Buyers Waiting for Prices to Come Down Will Be Disappointed

“Some buyers were waiting for the next recession, thinking home prices would fall again – but recessions aren’t created equal. The latest downturn exposed those myths.”- FloridaRealtors.org
 By: Russ Wiles

NEW YORK – The current economic downtown has been odd in so many ways. Why shouldn’t it expose some economic myths and misconceptions as unreliable, if not outright untrue?

When it comes to understanding the relationships involving home prices, bank deposits, interest rates and unemployment, many disconnects arise. Here are a few:

High unemployment and home prices

You might think that as the nation’s unemployment rate has spiked during this social-distancing recession, that would put pressure on home prices, forcing some owners to miss payments and discouraging buyers.

So far, that hasn’t been apparent. Home prices were up 2.5% on average this year through April, according to S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller.

Low interest rates, which make homes more affordable, are one factor supporting prices. Also, stimulus and other government payments have enabled millions of Americans to meet their obligations. Plus, the economic slump has lasted only about four months so far, so the full impact may not have been felt yet. If the economy recovers strongly from here, negative housing fallout might not materialize in a big way.

Still, it does seem like the other shoe could drop. Fitch Ratings, the credit-rating agency, currently sees home prices nationally as 6.1% overvalued based on recent price increases, heightened unemployment and the possibility of lower incomes and rents. Values are most frothy in Nevada, Idaho, North Dakota, Texas and Arizona, Fitch said.

The degree to which housing might become more overvalued depends on the future path of unemployment and personal incomes, said Suzanne Mistretta, a Fitch senior director.

The company sees the U.S. unemployment rate easing to 7.8% next year from an average 10.3% in 2020. Though not approaching overvaluation levels of 20%-plus from 2005 to 2007, housing still could reach its highest level of overvaluation in a decade, Fitch warned.

Federal deficits and interest rates

Many people used to assume widening federal deficits would exert a crowding-out effect, pushing interest rates higher as the supply of debt mushroomed and private savings were siphoned from other investments. Few people seem to be focused on this connection anymore, given that interest rates keep dropping while Washington’s borrowing needs continue unabated.

One explanation for why the link doesn’t seem to work is the lack of inflation, as inflation and long-term interest rates tend to move together.

Another is the preference among investors for owning government bonds, which carry high credit ratings, during periods of heightened uncertainty. When things get tough, investors get nervous. They snap up government bonds with preservation of capital, not yield, as the primary goal.

As the Tax Foundation noted in a 2016 report, some economists had been suggesting that budget deficits reduce economic growth by boosting interest rates and diverting private saving toward the purchase of government debt. But in practice, “It has been hard to find an empirical link between deficits and increased interest rates or reduced investment,” the group concluded.

Rates are even lower, and deficits higher, today.

Low yields and deposit accounts

You would think that with bank deposit accounts, money-market mutual funds and other risk-averse instruments yielding next to nothing, investors would be ready to move their money elsewhere. But so far, millions of people are willing to accept virtually no yield so long as their assets remain safe.

Bank deposits spiked by $1.2 trillion in the first quarter, the most recent figure tracked by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. That was nearly four times the size of any other quarterly deposit gain over the past decade. Americans also have been flocking to money-market funds and other risk-averse instruments. Money-fund assets are up more than $1 trillion so far this year, reports Money Fund Intelligence newsletter.

It’s not like risky stock-market investments have been faring all that poorly. The broad market was up roughly 43% from its recent low in late March through July 9. But for a lot of people, safety reigns supreme – and they’re willing to pay a price for it, in low returns.

College graduates and layoffs

Before the recession, the vast majority of people with bachelor’s degrees who wanted jobs could get them. As recently as March, the national unemployment rate for college graduates was 2.5%. That was well below comparable figures for less-educated Americans, such as the 4.4% rate for people with only a high school diploma.

College graduates also typically earn more – $1,248 a week on average for holders of bachelor’s degrees only, compared with $746 for those with a high school diploma only, according to a May update by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

However, that picture has changed a bit amid this coronavirus-induced economic slump. The unemployment rate for college grads more than tripled overnight to 8.4% in April and 7.4% in May before easing to 6.9% in June, according to the Department of Labor.

That’s still well below comparable rates for less-educated groups, such as the 12.1% June unemployment rate for high-school graduates. (The department also tracks workers based on whether they have some high school attainment and some college.)

Still, it lays to rest, at least temporarily, the notion that college graduates are immune from layoffs or other career bumps, especially amid an economic backdrop as strange as this one has been.

Saving money during recessions

You might think now would be a tough time to save money. During recessions and other periods of high unemployment, more people are financially stressed, the reasoning goes. It would be the time for many individuals to lean on their savings to help make ends meet.

That might be the case for a lot of people, but it certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. The nation’s savings rate often has climbed during recessions, and while real-time numbers aren’t available yet, that could be the case again.

Part of this might reflect a reluctance or lack of opportunity to spend money. Think how much you have saved in recent months by eating at home rather than at restaurants, not taking vacations and so on. Perhaps many people also are making a genuine effort to get their budgets under control by putting off various types of spending.

It’s not just individuals, either. A March survey of corporate finance officers conducted by the Association for Financial Professionals noted the largest increase in three years of businesses holding short-term investments at banks.

 

https://www.floridarealtors.org/news-media/news-articles/2020/07/buyers-waiting-prices-come-down-will-be-disappointed

Working With Buyers In A Covid-19 Environment

Working with Buyers in a Covid-19 Environment

By: Noreen Payne

     Sitting at my desk and pondering the path forward during this time of social distancing and virtual work during Covid-19, I wonder how things will be different in our personal residential real estate business once we make it through these challenging times. But, for now, the focus is on how we continue to serve our buyers who are not only wanting to buy a home but also have to. Like many of our colleagues, we’re also looking at ways to conduct our business virtually. When it comes to our buyers, for now the days of picking them up in our cars and face-to-face interaction are on hold. Those of you who know me know I’m missing those personal moments immensely! 

That said, I’m finding that using tools such as FaceTime, Zoom, App Files, Video and Virtual tours can also go a long way toward building a solid relationship. In fact, we’ve just closed on a new home purchase with a buyer who has never set foot in the home they just bought! Though this is the first time we’re weathering a pandemic, this isn’t the first time we’ve done this. Remote contact can be a common way for buyers to purchase, especially investors who trust us with their goals.

     In the case of our recent close, we started in the classic Residential Real Estate fashion, doing what we do best. The fact-finding process, once done in person, can be handled via conference call. During the call I asked a lot of questions and did even more listening. Then I created the usual searches and shared them over email—after which came the usual back and forth feedback, mostly done via virtual tours, photos and a few FaceTime calls.

    Working in this manner with our buyer, we actually found the perfect home in no time! I set the showing with the listing agent and luckily the home is vacant and on a SUPRA, therefore, no contact/no touch deemed necessary. Over FaceTime the buyers and I took our time going through every inch of the home, down to the street on which it’s located. We negotiated the deal and went under contract. At the time of inspection, I met the inspector, who we know very well. As a side note: It’s my firm belief that having trusted partners working with you at all times is a must! I unlocked the door for the inspector and reconvened with the client over FaceTime to give them the update.  Obviously, many more things can happen prior to closing. In this case, we met General Contractors, interior designers, landscapers, plumbers, electricians, and more. It was a great help having an agent on the listing side who was incredibly accommodating and a pleasure to work with. In these days of Covid-19, our spirit of teamwork is being put to the test. Now more than ever, we’re all pulling together in the best interest of our clients to ensure smooth closings like this one. 

    In this time of uncertainty, my initial reaction was to withdraw—even marketing didn’t feel right. But, I believe these days the reality is that our clients now need our support more than ever (of course at a safe six-foot distance).

About Noreen Payne

Noreen Payne is a partner in the All About Florida Homes team of Lang Realty. She and her co-partner, Amy Snook, provide concierge-level real estate service in South Florida. She is currently Chairman of the Board for the Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce and is on the Board of Directors for The Achievement Center for Children & Families, and is an active volunteer with The Caring Kitchen.

 

 

How We Navigate Virtual Real Estate!

Amy explains how more than ever our technological tools are important in maintaining our social distance and health. The AllAboutFlorida Homes Team has all the right tools to help you list or buy your home. We know exactly how to navigate during these uncertain times and want our clients to feel comfortable knowing that we have a plan!

 

 

COVID-19 Personal Financial FAQ’s for Homebuyer’s

1. My company’s offices are closed, and I am having a hard time providing my final verification of employment within the 10 days prior to loan closing.

FHA and RHS are allowing verbal verification of employment. Specifically, your employer can provide this by phone. RHS is also allowing email verification. If you cannot get either of these, the lender will require higher reserves to cover risk. 

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will allow verbal verification when available and an email verification under certain conditions. They have also made other forms of temporary verification available in order to help with verification while social distancing

2.My lender indicated that the IRS has shut down and they cannot process loans without an income verification document that only the IRS can generate. Is this true?

Luckily, there is precedence for an IRS shutdown based on several recent government shutdowns. Some lenders may require this document, but Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA do not so this is a lender overlay.

Fannie and Freddie both issued guidance in January 2019 following the previous government shutdown to note that they do not require the 4506T IRS tax transcripts at closing. Rather, they only require a request for the document be signed by the borrower. However, they do require the tax transcript be submitted as part of their post-closing review. NAR has asked both Fannie and Freddie to clarify and publish updated guidance given the unique challenges posed by COVID-19.

Furthermore, the IRS reopened this facility during the shutdown as it was deemed essential. We have reached out to the IRS on this point.

  1. I have heard that the FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac have raised rates and fees on borrowers with lower credit scores or smaller down payments?

    These claims are not true. To date, neither the FHA nor Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have made any changes to credit scoring or down payment requirements. The only change they have made for borrowers is to allow MORE flexibility in how a lender can verify employment.

    However, some individual lenders are adding their own, higher standards on these products. The rational is that the cost of servicing these loans has surged due to the widespread forbearance that is taxing servicers’ resources. Under forbearance, the servicer must continue to pay PITI to the investor, but the sheer volume of forbearance to deal with the COVID-19 response is unprecedented. Since lower-credit borrowers are more likely to take forbearance and servicing is harder to get, lenders are less willing to extend this credit regardless of the FHA or GSEs’ standards.

    NAR sent a letter to the Treasury, Federal Reserve, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency requesting help for servicers dealing with the unprecedented demands on funds due to broad forbearance requests. Improving servicing is one key to improving the flow of funds to borrowers and homeowners.

    Ginnie Mae has announced the creation of a new program, that should help alleviate lender concerns and improve access to mortgage financing. The program will provide cover for lenders by advancing them the money so they can make the required pass- through payments to investors during the forbearance period.

We’re here for You! Virtually!

We have so many tools available like Facetime, Virtual Video home tours, E-signatures, and many more no contact options to keep our clients comfortable and safe during this climate!

As agents and people our main goal has always been to help our community and lend a helping hand wherever possible. You can always count on us to answer the phone- we are always open to answer any questions you have, in real estate and beyond. Please do not hesitate to call, we are here to be a resource to you!

30-Year Mortgage Rate Drops Again, Down to 3.33%

“Rates dropped for the second week in a row due to “improvements in market liquidity and sentiment,” says Freddie Mac economist.” – FloridaRealtors.org

MCLEAN, Va. – Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey for this week found declines for the second week in a row.

This week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.33%, which is down from last week’s 3.5%. It averaged a 0.7 point for this week; a year ago, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.08%.

“Mortgage rates have drifted down for two weeks in a row and that drop reflects improvements in market liquidity and sentiment,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Khater says the “market has stabilized relative to prior weeks (and) homebuyer demand has declined in response to current economic conditions. The good news is that the pending economic stimulus is on the way and will provide support for both consumers and businesses.”

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.82% with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.92%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.56%.

Adjustable-rate mortgages (5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARM)) averaged 3.40% with an average 0.3 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.34%. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.66 percent.

© 2020 Florida Realtors® (All Credit to FloridaRealtors.org for this article)

 

How We Can Work with Clients During this Challenging Time!

  It is hard to say what our future will look like in real estate or for that matter anything in our world, post this pandemic. While there is a lot of “bad” to focus on, I am really trying to focus on any positives that may come out of this time.   I am certain for many of us, the time at home with our children, has provided us with opportunities that we most definitely did not prioritize in the past. Realtors are constantly “on” – responding to clients, conducting searches, showing property, coordinating towards closings, educating ourselves, sharing information with our clients and prospects and so on.    So, to “have” to slow down has been actually wonderful.

I am spending time doing things with my son that I just hadn’t found the time – we played checkers, twister and even taught him how to cook (even though it is most definitely not my forte).

As for business – when I slow my mind down and really pay attention to the calls we are receiving – I realize that our clients, friends, prospects DO rely on us for real estate guidance.   I think this has always been there, but I just didn’t slow down to realize it.

Today a prospect called and asked us to list one of his homes for rent.  He had been listed as for sale by owner and hadn’t received calls – the truth is for this one, I analyzed how he was marketing the home and his price point and gave him guidance rather than taking the listing.  Why? Because his margins are very tight and I felt that I could help him without his having to pay an agent for this rental – so he reduced to the number I suggested based upon comps and I had him reorder his photos, remove some photos, alter his write up and voila – the phone started ringing. 

We are here to help – give guidance, be supportive, educate and be a resource for all.  As a thank you for helping him with his rental listing…. And unbeknownst to me…he has another property that he wants us to put up for sale.

For my fellow Realtors, be a trusted resource, offer guidance, continue your education so you can continue to be an expert.  Now is the time when you can create some blogs, record videos, etc. and work to share your knowledge.

By: Amy Snook

Fed Slashes Interest Rates Near Zero, Eases Lending Rules- Florida Realtors

“In addition to a full-percent interest rate cut, the Fed will take other stimulus steps, saying COVID-19 “weighs on economic activity and poses (economic) risks.” The move should benefit adjustable rate mortgages, credit cards and other short-term loans.”

“The Federal Reserve took emergency action Sunday and slashed its benchmark interest rate by a full percentage point to nearly zero (0% to 1/4%) and announced it would purchase more Treasury securities to encourage lending to try to offset the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The central bank said the effects of the outbreak will weigh on economic activity in the near term and pose risks to the economic outlook. The central bank said it will keep rates at nearly zero until it feels confident the economy has weathered recent events.

The Fed also said it will purchase $500 billion of Treasury securities and $200 billion of mortgage-backed securities to smooth over market disruptions that have made it hard for banks and large investors to sell Treasuries.”

Read more

Has the Single-Family Rental Market Peaked?- Florida Realtors

“ATTOM: The business of buying single-family homes to rent lost some steam after rents stopped increasing as fast as the purchase cost for those rental properties.

“The business of buying single-family homes for rent has lost a little steam this year across the United States as rents aren’t rising quite as fast as prices for investment rental properties in the majority of the country,” says Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM Data Solutions.

“But from the national perspective, things are generally holding steady for landlords in the single-family home rental market,” he adds. “Also, profit trends are moving in favor of investors in higher-rent counties and against those in lower-rent regions.”

Click Here to Read More: https://www.floridarealtors.org/news-media/news-articles/2020/03/has-single-family-rental-market-peaked

 

 

January 2020 Market Report

      As I write this market report, I realize there are two very important aspects of how we are all evaluating the real estate market today.  Certainly the numbers from the most recent market report of January 2020 tell a story but also the recent stock market tumble in light of the corona virus concerns is top of everyone’s minds.

      Let’s start by talking about January results because they are important to decisions we all will be making today to sell or buy in Florida.  First – January was a great month in Florida Real Estate – especially in Palm Beach County. When comparing to January 2019, January 2020 showed an increase in the number of sales, both average and median prices and total dollar volume.  However, new listings were down from January last year as well as December 2019 – for a myriad of reasons.  What does this mean to our Palm Beach County market? – Well, we now have less inventory and as a result for the market from $300,000 to $599,999 – we have a balanced market – so, therefore, buyer’s make realistic offers and seller’s realize that there is no longer an advantage in a balanced market so before you choose not to respond to an offer – maybe consider a counter!  With inventory trending down this balanced market condition may change – stay tuned. The higher end market, however, is a different story – over $600,000 and upwards of the $1,000,000 mark it is still a buyer’s market – a great amount of homes are sitting – over $1 million shows 19 months of inventory  – reminder that 6-9 months is considered a balanced market. If you are holding out for a cash buyer, we would suggest reconsidering – cash sales as a percent of all sales is around 37% – but with the interest rates so low, the cost of borrowing money is even more desirable. What do we recommend? That we as agents, dig deep into the pre-approvals – talk to the lenders who pre-approved the buyer – have they run credit, have they reviewed tax returns or w2s? IN other words how far into the process did they go and do they have any concerns?    Homes are being sold – the process, as always, needs to be properly managed and homes need to be properly marketed!

 As for our recent turn in the financial markets – and how this will impact real estate in Florida – Personally, I believe homes will continue to move in Florida – we may simply have to adjust how we show and how we all work together to get homes sold.  There is even more value in videos and remote showings – photography is critical.   Also – how we interact at face to face showings – for now we simply don’t shake hands – we just need to be smart about how we do business – in any field right now.