What The ‘Experts’ Think

This is a price survey that ranks the over/under for each metro to the 2.8% value growth expected nationwide.  I’ll take the over for San Diego!

The Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey sponsored by Zillow and conducted quarterly by Pulsenomics LLC, asks more than 100 economists, investment strategists and real estate experts for their predictions about the U.S. housing market. The Q4 survey also asked panelists to rate their 2020 expectations for home value growth compared to the nation in 25 large markets.

On average, panelists said they expected U.S. home values to grow by 2.8% in 2020. The share of panelists saying they expected a market to outperform that average was weighed against the share saying they expected it to underperform to create a net score.

Of the 14 markets with positive scores, 11 come from Texas or elsewhere in the Southeast or Southwest. The exceptions are DenverMinneapolis and PortlandSeattle was the most polarizing market, with an even 40% of panelists each expecting it to overperform and underperform.

Of the 10 markets that earned negative scores, meaning more panelists expected them to underperform than overperform, six were in California. A group of expensive markets in the state — San FranciscoSan Jose and Los Angeles — are expected to perform the worst. Cincinnati and Sacramento round out the bottom five.

“Having subjected buyers to a crucible of fierce competition for multiple years, many West Coast markets hit an affordability ceiling that set off declining home values in the most expensive of these,” said Skylar Olsen, Zillow’s director of economic research. “Indeed, this price correction — a clap back from having appreciated with too much exuberance in the recent past — pushes many previously hot markets to the bottom of our experts’ list. At the top of the list are metros still providing relative affordability and thriving, amenity-rich communities that appeal to younger adults willing to make a move. These features, plus the ability to grow and add housing in the future, are attractive propositions for employers and employees alike.”

Many panelists expect home values in San Jose and San Francisco to continue falling in 2020, and some expect more markets in California to join them. Sixteen panelists out of the 42 that selected at least one metro said home values will fall in Los Angeles, and twelve said the same about San Diego and Riverside.

Happy Birthday Starman

“Always go a little further into the water than you feel you are capable of being in. Go a bit out of your depth. When you don’t feel that your feet are quite touching the bottom, you’re just about in the right place to do something exciting.” DB

‘Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming.’ DB

Trivia question: At Live Aid, what band had to follow Queen, who by all accounts stole the show?

That’s right, it was Bowie:

NSDCC December Sales

Mortgage rates were the best they’ve been in December since 2012. How were sales?

We had a nice pop in sales compared to 2018, but that’s about it:

NSDCC December Sales

Year
# of Sales
Median SP
Avg. Cost-per-sf
2015
258
$1,094,500
$477/sf
2016
240
$1,150,000
$502/sf
2017
225
$1,215,000
$573/sf
2018
199
$1,460,000
$560/sf
2019
224
$1,405,000
$586/sf

How much momentum are we carrying into the new year from the last couple of months?

The market has felt very active, but looking at the stats, we’ve only beat last year’s count by 13%…..which isn’t saying much, given how much lower rates have been (-20% YoY):

NSDCC November + December Sales

Year
# of Sales
Median SP
Avg. Cost-per-sf
2015
454
$1,107,500
$495/sf
2016
484
$1,199,995
$517/sf
2017
445
$1,215,000
$549/sf
2018
397
$1,375,000
$563/sf
2019
429
$1,350,000
$577/sf

Hopefully, the 2020 sellers are noticing that there haven’t been the big gains in pricing recently – but those who are willing to sell for about the same as what the last guy got should do fine!

The Invisible Market

Let’s touch on this topic one more time as a new season opens up.

While our 2020 market should be promising, the actual results won’t be as obvious.

Reasons to be optimistic about this year:

  1. Rates are really low, though we expect that now and it won’t set off a frenzy.
  2. Prices have been moderating, which gives the buyers some confidence.
  3. We are overdue for more boomer inventory.

But don’t expect to see a bunch of hot buys hitting the MLS.

Now that the N.A.R. has laid down specific rules for off-market sales, agents are going to take advantage.

While every brokerage will have an internal network to promote new listings within the company prior to MLS-input (which is allowed), the individual realtor teams will run their latest hot listings through their stable of buyers first, before giving the rest of their company a crack at it. Only when those attempts have been exhausted will a listing find its way to the MLS.

It may only be 5% to 10% of the market, but it will be the very best 5% to 10% – those listings that every buyer wants.  Without seeing those hot buys flying off the MLS within days, there will be less urgency and a false malaise setting in with those who are judging the market just based on the MLS activity.

The public won’t have a clue, either.  They will be forming their own opinions about the market based on what they see on Zillow, never knowing there is a secret pre-marketing – and selling – of the best listings.  It will only be those who attend open houses who will get pitched to leave their contact info to receive their off-market buys (it will be the most-heard pitch of the year at open houses).

Don’t sellers object?  Not really, not when it is presented as a better alternative to having strangers traipsing through their house at all hours with little or no notice.  It also becomes the happy option in between selling to Zillow for less and taking a chance on the open market.

Are the off-market sales valid comps?  Everyone is going to assume they are, so let’s include them and figure they may have fetched a little more on the open market.

The rest of what happens in 2020 should look similar to what we had in 2019 – with the amount of inventory dictating the outcome.  Even though buyers may be more active early on, as Diana claimed today for a second time, the higher-end areas should find the buyers being more deliberate, especially if they can’t get their hands on those prime listings.

Inventory Watch

The market seems to be poised for a hot start in 2020 – heck, 30-year jumbo rates are in the low-to-mid 3s!

Let’s review the first readings in January to see how today compares to the last two years:

Price Range
# of Actives, 2018
Avg. LP/sf
# in 2019
Avg. LP/sf
# in 2020
Avg. LP/sf
Under $1M
35
$479/sf
72
$469/sf
40
$453/sf
$1.0M – $1.5M
99
$551/sf
154
$497/sf
89
$615/sf
$1.5M – $2.0M
98
$612/sf
108
$628/sf
113
$605/sf

Coming into 2019, the mortgage rates were still in the mid-4s, so no surprise to see fairly-high numbers of homes available then. Low rates and low inventory today make for an ideal sellers’ market, but buyers are going to wait and see if any better options become available over the next 30-60 days before overpaying for last year’s leftovers.

I did finally split my last category into two in the data below. The $2M-$3M category looks good (147 actives to 31 pendings), and the Over-$3,000,000 is about what you’d expect, with almost 9x as many actives as pendings.

Has anyone found a way to shake these flu-like symptoms? I gotta get to work!

(more…)

More on the Silver Tsunami

Homes that are walking distance to excellent schools and/or a retail center (with a Starbucks) will probably do fine – even if they need a little work.  Homes out in the boondocks will have more of a struggle.

From the UT:

In a recent column by the Union-Tribune’s Michael Smolens, he discussed the idea of a “silver tsunami” of baby boomers leaving their homes in the coming years. He said this could raise questions about proposals to increase housing production, even imagining an over supply of housing.

Q: Does the “Silver Tsunami” of baby boomer homes mean concerns of a California housing shortage have been overblown?

Bob Rauch, R.A. Rauch & Associates

NO: The concerns are not overblown! The average baby boomer is just over 60 years old and not moving out so quickly. San Diego is not likely to be impacted anytime soon as it was recently ranked No. 8 in the nation for start-ups by Inc. magazine. There is a real need for affordable, detached housing for working adults who are millennials or Generation Z.

Norm Miller, University of San Diego

NO: The exodus of baby boomers from housing in the middle, Florida and northern states will help soften those markets for the next generation, but these markets are already affordable. East coast markets won’t appreciate as fast, but California markets will be immune to such benefits, as Prop 13 keeps many of our residents cemented in place. California tax rates and SALT (state and local tax) limits will have more impact on possible softening of our appreciation rates as negative migration continues.

Jamie Moraga, IntelliSolutions

NO: It may provide some relief to areas of the country where retirees are most concentrated (think Florida or Arizona) or cities where there is a predominant number of older citizens (for example, Pittsburgh or Cleveland). The Silver Tsunami will not be immediate but will be more gradual over a long period of time. While coastal cities in California continue to appeal to potential homeowners of all ages, housing costs should remain a high barrier to entry for the foreseeable future.

Lynn Reaser, Point Loma Nazarene University

NO: While the release of homes by baby boomers may help ease the affordability problem, the process will be gradual. Although some baby boomers may leave the state, most will probably stay. There could be a problem in terms of the mix of housing as some baby boomers downsize and compete for the same smaller housing millennials are seeking. In the short-term, however, builders, not boomers, will be the answer to the state’s housing crisis.

Chris Van Gorder, Scripps Health

NO: The housing shortage in California is real. While there certainly will be many homes up for sale by baby boomers over the next decade, that does not mean the prices will drop nor the supply increase. Most baby boomers will merely be replacing one home for another. So, unless there is a significant decline in the state’s population, the housing shortage will continue. And the shortage will continue to be exacerbated by over-regulation and high taxes — neither of which appears to be going away anytime soon.

Kelly Cunningham, San Diego Institute for Economic Research

NO: There is always significant turnover in housing as residents continuously change homes. The gamut of reasons to change include relocating to better housing, downsizing, moving away or dying. Even as California’s growth dwindles, the population continues to increase. An even larger “tsunami” of the millennial population’s pent-up demand, as well as foreign immigration, will continue to emerge. California’s housing supply still far lags housing demand of an expanding population, although desired optimal home types may vary.

Gary London, London Moeder Advisors

NO: Boomers are not likely to make way for millennials. Many cannot move because the housing shortage presents few alternative choices in San Diego to either downsize or change lifestyles. Many will opt to age in place. The housing shortage is real and affects everyone. In fact, rising home values, which are fueled by the housing shortage, contribute to this inertia, because moving often triggers financial disincentives including capital gains taxes and higher property taxes.

Austin Neudecker, Rev

NO: Retirees selling their homes may help alleviate the housing shortage but far from resolves the problem. We should continue to take action to address the climbing prices rather than rely on unproven predictions. The reported effect will be felt harshest in regions with negative migration. San Diego continues to be a desirable and growing region that must proactively confront housing affordability, homelessness, and cost-of-living increases.

James Hamilton, UC San Diego

NO: Demographics and the number of people wanting homes are ultimately the main driver of house prices. But the aging population is a trend that is going to evolve very slowly. The reality right now is that housing is quite expensive in California generally and in San Diego in particular. I think it is likely to stay that way for some time.

David Ely, San Diego State University

NO: Boomers selling their homes over the next two decades will do little to address the near-term shortage. Given the financial incentives in California for boomers to age in place rather than downsize, it may be years before enough homes are put up for sale to make a dent in the housing shortage. Moreover, the population will continue to grow and young buyers may not even want the types of homes that boomers now own.

Phil Blair, Manpower

NO: My son Trevor and his wife Megan are perfect examples of millennials who are now house hunting in areas of San Diego, while currently loving living in Little Italy. They want a walkable community with good schools for their children. While boomers have historically enjoyed suburban living, they are missing the urban vibes that many young buyers are looking for.

Alan Gin, University of San Diego

NO: The “silver tsunami” will increase the supply of homes in states and regions with large retiree populations. California, in general, and coastal California, in particular, do not fit into that category. More supply will probably be generated by people moving out of the state to retire in less expensive areas. But people who are retiring likely have bigger and more expensive homes that don’t fit the needs of first time home buyers, so that won’t help much either.

Link to Article

Adverse Possession

Hat tip to SM for sending in this article:

If you break into an empty house, move in your family and your belongings and call it home, can you ever stake a legal claim to the property?

The answer is yes. But it’s a difficult process, and it rarely ends successfully.

“Sometimes I’m just overwhelmed with a sense of appreciation for the privilege of having a house,” said Steven DeCaprio, who moved into a vacant and dilapidated Oakland house in 2008, sued to be declared the home’s rightful owner — and won.

DeCaprio took advantage of “adverse possession” or “squatters rights” laws, which have a long history in California. Squatters can sue for legal possession after living in and taking care of an abandoned house for five years — as long as they meet certain strict conditions.

The California law allows a squatter to claim possession of a house after establishing his or her residency — by having mail and bills sent to the house, openly coming and going through the front door and paying the property taxes — for at least five years, said attorney Dan Siegel. If the owner catches wind and objects, the squatter could be arrested for trespassing or evicted in civil court, depending on the common practice in that jurisdiction, Siegel said.

Link to Full Article

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