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The major challenge in today’s housing market is that there are more buyers looking to purchase than there are homes available to buy. Simply put, supply can’t keep up with demand. A normal market has a 6-month supply of homes for sale. Anything over that indicates it’s a buyers’ market, but an inventory level below that threshold means we’re in a sellers’ market. Today’s inventory level sits far below the norm.
According to the Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR):
“Total housing inventory at the end of April amounted to 1.16 million units, up 10.5% from March’s inventory and down 20.5% from one year ago (1.46 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.4-month supply at the current sales pace, slightly up from March’s 2.1-month supply and down from the 4.0-month supply recorded in April 2020. These numbers continue to represent near-record lows.”
Basically, while we are seeing some improvement, we’re still at near-record lows for housing inventory (as shown in the graph below). Here’s why. Since the pandemic began, sellers have been cautious when it comes to putting their homes on the market. At the same time that fewer people are listing their homes, more and more people are trying to buy them thanks to today’s low mortgage rates. The influx of buyers aiming to capitalize on those rates are purchasing this limited supply of homes as quickly as they’re coming to market.
This inventory shortage doesn’t just apply to existing homes that are already built. When it comes to new construction, builders are trying to do their part to bring more newly built homes into the market. However, due to challenges with things like lumber supply, they’re also not able to keep up with demand. In their Monthly New Residential Sales report, the United States Census Bureau states:
“The seasonally‐adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of April was 316,000. This represents a supply of 4.4 months at the current sales rate.”
Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, elaborates:
“In the span of five decades, entry level construction fell from 418,000 units per year in the late 1970s to 65,000 in 2020.
While in 2020 only 65,000 entry-level homes were completed, there were 2.38 million first-time homebuyers that purchased homes. Not all renters looking to purchase their first home were in the market for entry-level homes, however, the large disparity illustrates the significant and rapidly widening gap between entry-level supply and demand.”
Despite today’s low inventory, there is hope on the horizon.Regarding existing home sales, Sabrina Speianu, Senior Economic Research Analyst at realtor.com, explains:
“In May, newly listed homes grew by 5.4% on a year-over-year basis compared to the earlier days of the COVID-19 pandemic last year…
In May, the share of newly listed homes compared to active daily inventory hit a historical high of 44.4%, 17.3 percentage points higher than last year and 15.1 percentage points above typical levels seen in 2017 to 2019. This is a reflection of quickly selling homes and, for buyers, it means that while they can expect fresh new listings every week, they will have to be prepared to move quickly on desirable homes.”
As for newly built homes, builders are also confident about what’s ahead for housing inventory. Robert Dietz, Chief Economist at the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), shares:
“Builder confidence in the market remains strong due to a lack of resale inventory, low mortgage interest rates, and a growing demographic of prospective home buyers.”
Things are starting to look up for residential real estate inventory. As the country continues to reopen, more houses are likely to be listed for sale. However, as long as buyer demand remains high, it will take time for the balance between supply and demand to truly neutralize.
Although it may be challenging to find a house to buy in today’s market, there is hope on the horizon. Let’s connect to talk about your home search so we can find your dream home this summer.
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Spring is almost here, and many are wondering what it will bring for the housing market. Even though the pandemic continues on, it’s certain to be very different from the spring we experienced at this time last year. Here’s what a few industry experts have to say about the housing market and how it will bloom this season.
Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, realtor.com:
“Despite early weakness, we expect to see new listings grow in March and April as they traditionally do heading into spring, and last year’s extraordinarily low new listings comparison point will mean year over year gains. One other potential bright spot for would-be homebuyers, new construction, which has risen at a year over year pace of 20% or more for the last few months, will provide additional for-sale inventory relief.”
Ali Wolf, Chief Economist, Zonda:
“Some people will feel comfortable listing their home during the first half of 2021. Others will want to wait until the vaccines are widely distributed. This suggests more inventory will be for sale in late 2021 and into the spring selling season in 2022.”
“Since reaching a low point in January, mortgage rates have risen by more than 30 basis points… However, the rise in mortgage rates over the next couple of months is likely to be more muted in comparison to the last few weeks, and we expect a strong spring sales season.”
Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American:
“As the housing market heads into the spring home buying season, the ongoing supply and demand imbalance all but assures more house price growth…Many find it hard to believe, but housing is actually undervalued in most markets and the gap between house-buying power and sale prices indicates there’s room for further house price growth in the months to come.”
The experts are very optimistic about the housing market right now. If you pressed pause on your real estate plans over the winter, let’s chat to determine how you can re-engage in the homebuying process this spring.
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The question many homebuyers are facing this year is, “Why is it so hard to find a house?” We’re in the ultimate sellers’ market, which means real estate is ultra-competitive for buyers right now. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) notes homes are getting an average of 4.8 offers per sale, and that number keeps rising. Why? It’s because there are so few houses for sale.
Low inventory in the housing market isn’t new, but it’s becoming more challenging to navigate. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, explains:
“The housing market is still relatively under supplied, and buyers can’t buy what’s not for sale. Relative to what we saw in 2017 to 2019, March 2021 was still roughly 117,000 new listings lower, adding to the pre-existing early-year gap of more than 200,000 fresh listings that would typically have come to market in January or February. Despite this week’s gain from a year ago, we’re 19 percent below the new seller activity that we saw in the same week in 2019.”
While many homeowners paused their plans to sell during the height of the pandemic, this isn’t the main cause of today’s huge gap between supply and demand. Sam Khater, Vice President and Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, Economic Housing and Research Division, shares:
“The main driver of the housing shortfall has been the long-term decline in the construction of single-family homes . . . That decline has resulted in the decrease in supply of entry-level single-family homes or, ’starter homes.’”
When you consider the number of homes built in the U.S. by decade, the serious lack of new construction is clear (See graph below):
The number of newly built homes is disproportionately lower than the rate of household formation, which, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, has continued to increase. Khater also explains:
“Even before the COVID-19 pandemic and current recession, the housing market was facing a substantial supply shortage and that deficit has grown. In 2018, we estimated that there was a housing supply shortage of approximately 2.5 million units, meaning that the U.S. economy was about 2.5 million units below what was needed to match long-term demand. Using the same methodology, we estimate that the housing shortage increased to 3.8 million units by the end of 2020. A continued increase in a housing shortage is extremely unusual; typically in a recession, housing demand declines and supply rises, causing inventory to rise above the long-term trend.”
To catch up to current demand, Freddie Mac estimates we need to build almost four million homes. The good news is builders are working hard to get us there. The U.S. Census Bureau also states:
“Privately-owned housing units authorized by building permits in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,766,000. This is 2.7 percent (±1.7 percent) above the revised February rate of 1,720,000 . . . Privately-owned housing starts in March were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,739,000. This is 19.4 percent (±13.7 percent) above the revised February estimate of 1,457,000. . . .”
What does this mean? Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, clarifies:
“The March figure of 1.74 million housing starts is the highest in 14 years. Both single-family units and multifamily units ramped up. After 13 straight years of underproduction – the chief cause for today’s inventory shortage – this construction boom needs to last for at least three years to make up for the part shortfall. As trade-up buyers purchase newly constructed homes, their prior homes will show up in MLSs, and hence, more choices for consumers. Housing starts to housing completion could be 4 to 8 months, so be patient with the improvement to inventory. In the meantime, construction workers deserve cheers.”
If you’re planning to buy this year, the key to success will be patience, given today’s low inventory environment. Let’s connect today to talk more about what’s happening in our area.
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Rents in the United States have been skyrocketing since 2012. This has caused many renters to face a tremendous burden when juggling their housing expenses and the desire to save for a down payment at the same time. The recent stabilization of rental prices provides a great opportunity for renters to save more of their current income to put toward the purchase of a home.
Just last week the Joint Center of Housing Studies of Harvard University released the America’s Rental Housing 2020 Report. The results explain the financial challenges renters are experiencing today,
“Despite slowing demand and the continued strength of new construction, rental markets in the U.S. remain extremely tight. Vacancy rates are at decades-long lows, pushing up rents far faster than incomes. Both the number and share of cost-burdened renters are again on the rise, especially among middle-income households.”
According to the most recent Zillow Rent Index, which measures the estimated market-rate rent for all homes and apartments, the typical U.S. rent now stands at $1,600 per month. Here is a graph of how the index’s median rent values have climbed over the last eight years:
Is Good News Coming?
There seems, however, to be some good news on the horizon. Four of the major rent indices are all reporting that rents are finally beginning to stabilize in all rental categories:
1. The Zillow Rent Index, linked above, only rose 2.6% over the last year.
2. RENTCafé’s research team also analyzes rent data across the 260 largest cities in the United States. The data on average rents comes directly from competitively rented, large-scale, multi-family properties (50+ units in size). Their 2019 Year-End Rent Report shows only a 3% increase in rents from last year, the slowest annual rise over the past 17 months.
3. The CoreLogic Single Family Rent Index reports on single-family only rental listing data in the Multiple Listing Service. Their latest index shows how overall year-over-year rent price increases have slowed since February 2016, when they peaked at 4.2%. They have stabilized around 3% since early 2019.
4. The Apartment List National Rent Report uses median rent statistics for recent movers taken from the Census Bureau American Community Survey. The 2020 report reveals that the year-over-year growth rate of 1.6% matches the rate at this time last year; it is just ahead of the 1.5% rate from January 2016. They also explain how “the past five years also saw stretches of notably faster rent growth. Year-over-year rent growth stood at 2.6% in January 2018, and in January 2016 it was 3.3%, more than double the current rate.”
It seems tenants are getting a breather from the rapid rent increases that have plagued them for almost a decade.
Rental expenses are beginning to moderate, and at the same time, average wages are increasing. That power combination may allow renters who dream of buying a home of their own an opportunity to save more money to put toward a down payment. That’s sensational news!
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The biggest challenge to today’s housing market is the shortage of housing inventory for sale. A normal market would see a six-month supply of homes for sale. Currently, that number is below four months. This is the major reason home prices have continued to appreciate at higher levels than historic averages.
The good news is that builders are now starting to build more homes in lower price ranges.
Builder Confidence is Up
The Housing Market Index from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reveals that builder confidence increased last month. HousingWire quoted NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz about the reason for the increase in confidence amongst builders.
“The HMI measure of future sales conditions reached its highest level since June 2005, a sign of growing consumer confidence in the new home market. Especially as existing home inventory remains tight, we can expect increased demand for new construction moving forward.”
Builders are Meeting the Needs of Today’s Purchaser
Builders are not only jumping into the market – they are doing a better job of matching current demand. The Wall Street Journal recently reported:
“In a shift, new households are overwhelmingly choosing to buy rather than rent. Some 854,000 new-owner households were formed during the first three months of the year, more than double the 365,000 new-renter households formed during the period, according to Census Bureau data.”
The WSJ article went on to say:
“Home builders are beginning to shift their focus away from luxury homes and toward homes at lower price points to cater to this burgeoning millennial clientele.”
The graph below compares 2016 to 2017 new construction sales by price point. As we can see, builders are slowly beginning to shift to prices more favorable to the first-time and non-luxury buyer.
There is a drastic need for a larger supply of home inventory to meet the skyrocketing demand. Builders are finally doing their part to help rectify this situation.
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Many real estate economists have called on new home builders to ramp up production to help relieve the shortage of inventory of homes for sale throughout the United States. The added inventory would no doubt aid buyers in their search to secure their dream home, while also helping to ease price increases throughout the country.
Unfortunately for builders, there are many forces that are making it difficult for them to do just that!
Last week at the National Association of Real Estate Editors 51st Annual Conference, CoreLogic’s Chief Economist Frank Nothaft broke down the 4 ‘L’s of New Home Construction: Lots, Labor, Lumber, and Lending.
The concept of supply and demand is ripe in the new home construction industry. The four ‘L’s of new home construction are each suffering a supply problem, and with that comes added costs. Let’s break it down!
Lots – There is a shortage of land near metros at an affordable price, causing builders to move farther and farther away from cities to keep costs down. This isn’t always an attractive option for those who want to stay close to work.
Labor – The Great Recession forced many skilled construction and trade workers to find other sources of income once their jobs were lost at the time of the crash. Even though the overall housing market has recovered, these workers have not returned. Those who remain are starting to age out and retire, causing even more of a shortage and additional costs.
Lumber – The cost to build a new home is directly tied to the cost of the lot and the cost of the supplies needed to build the home. Lumber costs continue to escalate due to policies restricting the importation of Canadian lumber, making larger luxury homes an attractive option to recoup costs when selling, rather than building smaller single-family homes and making less profit.
Below is a graph showing the increase in cost of 1,000 board feet of framing lumber.
Below is a graph showing the increase in cost of 1,000 board feet of framing lumber.
Year-over-year, lumber costs are up 13% after reaching a high of $433 in the second week of April.
Lending – During the Great Recession, many small community banks were forced to close their doors. These banks were a great source of capital and lending for builders looking to borrow money at a low interest rate in the community in which they were building. Tougher lending standards have made borrowing funds more expensive and more difficult for builders.
Additional costs across all 4 ‘L’s have made building luxury properties more attractive to builders as they are able to make a larger margin with the higher sales price. The move to scale down to starter and trade up homes to help with supply will mean any additional costs are absorbed by the builders unless the supply of the 4 ‘L’s can increase!
Get started with a FREE New Construction Consultation
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Finding the right home to purchase today is one of the biggest challenges for potential buyers. With so few homes for sale and construction of newly built homes ramping up, you may be wondering if you should consider new construction in your search process. It’s a great question to ask, and one to look at from the pros and cons of what it means to buy a new home versus an existing one. Here are a few things to consider when making the best decision for your family.
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Do You Have Enough Money Saved for a Down Payment?
One of the biggest misconceptions for first-time homebuyers is how much you’ll need to save for a down payment. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always have to put 20% down to buy a house. Here’s how it breaks down.
A recent survey by Point2Homes mentions that 74% of millennials (ages 25-40) say they’re interested in purchasing a home over the next 12 months. The study notes, “88% say they have significantly less savings than the average national down payment amount, which is $62,600.”
Thankfully, $62,600 is not the amount every buyer needs for a down payment in the United States. There are many different options available, especially for first-time homebuyers (millennial or not). That amount can also be significantly less, depending on the purchase price of the house.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), “The median existing-home price for all housing types in August was $310,600.” (These are the latest numbers available). NAR also indicates that:
“In 2019, the median down payment was 12 percent for all buyers, six percent for first-time buyers, and 16 percent for repeat buyers.” (See graph below):
That means if a qualified first-time buyer purchases a home at today’s median price, $310,600, with a 6% down payment, in reality, the down payment only amounts to $18,636. That’s nowhere near $62,600.
Knowing there are also programs like FHA where the down payment can be as low as 3.5% of the purchase price for a first-time buyer, that up-front cost could be significantly less – as little as $10,871 for the same home noted above. There are also other programs like USDA and loans for Veterans that waive down payment requirements.
The Point2Homes study also shares how much millennials have indicated they’ve saved for a down payment. As we can see in the graph below, 39% have already saved enough for a down payment on a median-priced home. Another 47% are close to reaching that goal, depending on the purchase price of the home.
Unfortunately, the lack of knowledge about the homebuying process is keeping many motivated first-time buyers on the sidelines. That’s why it’s important to contact a local real estate professional to understand the requirements in your local area if you want to buy a home. A trusted agent and your lender can guide you through the process.
Be careful not to let big myths about homebuying keep you and your family out of the housing market. Learn more about preparing to buy a home at our next homebuyer's workshop.
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4 Major Reasons Households in Forbearance Won’t Lose Their Homes to Foreclosure
There has been a lot of discussion as to what will happen once the 2.3 million households currently in forbearance no longer have the protection of the program. Some assume there could potentially be millions of foreclosures ready to hit the market. However, there are four reasons that won’t happen.
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Start Owning. Make Homeownership Your Reality.
Spending more time at home over the past year has many people really thinking hard about buying a home instead of renting one. If you’re considering buying a home this year, register for our FREE virtual workshop to discuss the options that match your needs.
Thursday, April 22, 2021
7:00 - 8:00 PM CST
Via Zoom (Registration Required)
We're teaching renters how to use real estate to build a legacy and create wealth for generations to come.
Register for this workshop to learn:
• How to determine how much you can afford to spend on a home
• What credit score is needed for approval
• What type of homes you can purchase
• How much money you may need for a downpayment