2020 Housing Market Disruption paves the Way

From transformation to restoration – Article from Housing Wire January 6, 2021, 11:09 am 
By Kevin McmahonShare O

2020 disruption

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. 

Unprecedented solutions

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. 

What Does 2021 Have in Store for Home Values?

What Does 2021 Have in Store for Home Values? | Simplifying The Market

According to the latest CoreLogic Home 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 CoreLogic explained:

“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.

Housing Supply

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.

Housing Demand

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 point lower 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:What Does 2021 Have in Store for Home Values? | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

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.

Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional [INFOGRAPHIC]

Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • 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.

Is This the Year to Sell My House?

Is This the Year to Sell My House? | Simplifying The Market

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.”

Bottom Line

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.

The Importance of Home Equity in Building Wealth

The Importance of Home Equity in Building Family Wealth | Simplifying The Market

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:The Importance of Home Equity in Building Wealth | Simplifying The MarketOnly 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:The Importance of Home Equity in Building Wealth | Simplifying The Market

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
  • Refinancing

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:The Importance of Home Equity in Building Wealth | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

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.

Why Not to Wait Until Spring to Make a Move

Why Not to Wait Until Spring to Make a Move | Simplifying The Market

The housing market recovery coming into the new year has been nothing short of remarkable. Many experts agree the turnaround from the nation’s economic pause is playing out extremely well for real estate, and the current market conditions are truly making this winter an ideal time to make a move. Here’s a dive into some of the biggest wins for homebuyers this season.

1. Mortgage Rates Are Historically Low

In 2020, mortgage rates hit all-time lows 16 times. Continued low rates have set buyers up for significant long-term gains. In fact, realtor.com notes:

“Given this means homes could cost potentially tens of thousands less over the lifetime of the loan.”

Essentially, it’s less expensive to borrow money for a home loan today than it has been in years past. Although mortgage rates are expected to remain relatively low in 2021, even the slightest increase can make a big difference in your payments over the lifetime of a home loan. So, this is a huge opportunity to capitalize on right now before mortgage rates start to rise.

2. Equity Is Growing

According to John Burns Consulting, 58.7% of homes in the U.S. have at least 60% equity, and 42.1% of all homes in this country are mortgage-free, meaning they’re owned free and clear.

In addition, CoreLogic notes the average equity homeowners gained since last year is $17,000. That’s a tremendous amount of forced savings for homeowners, and an opportunity to use this increasing equity to make a move into a home that fits your changing needs this season.

3. Home Prices Are Appreciating

According to leading experts, home prices are forecasted to continue appreciating. Today, many experts are projecting more moderate home price growth than last year, but still moving in an upward direction through 2021.

Knowing home values are increasing while mortgage rates are so low should help you feel confident that buying a home before prices rise even higher is a strong long-term investment.

4. There Are Not Enough Homes for Sale

With today’s low inventory of homes on the market, which is contributing to this home price appreciation, sellers are in the driver’s seat. The competition is high among buyers, so homes are selling quickly.

Making a move while so many buyers are looking for homes to purchase may mean your house rises to the top of the buyer pool. Selling your house before more listings come to the market in the traditionally busy spring market might be your best chance to shine.

Bottom Line

If you’re considering making a move, this may be your moment, especially with today’s low mortgage rates and limited inventory. Let’s connect to get you set up for homebuying success in the new year.

3 Must-Do’s When Selling Your House This Year

3 Must-Do’s When Selling Your House This Year | Simplifying The Market

It’s exciting to put a house on the market and to think about making new memories in new spaces. However, despite the anticipation of what’s to come, we can still have deep sentimental attachments to the home we’re leaving behind. Growing emotions can help or hinder a sale depending on how we manage them.

When it comes to the bottom line, homeowners need to know what it takes to avoid costly mistakes when it’s time to move. Being mindful and prepared for the process can help you stay on the right track when selling your house this year.

1. Price Your Home Right

When inventory is low, like it is in the current market, it’s common to think buyers will pay whatever we ask when setting a listing price. Believe it or not, that’s not always true. Don’t forget that the buyer’s bank will send an appraisal to determine the fair value for your house. The bank will not lend more than what the house is worth, so be aware that you might need to renegotiate the price after the appraisal. A real estate professional will help you set the true value of your home.

2. Keep Your Emotions in Check

Today, homeowners are living in their houses for a longer period of time. Since 1985, the average tenure, or the time a homeowner has owned their home, has increased from 5 to 10 years (as shown in the graph below):3 Must-Do’s When Selling Your House This Year | Simplifying The MarketThis is several years longer than what used to be the historical norm. The side effect, however, is when you stay in one place for so long, you may get even more emotionally attached to your space. If it’s the first home you bought or the house where your children grew up, it very likely means something extra special to you. Every room has memories, and it’s hard to detach from the sentimental value.

For some homeowners, that makes it even harder to negotiate and separate the emotional value of the house from the fair market price. That’s why you need a real estate professional to help you with the negotiations along the way.

3. Stage Your Home Properly

We’re generally quite proud of our décor and how we’ve customized our houses to make them our own unique homes, but not all buyers will feel the same way about your design. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you stage your house with the buyer in mind.

Buyers want to envision themselves in the space so it truly feels like it could be their own. They need to see themselves inside with their furniture and keepsakes – not your pictures and decorations. Stage and declutter so they can visualize their own dreams as they walk down the hall. A real estate professional can help you with tips to get your home ready to stage and sell.

Bottom Line

Today’s sellers’ market might be your best chance to make a move. If you’re considering selling your house, let’s connect so you have the help need to navigate through the process while prioritizing these must-do’s.a

Four Expert Views on the 2021 Housing Market

Four Expert Views on the 2021 Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

The housing market was a shining star in 2020, fueling the economic turnaround throughout the country. As we look forward to 2021, can we expect real estate to continue showing such promise? Here’s what four experts have to say about the year ahead.

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist, National Association of Realtors (NAR)

“In 2021, I think rates will be similar or modestly higher, maybe 3%…So, mortgage rates will continue to be historically favorable.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist, realtor.com

“We expect sales to grow 7 percent and prices to rise another 5.7 percent on top of 2020’s already high levels.”

Robert Dietz, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)

“With home builder confidence near record highs, we expect continued gains for single-family construction, albeit at a lower growth rate than in 2019. Some slowing of new home sales growth will occur due to the fact that a growing share of sales has come from homes that have not started construction. Nonetheless, buyer traffic will remain strong given favorable demographics, a shifting geography of housing demand to lower-density markets and historically low interest rates.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American

“Mortgage rates are expected to remain low for the foreseeable future and millennials will continue forming households, keeping demand robust, even if income growth moderates. Despite the best intentions of home builders to provide more housing supply, the big short in housing supply will continue into 2021 and likely keep house price appreciation flying high.”

Bottom Line

Whether you’re ready to buy or sell a home in 2021, if you’re planning to take advantage of the market this winter, let’s connect to talk about the opportunities available in our local market.

Why Selling Your House on Your Own in 2021 Is a Mistake

Why Selling Your House on Your Own in 2021 Is a Mistake | Simplifying The Market

There are many benefits to working with a real estate professional when selling your house. During challenging times, like what we face today, it becomes even more important to have an expert you trust to help guide you through the process. If you’re considering selling on your own, known in the industry as a For Sale By Owner (FSBO), it’s critical to consider the following items.

1. Your Safety Is a Priority

Your safety should always come first, and that’s more crucial than ever given the current health situation in our country. When you FSBO, it is incredibly difficult to control entry into your home. A real estate professional will have the proper protocols in place to protect not only your belongings but your health and well-being too. From regulating the number of people in your home at one time to ensuring proper sanitization during and after a showing, and even facilitating virtual tours, real estate professionals are equipped to follow the latest industry standards recommended by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to help protect you and your potential buyers.

2. A Powerful Online Strategy Is a Must to Attract a Buyer

Recent studies from NAR have shown that, even before COVID-19, the first step 43% of all buyers took when looking for a home was to search online. Throughout the process, that number jumps to 97%. Today, those numbers have grown exponentially. Most real estate agents have developed a strong Internet and social media strategy to promote the sale of your house.

3. There Are Too Many Negotiations

Here are just a few of the people you’ll need to negotiate with if you decide to FSBO:

  • The buyer, who wants the best deal possible
  • The buyer’s agent, who solely represents the best interest of the buyer
  • The inspection company, which works for the buyer and will almost always find challenges with the house
  • The appraiser, if there is a question of value

As part of their training, agents are taught how to negotiate every aspect of the real estate transaction and how to mediate the emotions felt by buyers looking to make what is probably the largest purchase of their lives.

4. You Won’t Know if Your Purchaser Is Qualified for a Mortgage

Having a buyer who wants to purchase your house is the first step. Making sure they can afford to buy it is just as important. As a FSBO, it’s almost impossible to be involved in the mortgage process of your buyer. A real estate professional is trained to ask the appropriate questions and, in most cases, will be intimately aware of the progress being made toward a purchaser’s mortgage commitment. You need someone who’s working with lenders every day to guarantee your buyer makes it to the closing table.

5. FSBOing Is Becoming More Difficult from a Legal Standpoint

The documentation involved in the selling process is growing dramatically as more and more disclosures and regulations become mandatory. In an increasingly litigious society, the agent acts as a third-party to help the seller avoid legal jeopardy. This is one of the major reasons why the percentage of people FSBOing has dropped from 19% to 8% over the last 20+ years.

6. You Net More Money When Using an Agent

Many homeowners think they’ll save the real estate commission by selling on their own. Realize that the main reason buyers look at FSBOs is because they also believe they can save the real estate agent’s commission. The seller and buyer can’t both save on the commission.

A study by Collateral Analytics revealed that FSBOs don’t actually save anything by forgoing the help of an agent. In some cases, the seller may even net less money from the sale. The study found the difference in price between a FSBO and an agent-listed home was an average of 6%. One of the main reasons for the price difference is effective exposure:

“Properties listed with a broker that is a member of the local MLS will be listed online with all other participating broker websites, marketing the home to a much larger buyer population. And those MLS properties generally offer compensation to agents who represent buyers, incentivizing them to show and sell the property and again potentially enlarging the buyer pool.”

The more buyers that view a home, the greater the chance a bidding war will take place, potentially driving the price higher, too.

Bottom Line

Listing on your own leaves you to manage the entire transaction by yourself. Why do that when you can hire an agent and still net the same amount of money? Before you decide to take on the challenge of selling your house alone, let’s connect to discuss your options.