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Unemployment: Hope on the Horizon

22 May 2020 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

Tomorrow, the unemployment rate for April 2020 will be released by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. It will hit a peak this country has never seen before, with data representing real families and lives affected by this economic slowdown. The numbers will alarm us. There will be headlines and doomsday scenarios in the media. There is hope, though, that as businesses reopen, most people will become employed again soon.

Last month’s report indicated we initially lost over 700,000 jobs in this country, and the unemployment rate quickly rose to 4.4%. With the release of the new data, that number will climb even higher. Experts forecast this report will show somewhere between a 15% – 20% national unemployment rate, and some anticipate that number to be even greater (see graph below):

Unemployment: Hope on the Horizon | Keeping Current Matters

What’s happened over the last several weeks? 

Here’s a breakdown of this spring’s weekly unemployment filings:

Unemployment: Hope on the Horizon | Keeping Current Matters

The good news shown here indicates the number of additional unemployment claims has decreased week over week since the beginning of April. Carlos Rodriguez, CEO of Automatic Data Processing (ADP) says based on what he’s seeing:

“It’s possible that companies are already anticipating some kind of normalization, opening in certain states and starting to post jobs.” 

He goes on to say that this doesn’t mean all companies are hiring, but it could mean they are at the point where they’re not cutting jobs anymore. Let’s hope this trend continues.

What will the future bring?

Most experts predict that while unemployment is high right now, it won’t be that way for long. The length of unemployment during this crisis is projected to be significantly shorter than the duration seen in the Great Recession and the Great Depression.

Unemployment: Hope on the Horizon | Keeping Current Matters

While forecasts may be high, the numbers are trending down and the length of time isn’t expected to last forever.

Bottom Line

Don’t let the headlines rattle you. There’s hope coming as we start to safely reopen businesses throughout the country. Unemployment affects our families, our businesses, and our country. Our job is to rally around those impacted and do our part to support them through this time.

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Why Home Equity Is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market

20 May 2020 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

Given how we have seen more unemployment claims than ever before over the past several weeks, fear is spreading widely. Some good news, however, shows that more than 4 million initial unemployment filers have likely already found a new job, especially as industries such as health care, food and grocery stores, retail, delivery, and more increase their employment opportunities. Breaking down what unemployment means for homeownership, and understanding the significant equity Americans hold today, are important parts of seeing the picture clearly when sorting through this uncertainty.

One of the biggest questions right now is whether this historic unemployment rate will initiate a new surge of foreclosures in the market. It’s a very real fear. Despite the staggering number of claims, there are actually many reasons why we won’t see a significant number of foreclosures like we did during the housing crash twelve years ago. The amount of equity homeowners have today is a leading differentiator in the current market.

Today, according to John Burns Consulting58.7% of homes in the U.S. have at least 60% equity. That number is drastically different than it was in 2008 when the housing bubble burst. The last recession was painful, and when prices dipped, many found themselves owing more on their mortgage than what their homes were worth. Homeowners simply walked away at that point. Now, 42.1% of all homes in this country are mortgage-free, meaning they’re owned free and clear. Those homes are not at risk for foreclosure (see graph below):

Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | Keeping Current Matters

In addition, CoreLogic notes the average equity mortgaged homes have today is $177,000. That’s a significant amount that homeowners won’t be stepping away from, even in today’s economy (see chart below):

Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | Keeping Current Matters

In essence, the amount of equity homeowners have today positions them to be in a much better place than they were in 2008.

Bottom Line 

The fear and uncertainty we feel right now are very real, and this is not going to be easy. We can, however, see strength in our current market through homeowner equity that has not been there in the past. That may be a bright spark to help us make it through.

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Confused About the Economic Recovery? Here’s Why

18 May 2020 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

As we continue to work through the health crisis that plagues this country, more and more conversations are turning to economic recovery. While we look for signs that we’ve reached a plateau in cases of COVID-19, the concern and fear of what will happen as businesses open up again is on all of our minds. This causes confusion about what an economic recovery will look like. With this in mind, it’s important to understand how economists are using three types of sciences to formulate their forecasts and to work toward clearer answers.

  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. People 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).

Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac, says:

“Although the uncertainty of the crisis means forecasts of economic activity are more unclear than usual, we expect that most of the economic damage from the virus will be contained to the first half of the year. Going forward, we should see a recovery starting in the second half of 2020.”

This past week, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released the advanced estimate for Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for the first quarter of 2020. That estimate came in at -4.8%. It was a clear indicator showing how the U.S. economy slowed as businesses shut down and consumers retreated to their homes in fear of the health crisis and of contracting COVID-19.Confused About the Economic Recovery? Here’s Why. | Keeping Current MattersExperts agree that the second quarter of 2020 will be an even greater slowdown, a sign more businesses are feeling the effects of this health crisis. The same experts, however, project businesses will rebound, and a recovery will start to happen in the second half of this year.

Bottom Line

As time goes on, we’ll have more clarity around what the true economic recovery will look like, and we’ll have more information on the sciences that will affect it. As the nation’s economy comes back to life and businesses embrace new waves of innovation to serve their customers, the American spirit of grit, growth, and prosperity will be alive and well.

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U.S. Homeownership Rate Rises to Highest Point in 8 Years

15 May 2020 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

For nearly two months, most of us have been following strict stay-at-home orders from our state and local governments. It is a whole new way of life that has put our daily lives on pause. On the other hand, many of us have also found a sense of comfort by slowing down and spending time at home, highlighting the feeling of security that comes with having a much-needed safe place for our families to live.

The latest results of the Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS) provided by the U.S. Census Bureau shows how Americans place immense value in homeownership, and it is continuing to grow in the United States. The results indicate that the homeownership rate increased to 65.3% for the first quarter of 2020, a number that has been rising since 2016 and is the highest we’ve seen in eight years (see graph below):U.S. Homeownership Rate Rises to Highest Point in 8 Years | Keeping Current MattersWhy is the rate increasing? The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) explained:

“Strong owner household formation with around 2.7 million homeowners added in the first quarter has driven up the homeownership rate, especially under the decreasing mortgage interest rates and strong new home sales and existing home sales in the first two months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the economy.”

The NAHB also emphasizes the year-over-year increase in each generational group:

“The homeownership rates among all age groups increased in the first quarter 2020. Households under 35, mostly first-time homebuyers, registered the largest gains, with the homeownership rate up 1.9 percentage points from a year ago. Households ages 35-44 experienced a 1.2 percentage points gain, followed by the 55-64 age group (a 0.9 percentage point increase), the 45-54 age group (a 0.8 percentage point gain), and the 65+ group age (up by 0.2 percentage point).” (See chart below):

U.S. Homeownership Rate Rises to Highest Point in 8 Years | Keeping Current MattersHomeownership is an important part of the American dream, especially in moments like this when many are feeling incredibly grateful for the home they have to shelter in place with their families. COVID-19 may be slowing our lives down, but it is showing us the emotional value of homeownership too.

Bottom Line

If you’re considering buying a home this year, contact a local real estate professional to set a plan that will help you get one step closer to achieving your dream.

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Why the Housing Market Is a Powerful Economic Driver

13 May 2020 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

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:Why the Housing Market Is a Powerful Economic Driver | Keeping Current MattersAs 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:Why the Housing Market Is a Powerful Economic Driver | Keeping Current MattersOn 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.”

Bottom Line

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.

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Buying a Home Right Now: Easy? No. Smart? Yes.

11 May 2020 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

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.

Looking closely at the third reason, we can see that there’s a big difference between purchasing a house last December and purchasing one now (see chart below):Buying a Home Right Now: Easy? No. Smart? Yes. | Keeping Current Matters

Bottom Line

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, reach out to a local real estate professional today so you have a trusted advisor to safely and professionally guide you through the process.

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Rise to the Top of the Pool by Selling Your House Today

06 May 2020 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

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.

Bottom Line

If buyer choices are limited in your neighborhood, selling now may help your listing rise to the top of the pool. Reach out to a local real estate professional today to make sure you have the expert help you need to succeed in the selling process.

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What Impact Might COVID-19 Have on Home Values?

04 May 2020 Posted by NooshiAdmin in Blog

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:

Ivy Zelman, President, Zelman & Associates

“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.”

Freddie Mac

“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.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American

“The housing supply remains at historically low levels, so house price growth is likely to slow, but it’s unlikely to go negative.”

Bottom Line

Even though the economy has been placed on pause, it appears home prices will remain steady throughout the pandemic.

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