We have another disrupter who is providing a service you didn’t know you needed until now.
Traditionally, a buyer’s agent accompanies their clients to show them the homes for sale, and to give expert advice about each house while on site. But other real estate companies – who don’t appreciate that valuable service – have dumbed it down by just paying door-openers that allow buyers into the house, but leave them on their own to figure out the rest.
A new company has taken it one step further, and is providing an Uber-like service where random agents can get paid for opening doors for other agents.
The company charges $39, and pays $24 of it to the door-opening agent – who agrees to not offer advice to the buyers, and to direct them back to the agent who paid the $39 showing fee.
Pending home sales, a measure of signed contracts on existing homes, fell a wider-than-expected 10.6% in February compared with January, according to the NAR. Sales were 0.5% lower year over year. There were just 1.03 million homes for sale at the end of February, a 29.5% drop compared with February 2020. That is the largest annual decline ever and the lowest supply on record.
Yesterday’s real estate news was filled with drops and declines, but around here we’re doing fine:
The intertubes go crazy about what a racist Eric Clapton was, but let’s consider the full spectrum.
He was such a heroin addict that he didn’t leave his house for three years.
He was so madly in love with Pattie Boyd that she finally divorced his best friend George Harrison and married him. They divorced ten years later.
Coming off the heroin trip, be became so addicted to alcohol that he couldn’t finish a concert.
He was so drunk at one show that he went off on a racist bender. I don’t forgive him for that, but let’s don’t trash the rest of his 50 years of contribution just because of one bad night. He has received 18 Grammys and is the only three-time inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Those with good-paying jobs who’ve discovered the benefits of working from home are the ones who are most-likely fueling the ferocious demand – especially in what’s now the $1,000,000-$2,000,000 starter-home range between La Jolla and Carlsbad (can’t believe that I just said that).
Evaluating the economic impact of “social distancing” measures taken to arrest the spread of COVID-19 raises a fundamental question about the modern economy: how many jobs can be performed at home? We classify the feasibility of working at home for all occupations and merge this classification with occupational employment counts.
We find that 37 percent of jobs in the United States can be performed entirely at home, with significant variation across cities and industries. These jobs typically pay more than jobs that cannot be done at home and account for 46 percent of all US wages. Applying our occupational classification to 85 other countries reveals that lower-income economies have a lower share of jobs that can be done at home.
It’s a feel-good idea that inflation and lower rates can ease the pain of higher prices. But recent pricing has been really painful for buyers! Let’s apply the data to our local action (using 80% of MSP):
NSDCC Detached-Home Sales, February
# of Sales
It’s a nice idea, and higher rates did cool things down a bit in 2018. But today’s market is so explosive that we are blowing through all the usual stop signs – look at the number of sales!
My guess is that there will be additional sellers pulled forward from future years, just like with buyers – it’s too lucrative and tempting to find a way to sell now. Might it mirror the covid-recovery trend line?
On Friday morning I had a bout with vertigo, which is about the only thing that has sent my head spinning more than this market! Thankfully Richard and Donna are very capable and jumped in to ensure there wasn’t any disruption to the business, for which I am very thankful!
Once the initial shock wore off, it meant I just sat around and rested all weekend, which gave me more time to ponder. This was the equation that I found most shocking:
Number of Listings Between Jan 1 – Feb 28
Number of Those Marked Pending By March 22
Home buyers came into 2021 fully prepared to buy a home, and didn’t need the usual warm-up period – they came out firing! The 20% decline in the number of new listings juiced the market further, and now virtually everything is selling.
Higher rates might spoil the party, but they will need to get up near 4% before having real impact. Any surge of inventory will affect the immediate neighborhood, but not do much to the overall feeling that sellers are in full control for the next few months….at least!
In the last couple of weeks, you may have seen prices on new listings reflecting today’s exuberance.
Homes that are priced attractively will generate the crowds, and likely get bid up over list.
Others are listed for a price that raises an eyebrow. In areas where we’ve seen 10% to 20% appreciation in the last six months, are sellers packing that much on to their list price PLUS another 5% to 10% – or more?
How do you recognize the difference?
The difference between a bidding-war listing, and a seller just daring you to pay their price?
Thoughts for Buyers Wondering If The List Price Is A Dare:
Compare to the Pendings
If you only consider the sold comps from the last six months, you probably won’t buy a house in this market – one which should last at least a couple of more months before there’s any possibility of unsold listings starting to stack up.
Who is the Listing Agent?
Known and successful listing agents aren’t going to list a home for some crazy too-high price. They know it’s better to keep it attractive, and let the market do its thing. If you’ve never heard of the agent and he acts more like a kook from Montaluk, then know that their list price is more likely to be outrageous.
Quiz the Listing Agent
The number of showings doesn’t matter as much – the number of offers does. If there have been 50 showings but only 2-3 offers, it means the price turned off 90% of the buyers. Unfortunately most listing agents are shutting down the showings so fast that it’s hard to get an accurate count – or to get them to fess up.
The Age of the Home
The older the home is, the less likely it’s worth a premium. The floor plans aren’t current and the upgrading over the years is likely to be inconsistent – those will be even more difficult to sell in a normal market. They do tend to be in the better locations, so the home’s age isn’t a hard stop. But typically the older homes are less likely to be worth a big premium today, let alone in the future.
Days On Market
If you’re not sure if the price is right, then wait it out. The initial frenzy dies off quickly, so if you don’t need this house like you need air to breathe, let ride and see if it goes unsold for the first 7-10 days. It’s really the only way to know for sure if the price is wrong.
Only pay a huge premium if it’s the perfect house for you. There’s a decent chance that appreciation flattens out over the next few years and you end up high & dry for a while. But you don’t care because you’re in it for the long haul, so make sure this home fits ALL your needs. No compromise.
The market for the best homes has been hyper-competitive for years – it’s only because of the covid/low-rate cocktail that buyers are flooding the streets in numbers we’ve never seen before.
Maybe you should wait it out? Aren’t all sellers daring you to buy now?
You’re just buying homes today at tomorrow’s prices. If prices go up another 10%, and appreciation flattens out and you can score a deal at 10% off, then you’re only back to where you would have been today.
There is a real curiosity about who the buyers are, yet there isn’t much information available about the demographic trends. So I thought this was an interesting factoid.
My YouTube video of the listing in 4S Ranch has been seen 363 times, which is a good sample size and quite a bit above normal – which means the extra traffic was from the video being in the listing. I choose to mark the box on YouTube that my videos aren’t for kids, so I miss the Under-18 group, which is ok. Yet, you’d think there would still be some variety among the viewers.
But the buyer pool in 4S Ranch – a typical newer tract neighborhood with good schools – is very consistent:
I don’t know how accurate their analytics are, but the 35-44 age group is similar to what I saw in person.
I have recently stumbled upon your blog and find it very interesting as I am an appraiser in San Diego. I wonder if anyone has considered that the low inventory levels are in part because home prices are going up so fast why would anyone want to sell something that is going to be worth 10K, 20K, 50K more within just months. For example my home according to Zillow is up 22K in the last 30 days. Something else to consider that I have not seen mentioned….
Are sellers paying attention that closely? If so, then you’re right – it’s possible. Add that extra supply to the post-covid/Prop-19/usual-spring listings and there could be a real surge. But the worst thing that will happen is there will be 3-4 houses for sale in your neighborhood, instead of one or two.
Do sellers risk it? Most are already making $200,000 to $1,000,000+ profit……are they going to purposely hold out in hopes of picking up an extra $50,000? Maybe, but I’d guess that when and where they are moving probably plays a bigger role in their decision-making.
Sellers are indeed holding back for some reason.
In the first nine days of March last year we had 148 new listings between La Jolla and Carlsbad, and so far we’ve only had 90 this year. More will be added to that nine-day total this week, but we’re still well under where we’ve been in previous years. March is when the inventory really picks up, historically:
The Frenzy of 2013 was red-hot for about a year. If the same happens this time, it means the market should flatten out by July as rates increase and buyer exhaustion sets in.
The bump in rates over the last two weeks just threw gasoline on the fire for those who could find a house to buy. But an extended run-up – especially if we get to 4% – should cool things off.
I have two closings with buyers this week. One paid $135,000 over list, and the other paid $100,000 over.
Over the weekend, I had buyers make a highest-and-best offer that was $207,000 over list….and lost.
There is virtually no transparency – just take your shot and pray. Don’t think, and don’t blink!
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