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Housing optimism cools – what will it take to heat back up?

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) Despite economic gains and a hot housing market, optimism is cooling. Why is this happening and what’s the cure?

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Housing is a complex creature – the market can be on fire, but optimism can wane nonetheless. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is reporting that despite solid job creation, the strength of the economy, and increased economic growth, many households are less keen on believing now is a good time for buying or selling, and are overall less confident about the economy.

This comes as a result of the fourth quarter HOME (Housing Opportunities and Market Experience) survey, which samples US households by a random digit-dial and was conducted by TehcnoMetrica Market Intelligence that gathered 2,705 households. The HOME survey collects data on a monthly basis and is focused on identifying real estate trends.

Despite an improving economy, more hiring, and low mortgage rates, optimism in home sales was not as expected, according to Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the NAR.

In general, most prospective home buyers had to deal with a lack of inventory – less construction, fewer sellers, and a lack of affordability.

Reduced economic confidence in the face of the economy’s improvements persisted, with more households feeling less secure about their financial situation, and less people believing the economy is improving. Simply put – they aren’t feeling it.

Renters are less engaged to buy, as demonstrated by a two percent decrease in renters believing now is a good time to go get that home.

Overall – the people most excited to purchase homes are current homeowners, households with income above $100,000, and those living in the Midwest and South. If you live in the West, it is likely that you believe yourself to be in a good market for selling a home.

Overall, people more firmly believe it is a good time to sell their home over last year, which can spell some good news for potential buyers in 2018, as more people may be comfortable putting their homes on the market.

The key is that housing supply must increase. New builds and more sellers placing homes on the market will improve confidence about the housing supply and can work in tandem with a better job market and improved economy to make households feel more optimistic about their #future.

Kam has a Master's degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and is an HR professional. Obsessed with food, but writing about virtually anything, he has a passion for LGBT issues, business, technology, and cats.

Real Estate Big Data

With housing demand so high, why are sales stagnant?

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) The housing market is on fire, yet some serious constraints are holding back sales levels – let’s discuss.

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If you have a pulse and are on the internet, you already know that the housing market is white hot, with bidding wars in more cities than ever. So why in the world are home sales stagnating?

Pending home sales rose only 0.4 percent in March, according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR’s) Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), decreasing 3.0 percent on an annualized basis – the third consecutive month of annual dips.

Despite a strong economy, NAR points yet again to “unrelenting inventory constraints” which they recently said would only be relieved by builders stepping up production, more homeowners putting their home on the market, and/or investors releasing inventory.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun says contract activity is moving sideways and not breaking higher despite the strong job-creating economy.

“Healthy economic conditions are creating considerable demand for purchasing a home, but not all buyers are able to sign contracts because of the lack of choices in inventory,” said Dr. Yun.

He continued, “Steady price growth and the swift pace listings are coming off the market are proof that more supply is needed to fully satisfy demand. What continues to hold back sales is the fact that prospective buyers are increasingly having difficulty finding an affordable home to buy.”

Dr. Yun forecasts that existing home sales will hit 5.61 million this year (up slightly from 5.51 million last year), also forecasting the national median home price will rise 4.4 percent.

He notes that affordability and availability are holding back home sales, combined with price appreciation outpacing incomes, and mortgage rates rising, sales will soon peak.

“Much of the country is enjoying a thriving job market, but buying a home is becoming more expensive,” said Yun. “That is why it is an absolute necessity for there to be a large increase in new and existing homes available for sale in coming months to moderate home price growth. Otherwise, sales will remain stuck in this holding pattern and a growing share of would-be buyers – especially first-time buyers – will be left on the sidelines.”

This story originally published on April 30, 2018.

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Real Estate Big Data

Home sales surge in half of the nation, slump in the other half

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) Home sales rose last month, despite challenging inventory and affordability conditions – but not in all markets.

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Talk about mixed signals. We ended last week with alarm bells that affordability is restricting the housing market, yet home sales in March actually surged in the Northeast (up 6.3 percent) and Midwest (up 5.7 percent) compared to just one month prior.

Meanwhile, home sales slipped 0.4 percent in the South, and a whopping 3.1 percent in the West. Sales levels in all four regions are lower than they were at this time last year, reinforcing the supply and demand challenges, putting homeownership out of reach for a growing pool of potential buyers.

NAR Chief Economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun has indicated that the only way to loosen the noose is a combination of more current homeowners opting to sell, builders increasing new home production, and investors releasing inventory.

In the last year, the median existing home price rose 5.8 percent to $250,4000 with March as the 73rd consecutive month of annual gains.

The average number of days on market decreased to 30 days from 37 in February and 34 in March of 2017. Half of all home sold were on the market for less than a month, and in some cities, bidding wars and immediate sales are common.

“Although the strong job market and recent tax cuts are boosting the incomes of many households, speedy price growth is squeezing overall affordability in several markets – especially those out West,” said Dr. Yun.

That said, there is a silver lining.

NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty notes, “First-time buyers continue to make up an underperforming share of the market because there are simply not enough homes for sale in their price range.”

Supply conditions improve in higher up price brackets,” concluded Mendenhall, “which means those trading up should see considerable interest in their home, as well as more listings to choose from during their own search.”

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Real Estate Big Data

Housing prices rise, outpacing wage increases

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) A new joint report from NAR and realtor.com reveal that affordability conditions are eroding and there are very few cures to this problem.

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Good ol’ economics – housing demand continues to outpace supply, and bidding wars are now common in many cities. On a national scale, affordability is increasingly threatening many peoples’ ability to buy, based on their income.

The realtor.com and National Association of Realtors joint report, the Realtors Affordability Distribution Curve and Score, examines affordability conditions compared to income levels for active inventory in local markets. Higher scores suggest a particular market has more affordable homes in proportion to local income levels.

It’s no surprise that in March, the report indicates the least affordable (in proportion to income) is Hawaii, California, Oregon, the District of Columbia, Montana, and Rhode Island. In these states, households at the median income level can only afford 19 to 23 percent of the active housing inventory.

In contrast, the most affordable states are Ohio, Indiana, Kansas, Iowa, and West Virginia, where a a typical household can afford 54 to 62 percent of all active inventory.

The report also indicates that more local markets are seeing worse affordability conditions compared to last year, with L.A., San Diego, San Jose, Ventura, and San Francisco leading the pack. In these markets, the typical household can only afford 3.0 to 11 percent of homes available for sale in their markets.

The typical household can afford nearly 75 percent of homes for sale in Dayton, OH, Toledo, OH, and Scranton, PA.

NAR’s Chief Economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun stated, “The survey confirms that the lack of entry-level supply is putting affordability pressures on too many buyers – especially those at the lower end of the market, where demand is the strongest.”

The report makes even more apparent why first-time buyers “struggle finding affordable properties to buy and are making up less than a third of home sales so far this year,” said Dr. Yun.

Although wages are on the rise, housing prices are outpacing these increases, and Dr. Yun points to the solution being “more homeowners selling, investors releasing their portfolio of single-family homes back onto the market and more single-family housing construction.”

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