring these events to your community. Taking action as a community leader will be massively beneficial for your brand.

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Real Estate Big Data

How a COVID-19 vaccine could upend the housing market (again)

(REAL ESTATE BIG DATA) COVID-19 completely changed the trajectory of the housing market, but the promise of a vaccine could pull it back around in another direction.

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A house at dusk with lights illuminated, favored by housing market.

According to CNN Business, “the coronavirus pandemic dramatically changed the landscape of the housing market.” In many expensive urban housing markets, such as Manhattan and San Francisco, vacancy rates are high as people are moving to the suburbs; rents are low in these markets because workers are free from their office jobs.

When combined with low interest rates, this is putting a higher demand on homes in less populated markets. Many people are watching the real estate market closely as vaccines on the horizon promise a return to normal. How could the housing market be affected?

Homeowners still want to work from home to enjoy their sanctuary

The coronavirus reminded people how important home life was. Working from home eliminated commutes and gave workers back some of their time. Even with all the complications of working from home, buyers are looking for homes with a big backyard and space for a home office.

In the Dallas market, starter homes are high in demand. In urban markets that are more expensive, second homes in the rural areas are popular.

People should return to urban areas

As the vaccine gives Americans a return to normal, people will return to the big cities. CNN Business reports that the vacancy rate in Manhattan is 6.14%. Median rental prices are down almost 15% over last year.

As the pandemic comes to an end, it may be a renter’s market until the Fortune 500 companies bring people back to work. A vaccine could also lead to non-US buyers returning to the market, which would make the market more stable.

The vaccine could reverse mortgage rates

Some economists believe that the interest rates will continue to decline, but others suggest that a vaccine could switch the trend. Even so, Marketwatch predicts that many homeowners will still refinance as rates go. Homes will still be in demand, leading to a surge in the housing market.

In fact, a vaccine could mean that more homes will go on the market. Homeowners who hunkered down to ride out the pandemic could be more willing to host open houses and make a move themselves. A vaccine could contribute to supply, which will help buyers get better deals.

The Austin market is strong

Residential sales in the Austin area have increased by 31.5% over last year. Prices have also surged. The median price of a home in Austin’s city limits was $435,000 in August. Sales are expected to slow as supply dwindles. Inventory is limited because people are choosing to stay in their homes. Competition for homes on the market is high, driving prices even higher.

A vaccine is promising for the real estate market

A vaccine should even out the market, but without a crystal ball, it’s hard to know what will happen. Record sales in the Texas market certainly weren’t predicted to be an outcome of a pandemic. It will take time for the economy to level out and for people to get back to work in the entertainment and restaurant industry. How the vaccine impacts the market may depend on location, just as it always has.

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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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