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Real Estate Big Data

Yet more confusing news concerning pending home sales

(REAL ESTATE BIG DATA) Pending home sales numbers are just as confusing of a tell of the flow of the market right now as actual home sales. What can we expect later?

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pending home sales contract signings

So the country is in a constant shifting landscape of information, with some of it seeming to contradict each other. Just yesterday I wrote about how home sales actually increased in April in the midst of COVID-19 confusion, but here I am again to inform about a drop in pending home sales. I have to keep you on your toes, because like I said yesterday, humans are experts in adapting and being confusing.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) has studied massive quantities of data every month to track the real estate market since starting way back in 2001, and this month set a record for the greatest decline in contract signings since then. Year-over-year it fell 33.8% to an index of 100, this means compared to last month they fell 21.8%.

Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist said of the pending home sales decline, “With nearly all states under stay-at-home orders in April, it is no surprise to see the markedly reduced activity in signing contracts for home purchases.”

But he also has high hopes because of many factors coming up saying “In the coming months, buying activity will rise as states reopen and more consumers feel comfortable about homebuying in the midst of the social distancing measures.”

This optimistic view comes from Flash Surveys the NAR conduct to find what Realtors are experiencing, and 34% reported successfully completing almost all aspects of transactions while following social distancing.

People still want homes, and Coronavirus isn’t going to stop some people. Especially if it’s moving to more rural parts of the country where in the South and the Midwest the decline was only 15.4% and 15.9% respectively, as compared to the West which dropped 20% and a whopping 48.2% in the Northeast.

Yun also is surprised by the data from time to time, “Given the surprising resiliency of the housing market in the midst of the pandemic, the outlook for the remainder of the year has been upgraded for both home sales and prices, with home sales to decline by only 11% in 2020 with the median home price projected to increase by 4%, In the prior forecast, sales were expected to fall by 15% and there was no increase in home price.”

So all in all even if pending sales decreased, prices fall, but also inventory drops, it’s easy to say the future holds – question mark?

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

Global market panic over Chinese real estate bubble subsides slightly

(REAL ESTATE) Chinese real estate bubble fears shook markets last week, but Evergrande made a big move today to temper the panic.

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chinese real estate

Last week, stock markets internationally plunged due to fears of a real estate bubble in China as their largest real estate developer, Evergrande struggled to make their interest payments on their outstanding bank loans as well as their bonds.

Analysts pointed to the interconnected nature of markets, reminding people that when the housing market crashed in the U.S. back in 2008, all global markets were impacted.

We asserted that the panic was overblown given that Evergrande has a tremendous amount of physical assets ($340 billion to be more precise), and that a restructure was possible which could put them back on track (rather than crumble – which was what markets seemed to imagine last week).

There has been a lot of speculation that the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) would begin pressuring state-owned businesses to prop up the developer.

Today, Evergrande’s stock is actually up as they have raised $1.5 billion in cash to meet their financial obligations.

How did they accomplish this? By selling their 20% stake in Shengjing Bank to the state-owned Shenyang Shengjing Finance Investment Group.

The money will only be applicable to their outstanding interest payments that are past due, and the Chinese government has not made any statement to the effect that they applied pressure or intervened.

The government has been pouring cash into the financial system to assuage fears, adding $15.5 billion to keep liquidity moving.

In a statement this week, the People’s Bank of China said they would “maintain the healthy development of the real estate market and safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of housing consumers.” The statement did not specifically reference Evergrande.

It is important that real estate practitioners keep their eye on this story as it has stoked consumers’ fears, especially when people don’t read beyond a headline.

There won’t be a pop quiz on how much cash Evergrande has on hand, but consumers may mention the Chinese real estate bubble elbowing markets here as a factor in their decision making. Understanding the bird’s eye view of what is going on will help Realtors better address the topic while in the field.

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Real Estate Big Data

Pending home sales jump 8.1% after two months of declines

(REAL ESTATE) Pending home sales are up in August versus July, but are down annually and regional performance varies.

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The volume of contracts signed on home purchases in America (pending home sales) rose 8.1% in August from July after two months of sliding sales, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Although all regions experienced monthly growth, the Northeast actually fell 15.8% compared to this same time last year. In that same vein, pending home sales are down 8.3% over August of 2020.

This metric is used to indicate how many closings are coming down the pipeline nationally, so regardless of the volume compared to last year, closings are looking up compared to this summer.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun said, “Rising inventory and moderating price conditions are bringing buyers back to the market. Affordability, however, remains challenging as home price gains are roughly three times wage growth.”

Dr. Yun also notes that this market imbalance “is unsustainable over the long-term.”

He adds that the Midwest and South are more moderately priced and are experiencing “stronger signing of contracts to buy,” which he notes is not surprising. “This can be attributed to some employees who have the flexibility to work from anywhere, as they choose to reside in more affordable places.”

NAR pending home sales index

Remote work is certainly shifting the landscape, but it remains unseen how permanent this shift is as our nation struggles to emerge from a persistent global pandemic.

It is worth noting that in the Midwest, pending home sales surged 10.4% monthly, bud dropped 5.9% annually. The Southern region rose 8.6% monthly, and is down 6.3% annually. In the West, contract signings rose 7.2% monthly and dipped 9.2% annually. In the Northeast, sales rose 4.6% monthly, and fell a whopping 15.8% annually.

Another forward-looking indicator remains worrisome as housings starts for single family homes fell 2.8% in August. But with home prices rising for the fourth consecutive month, there remains uncertainty in the market.

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Real Estate Big Data

Housing starts surge, but only in the multi-family sector #MixedNews

(REAL ESTATE) Housing starts just skyrocketed, led by multi-family, while single-family actually fell, doing *nothing* to help the housing supply crisis.

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housing starts + construction

Housing starts are on the rise, everyone celebrate! We’ve been saying for years that the market will continue to choke out would-be homebuyers if permits and starts don’t improve, and we’re finally seeing a glimmer of hope, but unfortunately it’s pretty exclusively in the multi-family sector.

According to the U.S. Commerce Department, housing starts jumped 3.9% in August, beating economists’ expectations, with construction material pricing easing and allowing for more new builds. But again, the surge was led by multi-family (up a whopping 20.6% for the month), while single family housing starts actually fell 2.8%, and permits for that sector stagnated.

“There is certainly a housing shortage, as reflected in the low inventory of homes for sale and in low rental vacancy rates,” observed National Association of Realtors’ Chief Economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun. “However, a shift toward rental buildings means less access to homeownership over the long run and the accompanying opportunity for wealth gains.”

This summer, NAR called for lawmakers from local to federal to take “once-in-a-generation action” to address the housing supply crisis.

Now, Dr. Yun noted that “given the housing shortage and the lack of big increases in the construction of single-family homes, home prices will continue to move higher than most people’s income gains,” despite price gains skyrocketing 20% gains in the first half of this year.

“That’s good news for property owners,” said Dr. Yun, “but bad news for those wanting to become homeowners.”

In coming months, single-family housing starts are expected to slow, not just for seasonality reasons, but as a result of thousands of people trading in their city life for a suburban life as a reaction to a global pandemic.

Home builders’ permits are up 50% nationally compared to this time last year when supply chains were obliterated by COVID, and China’s real estate problems are not expected to have a strong ripple effect in housing stateside, although a temporary stock market retraction has been felt.

Homebuilder sentiment just rose for the first time in three months, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) which pointed to a rise in buyer traffic and (finally) falling lumber prices, which they said has added an average of $30K in cost to a new home in America.

“The September data show stability as some building material cost challenges ease, particularly for softwood lumber. However, delivery times remain extended and the chronic construction labor shortage is expected to persist as the overall labor market recovers,” said NAHB Chairman, Dr. Chuck Fowke.

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