The real estate market has been literally HOT for some time now – both 2014 and 2015 have shown record sales and that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. It is still a seller’s market, inventory and interest rates are low, and it is the prime “selling season.” But how long can this last?
There are several factors that could have an impact on our real estate market moving forward. Let’s look at those and analyze the possibilities:
1. New federal government policies. There are 2 big policies that are about to take effect which could have an impact on real estate sales. One of these could actually stimulate more sales because it advocates lower downpayment requirements and loosens up loan underwriting standards, which could help buyers, especially first time homebuyers, realize their homeownership dreams.
The other program on the horizon could have a detrimental affect on real estate sales. Home buyers and sellers will face a new hurdle in the sales process, one that could extend escrow periods – possibly for lengthy periods – and may cause other delays and issues.Â New requirements are being implemented that will make loan disclosures much stricter starting October 3, 2015. While the theory behind the disclosures makes sense, the implementation is sure to cause many headaches. In a nutshell, every time there is a change to any terms in the purchase contract, the borrower will receive new disclosures, and with it a new period to review them, which could extend the buyer’s contingencies for lengthy amounts of time, thus extending escrow periods.
For example, say you are purchasing a home and everything is going along well, and you have a few days left to remove your contingencies. You have a home inspection and there are repairs you feel the seller should make, so you present a repair request. The seller agrees to credit you money toward closing costs so you can repair those issues after the close of escrow. Your lender will now have to issue new disclosures to you because you are changing the terms of the contract (by getting a credit back through escrow), and you will have more time to review these new disclosures. This will extend your contingency period – it is risky for sellers because it means their homes will be held up in escrow for longer periods, or at least they will be off market without a non-refundable deposit for a longer period of time. For more information on this topic visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
2. Foreign investors: Over the last few years foreign homebuyers have invested quite a lot of money in U.S. real estate markets. But with the strengthening of the dollar and weakening of other currency, there are many economists who predict these investments will start to ebb.
3. Decline of new construction: New construction has picked up in some places over the last few years, but in this seller’s market it is not increasing at a rate to keep up with demand for homes, especially entry-level properties in many markets.
4. Interest rate changes -? At some point rates will need to move upwards, and this could obviously put some entry-level buyers out of the market. While it doesn’t look like this will be the case any time in the near future, it is inevitable at some point.
I feel that the current market will remain strong moving forward, at least for some time. With the new policies and state of the factors mentioned above it is foreseeable that things could slow down possibly in a year or so. But like I always say, location is a big part of the picture – here in San Diego we will always have a desirable market due to our weather and proximity to the ocean. For specific market news and predictions in your hometown, consult a licensed and experienced area real estate agent.