Pending Home Sales increased by 44.3% in May, registering the highest month-over-month gain in the index since the National Association of Realtors (NAR) started tracking this metric in January 2001. So, what exactly are pending home sales, and why is this rebound so important?
According to NAR, the Pending Home Sales Index (PHS) is:
“A leading indicator of housing activity, measures housing contract activity, and is based on signed real estate contracts for existing single-family homes, condos, and co-ops. Because a home goes under contract a month or two before it is sold, the Pending Home Sales Index generally leads Existing-Home Sales by a month or two.”
In real estate, pending home sales is a key indicator in determining the strength of the housing market. As mentioned before, it measures how many existing homes went into contract in a specific month. When a buyer goes through the steps to purchase a home, the final one is the closing. On average, that happens about two months after the contract is signed, depending on how fast or slow the process takes in each state.
Why is this rebound important?
With the COVID-19 pandemic and a shutdown of the economy, we saw a steep two-month decline in the number of houses that went into contract. In May, however, that number increased dramatically (See graph below):This jump means buyers are back in the market and purchasing homes right now. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR mentioned:
“This has been a spectacular recovery for contract signings and goes to show the resiliency of American consumers and their evergreen desire for homeownership…This bounce back also speaks to how the housing sector could lead the way for a broader economic recovery.”
But in order to continue with this trend, we need more houses for sale on the market. Yun continues to say:
“More listings are continuously appearing as the economy reopens, helping with inventory choices…Still, more home construction is needed to counter the persistent underproduction of homes over the past decade.”
As we move through the year, we’ll see an increase in the number of houses being built. This will help combat a small portion of the inventory deficit. The lack of overall inventory, however, is still a challenge, and it is creating an opportunity for homeowners who are ready to sell. As the graph below shows, during the last 12 months, the supply of homes for sale has been decreasing year-over-year and is not keeping up with the demand from homebuyers.
If you decided not to sell this spring due to the health crisis, maybe it’s time to jump back into the market while buyers are actively looking for homes. Let’s connect today to determine your best move forward.
A worldwide pandemic and an economic recession have had a tremendous effect on the nation. The uncertainty brought about by both has made predicting consumer behavior nearly impossible. For that reason, forecasting home prices has become extremely difficult.
Normally, 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. Mortgage applications to buy a home just rose to the highest level in 11 years while inventory of homes for sale is at (or near) an all-time low. That would usually indicate strong appreciation for home values as we move throughout the year.
Some experts, however, are not convinced the current rush of purchasers is sustainable. Ralph McLaughlin, Chief Economist at Haus, explained in their June 2020 Hausing Market Forecast why there is concern:
“The upswing that we’ll see this summer is a result of pent-up demand from homebuyers and supply-in-progress from homebuilders that has simply been pushed off a few months. However, after this pent-up demand goes away, the true economic scarring due to the pandemic will begin to affect the housing market as the tide of pent-up demand goes out.”
The virus and other challenges currently impacting the industry have created a wide range of thoughts regarding the future of home prices. Here’s a list of analysts and their projections, from the lowest depreciation to the highest appreciation:
We can garner two important points from this list:
There is no real consensus among the experts.
No one projects prices to crash like they did in 2008.
Whether you’re thinking of buying a home or selling your house, know that home prices will not change dramatically this year, even with all of the uncertainty we’ve faced in 2020. Connect with one of our Sales Agents today to help with your Real Estate Transaction.
The New York Times recently ran an article regarding unemployment titled: Don’t Cheer Too Soon. Keep an Eye on the Core Jobless Rate. The piece suggests we should look at unemployment numbers somewhat differently. The author of the article, Jed Kolko, is a well-respected economist who is currently the Chief Economist at Indeed, the world’s largest online jobs site. Previously, he was Chief Economist and VP of Analytics at Trulia, the online real estate site.
Kolko suggests “the coronavirus pandemic has broken most economic charts and models, and all the numbers we regularly watch need a closer look.” He goes on to explain that the decline in the unemployment number reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) earlier this month was driven by a drop in temporary layoffs. If we strip those out, we’re left with what Kolko calls the core unemployment rate. Many economists have struggled with how to deal with the vast number of temporary layoffs, as a complete shutdown of the economy has never happened before. As the article states, in the last unemployment report:
“73 percent of all unemployed people said they were temporarily unemployed, which means they had a return-to-work date or they expected to return to work in six months. Before the pandemic, temporary unemployment was never more than one-quarter of total unemployment.”
The core unemployment rate handles this issue and also deals with another concern economists have discussed for years: the exclusion of the marginally attached. These are people who are available and want to work, but count as out of the labor force rather than unemployed because they haven’t searched for work in the past four weeks.
Kolko’s core rate does three things:
Takes out temporary unemployment
Retains the rest of the standard unemployment definition: permanent job losers, job leavers, and people returning to or entering the labor force
Adds in the marginally attached
Removing the temporarily unemployed makes sense according to the article:
“Initial pandemic relief efforts focused on money for people to manage a temporary loss of income and funds to keep businesses afloat until they could bring their workers back. The hope and the goal is for the temporarily unemployed to return to their old jobs, rather than have them lose their jobs and have to search for new ones when jobs have become scarcer.”
The Bad News and the Good News
Clearly, the adjustments Kolko makes dramatically impact the way we look at unemployment. The bad news is, using his core rate, there was an increase in unemployment from April to May. The conventional rate reported by the BLS showed a decrease in unemployment.
The good news is that the core rate compares more favorably to the last recession in 2008. Here’s the breakdown:
The unemployment rate is a key indicator of how the economy is doing. Heading into a highly contested election this November, the BLS report releasing next week will be scrutinized like no other by members on both sides of the aisle. Mr. Kolko’s take is just one additional way to evaluate how unemployment is impacting American families.
Green Team Realty’s June 2020 Housing Market Update addresses the economic impact of COVID-19 on the real estate market. However, we know that many individuals, families, and businesses have been personally impacted by the pandemic. To all those diagnosed with COVID-19, or who have loved ones with the virus, we wish you a fast, full recovery. To all who have lost someone to COVID-19, our thoughts and prayers are with you. And, while there are a lot of positives to report this month, we realize that many are suffering financial hardships, stress, and anxiety. These are very difficult times, but to quote Geoff Green,
Together we will persevere!
GeoffGreen, President of Green Team Realty, welcomed everyone to the June 2020 Housing Market Update. The webinar was held on Tuesday, June 16 at 2 p.m. Geoff shares both national and local stats. Furthermore, he checks in with those who have “boots on the ground.” Sales Associates from Green Team New York Realty and Green Team New Jersey Realty share what’s happening in their respective states and communities. There are different regulations for the real estate industry in New York and New Jersey. Thus, there are differing impacts on what is happening in each state. In addition, our guest panelist shares information on the current mortgage market.
If you missed the webinar or would like to view it again, it’s available here:
Meet the “Power Panel”
The June 2020 Housing Market Update panel shared their observations, experiences, and expertise in this Covid-19 market. Keren Gonen and Pam Zachowski with Green Team New Jersey Realty talked about Vernon and the Sussex County NJ market. Carol Buchanan, with Green Team New York Realty, discussed Warwick and the Orange County NY market. Laura Moritz, Director of Sales, Northeast Region at Classic Mortgage LLC shared her experiences with financing and refinancing in a Covid-19 market. Watch the above video to hear what the experts had to say.
Let’s start with the jobs market and overall economy
To see where we were last month, click here for the May 2020 Housing Market Update.
According to CNBC,
The May gain was by far the biggest one-month jobs surge in US history since 1939.
Over 75% of job losses were temporary layoffs or furloughs. The Federal Reserve Bank’s May report indicated there were news reports of large-scale hiring at companies like Amazon, Walmart, CVS Healthcare, Domino’s Pizza, etc., due to increased demand.
The Wall Street Journal reported:
Employers added 2.5 million jobs, blowing Wall Street expectations out of the water. Economists had forecast a loss of 8.3 million jobs.
And on to the housing market
According to Ivy Zelman, CEO of Zelman & Associates,
Housing will fare better than expected during this severe downturn.
Home prices are expected to continue to appreciate through 2022, according to several respected industry experts.
According to Diana Olick of CNBC,
Mortgage demand from home buyers shows unexpectedy strong and quick recovery… The quick recovery has surprised most forecasters.
Pending sales and new listings are up from the previous month, according to Zillow’s June report. People are becoming more confident in putting their homes on the market than they were in the early days of the pandemic. Foot traffic was practically non-existent.
The percentage of distressed property sales is at a very low number. The projection is that it will continue to decrease, from 4% to 3%. What lead the last downturn in 2008 was that there were so many distressed properties. Another interesting fact is that most American’s choose real estate as the best long-term investment, over stocks, savings accounts, and gold. This is another sign that confidence in real estate is high.
Freddie Mac’s projections through 2021 indicate that rates will remain low. The availability of money drives pricing. Despite all the turbulence we’ve been experiencing, things are looking good in the real estate market.
National and Local Stats on Units Sold & Average Sales Price
On the national level, there was a big drop off in units sold in April, compared to the last four years. (National stats lag 30 days behind. We’ll have May stats in the July Housing Market Update). Geoff fully expects the numbers to rise in June, July, and August, perhaps even surpassing previous years’ numbers. Home prices continue to increase, despite the decrease in traffic, a result of supply and demand. There are simply not enough homes available for sale for all the people who want to buy them. Months of inventory is showing an uptick, though we’re still far below having the 6 months of inventory that would indicate a normal market. We are in a seller’s market, with lots of bidding wars and lots of homes selling above asking price.
In Orange County, New York, we have a bounce-back on units sold from April to May. The average sales price is staying level, but at a high level compared to previous years. Supply and demand should keep sales price high. In Sussex County, New Jersey, units sold have been on an upward trend and never really came down. Average price is still up over the past four years.
To reach any of the June 2020 Housing Market Update panelists,
The Wall Street Journal just released their latest monthly Survey of Economists. In an article on the findings, they reported:
“The U.S. economy will be in recovery by the third quarter of this year, economists said in a survey that also concluded the labor market will fare better than previously expected following the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Clearly, the latest jobs report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics confirmed the labor market is outperforming expectations, as it revealed that 2.5 million jobs were added. Directly before the release, experts forecasted that we would lose over 8 million jobs.
A second revelation indicating the economy is already about to turn around was also somewhat unexpected. More than 9 out of 10 economists surveyed believe the recovery has already begun this quarter or will begin in the third quarter. Here are the results of the survey question asking when the recovery will begin:The survey also asked what type of recovery the economists expect.
More than 8 out of 10 believe it will be a form of a ‘V’ recovery:
A true ‘V’ with a sharp drop and a sharp rebound
A ‘Nike Swoosh’ with a sharp drop and a more gradual recovery, coined after the company’s logo
Some experts, possibly concerned about a second wave of COVID-19, call for a ‘W’ recovery – a double dip recession.
Others call for a ‘U’ with a prolonged bottom.
A very small percentage project the dreaded ‘L’ recovery, which is no recovery at all for the foreseeable future (think of the Great Recession).
Here’s the breakdown:
Though we still have a long and difficult journey ahead, it appears the worst for both the economy and the unemployment situation may be in our rearview mirror. Even with the current economy real estate is still the best investment. Connect with one of our Sales Agents today to talk about your home buying or selling journey.
A recent survey by Lending Tree tapped into behaviors of over 1,000 prospective buyers. The results indicated 53% of all homebuyers are more likely to buy a home in the next year, even amid the current health crisis. The survey further revealed why, naming several reasons buyers are more likely to move this year (see graph below):
Let’s break down why these are a few of the key factors motivating buyers to actively engage in the home search process, and the corresponding wins for sellers as well.
1. Low Mortgage Rates
The biggest reason potential homebuyers indicated they’re eager to purchase this year is due to current mortgage rates, which are hovering near all-time lows. Today’s low rates are making it more affordable than ever to buy a home, which is a huge incentive for purchasers. In fact, 67% of respondents in the Lending Tree survey want to take advantage of low mortgage rates. This is no surprise when comparing historic mortgage rates by decade (see below):Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Macrecently said:
“As the economy is slowly rebounding, all signs continue to point to a solid recovery in home sales activity heading into the summer as prospective buyers jump back into the market. Low mortgage rates are a key factor in this recovery.”
2. Reduced Spending
Some people have also been able to save a little extra money over the past few months while sheltering in place. One of the upsides of staying home recently is that many have been able to work remotely and minimize extra spending on things like commuting expenses, social events, and more. For those who fall into this category, they may have a bit more saved up for down payments and closing costs, making purchasing a home more feasible today.
3. Re-Evaluating Their Space
Spending time at home has also given buyers a chance to really evaluate their living space, whether renting or as a current homeowner. With time available to craft a wish list of what they really need in their next home, from more square footage to a more spacious neighborhood, they’re ready to make it happen.
What does this mean for buyers and sellers?
With these three factors in play, the demand for housing will keep growing this year, especially over the summer as more communities continue their phased approach to reopening. Buyers can take advantage of additional savings and low mortgage rates. And if you’re thinking of selling, know that your home may be in high demand as buyer interest grows and the number of homes for sale continues to dwindle. This may be your moment to list your house and make a move into a new space as well.
If you’re ready to buy or sell – or maybe both – let’s connect to put your plans in motion. With low mortgage rates leading the way, it’s a great time to take advantage of your position in today’s market.