Monday, September 21st, 2020
Earlier this year, many economists and market analysts were predicting an apocalyptic financial downturn that would potentially rattle the U.S. economy for years to come. They immediately started to compare it to the Great Depression of a century ago. Six months later, the economy is still trying to stabilize, but it is evident that the country will not face the total devastation projected by some. As we continue to battle the pandemic, forecasts are now being revised upward. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) just reported:
“The U.S. economy and labor market are recovering from the coronavirus-related downturn more quickly than previously expected, economists said in a monthly survey.
Business and academic economists polled by The Wall Street Journal expect gross domestic product to increase at an annualized rate of 23.9% in the third quarter. That is up sharply from an expectation of an 18.3% growth rate in the previous survey.”
What Shape Will the Recovery Take?
Economists have historically cast economic recoveries in the form of one of four letters – V, U, W, or L.
A V-shaped recovery is all about the speed of the recovery. This quick recovery is treated as the best-case scenario for any economy that enters a recession. NOTE: Economists are now also using a new term for this type of recovery called the “Nike Swoosh.” It is a form of the V-shape that may take several months to recover, thus resembling the Nike Swoosh logo.
A U-shaped recovery is when the economy experiences a sharp fall into a recession, like the V-shaped scenario. In this case, however, the economy remains depressed for a longer period of time, possibly several years, before growth starts to pick back up again.
A W-shaped recovery can look like an economy is undergoing a V-shaped recovery until it plunges into a second, often smaller, contraction before fully recovering to pre-recession levels.
An L-shaped recovery is seen as the worst-case scenario. Although the economy returns to growth, it is at a much lower base than pre-recession levels, which means it takes significantly longer to fully recover.
Many experts predicted that this would be a dreaded L-shaped recovery, like the 2008 recession that followed the housing market collapse. Fortunately, that does not seem to be the case.
The same WSJ survey mentioned above asked the economists which letter this recovery will most resemble. Here are the results:
What About the Unemployment Numbers?
It’s difficult to speak positively about a jobs report that shows millions of Americans are still out of work. However, when we compare it to many forecasts from earlier this year, the numbers are much better than most experts expected. There was talk of numbers that would rival the Great Depression when the nation suffered through four consecutive years of unemployment over 20%.
The first report after the 2020 shutdown did show a 14.7% unemployment rate, but much to the surprise of many analysts, the rate has decreased each of the last three months and is now in the single digits (8.4%).
Economist Jason Furman, Professor at Harvard University‘s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Chair of the Council of Economic Advisers during the previous administration, recently put it into context:
“An unemployment rate of 8.4% is much lower than most anyone would have thought it a few months ago. It is still a bad recession but not a historically unprecedented event or one we need to go back to the Great Depression for comparison.”
The economists surveyed by the WSJ also forecasted unemployment rates going forward:
- 2021: 6.3%
- 2022: 5.2%
- 2023: 4.9%
The following table shows how the current employment situation compares to other major disruptions in our economy:
The economic recovery still has a long way to go. So far, we are doing much better than most thought would be possible.
Friday, September 18th, 2020
- Buyers are actively searching for and purchasing homes at a record-breaking pace. According to the latest report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), in July, 68% of homes were on the market for less than a month.
- With homes moving from listing day to pending sale in an average of just 22 days, it’s a great time to sell a house.
- Let’s connect today so you can make your move while buyers are scooping homes up faster than they’re coming to market.
Thursday, September 17th, 2020
Real estate continues to be called the ‘bright spot’ in the current economy, but there’s one thing that may hold the housing market back from achieving its full potential this year: the lack of homes for sale.
Buyers are actively searching for and purchasing homes, looking to capitalize on today’s historically low interest rates, but there just aren’t enough houses for sale to meet that growing need. Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, explains:
“Mortgage rates have hit another record low due to a late summer slowdown in the economic recovery…These low rates have ignited robust purchase demand activity…However, heading into the fall it will be difficult to sustain the growth momentum in purchases because the lack of supply is already exhibiting a constraint on sales activity.”
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), right now, unsold inventory sits at a 3.1-month supply at the current sales pace. To have a balanced market where there are enough homes for sale to meet buyer demand, the market needs inventory for 6 months. Today, we’re nowhere near where that number needs to be. If the trend continues, it will get even harder to find homes to purchase this fall, and that may slow down potential buyers. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, notes:
“The overall lack of sustained new listings growth could put a dent in fall home sales despite high interest from home shoppers, because new listings are key to home sales.”
The realtor.com Weekly Recovery Report keeps an eye on the number of listings coming into the market (houses available for sale) and the total number of listings staying in the market compared to the previous year (See graph below):Buyers are clearly scooping up homes faster than they’re being put up for sale. The number of total listings (the orange line) continues to decline even as new listings (the blue line) are coming to the market. Why? Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research at realtor.com, notes:
“The post-pandemic period has brought a record number of homebuyers back into the market, but it’s also failed to bring a consistent number of sellers back. Homes are selling faster, and sales are still on an upward trend, but rapidly disappearing inventory also means more home shoppers are being priced out. If we don’t see material improvement to supply in the next few weeks, we could see the number of transactions begin to dwindle again even as the lineup of buyers continues to grow.”
Does this mean it’s a good time to sell?
Yes. If you’re thinking about selling your house, this fall is a great time to make it happen. There are plenty of buyers looking for homes to purchase because they want to take advantage of low interest rates. Realtors are also reporting an average of 3 offers per house and an increase in bidding wars, meaning the demand is there and the opportunity to sell for the most favorable terms is in your favor as a seller.
If you’re considering selling your house, this is the perfect time to connect so we can talk about how you can benefit from the market trends in our local area.
Wednesday, September 16th, 2020
Earlier this year, realtor.com announced the release of the Housing Recovery Index, a weekly guide showing how the pandemic has impacted the residential real estate market. The index leverages a weighted average of four key components of the housing industry by tracking each of the following:
- Housing Demand – Growth in online search activity
- Home Price – Growth in asking prices
- Housing Supply – Growth of new listings
- Pace of Sales – Difference in time-on-market
The index compares the current status “to the January 2020 market trend, as a baseline for pre-COVID market growth. The overall index is set to 100 in this baseline period. The higher a market’s index value, the higher its recovery and vice versa.”
The graph below charts the index by showing how the real estate market started out strong in early 2020, and then dropped dramatically at the beginning of March when the pandemic paused the economy. It also shows the strength of the recovery since the beginning of May.Today, the index stands at its highest point all year, including the time prior to the economic shutdown.
The Momentum Is Still Building
Though there is some evidence that the overall economic recovery may be slowing, the housing market is still gaining momentum. Zillow tracks the number of homes that are put into contract on a weekly basis. Their latest report confirms that buyer demand is continuing to dramatically outpace this same time last year, and the percent increase over last year is growing.Clearly, the housing market is not only outperforming the grim forecasts from earlier this year, but it is also eclipsing the actual success of last year.
Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, explains it best:
“On an aggregated level, the housing economy remains rock solid despite the shock and awe of the pandemic.”
Whether you’re considering buying or selling, staying on top of the real estate market over the coming months will be essential to your success.
Monday, September 14th, 2020
There has been much talk around the possibility that Americans are feeling less enamored with the benefits of living in a large city and now may be longing for the open spaces that suburban and rural areas provide.
In a recent Realtor Magazine article, they discussed the issue and addressed comments made by Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR):
“While migration trends were toward urban centers before the pandemic, real estate thought leaders have predicted a suburban resurgence as home buyers seek more space for social distancing. Now the data is supporting that theory. Coronavirus and work-from-home flexibility is sparking the trend reversal, Yun said. More first-time home buyers and minorities have also been looking to the suburbs for affordability, he added.”
NAR surveyed agents across the country asking them to best describe the locations where their clients are looking for homes (they could check multiple answers). Here are the results of the survey:
- 47% suburban/subdivision
- 39% rural area
- 25% small town
- 14% urban area/central city
- 13% resort community/recreational area
According to real estate agents, there’s a strong preference for less populated locations such as suburban and rural areas.
Real Estate Brokers and Owners Agree
Zelman & Associates surveys brokers and owners of real estate firms for their monthly Real Estate Brokers Report. The last report revealed that 68% see either a ‘moderate’ or ‘significant’ shift to more suburban locations. Here are the results of the survey:
No one knows if this will be a short-term trend or an industry game-changer. For now, there appears to be a migration to more open environments.