Single Women Prop Up First-Time Buyer Segment

Single Women Prop Up First-Time Buyer Segment
National Association of REALTORS® | October 29, 2018

House 1074Lower affordability and continued inventory crunches aren’t sidelining single women home buyers, who, for the second consecutive year, account for 18 percent of all buyers, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. Single women are the second most common buyer type behind married couples (63 percent), according to NAR’s report. Single men are the third most common buyer type, accounting for half the number of their female counterparts at 9 percent. However, single men tend to purchase pricier homes than single women—a median of $215,000 compared to $189,000, respectively.

Single women buyers, many of whom are first-timers, are proving a powerful force in the housing market. However, first-time buyers, who once dominated the buying pool, are a shrinking segment. The share of first-time buyers fell to a three-year low this year, according to NAR’s report. First-time buyers comprised 33 percent of the housing market this year, down from 34 percent last year. The number of first-time buyers has not gone above 40 percent since the first-time home buyer tax credit ended in 2010, NAR notes.

“With the lower end of the housing market—smaller, moderately priced homes—seeing the worst of the inventory shortage, first-time home buyers who want to enter the market are having difficulty finding a home they can afford,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Low inventory, rising interest rates, and student loan debt are all factors contributing to the suppression of first-time home buyers.”

However, Yun notes that existing-home sales data has shown in recent months that inventory is rising slowly on a year-over-year basis. That may “encourage more would-be buyers who were previously convinced they could not find a home to enter the market,” Yun says.

Source: “2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers Report,” National Association of REALTORS® (Oct. 29, 2018); REALTOR® Mag News 102918

Bump in Contract Signings Points to Future Housing Gains

Bump in Contract Signings Points to Future Housing Gains
National Association of REALTORS® | October 25, 2018

Pending home sales increased slightly in September, with significant gains in the West and Midwest offsetting more modest growth in other regions, the National Association of REALTORS® reports. NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking measure based on contract signings, shows signings inched up 0.5 percent nationwide to a reading of 104.6 in September. But on a year-over-year basis, contract signings have dropped 1 percent—marking the ninth consecutive month of annual decreases.

1810_Septermber-PHSNAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says the housing market is stabilizing. “This shows that buyers are out there on the sidelines, waiting to jump in once more inventory becomes available and the price is right,” he says.

Lower affordability and a lack of moderately priced homes on the market are the two main factors putting a strain on sales, Yun says. Still, affordability is much more favorable when compared to the past few decades. “When compared to the year 2000—when the housing market was considered very healthy and home sales figures were roughly equivalent—the affordability conditions were much lower compared to now,” Yun says. “So even though affordability has been falling recently, the demand for housing should remain steady.”

Yun also believes the housing market will soon reflect the overall health of the economy. “The general condition of the economy is excellent, but it simply has not lifted home sales this year,” Yun says. “Home prices are still rising, so people who are purchasing are still seeing wealth gains.”

Many markets are seeing an increase in inventories, which is opening up choices for those who are looking to buy. Markets such as Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo.; Columbus, Ohio; Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.; San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif.; and San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., all saw some of the largest increase in active listings in September compared to a year ago, according to data from realtor.com®.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®; REALTOR® Mag News 102518

The Housing Market’s 50 Hottest Zip Codes

The Housing Market’s 50 Hottest Zip Codes
realtor.com | October 1, 2018

The following is realtor.com®’s rankings of the top 50 hottest ZIP codes for housing in the country.

1810-realtor.com-chart_hot-ZIPs

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Nationally: Why Were Fewer Contracts Signed in August?

Nationally: Why Were Fewer Contracts Signed in August?
National Association of REALTORS® | September 27, 2018

Pending home sales continued to fall last month, marking the eighth consecutive month for annual decreases, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Thursday. The drop in contracts may be a sign of a growing number of buyers who are being priced out of the market, economists warn.

August PHS InfographicNAR’s Pending Home Sales Index—a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings—fell 1.8 percent to a reading of 104.2 in August. Contract signings are now 2.3 percent lower than a year ago.

The largest declines last month were in the West, where home prices have risen the most. “[This] clearly indicates that affordability is hindering buyers and those affordability issues come from lack of inventory, particularly in moderate price points,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

The decline in sales contracts has also coincided with fewer homes on the market. But that may soon change—a record high of Americans now say it’s a good time to sell their home, according to NAR’s third-quarter Housing Opportunities and Market Experience survey.

“Just a couple of years ago about 55 percent of consumers indicated it was a good time to sell; that figure has climbed to 77 percent today,” Yun says. “With prices having risen so quickly, many consumers were deciding to wait to list their homes hoping to see additional price and equity gains. However, with indications that buyers are beginning to pull out, price gains are going to decelerate and potential sellers are considering that now is a good time to list and bring more properties to the market.”

Source: National Association of REALTORS®; REALTOR® Mag News 092718

NAR Report: Market Could Stabilize as More Homes are Listed

NAR Report: Market Could Stabilize as More Homes are Listed
National Association of REALTORS® | September 20, 2018

Existing-home sales remained mostly flat in August, bringing relief to markets following four consecutive months of decreases. Sales gains in the Northeast and Midwest helped to offset downturns in the South and West last month, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ existing-home sales report, released Thursday.

Existing-home sales—which are completed transaction for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops—remained at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.34 million in August, the same as July. Sales are 1.5 percent below a year ago, NAR reports.

“Strong gains in the Northeast and a moderate uptick in the Midwest helped to balance out any losses in the South and West, halting months of downward momentum,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “With inventory stabilizing and modestly rising, buyers appear ready to step back into the market.”

Here’s a closer look at some of the findings:

  • Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types was $264,800—up 4.6 percent from a year ago.
  • Inventory: Total housing inventory at the end of August was at 1.92 million existing homes for sale, up from 1.87 million a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace.
  • Days on the market: Properties stayed on the market an average of 29 days in August, down from 30 days a year ago. Fifty-two percent of homes sold in August were on the market for less than a month. “While inventory continues to show modest year over year gains, it is still far from a healthy level and new home construction is not keeping up to satisfy demand,” Yun says. “Homes continue to fly off the shelves with a majority of properties selling within a month, indicating that more inventory—especially moderately priced, entry-level homes—would propel sales.”
  • All-cash sales: All-cash sales comprised 20 percent of transactions in August, unchanged from a year ago. Investors tend to make up the biggest bulk of all-cash sales. They made up 13 percent of home sales in August, down from 15 percent a year ago.
  • Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales accounted for 3 percent of sales in August, the lowest reading since NAR began tracking such data in October 2008. Broken out, 2 percent of sales were foreclosures and 1 percent were short sales.

“We are probably seeing a reaction to the uncertainty around how sustainable recent price increase will be in the near future,” says Ruben Gonzalez, chief economist at Keller Williams. “Nationally, we expect sales to continue to track slightly below last year’s levels as inventory starts to move upward.”

Source: National Association of REALTORS®; REALTOR® Mag News, 092018

Nationally: Inventory Drought Pushes New-Home Sales to 9-Month Low

Inventory Drought Pushes New-Home Sales to 9-Month Low
National Association of Home Builders | August 24, 2018

House 1059The shortage of homes for-sale continues to depress sales. Sales of newly built, single-family homes dropped last month and are now at the lowest level since last October, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. This follows on the heels of the National Association of REALTORS®’ report earlier this week that showed existing-home sales also dipped in July, reaching their sluggish pace in more than two years.

“A lack of overall housing inventory is pushing up home prices, which is hurting affordability and causing prospective buyers to delay making a home purchase,” says Randy Noel, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders.

New-homes sales were at a 627,000 rate in July, about 1.7 percent lower than June sales. However, sales are now 7.2 percent higher than a year ago.

“Although this month marks the lowest sales pace since last October, we continue to see solid housing demand due to economic strengthening and positive demographic tailwinds,” says Danushka Nanayakkara-Skillington, NAHB’s senior economist. “Builders need to manage rising construction costs to keep their homes competitively priced for the newcomers to the housing market.”

The median price of new homes was $328,700 in July, which is 1.8 percent higher than a year ago.

Regionally, new-homes sales were up in the West (10.9 percent month-over-month) and the Midwest (up 9.9 percent month-over-month). However, those gains could not offset a 52.3 percent decline in the Northeast and a 3.3 percent drop in the South last month. “Year-to-date, sales in the Northeast are down 14.5 percent as the region deals with the impact from tax reform and persistent affordability issues,” NAHB notes in its release.

The slowdown in housing is getting the Federal Reserve’s attention, as reflected in the minutes of the central bank’s last meeting, which was released this week. Ward McCarthy, Jefferies LLC economist, noted:

“Housing activity in general has retreated from levels that were temporarily boosted by 2017 natural disasters—hurricanes and wildfires—that forced displaced households to seek alternative housing. The housing sector is also undergoing an adjustment to affordability that is less attractive than it was for most of the cycle, as well as changes in the treatment of SALT deductions in the federal tax code. That is the bad news. The good news is that there is no evidence of the type of imbalances that could cause a sharp downturn, such as heavy inventories and/or rising mortgage default and delinquency rates. We also note this is not the first temporary slowdown in housing activity this cycle.”

Source: “New-Home Sales Sink to a 9-Month Low as Housing Market Wobbles,” MarketWatch (Aug. 23, 2018) and National Association of Home Builders; REALTOR® Magazine 082418

Nationally: Existing-Home Sales Reach Slowest Pace in 2 Years

Existing-Home Sales Reach Slowest Pace in 2 Years
National Association of REALTORS® | August 22, 2018

Existing-home sales slowed for the fourth consecutive month in July, reaching their most sluggish pace in more than two years, the National Association of REALTORS® reports. The West was the only major U.S. region to see an increase in sales last month.

1808_NAR-July-EHSTotal existing-home sales, which include completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops, fell 0.7 percent month over month to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.34 million in July. Sales are now 1.5 percent lower than a year ago.

Rising home prices may be prompting would-be home buyers to pull away, says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Led by a notable decrease in closings in the Northeast, existing-home sales trailed off again last month, sliding to their slowest pace since February 2016 at 5.21 million [units],” Yun says. “Too many would-be buyers are either being priced out or are deciding to postpone their search until more homes in their price range come onto the market.”

Yun notes that a steady climb in home prices over the past year—along with an uptick in mortgage rates this spring—is cooling sales. “This weakening in affordability has put the most pressure on would-be first-time buyers in recent months, who continue to represent only around a third of sales despite a very healthy economy and labor market,” he says. First-time buyers comprised 32 percent of sales in July, down from 33 percent a year ago.

Here’s a closer look at some key indicators from NAR’s July housing report:

  • Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types was $296,600, a 4.5 percent increase from a year ago.
  • Inventories: Total housing inventory fell 0.5 percent to 1.92 million existing homes available for sale, unchanged from a year ago. At the current sales pace, unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply.
  • Days on the market: Fifty-five percent of homes sold were on the market for less than a month. Properties typically stayed on the market for 27 days, down from 30 days a year ago. “Listings continue to go under contract in under a month, which highlights the feedback from REALTORS® that buyers are swiftly snatching up moderately-priced properties,” Yun says. “Existing supply is still not at a healthy level, and new-home construction is not keeping up to meet demand.”
  • All-cash sales: All-cash transactions compromised 20 percent of sales, up from 19 percent a year ago. Individual investors tend to account for the biggest bulk of cash sales. They purchased 13 percent of homes, unchanged from a year ago.
  • Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales accounted for 3 percent of sales, down from 5 percent a year ago. Broken out, 2 percent of sales were foreclosures, and 1 percent were short sales.

1808_NAR-July-EHS2

Source: National Association of REALTORS®; REALTOR® Magazine Online 082218