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

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!

 

 

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.

Delray Chamber chair Bill Branning passes gavel to new chair Noreen Payne!

“The annual tradition of passing the gavel from the outgoing chamber chair to the incoming chair took place during the Greater Delray Beach Chamber of Commerce’s membership luncheon and installation of officers event.”

 

From Florida Realtors: HUD Plans a “Verification Plan for Service Animals”

All stakeholders should be pleased to learn that HUD has a “verification plan for service animals” in the works.

(Note: The following is not legal advice, as we are not lawyers. If you have specific questions about disability accommodations of any kind as it relates to housing, we can introduce you to a lawyer in our network who can advise you.) 

According to this report from Florida Realtors, “Landlords and property managers are entitled to “reliable verification” of a tenant’s need for a service animal and can require proof beyond an online certification, a Department of Housing and Urban Development official said Tuesday at the Realtors® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo in Washington, D.C.”

Florida landlords, tenants, Realtors, and all involved may be interested to hear that HUD also reports to be considering how “exotic” animals (like alligators!) fit into this equation.

We are glad to hear that HUD has this issue on the radar screen, and we look forward to guidance and clarification around service animals in housing. There is significant confusion around this issue on all fronts, and clarification will surely help everyone.

Most importantly, we’d love to see people with disabilities who need service animals be treated fairly and without discrimination. As an extension, we’d like to see the “cottage industry” referenced in this article (that has sprung up to take advantage of the confusion and sell certificates) dealt with.

We’d also like to have investors who own rental properties be more clear on the issues around this, and have more structure and guidance from HUD and its state and county-level counterparts.

Also from the Florida Realtors article:

“It’s important not to trivialize the issue of service animals because of abuses of the law, Grosso said. “Very often, there is some nefarious attribution to people who request assistance animals. But many times, there are people with significant disabilities who legitimately need the assistance of a service animal. They bear the burden of the effects of service animal abuses.”

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