Media Is Not Our Friend

The mainstream media is prone to look for anything wrong with the housing market, and they are known to manufacture it if they have to!

You’d think an article that begins with the headline above will include some ultra-high end cities like San Francisco or New York City, but it doesn’t.  Instead, it mostly names small towns in flyover states as places that could be in trouble someday.  The only two in California are Menifee and Bakersfield!

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/50-housing-markets-turning-ugly-090000594.html

Number one on their list?  Peoria, Illinois!

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CNBC is usually the negativity leader, but thankfully in their article yesterday they did include one quote from a realtor (which is rare) and another from a buyer that sum up the general market conditions:

At an open house in Dallas on Sunday, a few dozen potential buyers toured a home listed at just under $1.4 million. The agent for the home said the market is still moving, but buyers are getting more picky.

“I definitely think it has softened a bit,” said Kelley McMahon a Dallas-area agent with Compass. “It’s not a seller’s market right now. Now is not the time for sellers to put out these crazy prices. Appraisals have gotten a lot harder, and buyers are a little more cautious. They’re more willing to take their time.”

McMahon said the concern is less about the overall health of the housing market, and more about the future of the economy.

“I think people are a little more cautious to pull the trigger, and I definitely think that people want to get through the election year, just kind of see what happens,” she added.

Dustin Collins and his wife toured the Dallas property while carrying their new baby. They are watching interest rates closely but don’t feel the pressure to move quickly, the way so many buyers did last year.

“For us, knowing that that kind of the frenzy is over, it’s more about finding the right house for us than paying too much for it,” Dustin said. “I feel like now houses are sitting a little longer, it just gives us a little more opportunity to find the house we want.”

Those sentiments describe a healthy environment where the price gap between the cream-puffs and the fixers is returning.  Buyers are taking their time, and passing on the fixers or demanding a better price on them, and yet are willing to pay the money for a turn-key property in a quality location.

Get Good Help!

First Day at the Office

I describe the strategy for sellers here, because buyers need to be on alert 12 months out of the year. Why? Because you only care about buying the right house at the right price – which isn’t affected by the general market conditions. You are looking for the one-off.

Low Rates, No Nuts

Ryan is probably the most similar blogger to me because he’s in the business and sees what is actually happening on the street.  He does a ton of charts and graphs, so if you’re analytical give his blog a look:

www.sacramentoappraisalblog.com

He sums up his current market conditions quite well with these thoughts:

Normal: The market felt really dull last year, but it’s been a somewhat normal year so far in 2019. There are certainly concerns about affordability, but from a stats perspective it’s been a pretty standard first half of the year. Pendings continue to be strong also, so buyers still clearly have a strong appetite for the market.

14 months in a row of slumping volume: Despite mortgage rates being low we’re seeing somewhat sluggish sales volume. In fact, sales volume was down 11.6% in the region last month and it’s down 8.6% so far in 2019. Moreover, we’ve had fourteen months in a row with lower sales volume compared to the previous year. In my mind it’s still best to say we’re having a slower year instead of a volume meltdown because levels aren’t alarmingly low by any stretch. Let’s watch this carefully.

Dude, rates will never get below 4% again: It’s been a little surprising to see how low rates have gone again, right? The narrative for a while was, “Dude, they’ll never go below 4% again. We’ve bottomed out.” Yet here we are. My sense is if rates keep going down it’ll only increase competition and artificially inflate prices. That would be temporarily nice for buyers, but an unfortunate byproduct is low rates in a wider picture tend to create less incentive for sellers to move. Why sell if you’re sitting on a 3.5% mortgage rate?

Purplebricks & the tech invasion: Last week it was announced that Purplebricks will be exiting the United States housing market after a 75% loss in shares. This company is going to the grave in the U.S., but the reality is we’re still in a market where tech companies are trying to disrupt the traditional real estate model. Next up? Zillow is said to be coming to Sacramento by the end of the year.

Joe Montana’s $49M overpriced listing: Former Quarterback Joe Montana listed his property for $49M and it didn’t sell because it was profoundly overpriced. In fact, the price has now been reduced to $28M. Many sellers are like Joe in trying to attract mythical unicorn buyers who will mysteriously overpay for some reason. My advice? Be aware that today’s buyers are incredibly picky about paying the right price.

The dream of selling at the top: I met a guy who wants to sell because he says the market might top out soon. His concern is a friend sold two years ago thinking the market was at its peak, but it wasn’t. The truth is it’s not so easy to time a market perfectly. We talk about how simple it is to do this, but most people pull it off from dumb luck more than anything. The reality is the bulk of buyers don’t buy based on price metrics, but rather lifestyle and affordability.

My thoughts on his thoughts:

The first time mortgage rates went under 4%, it did spark a mini-frenzy because no one had seen that before.  Those who moved up – or refinanced – were able to mitigate their payment shock with a lower rate than they had before.  But now the sub-4% rates are a yawner for those who already have them, and as a result, we’re not seeing the same enthusiasm we saw previously.

I’ll add a bit to his thoughts on Joe’s mansion.  Are buyers being extremely picky? Yes, absolutely, yet it’s more about finding the perfect house than the perfect price.  Once buyers find a great fit, they will pay whatever it takes.  I saw a starter home in Carlsbad yesterday get four offers over list price, which will make it the most expensive sale for that model ever. But it was also a great location and house was dialed in.

Selling at the top used to be a big driver for decision-making back in the old days.  But the market is so tight today that you can’t just go out and replace a quality home without a real struggle.  Now, selling at the top is only one of the criteria for home sellers, and it’s dropped down the list for most.

Ryan has more thoughts and graphs here:

www.sacramentoappraisalblog.com

Getting the Price Right

I don’t know if they surveyed actual home sellers, but if these stats demonstrate the current sentiment, it shows how critical it is to list a home at ‘market price’ vs. ‘dream price’.

An excerpt from this HW article:

You’ve listed your home for sale, and no one is taking the bait. One month passes, then two. How long do you wait before you increase the odds of an offer by dropping the price?

According to a recent survey, most American home sellers opt to reduce their asking price after three months of zero offers.

Specifically, a survey of 1,000 consumers revealed that 33% would opt for a price reduction after three months, making it the most common choice.

Just under 20% said they would wait one month, while 17% would wait five months. For about 9%, it would take an entire year before they’d reconsider their price.

But for others, they’d rather not sell at all as opposed to selling for less than they originally wanted, with about 12% said they would never lower the price of their home.

The 33% would wait three months, but 38% would wait at least five months or longer to lower their price, if at all (17%+9%+12%).

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Zillow says that the average price reduction is 2.9%, which isn’t going to impress buyers much.  When prices were rising 5% to 10% annually, the market would catch up with a wrong price before too long.  But now that pricing is flat, we don’t have that luxury – and we need to be smarter about price strategy.

https://www.zillow.com/sellers-guide/when-to-reduce-house-price/

NSDCC Listings, First Six Months

Bill (in Giants jersey) from the Bay Area has been reading the blog for the last ten years!

He won the earlier contest for Padres tickets, so when he and his family were here on vacation, they took in the first game of the series last night – a 13-2 shellacking by the Giants! They got on TV too:

Congrats Bill and family!

The contest was predicting how many new listings we would have in the first two months of 2019. Bill’s guess was 777, which was the third lowest of those submitted – we all thought more sellers would want to cash out at these prices!

Yesterday’s doomer was looking for the right evidence – historically, one of the first signs of trouble is a surge of inventory.  We saw it last time in the first half of 2006 when listings jumped 23% as sellers started scrambling to get out:

NSDCC Detached-Home Listings Jan 1 to June 30:

Year
Number of Listings
Median List Price
2005
2,892
$1,150,876
2006
3,547
$1,120,000
2007
3,120
$1,182,500

But still no surge here locally in 2019.

Our inventory count this year is looking normal – and 24% under the 2006 count:

NSDCC Detached-Home Listings Jan 1 to June 30:

Year
Number of Listings
Median List Price
2013
2,790
$1,179,000
2014
2,713
$1,120,000
2015
2,871
$1,182,500
2016
2,999
$1,425,000
2017
2,712
$1,425,000
2018
2,700
$1,499,000
2019
2,705
$1,569,000

In the first half of 2005, we had 400 sales close under $750,000, and this year we had 55.

We had 560 homes list for $2,000,000+ in the first half of 2005, and 238 closings.  This year, we had 901 listings over $2,000,000, and 298 closings!

Redlining in San Diego

The history of housing discrimination is getting a lot of attention these days, and rightfully so.  If you, or someone you know, wants to contribute, KPBS is looking for stories:

KPBS is doing an investigation into the legacy of “redlining” in San Diego.

This is the historic practice of excluding minorities from certain neighborhoods through regulations on mortgages, leases and home purchases. We’re looking into the impact this practice has had on the economic prosperity of different neighborhoods in San Diego.

 Some families in San Diego may have benefitted from this history, through no fault of their own. Others may have been hurt by it.

 If you or your family has any connection to this history, or if you know someone who does, please reply to this email or send an email to sources@kpbs.org with “Redlining” in the subject line.

 Thank you for sharing your knowledge and becoming a trusted KPBS source!

There was actually a red zone in La Jolla around the Taco Stand on Pearl!

San Diego ZHV Index Mostly Flat

The San Diego ZHVI has been mostly flat for almost two years!

The price exceptions are the superior homes and locations, particularly the one-story and newer homes, which tend to sell for more than ever before.  But those cases are dwindling.

What’s saving us is how inventory has remained in check – no panic among sellers in 2019, which is quite a bit different than it was last year:

https://www.zillow.com/research/housing-market-cooling-may-2019-24552/

Top 20 Cities

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At this rate, the median price in 2039 will be $2,988,000! Hat tip to Richard!

San Diego County residents who bought homes in the 90s are reaping the benefits of a hot housing market.

Homebuyers who purchased their properties 20 years ago are “sitting pretty” in 2019, according to a study by GOBankingRates.

The study ranked 15 California cities by property appreciation rates. Six of the top 10 increases were in the San Francisco area. Two Los Angeles-area cities, Santa Monica and Newport Beach, finished first and second on the list, respectively.

The only San Diego County city on the list of top 20 locations for home appreciation was Encinitas.

In 1999, the median home value in Encinitas was $343,500. The figure now stands at $1,198,000, marking a 248.8 percent increase in value over 20 years, the study reports.

The five-year rental income on an Encinitas home is $229,688, according to the study.

See our interactive map of top California housing markets for home value increases:

Google Commits to Housing

I’m glad to see a major corporation doing something for housing, though they take a beating on Twitter – many of the comments are negative.  FYI – their net income was almost $9 billion in 4Q18.

An excerpt from their press release:

Today, Google is one of the Bay Area’s largest employers. Across the region, one issue stands out as particularly urgent and complex: housing. The lack of new supply, combined with the rising cost of living, has resulted in a severe shortage of affordable housing options for long-time middle and low income residents. As Google grows throughout the Bay Area—whether it’s in our home town of Mountain View, in San Francisco, or in our future developments in San Jose and Sunnyvale—we’ve invested in developing housing that meets the needs of these communities. But there’s more to do.

Today we’re announcing an additional $1 billion investment in housing across the Bay Area.

First, over the next 10 years, we’ll repurpose at least $750 million of Google’s land, most of which is currently zoned for office or commercial space, as residential housing. This will enable us to support the development of at least 15,000 new homes at all income levels in the Bay Area, including housing options for middle and low-income families. (By way of comparison, 3,000 total homes were built in the South Bay in 2018). We hope this plays a role in addressing the chronic shortage of affordable housing options for long-time middle and low income residents.

Second, we’ll establish a $250 million investment fund so that we can provide incentives to enable developers to build at least 5,000 affordable housing units across the market.

In addition to the increased supply of affordable housing these investments will help create, we will give $50 million in grants through Google.org to nonprofits focused on the issues of homelessness and displacement. This builds on the $18 million in grants we’ve given to help address homelessness over the last five years, including $3 million we gave to the newly opened SF Navigation Center and $1.5 million to affordable housing for low income veterans and households in Mountain View.

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