Wall Street Journal: Housing Recovery Picks Up Steam

Wall Street Journal: Housing Recovery Picks Up Steam

Yesterday, I made a post quoting major housing experts on the increasing strength of the U.S. housing market. I was pleasantly surprised that, on the same day, the Wall Street Journal decided to run a front page story titled, “Housing Recovery Picks Up Steam” (article available to WSJ subscribers).

Wall Street Journal: Housing Recovery Picks Up Steam | Simplifying The Market

The first paragraph of the article says it best:

“Home prices are back to near-record highs across the U.S. amid rising demand and supply constraints, a sign that the lopsided housing-market recovery of the past five years is gaining some strength.” (emphasis added).

What about the struggles in the economy?

Some openly question how the real estate market can be gaining ground if the overall economy is still struggling. According to the WSJ, it is:

“Despite the unbalanced recovery, Federal Reserve officials have seen housing as a bright spot for the U.S. economy in recent years. Residential construction has contributed to overall economic output for eight straight quarters, expanding at a 17% annual rate in a first quarter marked by slow growth in other sectors.”

Bottom Line

The housing market is gaining strength and all indicators point to an even stronger real estate market moving forward. This is obviously mixed news depending on which housing market you’re in, but the signs all point to a rise in prices.

Some Experts Disagree That There is a Housing Meltdown Incoming

Some Experts Disagree That There is a Housing Meltdown Incoming

I want to let you know that “rumors of a new market meltdown” are not based on any reputable data. As proof, I offer you the comments of the following experts who have a totally different view on the current housing market.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR:

“In spite of deficient supply levels, stock market volatility and the paltry economic growth seen so far this year, the housing market did show resilience and had its best first quarter of existing-sales since 2007.”

Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at realtor.com:

“We had a triple crown of April home sales reports, so 2016 is in the pole position to earn best year of home sales in a decade.”

Andrea Riquier, MarketWatch housing reporter:

“I’m calling the end of the housing “recovery.” On to ‘expansion.’”

Freddie Mac:

“Despite the disappointing economic reports, we still forecast housing to maintain its momentum in 2016.”

Steven Russolillo, Wall Street Journal housing reporter:

“A recent gauge of home builder sentiment held firmly in positive territory, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Perhaps more important, expectations for sales in the next six months jumped to the highest level of the year.”

Fannie Mae:

“Our latest housing tracker shows that the first quarter of 2016 was the second fastest first quarter pace of home sales in the past decade… Home sales typically rise in the spring and summer months, and we anticipate an acceleration in home sales that will surpass 2007’s pace by late summer.”

There you have it. Experts in the field that disagree with many of the infotainment shows and water cooler economists. Get in touch with me if you have more questions.

The Presidential Election and Its Impact on Housing

The Presidential Election and Its Impact on Housing

Every four years people question what effect the Presidential election might have on the national housing market. Let’s take a look at what is currently taking place. The New York Times ran an article earlier this week where they explained:

“A growing body of research shows that during presidential election years — particularly ones like this when there is such uncertainty about the nation’s future — industry becomes almost paralyzed. A look at the last several dozen election cycles shows that during the final year of a presidential term, big corporate investments are routinely postponed, and big deals are put on the back burner.

The research is even more persuasive on the final year of an eight-year presidential term, when a new candidate inevitably will become president.”

We are seeing this take form in the latest economic numbers. However, will this lead to a slowdown in the housing market? Not according to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac or the National Association of Realtors.

The Impact on Housing Throughout 2016

Let’s look at what has happened and what is projected to happen by these three major entities.

National Association of Realtors

“In spite of deficient supply levels, stock market volatility and the paltry economic growth seen so far this year, the housing market did show resilience and had its best first quarter of existing-sales since 2007.”

Freddie Mac

“Recent data darkened the growth outlook for the first quarter of 2016. However, despite the disappointing economic reports, we still forecast housing to maintain its momentum in 2016.”

Fannie Mae

“Consumers and businesses showed caution at the end of the first quarter…(but) Home sales are expected to pick up heading into the spring season amid the backdrop of declining mortgage rates, rising pending home sales and purchase mortgage applications, and continued easing of lending standards on residential mortgage loans.”

Bottom Line

Even during this election year, the desire to achieve the American Dream is greater than the fear of uncertainty of the next presidency.

Sales Contracts Hit Highest Level in Months

Sales Contracts Hit Highest Level in Months

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) just announced that the February Pending Home Sales Index reached its highest reading since July 2015.

What is the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI)?

NAR’s PHSI is “a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings”. The higher the Pending Home Sales Index number, the more contracts have been signed by buyers that will soon translate to sales. February’s Index rose 3.5% month-over-month to 109.1.

What does this mean for the market?

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s Chief Economist explained:

“After some volatility this winter, the latest data is encouraging in that a decent number of buyers signed contracts last month, lured by mortgage rates dipping to their lowest levels in nearly a year and a modest, seasonal uptick in inventory.”

“Looking ahead, the key for sustained momentum and more sales than last spring is a continuous stream of new listings quickly replacing what’s being scooped up by a growing pool of buyers. Without adequate supply, sales will likely plateau.”

So What Does This Mean For Buyers?

There is a lot of competition out there right now for your dream home. Prices are going to continue to climb, act now before you are priced out of your future home.

What Does This Mean For Sellers?

If you are on the fence about listing your home for sale and debating whether now is the time to move on with your plans of relocating… don’t wait!

There are more buyers that are ready, willing and able to buy their first, second, third, vacation, or investment property now than there has been in years! The supply of homes for sale is not keeping up with the demand of these buyers.

Listing your home for sale now will give you the most exposure to buyers and the best sales price.

Bottom Line

Whether you are planning on buying or selling a house this year, waiting to act no longer makes sense.

Home Prices Are Rising, But This is Not a Real Estate Bubble

Home Prices Are Rising, But This is Not a Real Estate Bubble

Real Estate Bubble

I recently reported that home prices are continuing to rise across most of the nation. This has created concern in some pundits that a housing bubble, like we saw ten years ago, is forming again. I want to explain why these concerns seem to be quite unfounded.

The current increase in home values can be easily explained by the theory of supply and demand. Right now, the number of families looking to purchase a home is greater than the supply of homes on the market.

Here is a chart that explains how the months’ supply of housing inventory impacts home values:

Yes, Home Prices Are Rising. No, a New Housing Bubble is NOT Forming | Simplifying The Market

According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors, there is currently a four-month supply of inventory. That puts us in the blue section of the above graphic. Home prices should be appreciating.

The difference in 2006…

A decade ago, the demand for housing was artificially boosted by lending standards that were far too lenient. Today, the strength of the demand for housing is legitimate, as lending standards are nowhere near what they were a decade ago.

For proof of this, let’s look at a graph of the Mortgage Bankers’ Association’s Mortgage Credit Availability Index:

Yes, Home Prices Are Rising. No, a New Housing Bubble is NOT Forming | Simplifying The Market

The higher the number, the easier it was to get a mortgage. We can see that from June 2005 to June 2007, mortgage standards were much more lenient than they have been over the last nine years.

Bottom Line

Today’s price increases, unlike those a decade ago, are the result of qualified buyer demand exceeding the current inventory of homes available for sale. Once the supply increases, prices will level out, however, until then we will continue to see prices rise steadily.

Housing Market Set to Spring Forward This Year

Housing Market Set to Spring Forward This Year

Housing Market

Just like our clocks this weekend in the majority of the country, the housing market will soon “spring forward!” Similar to tension in a spring, the lack of inventory available for sale in the market right now is what is holding back the market.

Many potential sellers believe that waiting until Spring is in their best interest, and traditionally they would have been right.

Buyer demand has seasonality to it, which usually falls off in the winter months, especially in areas of the country impacted by arctic temperatures and conditions.

That hasn’t happened this year.

Demand for housing has remained strong as mortgage rates have remained near historic lows.

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently reported that the top 10 dates sellers listed their homes in 2015 all fell in April, May or June.

Those who act quickly and list now could benefit greatly from additional exposure to buyers prior to a flood of more competition coming to market in the next few months.

Bottom Line

If you are planning on selling your home in 2016, let’s meet up to evaluate the opportunities in your market.