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The real reason first time homebuyers are beyond exasperation

(REAL ESTATE) There is a perfect storm of market conditions working against first time homebuyers – we’ve outlined them here concisely for better understanding.

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frustrated first time homebuyers

First time homebuyers are increasingly being squeezed out of the housing market, despite having downpayment money, good credit, and an eagerness to buy.

There is a frustrating supply and demand disconnect in the market right now, and we’re sharing the highlights of what led to this moment, with an explanation of the real reason first time home buyers are beyond exasperation.

The share of first time buyers accounted for 27% of all home sales in January, hitting levels not seen since 2014 which had just sunk to levels not seen since 1987.

How did this happen!?

1. As home prices skyrocket, affordability plummets

The first component is home prices which continue rising, as affordability (defined as spending less than 30% of income on housing) has slid to 2008 levels.

Homes under $500,000 are “disappearing,” says National Association of Realtors (NAR’s) Chief Economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun. “Consequently, housing prices continue to move solidly higher,” and inventory levels remain “woefully depleted.”

First time buyers are the ones saving for a down payment and improving their credit scores, but will not at all benefit from the rising prices, they’ll simply remain squeezed out.

2. Demand spiked and mortgage rates were low

During the pandemic, housing demand spiked as mortgage rates hit historic lows, making homebuying increasingly attractive.

Meanwhile, the pandemic forced many workers into working remotely, which led to a workforce spreading out, often seeking larger homes to accommodate a lifestyle of never leaving the home, not even for a job.

Yet, the nation began to question when “the end” of the pandemic would come, causing uncertainty long before the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and sales took a dip, but demand still remained so high that it still didn’t loosen up inventory levels.

3. Housing supply remains at critical lows

Housing supply levels hit a record low in January, and are only expected to improve a moderate 3-5% in 2022.

Housing starts are up, but only because multi-family (apartments, condos) developers are on a building spree. They can’t build as quickly as in the early 2000s boom because of the labor shortages and supply chain crisis, but the building being done is led by those catering to renters, not new home builders.

NAR has been sounding the alarm for years about the supply imbalance, repeatedly reporting that builders are the key to loosening inventory levels and improving housing conditions.

But with that sector continuing to struggle with labor, as well as obtaining building materials in the midst of a supply chain crisis (much less getting reasonable prices on them), there is no expectation that a fix is imminent.

Last year, NAR insisted that ALL governments (from local to federal) take ‘once-in-a-generation’ action to address the supply crisis, for example, freeing up zoning to allow for the conversion of increasingly unused commercial spaces.

4. Cash buyers are swinging the market

Real estate investors are often moms and pops working towards retirement income, but they’re not what is swinging the market right now. Massive corporations are snapping up properties despite Zillow’s gloriously expensive failed attempt to do just that.

All-cash sales are up 8% from January of 2021, hitting 27% of all home sales in January 2022.

Think about that. How can a first time buyer compete with an all-cash buyer willing to sweeten the deal by foregoing inspections?!

The investment push is spreading bidding wars far beyond the boundaries of major cities and aren’t limited to multi-million dollar properties.

First time buyers are even being squeezed out of purchasing simple homes in rural towns where investors are offering up to six digits over asking price.

5. Mortgage rates have played a strong role

Investors have benefited greatly from historically low mortgage rates, but they won’t be slowed much by the increases already seen in recent months. In this same period, lending is becoming restrictive which also disadvantages first time homebuyers.

While the investor class won’t be dissuaded by mortgage rates rising, first time buyers who are already saving funds for down payments and having to compete with all-cash offers, most certainly are.

The Federal Reserve is expected to increase rates several times this year which puts even more pressure on first time buyers up against poor affordability and deep pockets of corporate investment firms.

The real reason first time homebuyers are beyond exasperation

What do you think investors are snapping up all of these properties for? They’re not going to live in them, they’re going to rent them out to would-be homebuyers that have been brutally shoved out of the market.

First time buyers are trying to buy before their leases expire, and are facing massively increase rental rates, whether they stay or move elsewhere.

There is an increasing feeling of resignation. They’re ready to buy, they’ve saved up for their down payment, they’ve been pre-approved, but they’re just fatigued at this point.

The real reason first time homebuyers are beyond exasperation is that they’re screwed by timing, even when they did everything right.

The real reason is that they must now ask themselves what’s next – increase their budget and live outside of their means, or lower expectations? That’s not the American dream of homeownership, we all know it, and there is little to no hope that it will change in coming years.

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.

Homeownership

Side hustle your home for use in film and TV (for BIG bucks!)

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Are you interested in a side hustle and willing to offer up your humble abode to be part of the magic of filmmaking? We give you the details!

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As a reader of AG for Real Estate, we know you may be a real estate practitioner, but you’re also a likely homeowner (or have endless clientele that could benefit from the following information, so enjoy)!

In this housing market, no matter what you’re looking for – be it a studio-style tiny home or a 13-bed mansion with a guest house – you’re going to pay top dollar. That was the case for Mary Kay Seery (not to be confused with the MLM) and her husband, Billy Seery, when they moved from the prominent East Village in New York City to a Victorian-style home in Brooklyn.

Their friends heavily questioned the decision, but with Mary being a life-long real-estate broker, she knew the underestimated value – especially when it came to staging it for use in movies or television shows as a side hustle. Their home has starred in Girls on HBO, Mysteries of Laura on NBC, The Affair Season 3 on Showtime, and many more.

“I’m sure we’ve made over $500,000 so far.” The home was purchased for $490,000.

“While state film commissions have increasingly brokered relationships between property owners and filmmakers and location agencies will shop your property for a fee, many – if not most – production companies do it the old-fashioned way. You don’t find them. They find you.”

For example, an anonymous flyer was dropped into the mail slot of a Chicago home in June 2019. The owners, Rian Akey and Shaun Kane, responded immediately to the scout but did not hear back for filming until September that same year. Turns out, the crew wanted to transform the living room of their 1885 Queen Anne home into the Smutny Funeral Home for the FX crime drama Fargo Season 4.

Once agreed, the crew quickly transformed the heart of their home, adding tobacco-stained wallpaper, a swinging entrance door, folding chairs, and flower stands, and last but not least…the casket.

“We had a coffin in our living room for almost a year.”

Due to NDAs, which are standard between homeowners and the location manager, Kane and Akey could not disclose the payment they received for the whole 11-month ordeal. What we do know is that the upfront cost for using the location is relative to labor union fees, production size, the renovation before and after, and how long the shoot will last.

Other stories follow suit all over the US. Carroll Belser, who resides in Sunnyside Plantation in Edisto Island, SC has seen her inherited 1875 family home transform for The Notebook, L.L. Bean photoshoots, Short Term Rental TV Pilot, and more. In Prospect Park South, New York City, Ms. McFeely has allowed her home to be the filming location for A Price Above Rubies, Half Nelson, The Groomsman, and The Great Gilly Hopkins.

Homeowners do warn that there can be mishaps during the filming process. Floors tend to become heavily worn from foot traffic, the crew may want to shoot in a room not originally specified, or filming could get extended for a longer period of time than originally agreed.

However, Ms. Seery says that the follow-up repairs usually whip things right back into shape, but to “make sure you have a good relationship with the location manager,” and to ask for extra payment if necessary.

Still interested in the side hustle and willing to offer up your humble abode to be part of the magic of filmmaking? Contact your local government’s film and TV office to register your home as production-friendly. You can also use online databases to list your home similar to Airbnb, like LocationsHub, Reel to Reel locations, or Set Scouter. You may also just get lucky and have a location scout reach out to with interest in using your home.

All of that to say, using your home for movies or television can be “lucrative, but also disruptive.” Be prepared to renovate your floors, be put up in a hotel, and for film fans to take photos on your front porch for years to follow. Lastly, you should be able to watch the film or show back to see someone “die” in the corner of your living room or take a pregnancy test in your bathroom.

If you can handle all of that, let the cast, crew, and CASH roll in!

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Homeownership

VA loans give veterans the hope of homeownership, the American Dream

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) After a veteran of the US Navy was honorably discharged due to injuries, VA loans offered a chance to pursue homeownership.

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Three servicemembers standing in uniform representing their ability to pursue homeownership with VA loans.

On this Memorial Day in America, the following editorial is penned by Bob Goldberg, CEO of the National Association of Realtors®, America’s largest trade association, to offer insight and deep gratitude for the many sacrifices made by our veterans, observing the role we have in helping to make their American Dreams come true:

Leslie Smith and his wife, Beth, don’t have a story too dissimilar from most Americans.

In the early days of the pandemic, the young couple felt smothered by their 700-square-foot apartment in Washington, D.C.

They were fortunate to both have safe, stable jobs, but assumed they’d need a few more years to save up for a down payment on a home that fit them better. Still, feeling restless and unsettled, Leslie and Beth started looking at some larger rowhomes in the city.

Leslie, a veteran of the United States Navy, spent many of his enlisted years stationed aboard the USS Nimitz in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. But his time in the service left him with two bad knees and an injured back, and he was honorably discharged in 2006.

Not long after beginning their home search, Leslie and Beth met a Realtor® who connected them to a loan officer with experience helping military and veteran homebuyers. Through their conversations, they learned that Leslie’s time in the service, coupled with his qualified disability, opened up a world of possibilities they never knew existed through the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program.

The time they thought they’d need to save for a down payment? All but erased, given the terms of the VA loan for which they could qualify.

Concerns that a VA loan wouldn’t cover the full price of a home in the high-cost D.C. market? No problem, as the cap for VA home loans was eliminated in 2019.

And the extra room in their monthly budget they assumed they’d need to cover private mortgage insurance? A non-factor, with Leslie’s service-related disability ensuring their mortgage would contain no PMI no matter how much they put down.

“Right after seeing all of this,” Leslie recounts today, “I turned to Beth and told her, ‘Well, I guess we’re ready now.’”

To hear Leslie and Beth tell their story, one can’t help but feel proud that the VA home loan program is delivering on the benefits promised to those who served this nation in uniform. The couple lights up when discussing the value their home has gained since it was purchased, and they speak with such appreciation for all the people who helped them recognize the opportunities this program afforded.

But through these conversations also comes the realization that so much more can be done to ensure our veterans and their families understand the full scope of benefits available to them.

As they were finalizing the transaction, Leslie and Beth sat down to meet with their tax advisor, himself a veteran of the U.S. Air Force. When Beth disclosed the terms of their new mortgage—specifically the absence of any monthly PMI payment—the accountant assumed there must be a catch.

“You’ll have to pay that money somehow,” he told them. “They’ll get you on it somewhere else.”

“He was completely puzzled,” Beth notes today. “We educated him a little bit… And we’ve since gone on to educate some of our friends who are veterans to make sure that they know this benefit is out there and that they can get into a home with nothing down.”

Since its establishment at the height of World War II, the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program has helped some 25 million U.S. veterans purchase and maintain homes of all sizes in every corner of this country.

Homeownership is the American Dream. But it’s not just about four walls and a roof, a front porch, or a fenced-in backyard for kids and dogs to run.

The American Dream is about what this space represents. It’s about safety and comfort. Financial security. The opportunity to pursue our own happiness on our own property on our own terms. A home is where we are free, where we are loved, and where we are protected.

Homeownership is the American Dream because the places we call ‘home’ represent everything we hold dear as sovereign and fiercely independent Americans.

Every member of our armed services has sacrificed something in defense of these ideals—as have their spouses, children, and parents. We have a responsibility to help them achieve their American Dream.

The National Association of Realtors® has worked from our position as America’s largest trade association to help ensure the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program remains an accessible resource for veterans looking to purchase a home as a benefit for their service.

Earlier this year, we released a two-part video series hosted by our 2022 President Leslie Rouda Smith examining many of the common misconceptions and advantages of the program.

Realtors® can also pursue a Military Relocation Professional certification to better prepare them to work with U.S. servicemembers, veterans, and their families. The program educates NAR members to make sure they are helping military homebuyers find the housing solutions that best meet their needs while taking advantage of every possible benefit.

As part of our broader advocacy efforts in Washington, NAR was one of the loudest voices pushing to remove the cap on VA home loans at the close of the last decade. It’s a change that made a significant difference in the lives of Leslie and Beth, and for countless other veterans like them.

Today, Memorial Day, we remember all those who gave their lives in defense of this country. As we honor their immense sacrifices, we also look for ways to better recognize and repay the men and women who have survived the horrors of combat and returned home to live out the ideals they risked everything to protect.

Because when they do return, access to a safe, comfortable home should never be in question.

“We wouldn’t be here without the VA loan,” Beth says today of their beautiful, equity-rich property in Northwest D.C. “It’s a phenomenal house, we’re super grateful for it, and we want every veteran and military family to be aware that this benefit is out there for them, too.”

Bob Goldberg is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Association of Realtors®

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Homeownership

These 10 US cities boast the most immigrant homeowners

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) It’s no coincidence that the most exciting areas of our country are also the most diverse.

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immigrant homeowners

What do Miami, Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, and Washington D.C. all have in common? They’re all part of the top 10 cities with the highest number of immigrant homeowners. Other things they share include being hubs for culture, cuisine, and tourism, which is perhaps why they’ve become homes to the United States’ most diverse and thriving economies.

What does this show us? Immigrants are pursuing higher-level jobs in urban areas and laying roots. Consequently, these areas are flourishing in part due to increased competition in every industry.

But it’s not just those cities, here is the full top 10 list of cities with the highest number of foreign-born homeowners:

  1. San Jose, CA
  2. Miami, FL
  3. Los Angeles, CA
  4. San Francisco, CA
  5. New York, NY
  6. Riverside, CA
  7. Houston, TX
  8. Las Vegas, NV
  9. San Diego, CA
  10. Washington, DC

Highest immigrant homeowners in the US 2022

Why is this important?

Given that so many of us immigrated or are children of those who did (shout out to my great-grandparents and their courage), the result is clear. While some consider immigration to be invasive and detrimental to the American way of life, here is the truth: people of other cultures are here; through contributing to a wide variety of industries, they are finding success (enough to buy a home), and we’re better off because of it.

Cities with the lowest foreign-born homeownership (Pittsburgh, PA; Birmingham, AL; Cincinnati, OH; Louisville, KY; St. Louis, MO; Memphis, TN; Buffalo, NY; Indianapolis, IN; Kansas City, MO; Columbus, OH) reflect a different result. Cincinnati, Louisville, and St. Louis aren’t as strong economically as the booming economies in Texas and California.

Lowest immigrant homeowners in the US 2022

Why is this immigrant homeownership cause for celebration? In an over-simplified example, consider food. Think of the least diverse city you’ve visited. Now think of the dining options regularly available there. How many of them are mediocre, boring, or flat-out unimpressive? In a diverse and dynamic area, the dining options are LIMITLESS. The competition is fierce and as a result, restaurants, and vendors produce incredible work. No one in L.A. has ever said “There are no good places to eat.” Scale that up to every industry and the proof is in the pudding – immigrants are lifting up economies, and we are better for it.

To all the immigrants about whom this article is written — a tip of the cap. Keep living your dream.

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