Posts Tagged ‘housing inventory’

Is the Seller’s Market Winding Down?

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

As those who watch the real estate market know, here in Southern California it has been a bit crazy over the last year or so. Despite some reports to the contrary it has been a seller’s market, especially here in San Diego County. That means that prices have risen and it has basically been a great time to be a seller. Low inventory and high demand give sellers an advantage.

BUT, there are some signs that the market may be changing. Let’s have a look at how:

1. Buyers getting priced out of the market. Many buyers cannot afford to live in areas in which they were able to afford a short time ago – in some markets just a year or less! With the choice of moving to completely different areas some are deciding to rent in their preferred areas instead, hoping that prices will drop down the road.

2. Interest rates rising. The interest rates have risen a few times and then dropped. The Feds are trying to sustain the market by making home sales more desirable, but buyers still have to deal with the higher prices and, in many cases, multiple offer situations that raise them even higher.

3. Buyers getting frustrated and putting searches on hold (many opting to rent instead). Many buyers are tiring of the raise in prices. I just showed a condo to buyers (second home purchase) that is priced over $100,000 higher than the model match that sold in January – this is crazy!! I have had several buyers tell me they are just going to wait it out, as they do not want to pay “ridiculous” prices for homes.

4. Home sales are slowing down. May was the third straight month for declines in home sales. Sales listings dropped 8.4% over the last 12 months, due to higher prices and fewer options for buyers.

5. Summer selling season won’t last long. The “hot” selling season that is summer won’t last forever, and many buyers with families want to get into a new home before schools start up again in late August/early September. Those who cannot find homes will be forced to rent, which could take them out of the market for likely a full year, possibly longer. Also, many out of area buyers – a larger percentage here in San Diego which come from tourists – may not be able to find anything to purchase due to low inventory, which means they will be going back home empty-handed. Many of these buyers typically become second home or investment buyers and tend to focus on condos and lower priced homes.

It is evident that the market is causing issues among buyers, and the solution is to inundate the market with more listings. But until the sellers feel they can find replacement property many are electing to stay in their homes, creating a vicious cycle that had no clear end. Ironically, this is typically the best time to sell, so those who want to take advantage of the great seller’s market will need to take a risk and have a Plan B (such as renting in the interim).

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Home Buyers: Purchase Now or Wait Until Prices Drop?

Friday, March 10th, 2017

This seems to be the million dollar question right now as home buyers survey the lack of inventory and multiple offer situations present in many markets. A strong seller’s market and high prices make some buyers nervous. So is it better to buy now or wait?

There are a few very good reasons why now is the time to make that home purchase:

Interest rates are rising – We have already seen this happen and word is they will do so again this year, likely several times. This affects mortgage payments and down payments, so jumping in and securing that lower rate now could be smart. It is also important to note that some lenders are charging a lot more for interest rate lock extensions, so that is something to think about if you have a long escrow period or are pursuing a short sale.

Lack of inventory – Inventory in many markets is still very low – San Diego County included. Many buyers cannot find properties to purchase and when they do there are often multiple offers, especially in the $650,000 and under price range. Cash buyers are out in force as well in many lower range markets, making it even harder for first time home buyers. Being picky is getting more and more difficult – right now is a good time to be preapproved and ready to write an offer once you find a home that meets your criteria. See the home as soon as it comes on the market and submit your best offer right away.

Prices are not dropping as we head into the “busy season” – Lack of inventory is making it difficult as demand outpaces supply. Unless this changes we will not likely see price drops in the busy Spring and Summer months to come. The buyer who decides to wait this period out may find herself down the road with still low inventory and higher interest rates.

Here is an example: A house that currently sells for $766,000 with an interest rate of 4.75% and a 20% down payment would yield a payment of a little over $4000 a month. To get that same payment down the road with a home price drop to $727,000, assuming a higher 5.125% interest rate increase, the buyer would be losing $1585 over 3 years. So even if prices drop 5% and rates increase 3/8th  of a percent, the buyer who purchases with a lower rate now will be ahead in the long run.

Uncertainty – Worry about the future and economy is still prevalent among home buyers. Uncertainty about taxes and home write offs, as well as the expected rise in interest rates, make some buyers hesitate to make big purchases. The real estate market, like any market, is cyclical. If you are buying a home with a long term commitment then it is a great time to do so, before there are more rate hikes.

Before you decide whether it is best for you to purchase now or wait, it is important to discuss your scenario with you accountant or financial adviser, an experienced real estate agent in your area and your mortgage professional. Information is power.

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Still on the Fence? U.S. Home Prices are Still Rising

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017

The new housing report was released yesterday by Case-Shiller, indicating that U.S. home prices are still rising. Of course this is really area dependent, but if you are a potential buyer or seller you might feel worried, and justifiably so. Keep reading for important information and advice.

The report covers major metropolitan cities and states that prices in these areas rose by 5.27% in November – above expectations of economists, and also up from the previous month of 5.1%. What does this mean for buyers and sellers? Let’s take a look at some important considerations.

Local markets: Of course these studies are general and tend to focus on big cities, so it is important that you contact an experienced real estate agent in your local market to see what is going on in the area. But, the thing to take away from this data is that prices are not easing up. Combine that with the next factor…

Inventory is still very low: Again, your local market must be studied to get an accurate glimpse and set expectations (your real estate agent can help with this), but using my local North San Diego market as an example I know that this is painfully true. I have buyers who simply cannot find homes, and multiple offer situations in some categories – like properties under $600,000 – are still the norm. With low inventory and prices staying put or rising, a buyer does not benefit from waiting to purchase, especially considering the next factor…

Springtime is coming: Traditionally the “hot” season for housing, spring and summer are just around the corner. But in my view we are already in the heat of things. Hopefully more inventory will pop up as we head into that “busy” season, but honestly I think the entire last year and especially this Fall and Winter, can be considered busy in housing – at least here in San Diego. Waiting until Spring could put buyers in even more of a quandry, bringing an  increase in the buyer pool: more competition can drive prices up again.

The National Home Price Index also rose by 5.6% annually – up from 5.5% the previous month. High demand is causing these prices to continue on an upward trend. It is important to note, as some doubters or “bubble-talkers” as I call them, may believe, that these trends are NOT similar to those that occurred prior to the last housing crisis in the early 2000s.

How is this market different than that prior to the last crash?

1. Factors driving prices are not the same. Prior to the crash people were driven by speculation and anticipation of growth. Instead, healthy market factors like a strong job market and low mortgage rates are driving this market.

2. Lending is stricter. Lending requirements are not as loose as they were during the time prior to the last housing crash, so not everyone can qualify for a loan.

3. Demand is high but supply is not. Prior to the last market crash, there is a much lower supply of inventory in most areas. It is not so easy to find property to purchase. Many would-be sellers are afraid to sell, as they don’t know where they will move if there is such low supply and so much demand – so it’s a great time to be a seller if you have the time to wait it out on a subsequent purchase.

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The moral of all this information is that if you are a potential seller you are in a great position. But if you have to buy after selling you need to have a “plan B” in place – e.g. stay in a furnished month to month apartment or temporarily move in with a relative or friend will put these people in ideal situations to sell and wait for the right home. But buyers have it a bit tougher – the best advice I can give is to BE PREPARED. Get preapproved, start looking at everything in your price range and desired area – even those homes that may not be as upgraded as you like or in the exact neighborhood you wanted. Do your homework and be ready to pounce once you find that “right” home.

 

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4 Reasons Why a Housing Bubble is Not Looming

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

Many blogs and articles have alluded to the idea of a pending housing bubble, and some people even seem to be nervous. This kind of talk is always prevalent after a strong sales season, but how do we know how much credibility to give these claims, and could we be facing a housing bubble any time in the near future? house-bubbles

The answer in my opinion is a loud NO. In the July pending home sales index the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that pending home sales are now at the highest level since 2006 (the highest month was April 2016). But wait, you may say, it was not long last time between the strong sales season to when the market actually crashed. However, there are some differences between the last housing bubble and our current economic situation.

Here are some reasons why the housing market won’t likely crash,  nor any bubbles form in the near future:

1. Mortgage applications are up. While purchase activity dipped in August, there has been an increase in the last few weeks and the MBA reports a 1% rise in the last week alone. With rates still low many homebuyers are jumping off the fence.

2. Consumer credit is strong. Credit servicing continues to strengthen and Fannie Mae reports that the single family home delinquency rate continues to decline. Those home borrowers who are either 3 months or more behind in payments, or who are actively in foreclosure, has  dropped, with a total fall of close to 25% in the last year – resulting in the lowest level since 2008.

3. Mortgage availability has increased, according to the MBA. But credit is not as loose as before the last crash, when many people were given loans without being able to afford them.

4. Inventory is down/little or no new building – many active homes are now in escrow and with scarce inventory the chance of a bubble forming is slim to none. Unlike in 2007/2008, there is very little or no new home construction in most areas. As prices have risen many buyers have been priced out of markets. Eventually buyers will give up in many areas and prices will then be driven down. Population is growing in many areas, like here in San Diego County, faster than housing supply – this means that there is not likely a chance of a bubble.

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Growing Housing Inventory Will Affect Buyers and Sellers

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

Attention home buyers and sellers: home inventory is growing. Over the last few years we have seen decreased inventory in many areas, including here in San Diego County. This has made it tricky for many buyers as supply has not met demand, but has been positive for sellers as the seller market picked up speed. But inventory appears to be growing and there are many extenuating circumstances that make now a good time to sell or buy real estate. 0

Home ownership holding period – Over time most homeowners have tended to occupy their homes on the average for about 6-7 years before selling. But over the last few years this number increased and many sellers were staying in their homes 9-10 years due to economic factors. However, there  has been a trend downward lately due to equity increases and market conditions.

Equity – The last few years have brought equity gains to many homeowners, and low interest rates make it a great time to buy – this combination is positive news for housing. But like any market there will be a correction in time, where equity stops rising as quickly. Here in San Diego County we are starting to see slight slow downs with sales – sales prices are dropping slightly and many homes are sitting on the market longer.

Seller Market – It has been a seller’s market for some time now, due to lack of inventory in many housing markets, combined with a healthy  demand. but with external changes on the rise more sellers will likely consider selling due to strong market conditions and other economic factors that may make them question how long the equity rise will continue. As inventory increases it may turn into a buyer market so long as demand is still prevalent and supply increases.

Economy –  There are several economic factors that may influence a seller or buyer, and moving forward these will likely play a role in decisions to buy or sell. For buyers, low interest rates and international economic conditions that affect our US economy could play into the decision- making process. As markets are cyclical most buyers and sellers know that low rates will not last forever. The looming Presidential election could also factor into housing, as well as international situations like Brexit and terrorism.

The bottom line is that no one has a crystal ball. Many predictions abound and feeding into them can make a buyer or seller crazy. Each individual has to consider their own factors – equity, supply, prices, external and personal economic factors. Talk to your accountant and an experienced real estate professional – but don’t wait too long because the market will change at some point.

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Home Values Remain Strong

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

The latest CoreLogic report shows that home values rose 5.0% in December nationwide, compared to a year ago. This figure includes distressed sales. For the entire year of 2014 home prices increased 7.4%, which is down from the 11.1% increase in 2013.

This news is great for the housing market, and shows that the housing market was definitely on a healing path in 2014. Many wonder whether it will continue as we move through 2015, and there are many opposing views.

It is important to caution, as I always do, that to truly understand what is happening in the real estate market you need to study your own specific market, as of course the market will vary depending on area (for example, homes in the mid-west may not have the same trajectory as homes in San Diego, California). Looking at San Diego’s market as we head into February, it looks like the market remains strong and prices continue to either rise slightly or remain steady. Demand is definitely growing, and at least personally it seems listings are selling a lot quicker.

Below is a chart for the median price of homes sold in San Diego County up through January 1, 2015. You can see prices climbing back up after a (typical) seasonal dip during the holiday period.

Here is a chart showing San Diego County inventory since March of 2014. Again, after a typical seasonal dip over the holiday season, we can see inventory rates starting to climb back up as we head into February and toward the Spring season.

There are currently 5,373 active properties on the market today in San Diego County, and 3,634 pending properties. Since January 1, 1,595 properties have closed. During the same period last year (January 1 through February 3) 1,894 properties closed escrow. If you would like more data that is specifically tailored to where you live or would like to live, please contact me and I will be happy to send you detailed reports on your specific area.

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Home Prices Start to Return to the “New Normal”

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

For those who are regulars to my blog, I have predicted that home prices will soon stop escalating and will return to a “normal” growth, one that ascends slowly but steadily over time. I predicted we would start to see this by the end of this year, and especially heading into 2014. It appears that it is starting to happen right now, even in light of a new study that says that Americans believe housing prices will continue to rise despite rising interest rates.statistics

Clear Capital predicts that home prices across the country will “experience more moderate and sustainable increases” for the remainder of 2013, as we slowly transition into this “new normal” of slower and more consistent gains moving ahead into 2014 and beyond.

In the short term many areas will likely continue to see price increases  through the end of the year, despite the rise in interest rates. This could be due in part to rising inventories in many areas. Another explanation is that the rise in interest rates, along with the commonly held notion that these rates will continue to rise with time, may actually push buyers to make purchases in order to avoid higher rates. Likely, many sellers may see this as an opportune time to unload properties while the market is still rising and before rates climb higher, which will undoubtedly price some buyers out of the market.

As rates rise and inventories increase, we may also see a shift in the market, from a seller’s market (which we currently are experiencing in many areas, especially here in the western states), to a buyer’s market. Heading out of the summer buying season and into the Fall and beyond to the holidays, this is a realistic possibility. Demand will of course also continue to be fueled by the strength of local economies.

Interestingly, a study by Fannie Mae in July, the National Housing Survey, found that despite rising mortgage rates, consumers believe that prices will continue to rise. 53% of those polled thought that prices would rise in the next year. Those expecting prices to drop came to under 6%.

All in all, it is still a very interesting time in the housing market. I stand by my theory that prices may continue to rise through the end of the year, although possibly not as drastically. I believe we will continue to see inventory levels inch up in many areas, and that as we head into 2014 we will see prices stabilize somewhat, although I do believe tight lending standards could effect the state of the market as well (a topic for another blog). From there on out I believe we will see a more “normal” market moving forward, meaning one that grows slowly and consistently over time.

If you are thinking of buying or selling it is important to contact a knowledgeable Realtor and mortgage professional in your area to understand the makeup of your specific area.

 

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Will the Current “Seller’s Market” Be Short-Lived?

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Many sellers have been questioning whether it is the ultimate time to list, since it has officially become a “seller’s market” in most California areas, including here in North San Diego. Some were able to take advantage of the crazy multiple-offer situations and buyers’ willingness to pay over appraisal value – situations that were seen often in many areas. According to many new reports and predictions those sellers may have jumped into the market at the right time…the rest of you, well, you may not be so lucky.http://www.dreamstime.com/-image27659734

There are several factors that have been noted which could have an impact on housing prices going forward:

Rising interest rates. While many in the industry saw it as inevitable, it is now official that rates are rising. We have seen the average 30 year fixed rate rise a whole percent in a short period of time with some products, from 3.5 to 4.5%. While historically speaking this is still very low, many buyers are re-thinking plans to purchase, as higher rates mean affordability drops. Those who have been awaiting short sale confirmation from lenders are also in a similar boat – they are watching their monthly payments go up, unable to lock in their rates until the lenders approve their sales (and we know how ridiculously long that process can take – don’t get me started here on short sale lenders).

changesAs rates continue to rise we will undoubtedly see some buyers changing plans to purchase, or changing ideal purchase scenarios (i.e. buying smaller homes instead). We will also see sellers changing tactics – some may decide to withhold from placing their properties on the market, while others may become nervous and quickly list their properties before the rates jump even higher…this could lead to an inventory increase, which also will effect the market.

Inventory growth. As everyone in the industry knows, inventory has been scarce in recent years; the bidding wars and drastic price gains are testament to this fact. But what happens if inventory finally starts to grow? First off, we will see a big leveling off in pricing – I think the days of outbidding and paying cash over appraisal value will be over. Market times will increase and buyers will have many more choices, should they decide to purchase despite higher interest rates ( and I think they will, as rates will likely climb higher with time, thus people will want to buy before they are priced out of the markets).

Stabilization of the housing market will be a good thing, and should be looked at as such. More inventory  and higher rates will lead to a “normal” market, one that experiences a slow but steady growth over time, and keeps us out of bubble land.

These factors will NOT lead to a halt in housing recovery, but rather will sustain it. The skyrocketing prices have to end at some point, and prolonging them will only hurt the market. Sellers will still see gains on sales, but I think it will be more controlled and slow. What we are seeing is just another example of the government control of the housing market…and although it may seem frustrating to some, it will be positive for the market.

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Spring Real Estate Selling Season is Well Under Way!

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

It feels great to be blogging again, and I am sorry I have not posted for over a week! I do have an excuse: the spring home sale season is well underway! I can’t remember being this busy in a long time – not since the early 2000s; it has been incredible! If you are wondering what is going on out there in the North San Diego real estate market here is an overview:

Slight rise in inventory. Although we still do not have a surge in inventory there have been increases, enough so that local agents are able to show several properties to buyers in most cases, rather than just one! According to Housing Tracker, inventory has increased on a national level 13.5% so far this year. In San Diego county there were about 7540 homes listed on the MLS as of the start of this week, which is about 100 more homes listed than the same time last month. The lowest inventory level we hit here in San Diego county was in February of 2013, and the last time we had inventory levels higher than right now was in December 2012…so although inventory is still low from a historical perspective, there is some comfort in knowing that it is rising slightly.

Multiple offers/quick market times still dominate. Yes, we are still seeing many new sales with multiple offers, and usually within days of listing. Buyers have to present their strongest offers in order to stand out from the rest of the crowd. Cash buyers are still in the game and often outbid those requiring lender approval. It can be frustrating, but there are always things that can be done to present the strongest offer possible, even in multiple offer situations (for more on this click here)

Prices are still rising, especially in some areas or neighborhoods. Prices continue to rise in most areas, and San Diego is no exception. The challenge with area appraisers to find higher values in pending property sales finally seems to be getting easier, as many appraisers are now applying the faster growing values into their analyses. For those who are afraid we are approaching another bubble, you can rest assured that will not happen so long as prices stop rising drastically at some point and level out. My guess is that this will happen by the end of the year. For more of my perspectives on the bubble possibility, click here.

Distressed inventory declines. According to market research firm Core Logic, the number of seriously delinquent mortgages has fallen about 33% since the peak (3.7 million) in January 2010. This is good news for buyers who are not finding as many short sales out there. But I must say that they are still out there, and that they are as painful as ever. I am personally awaiting for lender approval on two short sales that have been contingent for a long time – one since December of 2012. Lenders’ promises that short sales were going to get quicker never came to fruition and I don’t believe they ever will (but that is the subject for another blog…stay tuned!) More good news: foreclosure filings also fell to a 74 month low in April, according to RealtyTrac.

Loans may be a tad easier to obtain. There is growing demand for home loans, and application levels continue to rise. In order for banks to improve mortgage assets they will need to address the demands. Also, the Federal Reserve recently discovered that 8% of banks loosened mortgage credit conditions in the past 3 months (ending in April) – now you may laugh and say that 8% is not a big number, but it is a start. Also, according to Realty Times “27 percent of banks plan to up residential mortgage assets over the next year and know they can’t do that without taking on a little more risk.” Good news for borrowers.

All in all the market seems to be shaping up and we are well on the road to recovery. Luckily spring time came along right when the market started climbing out of the doldrums, and it seems we will have a strong spring and summer sales season.

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Finally: It is a Seller’s Market

Thursday, February 21st, 2013

Sellers rejoice: it is finally a sellers’ market in many areas. For those homeowners who need or want to sell, this news has been a long time coming, after the last few years of the housing market collapse and bad news. There are some very positive market conditions that accompany this changeover:

Home price increases: If you follow the housing market in your area you may have noticed that prices are increasing in most areas (of course, you should check with your local real estate professional, as every area is different). The median national home price has increased 12.3% in San Diego county from this time last year, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The great news is that this will move many homeowners from being underwater, to being able to finally sell and move on. Many of these people were “stuck” in their homes because they owed more than their homes were worth. Zillow reported that over 2 million homeowners came out of the negative equity doldrums on their homes in 2012, and that is expected to continue this year. Over the next year we will see many of these underwater homeowners get out of negative equity situations, which will then increase the inventory levels and bring the market back into “normal,” aka healthy, status.

Increase in buyer demand: Also, according to NAR, buyer traffic has increased 40% from a year ago. There are many buyers out there ready to buy, and less inventory for them to see. This keeps prices climbing and leads to…

Multiple offers: Many listings are obtaining multiple offers, and many are also selling not only over comparable market value, but over appraised value. Lots of buyers are willing to pay cash out of pocket for homes where their appraisal has come in too low (they pay the difference between the appraisal and the sales price), thus driving neighborhood comparables upwards.

Market times have decreased: Due to all the above factors, market times have decreased and homes are selling more quickly. In San Diego county, average market times decreased for almost every city. The average days on market in North San Diego for detached homes was 36, down from 48 days in December 2012. Market time for attached homes similarly fell in the majority of San Diego county cities, some as much as 84%, with the median attached home market time all across the county at 48.  (Source: HomeDex)

The market is improving and all signs are pointing toward a healthy 2013 for the real estate market. The biggest plus is that we will eliminate the negative equity situation for many homeowners, creating more inventory for buyers, and allowing many current homeowners to sell and purchase properties that are more cost-efficient for them. All this, of course, will create higher home values, which benefit neighborhoods.

All in all, this is a great time to be in the position to sell, so get your home in tip-top shape and enjoy the turn of the market. If you are thinking of selling your home, it is important to consult with an experienced neighborhood real estate agent.

 

 

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