Multi-Gen

Twenty percent of Americans is a good-sized group, and with the cost and difficulty of senior care being so high, it is natural for more people to consider multi-generational living. Home sellers who can present their home as multi-gen friendly could really benefit.

PNC is one of several banks and lenders paying more attention to “the sandwich generation,” people with dependent children and with elderly parents for whom they need to care. While not everyone in the sandwich generation has parents living with them, it is a growing phenomenon: Today, 20% of Americans live in multigenerational homes, where at least two adult generations live under one roof, accounting for 64 million people. In 1980, only 12% of Americans lived this way, according to the Pew Research Center.

“This has been on our radar for the last couple of years,” said Todd Johnson, Wells Fargo Home Lending’s Division Sales Manager, Pricing and Products Lead. In January, Wells Fargo lowered the down payment requirement for duplex buyers to 5% from 15% to 20%. This program is only available for loans that conform to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guidelines, but Mr. Johnson noted that loan limits for duplexes in costly areas can be relatively high.

For example, in San Diego a conforming duplex loan can reach $883,300, and in San Francisco, $930,300, Mr. Johnson said. Such loans can have as many as four borrowers, so a couple plus a set of elderly parents can all take out the loan together, Mr. Johnson said.

The program, however, comes with homework: It requires borrowers to take a four- to six-hour online course about being a landlord. What if your own mom and dad are going to be your tenants? You’ve still got to take the class, Mr. Johnson said. It covers issues such as getting insurance and landlord deductions and depreciation.

A common approach is for the older couple to sell their own home and use the equity to help make the down payment on the multigenerational home.

If a loan doesn’t allow gift funds to be used as a down payment, Ms. Graziano said, “the older couple may need to become a co-borrower on the mortgage loan as well as an owner named on the title to the property.”

When those older parent co-owners pass away, it can get complicated, especially if the parents have other heirs, says Ms. Graziano. “It may require refinancing the property to cash out the [parents’] equity, or selling the property.” For loans that PNC Bank treated as a single-family home at origination, the borrowers can rent out their extra unit to someone else without penalty if renting parents die or move, Mr. Boomer said.

Link to WSJ Article

Millennial Homeowner Stories

Hat tip to Eddie89 for sending in this article that includes 14 stories of how millennials purchased homes:

An excerpt:

Homeownership, like other forms of participation in the American dream, increasingly resembles an exclusive country club, with membership predicated on who your parents are and your race. To wit: A millennial’s likelihood of owning a home increases 9% if their own parents were also homeowners. While 39.5% of white millennials own homes, the black homeownership rate is just 13.4%, the Asian ownership rate is 27.2%, and the Hispanic ownership rate 24.6%. “Left unchecked,” the Urban Institute study declares, “current trends will result in even greater wealth disparities among white, black, and Hispanic millennials.”

The trends we’re seeing right now in homeownership will reverberate for generations to come — and accentuate the 21st-century parameters of privilege. The difference between people whose family can afford to help with a down payment and people who have no choice but to rent might mean the difference between who can live within 15 minutes of their job and who has to commute two hours, between who’s employed full time and those who depend on contingent work, between who can presume safety in public spaces and whose skin color makes them a perceived threat, between who can pay for college independently and whose children — and grandchildren — will eventually take out their own massive student loans.

I wanted to talk to people within this new reality about how they actually managed to make homeownership work. So I created a survey, and asked readers and Twitter followers and friends of friends of friends: Tell me everything. Tell me how you found the house, how you pulled together the down payment, and how you feel about all of it. Being transparent about this stuff won’t necessarily make buying a home easier for others. But it will hopefully demystify what it takes to make it happen, and help make clear that millennials who don’t own homes aren’t failures. They’re just young people who have faced a dramatically different financial and real estate reality than the generations that came before — a reality that has impacted some more than others.

What follows are 14 stories chosen from over 500 submissions, and they all exemplify, in some way, themes I saw again and again. (Stories have been lightly edited for length and clarity; some names have been changed to protect people’s privacy.) Many people received money from family for a down payment; they chose to buy in an area of the country where homes are markedly cheaper; their parents were homeowners or felt very strongly about homeownership as a mark of adulthood; others are ambivalent about their own homeownership and the way it excludes so many others their age.

Link to Article

More on Carlsbad Village Development

Thanks bode for sending this in from the Reader:

At least eight businesses in Carlsbad’s downtown Village area have been told they must prepare to move out as their buildings make way for a sleek new restaurant/retail complex.

In what seems to cement the notion that Carlsbad is indeed morphing into Manhattan Beach, the popular Mas Fina Cantina and the Carlsbad Village Art & Antique Mall have been told their days are numbered. Their buildings will either be bulldozed or reformatted to make wake way for an upscale retail center. Their exit date could come as soon as October 2020 but possibly may not arrive until mid 2021 based on permit approvals.

Plans circulating with drawings for a new development called State Street Commons show there are no plans to retain two automotive repair shops, two hair stylists, a yoga center, an insurance office and an apartment complex. All will be displaced by a new complex that fronts the 2700 block of State Street and backs up to Roosevelt Street. Calls to Solana Beach-based Retail Insite who generated the drawings did not return requests for comment.

“I was very unhappy when I heard the news” says Andy Davis, co-owner of the Mas Fina Cantina who says he spent months hearing from customers that his building had date with a bulldozer. Since the 50s the Mas Fina building has been home to an appliance repair store, a laundromat, and an Italian restaurant. Mas Fina arrived in 2000. “My landlord told me: ‘We don’t have any plans, but we’ll let you know if it changes.'”

But the customers kept coming with more details. When Davis heard that the city had actually gotten involved, “I met with them and they told me they had sold the property.”

Davis says he has no animosity against his landlord or the incoming developer. “But I am worried the Village area will lose its charm as everything seems to be getting bigger. I get it that this is happening. My problem is that it is moving a little too fast and all the new designs seem to be similar. It’s all big boxes. There is nothing beautiful about these new buildings. People don’t want Orange County in coastal North County.”

Davis wouldn’t get specific about Mas Fina Cantina’s future, “But you can say we will stay in the Village [at a new location].”

Calls to Karlsbad Realty and the Don Dewhurst family about the sale of the property were not returned.

Meanwhile Bonnie Imperiali, manager of the Carlsbad Village Art & Antique Mall, says she was unclear about specific dates when her 15,000-square-foot collectible bazaar must close or relocate. The mall hosts mini shops for some 100 individual artists and vendors. It has been on State Street for almost 30 years.

Link to Full Article

Gentrification is Everywhere

Many will lament the redevelopment of downtown Carlsbad, but it is happening everywhere as big money takes over.  It’s not just the look that’s changing either.

The old Sears at UTC is being completely re-purposed, and new companies that never existed before are coming in to provide services we didn’t even know we needed.

Carmel Valley’s Del Mar Highlands is adding 120,000sf of upscale retail tenants to compete with the One Paseo mixed-use project across the street.  Horton Plaza is getting re-worked, Mission Valley has already transformed, and surely other old parts of town will get upgraded in the near future.

There doesn’t seem to be any way to stop it either.  Let’s make the best of it?

Link to Article

The Future of ibuyer

There was a good summary of the ibuyer business published yesterday:

https://www.curbed.com/2019/3/21/18252048/real-estate-house-flipping-zillow-ibuyer-opendoor

An excerpt:

But as more players jump into the space and markets are saturated with various competing platforms, profit margins that are already paper thin get squeezed even more. Zillow says it’s making $1,723 per home flip at a minuscule 0.6 percent profit, which leads one to wonder if this space is really worth getting into if you don’t have multiple modes of monetization.

That’s where the concept of a one-stop shop for home buying and selling becomes especially attractive. If one company can seamlessly integrate each individual component of the real estate transaction—buying, renovating, insuring, and selling—and optimize operational efficiencies along the way, there’s a path to becoming the truly dominant real estate company.

Being the one-stop shop has been the goal of most large real estate operations, where the owners can make profits on every related service – escrow, title, loans, etc.  It’s why these outside companies all jumped in to the ibuyer space – the cumulative profits look very enticing, and making as little as $1,723 per home flip doesn’t look bad as long as they get the other fee income too.

I think they will be able to dominate in the homogenized lower-priced tract neighborhoods where there isn’t much variance in values. They can make their own market too, because a first-time homebuyer won’t balk over paying a few extra thousand in price to get an easy entry into a renovated home.  If great salespeople are employed, the ibuyers could make a killing.

It will also enable the ibuyers to dabble in the higher-priced areas, where losses can pile up quicker.  No need to risk big money when there is no pressure on them to buy anything.  I would expect their purchase quotes in the higher-end areas will be well under retail, to give them plenty of cushion.

How will sellers, buyers, and realtors react?

Sellers usually have a price in mind, and tend to be a little uncomfortable with interviewing several candidates/options. If ibuyers advertise effectively and get the first call, then all they have to do is get close to the seller’s price-in-mind, and convenience will be what decides it.

If a realtor gets the first call, and comes in with seller’s price-in-mind or higher, they will get the listing.  Realtors will feel the need to quote higher-than-ever list prices.

Sellers who want quick money and convenience won’t worry about leaving a little money on the table, and take the ibuyer deal.  Those sellers who want top dollar will list with a realtor.

With everything being high-priced, buyers will probably gravitate to the homes in top condition, and just pay what it takes.  Hopefully we won’t run out of buyers.

Crafty agents might offer third-party reviews of the options.  Sellers will already be getting biased opinions from ibuyers and realtors, and they could use a consultant to help sort out the best option.  But sellers would have to be deliberate and analytical to resist winging it themselves.

The Big Question?  With sellers having more equity than ever, will they mind leaving some on the table?

The successful ibuyers doing volume could smooth out any bumpy markets, because they will be determining the home values to suit their bottom line. If they can’t sell, they can always rent instead.

We’ll have even fewer motivated sellers!

2019 Bubble Report

Doesn’t it feel like we’re in another bubble?

Home prices have been on a tear for ten years straight, and are at their highest levels ever.

Is this bubble going to pop too?

Let’s look at the statistics first. I took the most recent 45 days to get the latest scoop, plus the MLS prefers to calculate the smaller sample sizes.

NSDCC Detached-Home Listings and Sales, April 1 – May 15 (La Jolla to Carlsbad)

Year
# of Listings
# of Sales
Avg $$/sf
Median SP
Median DOM
2012
640
415
$377/sf
$805,000
41
2013
788
464
$419/sf
$968,750
17
2014
791
376
$474/sf
$1,017,000
24
2015
785
448
$479/sf
$1,065,000
22
2016
774
439
$513/sf
$1,170,000
19
2017
726
445
$529/sf
$1,250,000
17
2018
749
394
$567/sf
$1,298,000
17
2019
712
379
$579/sf
$1,360,000
23
YoY Chg
-5%
-4%
+2%
+5%
+29%

It is remarkable that all-time-high prices aren’t causing more people to sell!

In previous markets, once prices started reaching new highs, homeowners would jump at the chance to move.  The inventory would grow and cool things off, and/or we’d hit an economic downturn and foreclosure sales would direct the market. But not today!

Other Factors:

We are a mid-level luxury market. The more-expensive areas like Los Angeles, Orange County, and the Bay Area feed us downsizers who think we are giving it away.

Homebuying has de-coupled from jobs. We do have substantial employers like Qualcomm, bio-tech, etc. but not near enough to justify these lofty prices. How do we keep afloat? It’s the big down payments; either from previous home sales, successful business ventures, or the Bank of Mom & Dad.

They changed the rules. Banks have to give defaulters a chance to qualify for a loan modification before they can foreclose. With everyone enjoying their equity position, they will find a way to hang onto their house or sell it for a profit, instead of lose it.

Mortgage rates around 4% are ideal.  Not likely to go up much either.

Reverse mortgages are an alternative for those who need money. They might crank down the amount of money you can tap, but as long as homeowners are flush with equity, they will be able to get their hands on some of it via reverse mortgages or the typical equity line.

Buyers have been full of money, and willing to blow it. I’ve seen sales close for 10% to 25% above the comps this year, so it doesn’t seem like people are worried about a bubble. Those sales could be creating unsustainable comps, and be short-lived values, but will the next buyer question them enough?

Coming Soon vs. ibuyer. We need a gimmick to transition us to the ibuyer era, and the ‘Coming Soon’ off-market sales will be the sexy distraction.  The price of an off-market sale isn’t necessarily lower than retail, and in some cases they can be higher when the buyers get jacked up about the opportunity.

The ibuyer era could be the last hurrah for open-market real estate.  If the big-money corporate buyers can build enough credibility and begin to dominate the space, they will be able to dictate the prices paid for their flips, and control the marketplace.  If so, they will make sure we won’t have another down market!

In the meantime, we might see prices start to bounce around, instead of the constant trend higher.  But if it gets harder to sell, then many will just sit tight instead.

If you think a bubble pop will happen, ponder this question.  Who is going to give away their home now?

Why Commissions Are High

My general rule-of-thumb is that if two people send me the same article, then I should blog it.

Not only did two people send this in, but Henry Fung also mentioned to the article’s author on twitter that she should read my blog, and as a result, she followed me.

Now I really need to comment!

Here is Lydia’s article, which is more coverage of the latest lawsuit that intends to bust up the realtor cartel:

https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/15/economy/real-estate-commissions/index.html

The lawsuit alleges collusion between brokerages to make sellers pay 2.5% or more to the buyer’s agent.

The National Association of Realtors shrugged it off, and by the time the case gets to court, the current way we sell houses could be long gone anyway.

But let’s discuss being paid by commission.

The reason commissions are high is because of the home-selling process, and the amount of work involved just to have a shot of earning an actual paycheck.

Though I have a written listing contract with every seller, I can’t force you to sell your house.

I don’t do buyer-broker contracts with buyers, but if I did, you still don’t have to buy a house.

Whether I have a contract or not, there is no assurance that I will ever get paid, regardless of how much time I invest, and though I have a commission agreement with a seller, I have no control of the outcome – only the sellers decide if they can live with the resulting offers.

If an agent does get paid, it’s at the end – there’s no pay received along the way.  Plus, the commission gets treated like a slush fund with many people trying to nibble away at it throughout the process. Then the brokerage and other parties take their cut, and the agent gets what’s left.

Given those conditions, shouldn’t there be a bonus, or reward attached?

Would you work for your current pay today if you knew you might not get paid anything?  Or would you expect an additional bonus to live with that risk?

Just because buyers look at houses online doesn’t change the problem with being paid on commission.  We’ve had these same issues before and after the internet.

Should we devise new pay structures for realtors?

The problem with a pay-as-you-go system is that you don’t know how long it could take.  Consumers (both buyers and sellers) aren’t really sure what to expect in the beginning, and aren’t going to start writing checks unless, and until they get a good feeling that it would pay off.  Flat-fee and salaried companies only provide transaction-processing services – which is only a small part of what I do.

There are two solutions:

A. Burn the business to the ground. This is the path we’re on, and the one-percenters will impose the systems they decide are good for you.  They will also offer you their houses at prices they tell you are fair.

B. We convert to a free-market auction system.

The reason agents deserve big commissions is because of the all-encompassing nature of the service we provide.  I handle every one of your real estate wants and needs all day, every day.  I have skillfully navigate every possible issue/event that happens, because any one thing can kill the sale – and then you don’t get what you want, and I don’t get paid.

If the business was more predictable, less time-intensive, and had guaranteed pay, would I work for less? Absolutely, and the auction solution is the best answer.

It would take a major player like Google or Amazon to bring enough brand and reputation so consumers would consider the auction format.  But if that were to happen, here are the benefits for everyone involved:

  1. The selling process becomes structured – everyone knows how and when a house will sell.  Post the auction date 30 days in advance so buyers can inspect the property – because the house is sold as-is, no repairs.  On auction day, conduct the bidding out in the open where all have a fair shot at buying.
  2. A real auction removes the agent shenanigans – no tilting the table in favor of anyone.
  3. Sellers get a little more than retail value, and know the close date in advance.
  4. Buyers know exactly what to expect, and have a fair shot of buying any home.
  5. A streamlined, predictable process means less work for agents.

The hardest part? Convincing sellers that there aren’t two in the bush who will pay more.

P.S. If the current business does crash and burn, I’m thinking of being an artist:

More Private Listing Clubs

The disrupters can tinker around with whatever gadget they can think up next, but if sellers believe that selling their home off-market is the way to go, there won’t be any MLS/traditions to disrupt.

Check out https://aaltohomes.com/

The private listing clubs are evolving as a natural defense mechanism and give agents a new advantage.  Everyone is in it for themselves now as the industry gets picked apart by the one-percenters.

I-Buyer Example

Will the ibuyers succeed?

Sure, they offer convenience, but the reason it works is because it’s so vague – sellers will never know the money difference between selling to an ibuyer or an open-market sale. The trendy-hip, sell-with-a-click factor could lure sellers into giving up an extra 5% or so without ever realizing it.

(pay 3% more in ibuyer fees and then sell for less than open-market sale)

Hat tip to reader ‘just some guy’ for sending in the article:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/07/business/economy/ibuying-real-estate.html

An excerpt:

When Dora Cagnetto decided to sell her townhouse in Phoenix this year, a real estate agent told her that she could get around $375,000 for it. Maybe $390,000. But she would have to replace the carpet and paint the walls. At 68 years old and recently retired, she thought it sounded like a lot of work.

One evening, after the carpet had been ripped up, Ms. Cagnetto saw an online ad for Zillow Offers. Zillow, better known for telling people what their homes are worth, would buy her home itself. She uploaded some photos and got back an offer: $382,000, minus a fee for Zillow. No repair work or open houses necessary. And Zillow paid cash.

Ms. Cagnetto estimated she effectively paid $10,000 to $15,000 for the privilege of turning over to Zillow the job of replacing the carpet and the bathroom countertops and doing other light repair work.

“My son, he’s like, ‘Well, oh, I could have done that,’ and maybe he would have saved a little money,” Ms. Cagnetto said. “But to me it was like, I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to hire somebody to do that, I don’t want to put carpeting in, I don’t want to paint these walls.”

The Phoenix area has become a hub of the iBuying phenomenon. With its relatively new housing stock and miles of buff-colored subdivisions, the market is affordable, uniform in look and steadily growing.

Whether iBuying works outside markets like Phoenix and Las Vegas is an open question. The model has yet to break into the Northeast, where the housing stock is older, the weather drives up maintenance costs and there are fewer of the kind of cookie-cutter subdivisions that the industry’s algorithms assess best. Prices are higher, too, making mistakes costlier for the companies.

 

The Fight

We have random off-market sales and ibuyer-manipulated sales.

Are those legitimate comps? How will we know the true values?

The most beneficial system is to expose all properties to the open-market, and let every ready, willing, and able buyer take their shot – with proper representation helping them along the way.

I’m open to other agent compensations, but buyers deserve to get good help.

P.S. If you stuff six keys in a lockbox, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t open.

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