Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its latest Employment Situation Summary. Going into the release, the expert consensus was for 1.58 million jobs to be added in July, and for the unemployment rate to fall to 10.5%.
When the official report came out, it revealed that 1.8 million jobs were added, and the unemployment rate fell to 10.2% (from 11.1% last month). Once again, this is excellent news as this was the third consecutive month the unemployment rate decreased.There is, however, still a long way to go before the job market fully recovers. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) put a potential date on that recovery:
“July’s payroll growth, at 1.8 million, still leaves total payrolls 12.9 million lower than in February. And yet if job gains continued at July’s pace, that deficit will be erased by March 2021. If payrolls reclaim their last peak in 13 months, that would be remarkably fast. It took more than six years after the last recession.”
Permanent vs. Temporary Unemployment
During a pandemic, it’s important to differentiate those who have lost their jobs on a temporary basis from those who have lost them on a permanent basis. Morgan Stanley economists noted in the same WSJ article:
“The rate of churn in the labor market remains incredibly high, but a notable positive detail in this month’s report was the downtick in the rate of new permanent layoffs.”
To address this, the core unemployment rate becomes increasingly important. It identifies the number of people who have permanently lost their jobs. This measure subtracts temporary layoffs and adds unemployed who did not search for a job recently. Jed Kolko, Chief Economist at Indeed and the founder of the index reported:
“Core unemployment fell in July for the first time in the pandemic. That’s the good news I was hoping for.”
What about the housing market?
The housing market has continued to show tremendous resilience during the pandemic. Commenting on the labor report, Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), tweeted:
“Housing continues to rebound in another positive labor market report. Home builder and remodeler job gains of 24K for July. Residential construction employment down just 56.4K compared to a year ago. Total residential construction employment at 2.85 million.”
We should remain cautious in our optimism, as the recovery is ultimately tied to our future success in mitigating the ongoing health crisis. However, as Mike Fratantoni, Chief Economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, reminds us: “The pace of job growth slowed in July, but the gains over the past three months represent an impressive rebound during the ongoing economic challenges brought forth by the pandemic.”
We’re sitting in an optimal moment in time for homeowners who are ready to sell their houses and make a move this year. Today’s homeowners are, on average, staying in their homes longer than they used to, and this is one factor driving increased homeowner equity. When equity grows, selling a house becomes increasingly desirable. Here’s a breakdown of why it’s a great time to capitalize on equity gain in today’s market.
“Over the past 10 years, the equity position of homeowners has positively changed as a result of more than eight years of rising home prices. As the economy climbed out of the recession in the first quarter of 2010, 25.9% or 12.1 million homes were still underwater, compared to the first quarter of 2020 when the negative equity share was at 3.4%, or 1.8 million properties. Borrowers have seen an aggregate increase of $6.2 trillion in home equity since the first quarter of 2010 and the average homeowner has gained about $106,100 in equity.”
Increasing equity is enabling many homeowners who are ready to sell their current houses today to sell for an increased profit, and then reinvest their earnings in a new home. According to the Q2 2020 U.S. Home Sales Report from ATTOM Data Solutions, in the second quarter of 2020:
“Home sellers nationwide realized a gain of $75,971 on the typical sale, up from the $66,500 in the first quarter of 2020 and from $65,250 in the second quarter of last year. The latest figure, based on median purchase and resale prices, marked yet another peak level of raw profits in the United States since the housing market began recovering from the Great Recession in 2012.”
If you’ve been taking a closer look at your house recently and are thinking it might be time for you to make a move, determining your equity position is a great place to start. Understanding how much equity you’ve earned over time can be a key factor in helping you realize the potential profits in your real estate investment and move toward your next homeownership goal.
With average home sale profits growing, it’s a great time to leverage your equity and make a move, especially while the inventory of houses for sale and mortgage rates are historically low. If you’re considering selling your house, let’s connect today so you can better understand your home equity position and take one step closer to the home of your dreams.
Three of the Latest Reports Show Housing Market Is Strong
The residential real estate market is remaining resilient as the country still struggles to beat the COVID-19 pandemic. Three separate reports recently revealed how the housing market is still showing growth. Here’s a look at each one.
1. Ivy Zelman’s Real Estate Broker Survey
The survey explains that purchaser demand remains strong:
“This month’s overall homebuyer demand rating…was easily the strongest sequential gain in our survey history…Strength continues to be led by the entry-level…While high-end demand is less robust in an absolute sense, there has also been relative improvement, with contacts attributing incremental improvement to the stock market’s rebound, record low mortgage rates and luxury customers trading out of high-priced cities.”
2. The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index
The index reveals that builder confidence has returned to levels last seen prior to the pandemic:
“In a strong signal that the housing market is ready to lead a post-COVID economic recovery, builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes jumped 14 points to 72 in July, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). The HMI now stands at the solid pre-pandemic reading in March before the outbreak affected much of the nation.”
3. The realtor.com Housing Market Recovery Index
This index leverages a weighted average of four key components of the housing industry, tracking each of the following:
- Housing Demand – Growth in online search activity
- Home Price – Growth in asking prices
- Housing Supply – Growth of new listings
- Pace of Sales – Difference in time-on-market
It then compares the current status “to the last week of January 2020 market trend, as a baseline for pre-COVID market growth. The overall index is set to 100 in this baseline period. The higher a market’s index value, the higher its recovery and vice versa.”
The latest results came in at 101, with realtor.com explaining:
“The U.S. Housing Market has recovered from the immediate disruption caused by the COVID pandemic and returned to January 2020 growth levels.”
Real estate brokers, home builders, and industry data all agree that the housing market has surged back to pre-COVID levels, showing growth, strength, and incredible resilience.
The following analysis of the Western Washington real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere agent.
REGIONAL ECONOMIC OVERVIEW
It appears as if the massive COVID-19 induced contraction in employment that Washington State — along with the rest of the nation — experienced this spring is behind us (at least for now). Statewide employment started to drop in March, but April was the real shock: total employment dropped almost 460,000 between March and April, a decline of 13.1%. However, this turned around remarkably quickly, with a solid increase of 52,500 jobs in May. Worthy of note is that, in May alone, Western Washington recovered 43,500 of the 320,000 jobs that were lost in the region the prior month. Although it is certainly too early to categorically state that we are out of the woods, the direction is positive and, assuming we respect the state’s mandates regarding social distancing and mask wearing, I remain hopeful that Washington will not have to re-enter any form of lockdown.
- There were 17,465 home sales during the second quarter of 2020, representing a drop of 22.2% from the same period in 2019, but 30.6% higher than in the first quarter of this year.
- The number of homes for sale was 37% lower than a year ago, but was up 32% compared to the first quarter of the year.
- Given COVID-19’s impacts, it’s not surprising that sales declined across the board. The greatest drops were in Whatcom and King counties. The smallest declines were in Grays Harbor and Cowlitz counties.
- Pending sales — a good gauge of future closings — rose 35.7% compared to the first quarter of the year, suggesting that third quarter closings will grow as well.
- Home-price growth in Western Washington rose by a relatively modest 3.5% compared to a year ago. The average sale price in the second quarter was $559,194.
- Compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was strongest in Grays Harbor County, where home prices were up 14.3%. Clallam County also saw a double-digit price increase.
- It was interesting to note that prices were up a significant 6.6% compared to the first quarter. This suggests that any concern regarding negative impacts to home values as a function of COVID-19 may be overblown.
- I will be watching for significant price growth in less urbanized areas going forward. If there is, it may be an indication that COVID-19 is affecting where buyers are choosing to live.
DAYS ON MARKET
- The average number of days it took to sell a home in the second quarter of this year matched the second quarter of 2019.
- Across the entire region, it took an average of 40 days to sell a home in the second quarter. I would also note that it took an average of 14 fewer days to sell a home than in the first quarter of this year.
- Thurston, King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties were the tightest markets in Western Washington, with homes taking an average of only 17 days to sell. All but two counties, Grays Harbor and Cowlitz, saw the length of time it took to sell a home drop compared to the same period a year ago.
- Market time remains well below the long-term average across the region. This is due to significant increases in demand along with the remarkably low level of inventory available.
This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.
What a difference a quarter makes! Given that demand has reappeared remarkably quickly and interest rates remain historically low, it certainly remains a seller’s market and I don’t expect this to change in the foreseeable future.
The overall housing market has exhibited remarkable resilience and housing demand has rebounded faster than most would have expected. I anticipate demand to remain robust, but this will cause affordability issues to remain as long as the new construction housing market remains muted.
ABOUT MATTHEW GARDNER
As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.
In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.
Over the past several weeks, Freddie Mac has reported the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropping to record lows, all the way down to 3.03%. Last week’s reported rate reached the lowest point in the history of the survey, which dates back to 1971 (See graph below):
What does this mean for buyers?
This is huge for homebuyers. Those currently taking advantage of the increasing affordability that comes with historically low interest rates are winning big. According to Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac:
“The summer is heating up as record low mortgage rates continue to spur homebuyer demand.”
In addition, move.com notes:
“Summer home buying season is off to a roaring start. As buyers flooded into the market, realtor.com® monthly traffic hit an all-time high of 86 million unique users in June 2020, breaking May’s record of 85 million unique users. Realtor.com® daily traffic also hit its highest level ever of 7 million unique users on June 25, signaling that despite the global pandemic buyers are ready to make a purchase.”
Clearly, buyers are capitalizing on today’s low rates. As shown in the chart below, the average monthly mortgage payment decreases significantly when rates are as low as they are today.A lower monthly payment means savings that can add up significantly over the life of a home loan. It also means that qualified buyers may be able to purchase more home for their money. Maybe that’s a bigger home than what they’d be able to afford at a higher rate, an increasingly desirable option considering the amount of time families are now spending at home given today’s health crisis.
If you’re in a position to buy a home this year, let’s connect to initiate the process while mortgage rates are historically low.
Last week, a very well-respected real estate analytics firm surprised many with their home price projection for the next twelve months. CoreLogic, in their latest Home Price Index said:
“The economic downturn that started in March 2020 is predicted to cause a 6.6% drop in the HPI by May 2021, which would be the first decrease in annual home prices in over 9 years.”
The forecast was surprising as it was strikingly different than any other projection by major analysts. Six of the other eight forecasts call for appreciation, and the two who project depreciation indicate it will be one percent or less.
Here is a graph showing all of the projections:There’s a simple formula to determine the future price of any item: calculate the supply of that item in ratio to the demand for that item. In housing right now, demand far exceeds supply. Last week mortgage applications to buy a home were 33% higher than they were at the same time last year. The available inventory of homes for sale is 31% lower than it was last year. Normally, these numbers should call for homes to continue to appreciate.
Because of the uncertainty with the pandemic, any economic prediction is extremely difficult. However, looking at the limited supply of homes for sale and the tremendous demand for housing, it is difficult to disagree with the majority of analysts who are calling for price appreciation.
In a recent survey of home sellers by Qualtrics, 87% of respondents said they were concerned their home won’t sell because of the pandemic and resulting economic recession. Of the respondents, 51% said they are “seriously worried.” That concern seems reasonable considering the current condition of the economy. The data, however, is showing that home purchasers are still very active despite the disruptions American families have experienced this year.
The latest Existing Home Sales Report published by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that 340,000 single-family homes sold in this country last month. NAR’s most recent Pending Sales Report (homes going into contract) surpassed last month’s number by over 44%, which far exceeded analysts’ projections of 15%. ShowingTime reported that appointments to see homes (both virtually and in-person) have increased in every region of the country and are up 21.4% nationwide over the same time last year.
While buyer activity is surging, the number of listings has fallen to an all-time low. Zelman Associates, in their latest residential real estate report, revealed that housing inventory as a percentage of households has fallen to 1.2%, which is half of the long-term average and lower than any other time in our history.
Bidding Wars Heating Up Again
With buyer demand growing and the supply of available homes shrinking, purchasers are again finding themselves needing to outbid other buyers. NAR, in a recent blog post, revealed:
“On average, there were about three offers on a home that closed in May, up from just about two in April 2020 and in May 2019 (2.3 offers).”
Bidding wars guarantee houses sell quickly at a price near or even slightly over the listing price.
If you’re thinking of selling, don’t be concerned about putting your house on the market right now. There’s no better time to sell an item than when demand for it is high and supply is low. It is exactly at that time when you will negotiate your best possible deal.
In today’s economy, everyone seems to be searching for signs that a recovery is coming soon. Many experts agree that it may actually already be in motion or will be starting by the 3rd quarter of this year. With the housing market positioned to lead the way out of this recession, builder confidence might be a bright spark that gets the recovery fire started. The construction of new homes coming right around the corner is a huge part of that effort, and it may drive your opportunity to make a move this year.
According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB):
“New home sales jumped in May, as housing demand was supported by low interest rates, a renewed household focus on housing, and rising demand in lower-density markets. Census and HUD estimated new home sales in May at a 676,000 seasonally adjusted annual pace, a 17% gain over April.”
In addition, builder confidence is also rising, opening up opportunity for newly constructed homes in the market. The NAHB also notes:
“In a sign that housing stands poised to lead a post-pandemic economic recovery, builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes jumped 21 points to 58 in June, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). Any reading above 50 indicates a positive market.”
As noted above, this upward trend is supported by builders reporting an increase in demand for single-family homes in suburban neighborhoods with lower-density populations, a result of the COVID-19 health crisis.
Moreover, the most recent Monthly New Residential Construction Report from the U.S. Census indicates that authorized building permits for new residential construction increased by 14.4% month-over-month from April to May, and housing starts were also up 4.3% over the same time period. (See graph below):Although housing permits and starts are both considerably lower than they were at this time last year, indicating the new construction market is still working on building its way back up, the trends are moving in the right direction when it comes to having an impact on the U.S. economy. They’re also poised to create the much-needed new homes for Americans to purchase in a time when inventory is so scarce.
Dean Mon, Chairman of the NAHB notes:
“As the nation reopens, housing is well-positioned to lead the economy forward…Inventory is tight, mortgage applications are increasing, interest rates are low and confidence is rising. And buyer traffic more than doubled in one month even as builders report growing online and phone inquiries stemming from the outbreak.”
The gap between homes to buy and the high demand from purchasers may be narrowed by new construction, and the data shows that these homes are on their way into the housing market.
So, if you’ve debated whether or not to sell your house this year because you’re not sure where to move, a newly-built home – designed to your specific liking – may be your answer.
With new residential construction right around the corner, you can feel confident about selling your house and having a place to move into. Maybe it’s time to finally design the home you’ve always wanted. Let’s connect today to discuss selling your house while demand from eager buyers is high.
One of the biggest questions on everyone’s minds these days is: What’s going to happen to the housing market in the second half of the year? Based on recent data on the economy, unemployment, real estate, and more, many economists are revising their forecasts for the remainder of 2020 – and the outlook is extremely encouraging. Here’s a look at what some experts have to say about key areas that will power the industry and the economy forward this year.
Mortgage Purchase Originations: Joel Kan, Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry Forecasting, Mortgage Bankers Association
“The recovery in housing is happening faster than expected. We anticipated a drop off in Q3. But, we don’t think that’s the case anymore. We revised our Q3 numbers higher. Before, we predicted a 2 percent decline in purchase originations in 2020, now we think there will be 2 percent growth this year.”
“Sales completed in May reflect contract signings in March and April – during the strictest times of the pandemic lock down and hence the cyclical low point…Home sales will surely rise in the upcoming months with the economy reopening, and could even surpass one-year-ago figures in the second half of the year.”
Inventory: George Ratiu, Senior Economist, realtor.com
“We can project that the next few months will see a slow-yet-steady improvement in new inventory…we projected a stepped improvement for the May through August months, followed by a return to historical trend for the September through December time frame.”
Mortgage Rates: Freddie Mac
“Going forward, we forecast the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to remain low, falling to a yearly average of 3.4% in 2020 and 3.2% in 2021.”
New Construction: Doug Duncan, Chief Economist, Fannie Mae
“The weaker-than-expected single-family starts number may be a matter of timing, as single-family permits jumped by a stronger 11.9 percent. In addition, the number of authorized single-family units not yet started rose 5.4 percent to the second-highest level since 2008. This suggests that a significant acceleration in new construction will likely occur.”
The experts are optimistic about the second half of the year. If you paused your 2020 real estate plans this spring, let’s connect today to determine how you can re-engage in the process.
Earlier this month, realtor.com announced the release of their initial Housing Recovery Index, a weekly guide showing how the pandemic has impacted the residential real estate market. The index leverages a weighted average of four key components of the housing industry, tracking each of the following:
- Housing Demand – Growth in online search activity
- Home Price – Growth in asking prices
- Housing Supply – Growth of new listings
- Pace of Sales – Difference in time-on-market
The index then compares the current status “to the last week of January 2020 market trend, as a baseline for pre-COVID market growth. The overall index is set to 100 in this baseline period. The higher a market’s index value, the higher its recovery and vice versa.”
The graph below charts the index by showing how the real estate market started out strong in early 2020, and then dropped dramatically at the beginning of March when the pandemic paused the economy. It also shows the strength of the recovery since the beginning of May.It’s clear to see that the housing market is showing promising signs of recovery from the deep economic cuts we experienced earlier this spring. As noted by Dean Mon, Chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB):
“As the nation reopens, housing is well-positioned to lead the economy forward.”
The data today indicates the housing market is already on the way up.
Staying connected to the housing market’s performance over the coming months will be essential, as we continue to evaluate exactly how the housing market is doing in this uncharted time ahead.