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4 Reasons Why the End of Forbearance Will Not Lead to a Wave of Foreclosures

Wednesday, July 28th, 2021

4 Reasons Why the End of Forbearance Will Not Lead to a Wave of Foreclosures | Simplifying The Market

With forbearance plans about to come to an end, many are concerned the housing market will experience a wave of foreclosures like what happened after the housing bubble 15 years ago. Here are four reasons why that won’t happen.

1. There are fewer homeowners in trouble this time

After the last housing crash, about 9.3 million households lost their home to a foreclosure, short sale, or because they simply gave it back to the bank.

As stay-at-home orders were issued early last year, the overwhelming fear was the pandemic would decimate the housing industry in a similar way. Many experts projected 30% of all mortgage holders would enter the forbearance program. Only 8.5% actually did, and that number is now down to 3.5%.

As of last Friday, the total number of mortgages still in forbearance stood at  1,863,000. That’s definitely a large number, but nowhere near 9.3 million.

2. Most of the 1.86M in forbearance have enough equity to sell their home

Of the 1.86 million homeowners currently in forbearance, 87% have at least 10% equity in their homes. The 10% equity number is important because it enables homeowners to sell their houses and pay the related expenses instead of facing the hit on their credit that a foreclosure or short sale would create.

The remaining 13% might not all have the option to sell, so if the entire 13% of the 1.86M homes went into foreclosure, that would total 241,800 mortgages. To give that number context, here are the annual foreclosure numbers of the three years leading up to the pandemic:

  • 2017: 314,220
  • 2018: 279,040
  • 2019: 277,520

The probable number of foreclosures coming out of the forbearance program is nowhere near the number of foreclosures coming out of the housing crash 15 years ago. The number does, however, draw a similar comparison to the three years prior to the pandemic.

3. The current market can absorb any listings coming to the market

When foreclosures hit the market in 2008, there was an excess supply of homes for sale. The situation is exactly the opposite today. In 2008, there was a 9-month supply of listings for sale. Today, that number stands at less than 3 months of inventory on the market.

As Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at the National Association of Realtors (NAR), explains when addressing potential foreclosures emerging from the forbearance program:

“Any foreclosure increases will likely be quickly absorbed by the market. It will not lead to any price declines.”

4. Those in power will do whatever is necessary to prevent a wave of foreclosures

Just last Friday, the White House released a fact sheet explaining how homeowners with government-backed mortgages will be given further options to enable them to keep their homes when exiting forbearance. Here are two examples mentioned in the release:

  • “For homeowners who can resume their pre-pandemic monthly mortgage payment and where agencies have the authority, agencies will continue requiring mortgage servicers to offer options that allow borrowers to move missed payments to the end of the mortgage at no additional cost to the borrower.”
  • “The new steps the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Department of Agriculture (USDA), and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are announcing will aim to provide homeowners with a roughly 25% reduction in borrowers’ monthly principal and interest (P&I) payments to ensure they can afford to remain in their homes and build equity long-term. This brings options for homeowners with mortgages backed by HUD, USDA, and VA closer in alignment with options for homeowners with mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

When evaluating the four reasons above, it’s clear there won’t be a flood of foreclosures coming to the market as the forbearance program winds down.

Bottom Line

As Ivy Zelman, founder of the major housing market analytical firm Zelman & Associates, notes:

“The likelihood of us having a foreclosure crisis again is about zero percent.”

A Look at Housing Supply and What It Means for Sellers

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

A Look at Housing Supply and What It Means for Sellers | Simplifying The Market

One of the hottest topics of conversation in today’s real estate market is the shortage of available homes. Simply put, there are many more potential buyers than there are homes for sale. As a seller, you’ve likely heard that low supply is good news for you. It means your house will get more attention, and likely, more offers. But as life begins to return to normal, you may be wondering if that’s something that will change.

While it may be tempting to blame the pandemic for the current inventory shortage, the pandemic can’t take all the credit. While it did make some sellers hold off on listing their houses over the past year, the truth is the low supply of homes was years in the making. Let’s take a look at the root cause and what the future holds to uncover why now is still a great time to sell.

Where Did the Shortage Come From?

It’s not just today’s high buyer demand. Our low supply goes hand-in-hand with the number of new homes built over the past decades. According to Sam Khater, VP and Chief Economist at Freddie Mac:

“The main driver of the housing shortfall has been the long-term decline in the construction of single-family homes.”

Data in a recent report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) tells the same story. New home construction has been lagging behind the norm for quite some time. Historically, builders completed an average of 1.5 million new housing units per year. However, since the housing bubble in 2008, the level of new home construction has fallen off (see graph below):A Look at Housing Supply and What It Means for Sellers | Simplifying The MarketThe same NAR report elaborates on the impact of this below-average pace of construction:

. . . the underbuilding gap in the U.S. totaled more than 5.5 million housing units in the last 20 years.” 

“Looking ahead, in order to fill an underbuilding gap of approximately 5.5 million housing units during the next 10 years, while accounting for historical growth, new construction would need to accelerate to a pace that is well above the current trend, to more than 2 million housing units per year. . . .”

That means if we build even more new houses than the norm every year, it’ll still take a decade to close the underbuilding gap contributing to today’s supply-and-demand mix. Does that mean today’s ultimate sellers’ market is here to stay?

We’re already starting to see an increase in new home construction, which is great news. But newly built homes can’t bridge the supply gap we’re facing right now on their own. In the State of the Nation’s Housing 2021 Report, the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (JCHS) says:

“…Although part of the answer to the nation’s housing shortage, new construction can only do so much to ease short-term supply constraints. To meet today’s strong demand, more existing single-family homes must come on the market.

Early Indicators Show More Existing-Home Inventory Is on Its Way

When we look at existing homes, the latest reports signal that housing supply is growing gradually month-over-month. This uptick in existing homes for sale shows things are beginning to shift. Based on recent data, Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, has this to say:

“It looks like existing inventory is starting to inch up, which is good news for a housing market parched for more supply.”

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, echoes that sentiment:

“As the inventory is beginning to pick up ever so modestly, we are still facing a housing shortage, but we may have turned a corner.”

So, what does all of this mean for you? Just because life is starting to return to normal, it doesn’t mean you missed out on the best time to sell. It’s not too late to take advantage of today’s sellers’ market and use rising equity and low interest rates to make your next move.

Bottom Line

It’s still a great time to sell. Even though housing supply is starting to trend up, it’s still hovering near historic lows. Let’s connect to discuss how you can list your house now and use the inventory shortage to get the best possible terms for you.

3 Hot Topics in the Housing Market Right Now

Monday, July 26th, 2021

3 Hot Topics in the Housing Market Right Now | Simplifying The Market

If you’re a prospective buyer or seller, it’s important to understand the current real estate market conditions and how they affect you. The Counselors of Real Estate (CRE) just released its Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate report. Here are three hot topics from the list and how they impact today’s housing market.

Technology Acceleration and Innovation

The past year ushered in many changes to the real estate industry, especially when it comes to technology. The CRE report elaborates on this:

“Lockdown-driven changes in our work, in the economy, in social structures, and in our personal behavior have pushed our reluctance aside. The acceleration and adoption of technology during the pandemic has impacted everything, and real estate is no exception.

For real estate, innovations like digital documentation, virtual tours, and video chat enable agents to connect with clients no matter their location. These options are ideal for prospective buyers and sellers who aren’t local to the area or those that need the added flexibility signing documents online or doing virtual tours provide. That’s why many trusted real estate advisors will continue to use these technologies moving forward to best serve their clients.

Remote Work and Mobility

Working from home became the reality for many individuals during the pandemic, and the latest list from the CRE identified remote work and mobility as an important influence on the real estate market. As the report notes:

the pandemic universally caused a movement away from urban cores, particularly for those with higher incomes who could afford to move and for lower-income individuals seeking lower costs of living. Most of these relocations remained within their original region—84%—and, while some are returning, it is unknown as to the permanence of these movements or whether they represent a true urban exodus.

With the added mobility remote work offers, where people are moving and where they can ultimately purchase a home is less dependent on a physical office location. This newfound flexibility is giving remote workers the opportunity to move to more affordable areas and buy more home for their money.

Housing Supply and Affordability

Finally, the limited supply of houses for sale and the related affordability challenges also makes CRE’s list of key factors this year:

“According to the National Association of Realtors®, the state of America’s housing inventory is dire, with a chronic shortage of affordable and available homes needed to support the nation’s population.”

There is good news. Homes are still more affordable than they have been historically thanks to today’s low mortgage rates. And while housing supply is still low, we’re seeing steady increases in the number of homes coming to market, which gives hope to homebuyers. As the supply of homes for sale improves, buyers will have more options.

Bottom Line

New technology, remote work, housing supply, and home affordability are key factors in the housing market right now for both buyers and sellers. If you want to better understand how these topics can impact you, let’s connect today.