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C.A.R. 2021 Forecast

The California Association of Realtors kicks off the 2021 forecast season! To show how far removed they are from reality, check their foreclosure forecast. Homeowners are flush with equity, and if they get in trouble, they will sell before they getting foreclosed because realtors will be soliciting them the minute their notice of default is recorded. Plus the banking laws were changed/ignored last time and lenders have figured it out – don’t foreclose on anyone unless there is ample equity so the bank doesn’t lose money.

Yet the association thinks that foreclosures will make up 5% to 30% of the market, and be discounted up to 40%??

My prediction? Foreclosures will make up less than 1% of the market next year, and no discounts.

Excerpts:

The number of homes on the market — down 50% in 2020 — are expected to stay low in the coming year, creating more upward pressure on prices.  Southern California likely will see a similar pattern to the statewide trend, Appleton-Young said.

This year’s median house price — or price at the midpoint of all sales — is projected to rise 8.1% from 2019, due in part to strong sales of higher-priced homes, pulling up the overall averages.

While home values rose in all price segments this year, the biggest price growth was in the top 20% of the market, Appleton-Young said. That’s because professionals and other high-income earners weren’t hit as hard by the pandemic as were renters and people working in the restaurant, hotel and hospitality sectors.

Foreclosures also are projected to rise next year, although not nearly to the degree they did during the Great Recession.

For example, CAR economists projected bank-owned homes will make up between 5% of next year’s listings in a best-case scenario to 30% in a worst-case scenario. By comparison, 60% of homes selling at the start of 2009 were bank-owned, with price discounts in the 60% range. A worst-case scenario for next year foresees discounts of 40% for foreclosed homes.

Ultimately, the housing market is ending 2020 in much better shape than anyone expected, Appleton-Young said. For example, house sales shifted from a 41% drop in May to a 15% gain in August, CAR figures show.

“The recovery coming back has been absolutely stunning,” Appleton-Young said. “There’s just a lot of uncertainty, so we tend to be conservative looking at next year.”

Link to Full Article Link to CAR Forecast

Fight Against Eviction Ban

More excitement to stir up next year’s selling season!

Most landlords can survive a while, but faced with no rental income for months, won’t a few long-time landlords say, “Screw it, I’m cashing out and I don’t care about paying the taxes!” Evicting the non-payers doesn’t mean they will have the same rent coming in again immediately either.

Landlords, apartment owners and housing industry groups have unleashed a barrage of legal challenges against the Trump administration’s order protecting renters from eviction, leaving millions of families once again facing the risk of homelessness in the middle of a deadly pandemic.

Over the past month, an array of lawyers and lobbyists have inundated federal, state and local courts. They have sought to stop renters from invoking the federal ban, and in some cases, they’ve tried to quash the policy altogether, arguing that the government did not have the authority to issue it in the first place.

One federal lawsuit brought by a Virginia landlord, for example, argues that the Trump administration wrongly halted evictions based on a “flimsy premise” that doing so might prevent displaced Americans from contracting the coronavirus. The case is supported by an anti-regulatory conservative group with documented past financial ties to a foundation backed by Charles Koch, a Republican megadonor. The lawsuit has also picked up key legal help from a major lobbying organization representing apartment owners.

“There’s a reason eviction is a remedy in the law,” said Caleb Kruckenberg, a lawyer at the Koch-funded New Civil Liberties Alliance, who stressed that landlords are experiencing significant financial disruption, too.

The flurry of lawsuits has created a wave of legal uncertainty, exposing millions of Americans once again to the sort of hardships the Trump administration initially sought to prevent. Federal officials tried to clarify some of the ambiguity in policy guidance issued late Friday night. But the update instead appeared to give landlords a clearer green light to start eviction proceedings against some cash-strapped renters, even though a moratorium remains in place until the end of the year.

The Trump administration’s latest move perplexed Diane Yentel, president of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, who said she remains fearful about a wave of evictions on the horizon.

“To understand, ask yourself the question: Why would a landlord want to start eviction proceedings in October for an eviction that can’t happen until January? The answer: to pressure, scare and intimidate renters into leaving sooner,” she said.

White House spokeswoman Karoline Leavitt said in a statement that the administration “has actively engaged with stakeholders across the country to ensure both renters and landlords have the necessary resources to make timely rent and debt payments.”

The legal plight facing millions of cash-strapped renters highlights the nature of the nation’s unequal recovery, as Americans who struggled most at the outset of the pandemic continue to face severe hardship — even as the economy begins to improve.

About 1 in 3 adults say it is somewhat or very likely that they could face the threat of eviction or foreclosure over the next two months, according to survey data released last week by the U.S. Census Bureau, underscoring how sustained unemployment and dwindling federal aid may be creating the conditions for a housing crisis.

Link to Full Article

Covid-19 and Homeownership

This chart shows the generational changes among non-homeowners about their interest in owning a home.

Being interested doesn’t mean they are buying, necessarily, but it’s a step in the right direction – especially for the millennials, who picked up the largest net gain of +15% (blue minus red).

https://morningconsult.com/2020/09/28/millennials-economy-homeownership/

The good doctor has a more-gloomy outlook here:

http://www.doctorhousingbubble.com/young-americans-moving-back-home-because-of-covid-19-nearly-40-percent-of-younger-millennials-say-the-pandemic-has-them-moving-home-again/

Prop 19 Ads

Bill and I were talking about Prop 19 yesterday, and we both agreed it doesn’t seem to have much chance of passing because the California Association of Realtors, the authors of the initiative, haven’t been pushing a clear case of why it is important.  The C.A.R. has every realtors’ email address, yet I had not seen much effort to even convince us, let alone the public.

Literally minutes after I said that, an email comes from C.A.R. with their latest TV ads. Both feature the same wildfire victim and are remarkably similar:


Let’s note that if it does pass, the start date is April 1, 2021. If wildfire victims and baby-boomers rush to replace their old home and take their ultra-low tax basis with them, it would add more to the Frenzy of 2021. But I am skeptical that many boomers will decide to move just because of this initiative. The other reasons to move play a bigger part (grandkids, cash-out, more suitable house, etc.) and taking the old tax basis will just be a sweetener.

There is a limit of adding up to $1 million to the old tax basis too.

Read the full text of the initiative here:

https://vig.cdn.sos.ca.gov/2020/general/pdf/topl-prop19.pdf

Frenzy or Glut…Or Frut?

The 2021 market is shaping up to be a humdinger!

Will ultra-low rates and more inventory cause it to be the Frenzy of All-Time?  Or will a surge of home sellers – namely the baby-boomers – bring about a flood of homes for sale that swamp the market?

Frenzy, or Glut?

Or as the market transitions from one to the other, shall we call the combo a Frut?

We know pricing will be higher than it is today.  It is inevitable that the 2021 sellers will add a little mustard to the comps; after all, this is their opportunity to hit the jackpot.

It will look like a frenzy, right up to the point where buyers back off because they see a few too many homes not selling.  It won’t happen in February or March because it will be too early. But by April and May the unsold listings could start stacking up, and what looked like a frenzy could turn into a glut in a matter of a few days.

If sellers don’t flood the market in April and May, we should experience a full-blown frenzy straight through to summer….as long as pricing seems reasonable to buyers. But some areas, and maybe only a few, won’t have enough demand to soak up the April/May supply.

Buyers AND sellers will struggle to identify which is which.

Here’s a way to know.

It will be different for every neighborhood, but let’s say in a neighborhood of 100 homes, the current average length of ownership is 12 years. It means the number of sales should average around 8 homes per year, with them bunched up around the spring selling season.  Let’s say 4-6 of those sales would happen between March and June.

You can also calculate how many homes sold in your neighborhood this year, and compare.

In either case, if you saw new listings hitting the market in early spring that would double the number of sales in either of the two measurements above, then you’ll know that something unusual is happening.

The demand has overwhelmed the supply this year, at least in the NSDCC Under-$2,000,000 category.  We should survive, and probably thrive with additional supply.  So it would take about double the number of homes for sale to make it obvious, and cause concern.

Buyers are known to stop on a dime, so the impact will likely be immediate.

For a precursor, track the number of new listings hitting the market, and whether they go pending in the critical first 7-10 days they are for sale.

Vaccine to Supercharge 2021 Market

Did you hear Dr. Fauci last night?

It’s likely US health officials will know whether a Covid-19 vaccine is safe and effective as early as next month, Fauci said Monday. “I think comfortably around November or December, we’ll know whether or not the vaccine is safe and effective,” he said.

There are currently 10 Covid-19 vaccine candidates in late-stage, large clinical trials around the world, according to the World Health Organization. Several of those are in the US and at least two have been in Phase 3 trials since late July.

Once a vaccine is deemed safe and effective, it’s likely companies will already have doses to begin distributing, Fauci said.

“There will be vaccines available, likely, for some people, limited amount, by the end of this calendar year, the beginning of 2021,” Fauci predicted.  Experts including Fauci say health care workers and people with underlying health conditions will likely take priority for vaccinations.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/06/health/us-coronavirus-tuesday/index.html

It didn’t make this article, but he also said that vaccines are already being manufactured, and they should be available for the masses by the middle of next year.

Just the thought of the pandemic coming to an end should be enough to goose the Spring Selling Season!

More Waiting Until Spring, 2021

I wonder if the rest of America looks at the homes in the bottom half of this photo above and correctly guesses that they are selling in the mid-millions…..Excerpts from article linked at bottom (hat tip Ray!):

Would-be home sellers have numerous reasons for staying out of the market, say real-estate agents. Some are worried about potential virus exposure by letting strangers tour their homes. Others have canceled or delayed their plans to move due to the pandemic, or they are worried about finding a new home in a competitive market.

KC Hart has experienced the inventory shortage firsthand as a real-estate broker in Missoula, Mont., where demand is high from buyers moving from other states. He’s also contributed to the problem. Mr. Hart and his wife were planning to sell their house this summer after their youngest went to college, but they delayed their move because their son is staying at home this fall while taking classes locally.

“That’s one more house not on the market,” Mr. Hart said.

In some cases, sellers are waiting until the spring, traditionally the busiest home-selling season, said Quentin Dane, chief executive of Dash Realty Group in Raleigh, N.C.

“We hear this all the time: ‘They might get a vaccine for Covid coming at the end of the year, and the spring market is right around the corner,’” Mr. Dane said. “Sellers [are] saying, ‘If I don’t need to sell, why go through the risk of selling right now?’”

Another obstacle for sellers is the high demand for contractors, painters and other workers who can perform repairs or upgrades to houses to prepare them for sale, said Beth Traverso, managing broker at Re/Max Northwest Realtors. Once houses in her area of the Seattle suburbs go on the market, they are usually sold within days, she said.

Jeff and Jill Borgida wanted to sell their house in Bothell, Wash., this spring now that their children were grown. But with inventory so low, they struggled to find a new house in their area and budget that met their needs.

“We were getting nervous, because we were along a path to list our house and we’re not finding any really suitable options,” Mr. Borgida said. Finally, they widened their search parameters and found a house farther out than they had originally looked.

Link to WSJ Article

Who’s Fleeing?

The pandemic is being blamed for people leaving town.

I think it’s more that Covid-19 is the last straw that is causing people to take the action they would have taken at some point anyway.  The ‘rona will be gone in 1-18 months – moving is a major life-changing event.

But these two conflicting articles probably demonstrate who is being impacted.

On one hand, we have people – probably those who want/need to be economical – who are moving themselves and are being ripped off by the rental-truck agencies (hat tip SM):

https://jalopnik.com/moving-truck-prices-in-la-and-san-francisco-are-skyrock-1845068350

But a survey of full-service moving companies describe a different scenario:

Are people in the U.S. migrating during the coronavirus crisis in different ways than pre-pandemic? Are they leaving cities? Moving to the suburbs? These are popular questions without definitive answers — yet. But there is some data emerging that can paint a better picture of Americans’ geographic response to the pandemic.

One thing’s for certain: So far, there is little support for the dramatic claims that people are fleeing cities writ large. In fact, available data indicates that overall, fewer people moved at all since the beginning of stay-at-home orders and through June — even with interest in moving on the rise again.

Among those who have moved, it’s unclear how many of those moves will be only temporary. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting migration takeaways worth following. A select few cities including New York City and San Francisco do seem to be seeing more out-migration than most. But guess where many of those people are going? Other very large metropolitan areas, like Seattle and Los Angeles.

If there is a perception that the pandemic has ushered in a mass migration, it is not supported by the data. According to figures from two national moving companies, Americans moved less during the pandemic than they normally would have, not more. 

Several surveys have found that the great majority of people who did move during the first months of the pandemic did so for reasons unrelated to the coronavirus. In one such survey of 1,300 individuals conducted by Hire A Helper, just 15% said they had relocated because of Covid-19. Out of these pandemic-induced migrations, 37% of respondents said they moved because they could not afford current housing due to a Covid-related income loss. Thirty-three percent of the respondents said that they moved to shelter in place with friends or family, and 24% that they didn’t feel safe where they were.

Pew Research Center survey in June looked more closely at Americans who said they did make pandemic-induced moves. It found that overall, young people between the ages of 18 and 29 were moving because of Covid-19 in higher numbers, whether permanently or temporarily (college closing for in-person education might be to blame, at least partially.) Only 3% of the respondents said they had moved because of Covid-19, and 6% said someone else had moved in with them because of it.

Link to Article

What the pandemic is exposing is the gap between the haves and have-nots.

Those who are moving are seeking financial relief – either homeowners cashing in their home-equity lottery ticket and moving down, or those who flee so they can afford to start their American dream in a cheaper area.

The affluent don’t have to worry about that stuff. But they’ll move closer to the grandkids!

2021 = Market Compression

The 2021 selling season should be the craziest market in the history of the world.

My theory: The covid-19 pandemic has jumbled the usual timing of the elective movers, and we are experiencing a not-natural compression of reasons to move.

We will have our Big Three (death, divorce, and job transfer) causing their usual sales.  Making the difference will be the elective buyers and sellers who expedite their plans.

There are always a group of buyers and sellers who contemplate moving for 1-5 years before they get around to it.  But the current environment (covid+ultra-low rates+unemployment+prices+politics) has captured their attention, and it will pull forward buyers AND sellers from 2022-2023.

Plus we will have some buyers AND sellers who ordinarily wouldn’t have even thought about moving until 2022-2023 who are realizing sooner that they should move in 2021.

Not all of them, but some of them.

It won’t take many.

We have been very fortunate to have a steady consistent flow of listings and sales over the last few years. The number of listings between January and August varied by less than 1% between 2017 and 2019.

The pandemic changed that though, and look at results. Listings dropped off significantly YoY (-11%) yet sales are only down 4%. Oh happy day, we’re surviving the covid – for now!

NSDCC January-August

Year
Number of Detached-Home Listings
Number of Detached-Home Sales
2015
3,811
2,160
2016
3,930
2,085
2017
3,560
2,135
2018
3,586
1,969
2019
3,604
1,928
2020
3,206
1,851

But we know that more than half of boomers delayed their plans of selling in 2020.

All we need is for the compression of moving motivations to cause 500-800 more listings in the 2021 selling season and it will be a whole new ball game – unlike anyone has seen recently!

Historically, buyers are known to freeze up quickly when they see more homes hitting the market. But all we need there is 300-400 more buyers to jump at the chance of securing their forever home at ultra-low rates, and ending their unsettling insanity of 2020.

With all the bidding wars, there are probably 300-400 unsatisfied buyers in the marketplace today.

Next year’s selling season could be the Frenzy of All-Time!

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