Pending Home Sales increased by 44.3% in May, registering the highest month-over-month gain in the index since the National Association of Realtors (NAR) started tracking this metric in January 2001. So, what exactly are pending home sales, and why is this rebound so important?
According to NAR, the Pending Home Sales Index (PHS) is:
“A leading indicator of housing activity, measures housing contract activity, and is based on signed real estate contracts for existing single-family homes, condos, and co-ops. Because a home goes under contract a month or two before it is sold, the Pending Home Sales Index generally leads Existing-Home Sales by a month or two.”
In real estate, pending home sales is a key indicator in determining the strength of the housing market. As mentioned before, it measures how many existing homes went into contract in a specific month. When a buyer goes through the steps to purchase a home, the final one is the closing. On average, that happens about two months after the contract is signed, depending on how fast or slow the process takes in each state.
Why is this rebound important?
With the COVID-19 pandemic and a shutdown of the economy, we saw a steep two-month decline in the number of houses that went into contract. In May, however, that number increased dramatically (See graph below):This jump means buyers are back in the market and purchasing homes right now. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR mentioned:
“This has been a spectacular recovery for contract signings and goes to show the resiliency of American consumers and their evergreen desire for homeownership…This bounce back also speaks to how the housing sector could lead the way for a broader economic recovery.”
But in order to continue with this trend, we need more houses for sale on the market. Yun continues to say:
“More listings are continuously appearing as the economy reopens, helping with inventory choices…Still, more home construction is needed to counter the persistent underproduction of homes over the past decade.”
As we move through the year, we’ll see an increase in the number of houses being built. This will help combat a small portion of the inventory deficit. The lack of overall inventory, however, is still a challenge, and it is creating an opportunity for homeowners who are ready to sell. As the graph below shows, during the last 12 months, the supply of homes for sale has been decreasing year-over-year and is not keeping up with the demand from homebuyers.
If you decided not to sell this spring due to the health crisis, maybe it’s time to jump back into the market while buyers are actively looking for homes. Let’s connect today to determine your best move forward.
With more U.S. states reopening for business this summer, and as people start to return to work, we can expect the economy to begin improving. Most expert forecasts indicate this economic recovery will start to happen in the second half of this year. As we get back to work and the financial landscape of the country begins to turn around, many experts also agree that real estate has the potential to lead the way in the recovery process.
According to Ivy Zelman of Zelman & Associates:
“Housing will fare better than expected during this severe downturn.”
In addition, CNBC notes:
“Mortgage demand from home buyers shows unexpectedly strong and quick recovery…The quick recovery has surprised most forecasters.”
Robert Dietz, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President for Economics and Housing Policy of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says:
“Overall, the data lend evidence to the NAHB forecast that housing will be a leading sector in an eventual economic recovery.”
One of the big reasons why housing has the potential to be such a driving force is the significant impact it has on the local economy. This impact is particularly strong when a newly constructed home is built and sold. According to a recent study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average new home sale has a total economic impact of $88,416. As outlined in the graphic below, this is a combination of income generated from real estate industries, expenditures, and new home construction.With so many unknowns today, especially in the wake of a worldwide pandemic, one known factor is the bright spark the housing market can play in local and national recovery. Buying and selling a home goes well beyond personal growth and satisfaction – it supports our economy as a whole.
According to experts, the economy will begin to recover in the second half of this year. With real estate as a driver, that recovery may start sooner than we think.
There are two crises in this country right now: a health crisis that has forced everyone into their homes and a financial crisis caused by our inability to move around as we normally would. Over 20 million people in the U.S. became instantly unemployed when it was determined that the only way to defeat this horrific virus was to shut down businesses across the nation. One second a person was gainfully employed, a switch was turned, and then the room went dark on their livelihood.
The financial pain so many families are facing right now is deep.
How deep will the pain cut?
Major institutions are forecasting unemployment rates last seen during the Great Depression. Here are a few projections:
- Goldman Sachs – 15%
- Merrill Lynch – 10.6%
- Wells Fargo – 7.3%
How long will the pain last?
As horrific as those numbers are, there is some good news. The pain will be deep, but it won’t last as long as it did after previous crises. Taking the direst projection from Goldman Sachs, we can see that 15% unemployment quickly drops to 6-8% as we head into next year, continues to drop, and then returns to about 4% in 2023.
When we compare that to the length of time it took to get back to work during both the Great Recession (9 years long) and the Great Depression (12 years long), we can see how the current timetable is much more favorable.
It’s devastating to think about how the financial heartache families are going through right now is adding to the uncertainty surrounding their health as well. Hopefully, we will soon have the virus contained and then we will, slowly and safely, return to work.
Many American businesses have been put on hold as the country deals with the worst pandemic in over one hundred years. As the states are deciding on the best strategy to slowly and safely reopen, the big question is: how long will it take the economy to fully recover?
Let’s look at the possibilities. Here are the three types of recoveries that follow most economic slowdowns (the definitions are from the financial glossary at Market Business News):
- V-shaped recovery: an economic period in which the economy experiences a sharp decline. However, it is also a brief period of decline. There is a clear bottom (called a trough by economists) which does not last long. Then there is a strong recovery.
- U-shaped recovery: when the decline is more gradual, i.e., less severe. The recovery that follows starts off moderately and then picks up speed. The recovery could last 12-24 months.
- L-shaped recovery: a steep economic decline followed by a long period with no growth. When an economy is in an L-shaped recovery, getting back to where it was before the decline will take years.
What type of recovery will we see this time?
No one can answer this question with one hundred percent certainty. However, most top financial services firms are calling for a V-shaped recovery. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo Securities, and JP Morgan have all recently come out with projections that call for GDP to take a deep dive in the first half of the year but have a strong comeback in the second half.
Is there any research on recovery following a pandemic?
There have been two extensive studies done that look at how an economy has recovered from a pandemic in the past. Here are the conclusions they reached:
1. John Burns Consulting:
“Historical analysis showed us that pandemics are usually V-shaped (sharp recessions that recover quickly enough to provide little damage to home prices), and some very cutting-edge search engine analysis by our Information Management team showed the current slowdown is playing out similarly thus far.”
2. Harvard Business Review:
“It’s worth looking back at history to place the potential impact path of Covid-19 empirically. In fact, V-shapes monopolize the empirical landscape of prior shocks, including epidemics such as SARS, the 1968 H3N2 (“Hong Kong”) flu, 1958 H2N2 (“Asian”) flu, and 1918 Spanish flu.”
The research says we should experience a V-shaped recovery.
Does everyone agree it will be a ‘V’?
No. Some are concerned that, even when businesses are fully operational, the American public may be reluctant to jump right back in.
As Market Business News explains:
“In a typical V-shaped recovery, there is a huge shift in economic activity after the downturn and the trough. Growing consumer demand and spending drive the massive shift in economic activity.”
If consumer demand and spending do not come back as quickly as most expect it will, we may be heading for a U-shaped recovery.
In a message last Thursday, Chris Hyzy, Chief Investment Officer for Merrill and Bank of America Private Bank, agrees with other analysts who are expecting a resurgence in the economy later this year:
“We’re forecasting real economic growth of 30% for the U.S. in the 4th quarter of this year and 6.1% in 2021.”
His projection, however, calls for a U-shaped recovery based on concerns that consumers may not rush back in:
“After the steep plunge and bottoming out, a ‘U-shaped’ recovery should begin as consumer confidence slowly returns.”
The research indicates the recovery will be V-shaped, and most analysts agree. However, no one knows for sure how quickly Americans will get back to “normal” life. We will have to wait and see as the situation unfolds.
Earlier this week, we discussed how most projections from financial institutions are calling for a quick V-shaped recovery from this economic downturn, and there’s research on previous post-pandemic recoveries to support that expectation.
In addition, we noted how there are some in the business community who believe we may instead be headed for a U-shaped recovery, where the return to previous levels of economic success won’t occur until the middle of next year. Yesterday, Reuters released a poll of U.S. and European economists which revealed that most surveyed are now leaning more toward a U-shaped recovery.
Why the disparity in thinking among different groups of economic experts?
The current situation makes it extremely difficult to project the future of the economy. Analysts normally look at economic data and compare it to previous slowdowns to create their projections. This situation, however, is anything but normal.
Today, analysts must incorporate data from three different sciences into their recovery equation:
1. Business Science – How has the economy rebounded from similar slowdowns in the past?
2. Health Science – When will COVID-19 be under control? Will there be another flareup of the virus this fall?
3. Social Science – After businesses are fully operational, how long will it take American consumers to return to normal consumption patterns? (Ex: going to the movies, attending a sporting event, or flying).
The challenge of accurately combining the three sciences into a single projection has created uncertainty, and it has led to a wide range of opinions on the timing of the recovery.
Right now, the vast majority of economists and analysts believe a full recovery will take anywhere from 6-18 months. No one truly knows the exact timetable, but it will be coming.
A big challenge facing the housing industry is determining what impact the current pandemic may have on home values. Some buyers are hoping for major price reductions because the health crisis is straining the economy.
The price of any item, however, is determined by supply and demand, which is how many items are available in relation to how many consumers want to buy that item.
In residential real estate, the measurement used to decipher that ratio is called months supply of inventory. A normal market would have 6-7 months of inventory. Anything over seven months would be considered a buyers’ market, with downward pressure on prices. Anything under six months would indicate a sellers’ market, which would put upward pressure on prices.
Going into March of this year, the supply stood at three months – a strong seller’s market. While buyer demand has decreased rather dramatically during the pandemic, the number of homes on the market has also decreased. The recently released Existing Home Sales Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed we currently have 3.4 months of inventory. This means homes should maintain their value during the pandemic.
This information is consistent with the research completed by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, which recently reported:
“Historical analysis showed us that pandemics are usually V-shaped (sharp recessions that recover quickly enough to provide little damage to home prices).”
What are the experts saying?
Here’s a look at what some experts recently reported on the matter:
“Supported by our analysis of home price dynamics through cycles and other periods of economic and housing disruption, we expect home price appreciation to decelerate from current levels in 2020, though easily remain in positive territory year over year given the beneficial factors of record-low inventories & a historically-low interest rate environment.”
“The fiscal stimulus provided by the CARES Act will mute the impact that the economic shock has on house prices. Additionally, forbearance and foreclosure mitigation programs will limit the fire sale contagion effect on house prices. We forecast house prices to fall 0.5 percentage points over the next four quarters. Two forces prevent a collapse in house prices. First, as we indicated in our earlier research report, U.S. housing markets face a large supply deficit. Second, population growth and pent up household formations provide a tailwind to housing demand. Price growth accelerates back towards a long-run trend of between 2 and 3% per year.”
“The housing supply remains at historically low levels, so house price growth is likely to slow, but it’s unlikely to go negative.”
Even though the economy has been placed on pause, it appears home prices will remain steady throughout the pandemic.
With the release of the latest Economic Pulse Flash Survey from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), results show that people selling their houses today are holding strong on price. According to the most recent data, 74% of real estate agents noted that sellers are not dropping listing prices to attract more buyers.
Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, noted:
“The housing market faced an inventory shortage before the pandemic. Given that there are even fewer new listings during the pandemic, home sellers are taking a calm approach and appear unwilling to lower prices to attract buyers during the temporary disruptions to the economy.”
This inventory shortage, which spread widely throughout the housing market going into today’s economic slowdown, created an environment where there were not enough homes for sale for those who wanted to buy them. With that backdrop setting the stage, Yun also notes:
“With the current quarantine recommendations in place, fewer sellers are listing homes, which will limit buyer choices.”
So, with buyer choices already limited going into this season, and more sellers removing listings today, if you’ve been thinking about listing your house, it’s a great time to do so. Many others in your neighborhood may be waiting to make a move or removing their listings, so staying on the market – or jumping into it – could work to your advantage.
Buyers today are serious ones, and with prices holding steady in this low-inventory market, you can feel confident about selling today. Embracing the process virtually, where available, could help your house hit the top of an eager buyer’s list. While your neighbors miss out on this opportunistic time, you don’t have to.
If buyer choices are limited in your neighborhood, selling now may help your listing rise to the top of the pool. Let’s connect today to make sure you have the expert help you need to succeed in the selling process.
Through all the volatility in the economy right now, some have put their search for a home on hold, yet others have not. According to ShowingTime, the real estate industry’s leading showing management technology provider, buyers have started to reappear over the last several weeks. In the latest report, they revealed:
“The March ShowingTime Showing Index® recorded the first nationwide drop in showing traffic in eight months as communities responded to COVID-19. Early April data show signs of an upswing, however.”
Why would people be setting appointments to look at prospective homes when the process of purchasing a home has become more difficult with shelter-in-place orders throughout the country?
Here are three reasons for this uptick in activity:
1. Some people need to move. Whether because of a death in the family, a new birth, divorce, financial hardship, or a job transfer, some families need to make a move as quickly as possible.
2. Real estate agents across the country have become very innovative, utilizing technology that allows purchasers to virtually:
- View homes
- Meet with mortgage professionals
- Consult with their agent throughout the process
All of this can happen within the required safety protocols, so real estate professionals are continuing to help families make important moves.
3. Buyers understand that mortgage rates are a key component when determining their monthly mortgage payments. Mortgage interest rates are very close to all-time lows and afford today’s purchaser the opportunity to save tens of thousands of dollars over the lifetime of the loan.
Many families have decided not to postpone their plans to purchase a home, even in these difficult times. If you need to make a move, let’s connect today so you have a trusted advisor to safely and professionally guide you through the process.
With businesses starting to slowly open back up again in some parts of the country, it’s important to understand how housing can have a major impact on the recovery of the U.S. economy. As we’ve mentioned before, buying a home is a driving financial force in this process. Today, many analysts believe one of the first things we’ll be able to safely bring back is the home building sector, creating more jobs and impacting local neighborhoods in a big way. According to Robert Dietz in The Eye on Housing:
“The pace of new home sales will post significant declines during the second quarter due to the impacts of higher unemployment and shutdown effects of much of the U.S. economy, including elements of the real estate sector in certain markets. However, given the momentum housing construction held at the start of 2020, the housing industry will help lead the economy in the eventual recovery.”
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) notes the impact new construction can have on the job market:
“Building 1,000 average single-family homes creates 2,900 full-time jobs and generates $110.96 million in taxes and fees for all levels of government to support police, firefighters and schools, according to NAHB’s National Impact of Home Building and Remodeling report.”
These employment opportunities, along with the home purchase, drive the economy in a major way. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) recently shared a report that notes the full economic impact of home sales. This report summarizes:
“The total economic impact of real estate related industries on the state economy, as well as the expenditures that result from a single home sale, including aspects like home construction costs, real estate brokerage, mortgage lending and title insurance.”
Here’s the breakdown of how the average home sale boosts the economy:As noted above in the circle on the right, the impact is almost double when you purchase new construction, given the sheer number of workers it requires to design, build, equip, and finalize the sale of the home. The NAHB paints a clear picture of these roles:
“The NAHB model shows that job creation through housing is broad-based. Building new homes and apartments generates jobs in industries that produce lumber, concrete, lighting fixtures, heating equipment and other products that go into a home remodeling project. Other jobs are generated in the process of transporting, storing and selling these products.
Additional jobs are generated for professionals such as architects, engineers, real estate agents, lawyers and accountants who provide services to home builders, home buyers and remodelers.”
The same NAR report also breaks down the average economic impact by state:On an emotional level, what’s most important for today’s consumers to feel confident about is the safety component that goes into the process. Mitigating the risk of essential personnel at this moment in time is more crucial than ever as we all aim to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. Fortunately, the NAHB has put immense effort into a plan that prioritizes the health and safety of home builders and contractors:
“This is why NAHB and construction industry partners have developed a Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Plan specifically tailored to construction job sites. The plan is customizable and covers areas that include manager and worker responsibilities, job site protective measures, cleaning and disinfecting, responding to exposure incidents, and OSHA record-keeping requirements.”
Buying a home is a substantial economic driver today, and when new construction picks back up again, it will be an even stronger recovery force throughout the country. If you’re in a position to buy a home this year, you can have a significant impact on your local neighborhoods and safely make the move you’ve been waiting for. It’s a win-win.
Last week, the National Association for Business Economics released their February 2019 Economic Policy Survey. The survey revealed that a majority of the panel believe an economic slowdown is in the near future:
“While only 10% of panelists expect a recession in 2019, 42% say a recession will happen in 2020, and 25% expect one in 2021.”
Their findings coincide with three previous surveys calling for a slowdown sometime in the next two years:
- The Pulsenomics Survey of Market Analysts
- The Wall Street Journal Survey of Economists
- The Duke University Survey of American CFOs
That raises the question: Will the real estate market be impacted like it was during the last recession?
A recession does not equal a housing crisis. According to the dictionary definition, a recession is:
“A period of temporary economic decline during which trade and industrial activity are reduced, generally identified by a fall in GDP in two successive quarters.”
During the last recession, prices fell dramatically because the housing collapse caused the recession. However, if we look at the previous four recessions, we can see that home values weren’t negatively impacted:
- January 1980 to July 1980: Home values rose 4.5%
- July 1981 to November 1982: Home values rose 1.9%
- July 1990 to March 1991: Home values fell less than 1%
- March 2001 to November 2001: Home values rose 4.8%
Most experts agree with Ralph McLaughlin, CoreLogic’s Deputy Chief Economist, who recently explained:
“There’s no reason to panic right now, even if we may be headed for a recession. We’re seeing a cooling of the housing market, but nothing that indicates a crash.”
The housing market is just “normalizing”. Inventory is starting to increase and home prices are finally stabilizing. This is a good thing for both buyers and sellers as we move forward.
If there is an economic slowdown in our near future, there is no need for fear to set in. As renowned financial analyst, Morgan Housel, recently tweeted:
“An interesting thing is the widespread assumption that the next recession will be as bad as 2008. Natural to think that way, but, statistically, highly unlikely. Could be over before you realized it began.”