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The Fed’s Soft Landing

The jumbo rate was 3.25% on April 22nd

From Mortgage News Daily – thank you:

Mortgage rates were surprisingly steady today as the bond market reacted to a new policy announcement from the Fed. Perhaps “reacted” is the wrong word considering the market’s response.  Specifically, the bond market (which dictates interest rates on mortgages and beyond) was hard to distinguish from most any other random trading day.  That’s nothing short of impressive given what transpired.

So what transpired?  That requires a bit of background, but let’s make it quick.

  • The Fed is currently buying $120 bln / month in new Treasuries and MBS.  These purchases greatly contribute to the low rate environment for mortgages.
  • The Fed has done this, off and on in the past since 2009.
  • 2013 was the first major example of the Fed “tapering” its monthly bond purchases after an extended period of accommodation.  Markets freaked out and rates spiked at the fastest pace in years.
  • Late 2021 is well understood to be the second major example of Fed tapering and markets have been speculating as to when it would become official.

Today’s announcement advanced the verbiage that suggests the Fed will begin tapering at the next policy meeting in November.  Then, in the post-meeting press conference, Fed Chair Powell bluntly and explicitly confirmed the Fed is indeed planning on announcing the tapering plan at the next meeting unless the next jobs report is surprisingly bad.

Bonds definitely experienced some volatility during today’s Fed events, but again, that volatility existed within a perfectly normal range.  The absence of a bigger market reaction is a testament to the Fed’s transparency efforts.

In short, they ended up saying almost exactly what they’ve been telegraphing in the past month of speeches, and markets revealed themselves to be positioned for an “as-expected” result.  So not only was the Fed transparent, but markets were also fully betting on that transparency.  Relative to some of the drama in 2013, today amounted to a perfectly threaded needle of epic proportions.

What does it mean for mortgage rates?  Today?  Nothing really.  Lenders barely budged from yesterday.

All of the above having been said, sometimes it takes a few days for post-Fed rate momentum to truly kick in.  Additionally, we’d expect some of today’s potential impact to instead be seen in the wake of the next jobs report on October 8th.

http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/consumer_rates/986363.aspx

San Diego County Median Sales Price, History

While we’re talking about the median sales price of detached-homes in San Diego County, let’s review the last ten years. There usually is some dropoff towards the end of the year:

The last frenzy in 2013 saw the median sales price increase 26% between January and September.

The Greatest Frenzy of All-Time started with closings in May, 2020 that had a median sales price of $660,000. It peaked in June/July at $875,000, which is a 33% increase and lasted five more months than in 2013. I’m happy with it, the fun was great while it lasted, and now here we are.

Well, at least until 2022.

There was some hesitancy in the market at the end of 2013, but it took off again in 2014.

Look at the difference though (the graph is interactive).

The increase was only +7% between September, 2013 and June, 2014 before it decelerated again – and the median sales price in November was back to where it was in the previous September!

Sellers should appreciate the big boost we’ve had, and the uncertainty of the future.  Don’t attempt to time the market for max return – it’s great where it is today.

San Diego County Real Estate, August 2021

My favorite pet peeve of the media insisting that ‘home prices’ and market conditions are interchangeable with the direction of the median-sales-price made the front page of the newspaper today.

https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/business/real-estate/story/2021-09-20/san-diego-home-price-drops

But there is more to it.

Here are other factors they mentioned in the story:

  • The number of listings in August were 47% fewer than in August, 2019.
  • The median sales price for condos hit an all-time high, as more buyers get priced out of single-family homes and are forced to consider other alternatives.
  • The quality of the homes for sale was crap.

The truth?  Due to seasonality – which does play a role as summer closes out – it is better to compare to previous Augusts, not July. But the best indicator of market health is the number of sales:

San Diego County Detached-Home Sales, August

Year
Number of August Sales
Median Sales Price
Median Days on Market
2017
2,445
$610,000
19
2018
2,145
$660,000
19
2019
2,207
$650,000
19
2020
2,380
$739,000
9
2021
2,225
$850,000
10

There have been fewer listings (-16% YTD) than in 2019, yet there were MORE AUGUST SALES!

Never mind that the +15% YoY increase in the median sales price was an all-time high for August, and ignoring that the median market time was nearly identical to August, 2020 (which will go down as the most hysterical frenzy in the history of real estate), just that the number of sales last month were similar to previous Augusts indicates that the market is fine.

Yet the UT headline writer wants you to think there’s a problem.

Get Good Help!

Inventory Watch

Over the last week there were 37 new listings….and 50 new pendings.

Even though demand remains strong, we’re just going to fade into the holidays – only because there aren’t enough new listings coming to market!

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Consumer Sentiment Plummets

The media will help slow things down – hat tip to Doug for sending this in:

The last time Americans were this turned off by the U.S. housing market, borrowing costs were over five times the current rate.

The share of people who think now is a good time to buy a home fell in September to 29%, extending the plunge from March when the proportion was more than twice as high, data from the University of Michigan consumer sentiment survey showed Friday. It’s also the smallest chunk of respondents since 1982.

Back then, the average for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage topped 15%. That compares with today’s 2.86% rate, according to Freddie Mac.

The figures highlight how property price appreciation has rattled prospective buyers and more than offset the bright side of cheap borrowing. Prices have skyrocketed amid low inventory as Americans compete for space, with year-over-years gains on previously-owned, single-family homes exceeding 20% –surpassing the inflation-fueled increases seen in the late 1970s and early 80s, according to the National Association of Realtors.

The median selling price of such properties rose 18.6% in July from a year earlier to $367,000, a slight drop from the previous month. August figures due next week will show if fed-up homebuyers have helped extend the cool-off.

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/americans-haven-t-down-housing-174212114.html

Out-of-State Price Premiums

One factor that will slow down the exodus is the increased difficulty of moving out of state – it’s not easy, or cheap, to buy a home outside of California any more. But fewer people leaving will mean less inventory – and could ramp up the frenzy in 2022.

The researchers used open-source data from Zillow or other providers to score the top 100 overvalued or undervalued metro areas in the nation, ranking the cities by a percent premium homebuyers are paying in today’s market based on a history of past pricing.

Here’s how the top 10 rankings landed, according to the research:

  • Boise, Idaho, where homes are selling at an 80.6% premium.
  • Austin, Texas, at a 50.7% premium.
  • Ogden, at a 49.7% premium.
  • Provo, at a 46.2% premium.
  • Detroit, at a 45.6% premium.
  • Spokane, Washington, at a 45.2% premium.
  • Salt Lake City, Utah, at a 42.4% premium.
  • Phoenix at a 42.3% premium.
  • Las Vegas at a 41.9% premium.
  • Stockton, California, at a 38.5% premium.

The typical value of homes in Boise was over $523,300 as of the end of August, up more than 46% over the past year, according to Zillow.

Link to Full Article

Talk of More Taxes

This might be the last straw for some homeowners who are already tired of the higher taxes in this state:

https://californianewstimes.com/politics-report-bia-talks-new-tax/493057/

An excerpt:

Environmentalists and union laborers are working on a ballot initiative that could be some form of property or parcel tax to fund needed improvements and infrastructure in how we handle stormwater.

SANDAG and supporters of transit have been talking about the need for a new tax measure to expand the options people have to get around San Diego.

And we broke the news here that the largest labor union of city of San Diego workers has joined with the philanthropists behind the Library Foundation and Parks Foundation to support a measure that would implement a parcel tax to bring in more revenue to support libraries and parks in the city.

There’s a lot of tax talk going on.

And now there’s more.

The Building Industry Association, which is only a few weeks out from installing a new CEO, has outlined an ambitious plan to try to spur the creation of more affordable and middle-income housing. And one feature of it is to put a fee on real estate transactions.

It’s not something the group is determined to pursue but the idea has now advanced far enough to reportedly irk some of its allies. It’s part of a document the group is working on called a Three-Pronged Approach to Finance and Build Additional Restricted Affordable Housing in San Diego.

“This transfer tax (% to be determined) should be charged only at the point of a property sale, and should only be charged on the amount of property value increase a property owner received,” the document reads.

Lori Holt Pfeiler, the new CEO of BIA San Diego, cautioned the idea is just that – an idea. And she was a bit frustrated that the Politics Report got a hold of the document laying it out because she hadn’t had a chance to really discuss it and have partners, like real estate friends who have partnered with the BIA over the years, to influence it and get on board.

Tony Manolatos, who serves as a spokesman for the BIA, told the Politics Report that he wouldn’t be surprised if the measure was advanced for the November 2022 ballot.

“They haven’t settled on any tactics,” he said. “There is a real sense of urgency, though, to create more housing especially for the middle class.”

Read full article here:

https://californianewstimes.com/politics-report-bia-talks-new-tax/493057/

Senate Bill 9 Gets Signed

Governor Newsom signed SB 9 yesterday, but it won’t change much because building an ADU is cost prohibitive.  How many people need one bad enough that they would spend $50,000 to $100,000 and go through the hassle? Plus the number of available parcels will limit how many could get built:

https://calmatters.org/housing/2021/08/california-housing-crisis-zoning-bill/

An excerpt:

Senate Bill 9, one of several measures alluded to by the signs, would technically allow as many as two duplexes, two houses with attached units, or a combination — capped at four units — on single-family lots across California, without local approval.

On Sept. 16, two days after winning the recall election, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed the bill into law, despite pleas from cities to veto it.

But some analysts say the linchpin of the Senate’s housing package would probably have a negligible impact on the California housing crisis, at least in the short-term. As for the nightmare scenario described by opponents? There simply isn’t enough evidence to back that up, either.

That’s because a change to zoning means very little in reality, starting with the number of units that would actually get built, these analysts say.

Development would be realistic in only about 410,000 parcels in California at most, or 5.4% of land now occupied by single-family houses, according to a new study by the Terner Center for Housing Innovation at UC Berkeley based on the version of the bill without the new amendments.

That could add a total of 700,000 new units across California, if every single homeowner for whom the change made sense chose to develop. “Overall, that’s a sliver of the 7.5 million single-family homes throughout the state,” said David Garcia, policy director for the Terner Center.

One of the new amendments — which requires owners to live in the home for at least three years after they split their lots and build as many as four units — cuts the potential total of new units by 40,000, or 6%.

The analysis was conducted using current land values and development costs, so the number of feasible units could change. But Garcia said that was unlikely in the near-term. The study found that the typical property owner could not afford to build a second unit, much less a third or fourth. Other barriers: The new split lot couldn’t be less than 1,200 square feet, and historic districts, fire hazard zones and some rural areas would be barred from development.

“You would not see the wholesale bulldozing of single-family homes, as we’ve seen characterized in many of the public comments in committee hearings,” Garcia said. “There’s just no financial basis for that fear.”

https://calmatters.org/housing/2021/08/california-housing-crisis-zoning-bill/

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