RE usually sees cycles between buyer’s and seller’s markets, but this time it’s a bit different. Supply vs. demand hasn’t changed because both sides pulled back.
SEATTLE – New listings fell 21.8% year-to-year during the four weeks ending April 2, one of the biggest drops since the start of the pandemic, according to a Redfin study.
An increasing number of homeowners don’t want to move because they still have generational-low mortgage rates secured only a few years ago. While rates have fallen for four weeks in a row, according to this week’s report, they’re still about twice as high as they were before 2021.
As a result, buyers unafraid of current mortgage rates quickly scoop up new listings. Of homes going under contract, nearly half are doing so within two weeks; at the beginning of 2023, it was about 25%.
“Elevated mortgage rates are perhaps an even bigger deterrent for would-be sellers than for would-be buyers,” says Redfin Deputy Chief Economist Taylor Marr. “Giving up a 3% mortgage rate for one in the 6% range is a tough pill to swallow. Today’s serious homebuyers have grown accustomed to the idea of a 5% or 6% rate and have adjusted their budgets accordingly.”
“Shiny new listings are getting multiple offers and selling fast. The caveat is that they have to be priced correctly from the beginning,” says Denver Redfin agent Stephanie Collins. “One of my buyers recently made an offer on a move-in ready home in a popular area. The home was priced right in line with the market at $520,000; it received eight offers and went for $560,000 to a competing buyer.”
Florida ranks near top for rising home prices
In cities where buyer demand outpaces seller supply, home prices continue to go up – and Florida is home to three of the top five U.S. cities for price increases.
While Milwaukee led the nation for price increases (up 11.4% year-to-year), Fort Lauderdale came in second (up 8.9%), followed by West Palm Beach (up 8.2%), Miami (up 7.9%) and Columbus, Ohio (up 6.3%).
On the flipside, the top five price declines in the U.S. were largely on the West Coast: Home prices dropped in 28 of the U.S.’s 50 most populous metros, with the biggest drop in Austin, Texas (down 14.7% year-to-year), Sacramento (down 11.7%), Oakland, California (down 10.4%), San Jose (down 10.2%) and Seattle (down 9.6%).
Existing-home sales jumped 14.5% in February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.58 million, snapping a 12-month slide and representing the largest monthly percentage increase since July 2020 (+22.4%). Compared to one year ago, however, sales retreated 22.6%.
The median existing-home sales price decreased 0.2% from the previous year to $363,000.
The inventory of unsold existing homes was unchanged from the prior month at 980,000 at the end of February, or the equivalent of 2.6 months’ supply at the current monthly sales pace.
WASHINGTON (March 21, 2023) – Existing-home sales reversed a 12-month slide in February, registering the largest monthly percentage increase since July 2020, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Month-over-month sales rose in all four major U.S. regions. All regions posted year-over-year declines.
Total existing-home sales,1https://www.nar.realtor/existing-home-sales – completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops – vaulted 14.5% from January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.58 million in February. Year-over-year, sales fell 22.6% (down from 5.92 million in February 2022).
“Conscious of changing mortgage rates, home buyers are taking advantage of any rate declines,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Moreover, we’re seeing stronger sales gains in areas where home prices are decreasing and the local economies are adding jobs.”
Total housing inventory2 registered at the end of February was 980,000 units, identical to January and up 15.3% from one year ago (850,000). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.6-month supply at the current sales pace, down 10.3% from January but up from 1.7 months in February 2022.
“Inventory levels are still at historic lows,” Yun added. “Consequently, multiple offers are returning on a good number of properties.”
The median existing-home price3 for all housing types in February was $363,000, a decline of 0.2% from February 2022 ($363,700), as prices climbed in the Midwest and South yet waned in the Northeast and West. This ends a streak of 131 consecutive months of year-over-year increases, the longest on record.
Properties typically remained on the market for 34 days in February, up from 33 days in January and 18 days in February 2022. Fifty-seven percent of homes sold in February were on the market for less than a month.
First-time buyers were responsible for 27% of sales in February, down from 31% in January and 29% in February 2022. NAR’s 2022 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in November 20224 – found that the annual share of first-time buyers was 26%, the lowest since NAR began tracking the data.
All-cash sales accounted for 28% of transactions in February, down from 29% in January but up from 25% in February 2022.
Individual investors or second-home buyers, who make up many cash sales, purchased 18% of homes in February, up from 16% in January but down from 19% in February 2022.
Distressed sales5 – foreclosures and short sales – represented 2% of sales in February, nearly identical to last month and one year ago.
Spring is around the corner, and the signs are pointing to a pick-up in sales on the horizon. Read more from NAR’s latest housing report.
Existing-home sales continued to ease in January, marking a yearlong stretch of declines coming off pandemic-fueled highs. But median home prices still are rising.
Total existing-home sales—completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condos and co-ops—decreased 0.7% in January compared to December 2022, the National Association of REALTORS® reported Tuesday. Home sales are down nearly 37% compared to a year earlier (at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4 million in January).
But as mortgage rates begin to stabilize, economists are hopeful for a turnaround in sales activity for the housing market heading into spring.
“Home sales are bottoming out,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Prices vary depending on a market’s affordability, with lower-priced regions witnessing modest growth and more expensive regions experiencing declines.”
Overall, the median existing-home sales price nationwide rose 1.3% compared to a year ago, reaching $359,000, NAR reports. Home prices climbed in three out of the four major regions of the U.S., only falling in the West last month.
The supply of homes for sale continues to be tight in most markets across the country, helping to keep home prices higher. Still, total housing inventory rose 2.1% in January month-over-month and is up by 15.3% compared to a year ago. Unsold inventory, remains, at a brisk, 2.9-month supply at the current sales pace.
“Inventory remains low, but buyers are beginning to have better negotiating power,” Yun says. “Homes sitting on the market for more than 60 days can be purchased for around 10% less than the original list price.”
Here’s a closer look at other key indicators from NAR’s latest housing report: Days on the market: Fifty-four percent of homes sold in January were on the market for less than a month in January. On average, properties remained on the market for 33 days in January, up from 26 days in December and 19 days a year earlier. First-time home buyers: As competition lessens, first-time home buyers are re-emerging. First-time buyers accounted for 31% of sales in January, up from 27% a year earlier. All-cash sales: All-cash transactions comprised 29% of sales in January, up from 27% in January 2022. Individual investors and second-home buyers tend to make up the biggest bulk of all-cash sales. They purchased 16% of homes in January, down from 22% a year earlier. Distressed sales: Foreclosures and short sales continue to make up a very small share of sales. Distressed sales accounted for 1% of sales in January, matching levels from a year earlier.
Regional Snapshot Here’s how existing-home sales fared across the country in January:
Northeast: Existing-home sales fell 3.8% from December, reaching an annual rate of 500,000 in January. Sales were down nearly 36% from a year earlier. Median price: $383,000, up 0.3% from January 2022
Midwest: Sales decreased 5% compared to the previous month, reaching an annual rate of 960,000 in January. Sales were down 33.3% from one year ago. Median price: $252,300, up 2.7% from January 2022
South: Sales rose 1.1% in January compared to December, reaching an annual rate of 1.82 million. Sales are down nearly 37% from the prior year. Median price: $332,500, an increase of 3.4% from one year ago
West: Existing-home sales increased 2.9% in January, reaching an annual rate of 720,000, but still down 42.4% from the previous year. Median price: $525,200, down 4.6% from January 2022
They now make up 45% of all homebuyers, up from 37% last year, even as affordability issues persist. Repeat buyers may have pulled back due to rising interest rates.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – First-time home buyers have returned to the housing market, and those who can afford a home are finding success after years of setbacks. The share of buyers purchasing a home for the first time has rebounded to pre-pandemic levels.
First-time buyers now represent 45% of all buyers, up from 37% of buyers surveyed last year, according to Zillow’s 2022 Consumer Housing Trends Report. If they can overcome affordability challenges, first-time buyers could be well positioned to continue increasing their share in today’s shifting market, with more options and time to decide on the right home.
The share of first-time buyers plummeted during the pandemic amid rapidly rising home values and tough competition, even with high demand coming from the large millennial generation. Zillow research found younger, likely first-time shoppers were losing out to older, repeat buyers who were able to tap the equity in their existing homes and use cash to make a stronger offer. A Zillow survey found younger buyers were more likely to report losing to an all-cash buyer at least once, as was the case for 45% of Gen Z and 38% of millennial buyers, compared to 30% of all buyers.
“First-time buyers now appear to be making relative gains as high mortgage interest rates disproportionately encourage current homeowners to stay put,” said Zillow population scientist Manny Garcia. “The flow of homes into the market is slowing, suggesting homeowners are likely comparing their current low mortgage rate to today’s rates and deciding not to move. While rising mortgage rates are hurting affordability for all buyers, first-time buyers may be less deterred by higher rates because they’re comparing a monthly mortgage payment to what they’re paying in rent.”
First-time buyers are making up a larger share of a smaller pie. Newly pending home sales were down 29% in August, compared to a year prior, as buyers struggle to keep up with higher home prices and interest rates. Home values remain 14.1% higher than last year, even after two consecutive month-over-month declines. When combined with rising mortgage interest rates, the typical monthly payment on a home is nearly 60% higher today than it was a year ago.
Recent Zillow research finds those affordability challenges have driven up demand for the lowest-priced homes in each market. While there are fewer buyers overall, first-time buyers may find more competition for starter homes.
The silver lining is that today’s much-needed market rebalancing has the potential to especially benefit first-time buyers, who have the flexibility to shop without trying to time the purchase of their new home with the sale of an existing home. Listings typically lingered 16 days on the market in August before going under contract, compared to eight days in June, meaning buyers have twice as much time to decide on a home compared to this time last year.
First-time buyers may also have more bargaining power as a growing number of sellers drop their prices. The share of listings with a price cut grew to roughly 28% in August, according to Zillow’s latest monthly market report.
As the market changes, aspiring first-time buyers may need to change their approach. These five tips are a good starting point:
Understand what’s affordable. As mortgage interest rates fluctuate, aspiring buyers can start with a mortgage calculator to understand what they can realistically afford on a monthly basis. Take into account some of the hidden costs of homeownership, such as property tax, insurance and HOA dues, which can add up to more than $750 per month. But it’s always best to leave some wiggle room in the budget for unexpected maintenance projects and emergency repairs. First-time shoppers should also explore down payment assistance programs they may qualify for.
Finance first. First-time buyers can gain a competitive edge by getting pre-approved for a mortgage. A Zillow survey finds 86% of sellers prefer a buyer who has been pre-approved, as opposed to pre-qualified, for a mortgage. This financial check gives sellers more certainty that a buyer will close on time, and it allows buyers to make a stronger, faster offer the minute the right home hits the market. Buyers can start the pre-approval process online. Don’t hesitate to try, try, try again. Nearly half of all first-time buyers (47%) are denied a mortgage at least once before ultimately getting approved.
Hire the right agent. An experienced agent will have a finger on the pulse of their local market and know all the changes happening in it, and they can help buyers make strategic decisions to win. They’ll know when to come in with an offer under list price or when to expect a bidding war. Buyers should plan on interviewing their top candidates and asking the right questions.
Shop smarter with tech. New real estate technology can help first-time buyers make faster, smarter decisions. Virtual 3D Home tours and interactive floor plans give shoppers a more authentic experience of a home, allowing them to quickly narrow down their options and tour fewer homes in person.
Keep the contingencies. With less competition, first-time buyers should have the leverage to include important contingencies in their offers that could potentially save them a lot of money in the long run. An inspection contingency can identify major structural, mechanical or safety issues that could be extremely costly to repair and cause buyer’s remorse. A financing or appraisal contingency will ensure a buyer can walk away with their earnest money if a home fails to be appraised for the offer price or if their financing falls through.
Many consumers are wondering what will happen with home values over the next few years. Some are concerned that the recent run-up in home prices will lead to a situation similar to the housing crash 15 years ago.
However, experts say the market is totally different today. For example, Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American,tweeted just last week on this issue:
“. . . We do need price appreciation to slow today (it’s not sustainable over the long run) but high price growth today is supported by fundamentals- short supply, lower rates & demographic demand. And we are in a much different & safer space: better credit quality, low DTI [Debt-To-Income] & tons of equity. Hence, a crash in prices is very unlikely.”
Price appreciation will slow from the double-digit levels the market has seen over the last two years. However, experts believe home values will not depreciate (where a home would lose value).
To this point, Pulsenomics just released the latest Home Price Expectation Survey – a survey of a national panel of over 100 economists, real estate experts, and investment and market strategists. Itforecasts home prices will continue appreciating over the next five years. Below are the expected year-over-year rates of home price appreciation based on the average of all 100+ projections:
Those responding to the survey believe home price appreciation will still be relatively high this year (though half of what it was last year), and then return to more normal levels over the next four years.
What Does This Mean for You as a Buyer?
With a limited supply of homes available for sale and both prices and mortgage rates increasing, it can be a challenging market to navigate as a buyer. But buying a home sooner rather than later does have its benefits. If you wait to buy, you’ll pay more in the future. However, if you buy now, you’ll actually be in the position to make future price increases work for you. Once you buy, those rising home prices will help you build your home’s value, and by extension, your own household wealth through home equity.
As an example, let’s assume you purchased a $360,000 home in January of this year (the median price according to the National Association of Realtors rounded up to the nearest $10K). If you factor in the forecast for appreciation from the Home Price Expectation Survey, you could accumulate over $96,000 in household wealth over the next five years (see graph below):
If you’re trying to decide whether to buy now or wait, the key is knowing what’s expected to happen with home prices. Experts say prices will continue to climb in the years ahead, just at a slower pace. So, if you’re ready to buy, doing so now may be your best bet for your wallet. It’ll also give you the chance to use the future home price appreciation to build your own net worth through rising equity. If you want to get started, let’s connect today.