New Index Reveals Impact of COVID-19 on Real Estate

Earlier this month, realtor.com announced the release of their initial Housing Recovery Index, a weekly guide showing how the pandemic has impacted the residential real estate market. The index leverages a weighted average of four key components of the housing industry, tracking each of the following:

  1. Housing Demand – Growth in online search activity
  2. Home Price – Growth in asking prices
  3. Housing Supply – Growth of new listings
  4. Pace of Sales – Difference in time-on-market

The index then compares the current status “to the last week of January 2020 market trend, as a baseline for pre-COVID market growth. The overall index is set to 100 in this baseline period. The higher a market’s index value, the higher its recovery and vice versa.”

New Index Reveals Impact of COVID-19 on Real Estate | MyKCM

The graph below charts the index by showing how the real estate market started out strong in early 2020, and then dropped dramatically at the beginning of March when the pandemic paused the economy. It also shows the strength of the recovery since the beginning of May.It’s clear to see that the housing market is showing promising signs of recovery from the deep economic cuts we experienced earlier this spring. As noted by Dean Mon, Chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB):

“As the nation reopens, housing is well-positioned to lead the economy forward.”

The data today indicates the housing market is already on the way up.

Bottom Line

Staying connected to the housing market’s performance over the coming months will be essential, as we continue to evaluate exactly how the housing market is doing in this uncharted time ahead.

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Homebuyers Are in the Mood to Buy Today

According to the latest FreddieMac Quarterly Forecast, mortgage interest rates have fallen to historically low levels this spring and they’re projected to remain low. This means there’s a huge incentive for buyers who are ready to purchase. And homeowners looking for eager buyers can take advantage of this opportune time to sell as well.

There’s a very positive outlook on interest rates going forward, as the projections from the FreddieMac report indicate continued lows into 2021:

“Going forward, we forecast the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to remain low, falling to a yearly average of 3.4% in 2020 and 3.2% in 2021.”

With mortgage rates hovering at such compelling places, ongoing buyer interest is bound to keep driving the housing market forward. Rates also reached another record low last week, so homebuyers are in what FreddieMac is identifying as the buying mood:

“While the rebound in the economy is uneven, one segment that is exhibiting strength is the housing market. Purchase demand activity is up over twenty percent from a year ago, the highest since January 2009. Mortgage rates have hit another record low due to declining inflationary pressures, putting many homebuyers in the buying mood. However, it will be difficult to sustain the momentum in demand as unsold inventory was at near record lows coming into the pandemic and it has only dropped since then.”

Homebuyers Are in the Mood to Buy Today | MyKCM

There’s no doubt that even though buyers are ready to purchase, it’s hard for many of them to find a home to buy today. Mortgage rates aren’t the only thing hovering near all-time lows; homes available for sale are too. With housing inventory as scarce as it is today – a nearly 20% year-over-year decline in available homes to purchase – keeping buyers in the purchasing mood may be tough if they can’t find a home to buy (See graph below):

What does this mean for buyers?

Competition is hot with so few homes available for purchase and low mortgage rates are helping to drive affordability as well. Getting pre-approved now will help you gain a competitive advantage and accelerate the homebuying process, so you’re ready to go when you find that perfect home you’d like to buy. Working quickly and efficiently with a trusted real estate professional will help put you in a position to act fast when you’re ready to make your move.

What does this mean for sellers?

If you’re thinking of selling your house, know that the motivation for buyers to purchase right now is as high as ever with rates where they are today. Selling now before other sellers come to market in your neighborhood this summer might put your house high on the list for many buyers. Homebuyers are clearly in the mood to buy, and with today’s safety guidelines and precautions in place to show your house, confidence is also on your side.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, there’s great motivation to be in the housing market, especially with mortgage rates hovering at this historic all-time low. Let’s connect today to make sure you’re ready to make your move.

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Why This Summer Is the 2020 Real Estate Season

With stay-at-home orders starting to gradually lift throughout parts of the country, data indicates homebuyers are jumping back into the market. After many families put their plans on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic, what we once called the busy spring real estate season is shifting into the summer. In 2020, summer is the new spring for real estate.

Joel KanEconomist at The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) notes:

“Applications for home purchases continue to recover from April’s sizable drop and have now increased for five consecutive weeks…Government purchase applications, which include FHA, VA, and USDA loans, are now 5 percent higher than a year ago, which is an encouraging turnaround after the weakness seen over the past two months.”

Additionally, according to Google Trends, which scores search terms online, searches for real estate increased from 68 points the week of March 15th to 92 points last week. As we can see, more potential homebuyers are looking for homes virtually.

What’s the Opportunity for Buyers?

Another reason buyers are coming back to the market, even with forced unemployment and stay-at-home orders, is historically low mortgage rates. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac indicates:

“For the fourth consecutive week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has been below 3.30 percent, giving potential buyers a good reason to continue shopping even amid the pandemic…As states reopen, we’re seeing purchase demand improve remarkably fast, now essentially flat relative to a year ago.”

With mortgage rates at such low levels and states gradually beginning to reopen, there’s more incentive than ever to buy a home this summer.

What’s the Opportunity for Sellers?

Finding a home to buy, however, is still a challenge, as this spring sellers removed many listings from the market. Though more people are now putting their houses up for sale this month as compared to last month, current inventory is still well below last year’s level.

According to last week’s Weekly Economic and Housing Market Update from realtor.com:

“Weekly Housing Inventory showed continued tightening. New Listings declined 28% compared with a year ago, as sellers grappled with uncertainty and hesitated bringing homes to market. Total Listings dropped 20% YoY, a faster rate than in prior weeks, leaving very few homes available for sale. As Time on Market was 15 days slower YoY, asking prices moved up 1.5% YoY.”

If you’re thinking of selling your house this summer, now may be your best opportunity. With so few homes on the market for buyers to purchase, this season may be the time for your house to stand out from the crowd. Trusted real estate professionals can help you list safely and effectively, keeping your family’s needs top of mind. Buyers are looking, and your house may be at the top of their list.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking of selling, many buyers may be eager to find a home just like yours. Let’s connect today to make sure you can get your house in on the action this summer.

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Is it Time to Sell Your Vacation Home?

The travel industry is one of the major sectors that’s been hit extremely hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, it’s hard to know how long it will take for summer travelers to be back in action and for the industry to fully recover. Homeowners who rent their secondary properties on their own or through programs like Airbnb, which has over 660,000 listings in the U.S. alone, have been impacted in this challenging time. Some of these homeowners are considering selling their vacation homes, and understandably so.

A recent CNN article indicated:

“With global travel screeching to a halt during the pandemic, a number of Airbnb hosts are planning to sell their properties…These desperate moves come as hosts face the possibility of losing thousands of dollars a month in canceled bookings while bills, maintenance costs, and mortgage payments pile up.”

If you’re one of the property owners in this position, you too may be feeling the pain of decreased travel, especially as we prepare for the typical busy summer vacation season. A recent survey notes that 48% of Americans have already canceled summer travel plans due to the current health crisis. In addition, 36% indicated they don’t have vacation plans, and only 16% said they did not cancel their summer travel.

Is it Time to Sell Your Vacation Home? | MyKCM

The same survey also asked, “How long will you wait before traveling again?” Not surprisingly, only 29% of respondents are planning to travel within the next 6 months. That means 71% are putting their plans on hold for at least 6 months, or are still unsure about future travel. That can continue to add to the significant income loss that many property renters felt this spring.If you’re considering selling your rental property, know that there are two key factors indicating that selling your vacation home now may be your best move as a homeowner.

1. Inventory Shortage

Is it Time to Sell Your Vacation Home? | MyKCM

The inventory of overall homes for sale is well below the demand from potential buyers, so many eyes may be searching for a home like yours. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), total housing inventory, meaning homes available to purchase, is down 19.7% from one year ago (see graph below):Inventory across the country continues to be a challenge, with only a 4.1-month supply of listings available at the current sales pace. For a balanced market, where there are enough homes available for interested buyers to purchase, that number would need to bump up to a 6-month supply. This means we don’t have enough inventory for the number of buyers looking for homes, so selling in this scenario is ideal. Buyers are looking now, and some vacation homes make a great primary residence or second home for those eager to escape from more populated urban areas.

2. Home Prices

The lack of inventory is also keeping homes from depreciating in value. Today, prices are holding strong and experts forecast home price appreciation to continue throughout this year. Selling your home while prices are holding steady is a sound business move. You’ll likely have equity you’ve earned working for you as well. If your home has been vacant for the past few months, the forced savings you have built in your equity may help balance out possible rental income loss due to the slowdown in the travel industry.

Bottom Line

We don’t know exactly when heightened summer travel will return or what it will look like when it does. If you’re considering selling your vacation home, let’s connect today to determine your options in the current market.

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Economists Forecast Recovery to Begin in the Second Half of 2020

With the U.S. economy on everyone’s minds right now, questions about the country’s financial outlook continue to come up daily. The one that seems to keep rising to the top is: when will the economy begin to recoverWhile no one knows exactly how a rebound will play out, expert economists around the country are becoming more aligned on when the recovery will begin.

Economists Forecast Recovery to Begin in the Second Half of 2020 | MyKCM

According to the latest Wall Street Journal Economic Forecasting Survey, which polls more than 60 economists on a monthly basis, 85.3% believe a recovery will begin in the second half of 2020 (see graph below):There seems to be a growing consensus among these experts that the second half of this year will be the start of a turnaround in this country.

Chris Hyzy, Chief Investment Officer for Merrill notes:

“We fully expect the economy could begin to pick up in late June and July with a strong recovery in the fourth quarter.” 

Economists Forecast Recovery to Begin in the Second Half of 2020 | MyKCM

In addition, five of the major financial institutions are also forecasting positive GDP in the second half of the year. Today, four of the five expect a recovery to begin in the third quarter of 2020, and all five agree a recovery should start by the fourth quarter (see graph below):

Bottom Line

The vast majority of economists, analysts, and financial institutions are in unison, indicating an economic recovery should begin in the second half of 2020. Agreement among these leading experts is stronger than ever.

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Experts Predict Economic Recovery Should Begin in the Second Half of the Year

One of the biggest questions we all seem to be asking these days is: When are we going to start to see an economic recovery? As the country begins to slowly reopen, moving forward in strategic phases, business activity will help bring our nation back to life. Many economists indicate a recovery should begin to happen in the second half of this year. Here’s a look at what some of the experts have to say.

Jerome Powell, Federal Reserve Chairman

“I think there’s a good chance that there’ll be positive growth in the third quarter. And I think it’s a reasonable expectation that there’ll be growth in the second half of the year…

So, in the long run, I would say the U.S. economy will recover. We’ll get back to the place we were in February; we’ll get to an even better place than that.I’m highly confident of that. And it won’t take that long to get there.”

Nonpartisan Analysis for the U.S Congress

“The economy is expected to begin recovering during the second half of 2020 as concerns about the pandemic diminish and as state and local governments ease stay-at-home orders, bans on public gatherings, and other measures. The labor market is projected to materially improve after the third quarter; hiring will rebound and job losses will drop significantly as the degree of social distancing diminishes.”

Neel Kashkari, President, Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank

“I think we need to prepare for a more gradual recovery while we hope for that quicker rebound.”

We’re certainly not out of the woods yet, but clearly many experts anticipate we’ll see a recovery starting this year. It may be a bumpy ride for the next few months, but most agree that a turnaround will begin sooner rather than later.

During the planned shutdown, as the economic slowdown pressed pause on the nation, many potential buyers and sellers put their real estate plans on hold. That time coincided with the traditionally busy spring real estate season. As we look ahead at this economic recovery and we begin to emerge back into our communities over the coming weeks and months, perhaps it’s time to think about putting your real estate plans back into play.

Bottom Line

The experts note a turnaround is on the horizon, starting as early as later this year. If you paused your 2020 real estate plans, let’s connect today to determine how you can re-engage in the process as the country reopens and the economy begins a much-anticipated rebound.

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Will the Housing Market Turn Around This Year?

Today, many people are asking themselves if they should buy or sell a home in 2020. Some have shifted their plans or put them on hold over the past couple of months, and understandably so. Everyone seems to be wondering if the market is going to change and when the economy will turn around. If you’re trying to figure out what’s going to happen and how to play your cards this year, you’re not alone. This spring in the 2020 NAR Flash Survey: Economic Pulse, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has been tracking the behavior changes of homebuyers and sellers. In a reaction to their most recent survey, Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, noted the beginnings of a turn in the market:

“After a pause, home sellers are gearing up to list their properties with the reopening of the economy…Plenty of buyers also appear ready to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates and the stability that comes with these locked-in monthly payments into future years.”

What does the survey indicate about sellers? 

Sellers are positioning themselves to make moves this year. More than 3 in 4 potential sellers are preparing to sell their homes once stay-at-home orders are lifted and they feel more confident, which means more homes will start to be available for interested buyers.

Will the Housing Market Turn Around This Year? | MyKCM

Just this week, Zillow also reported an uptick in listings, which is great news for the health of the market:

“The number of new for-sale listings overall has shown improvement, up 5.9% last week from the previous week. New listings of the most-expensive homes…are now seeing the biggest resurgence, up 8%. The uptick is likely a sign sellers are feeling more confident because of improving buyer demand, as newly pending sales have also jumped up during the same period.”

What does the survey note about buyers?

The recent pandemic has clearly impacted buyer preferences, showing:

  • 5% of the respondents said buyers are shifting their focus from urban to suburban areas.
  • 1 in 8 Realtors report changes in desired home features, with home offices, bigger yards, and more space for their families becoming increasingly important.
  • Only 17% said buyers stopped looking due to concerns about their employment or loss of a job.

As we’ve mentioned before, buyer demand is strong right now, and many are simply waiting for more inventory to become available so they can make a move, especially as the country begins to reopen.

Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about putting your house on the market, let’s connect today. There’s a good chance an eager buyer is looking for a home just like yours. 

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Unemployment: Hope on the Horizon

Tomorrow, the unemployment rate for April 2020 will be released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It will hit a peak this country has never seen before, with data representing real families and lives affected by this economic slowdown. The numbers will alarm us. There will be headlines and doomsday scenarios in the media. There is hope, though, that as businesses reopen, most people will become employed again soon. Last month’s report indicated we initially lost over 700,000 jobs in this country, and the unemployment rate quickly rose to 4.4%. With the release of the new data, that number will climb even higher. Experts forecast this report will show somewhere between a 15% – 20% national unemployment rate, and some anticipate that number to be even greater (see graph below):

Unemployment: Hope on the Horizon | MyKCM

What’s happened over the last several weeks?

Here’s a breakdown of this spring’s weekly unemployment filings:

Unemployment: Hope on the Horizon | MyKCM

The good news shown here indicates the number of additional unemployment claims has decreased week over week since the beginning of April. Carlos Rodriguez, CEO of Automatic Data Processing (ADP) says based on what he’s seeing:

“It’s possible that companies are already anticipating some kind of normalization, opening in certain states and starting to post jobs.”

He goes on to say that this doesn’t mean all companies are hiring, but it could mean they are at the point where they’re not cutting jobs anymore. Let’s hope this trend continues.

What will the future bring?

Most experts predict that while unemployment is high right now, it won’t be that way for long. The length of unemployment during this crisis is projected to be significantly shorter than the duration seen in the Great Recession and the Great Depression.

Unemployment: Hope on the Horizon | MyKCM

While forecasts may be high, the numbers are trending down and the length of time isn’t expected to last forever.

Bottom Line

Don’t let the headlines rattle you. There’s hope coming as we start to safely reopen businesses throughout the country. Unemployment affects our families, our businesses, and our country. Our job is to rally around those impacted and do our part to support them through this time.

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Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again.

With all of the unanswered questions caused by COVID-19 and the economic slowdown we’re experiencing across the country today, many are asking if the housing market is in trouble. For those who remember 2008, it’s logical to ask that question. Many of us experienced financial hardships, lost homes, and were out of work during the Great Recession – the recession that started with a housing and mortgage crisis. Today, we face a very different challenge: an external health crisis that has caused a pause in much of the economy and a major shutdown of many parts of the country. Let’s look at five things we know about today’s housing market that were different in 2008.

1. Appreciation

When we look at appreciation in the visual below, there’s a big difference between the 6 years prior to the housing crash and the most recent 6-year period of time. Leading up to the crash, we had much higher appreciation in this country than we see today. In fact, the highest level of appreciation most recently is below the lowest level we saw leading up to the crash. Prices have been rising lately, but not at the rate they were climbing back when we had runaway appreciation.

Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | MyKCM

2. Mortgage Credit

The Mortgage Credit Availability Index is a monthly measure by the Mortgage Bankers Association that gauges the level of difficulty to secure a loan. The higher the index, the easier it is to get a loan; the lower the index, the harder. Today we’re nowhere near the levels seen before the housing crash when it was very easy to get approved for a mortgage. After the crash, however, lending standards tightened and have remained that way leading up to today.

Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | MyKCM

3. Number of Homes for Sale

One of the causes of the housing crash in 2008 was an oversupply of homes for sale. Today, as shown in the next image, we see a much different picture. We don’t have enough homes on the market for the number of people who want to buy them. Across the country, we have less than 6 months of inventory, an undersupply of homes available for interested buyers.

Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | MyKCM

4. Use of Home Equity

The chart below shows the difference in how people are accessing the equity in their homes today as compared to 2008. In 2008, consumers were harvesting equity from their homes (through cash-out refinances) and using it to finance their lifestyles. Today, consumers are treating the equity in their homes much more cautiously.

Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | MyKCM

5. Home Equity Today

Today, 53.8% of homes across the country have at least 50% equity. In 2008, homeowners walked away when they owed more than what their homes were worth. With the equity homeowners have now, they’re much less likely to walk away from their homes.

Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | MyKCM

Bottom Line

The COVID-19 crisis is causing different challenges across the country than the ones we faced in 2008. Back then, we had a housing crisis; today, we face a health crisis. What we know now is that housing is in a much stronger position today than it was in 2008. It is no longer the center of the economic slowdown. Rather, it could be just what helps pull us out of the downturn.

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Keys to Selling Your House Virtually

In a recent survey by realtor.com, people thinking about selling their homes indicated they’re generally willing to allow their agent and some potential buyers inside if done under the right conditions. They’re less comfortable, however, hosting an open house. This is understandable, given the health concerns associated with social contact these days. The question is, if you need to sell your house now, what virtual practices should you use to make sure you, your family, and potential buyers stay safe in the process?

In today’s rapidly changing market, it’s more important than ever to make sure you have a digital game plan and an effective online marketing strategy when selling your house. One of the ways your agent can help with this is to make sure your listing photos and virtual tours stand out from the crowd, truly giving buyers a detailed and thorough view of your home.

So, if you’re ready to move forward, virtual practices may help you win big when you’re ready to sell. While abiding by state and local regulations is a top priority, a real estate agent can help make your sale happen. Agents know exactly what today’s buyers need, and how to put the necessary digital steps in place. For example, according to the same survey, when asked to select what technology would be most helpful when deciding on a new home, here’s what today’s homebuyers said, in order of preference:

  • Virtual tour of the home
  • Accurate and detailed listing information
  • Detailed neighborhood information
  • High-quality listing photos
  • Agent-led video chat

After leveraging technology, if you have serious buyers who still want to see your house in person, keep in mind that according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), there are ways to proceed safely. Here are a few of the guidelines, understanding that the top priority should always be to obey state and local restrictions first:

  • Limit in-person activity
  • Require guests to wash their hands or use an alcohol-based sanitizer
  • Remove shoes or cover with booties
  • Follow CDC guidance on social distancing and wearing face coverings

Getting comfortable with your agent – a true trusted advisor – taking these steps under the new safety standards might be your best plan. This is especially important if you’re in a position where you need to sell your house sooner rather than later.

Nate Johnson, CMO at realtor.com ® notes:

“As real estate agents and consumers seek out ways to safely complete these transactions, we believe that technology will become an even more imperative part of how we search for, buy and sell homes moving forward.”

It sounds like some of these new practices might be here to stay.

Bottom Line

In a new era of life, things are shifting quickly, and virtual strategies for sellers may be a great option. Opening your doors up to digital approaches may be game-changing when it comes to selling your house. Let’s connect so you have a trusted real estate professional to help you safely and effectively navigate through all that’s new when it comes to making your next move.

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