With the housing crash of 2006-2008 still visible in the rear-view mirror, many are concerned the current correction in the stock market is a sign that home values are also about to tumble. What’s taking place today, however, is nothing like what happened the last time. The S&P 500 did fall by over fifty percent from October 2007 to March 2009, and home values did depreciate in 2007, 2008, and 2009 – but that was because that economic slowdown was mainly caused by a collapsing real estate market and a meltdown in the mortgage market.
This time, the stock market correction is being caused by an outside event (the coronavirus) with no connection to the housing industry. Many experts are saying the current situation is much more reminiscent of the challenges we had when the dot.com crash was immediately followed by 9/11. As an example, David Rosenberg, Chief Economist with Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc., recently explained:
“What 9/11 has in common with what is happening today is that this shock has also generated fear, angst and anxiety among the general public. People avoided crowds then as they believed another terrorist attack was coming and are acting the same today to avoid getting sick. The same parts of the economy are under pressure ─ airlines, leisure, hospitality, restaurants, entertainment ─ consumer discretionary services in general.”
Since the current situation resembles the stock market correction in the early 2000s, let’s review what happened to home values during that time.The S&P dropped 45% between September 2000 and October 2002. Home prices, on the other hand, appreciated nicely at the same time. That stock market correction proved not to have any negative impact on home values.
If the current situation is more like the markets in the early 2000s versus the markets during the Great Recession, home values should be minimally affected, if at all.
More and more economists are predicting a recession is imminent as the result of the pullback in the economy caused by COVID-19. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research:
“A recession is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.”
Bill McBride, the founder of Calculated Risk, believes we are already in a recession:
“With the sudden economic stop, and with many states shutting down by closing down schools, bars and restaurants…my view is the US economy is now in a recession (started in March 2020), and GDP will decline sharply in Q2. The length of the recession will depend on the course of the pandemic.”
How deep will it go?
No one knows for sure. It depends on how long it takes to beat this virus. Goldman Sachsanticipates we will see a difficult first half of the year, but the economy will recover in the second half (see below):Goldman also projects we’ll have “further strong gains in early 2021.”
This aligns with the projection from Wells Fargo Investment Institute:
“Once the virus infection rate peaks, we expect a recovery to gain momentum into the final quarter of the year and especially into 2021.”
Again, no one knows for sure how long the pandemic will last. The hope is that it will resolve sometime over the next several months. Most agree that when it does, the economy will regain its strength quickly.
*QUARTER 1 DATA FROM GOLDMAN SACHS WAS UPDATED FROM 0% TO -0.2% ON 3/17/20 AFTER THE INITIAL RELEASE.
This virus is not only impacting the physical health of Americans, but also the financial health of the nation. The sooner we beat it, the sooner our lives will return to normal.
With all of the havoc being caused by COVID-19, many are concerned we may see a new wave of foreclosures. Restaurants, airlines, hotels, and many other industries are furloughing workers or dramatically cutting their hours. Without a job, many homeowners are wondering how they’ll be able to afford their mortgage payments.
In spite of this, there are actually many reasons we won’t see a surge in the number of foreclosures like we did during the housing crash over ten years ago. Here are just a few of those reasons:
The Government Learned its Lesson the Last Time
During the previous housing crash, the government was slow to recognize the challenges homeowners were having and waited too long to grant relief. Today, action is being taken swiftly. Just this week:
- The Federal Housing Administration indicated it is enacting an “immediate foreclosure and eviction moratorium for single family homeowners with FHA-insured mortgages” for the next 60 days.
- The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced it is directing Fannie Mae and Freddie Macto suspend foreclosures and evictions for “at least 60 days.”
Homeowners Learned their Lesson the Last Time
When the housing market was going strong in the early 2000s, homeowners gained a tremendous amount of equity in their homes. Many began to tap into that equity. Some started to use their homes as ATM machines to purchase luxury items like cars, jet-skis, and lavish vacations. When prices dipped, many found themselves in a negative equity situation (where the mortgage was greater than the value of their homes). Some just walked away, leaving the banks with no other option but to foreclose on their properties.
Today, the home equity situation in America is vastly different. From 2005-2007, homeowners cashed out $824 billion worth of home equity by refinancing. In the last three years, they cashed out only $232 billion, less than one-third of that amount. That has led to:
- 37% of homes in America having no mortgage at all
- Of the remaining 63%, more than 1 in 4 having over 50% equity
Even if prices dip (and most experts are not predicting that they will), most homeowners will still have vast amounts of value in their homes and will not walk away from that money.
There Will Be Help Available to Individuals and Small Businesses
The government is aware of the financial pain this virus has caused and will continue to cause. Yesterday, the Associated Press reported:
“In a memorandum, Treasury proposed two $250 billion cash infusions to individuals: A first set of checks issued starting April 6, with a second wave in mid-May. The amounts would depend on income and family size.”
The plan also recommends $300 billion for small businesses.
These are not going to be easy times. However, the lessons learned from the last crisis have Americans better prepared to weather the financial storm. For those who can’t, help is on the way.
Things are happening rapidly. Just three days after the March 2020 Housing Market Update on the 17th, everything changed. On March 20 Governor Cuomo issued the New York State on PAUSE Executive Order. One day later, Governor Murphy announced a Statewide Stay at Home Order for New Jersey. And even though our physical offices are closed, Green Team Realty sales associates and support staff are all working remotely.
March 2020 Housing Market Update
Geoff Green, President of Green Team Realty, welcomed everyone to the webinar. He began by discussing last month’s Housing Market Update. One month ago on the February 2020 HMU, things were looking great. The stock market was nearing all-time highs. One month later the coronavirus had set in. Now everything is different.
We are in historical times now. And the panel will try to break it apart and make some sense of what’s happening. The panel includes a mortgage expert and financial expert, in addition to sales associates from Green Team New Jersey Realty and Green Team New York Realty.
Mortgage rates are extremely low and there are lots of good programs that help people buy a home. Looking at rates from 2016 to today, they are now historically low. Things are fluid now. The Central Bank is in flux, determining 10 year treasure rate. There is a correlation between the treasury rates and 30 year mortgage rates, but they are not one and the same. Laura Moritz, the panel’s mortgage professional, reiterated that. The treasury rates that you hear about on the news do not translate to mortgage rates. Reach out to your mortgage professional to find out what the rates are for your current financial situation.
Some Other Positives
According to ShowingTime, at the start of the year there was a 20.2% increase in showings. 2020 was off to a great start. Geoff sees this as a positive. After we get through this tough period of time these numbers should bode well.
A Mixed Bag
Crude prices present a mixed bag. We are experiencing the single largest decline in the history of crude oil prices. This is due to an oil-price clash between Saudi Arabia and Russia. On the positive side, we’re potentially paying less at the pump and to heat our homes. On the negative side, those companies involved in the oil industry stand a chance of going out of business, defaulting and impacting banks that financed their operations. Without banks lending money, the housing market cannot move forward.
The Coronavirus and the Real Estate Market
The CDC and the White House, during their press briefing, seemed to indicate that this would not be over anytime soon. A lot of school districts, local business leaders, politicians may be saying “For the next few weeks this is going to happen.” However, Geoff’s sense from the briefing was that this halt of movement will actually be prolonged until this virus is truly contained.
Therefore, we need to find ways to operate responsibly and respectfully, to keep the housing market in check and not experience a complete crash.
Impact on Stock Market
Just a month ago the Dow Industrial Average was wavering between an incredible 29,000 and 30,000. The take-away at that time was that 2020 was going to be a great year, as long as there wasn’t a major global crisis. During the February Housing Market Update, Geoff mentioned that he thought the coronavirus might become that global crisis. Within a few days of that the virus began to quickly spread globally. The day before the March 2020 Housing Market Update, the Dow dropped 3,000, its worst day since 1987. And now, the global economy is at a standstill.
A Commercial Real Estate Bubble?
One thing that not many people are talking about yet is the Commercial Real Estate Bubble. Carl Icahn, a billionaire investor, is betting on the commercial real estate market being in a bubble and about to crumble. That is a big deal as banks are heavily involved in commercial real estate and lending. This is a situation we’ll be keeping an eye on.
Local Housing Market Stats
Units sold was lower than preceding years for the month of February, while it had been higher during January. That kind of fluctuation is not uncommon and when averaged out, it’s right in the mix. Sales prices came out way ahead of previous years, much the result of low inventory. Ask to sold ratio is still at a very high percentage. That means sellers on average are only negotiating 3% off their last asking price. Days on market has gone up a little, which generally means a slowing of the market. At this pre-coronavirus stage, there were some indications that the market was slowing a little.
Units sold in Sussex County were a mixed bag. Not quite as high as 2018, but a little higher than 2019. Average price is up, and ask to sold ratio is at 97%, As in Orange County, days on market is going up, again indicating a slowing in the market.
As Real Estate Professionals, what can we do during this crisis?
Whether you’re a home owner, potential buyer or realtor, we all need to take this seriously. Geoff mentioned that one of the doctors on the coronavirus news briefing on March 16 said that this is all about the Greatest Generation. Many of the people who are dying from the coronavirus are from the World War II generation. And we owe it to them to try to safeguard their health. We have to make sure we’re doing the right thing.
We have to make sure we’re watching the WHO and CDC guidelines and operating within those confines. Some countries are shutting down, others are not. Geoff’s take away is no more group meetings. If you are having symptoms, then you and your household must self-quarantine. If you’re a real estate agent and you have symptoms, take it seriously. Do not show homes, do not pretend you’re asymptomatic.
For those sales agents who do not have symptoms and have not been exposed to the virus, Geoff recommended the following. Tell sellers who might be concerned about buyers coming into their homes that we will do personal showings and greet the potential buyer and buyer’s agent at the door. Make judgment call if you think they might be ill. Walk them through the home, opening doors, closets, etc., then wipe them down before leaving.
Video tours provide a good alternative, if necessary. Buyers are never physically in the property. The sales associate, with boots on the ground, walks them through, using video conferencing.
Before opening the discussion up to the panel, Geoff had one more thing to say… WE WILL PREVAIL!
Meet our Panel
From left to right, Laura Moritz, Clasic Mortgage; Ken Ford, Warwick Valley Financial Advisors
From left to right, Kristi Anderson, Green Team New Jersey Realty, Keren Gonen, Green Team New Jersey Realty, Angela Murphy, Green Team New York Realty
Looking for “boots on the ground,” Geoff first asked the sales associates what was happening with ShowingTime. Were people continuing to want to see homes, were they cancelling? Kristi stated that she was still getting lots of showings on her properties. Personally she showed 8 different prospects homes over the weekend. It’s very busy still at this point. Keren had two cancellations over the weekend, then got calls from a brand new client she showed homes to. And just the day before she showed one client eight properties. Angela agreed that not only are people viewing homes, they’re purchasing homes. Six out of ten homes she had showed to buyers had accepted offers within a week. Kristi added that she had two properties go to contract this day.
Geoff stated it’s interesting that the housing market in total – sales, exchange of real property, renovations, maintenance, etc. roughly equates to almost 20% to 25% of national GDP. It is a major force, economically speaking. His hope is that the housing market will stay relatively healthy during all this. If we do go into recession, it may not be that deep and that bad. He asked Ken for his opinion on this.
Are we heading towards a recession?
Ken first talked about the history of recessions. He said this is the longest period that the US has gone without a recession. The last was 2008/2009, the period of the great financial crisis. And we’ve never gone a decade without one. Going back 150 years of data, we’ve had one or two recessions each decade. Recessions can be healthy, weeding out the excesses of economic expansion. Our economic expansion has been built on more debt, more credit, low interest rates and the Federal Reserve pumping money into the economy. The saying goes, the bigger the boom, the bigger the bust. And the last ten years have been the biggest boom he’s ever seen.
If liquidity and the financial markets seize up like they did in 2008, then we are going to have a recession. The Fed dropped the interest rate to 0%, providing lots of liquidity. They’re trying not to repeat 2008, but Ken is not sure they’ll be able to do it. We don’t have any stimulus that can jump start the economy. Plus we have a trillion dollar deficit, so where do we go from there? If we start losing confidence in the market, there will be a problem. Greed and fear often drive decisions. However, he said if you know how to value assets and have the capital there will be some great investment opportunities going forward. And Ken does believe that we’re headed for a recession, with everything shutting down, people working from home, unable to go to stores, restaurants, etc.. It’s just a question of how bad the recession will be.
From the lender’s perspective
Geoff asked Laura for her thoughts. She reiterated what Geoff had said. We’ve survived bad times before. And, unlike the big cities, a lot of people are looking to move to less densely populated areas. Our proximity and distance from major cities are important factors. From a lender’s perspective, she had four accepted offers the day before. She does see buyers putting offers in, and she had three closings this week. On the other hand, she does see evidence of the banks tightening up. Putting down 3% or 0% may not be feasible. Property values may be depreciating in the short term, larger down payments may be required. People still need a roof over their heads, so it’s different than the commercial market that Geoff described before.
Laura said that she’s been inundated with calls from people wanting to refinance they’re mortgages. She closed ten last month. However, right now banks do not want to refinance mortgages and are pricing them accordingly. They don’t want to compromise their portfolios. If you want to refinance, you may have to hold on. Geoff said that one of the strengths, compared to 2008, is the level of equity in homes, in general. A lot of households don’t have a mortgage, and a lot have a pretty low loan to value ratio. He hopes that the housing market, which caused the 2008 financial collapse, is now carrying the U.S. economy. We’ve been in a boom compared to the rest of the world.
Can a strong housing market make a recession not hurt as much as last one?
Geoff asked if it’s fair to say that the U.S. housing market might actually make this recession not hurt as much as the last time?
Ken replied that he was looking at something that was the best indicator of valuation of residential housing. The Case-Shiller Index shows that with real estate in Warwick, you can’t buy the same house in Greenwich, CT. You can’t buy the same square footage, etc. The denominator is the income of the town you live in; the value of real estate divided by the average income. It is higher than 2007/2008. We have a higher valuation than what they deemed to be a housing bubble.
Geoff believes low mortgage rates and low inventory, providing supply and demand, has driven real estate value up. He believes there is still so much demand, without the supply. Ken said if we wind up with inflation, mortgage rates will go up. Income inequality is a major problem. Interest rates drive the pricing power of all assets.
Impact of the job market
Geoff said it will all boil down to people having jobs and having confidence to buy a home. The job market is another interesting discussion. The number of layoffs that might occur during this halting of movement will be of interest. He hopes that companies will hang on to cash flow to keep their employees on. He said that is what they’re doing at Green Team. Everyone is working remotely, and they haven’t dialed back on staff. They’re trying to do more with what they have and hope other businesses do the same.
Ken said it all comes back to the stock market. The biggest cost of any corporation is the employees. If stock plummets and earnings go down, the CEO or CFO of major corporations will normally cut employees. Decision makers start laying people off when revenue and earnings go down. As financial planner he tells people to have emergency savings, just in case they are laid off from their jobs.
Wrapping it up
Geoff thanked everyone for their participation. The take-away is, if you’re a seller worried about putting your home on the market because of what is going on, for market reasons get your home on the market now. The market is still very robust, as Kristi, Keren and Angela had stated. We don’t know what the future holds, so why wait? If you’re concerned for health reasons, that is understandable. There might be ways around that, as well. He suggested talking to a Green Team realtor, such as Kristi Anderson, Keren Gonen or Angela Murphy. Regardless, this is what realtors do… find ways to make it happen. For buyers, there may be some unique opportunities.
We have no choice but to keep going. Keren added that she listed a house on Saturday and the next day had three full-priced offers. Good houses are selling. Have trust that we can get this done for you.
Laura added, with everyone staying together, being with their families, they’ll re-evaluate priorities. And what is the heart of the family? Their home. Extended families may blend, people will find comfort in their homes. She feels in that regard, this will be good in our market.
The 2020 Millennial Home Buyer Report shows how this generation is not really any different from previous ones when it comes to homeownership goals:
“The majority of millennials not only want to own a home, but 84% of millennials in 2019 considered it a major part of the American Dream.”
Unfortunately, the myths surrounding the barriers to homeownership – especially those related to down payments and FICO® scores – might be keeping many buyers out of the arena. The piece also reveals:
“Millennials have to navigate a lot of obstacles to be able to own a home. According to our 2020 survey, saving for a down payment is the biggest barrier for 50% of millennials.”
Millennial or not, unpacking two of the biggest myths that may be standing in the way of homeownership among all generations is a great place to start the debunking process.
Myth #1: “I Need a 20% Down Payment”
Many buyers often overestimate what they need to qualify for a home loan. According to the same article:
“A down payment of 20% for a home of that price [$210,000] would be about $42,000; only about 30% of the millennials in our survey have enough in savings to cover that, not to mention the additional closing costs.”
While many potential buyers still think they need to put at least 20% down for the home of their dreams, they often don’t realize how many assistance programs are available with as little as 3% down. With a bit of research, many renters may be able to enter the housing market sooner than they ever imagined.
Myth #2: “I Need a 780 FICO® Score or Higher”
In addition to down payments, buyers are also often confused about the FICO® score it takes to qualify for a mortgage, believing they need a credit score of 780 or higher.
Ellie Mae’s latest Origination Insight Report, which focuses on recently closed (approved) loans, shows the truth is, over 50% of approved loans were granted with a FICO® score below 750 (see graph below):Even today, many of the myths of the homebuying process are unfortunately keeping plenty of motivated buyers on the sidelines. In reality, it really doesn’t have to be that way.
If you’re thinking of buying a home, you may have more options than you think. Let’s connect to answer your questions and help you determine your next steps.
Rising home prices have been in the news a lot lately, and much of the focus is on whether they’re accelerating too quickly and how sustainable the growth in prices really is. One of the often-overlooked benefits of rising prices, however, is the impact they have on a homeowner’s equity position.
Home equity is defined as the difference between a home’s fair market value and the outstanding balance of all liens on the property. While homeowners pay down their mortgages, the amount of equity they have in their homes climbs each time the value increases.
Today, the number of homeowners that currently have significant equity in their homes is growing. According to the Census Bureau, 38% of all homes in the country are mortgage-free. In a home equity study, ATTOM Data Solutions revealed that of the 54.5 million homes with a mortgage, 26.7% of them have at least 50% equity. That number has been increasing over the last eight years.
CoreLogic also notes:
“…the average homeowner gained approximately $5,300 in equity during the past year.”
The map below shows a breakdown of the increasing equity gain across the country, painting a clear picture that home equity is growing in nearly every state.
This may be the year to take advantage of your home equity by applying it forward, either as you downsize or as you move up to a new home.
Want to see what your home is worth? Use our quick and easy Home Value Estimator.
The number of building permits issued for single-family homes is the best indicator of how many newly built homes will begin to come to market over the next few months. According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development Residential Construction Report, the number of building permits issued in January was 1,551,000. This is a 9.2% increase from December.
How will this impact buyers?
New inventory means more options. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explained how this is good news for the housing market – especially for those looking to buy:
“More construction will mean more housing inventory for consumers in the later months of this year…Spring months could still be quite tough for buyers since it takes time to convert housing starts into actual housing completions.”
How will this impact sellers?
More inventory means more competition. Yun continues to say:
“As trade-up buyers move into these newly completed homes in the near future, their existing homes will be released onto the market.”
Today, because of the tremendous lack of inventory, a seller can potentially anticipate:
- A great sale price on their house as buyers engage in potential bidding wars.
- A quick sale as buyers have little inventory to choose from.
- Fewer hassles as buyers want to smoothly secure a contract.
If you’re considering selling your house, you’ll want to list sooner rather than later. This way, you’ll get ahead of this new competition coming to market and ensure the most attention toward your listing and the best price for your house.