I showed three houses over the weekend, and other buyer groups were looking before and after. For every hot buy, it seems like there are 5-10 buyers!
This enthusiastic demand coming in November can only mean that the 2021 market is going to go ballistic. We will get the latest Case-Shiller Index tomorrow, and the month-over-month gain is going to be close to 2% for the San Diego metro area.
Even Zillow is getting more fired up – they raised their forecast of annual appreciation for Del Mar.
+6.9% forecast last month
+8.5% forecast this month!
If the high-end goes up 8.5% in the next year, then the low- and mid-range markets should be even hotter!
Here were their forecasts for our local NSDCC areas from last month:
If we have an uptick in boomer inventory that cools off the market slightly (and the right surge could increase sales) then we should survive quite nicely at 3/4 speed of where we’ve been the last few months!
This is a good summary of the Zillow Offers homebuying machine. Like Amazon, they are hoping that consumers are willing to overpay for convenience:
The website that allows you to imagine living in homes you could never afford is out to do to real estate sales what Amazon did to retail.
“Our vision with Zillow Offers and Zillow is a one-stop shop, buy, rent, sell, lending and closing service,” says spokeswoman Jordyn Lee, who says the company is working toward a more streamlined approach to cumbersome real estate transactions.
It’s even partnering with homebuilders to buy their customers’ old homes, with closings scheduled to coincide with completion of the new property. The inability to sell a home is a primary source of new home purchase cancellations, experts say.
“It makes complete sense for an entity like Zillow, that is a dominant force in the housing market with its listing and information service,” says Dr. Vivek Sah of UNLV’s Lied Real Estate Institute. “Expanding into its own brand of residential brokerage will align its services together and provide a one-stop shop to its customer base.”
It also eliminates the awkward process sellers face of showing their home while living in it, and synching the timing of buying and moving to a new property.
A variety of “iBuying” services on the market cater to different niches. Some provide loans to facilitate deposits on new homes before existing home sales have closed. Others allow buyers to design new construction. Zillow is branding itself as the choice for stressed buyers seeking an immediate, hassle-free transaction.
“For the convenience of not doing repairs and holding open houses, we do charge a service fee of seven to nine percent,” says Zillow spokesman Viet Shelton, adding the fee is the primary source of revenue and profit from Zillow Offers.
That’s more than a conventional commission of six percent, generally split between agents for the buyer and seller.
In addition to the higher fee, Zillow deducts the costs of repairs the property needs from the amount it pays the seller.
Still, DelPrete says, it’s not a moneymaker for the biggest iBuyers, such as Zillow and Opendoor.
“The average percentage increase of a home purchased and resold by Zillow in 2019 and 2020 was 1 percent,” Del Prete said via email. “The iBuyers are not trying to profit on the resale value or appreciation of a home. This is part of the reason the model is so unprofitable and why the iBuyers are losing tens of thousands of dollars on each home sold.”
Hat tip to Susie who sent in this article about a law recently passed in California:
The new rules apply to one- to four-unit properties sold at foreclosure auctions. If an investor wins one of those homes at auction, then people who want to live in it, as well as nonprofit organizations and government entities, get 45 days to submit competing offers.
If the home is a rental, the tenants living there could win by matching the investor’s offer. Other would-be buyers must offer more than the investor.
Known as SB 1079, the law takes effect Jan. 1, 2021.
State Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), the bill’s author, said her goal was to make it easier for individuals and affordable-housing groups to compete with investors.
“Homeownership is the primary way people have to build up generational wealth,” she said. “When we have rules that give advantage to a corporation, then that dream is just not available.”
The manager of the foreclosure auction is required to maintain a website that details the highest bid at the auction and how to submit competing offers.
I don’t know how many amateurs will be paying more than investors for homes sight unseen, and without proper title searches for additional liens. But there will be a few!
It was the last paragraph that was the most intriguing.
The State of California has institutionalized transparency!
Making the highest bid known to the public could revolutionize our business. Can you imagine if Zillow ran a website that openly tracked the offers on their homes for sale – buyers would love the transparency! Then every brokerage would be pressured into doing the same, and boom – no more agent shenanigans!
Are you thinking of selling?
Transparency can help ignite a bidding war, and get buyers to bid up the price because it becomes more about winning, then getting a deal. It’s how I handle my listings – let’s talk about how I can help you!
Here’s the classic courthouse-steps example of how auctions help to drive up the price:
Zillow’s estimates of appreciation over the next year:
Carmel Valley, 92130: +7.2%
NW Carlsbad, 92008: +7.7%
SE Carlsbad, 92009: +7.2%
Encinitas, 92024: +7.2%
Del Mar, 92014: +6.9%
La Jolla, 92037: +7.2%
Rancho Santa Fe, 92067: +6.9%
Santaluz/4S/Del Sur, 92127: +7.1%
It looks like Zillow expects 7% price appreciation for our area, which is wildly explosive for them. I looked up a an old blog post where their forecast numbers were virtually all 1s, 2s, and 3s for several years, and the actual increases usually exceeded the Zillow guesses.
Relatively-speaking, they are suggesting full-blown frenzy conditions!
The pandemic is still raging, the President of the United States is in the hospital, the election is right around the corner, and so are the holidays. The frenzy has to slow down at some point, doesn’t it?
So I schedule for 11am, and show up to find today’s list of showings taped to the front door:
The listing agent happens to be there, so we discuss the current market conditions. She is a long-time independent broker like myself (who now also works @ Compass) and we agree that the environment is ripe to convert to single agency naturally, and buyer-agents being eliminated.
It’s not because it’s what best for everyone involved, because clearly it’s not good for buyers and sellers – except maybe for those sellers who live in the house being barraged by showings the first few days on the market. It doesn’t sound like much of a price to pay, but for homebodies, or those with little kids & pets, it can be a major inconvenience.
Zillow is the only entity who spends eight or nine figures per year on advertising, so they will control our destiny – and with them setting up brokerage units manned by employee-agents in all 50 states, you can get a feel for what’s ahead.
In the meantime, consider these developments.
Today’s listing agents are making it harder to show and sell their listings, they are lowering the buyer-agent commissions (and taking the difference), and some realtors are advertising guaranteed cash offers as the better way to sell your house.
As is the case throughout America, the truth doesn’t matter nearly as much as how loud you can scream.
The greed displayed by these listing agents feeds upon itself, because other agents witness these practices happening without any reprimands, and they start to believe it’s acceptable…..and then they do the same thing. The game is evolving into how to beat the buyer-agents out of their commission.
In the short-term, realtors can justify this revolution by pointing to the commercial brokers who have practiced their real estate like this all along. Heck, less competition will slow down the rapid price increases we are experiencing, and help to trim the over-population of realtors everywhere too….so you can say there are good things about it.
But it all plays into the hands of Zillow, and eventually they will be who processes your order.
This sounds like a document-processing center where trainees guide consumers through the paperwork and hope they don’t ask too many questions. Sound familiar? They are going to walk right in and take over while the industry stands by idly – and we’ll look up in a few years and wonder what happened, just like we did when they began.
Over the last several years, Zillow has been transitioning from a real estate search portal into a streamlined buying-and-selling entity that offers iBuying services through Zillow Offers, and mortgage, title and escrow services through Zillow Home Loans and Zillow Closing Services. Now, the company has taken a big step further by starting its own licensed brokerage: Zillow Homes.
Zillow Group’s Chief Industry Development Officer Errol Samuelson provided details about the new brokerage in a video:
According to Zillow, starting in January 2021, Zillow Offers customers in Atlanta, Phoenix and Tucson will be working directly with a licensed employee of Zillow Homes. In addition, any Zillow-owned homes in these three markets will be listed by Zillow Homes employees. Although the services will be limited to these three locations to start, the company says it plans to expand into additional markets later in 2021.
In the video, Samuelson emphasizes that Zillow Homes will not be recruiting agents from other companies, but instead will be licensing existing Zillow employees under the Zillow Homes entity.
“We’re excited to add another important link in the Zillow Offers transaction chain to offer our customers greater choice and convenience when considering a move,” said Jeremy Wacksman, president of Zillow, in a statement. “At Zillow, our mission is to give people the power to unlock life’s next chapter and we want to help them on their journey home through a range of services that meet their preferences—whether through Zillow Offers or through a trusted Zillow Premier Agent partner.”
Zillow Offers launched in 2018 and is now available in 25 markets. According to the company, Zillow Homes will be “the brokerage of record for Zillow Offers transactions.” The move also frees up the company from using “thousands of disparate data feeds,” allowing them instead to pull from “MLS Internet Data Exchange, or IDX feeds,” according to the video statement.
“We look forward to working more closely with our agents, industry and MLS partners to efficiently serve our mutual customers,” added Wacksman. “Together, we will push to keep the real estate industry moving forward, and adapt to changing consumer preferences and virtual technologies.”
Zillow says it has plans to join local real estate associations, as well as the National Association of REALTORS®. The company also says it will continue investing and expanding its Premier Agent business—through which buyers and sellers can get connected to Zillow Premier Agents—and added that it expects this to be the “preference of the majority of Zillow’s customers.”
The chart above shows the June page views, which was probably the peak hysteria for those who were considering a drastic change. I think the heightened activity and sales could have just been from all the people who had been thinking about a move over the last 2-3 years, and they finally got on their horse. If we end up with about the same number of sales as last year, which looks probable, then sales were merely redistributed from April/May to late summer. Maybe a few more people left for the suburbs, but this report makes it look like it’s not a mass exodus.
Are people fleeing the cities for greener suburban pastures?
Some faint signals may have emerged in certain places, but by and large, the data show that suburban housing markets have not strengthened at a disproportionately rapid pace compared to urban markets. Both region types appear to be hot sellers’ markets right now – while many suburban areas have seen strong improvement in housing activity in recent months, so, too, have many urban areas.
Zillow’s Economic Research team analyzed a variety of Zillow data points in order to illustrate this trend. Data related to for-sale listings are generally the best indicator of real-time housing market activity, and in all but a few cases, suburban markets and urban markets have seen similar changes in activity in recent months: about the same share of homes selling above their list price, similar changes in the typical time homes spend on the market before an offer is accepted, and recent improvements in newly pending sales have been about the same across each region type.
Other indicators also help drive home this conclusion. Changes in annual home value growth rates from just before the pandemic to now have been about the same for urban and suburban markets. In some regions where there is a divergence, the discrepancy can be explained by trends that were unfolding before the pandemic. Page view data also show that suburban home listings have not grown in relative popularity in the past few months. For-sale suburban homes attract more than three times as much of Zillow’s traffic as urban listings do, but that was the case last year as well. Interest in detached single-family homes (or similar) has not seen a marked increase in the past year, either.
For every tech platform that sets out to disrupt real estate, there’s a story of slow evolution to working with brokers and agents. And while companies like Zillow, Opendoor, and Offerpad have brought about minor changes to the home buying process, they always end up morphing into our traditional system. Why is it that these so-called disruptors just can’t change the way we do real estate?
In this episode of Industry Relations, Rob and Greg are exploring why would-be disruptors have such a hard time changing real estate. Greg walks us through his five-stages-of-grief analogy around how tech platforms always end up working with brokers and agents, and Rob compares real estate with the auto industry, reflecting on how little buying processes have changed despite advancements in technology.
Rob and Greg go on to introduce the idea that the human connection is what prevents tech disruptors from succeeding in our industry, speculating that agent teams have been the biggest disruptor in real estate in recent years. Listen in for insight on how human knowledge and connection factor into making tech platforms successful and learn why the human need for approval is not disruptable.
At least this was based on a survey, rather than ivory-tower speculation:
Where people choose to live has traditionally been tied to where they work, a dynamic that through the past decade spurred extreme home value growth and an affordability crisis in coastal job centers. But the post-pandemic recovery could mitigate or even produce the opposite effect and drive a boom in secondary cities and exurbs, prompted not by a fear of density but by a seismic shift toward remote work.
Now that more than half of employed Americans (56%) have had the opportunity to work from home, a vast majority want to continue, at least occasionally. A new survey from Zillow, conducted by The Harris Poll, finds 75 percent of Americans working from home due to COVID-19 say they would prefer to continue that at least half the time, if given the option, after the pandemic subsides.
Two-thirds of employees working from home due to COVID-19 (66%) would be at least somewhat likely to consider moving if they had the flexibility to work from home as often as they want. Only 24 percent of Americans overall say they thought about moving as a result of spending more time at home due to social distancing recommendations.
Many employed Americans are trying to square the desire to work remotely with the functionality and size of their existing homes. Among employees who would be likely to consider moving, If given the flexibility to work from home when they want, nearly one-third say they would consider moving in order to live in a home with a dedicated office space (31%), to live in a larger home (30%), and to live in a home with more rooms (29%).
A Zillow analysis finds 46 percent of current households have a spare bedroom that could be used as an office. But that percentage drops off by more than 10 points in dense, expensive metros such as Los Angeles, New York, San Jose, San Francisco and San Diego, where far fewer homes have spare rooms.
When it comes time to move, home shoppers who can work remotely may seek out more space — both indoor and outdoor — farther outside city limits, where they can find larger homes within their budget.
“Moving away from the central core has traditionally offered affordability at the cost of your time and gas money. Relaxing those costs by working remotely could mean more households choose those larger homes farther out, easing price pressure on urban and inner suburban areas,” said Zillow senior principal economist, Skylar Olsen. “However, that means they’d also be moving farther from a wider variety of restaurants, shops, yoga studios and art galleries. Given the value many place on access to such amenities, we’re not talking about the rise of the rural homesteader on a large scale. Future growth under broader remote work would still favor suburban communities or secondary cities that offer those amenities along with more spacious homes and larger lots.”
Zillow Premier Agents from Silicon Valley to Manhattan say anecdotally, they’re seeing the early beginnings of a shift.
“We are seeing more buyers looking to leave the city,” said Bic DeCaro, a member of Zillow’s Agent Advisory Board serving Washington, D.C., and Northern Virginia. “Buyers, who just a few months ago were looking for walkability, are now looking for extra land to go along with more square footage.”
Keith Taylor Andrews, a small business owner in Denver, started home shopping on Zillow the week Colorado issued a stay-home order. The first-time homebuyer is now under contract on a house in Fayetteville, Arkansas that he plans to use as his home office.
“We learned from COVID-19 that we could operate our business remotely,” said Andrews, who has 40 employees working from home. “Arkansas is a good place to move, it’s economical and there are far fewer people. It feels like a breath of fresh air to get out of the city.”
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