The Impact of Tight Inventory on the Housing Market

The Impact of Tight Inventory on the Housing Market | Simplifying The Market

The housing crisis is finally in the rear-view mirror as the real estate market moves down the road to a complete recovery. Home values are up, home sales are up, and distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have fallen to their lowest points in years. It seems that the market will continue to strengthen in 2018.

However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory. While buyer demand looks like it will remain strong throughout the winter, supply is not keeping up.

Here are the thoughts of a few industry experts on the subject:

National Association of Realtors

“Total housing inventory at the end of November dropped 7.2 percent to 1.67 million existing homes available for sale, and is now 9.7 percent lower than a year ago (1.85 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 30 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.4-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from 4.0 months a year ago.”

Joseph Kirchner, Senior Economist for Realtor.com

“The increases in single-family permits and starts show that builders are planning and starting new construction projects, that’s a good thing because it will help to relieve the shortage of homes on the market.”

Sam Khater, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic

Inventory is tighter than it appears. It’s much lower for entry-level buyers.”

Bottom Line 

If you are thinking of selling, now may be the time. Demand for your house will be strong at a time when there is very little competition. That could lead to a quick sale for a really good price.

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There’s More to a Bubble Than Rising Home Prices

There's More to a Bubble Than Rising Home Prices | Simplifying The Market

What truly causes a housing bubble and the inevitable crash? For the best explanation, let’s go to a person who correctly called the last housing bubble – a year before it happened.

“A bubble requires both overvaluation based on fundamentals and speculation. It is natural to focus on an asset’s fundamental value, but the real key for detecting a bubble is speculation…Speculation tends to chase appreciating assets, and then speculation begets more speculation, until finally, for some reason that will become obvious to all in hindsight, the ‘bubble’ bursts.

I have taken to calling the housing market a ‘bubble’.”

– Bill McBride of Calculated Risk calling the bubble back in April 2005

Where do we stand today regarding speculation?

There are two measurements that are used to determine the speculation in a housing market:

  1. The number of homes purchased by an investor and
  2. The number of homes being flipped (resold within a twelve-month period)

As compared to 2005, investor purchases are down dramatically (from 23% to 13%) and so is flipping (from 8.2% to 5.7%). McBride explains:

“There is currently some flipping activity, but this is more the normal type of flipping (buy, improve and then sell). Back in 2005, people were just buying homes and letting them sit vacant – and then selling without significant improvements. Classic speculation.”

What are the experts saying about speculation in today’s market?

DSNews recently ran an article which asked two economists to compare the speculation in today’s market to that in 2005-2007. Here is what they said:

Dr. Eddie Seiler, Chief Housing Economist at Summit Consulting:

“The speculative ‘flipping mania’ of 2006 is absent from most metro areas.”

Tian Liu, Chief Economist of Genworth Mortgage Insurance:

“The nature of housing demand is different as well, with more potential homeowners and far fewer speculators in the housing market compared to the 2005-2007 period.”

And what does McBride, who called the last housing bubble, think about today’s real estate market?

Sixty days ago, he explained:

“In 2005, people were just buying homes and letting them sit vacant – and then selling without significant improvements. Classic speculation. And even more dangerous during the bubble was the excessive use of leverage (all those poor-quality loans). Currently lending standards are decent, and loan quality is excellent…

I wouldn’t call house prices a bubble – and I don’t expect house prices to decline nationally like during the bust.”

Bottom Line

Speculation is a major element of the housing bubble formula. Right now, there are not elevated percentages of investors and house flippers. Therefore, there is not an elevated rate of speculation.

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Existing Home Sales Reach Highest Annual Pace in 11 Years [INFOGRAPHIC]

Existing Home Sales Reach Highest Annual Pace in 11 Years [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • Existing home sales are currently at an annual pace of 5.81 million, the highest pace since December 2006.
  • The inventory of existing homes for sale has dropped year-over-year for the last 30 consecutive months and is now at a 3.4-month supply.
  • NAR’s Chief Economist Lawrence Yun had this to say: “Faster economic growth in recent quarters, the booming stock market and continuous job gains are fueling substantial demand for buying a home as 2017 comes to an end.”

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Housing Prices are NOT Heading for Another Crash

As home values continue to increase at levels greater than historic norms, some are concerned that we are heading for another crash like the one we experienced ten years ago. We recently explained that the lenient lending standards of the previous decade (which created false demand) no longer exist. But what about prices?

Are prices appreciating at the same rate that they were prior to the crash of 2006-2008? Let’s look at the numbers as reported by Freddie Mac:

Housing Prices are NOT Heading for Another Crash | Simplifying The Market

The levels of appreciation we have experienced over the last four years aren’t anywhere near the levels that were reached in the four years prior to last decade’s crash.

We must also realize that, to a degree, the current run-up in prices is the market trying to catch up after a crash that dramatically dropped prices for five years.

Bottom Line

Prices are appreciating at levels greater than historic norms. However, we are not at the levels that led to the housing bubble and bust.

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The Real Reason Home Prices are Increasing

The Real Reason Home Prices are Increasing | Simplifying The Market

There are many unsubstantiated theories as to why home values are continuing to increase. From those who are worried that lending standards are again becoming too lenient (data shows this is untrue), to those who are concerned that prices are again approaching boom peaks because of “irrational exuberance” (this is also untrue as prices are not at peak levels when they are adjusted for inflation), there seems to be no shortage of opinion.

However, the increase in prices is easily explained by the theory of supply & demand. Whenever there is a limited supply of an item that is in high demand, prices increase.

It is that simple. In real estate, it takes a six-month supply of existing salable inventory to maintain pricing stability. In most housing markets, anything less than six months will cause home values to appreciate and anything more than seven months will cause prices to depreciate (see chart 1).

The Real Reason Home Prices are Increasing | Simplifying The Market

According to the Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the monthly inventory of homes has been below six months for the last four years (see chart 2).

The Real Reason Home Prices are Increasing | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

If buyer demand outpaces the current supply of existing homes for sale, prices will continue to appreciate. Nothing nefarious is taking place. It is simply the theory of supply & demand working as it should.

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Existing Home Sales Slowed by a Lack of Listings [INFOGRAPHIC]

Existing Home Sales Slowed by a Lack of Listings [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying the Market

Some Highlights:

  • The inventory of existing homes for sale has dropped year-over-year for the last 29 consecutive months and is now at a 3.9-month supply.
  • Existing home sales are currently at an annual pace of 5.48 million, the highest pace since June of this year, but down 0.9% from October 2016.
  • NAR’s Chief Economist, Lawrence Yun, had this to say: “While the housing market gained a little more momentum last month, sales are still below year ago levels because low inventory is limiting choices for prospective buyers and keeping price growth elevated.”

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Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage?

Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage? | Simplifying The Market

There is little doubt that it is easier to get a home mortgage today than it was last year. The Mortgage Credit Availability Index (MCAI), published by the Mortgage Bankers Association, shows that mortgage credit has become more available in each of the last several years. In fact, in just the last year:

  • More buyers are putting less than 20% down to purchase a home
  • The average credit score on closed mortgages is lower
  • More low-down-payment programs have been introduced

This has some people worrying that we are returning to the lax lending standards which led to the boom and bust that real estate experienced ten years ago. Let’s alleviate some of that concern.

The graph below shows the MCAI going back to the boom years of 2004-2005. The higher the graph line, the easier it was to get a mortgage.

Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage? | Simplifying The Market

 

As you can see, lending standards were much more lenient from 2004 to 2007. Though it has gradually become easier to get a mortgage since 2011, we are nowhere near the lenient standards during the boom.

The Urban Institute also publishes a Home Credit Availability Index (HCAI). According to the Institute, the HCAI:

“Measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default—that is, go unpaid for more than 90 days past their due date. A lower HCAI indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards, making it harder to get a loan. A higher HCAI indicates … it is easier to get a loan.”

Here is a graph showing their findings:

Bubble Alert! Is it Getting Too Easy to Get a Mortgage? | Simplifying The Market

Again, today’s lending standards are nowhere near the levels of the boom years. As a matter of fact, they are more stringent than they were even before the boom.

Bottom Line

It is getting easier to gain financing for a home purchase. However, we are not seeing the irresponsible lending that caused the housing crisis.

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A Housing Bubble? Industry Experts Say NO!

A Housing Bubble? Industry Experts Say NO! | Simplifying The Market

With residential home prices continuing to appreciate at levels above historic norms, some are questioning if we are heading toward another housing bubble (and subsequent burst) like the one we experienced in 2006-2008.

Recently, five housing experts weighed in on the question.

Rick Sharga, Executive VP at Ten-X:

“We’re definitely not in a bubble.”

“We have a handful of markets that are frothy and probably have hit an affordability wall of sorts but…while prices nominally have surpassed the 2006 peak, we’re not talking about 2006 dollars.”

Christopher Thornberg, Partner at Beacon Economics:

“There is no direct or indirect sign of any kind of bubble.”

“Steady as she goes. Prices continue to rise. Sales roughly flat.…Overall this market is in an almost boring place.”

Bill McBride, Calculated Risk:

“I wouldn’t call house prices a bubble.”

“So prices may be a little overvalued, but there is little speculation and I don’t expect house prices to decline nationally like during the bust.”

David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices:

“Housing is not repeating the bubble period of 2000-2006.”

“…price increases vary unlike the earlier period when rising prices were almost universal; the number of homes sold annually is 20% less today than in the earlier period and the months’ supply is declining, not surging.”

Bing Bai & Edward Golding, Urban Institute:

“We are not in a bubble and nowhere near the situation preceding the 2008 housing crisis.”

“Despite recent increases, house prices remain affordable by historical standards, suggesting that home prices are tracking a broader economic expansion.”

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Why Sell Now Instead of Later? The Buyers are Out Now

Why Sell Now instead of Later? The Buyers are Out Now | Simplifying The Market

Each year, most homeowners wait until the spring to sell their houses because they believe that they can get a better deal during the normal spring buyer’s market. However, recently released data suggests that a seller’s best deal may be available right now. The concept of ‘supply & demand’ reveals that the best price for an item will be realized when the supply of that item is low and the demand for that item is high. Let’s see how this applies to the current residential real estate market.

SUPPLY

It is no secret that the supply of homes for sale has been far below the number needed for over a year. A normal market requires six months of housing inventory to meet the demand. The latest report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that there is currently only a 4.2-month supply.

Supply is currently very low!!

DEMAND

A report that was just released tells us that demand is very strong. The most recent Foot Traffic Report (which sheds light on the number of buyers out looking at homes) disclosed that there are more buyers right now than at any other time in the last twelve months. This includes more buyers looking at homes right now than at any time during last year’s spring market.

Demand is currently very high!! 

Bottom Line

Waiting until the spring to list your house for sale made sense in the past. This year is different. The best deal is probably available right now.

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Thinking of Selling? You Should Do It TODAY!!

Thinking of Selling? You Should Do It TODAY!! | Simplifying The Market

That headline might be a little aggressive; however, as August 2017’s housing market data begins to roll in, we can definitely say one thing: If you are considering selling, IT IS TIME TO LIST YOUR HOME TODAY!

In a recent article by CBS News, they explained that the number of existing home sales is shrinking, and Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors, said:

“There should be 3 million homes on the market right now…Yet, there are only 1.9 million.”

And this situation will be affected greatly by recent natural disasters. Yun continued by saying:

“Before the hurricanes I would have predicted 1.35 million in new-home construction in 2018…I’ll have to scale that down now.”

NAR, in their August 2017 Realtors® Confidence Index, indicated that:

“Amid sustained job creation and sustained historically low mortgage rates, REALTORS® reported…that buyer demand is stronger compared to conditions one year ago… and that fifty percent of properties were on the market for less than one month when sold.”

The only challenge to today’s market is a severe lack of inventory. A balanced market would have a full six-month supply of homes for sale. Currently, there is only a 4.2-month supply of inventory, which is down from 4.5 months one year ago.

Bottom Line

With demand increasing and supply dropping, this may be the perfect time to get the best price for your home. Let’s get together and discuss the inventory levels in your neighborhood to determine your next steps.

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