The housing market made an incredible recovery in 2020 and is now positioned for an even stronger year in 2021. Record-low mortgage interest rates are a driving factor in this continued momentum, with average rates hovering at historic all-time lows.
According to the latest Realtors Confidence Index Survey from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), buyer demand across the country is incredibly strong. That’s not the case, however, on the supply side. Seller traffic is simply not keeping up. Here’s a breakdown by state:As the maps show, buyer traffic is high, but seller traffic is low. With so few homes for sale right now, record-low inventory is creating a mismatch between supply and demand.
NAR also just reported that the actual number of homes currently for sale stands at 1.28 million, down 22% from one year ago (1.64 million). Additionally, inventory is at an all-time low with 2.3 months supply available at the current sales pace. In a normal market, that number would be 6.0 months of inventory – significantly higher than it is today.
What does this mean for buyers and sellers?
Buyers need to remain patient in the search process. At the same time, they must be ready to act immediately once they find the right home since bidding wars are more common when so few houses are available for sale.
Sellers may not want to wait until spring to put their houses on the market, though. With such high buyerdemand and such a low supply, now is the perfect time to sell a house on optimal terms.
The real estate market is entering the year like a lion. There’s no indication it will lose that roar, assuming inventory continues to come to market.
At the onset of the economic disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic, the government quickly put into place forbearance plans to allow homeowners to remain in their homes without making their monthly mortgage payments. Today, almost three million households are actively in a forbearance plan. Though 29.4% of those in forbearance have continued to stay current on their payments, many have not.
Yanling Mayer, Principal Economist at CoreLogic, recently revealed:
“A distributional analysis of forborne loans’ payment status reveals that more than one third (39.1%) of all forborne loans are now 150+ days behind payment, while as many as 1-in-4 (25.5%) are 180+ days past due.”
These homeowners have been given permission to not make their payments, but the question now is: how many of them will be able to catch up after their forbearance program ends? There’s speculation that a forthcoming wave of foreclosures could be the result, and that could lead to another crash in home values like we saw a decade ago.
However, today’s situation is different than the 2006-2008 housing crisis as many homeowners have tremendous amounts of equity in their homes.
What are the experts saying?
Over the last 30 days, several industry experts have weighed in on this subject.
“We may very well see a meaningful increase in the number of homes listed for sale as these borrowers choose to sell at what is arguably an intermediate top in the market and downsize to more affordable homes rather than face foreclosure.”
“The foreclosure process is based on two steps. First, the homeowner suffers an adverse economic shock…leading to the homeowner becoming delinquent on their mortgage. However, delinquency by itself is not enough to send a mortgage into foreclosure. With enough equity, a homeowner has the option of selling their home, or tapping into their equity through a refinance, to help weather the economic shock. It is a lack of sufficient equity, the second component of the dual trigger, that causes a serious delinquency to become a foreclosure.”
“With a greater cushion of equity, troubled homeowners have dramatically improved options: a greater ability to access funding (e.g. home equity lines) to keep paying monthly expenses until family finances might recover, improved ability to qualify for and support a loan modification, and, if push comes to shove, the ability to sell the home and monetize their increased net worth while reducing monthly payment obligations. So, what should lenders and servicers expect: a large number of foreclosures or only a modest increase? I believe the latter.”
With today’s positive equity situation, many homeowners will be able to use a loan modification or refinance to stay in their homes. If not, some will go to foreclosure, but most will be able to sell and walk away with their equity.
Won’t the additional homes on the market impact prices?
Distressed properties (foreclosures and short sales) sell at a significant discount. If homeowners sell instead of going into foreclosure, the impact on the housing market will be much less severe.
We must also realize there is currently an unprecedented lack of inventory on the market. Just last week, realtor.comexplained:
“Nationally, the number of homes for sale was down 39.6%, amounting to 449,000 fewer homes for sale than last December.”
It’s important to remember that there weren’t enough homes for sale even then, and inventory has only continued to decline.
The market has the potential to absorb half a million homes this year without it causing home values to depreciate.
The pandemic has led to both personal and economic hardships for many American households. The overall residential real estate market, however, has weathered the storm and will continue to do so in 2021.
According to many experts, the real estate market is expected to continue growing in 2021, and it’s largely driven by the lasting impact the pandemic is having on our lifestyles. As many of us spend extra time at home, we’re reevaluating what “home” means and what we may need in one going forward.
Here are 4 reasons people are reconsidering where they live and why they’re expecting to buy a home this year.
1. Record-Low Mortgage Interest Rates
In 2020, the average interest rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage hit a record low 16 times, continuing to fall further below 3%. According to Freddie Mac, the average 30-year fixed interest rate today is 2.65%. Many wonder how low these rates will go and how long they’ll last. Len Keifer, Deputy Chief Economist for Freddie Mac, advises:
“If you’ve found a home that fits your needs at a price you can afford, it might be better to act now rather than wait for future rate declines that may never come and a future that likely holds very tight inventory.”
This sense of urgency is driving many to buy this year.
2. Working from Home
Remote work is a new normal for many businesses, and it’s lasting longer than most expected. Many in the workforce today are discovering they don’t need to live close to the office anymore and they can get more for their money by moving a little further outside of the city limits. David Mele, President at Homes.com, says:
“The surge in the work-from-home population has rewritten the playbook for many homebuying and rental decisions, from when and where to relocate, to what people are looking for in their next residence.”
The reality is, for some people, working remotely in their current home is challenging, especially when there may be other options available.
3. More Outdoor Space
Another new priority for homeowners is having more usable outdoor space. Being at home is driving those in some areas to seek less densely populated neighborhoods so they have more room to stretch their legs. In addition, those living in apartments and townhomes are often looking for extra square footage, both inside and out.
According to the State of Home Spending report by HomeAdvisor, of the households surveyed, almost half reported spending 27% more on outdoor living over the past year. This is a trend that’s expected to grow in 2021 and beyond.
4. Avoiding Renovations
It’s recently come to light that many homeowners would also rather buy a new home than go through the process of fixing up the one they have. According to the 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 44% of homebuyers purchased a new home to “avoid renovations or problems with the plumbing or electricity.”
Depending on what needs to be addressed, today’s high buyer demand may make it possible to skip some renovations before selling. Many of these homeowners have prioritized buying over renovating for convenience and potential cost savings.
It’s clear that homeownership needs are changing. As a result, Americans are expected to move in record numbers this year. If you’re trying to decide if now is the right time to buy a home, let’s connect today to discuss your options.
From transformation to restoration – Article from Housing Wire January 6, 2021, 11:09 am By Kevin McmahonShare O
2020 has certainly been a year to remember. While we may be ready to firmly plant our feet in 2021, we shouldn’t leave the past 12 months behind without taking a critical look at how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the housing market, and how it will pave the way for 2021 and beyond. Before we repress these 2020 memories, let’s dive into how this pandemic has created housing disruption in a number of areas of the industry, providing us all a nudge toward trying new processes and technologies that we maybe have assumed were still a few years away.
Let’s start with a look at originations and delinquencies. We’ve all thrown out our 2020 housing market forecasts at this point as the origination market has screamed to all-time records. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage origination volume is expected to reach $3.1 trillion, with the largest refinance market since 2003 and the largest home purchase loan market since 2005 and 2006. Then of course, we have the pandemic, which thrust us into an unexpected level of unemployment thereby increasing delinquencies. As unemployment increases and incomes decline, borrowers refrain from buying homes and the rate of requests for forbearance or some type of homeowner assistance increases, naturally. It’s at that moment that the mortgage industry changes course from focusing primarily on helping borrowers purchase homes to helping them keep their homes.
This is not what we’ve seen throughout 2020, though. As an industry, it’s been a challenge to wrap our arms around this unprecedented market and the disruption that accompanies it. Unlike every cycle before it, 2020 brought originations at record high levels at one end of the spectrum and delinquencies at the other end of the spectrum that also are reaching heights we haven’t seen since the crisis. According to Black Knight, the highest government sponsored enterprise forbearance rate was reported on May 29th as 7.2% compared to 4% in the first week of October. Generally, forbearance has been trending downward since the end of May. So, on one end are employed borrowers who are able and happy to take advantage of the low interest rates to purchase a home or refinance an existing mortgage. On the opposite end, there are unemployed borrowers who now have easy access to homeowner assistance programs that can aid them in keeping their homes, including payment deferral and forbearance.
What does it mean for the 2021 housing market?
With all that said, we’re all left wondering where we go from here. How much of 2021 will be a continuation of 2020? Is pandemic life the new normal, or is there a way back to life as we knew it in 2019? We talk a lot at Genworth about our belief statements. We force ourselves, no matter the level of uncertainty, to establish our point of view, assign probabilities to that point of view and then set strategy from there. There are many different paths we can take as an industry, but one belief statement that is increasingly shared across mortgage finance: The forced increased use and implementation of technology to reduce process friction is finally here to stay and will only accelerate.
Just one example is the disruption in the appraisal world. For months now, desktop and drive-by appraisals have been the go-to processes for appraising homes and enabled the mortgage lending process to continue. According to Genworth Mortgage Insurance Chief Appraiser Adam Johnston, the use of desktop and drive-by appraisals have been a necessary adaptation to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, and may continue to be used as standard practice or as a go-to solution should we find ourselves in another situation, similar to COVID-19. While these more virtual and low-to-no contact forms of appraisals are being utilized with increased frequency, they do present a few challenges that must be taken into consideration, one of them being borrower-supplied photo fraud. This type of fraud can take place when the photographs of the home’s interior condition, quality and features are not from the borrower’s actual interior. When confronted with this situation, appraisers can utilize a third-party photo capture tool that has strong fraud controls and capabilities built within, including location validation, photo date and time, internet photo detection and notification controls to alert the appraiser of photographs with suspicious characteristics.
Technology has also supported a shift in industry roles. We notice that originators are increasingly continuing to morph into loan counselors rather than paper shufflers. Prior to the pandemic, one in four applications were taken in person or over the phone, and that number has quickly moved to one in seven. The introduction of easy-to-use point-of-sales systems has eased that transition. Processors are becoming loan facilitators guiding the borrower through the process rather than exercising their stare and compare expertise for document-based data entry; and underwriter shortages are driving the use of technology to stratify which loans need what level of review, thereby improving the use of high cost resources. Every step of the process is moving at a much quicker pace thanks to 2020’s housing disruption. In 2021, we expect to see this trend continue as dead time is removed and the elapsed time from application to close shrinks.
2020 has also been another proving ground where the housing market shows that unprecedented challenges call for unprecedented solutions. We’ve seen its importance before, when during the 2008 financial crisis, new policies and services and enhancements to existing policies were created. Those policies and services include automated income and employment verification, credit risk transfers from the GSEs to private investors and the Private Mortgage Insurer Eligibility Requirements that strengthened the mortgage insurance industry’s risk and capital standards. Housing disruption naturally and inevitably clears a path to innovation.
In 2020, we were forced to use digital tools such as remote online notary and in-person electronic notary for closing. Next year, it’ll be imperative to work with state legislatures to complete the regulatory work so these tools can be used in all 50 states, compared to where we are now which is right around 50%.
Digital home shopping has also taken off. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, shopping for a home online has increased and naturally spurred improvements in the digital tools that give borrowers the same experience without stepping foot inside the home. As shared at a recent Blend conference, 45% of homes in these past several pandemic months were sold without the buyer physically visiting the property.
Also, other tools are evolving where a homebuyer may enter a home without a real estate agent or owner present, and tour the home with a virtual guide that points out key characteristics of interest to the potential buyer. Artificial intelligence helps facilitate this process. When it comes to data management, moving AI into that process will help determine when a loan has complete data and is ready for underwriting more quickly; and as it relates to document management, the processor wouldn’t be the one figuring out what’s missing, but the system would and then alert the borrower of the need via a point-of-sale system.
As we move into 2021, there’s still quite a bit of uncertainty about the COVID-19 pandemic and what the lasting effects on the economy and the housing market will be. However, I believe this year is that nudge of housing disruption the industry needed to push forward with innovations that lived on whiteboards for years. Successful organizations going forward will be the ones who embrace and leverage these changes to run better businesses in 2021 and beyond.
To read the full December/January issue of HousingWire Magazine, click here.
According to the latest CoreLogicHome Price Insights Report, nationwide home values increased by 8.2% over the last twelve months. The dramatic rise was brought about as the inventory of homes for sale reached historic lows at the same time buyer demand was buoyed by record-low mortgage rates. As CoreLogicexplained:
“Home price growth remained consistently elevated throughout 2020. Home sales for the year are expected to register above 2019 levels. Meanwhile, the availability of for-sale homes has dwindled as demand increased and coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreaks continued across the country, which delayed some sellers from putting their homes on the market.
While the pandemic left many in positions of financial insecurity, those who maintained employment and income stability are also incentivized to buy given the record-low mortgage rates available; this is increasing buyer demand while for-sale inventory is in short supply.”
Where will home values go in 2021?
Home price appreciation in 2021 will continue to be determined by this imbalance of supply and demand. If supply remains low and demand is high, prices will continue to increase.
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the current number of single-family homes for sale is 1,080,000. At the same time last year, that number stood at 1,450,000. We are entering 2021 with approximately 270,000 fewer homes for sale than there were one year ago.
However, there is some speculation that the inventory crush will ease somewhat as we move through the new year for two reasons:
1. As the health crisis eases, more homeowners will be comfortable putting their houses on the market.
2. Some households impacted financially by the pandemic will be forced to sell.
Low mortgage rates have driven buyer demand over the last twelve months. According to Freddie Mac, rates stood at 3.72% at the beginning of 2020. Today, we’re starting 2021 with rates one full percentage pointlower than that. Low rates create a great opportunity for homebuyers, which is one reason why demand is expected to remain high throughout the new year.
Taking into consideration these projections on housing supply and demand, real estate analysts forecast homes will continue to appreciate in 2021, but that appreciation may be at a steadier pace than last year. Here are their forecasts:
There’s still a very limited number of homes for sale for the great number of purchasers looking to buy them. As a result, the concept of “supply and demand” mandates that home values in the country will continue to appreciate.
Choosing the right real estate professional to work with is one of the most important decisions you can make in your homebuying or selling process.
The right agent can explain current market conditions and break down exactly what they mean for you.
If you’re considering buying or selling a home this year, let’s connect so you can work with someone who has the experience to answer all of your questions about pricing, contracts, negotiations, and more.
If one of the questions you’re asking yourself is, “Should I sell my house this year?” consumer sentiment about selling today should boost your confidence in the right direction. Even with the current health crisis that continues to challenge our nation, Americans still feel good about selling a house. Here’s why.
According to the latest Home Purchase Sentiment Index from Fannie Mae, 57% of consumer respondents to their survey indicate now is a good time to buy a home, while 59% feel it’s a good time to sell one:
“The percentage of respondents who say it is a good time to sell a home remained the same at 59%, while the percentage who say it’s a bad time to sell decreased from 35% to 33%. As a result, the net share of those who say it is a good time to sell increased 2 percentage points month over month.”
As you can see, many still believe that, despite everything going on in the world, it is still a good time to sell a house.
Why is now a good time to sell?
There simply are not enough homes available to meet today’s buyer demand, and they’re selling just as quickly as they’re coming to the market. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), unsold inventory available today sits at a 2.3-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from a 2.5-month supply from the previous month. This record-low inventory is not even half of what we need for a normal or neutral housing market, which should have a 6.0-month supply of unsold inventory to balance out.
With so few homes available for buyers to choose from, we’re in a true sellers’ market. Homeowners ready to make a move right now have the opportunity to negotiate the best possible contracts with buyers who are feeling the pull of intense competition when it comes to finding their dream home. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for NAR, notes how quickly homes are selling right now, further confirming the benefits to sellers this season:
“The market is incredibly swift this winter with the listed homes going under contract on average at less than a month due to a backlog of buyers wanting to take advantage of record-low mortgage rates.”
However, this sweet spot for sellers won’t last forever. As more homes are listed this year, this tip toward sellers may start to wane. According to Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, more choices for buyers are on the not-too-distant horizon:
“The bright spot for buyers is that more homes are likely to become available in the last six months of 2021. That should give folks more options to choose from and take away some of their urgency. With a larger selection, buyers may not be forced to make a decision in mere hours and will have more time to make up their minds.”
If you’re ready to make a move, you can feel good about the current sentiment in the market and the advantageous conditions for today’s sellers. Let’s connect today to determine the best next step when it comes to selling your house this year.
Homeownership has always been the first rung on the ladder leading to household wealth. As Freddie Mac recently posted:
“Homeownership has cemented its role as part of the American Dream, providing families with a place that is their own and an avenue for building wealth over time. This ‘wealth’ is built, in large part, through the creation of equity…Building equity through your monthly principal payments and appreciation is a critical part of homeownership that can help you create financial stability.”
Home equity is the difference between the current market value of your house and the amount you currently owe on your mortgage. To estimate your equity, subtract your mortgage balance from the market value of your home.
You can find what you owe on your mortgage by looking at your last monthly statement or by contacting your lender. If you need help determining the current market value of your home, contact a local real estate professional.
Is homeownership truly a better path to wealth than renting?
Some argue that renting eliminates the cost of property taxes and home repairs. Every potential renter must realize that all the expenses the landlord incurs (property taxes, repairs, insurance, etc.) are already baked into the rent payment – along with a profit margin. You don’t save money by renting.
As proof of this, First American broke down the net worth of homeowners and renters by income categories. Here are their findings:Only one income category ($127-192K) has a higher net worth for renters over homeowners. Every other category shows that being a homeowner leads to greater accumulated wealth.
According to the latest Homeowner Equity Insights Report from CoreLogic, the average homeowner gained $17,000 in equity in just the last year. Here’s a breakdown of the year-over-year equity gain by state:
When can you cash in on your housing wealth?
Your home equity is part of your total wealth as a homeowner. The two most common ways homeowners can leverage their wealth are:
Selling: When you decide to sell your home, the equity you’ve built over time will come back to you in the sale. For example, if you paid off your $200,000 mortgage and sold your home for $350,000, you would receive $150,000 after closing.
Refinancing: You can refinance your current mortgage and take out some of the equity you have accumulated. With today’s historically low mortgage rates, you may be able to take out substantial cash and keep your monthly payment the same. Thankfully, homeowners today are doing this responsibly and not repeating the same mistakes made in 2006-2008 when some cashed out their entire equity to purchase luxury items like new cars, lavish vacations, etc.
How can these options help homeowners?
During these difficult times, many households are struggling with their housing expenses. Homeowners, because of their equity, have better alternatives. Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, recently explained that homeowners financially impacted by the pandemic will not necessarily be faced with foreclosure:
“The foreclosure process is based on two steps. First, the homeowner suffers an adverse economic shock…leading to the homeowner becoming delinquent on their mortgage. However, delinquency by itself is not enough to send a mortgage into foreclosure. With enough equity, a homeowner has the option of selling their home, or tapping into their equity through a refinance, to help weather the economic shock.”
What might the future bring?
Most experts are calling for home prices to continue appreciating going forward. The Home Price Expectation Survey, a survey of a national panel of over one hundred economists, real estate experts, and investment & market strategists, indicates appreciation will continue for at least the next five years. Using their annual projections, the graph below shows the equity build-up a purchaser would potentially earn by buying a $300,000 home this January:
Home equity, for most Americans, is the quickest way to build household wealth. That wealth gives homeowners more options during good times and in difficult situations.