An Inventory Surge?

While a surge in inventory next year would help to change the market dynamics, there isn’t any hard evidence of it happening yet:

How many would be considered a surge? If the number of new listings rose 10% or even 20%, would anyone notice? Probably not.

Using these November numbers, and adding an extra 20% would only get us back to last year’s total – which we thought was bleak then. but now I’d take it!

It would take a real bump to get buyers to step back and say, ‘hold on, I’m going to wait and see where this goes for a month or two’.

Let’s guess that it would take at least a 25% increase in new listings for buyers to pause.

I was asking around yesterday, but nobody had anything definite to report about their new-listings flow for next year. One agent thought that we’re going to see a lot of short sales though (???).

Higher Rates = All-Cash Market?

Could rates get so high that it turns into a cash-only market? It’s heading that way.

Of the 118 closings this month between La Jolla and Carlsbad, 45% were all-cash, and it’s competitive. My buyers made a cash offer that was $101,000 over list on this one and didn’t make the final round. There were 13 offers.

Interest rates are based on trading levels in the bond market. Bond traders began their day looking at significantly weaker levels (i.e. higher yields/rates) versus last Friday, but for no apparent reason. Actually, it would be more fair to say “for no new reason.”

Reasons for the rising rate momentum are apparent and ongoing. Decades-high inflation required decades-high rates to fix. The higher rates are supposed to be damaging the economy more than they have. Until that damage shows up, rates have a green light to continue higher.

As more and more market participants abandon their preconceived notions regarding an imminent rate reversal, the upward momentum takes on a certain glacial quality. In other words, it’s self-sustaining, often resulting in days like today where rates look like they’re acting on some obvious catalyst despite the absence of any such news.

Mortgage rates were already new 7.4% by the end of last week and today’s increases bring the average lender closer to 7.5%. This is the highest since late 2000. Lower rates are still available for certain scenarios and discount points, but many scenarios are also seeing higher rates.

Link to Mortgage News Daily

All You Get Now

This is the house that received THIRTY offers last month.

My thoughts:

  1. The supply of houses priced under $700,000 is scarce, with overwhelming demand.
  2. This is all you’re going to get from now on, and it won’t get better. I feel sorry for the kids.
  3. My buyers offered $700,000 with 20% down and didn’t get a counter.

The listing agent didn’t round-trip it and the winner paid $730,000 and financed the purchase. How do you know if others would have made a better offer if you don’t include them?

San Diego Case-Shiller Index, Nov

Today’s local Case-Shiller reading for November is the fifth in a row that reflects the much-higher mortgage rates. The index has dropped 9% since May – don’t be surprised if in the future we see a similar trend of enthusiasm in springtime, and doldrums in the off-season:

San Diego Non-Seasonally-Adjusted CSI changes

Observation Month
M-o-M chg
Y-o-Y chg
Jan ’21
Jan ’22

If the index keeps dropping over the next few months (likely), it should mean that it will get down to the late-2021 numbers. Will that be enough to impress buyers that prices are reasonable now? Or will they just go out and buy because it’s springtime?

NSDCC Pendings Since Jan 1

First of all, the calendar was perfectly set up for an extended holiday vacation and for everyone to not come back to work until this week. Mortgage rates are double what they were a year ago so nobody can afford a house, plus it’s been raining cats and dogs.

It would be natural to assume that the real estate market is ‘frozen’, and at best we will have a sluggish start.

Yet the early action between La Jolla and Carlsbad has been sizzling:

NSDCC Listings Marked Pending Since Jan. 1st:

What is impressive is how long these listings have been on the market – the median DOM is 55 days!  Wouldn’t buyers lay off those for a few weeks to see where this is going?

Did the sellers dump on price?

Why would they dump on price with the selling season is right around the corner? Surely they would let it run at least 2-3 weeks into January before giving it away, wouldn’t they?

Post-Frenzy Definitions

The doomers are hoping to drive the real estate market into hysterics, just for fun.  It’s easy for buyers and sellers to get caught up in it too, and think the sky is falling.

Let’s identify the terms, what doomers want you to believe, and the truth:

Inventory Surge

Doomers: Sellers are hitting the panic button.

Truth: If we are taking about a surge in active listings, it is because the list of aspirational sellers (those who will only move if they get their price) is growing longer. They aren’t the market makers; they are only helping those that are.

Price Reductions

Doomers – Home prices are falling.

Truth: Sellers mis-priced their home from the beginning, and now they are hoping that if they knock off a couple of bucks, it will make a difference.

Affordability/Revert to Mean

Doomers – Home prices must come down so regular people can afford to buy.

Truth – Around here, homes haven’t been affordable for the common man in years, yet home prices have accelerated.  The NSDCC market is only for the affluent now.

Higher Rates Will Crush the Market

Doomers – Home prices and rates go hand in hand. When rates go up, prices must come down.

Truth – The bumps in rates are only giving the affluent a reason to pause, in hopes of a price correction.

More Open Houses

Doomers – Realtors are panicking.

Truth – More realtor trainees are trying their luck.

Home Sales Dropping

Doomers – Market is being crushed.

Truth – More sellers are holding out for their price.

Sales Crushed

Doomers – Zero

Truth – If the NSDCC monthly sales stay in the 100-200 range, we will be fine. Those are January counts, and the usual market seasons have been topsy-turvy since March 2020 so it will give the demand more time to get pent-up.

Prices Crushed

Doomers – 50% off

Truth – Sellers determine what they can live with, and their ego plays a bigger role than you might imagine.  Nobody has to sell any more, so expect resistance to selling for lower than the last sale.  Only the extremely-motivated sellers will sell for a big discount today – it will take years for that to become commonplace.

I’ll add a few more later!

Remote Work Caused 1/2 Of Price Surge

There are many who insist that real estate will follow its historical trend, and I like to say ‘it’s different now’ just to irritate them.

What are the things that are different?

Every buyer has had to qualify for their mortgage and use a sizable down payment, the vast majority have been buying their forever home (even if they didn’t know it at the time), and homeowners at the coast will likely be paying six figures in capital-gains taxes if they sell – which means that they need to leave San Diego to really make it worth moving.  As a result, the number of people who are willing to sell has plummeted, which has kept the pressure on pricing.

The demand is different too. Back in the old days, it used to be loosely tied to incomes, but that flew out the window decades ago around here. The influx of affluent people has helped, but there is also a big difference that these researchers have explored – working from home:

It’s no secret that Americans’ newfound remote work lifestyles drove demand for larger homes with more comfortable workspaces.

What’s new: That demand may be responsible for more than half of the surge in real estate prices during the pandemic, according to a working paper published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

  • It’s one of the first papers that aims to quantify how remote work reshaped the housing market.

Why it matters: If the research holds up, it signals a fundamental shift in the housing market — that it wasn’t just low-interest rates and fiscal stimulus that drove up housing prices.

By the numbers: It found that remote work led to about 15 percentage points of the 24% average increase in house prices between December 2019 and November 2021.

Details: The paper’s authors are John A. Mondragon, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and Johannes Wieland, of the University of California, San Diego’s economics department.

  • The researchers found that after controlling for COVID migration, regions with the highest rates of remote work experienced much higher home price growth during the period.
  • They also observed a similar effect on residential rents — along with declines in commercial rents — in these areas.

What they’re saying: This implies a shift in demand, as many pandemic homebuyers and renters sought to upgrade to larger, and more expensive homes to support their telework lifestyles, said Mondragon.

The bottom line: Policymakers like those at the Fed would be wise to pay close attention to the evolution of remote work because it will help determine the future of home prices — and of overall inflation, the economists wrote.

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