Tag Archives: existing home sales

Homebuyers Resuming Search Amid Improving Inventory, Attractive Terms

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (February 7, 2019) – Homebuyers around Washington state are making their
way back to the market, hoping to take advantage of improving inventory, attractive interest rates, and
more approachable sellers, according to officials with Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Northwest MLS statistics for January show year-over-year improvement in the volume of new listings
and total inventory, along with moderating selling prices. Although fewer pending sales (mutually
accepted offers) were reported than a year ago (down about 3.3 percent), January was the smallest year-
over-year decline since May 2018 when the drop was about 2.7 percent.

Commenting on the MLS statistics summarizing last month’s activity, broker Gary O’Leyar said
January’s post-holiday real estate activity doesn’t normally pick up until later in the month, but this year
the uptick began early. “January started as a bit of a surprise. Open house activity was very robust, and we
saw multiple offers in numerous instances again,” reported O’Leyar, the owner of Berkshire Hathaway
HomeServices Signature Properties in Seattle.

Brokers tallied 7,564 pending sales during January, a decline from a year-ago when they recorded 7,820
transactions.

Seven counties had increases in pending sales of single family homes and condos compared with 12
months ago, including King (up nearly 7.5 percent) and Snohomish (up 3.8 percent).

James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of
Washington, commented on pending sales. The mixed results, including “healthy growth” in King and
Snohomish counties, “corresponds well to upward movement in mortgage applications late in December,
a leading indicator for the month to follow,” he noted, adding, “One should expect to see increased sales
activity in the coming months throughout the region if mortgage applications continue to stabilize or
increase.”

J. Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, said buyers “came out of the
woodwork” after the holidays, eager to take advantage of better housing conditions. “Areas close to the
job centers are seeing improved affordability from spring 2018,” he said, attributing it to lower interest
rates, strong job growth, and adjusted pricing.

Scott said buyers are also attracted by expanded inventory resulting from the addition of new listings and
a higher number of unsold inventory, although he noted “inventory levels are still considered a shortage.”
Prospective buyers who sat out the second half of 2018 or were pushed to the sidelines during last year’s
heated market are finding better buying conditions, agreed Robb Wasser, branch manager at Windermere
Real Estate/East. “Interest rates are near a nine month low and buyers have a stronger platform for
negotiating, which have helped drive a 9 percent increase in pending sales of single family homes in King
County,” Wasser stated.

Attentive Home Buyers Can Find “Good Values and Receptive Sellers”

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (January 7, 2019) – December brought few surprises for real estate brokers in
Western Washington with holidays, fluctuating interest rates, and volatility in consumer confidence
contributing to slower activity. Several leaders from Northwest Multiple Listing Service described 2018
as a transition year for residential real estate.

New data from the MLS show inventory in its 23-county market area dipped below two months of supply
for the first time since July. A year-over-year comparison of the number of new listings, pending sales,
and closed sales show drops overall, while prices rose from the same month a year ago.

Member-brokers added 3,631 new listings of single family homes and condominiums during December
(10.4 percent fewer than a year ago), boosting total active listings to 12,275, up from the year-ago volume
of 8,553. Pending sales were down about 8.4 percent from twelve months ago (5,677 versus 6,198), and
the volume of closed sales dropped nearly 16.6 percent (6,374 versus 7,642).

For 2018, members of Northwest MLS reported completing 92,555 transactions, which compares with
99,345 closed sales during 2017 for a drop of about 6.8 percent. The median price on last year’s closed
sales of single family homes and condominiums combined was $402,000, up $32,000 (8.64 percent) from
2017.

Commenting on inventory, declines in closed sales and the drop in month’s supply, MLS director Dick
Beeson said, “There’s lots of speculation as to the reasons why. One thing for sure: this situation can
make for a deliciously deceptive market for either buyers or sellers.” The veteran Realtor said buyers who
are paying attention will find very good values and receptive sellers.

“Timing the interest rate market is beyond the capability of most everyone. Therefore, buyers should act
now, act deliberately, act decisively, and act in conjunction with an experienced real estate professional,”
advised Beeson, the principal managing broker at RE/MAX Northwest in Gig Harbor.
Brokers said many of last month’s buyers took advantage of the shifting market.

“Buyers in December were reaping the benefits of market-weary sellers who were willing to give up part
of their bloated home equity to make a deal and move on,” reported John Deely, principal managing
broker at Coldwell Banker Bain.

James Young, director of the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of
Washington, noted last month was a very different December from a year ago. “While active listings are
up significantly (43.5 percent) from a year ago, interest rates have also gone up by over 80 basis points,
meaning the typical mortgage repayment has increased by about 10 percent for those looking to buy. That
limits spending power and stops buyers from bidding up for the house they want rather than the house
they can afford.”

Slower Market Means Homebuyers Have “Newfound ability to negotiate”

SOURCE: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (November 6, 2018) – Seven months of steadily rising housing inventory
reversed course in October when Northwest Multiple Listing Service brokers added the fewest new
listings since February, according to a new report. MLS members believe the onset of wintry weather and
transition to the holiday season are factors, but suggested the slower pace also signals improving
conditions for house-hunters.

“After months of inventory growth that more than quadrupled the number of homes buyers have to
choose from, things got back on a seasonal track with new listings and total supply falling in October,”
said Robert Wasser, a director with Northwest MLS, when comparing those metrics with September.
“Buyers are catching on to their newfound ability to negotiate. For the first time since 2012, closed sales
system-wide rose from September to October,” noted Wasser, a branch manager with Windermere Real
Estate in Bellevue.

Northwest MLS members added 8,865 new listings to inventory last month in the 23 counties it
encompasses, down from September’s volume of 10,458, but up 4.7 percent from the year-ago total of
8,466 new listings. Compared to September, last month’s number of total active listings shrunk nearly 6.7
percent, but year-over-year inventory rose 33.2 percent, from 13,680 to 18,223 offerings.

Brokers generally welcomed the bump-up in inventory.

Real estate veteran Mike Grady, the president and COO of Coldwell Banker Bain, commented on the
current “win-win” conditions. “We’re entering that time of year when historically the market slows a bit
as we head into the holidays. Buyers continue to see an improving market compared to last year with the
inventory increasingly to 2.4 months of supply in King County, compared to the year-ago figure of less
than a month (0.98),” he stated.

Area-wide there is nearly 2.3 months of inventory, slipping from more than 2.5 months in September, and
improving on the year-ago figure of about 1.5 months of supply.

The year-over-year gains in supply, while notable, are still “way off from a balanced market that provides
five to six months of inventory,” Grady remarked, adding, “Contrary to recent media reports, the sky is
not falling,” he emphasized, pointing to rising prices and strong jobs reports as factors for a positive
outlook. (The State Employment Security Department reported Washington gained 4,500 jobs in
September.)

“Home prices in King County are up nearly 8.6 percent year over year, so we’re still experiencing
significant appreciation,” Grady stated. Given continued reports of hiring by companies in the Puget
Sound region and recent increases in inventory, he expects homebuyers will continue entering the market,
adding, “And sellers can still expect to get good prices — all this without the frenzy. A win-win,” he
proclaimed.

A Decade Low in Housing Affordability Won’t Kill the Real Estate Boom

Source: Dr. Steve Sjuggerud, Stansberry Research

I’ve spent years urging anyone who would listen to buy a house…

Folks didn’t want to hear that story back in 2011, when I first began pounding the table. Investors were scared. Nobody wanted to buy.

That’s why housing was such a great deal, though. It was dirt-cheap and hitting all-time levels of affordability.

Plenty has changed since then…

U.S. home prices have steadily climbed, and housing affordability has fallen as a result.

Today, housing affordability is at a decade low. But as I’ll show, that doesn’t mean the boom is dead.

Let me explain…

The idea of housing affordability is simple. When someone buys a home, he doesn’t worry so much about the purchase price… He worries about the monthly payment. If he can afford the payment, he can afford the house.

The monthly payment includes a few numbers… namely the home’s price and the interest rate. Compare that with the person’s income, and you know how affordable (or not) a home would be.

Importantly, these numbers are similar for a lot of folks. So the National Association of Realtors uses median home prices, median income, and mortgage rates to build an overall measure of housing affordability in America.

This indicator tells us if housing is cheap, expensive, or somewhere in between.

Again, things have changed since I first began urging readers to buy real estate. Housing affordability is now at a 10-year low. Take a look…

undefined

A high affordability number indicates housing is cheap… signaling a great time to buy. A low number indicates an expensive market, where folks will have to stretch to buy.

You can see that housing is getting less affordable. It recently fell to affordability levels not seen since 2008. But that doesn’t tell the full story.

Despite a decade low for affordability, we’re now right at the long-term average. Check it out…

undefined

It’s true that the easy money in real estate might be behind us. But affordability hasn’t completely dried up.

We are clearly in the late innings of this boom. The great deals are getting harder to find, but certain markets still have plenty of value remaining.

I’ve personally put a large chunk of my net worth into Florida real estate. I’ve sold some of those properties for big profits… but I’ve been able to find new deals too.

So while affordability is down, I remain bullish on U.S. housing. We’re still near the long-term average for affordability in U.S. housing. And folks can still make money in U.S. real estate.

If you’re looking to put money to work, buying a house is still a solid deal today.

Is the Housing Market Normalizing? One Sign the Tide’s Turning

Source: Suzanne De Vita RISMedia

 

With demand strong and supply weak, the housing market is overwhelmingly partial to sellers. The average homeowner is profiting $40,000 at resale (with decade-high returns in 2017), and higher in the hottest markets, where they’re attracting multiple offers in record time.

Now, there’s an early indicator that the market may shift. At the start of summer, 14.2 percent of listings nationwide had their prices reduced, according to a new report by Zillow. At the beginning of the year, 13 percent had cuts, and at the close of 2016, 11.7 percent were lowered. The increase between January and June is the largest on record in the report, and doubled the jump in the same six months in 2017.

The bigger bounds are generally on higher-priced properties, and on the West Coast, the report shows. Of costlier listings, 16.2 percent have been slashed since the start of the year—up 0.9 percent. By comparison, 11.2 of lower-priced properties have been reduced—down 0.1 percent. The disparity illustrates the immense interest in more practically priced properties, which are in scarcer supply.

The amount of discounted homes increased the most in San Diego, up 7.7 percent in the last six months, to 20 percent. The amount climbed in Denver, Las Vegas, Orlando, Portland, Ore., Sacramento and Seattle, as well. On the flip side, the share shrank in Philadelphia, from 17.2 percent to 16.2 percent, as well as in Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and San Antonio.

Is the change a change in dynamic? According to Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow, the concessions could be a premature sign of a swing, but not yet.

“The housing market has tilted sharply in favor of sellers over the past two years, but there are very early preliminary signs that the winds may be starting to shift ever so slightly,” says Terrazas. “A rising share of on-market listings are seeing price cuts, though these price cuts are concentrated at the most expensive price points and primarily in markets that have seen outsized price gains in recent years.

“It’s far too soon to call this a buyer’s market,” Terrazas says. “Home values are still expected to appreciate at double their historic rate over the next 12 months, but the frenetic pace of the housing market over the past few years is starting to return toward a more normal trend.”

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

Brokers Seeing “Simple Economic Recipe For a Softening Housing Market”

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (July 5, 2018) – Home buyers around many parts of Washington state had
more choices and less competition during June, prompting some industry leaders to comment on “a
feeling of change in the market.”

“Inventory is up and demand has dropped,” reported Robert Wasser, an officer with the board of directors
at Northwest Multiple Listing Service. That combination is “a pretty simple economic recipe for a
softening market,” he added in commenting on the latest MLS statistics.

Figures for June show a 5.2 percent improvement in the number of active listings system-wide, coupled
with drops in the volume of pending sales (down 8.4 percent) and closed sales (down .07 percent)
compared with a year ago. Despite the shift of some indicators favoring buyers, prices area-wide
continued to rise, increasing more than 10 percent from twelve months ago.

“There was a feeling of change in the market this June and the numbers supported that feeling,” remarked
John Deely, principal managing broker at Coldwell Banker Bain. He noted many brokers also reported an
increase in properties going past their offer review date, more price reductions, and an increase in reverse
prospecting (a tool that allows the listing broker to view a list of brokers with potential buyers for that
listing). “We’re also experiencing a decrease in multiple offers and the number of buyers participating in
multiple offers,” added Deely.

Northwest MLS brokers added 13,153 new listings to inventory during June, a drop from both a year ago
when they added 13,658, and from May when 14,524 new listings were added. With new listings
outgaining sales, total inventory as measured by active listings and months of supply improved.

At month end, Northwest MLS reported 15,234 active listings and 1.5 months of supply. Inventory of
single family homes and condos reached its highest level since October. The supply of active listings in
King County surged 47 percent from a year ago, boosting the months of supply to just under 1.3 months –
the highest level since September 2016 when there was 1.37 months of supply.

“Although still a quick response market, with more new listings coming on the market during the summer
months, we experienced dispersed buyer energy due to the greater availability and selection,” stated J.
Lennox Scott, chairman and CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate. He estimates sales activity is off 15-to-20
percent for each new listing’s first 30 days on the market. “Now through October will be the best time of
year for homebuyers,” he remarked.

“Sellers are becoming more active in the market as they sense buyers pulling back,” suggested George
Moorhead, designated broker and owner at Bentley Properties. Improving supply, a marked increase in
expired or cancelled listings, and market times almost doubling are factors he mentioned when describing
the market as “more than just lackluster” with summer showing no sign of improvement.

Home Prices: Boom Continues, but Leveling Out Needed

Source: RISMedia

The boom is continuing for home prices, with a gain in March of 6.5 percent, according to the S&P CoreLogic/Case-Shiller Indices.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index’s 10-City Composite, which is an average of 10 metros (Boston, Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Diego, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.), rose 6.5 percent year-over-year, an increase from 6.4 percent in February. The 20-City Composite—which is an average of the 10 metros in the 10-City Composite, plus Atlanta, Charlotte, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Minneapolis, Phoenix, Portland, Seattle and Tampa—rose 6.8 percent year-over-year, which is comparable to February. Month-over-month, both the 10-City Composite and the 20-City composite rose, 0.9 percent and 1 percent, respectively.

“The home price increases continue, with the National Index rising at 6.5 percent per year,” says David M. Blitzer, chairman and managing director of the S&P Dow Jones Indices Index Committee.

“Looking across various national statistics on sales of new or existing homes, permits for new construction, and financing terms, two figures that stand out are rapidly rising home prices and low inventories of existing homes for sale,” Blitzer says. “Months-supply, which combines inventory levels and sales, is currently at 3.8 months, lower than the levels of the 1990s before the housing boom and bust.

“Until inventories increase faster than sales, or the economy slows significantly, home prices are likely to continue rising,” says Blitzer. “Compared to the price gains of the last boom in the early 2000s, things are calmer today.”

“The solid gain in home prices of 6.5 percent in March added roughly $150 billion to housing wealth during the month,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), in a statement. “The continuing run-up in home prices above the pace of income growth is simply not sustainable. From the cyclical low point in home prices six years ago, a typical home price has increased by 48 percent, while the average wage rate has grown by only 14 percent. Rising interest rates also do not help with affordability; therefore, more supply is needed to level out home prices. Homebuilding will be the key as to how the housing market performs in the upcoming years.”

The complete data for the 20 markets measured by S&P:

Atlanta, Ga.
Month-Over-Month (MoM): 0.8%
Year-Over-Year (YoY): 6.2%

Boston, Mass.
MoM: 1.2%
YoY: 5.8%

Charlotte, N.C.
MoM: 1%
YoY: 6.2%

Chicago, Ill.
MoM: 1.1%
YoY: 2.8%

Cleveland, Ohio
MoM: 0.3%
YoY: 4.6%

Dallas, Texas
MoM: 0.7%
YoY: 5.8%

Denver, Colo.
MoM: 1.4%
YoY: 8.6%

Detroit, Mich.
MoM: 1.1%
YoY: 7.9%

Las Vegas, Nev.
MoM: 1.5%
YoY: 12.4%

Los Angeles, Calif.
MoM: 0.9%
YoY: 8.1%

Miami, Fla.
MoM: 0.7%
YoY: 5%

Minneapolis, Minn.
MoM: 1.7%
YoY: 6.1%

New York, N.Y.
MoM: 0.1%
YoY: 5.2%

Phoenix, Ariz.
MoM: 0.9%
YoY: 6.8%

Portland, Ore.
MoM: 1%
YoY: 6.7%

San Diego, Calif.
MoM: 1%
YoY: 7.7%

San Francisco, Calif.
MoM: 2.1%
YoY: 11.3%

Seattle, Wash.
MoM: 2.8%
YoY: 13%

Tampa, Fla.
MoM: 0.6%
YoY: 7.5%

Washington, D.C.
MoM: 1.1%
YoY: 3%

Confidence in Housing at New Peak

Source: Suzanne De Vita RISMedia

Confidence in housing is at a new peak, with enthusiasm among sellers soaring, according to the April Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI). At 91.7, the Index plowed through its previous record, climbing 3.4 percentage points month-over-month and five points year-over-year.

“The latest HPSI reading edged up to a new survey high, showing that consumer attitudes remain resilient going into the spring/summer home-buying season,” says Doug Duncan, chief economist and senior vice president at Fannie Mae.

What is driving the lift? Americans are optimistic about their prospects for selling, with 45 percent believing now is ideal to list—a high point since the start of the survey. By the same token, almost half (49 percent) of Americans believe home prices will rise—conditions that, for sellers, translate to an upper hand.

Confidence can dissipate, however, if inventory remains sparse, according to Duncan.

“High home prices and good economic conditions helped push the share of Americans who think it’s a good time to sell to a fresh record-high; however, the upward trend in the good-time-to-sell share seen since last spring has done little to release more for-sale inventory,” Duncan says. “The tightest supply in decades, combined with rising mortgage rates from historically low levels, will likely remain a hurdle for mobility and a persistent headwind for home sales.”

Despite constrained inventory, sales are strengthening, with both existing and pending sales squeezing out wins in March, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reported—and, according to the Commerce Department, new-home sales tracked up.

The HPSI is derived from Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey® (NHS).

Brokers report some good news for home buyers, but still expect Puget Sound’s “frantic market” to continue

Source: NWMLS

KIRKLAND, Washington (May 7, 2018) – Home buyers may be cheered by an uptick in inventory, but the
improving supply is unlikely to reverse rising prices, suggest industry leaders from Northwest Multiple
Listing Service.

Commenting on just-released figures for April, which showed the highest level of active listings since
August, OB Jacobi, president of Windermere Real Estate said, “For the first time in a long time we had
good news for buyers.” Noting supply is still lower than year-ago levels (down 5.6 percent), it jumped 14
percent from March, which Jacobi said “is a pretty significant increase even for this time of year.”

Northwest MLS brokers added 11,271 new listings to inventory during April, a gain of 6.3 percent when
compared to March, and up nearly 5.9 percent versus a year ago. April’s pending sales (mutually accepted
offers) totaled 10,574, improving on the same month a year ago and the previous month.

At month end, the active listings selection included 10,079 single family homes and condos, eclipsing the
total of 8,825 listings at the end of March. The condo segment grew 10.9 percent from March.

Of the 23 counties in the Northwest MLS service area, only six of them reported year-over-year gains in
inventory compared to a year ago. King County was the only one in the Puget Sound region to notch a gain,
up 13.6 percent from a year ago.

Commenting on the uptick, Mike Grady, president and COO, Coldwell Banker Bain, remarked “We are
still WAY below a balanced market of five months of inventory, and this is even with interest rates ticking
slightly upward.”

Area-wide there is 1.3 months of supply, with 4-to-6 months used as a gauge of a balanced market. Three
counties – King, Kitsap, and Snohomish — reported less than a month of supply. The condo component
remains very tight with slightly more than three weeks (0.87 months) of supply.

Prices are still climbing at double-digit rates in most counties. Year-over-year prices for single family
homes and condos combined jumped about 15.3 percent overall, from $360,000 to $415,000. Within the
four-county Puget Sound region, King County notched the biggest gain at nearly 18.2 percent. Prices there
rose $100,000 from a year ago, from $550,000 to $650,000.

“There’s little reason to think we’ll be seeing a change in this frantic market anytime soon,” commented
Grady, citing double-digit appreciation in many of the most populous counties, expansion plans by Alaska
Airlines and Amazon, and other positive economic news as reasons for that expectation.