Yun: Spring Was the Season of ‘Unmet Expectations’

Yun: Spring Was the Season of ‘Unmet Expectations’
National Association of REALTORS® | June 27, 2018

1806_May_PHSFor the fifth consecutive month, pending home sales dropped in May—a sign that the recently ended spring buying season didn’t live up to the hype typical for real estate’s traditionally busiest time of year, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Wednesday. Contract signings also eased last month, and a significant sales decline in the South offset gains in other regions of the country.

NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, fell 0.5 percent in May to a reading of 105.9. The index is down 2.2 percent on an annual basis. NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says this year’s spring buying season will be remembered as one of “unmet expectations,” with pending home sales at the second lowest level in the past year. He says inventory shortage is the main culprit. “REALTORS® in most of the country continue to describe their markets as highly competitive and fast-moving, but without enough new and existing inventory for sale, activity has essentially stalled,” Yun says.

However, buyer demand hasn’t slowed, which is evident in quicker sales and strong price growth, Yun says. The troubling reality is that gains in home prices continue to outpace income growth, housing inventory has fallen for 36 consecutive months, and listings typically go under contract in just over three weeks.

“With the cost of buying a home getting more expensive, it’s clear the summer months will be a true test for the housing market,” Yun says. “Several would-be buyers this spring were kept out of the market because of supply and affordability constraints. The healthy economy and job market should keep many of them actively looking to buy, and any rise in inventory would certainly help them find a home.”

Source: National Association of REALTORS®; REALTOR® Magazine Online 062718

Mortgage Rates Drop Again This Week

Mortgage Rates Drop Again This Week
Freddie Mac | June 22, 2018

Borrowers found lower mortgage rates again this week, marking the third decrease in rates in the past four weeks.

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“After a sharp run-up in the early part of 2018, rates have stabilized over the last three months, with only a modest uptick since March,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “However, existing-home sales have hit a wall, declining in six of the last nine months on a year-over-year basis.”

The National Association of REALTORS® reported earlier this week that existing-home sales—completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops—dropped 0.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.43 million in May. Sales are now 3 percent lower than a year ago. Home prices also reached a new all-time high last month—a median of $264,800.

“Persistently low supply levels, and not this year’s climb in mortgage rates, are handcuffing sales—especially at the lower end of the market,” Khater says. “Home shoppers can’t buy inventory that doesn’t exist.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending June 21:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.57 percent, with an average 0.5 point, falling from last week’s 4.62 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.90 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.04 percent, with an average 0.4 point, falling from last week’s 4.07 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.17 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 3.83 percent, with an average 0.3 point, unchanged from a week ago. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 3.14 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac; REALTOR® Magazine 062218

Upbeat Sellers Show Readiness to Make a Move

Upbeat Sellers Show Readiness to Make a Move
National Association of REALTORS® | June 21, 2018

Home prices are climbing across the country, and that has made homeowners more bullish when it comes to the prospects of selling. Seventy-five percent of more than 2,700 households recently surveyed say it’s a good time to sell a house; 68 percent say it’s a good time to buy, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ second quarter Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey.

“Hopefully this strong seller optimism will lead to an increase in inventory later on in the year,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

Fifty-five percent of consumers say they believe that home prices will continue to increase in their communities over the next six months, up from the previous quarter (53 percent), according to NAR’s report.

In the second quarter, however, optimism for buying stayed stagnant. Thirty-nine percent of consumers strongly agree now is a good time to buy, while 29 percent moderately agree. A decreasing number of renters are upbeat about buying, dropping from 55 percent in the first quarter to now 49 percent in the second quarter. Optimism for buying is highest among older buyers 65 or over, as well as those living in the South and Midwest regions, the report found.

“Inventory remains the driving force in real estate, affecting everything from rising prices to household formation,” Yun says. “Improving supply conditions is critical to improving buyer optimism and helping to remove some of the barriers holding back potential first-time buyers.”

Overall, consumers are more optimistic about the economy. Fifty-eight percent of households surveyed said they thought the economy was improving, with people in rural areas the most upbeat about economic conditions, according to the survey.

Their optimism over the economy has also helped more consumers believe that they would have an easier time to obtain a mortgage. “This is most likely a reflection of the current positive outlook on the direction of the economy,” Yun says. “Healthy job creation and faster wage growth mean that homeownership is viewed as a more attainable goal than it was a year ago.”

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Source: “Q2 Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) Survey,” National Association of REALTORS® (June 21, 2018); REALTOR® Magazine 062118

Nationally: New-Home Construction Surges to Highest Level in Decade

Nationally: New-Home Construction Surges to Highest Level in Decade
National Association of Home Builders | June 20, 2018

House 1052More new homes entered the pipeline in May than any other month since the end of the Great Recession. Total housing starts increased 5 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate pace of 1.35 million units, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. That marks the highest housing starts since July 2007.

Broken out, single-family starts rose 3.9 percent to 939,000 units in May—the second-highest reading since the Great Recession. The multifamily sector increased 7.5 percent to 414,000 units. Single-family and multifamily production are now 9.8 percent and 13.6 percent higher, respectively, than a year ago.

“New-home construction activity soared to its highest level in over a decade, which is fantastic news as more housing inventory will be available as the year proceeds,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS®. “Moreover, construction and real estate industry jobs are being created and boosting the economy. [As a result,] GDP growth of 4 percent to 5 percent is possible in the second quarter.”

The Midwest saw the biggest jump in housing production last month, with combined single-family and multifamily housing starts rising 62.2 percent. Meanwhile, starts fell 0.9 percent in the South, by 4.1 percent in the West, and by 15 percent in the Northeast.

“The Midwest region experienced the biggest gain and hence the region will remain more affordable,” Yun notes. “The more unaffordable West region will continue to experience an intense housing shortage, as both housing permits and housing starts fell in that region. For the country as a whole, an additional 20 percent to 25 percent gain in home construction is needed to make the market more balanced.”

Housing starts will likely hit a snag in the coming weeks. Permits—a gauge of future activity—fell 4.6 percent in May to 1.3 million units. The biggest drop in permits was in the multifamily sector, which saw permits tumble 8.7 percent to 457,000. Single-family permits dropped 2.2 percent to 844,000.

“Ongoing job creation, positive demographics, and tight existing home inventory should spur more single-family production in the months ahead,” says Robert Dietz, the National Association of Home Builders’ chief economist. “However, the softening of single-family permits is consistent with our reports showing that builders are concerned over mounting construction costs, including the highly elevated prices of softwood lumber.”

Source: National Association of Home Builders; REALTOR® Mag Online, 062018

Nationally: Home Prices Hit a Record High

Nationally: Home Prices Hit a Record High
National Association of REALTORS® | June 20, 2018

Home buyers can expect to pay more for a home this summer. The median existing-home price for all housing types reached an all-time high in May at $264,800, according to the latest housing report released by the National Association of REALTORS®.

Many markets continue to see a flood of buyers but not enough homes for sale, which is prompting prices to rise and also limiting the number of sales. For the second consecutive month, existing-home sales dropped, even in the midst of a typically busy selling season.

NAR-EHS-May18smTotal existing-home sales—which are completed transactions for single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops—fell 0.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.43 million in May, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Wednesday. Sales are now 3 percent lower than a year ago.

“Inventory coming onto the market during this year’s spring buying season was not even close to being enough to satisfy demand,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “That is why home prices keep outpacing incomes and listings are going under contract in less than a month—and much faster—in many parts of the country.”

Closings were down in a majority of the country last month and declined on an annual basis in every major region, Yun says. “Incredibly low supply continues to be the primary impediment to more sales, but there’s no question the combination of higher prices and mortgage rates are pinching the budgets of prospective buyers, and ultimately keeping some from reaching the market,” Yun says.

May’s Housing Stats

Here’s a closer look at some of the key indicators of the housing market from NAR’s latest housing report:

  • Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types was $264,800 in May, an all-time high. Home prices were up 4.9 percent from a year ago.
  • Inventory: Total housing inventory at the end of May rose 2.8 percent to 1.85 million existing homes available for sale. Still, the number of homes for sale is 6.1 percent lower than a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a 4.1-month supply at the current sales pace.
  • Days on the market: Properties typically stayed on the market for 26 days in May, down from 27 days a year ago. Fifty-eight percent of homes sold in May were on the market for less than a month.
    First-time home buyers: This segment comprised 31 percent of sales in May, down from 33 percent a year ago.
  • All-cash sales: All-cash sales accounted for 21 percent of transactions in May, down from 22 percent a year ago. Individual investors tend to make up the bulk of cash sales. They purchased 15 percent of homes in May, down from 16 percent a year ago.
  • Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales made up 3 percent of sales in May, the lowest reading since NAR began tracking such data in 2008. Distressed sales are down from 5 percent a year ago. In May, 2 percent of sales were foreclosures and 1 percent were short sales.

Source: National Association of REALTORS®; REALTOR® Mag News, 062018

Nationally: Sales Struggle to Overcome Housing Shortages

Nationally: Sales Struggle to Overcome Housing Shortages
National Association of REALTORS®
article by Daily Real Estate News | May 24, 2018

Blame it on the low inventory of available property: Total existing-home sales failed to gain traction in April, according to the National Association of REALTORS® latest housing report, released Thursday.

Total existing-home sales—which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condos, and co-ops—decreased 2.5 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.46 million in April. Sales are now 1.4 percent below a year ago. This also marks the second consecutive month sales have fallen on an annual basis.

Regional Breakdown  The following is a breakdown of existing-home sales across the country in April:

  • Northeast: existing-home sales dropped 4.4 percent to an annual rate of 650,000, and are now 11 percent below a year ago. Median price: $257,200—2.8 percent higher than a year ago.
  • Midwest: existing-home sales were unchanged month-over-month at an annual rate of 1.29 million in April, and are 3 percent below a year ago. Median price: $202,100—up 4.6 percent from a year ago.
  • South: existing-home sales dropped 2.9 percent to an annual rate of 2.33 million in April, but are still 2.2 percent above a year ago. Median price: $227,600—up 3.9 percent from a year ago.
  • West: existing-home sales dropped 3.3 percent to an annual rate of 1.19 million in April and are 0.8 percent below a year ago. Median price: $382,100—up 6.2 percent from a year ago.

“The root cause of the underperforming sales activity in much of the country so far this year continues to be the utter lack of available listings on the market to meet the strong demand for buying a home,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “REALTORS® say the healthy economy and job market are keeping buyers in the market for now even as they face rising mortgage rates. However, inventory shortages are even worse than in recent years, and home prices keep climbing above what many home shoppers are able to afford.”

For the inventory that is out there, homes are selling fast. Strong buyer demand mixed with low inventory levels are prompting homes to sell at a record pace.

Here’s a closer look at some of the key indicators from NAR’s latest housing report:

Home prices: The median existing-home price for all housing types in April was $257,900, up 5.3 percent from a year ago.

Inventories: Total housing inventory at the end of April rose 9.8 percent to 1.80 million existing homes available for sale. Inventories are still 6.3 percent lower than a year ago. Unsold inventory is at a four-month supply at the current sales pace.

Days on the market: Properties stayed on the market an average of 26 days in April, down from 29 days a year ago. Fifty-seven percent of homes sold in April were on the market for less than a month.

“What is available for sale is going under contract at a rapid price,” Yun says. “Since NAR began tracking this data in May 2011, the median days a listing was on the market was at an all-time low in April, and the share of homes sold in less than a month was at an all-time high.”

All-cash sales: All-cash transactions comprised 21 percent of sales in April, unchanged from a year ago. Individual investors account for the biggest bulk of cash sales. Investors purchased 15 percent of homes in April, also unchanged from a year ago.

Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales made up just 3.5 percent of sales in April, the lowest since NAR began tracking such data in October 2008. That is also down from 5 percent a year ago. Broken out, 3 percent of April sales were foreclosures and 0.5 percent were short sales.

April-EHS

Source: National Association of REALTORS®; REALTOR® Magazine Online, Daily Real Estate News 052418

Nationally: Despite Buyer Demand, Contract Signings Fall

Nationally: Despite Buyer Demand, Contract Signings Fall
National Association of REALTORS article by Daily Real Estate News | April 30, 2018

Pending home sales picked up the pace in March, but ongoing issues related to low inventory kept contract activity below year-ago levels, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Monday. NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, inched up 0.4 percent to a reading of 107.6 in March. Despite the uptick, overall activity was down on an annualized basis for the third consecutive month.

Mar18_PHS“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,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Steady price growth and the swift pace with which 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.”

Regionally, pending home sales dropped by the largest amount in the Northeast, falling 5.6 percent month over month in March and 8.1 percent year over year. Yun says multiple winter storms and colder than usual weather contributed to the decrease. Meanwhile, contract signings rose by 2.4 percent in the Midwest but are 6 percent below a year ago, and they were up by 2.5 percent in the South but are just 0.3 percent higher than a year ago. Pending home sales fell in the West by 1.1 percent month over month and are now 2.2 percent below a year ago.

“Much of the country is enjoying a thriving job market, but buying a home is becoming more expensive,” Yun says. “That is why it is an absolute necessity for there to be a large increase in new and existing homes available for sale in the 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.”

Source: National Association of REALTORS®; Daily Real Estate News 043018