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Oct. 3, 2022

Are we really in a 'housing recession'?

 

 

 

BY MATTHEW GARDNER

September 28, 2022

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A little while ago, a housing analyst was being interviewed about the current state of the residential market and they suggested that the country is in a “housing recession”. Well, needless to say, this got a lot of attention from the media and the public at large — for obvious reasons. 

Any time the word “recession” is mentioned we almost subliminally cast our minds back to 2007 — and when the word “recession” is combined with the word “housing” — well, then panic starts to set in with flashbacks of headlines about burgeoning housing supply, plummeting home prices and surging foreclosures.

As this is a topic being discussed by many across the country right now, I wanted to share with you my opinion as to whether the phrase “housing recession” is an appropriate one when describing today’s market.

So, what is a “recession”?

To answer this, I will turn to my trusted Oxford English Dictionary, and this is how they describe that word.

 

Recession: A difficult time for the economy of a country, when there is less trade and industrial activity than usual, and more people are unemployed.

OK, well that’s not a surprise.

And they also offer an alternative, defining a recession as “the movement backward of something from a previous position.”

So, how do we use these definitions when it comes to the ownership housing market? 

I guess that “less trade” could mean lower sales and we have certainly seen sales pull back, and “movement backward” could be how someone might describe the fact that sale prices have been pulling back in many markets across the country.

But although some may say that we really are in a housing recession given the definition of the word, is it really accurate? Are we are inextricably headed down a road that leads to the bursting of some sort of bubble as we all remember from 2007?

I don’t believe we are, and to explain my thinking let’s start out by looking at housing supply. 

 

Yes! Listing activity is up — can’t argue with that — with the number of resale homes for sale jumping by more than a third from the start of this year.

But there’s more to it than that. You see, we have to look a little farther back to better understand what’s really going on. 

And to do this let’s check out the number of homes for sale during the first seven months of this year and compare those numbers to the same periods in 2018 through 2021.

 

I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t look like a chart showing a massively oversupplied market.

The number of homes for sale in July of this year was almost exactly the same as we saw last July and is still well below the levels seen in 2018, 2019 or 2020.

Listings are up — but are we at levels that will cause prices to tumble? Remember that it was a massive increase in the number of homes for sale that led to the housing bubble bursting back in 2007. 

Listings peaked at almost 3.9 million units in 2006; but today there are 2.6 million fewer units on the market than we saw back then. 

Now that we’ve seen that supply isn’t at concerning levels, let’s look at demand.

 

Well, this chart doesn’t look too good. On an annualized basis, sales have been pulling back since the start of the year but, that’s not the full story. Let’s look at this in a slightly different way.

 

The bars here show year-to-date sales through July — both adjusted and unadjusted for seasonality — and although unadjusted sales so far this year are lower than we saw during the first seven months of 2021, they are at about the same level as we saw in 2018 and are actually higher than in 2019 or 2020.

But when we adjust the monthly sales data for seasonality, year-to-date sales in 2022 were higher than all years shown here other than 2021.

So although sales have fallen, it appears to me that we are heading back to a more realistic market rather than one that is hemorrhaging.

Yet another indicator we need to consider when examining the market for evidence of some sort of recession are months of inventory — and this shows how long it would take to sell every home for sale using the current monthly sales pace.

 

And this graph shows that it would take three months to sell every home on the market given the sales we saw in July. That is quite a jump from the January pace but, again, perspective is everything. 

 

At three months, it is still a seller’s market. It’s generally accepted that the definition of a sellers’ market is any number below four months; a balanced market is four months to six months of inventory, and a buyers’ market is when the months of inventory are above six. 

And a simple bit of math shows us that, for the market to shift from favoring sellers to favoring buyers, the number of homes for sale must break above two million — which we haven’t seen since 2015 — and monthly sales would have to drop to below 300,000 — and we’ve only seen that happen three times in history — in November 2008, and again in July and August of 2010.

Yes, listings are up and sales are down. There’s no denying it. But, again, does the data justify the term “recession”?

My answer would be no but, if you’re still not convinced, let’s turn our attention to sale prices. I think that might help make things even clearer. 

 

The solid line represents the median sale prices of homes over time, and the dotted line shows the trend. You can clearly see that we started breaking away from the trendline in early 2021 and that’s not at all surprising as it started the month after mortgage rates hit their historic all-time low.

But today’s financing costs are significantly higher, and prices have started to slide. Although I certainly expect that we will see sale prices fall further, it appears to me as if they are simply moving back to the longer-term trend, and not collapsing.

 

With mortgage rates doubling from their 2021 lows, downward pressure on sale price was to be expected, but will they, as some think, rise up to a level that will cause home prices to fall drastically? To answer that, here are the forecasts of several associations and you’ll see that all bar the National Association of Realtors and Freddie Mac see rates pulling back, albeit modestly, in 2023.

Of course, all these are annual averages and today’s rates are higher with the latest Freddie Mac data showing the average 30-year fixed rate above 6 percent — a level we haven’t seen since 2008. 

However, economists, including myself, find it unlikely that rates will continue rising significantly from where they are today. The mortgage market is certainly in a bit of disarray right now with the yield curve inverting, but that should correct itself by early next year and that’s why we generally expect rates to start pulling back from their current levels by the start of 2023. 

But if rising rates are triggering memories of 2008 you wouldn’t be alone as there are some expecting that the spike in rates will trigger a surge in foreclosure and that will doom the market.

 

But as you see here, although foreclosure filings have certainly risen, they are still remarkably low compared to historic standards.

In the second quarter, newly delinquent mortgages represented just 1.9 percent of all mortgages outstanding — and that’s the lowest share the market has seen since 2006.

Although I do expect the number of homes being foreclosed on will rise as we move into 2023, I just don’t see it getting to the levels necessary to materially impact the overall market.

And a big part of the reasoning behind my thinking is this.

 

In the second quarter of 2022, over 48 percent of homeowners with a mortgage were sitting on more than 50 percent equity.

Simply put, for enough homeowners to be put in a negative equity situation that would lead them to enter foreclosure and materially damage the market, home prices across the country would have to fall by a percentage greater than we saw during the market crash and I just don’t see this happening.

The word “recession” has many connotations, and when it’s used to describe the housing market, it can engender a significant level of panic.

So, I will ask you all. Given the data I have showed you today, do you think that we are in a “housing recession”?

Yes. Supply levels have risen — but they are still relatively low when compared to historic averages and with builders slowing construction activity to a crawl, it’s unlikely that housing supply will grow much organically.

Over the longer-term, I believe that the supply of resale homes for sale will remain below historic averages, and I say this for one simple reason: mortgage rates.

In 2020 a record number of households refinanced their homes to take advantage of the mortgage rates that had plummeted, and in 2021 over 6 million home buyers got mortgages with rates averaging below 3 percent.

I would suggest to you that we will not see the number of homes for sale even get back to normalized levels is the mid-term as many potential sellers will decide not to sell as, if they did, they would lose the “never seen before, and likely never to be seen again” mortgage rate that they currently have.

Of course, there will be sellers who have to move because of factors such as job relocation, death, or divorce, but I would contend that listing activity may well be tight for a long time and – if supply remains below the level of demand — the market is further protected.

And as far as demand goes, let’s not forget that the age makeup of the country suggests that we will actually see a lot more potential buyers as Millennials and Generation X mature with current numbers suggesting significant buyer demand for the next two decades.

As for sale prices, I still believe — as do almost all economists — that the median home price next year will be higher than we will see this year, but a very significant drop in the pace of growth is likely as we trend down to historic averages. 

Of course, all real estate is local and there are markets across the country that will see prices drop in absolute terms, but even in the most highly susceptible markets, it will be a temporary phenomenon and that, by 2024, homeowners in these markets will see the value of their homes start to rise again.

I’m going to leave you with my quote to describe today’s market and it’s that we are in a “housing reversion,” not a “housing recession.”

Matthew Gardner is the chief economist for Windermere Real Estate, the second largest regional real estate company in the nation.

Posted in Market Updates
Sept. 20, 2022

What does the new normal for first-time homebuyers look like?

 

The great moderation is upon us

Before the pandemic, the historical average of annualized house price growth was approximately 4%. Yet, pandemic-era dynamics exacerbated an already large housing demand and supply imbalance, fueling record-breaking annual house price growth, peaking at nearly 21%.

Today, as affordability wanes and housing supply ticks up, house price growth is decelerating and will likely continue to trend towards its historical average. Buyers and sellers alike have now anchored their expectation of “normal” to sub-3% mortgage rates, multiple-offer bidding wars, and double-digit annual price growth.

As a result, the “great deceleration” may feel more severe as the housing market comes off its two-year sugar high and shifts to a not-so-new normal. The normalization will look different depending on local market conditions, but a repeat of the housing market crash is unlikely. So, if this time it’s different, what are the forces that will drive the housing market forward or hold it back?

The tailwinds

There remains a deep-seated desire for homeownership, especially among younger millennials who continue to age into their prime home-buying years. This desire is buoyed by the increased ability to work-from-home and the need for more space.

Compared with the fourth quarter of 2021, the homeownership rate in the second quarter of 2022 for households under 35 years old increased by 0.8 percentage points, more than any other age group. The homeownership rate increase happened during a quarter when the 30-year, fixed mortgage rate increased at the fastest quarter-over-quarter pace since 1980.

That’s because buying a home is both a financial and lifestyle decision. While the more than 50% year-over-year decline in affordability will continue to temper millennial homeownership demand in 2022, lifestyle choices that highly correlate with homeownership will persist and keep millennials as the driving force in potential homeownership demand. 

Millennial demand also makes this housing slowdown different from the previous boom and bust. Looking back at the housing bubble in the mid-2000s, house price appreciation was characterized by a surge in demand driven by wider access to mortgage financing and a rise in speculative and fix-and-flip buying. While speculative buying still persists, the primary driver of current housing demand is first-time homebuyers, armed with mortgages that have been underwritten with much stricter lending standards, further mitigating the risk of a housing bust.

The headwinds

Buying a home is the largest financial decision a person will likely make, predicated on one’s lifestyle choices, financial security and economic certainty. Affordability is a concern, especially among first-time homebuyers who do not have the benefit of equity from the sale of a home. Mortgage rates at or above 5% are likely the not-so-new normal and, if house prices don’t moderate sufficiently to offset the affordability loss from higher rates, then potential buyers will continue to lose purchasing power.

Additionally, inflation and the corresponding risk of a Federal Reserve-induced recession with potential labor market consequences remain concerning and are severely impacting consumer confidence. This could weigh on purchase demand, prompting an acceleration in house price moderation.

While increasing from historic lows, housing supply remains a challenge. The recent rise in inventory is more about homes sitting on the market longer than new inventory being added. The months’ supply of existing homes in July 2022 was approximately three months, still below the historical average of six months, but trending toward it.

While more new homes are expected to come to market, existing-home sales are likely to stall. The reason? The rate lock-in effect of higher rates, which incentivizes homeowners to keep their current mortgage and stay in their existing homes. Existing homes historically filter down to the first-time homebuyer, so the ongoing supply shortage will continue to weigh on the housing market, and particularly first-time homebuyers.

The likely outcome

The housing market has the demographic wind at its back, which will keep a floor on how low demand can go. The recent pullback in demand is a function of two factors — some buyers can no longer afford to buy given the higher mortgage rate environment and higher home prices, while others are choosing to wait until they feel the economy is on more solid footing. Yet, there remains a long-run shortage in supply relative to demand, which supports a natural moderation of house prices nationally, rather than a sharp decline. 

Indeed, a sharp decline in prices would require a wave of distressed selling, which is unlikely. The housing crisis that triggered the Great Recession was fueled by job losses in combination with homeowners with little to no equity.

While some pockets of the country that became overvalued over the course of the pandemic will face a more severe slowdown, homeowners today have very high levels of tappable home equity, providing a cushion to withstand potential price declines.

Want to learn more about what to expect when it comes to the future of the housing market? This article offers a preview of our upcoming HousingWire Annual Housing Market Super Session that will feature an all-star panel of housing experts. Join us in Scottsdale, Arizona Oct. 3-5 to attend this super session that is designed to help attendees understand macroeconomic data and housing trends for the next year and beyond. To register for HW Annual, go here.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of HousingWire’s editorial department and its owners.

To contact the author responsible for this story:
Odeta Kushi at economics@firstam.com or @OdetaKushi (Twitter)

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Brena Nath at brena@hwmedia.com

 

Aug. 18, 2022

Vermont is pouring millions into manufactured homes and mobile home parks

By 

Nicole Daniels sits on the steps of her home in Berlin on Monday, Aug. 1. Photo by Natalie Williams/VTDigger

Nicole Daniels had been living with her father in Berlin and taking care of him when he died. He had lived in a manufactured home park since 1986, but his residence was old and needed a lot of work. It would cost so much to fix, Daniels said, that it made more sense to replace it with a new one. 

She applied for help with a down payment from Champlain Housing Trust’s Manufactured Housing Down Payment Program.

The program received an extra $1.25 million this year, part of a total of $5 million in additional funds the Legislature appropriated to help people who live in manufactured homes. The funds would help people buy new homes, make repairs to their existing ones, and assist owners of manufactured home parks to make their own repairs and improvements, such as removing abandoned homes and fixing up parks by installing new pads and foundations on vacant lots. Manufactured home communities … are disproportionately occupied by people who have very low incomes,” said Maura Collins, executive director of the Vermont Housing Finance Agency.

According to Vermont Housing Commissioner Josh Hanford, about 8% of Vermonters live in manufactured home communities.

(In this story, VTDigger is using the term manufactured homes to describe what are commonly referred to as mobile homes. “There hasn’t been a mobile home built in the United States since 1976,” said Joe Cicirelli, director of housing for the Cooperative Development Institute, a nonprofit that helps manufactured home owners turn the parks they are in into coops, “but it’s hard to shake that moniker.”)

The down payment program began after Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, when floods devastated many mobile home communities across Vermont. Michael Monte, chief executive officer of the Champlain Housing Trust, said his organization has financed 256 homes across Vermont in this way since Irene. The average household income of the recipient, he said, is $45,000 a year. Monte said his organization gets about 100 applications a year. 

The program provides what Monte calls essentially a silent second mortgage. Someone who wants to buy a manufactured home takes out a first mortgage. Champlain Housing Trust comes in and provides a $27,500 zero-interest loan for an Energy Star home and $35,000 for a home with net-zero energy consumption. The manufactured homes financed by the program range in cost from $65,000 to $180,000.  

All payments on the loans are deferred until the home is sold, transferred or refinanced, and if the homeowner sells the home, the next buyer can assume the loan. 

“The funds (in the manufactured housing down payment program) are recycled, so it sort of lives on and helps folks in an ongoing way,” Hanford said.

The money for the program that helps people buy new manufactured homes comes from a state tax credit. The Vermont Housing Finance Agency sells these tax credits to banks and insurance companies at a discount and makes the money available to Champlain Housing Trust and Addison County Community Trust, according to Collins. 

For example, an investor could buy $500,000 in tax credits for $450,000 and the $450,000 goes to the Champlain Housing Trust. The investor makes a $50,000 profit on the tax credit and the Housing Trust gets the rest for the program. 

This year, the Legislature appropriated an additional $1.25 million to finance these tax credits over the next five years, according to Hanford, more than doubling the amount of money available for homebuyers.

"It allowed me to be in my own place, and I’m not in an apartment with a neighbor upstairs or next door. I’m in my own home,” Nicole Daniels said. Photo by Natalie Williams/VTDigger

Daniels, the Berlin homeowner, was able to have her old home removed and a new base pad, foundation and utility connections installed on the same lot. 

In all, she spent $100,000 for her new home, including prep work at the site. She said she would not have been able to afford it without the additional $27,500 grant she received toward her down payment. 

The total price tag was far less than she would have had to pay for a more traditional home, and she’ll only have to pay back the zero-interest loan if she sells the structure. 

A recent study by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies found that a median-priced home in Washington County cost $313,464.

“It is such a tight housing market,” Daniels said. “It’s so expensive.”

The 23-lot manufactured home park where she lives is safe and quiet, she said, with some younger couples and a lot of older people, some of whom have lived there for 30 or more years. 

“Great people,” Daniels said. “I broke my arm in the middle of the moving process and now I’m trying to move back in and I can’t do a whole lot because I’m still injured and I’ve got elderly neighbors that are coming over and (asking): ‘Can we help you bring in your stuff?’”

Daniels sees great value in manufactured home communities. 

“A lot of people like myself can’t afford to buy land and do all of the work to get the land ready,” she said. “I’ve got great neighbors. I’m close to everything. It allowed me to be in my own place, and I’m not in an apartment with a neighbor upstairs or next door. I’m in my own home.”

Manufactured homes at a park in Berlin on Monday, Aug. 1, 2022. Photo by Natalie Williams/VTDigger

Like most owners of manufactured homes, she rents the land on which her home sits.

On top of the tax credit that allowed Daniels to buy a new home, the Legislature directed $4 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act this year to help owners of manufactured homes and of mobile home parks, Hanford said. 

About $1.5 million is for small grants to mobile home park owners to make repairs and improvements, such as removing abandoned homes, fixing up lots and otherwise improving the parks, Hanford said. 

Part of the balance was for grants to install frost-free pads and foundations on vacant lots, he said, noting that Vermont has about 350 vacant lots in mobile home parks. The rest was for small grants to owners of manufactured homes to make repairs, he said. 

The federal money appropriated this year is in addition to $15 million appropriated a year ago from the American Rescue Plan Act to finance infrastructure for manufactured housing, Cicirelli said. The state Agency of Natural Resources is administering those funds. 

“They are a very affordable source of housing that receives very little in ongoing public investment to maintain that affordability,” Hanford said. “So this will be a good chance to really invest in those communities and keep people housed in a very affordable way. We’ve got the money now to make a difference to really help people.”

Fred Thys

About Fred

Fred Thys covers business and the economy for VTDigger. He is originally from Bethesda, Maryland, and graduated from Williams College with a degree in political science. He is the recipient of the Radio, Television, and Digital News Association's Edward R. Murrow Award for Investigative Reporting and for Enterprise Reporting. Fred has worked at The Journal of Commerce, ABC News, CBS News, CNN, NBC News, and WBUR, and has written for Le Matin, The Dallas Morning News, and The American Homefront Project.

Email: fthys@vtdigger.org

July 11, 2022

Homebuyers are canceling deals at highest rate since start of COVID

About 60,000 home-purchase agreements were canceled in June 2022, or about 14.9% of all homes that went under contract throughout the month, according to a new report from Redfin.

 

Homebuyers are canceling deals at highest rate since start of COVID

 

BY LILLIAN DICKERSON

 

 

About 60,000 home-purchase agreements were canceled in June 2022, or about 14.9 percent of all homes that went under contract throughout the month, according to a new report released Monday by Redfin.

Such figures of canceled contracts have not been seen since early pandemic days in March and April 2020, when the number of contracts that fell through hit 17.6 percent and 16.4 percent, respectively. By contrast, 12.7 percent of contracts fell through in May 2022 and 11.2 percent fell through in June 2021. Redfin’s analysis includes MLS data dating back to early 2017. The brokerage also pointed out in its report that homes that fall out of contract one month may have entered a contract in a different month, i.e., a property whose contract was canceled in June may have initially gone under contract in May.

Taylor Marr | Redfin

“The slowdown in housing-market competition is giving homebuyers room to negotiate, which is one reason more of them are backing out of deals,” Redfin Deputy Chief Economist Taylor Marr said in a statement.

“Buyers are increasingly keeping rather than waiving inspection and appraisal contingencies. That gives them the flexibility to call the deal off if issues arise during the homebuying process. Rising mortgage rates are also forcing some buyers to cancel home purchases. If rates were at 5 percent when you made an offer, but reached 5.8 percent by the time the deal was set to close, you may no longer be able to afford that home or you may no longer qualify for a loan.”

Agents have reported a real estate slowdown as the Federal Reserve has increased interest rates in response to inflation in recent weeks. The slower market has given buyers a bit more leverage when it comes to negotiating with sellers, but it’s also hampered affordability. Still, rates saw their largest one-week drop since 2008 last week when the average 30-year fixed rate mortgage rate dropped to 5.3 percent.

Rick Palacios Jr., director of research at John Burns Real Estate Consulting, noted on Twitter that homebuilder sentiment is responding to the slowdown as well — construction costs are finally coming down, but builder layoffs are also occurring.

 

A monthly survey released from Zonda last week found that more than half of builders across the U.S. saw an increase in buyer cancellations in June.

July 5, 2022

Homeowner Equity Grows Again Across U.S. in First Quarter

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Nearly Half of U.S. Mortgages Considered Equity-Rich; Seriously Underwater Portion of Mortgages Holds at 3 Percent; Ratio of Equity-Rich to Seriously Underwater Properties Now at 14 to 1

IRVINE, Calif. — May 12, 2022 — ATTOM, a leading curator of real estate data nationwide for land and property data, today released its first-quarter 2022 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report, which shows that 44.9 percent of mortgaged residential properties in the United States were considered equity-rich in the first quarter, meaning that the combined estimated amount of loan balances secured by those properties was no more than 50 percent of their homes estimated market values.

The portion of mortgaged homes that were equity-rich in the first quarter of 2022 inched close to half, up from 41.9 percent in the fourth quarter of 2021 and from 31.9 percent in the first quarter of 2021.

“Homeowners continue to benefit from rising home prices,” said Rick Sharga, executive vice president of market intelligence for ATTOM. “Record levels of home equity provide financial security for millions of families, and minimize the chance of another housing market crash like the one we saw in 2008. But these higher home prices and rising interest rates make it extremely challenging for first time buyers to enter the market.”

The report shows that just 3.2 percent of mortgaged homes, or one in 31, were considered seriously underwater in the first quarter of 2022, with a combined estimated balance of loans secured by the property of at least 25 percent more than the property’s estimated market value. That was virtually the same as the 3.1 percent level of all U.S. homes with a mortgage in the prior quarter, but still well down from 4.7 percent, or one in 21 properties, a year earlier.


Across the country, 45 states saw equity-rich levels increase from the fourth quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022 while seriously underwater percentages increased in 28 states, albeit by less than one percent in most cases. Year over year, equity-rich levels rose in 48 states and seriously underwater portions dropped in 46 states.

These latest equity trends came as the decade-long U.S. housing market boom continued from late 2021 into early 2022, although at a slower pace. Nationwide, the median home price rose 2 percent during that time, to yet another record of $320,500. That left it 17 percent ahead year over year nationally and up by at least 10 percent in most of the country.

While market analysts generally are predicting a slowdown this year, the most recent gains happened as a glut of home buyers kept chasing a historically tight supply of properties for sale, kicking prices up even higher. The market remained strong amid an ongoing combination of rock-bottom mortgage rates and a desire of many households to trade life in congested virus-prone locales for the wider spaces afforded by a house and yard.

Homeowner equity improved again in the first quarter of 2022 as rising home prices widened gaps between what homeowners owed on their mortgages and the value of their properties.

“It’s likely that equity will continue to grow through the rest of 2022, although home price increases should moderate as the year goes on,” Sharga said. “Rising interest rates, the highest inflation in 40 years, and the ongoing supply chain disruptions due to the war in Ukraine are likely to weaken demand and slow down home price appreciation.”

Biggest improvements in equity-rich share of mortgages in West and South

The 15 states where the equity-rich share of mortgaged homes rose most from the fourth quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022 were all in the western and southern regions of the U.S. States, with the biggest increases in New Mexico, where the portion of mortgaged homes considered equity-rich rose from 35.3 percent in the fourth quarter to 43.4 percent in the first quarter of 2022; Florida (up from 46.6 percent to 53.6 percent), California (up from 53.7 percent to 60.5 percent), South Carolina (up from 35 percent to 41.2 percent) and Montana (up from 40.5 percent to 45.7 percent).

States where the equity-rich share of mortgaged homes decreased from the fourth quarter of last year to the first quarter of this year were South Dakota (down from 36 percent to 32.3 percent), Mississippi (down from 26.3 percent to 23.5 percent), Louisiana (down from 22.5 percent to 21.6 percent), North Dakota (down from 29.3 percent to 28.6 percent) and Pennsylvania (down from 35.49 percent to 35.46 percent).

Largest increases in seriously underwater properties across South and Midwest

Twelve of the 15 states with the biggest increases in the percentage of mortgaged homes considered seriously underwater from the fourth quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022 were spread across the South and Midwest. They were led by Mississippi (share of mortgaged homes seriously underwater up from 12.2 percent to 17 percent), Missouri (up from 5.1 percent to 6.6 percent), Louisiana (up from 10 percent to 11.3 percent), Pennsylvania (up from 4.2 percent to 5.2 percent) and Delaware (up from 3.7 percent to 4.5 percent).

States where the percentage of seriously underwater homes declined the most from the fourth quarter of last year to the first quarter of this year were Wyoming (down from 14.3 percent to 10 percent), Maine (down from 4.4 percent to 3.1 percent), Oklahoma (down from 5.5 percent to 4.8 percent), Alabama (down from 5.1 percent to 4.6 percent) and Montana (down from 3.4 percent to 3 percent).

West still with largest shares of equity-rich homes; Midwest and South again have smallest

The highest levels of equity-rich properties around the U.S. remained in the West during the first quarter of 2022, with eight of the top 10 states located in that region. They were led by Idaho (68.8 percent of mortgaged homes were equity-rich), Vermont (68 percent), Utah (63.6 percent), Washington (60.9 percent) and Arizona (60.9 percent).

Twelve of the 15 states with the lowest percentages of equity-rich properties in the first quarter of 2022 were in the Midwest and South. The smallest portions were in Louisiana (21.6 percent of mortgaged homes), Mississippi (23.5 percent), Illinois (23.5 percent), Alaska (25.2 percent) and Wyoming (26.1 percent).

Among 107 metropolitan statistical areas around the nation with a population greater than 500,000, the 30 with the highest shares of mortgaged properties that were equity-rich in the first quarter of 2022 were in the West and South. The top five were San Jose, CA (74.4 percent equity-rich); Austin, TX (73.8 percent); Boise, ID (70 percent); San Francisco, CA (68.1 percent) and Salt Lake City, UT (65.2 percent). While Austin again led the South and San Jose led the West, the leader in the Northeast region was Portland, ME (52.1 percent) and the top metro in the Midwest continued to be Grand Rapids, MI (49.1 percent).

Seventeen of the 20 metro areas with the lowest percentages of equity-rich properties in the first quarter of 2022 were in the Midwest and South. The smallest levels were in Baton Rouge, LA (18.1 percent of mortgage homes were equity-rich); Wichita, KS (19.6 percent); Jackson, MS (22.6 percent); Little Rock, AR (23.5 percent) and Chicago, IL (24.6 percent).

The portion of mortgaged homes considered equity rich rose from the fourth quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022 in 103 of 106 metro areas with sufficient data in both time periods (97 percent) while the level rose annually in 105, or 99 percent.

West still has top equity-rich counties

Among 1,617 counties that had at least 2,500 homes with mortgages in the first quarter of 2022, 37 of the top 50 equity-rich locations were in the West.

Counties with the highest share of equity-rich properties were Dukes County (Martha’s Vineyard), MA (81.1 percent equity-rich); Teton County (Jackson), WY (78.7 percent); San Mateo County, CA (outside San Francisco) (77.4 percent); Chittenden County (Burlington), VT (77.1 percent) and Nantucket County, MA (76.6 percent).

Counties with the smallest share were Vernon Parish, LA (northwest of Lafayette) (7.2 percent equity-rich); Otero County, NM (outside El Paso, TX) (7.7 percent); Geary County (Junction City), KS (7.9 percent); Cumberland County (Fayetteville), NC (9.5 percent equity-rich) and Boone County (Columbia), MO (10 percent).

At least half of all properties considered equity-rich in a third of zip codes

Among 8,705 U.S. zip codes that had at least 2,000 residential properties with mortgages in the first quarter of 2022, there were 3,247 (37 percent) where at least half the mortgaged properties were equity-rich.

Forty-one of the top 50 were in California and Texas, with 12 of the top 25 in Austin, TX. They were led by zip codes 78739 in Austin, TX (84.5 percent of mortgaged properties were equity-rich); 78733 in Austin, TX (84.5 percent); 78617 in Del Valle, TX (83.6 percent); 94703 in San Francisco, CA (83.6 percent) and 94116 in San Francisco, CA (83.4 percent).

Largest shares of seriously underwater properties again in South and Midwest

Nine of the 10 states with the highest shares of mortgages that were seriously underwater in the first quarter of 2022 were in the South and Midwest. The top five were Mississippi (17 percent seriously underwater), Louisiana (11.3 percent), Wyoming (10 percent), Iowa (7.4 percent) and Illinois (7.2 percent).

Among 107 metropolitan statistical areas with a population greater than 500,000, those with the largest shares of mortgages that were seriously underwater in the first quarter of 2022 were Baton Rouge, LA (11.3 percent); Wichita, KS (8.6 percent); New Orleans, LA (8 percent); Jackson, MS (6.9 percent) and Youngstown, OH (6.8 percent).

Despite the slight quarterly increase in the level of seriously underwater mortgages nationwide, the portion actually declined in 62, or 58 percent, of the metro areas with enough data to analyze in both the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. Seriously underwater rates decreased, year over year, in 103 of those 107 metros (97 percent).

More than 25 percent of residential properties seriously underwater in just 42 zip codes

Among 8,705 U.S. zip codes that had at least 2,000 homes with mortgages in the first quarter of 2022, there were only 42 locations where more than 25 percent of mortgaged properties were seriously underwater. Of those, 20 were in Cleveland, OH; others were found in Columbia, MO; Detroit, MI; St. Louis, MO, and Philadelphia, PA.

The top five zip codes with the largest shares of seriously underwater properties in the first quarter of 2022 were 39553 in Jackson, MS (55.2 percent of mortgaged homes were seriously underwater); 39564 in Jackson, MS (52 percent); 44108 in Cleveland, OH (48.8 percent); 46408 in Gary, IN (45.4 percent) and 65202 in Columbia, MO (45.2 percent).

Most homeowners facing foreclosure have at least some equity

Only about 201,000 homeowners were facing possible foreclosure in the first quarter of 2022, or just three-tenths of one percent of the 58.1 million outstanding mortgages in the U.S. However, 180,000, or 90 percent of those facing possible lender takeover, had at least some equity built up in their homes.

“Positive equity should give financially distressed homeowners better options than their counterparts had during the Great Recession, when 33 percent of all homeowners were underwater on their mortgages,” Sharga noted. “Hopefully these borrowers will be able to tap into their equity to refinance their debt, or be able to leverage it to sell their property and get a fresh start.”

States with the highest percentages of homeowners who had equity in their properties and were facing foreclosure in the first quarter of 2022 included New Hampshire (99 percent with equity), Idaho (99 percent), Utah (99 percent), Washington (97 percent) and Colorado (97 percent). States with the lowest percentages included Mississippi (58 percent with equity), Louisiana (76 percent), Maryland (80 percent), Illinois (81 percent) and Kansas (82 percent).

Report methodology 

The ATTOM U.S. Home Equity & Underwater report provides counts of properties based on several categories of equity — or loan to value (LTV) — at the state, metro, county and zip code level, along with the percentage of total properties with a mortgage that each equity category represents. The equity/LTV is calculated based on record-level loan model estimating position and amount of loans secured by a property and a record-level automated valuation model (AVM) derived from publicly recorded mortgage and deed of trust data collected and licensed by ATTOM nationwide for more than 155 million U.S. properties. The ATTOM Home Equity and Underwater report has been updated and modified to better reflect a housing market focused on the traditional home buying process. ATTOM found that markets where investors were more prominent, they would offset the loan to value ratio due to sales involving multiple properties with a single jumbo loan encompassing all of the properties. Therefore, going forward such activity is now excluded from the reports in order to provide traditional consumer home purchase and loan activity.

Definitions

Seriously underwater: Loan to value ratio of 125 percent or above, meaning the property owner owed at least 25 percent more than the estimated market value of the property.

Equity-rich: Loan to value ratio of 50 percent or lower, meaning the property owner had at least 50 percent equity.

About ATTOM

ATTOM provides premium property data to power products that improve transparency, innovation, efficiency and disruption in a data-driven economy. ATTOM multi-sources property tax, deed, mortgage, foreclosure, environmental risk, natural hazard, and neighborhood data for more than 155 million U.S. residential and commercial properties covering 99 percent of the nation’s population. A rigorous data management process involving more than 20 steps validates, standardizes, and enhances the real estate data collected by ATTOM, assigning each property record with a persistent, unique ID — the ATTOM ID. The 20TB ATTOM Data Warehouse fuels innovation in many industries including mortgage, real estate, insurance, marketing, government and more through flexible data delivery solutions that include bulk file licensesproperty data APIsreal estate market trendsproperty reports and more. Also, introducing our newest innovative solution, that offers immediate access and streamlines data management – ATTOM Cloud.

July 5, 2022

How home-price growth has damaged the housing market

July 5, 2022

Winners and losers in this volatile housing market

 

Times are good for cash buyers, homeowners who secured a mortgage at lower rates

June 27, 2022, 5:00 pm By Connie Kim


The last two years have been good to Christian Dicker.

Like many loan officers, Dicker was working nights and weekends, banging out refinancings and purchase mortgages at record-low rates for clients. It didn’t matter where he was — getting dinner with his family at a fancy restaurant or out on the lake on a boat — Dicker always had his phone on hand to make sure he didn’t miss any of his clients’ emails or calls. About 40% of his business came from refis in the summer of 2021, even though he had focused on purchase mortgages his entire career.

But the boom times are over, and he knows it.

One of Dicker’s clients this past weekend backed out of a $295,000 home purchase in Michigan. That sort of thing was virtually unheard of a year ago, when rates were about 3%.

“After hearing their monthly mortgage payment would be around $2,000 a month, my client backed out of the offer the next day,” said Dicker, a senior loan officer at Motto Mortgage. “Less than a year ago, my client could’ve bought the home with a monthly mortgage payment of $1,700.”

The rising rate environment has thinned Dicker’s pipeline, culling refis almost entirely. And he’s far from alone. Market conditions are forcing countless LOs to find creative solutions to lock down home purchases for clients whose purchasing power has diminished greatly in the past six months. Origination volume will see a steady, significant decline, meaning smaller paychecks for LOs and their lenders, all while prospective borrowers face increased pricing pressure, meaning many will indefinitely postpone or give up the search for a new home entirely.

The sudden spike in mortgage rates — which rose to a high of more than 6% in mid-June before falling to the 5.75% range a week later — has proven a shock to the system for the mortgage industry. Lenders that scaled up during the pandemic to take advantage of those low rates now find themselves hugely overstaffed as business falls dramatically. For LOs and the industry at large, the future is increasingly uncertain and the overall outlook can feel like a losing proposition.

“There really are hardly any winners in the mortgage industry,” said Joe Garrett, founder of banking and mortgage banking consulting firm Garrett, Mcauley & Co. “The winners in terms of mortgage companies are the ones who have a lot of servicing because the value has gone up as rates have gone up. Outside of the mortgage business, the winners are homeowners who refinanced.”

The Mortgage Bankers Association projects that, of $2.4 trillion in originations this year, just $730 billion will be from refis. Compared with 2021, origination volume is expected to drop 40% from last year’s $4 trillion origination volume. Less business for lenders and real estate brokerages, in return, is hurting title companies, tech vendors, appraisers and mortgage insurance firms.

But any market that pushes some businesses to the brink of insolvency also will create opportunities for others. Through numerous interviews with industry analysts and players, HousingWire assessed the rapidly changing housing market to determine who remains vulnerable to the higher-rate environment, and who’s primed to capitalize in the months ahead.

The culling

“You’re going to start to see the housing market price a lot of people out, which means there’s going to be fewer loans out there to be done, which means you’re going to probably see a lot of people starting to exit,” said Coley Carden, vice president of residential lending at Winchester Co-Operative Bank.

Banks, including Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase, which own and hold portfolios of mortgage backed securities (MBS), as well as nonbank lenders, have borne the brunt of rising interest rates thus far. Both depositories have instituted large-scale layoffs at their mortgage divisions, and Wells Fargo has indicated it plans to pull back on its mortgage business.

Nonbank lenders, including Pennymac, Mr. Cooper, loanDepot, Guaranteed Rate, Fairway Independent Mortgage, Interfirst Mortgage Co., Movement Mortgage, New Rez/Caliber, First Guaranty Mortgage Corporation and Better.com, all have conducted at least one round of workforce reductions this year, and further staff eliminations are expected to continue as volume falls. More than 10,000 industry jobs likely have already been shed during the past year, analysts told HousingWire.

While industry observers say originators are in a better position now than during the financial crisis in 2008, largely as a result of  the refi boom over the past two years, analysts including Argus Research’s Kevin Heal, expect gain-on-sale margins to decline in coming quarters due to volatility and lenders selling loans in the secondary market with lower gains, or at a loss.

“With today’s rising interest rates, combined with inflation, prospective buyers have seen their buying power reduced greatly,” said Sean Dobson, chief executive officer at Amherst Holdings. “This will likely cause some, who may have been ready to purchase otherwise, to take a pause.”

Brokerages prepare for leaner times

Reduced buying power means fewer closed deals for real estate brokerages, whose agents used to receive love letters from home shoppers desperate to win bidding wars.

Real estate brokerages aren’t immune from the current market environment. Because their agents are typically 1099 contractors, they are thought to be more insulated than mortgage lenders, whose employees generally receive W2s.

In early June, luxury-focused Side, which has raised more than $200 million at a valuation of $2.5 billion, laid off 40 workers, or about 10% of its staff.

“In our efforts to meet demand, we grew the team faster than we could train, support and develop everyone to meet the demands of changing roles and processes,” founder and CEO Guy Gal said in a written statement. “Considering this paired with the macroeconomic trends shaping the real estate market, we decided to slow down and get better organized so that we can speed up again.”

Tech-fueled Redfin laid off 470 employees, or about 8% of its workforce, saying housing demand fell short of expectations in May. But the brokerage is unusual in that it has salaried agents and a business model that is stretched thin during housing market downturns. Compass, which similarly has a tech bend and is also unprofitable, eliminated about 450 positions, roughly 10% of the brokerage’s employees. Compass also announced it would halt any merger and acquisition activity for the rest of the year.

Other top brokerage leaders were quick to say such troubles didn’t necessarily mean stronger headwinds for real estate brokerages.

“You have to be an ant putting away crumbs when the weather is good to have enough food when the weather is bad,” Frederick Peters, CEO of Coldwell Banker Warburg Peters, told RealTrends. “Compass never did that.”

Still, many large brokerages are taking a hard look at their physical footprints, vendor relationships and other potential means of trimming the fat as volume drops.

Less demand for homebuilders

Fewer buyers in the market also means homebuilders are enticing shoppers with incentives, which negatively affects margins.

“Things like buying down a customer’s rate, or offering buyers free upgrades to their house and lowering lot premium don’t really count as cutting prices, it counts as giving them stuff for free,” said Carl Reichardt, a homebuilding analyst at BTIG.

Despite the negative effect on builders’ bottom line, such incentives still aren’t luring buyers. A combination of higher home prices, rising interest rates, consumer concerns about the future of the real estate market and the lack of new home inventory has resulted in a decline in sales and traffic, according to Reichardt.

More than half of the 86 homebuilders surveyed by the BTIG/HomeSphere State of the Industry Report reported a year-over-year decrease in sales, marking the largest share of builders to experience an annual decline in sales in more than four years. Only 20% reported year-over-year traffic growth, the lowest level since April 2020, at the start of the pandemic.

Landlords hold the cards

The phrase “cash is king” has perhaps never been more apropos — home prices remain high, and rising rates put mortgage seekers at a disadvantage.

Even if mortgage rates are hovering in the 6% range, homes are still going to sell, loan officers said. Though not necessarily to buyers with financing. Homebuyers who offer cash were four times as likely to win a bidding war as those who didn’t in 2021, according to data from Redfin.

The median existing housing price surged 14.8% from a year ago to an all-time high of more than $407,000 in May, exceeding the $400,000 level for the first time, a report from the National Association of Realtors showed.

Motto Mortgage’s Dicker recalls providing loans in the mid-3% level in October. His clients need to adjust their expectations in a higher-rate environment. “You can’t get something of a newer quality and bigger size compared to last year,” he said.

All-cash sales made up 25% of transactions in May, with 16% coming from individual investors or second-home buyers taking advantage of the rising demand for renting, according to the NAR.

“More people are renting, and the resulting rent price escalation may spur more institutional investors to buy single-family homes and turn them into rental properties,” said Leslie Rouda Smith, president at NAR.

Amherst Holdings, which acquired more than 46,600 rental homes across the country with an estimated value of more than $7.6 billion, sees potential for more business in a downmarket for the mortgage industry. The spike in borrowing costs means consumers will find themselves unable to purchase the same home that they might have been able to afford a year ago.

“If demand for household buyers of properties cools off, we may see more opportunities for companies in the leasing space to supply single-family rentals to those who have been priced out of the homebuying market,” said Amherst’s Dobson.

“It seems desirable properties – whether it be a new single-family home that has all the bells and whistles or if it’s an apartment for rent – they are renting up at higher prices and they’re also renting faster,” added Aaron Sklar, partner at Kiser Group.

Rents for apartments in professionally managed properties were up 12% nationally in the first quarter of 2022 from a year earlier, with increases in several metro areas exceeding 20%, according to a report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

Rent for single-family homes rose even faster than those for apartments, pushed up by demand for more space among households working remotely, the report said. Single-family rents nationally rose 14% in March 2022, marking the 12th straight month of record-high growth, according to CoreLogic data.

“It’s definitely a landlord’s market,” said Kiser Group’s Sklar. “Rents seem to be going up just as high as the interest rates are. I don’t think it’s a win for anyone on the lending side. But I do think that owners of properties, and single-family home operators, they’re the real beneficiaries of higher interest rates.”

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Dec. 8, 2020

An Open Canvas – The Vermont Market

An Open Canvas – The Vermont Market

 

At New England Landmark Realty, we are experienced in dealing with sales on the Vermont market, which is a unique American real estate market. We've seen that those who want to buy land or property in Vermont often have their own specific ideas and goals and plans related to what Vermont has to offer.

 

The Vermont market is unique in its rustic environment and deliberate public planning. Here are some of the driving forces that inspire people to buy real estate here.

 

Getting Away

 

Many of our buyers purchase real estate in Vermont as a place to vacation. A significant number of them are using their Vermont properties to get a time-out from bustling urban environments in places like New York City, Washington DC or other regional metropolitan areas. We have seen what these buyers value in properties, and because we know the lay of the land when it comes to this state market, we can help guide someone toward the choices that will suit them best.

 

Cut the Commercials

 

Other Vermont buyers are attracted to the area because of the protectionist mindset in local public planning that carefully limits commercial signage, chain stores and other aspects of American commercialism.

 

You can see in other markets all over the country how unfettered development leads to a kind of chockablock visual result that many people consider to be an eyesore. By limiting the amount of signage, building footprints and commercial development of natural land, Vermont has really become a haven for those who believe in natural environments. Just visiting the state gives people a new frame of mind, if what they’re used to is the sameness of American suburbs and mini-malls. But unlike some of America’s other wild places, there’s something purposeful about the Vermont landscape, something that’s hard to match elsewhere.

 

Re-Homing and Sustaining

 

Other Vermont buyers have particular goals in terms of making their households more sustainable.

 

This unique rural aspect of Vermont makes it a prime place to work the land or raise livestock, or do other local sustainable projects. In this case, many of our buyers are looking for minimal building footprints, with larger areas of undeveloped land attached.

 

We have the land, and the homes. We have excellent visual tools and search functionality right on our website, to help Vermont buyers to search for their dream property. Contact us about your plans to participate in one of the most desirable U.S. real estate markets in the country. Be sure to check out our “featured properties” and other tools on the site, and reach out with any questions. Welcome!

Nov. 5, 2020

Preparing for Winter in Vermont

It's no secret that the winters are cold in Vermont. The cold makes way for the snow, and a winter wonderland is born. Children enjoy snow days off from school, making snow angels and scarfed snowmen with carrot top noses. Hot cocoa with marshmallows and whipped cream sit unassumingly near the fireplace. Snowy winters are all well and good for the children in your life, but this same beautiful natural occurrence can wreak havoc on a home if you don't take the necessary precautions. Before that happens, check out these tips to keep your home toasty and warm, and your heating costs low.

Preparing for Winter in Vermont

Seal your Windows and Doors

There are many ways to weatherize your home, but caulking and weatherstrips can be a great way to protect your home from air leaks that seep in through small cracks and openings.   Maintain the durability and longevity of your home by sealing these gaps. These are apparent in doors and windows, and also where plumbing, ducting, and electrical wiring comes through walls, floors, and ceilings. 

Insulation is the Key

There are several different areas of your home that require insulation.  Your attic is a prime example. Since heat rises, you don't want it to hang out in your home's upper levels without heating the lower levels. You can use do it yourself foam insulation sprays for smaller cracks and gaps. Remember, proper ventilation is needed, so don't limit airflow by closing off vents without consultation. Renovated basements are also on the list of areas that should be insulated. If you use your garage as a man cave or workspace, you might consider insulation. 

A Plan of Action

Be prepared for the unexpected. Create a disaster plan ahead of time if you are in an area of unpredictable weather. Stock emergency supplies, and be sure not to forget to install a carbon monoxide detector as well as a smoke detector. Keep important papers safe and have property insurance papers handy. Only heat rooms that you use and spend time in each day. Close off unused areas of the house. Have an emergency plan of somewhere you can go should you lose heat. Think about joining a Community Emergency Response Team in your area. 

Take Care of your House

Your house is more than a place; it's a home. It will last longer if you take the necessary precautions to update and winterize your home each year. If you are in the market for a new home or are looking to sell, please visit New England Landmark Realty for all of your home buying and selling needs.

Posted in Vermont
Oct. 9, 2020

Essential Elements Your Virtual Home Tour Needs

Over 14,000 homes are sold every day in the United States. While the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down the housing market a bit, many analysts don’t see this downturn lasting. If you are attempting to sell a home during this confusing time in history, you have to embrace the power of technology. Working with an experienced real estate agent is a crucial component of getting your home sold quickly. 

One of the main things a real estate agent will advise you to do is to create a virtual home tour for interested buyers. In most cases, a real estate agent will help you create and advertise this listing. Before posting a link to your virtual home tour online, you need to make sure it has some of the following elements. 

Include a Picture of Your Home’s Floor Plan

Some homeowners get so wrapped up in including flashy camera angles and top-notch transitions in their virtual tour that they forget about some basic elements. While walking a person through your home virtually is a must, you also need to provide them with more context about how your residence is set up. The best way to do this is by including a picture of your home’s floor plan. 

If you don’t have a floor plan handy, try contacting the builder who constructed your residence. In some areas, the local building permit agency will have a copy on file. If you can’t track down a floor plan using these methods, you may have to work with your real estate agent to hand draft one. By including this information, you can give online home buyers the information they need to decide whether or not your residence is the right fit for their needs. 

Video Footage of Appealing Home Features

A walkthrough of your home is only one of the things your virtual listing should include. You also need to make a video that highlights the great features your home has. These features should include things like energy-efficient appliances, doors and windows. 

Getting video from inside of your garage is also a good idea. If you are unsure about what features to highlight in this video, seek out the guidance of your real estate agent. They will be able to give you a breakdown of the features home buyers like. By producing a video with these great features, you can entice buyers and sell your home in record time. 

Good Audio and Lighting

If you are developing a video tour of your home to show to online buyers, making sure it is well-lit is vital. Poor lighting can make your home look unappealing and dull. You also need to make sure that there the audio featured in the virtual home tour is crisp and easy to understand. With these two elements in place, you can provide consumers with a great representation of what your home has to offer. 

Need Help Selling Your Home?

 

If you are ready to put your home on the market, let New England Landmark Realty help you out. Our team will work hard to help you find motivated buyers.

Posted in Home Buyers