Category Archives: Housing Market

Recent Canadian Home Sales Plunge Most Since 2008 American Financial Crisis

  • Rising rates? Check.
  • Chinese capital controls and a slump in foreign buyers? Check.
  • Trade war with the US? Check.

Things are not looking good for Canada’s national housing market, which as VCG reports, continued its sluggish performance in the month of May. Despite the warmer weather and usually busy spring selling season, buying activity has been awfully quiet. New mortgage regulations which are now in full swing have stymied fringe buyers, particularly millennials. According to new data from credit bureau TransUnion, new mortgage originations among millennials in Canada fell by 19.5% between the last quarter of 2017 and the first three months of 2018.

That has also been showing up sales data. 

As shown in the chart below, national home sales in Canada plunged by 16% Y/Y for the month of May. This was the worst decline since the great financial crisis in 2008 when home sales dipped 17% that May. Furthermore, total home sales of 50,604 marked the lowest total since May 2011.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Year-over-Year-Change-in-Home-Sales-May.png?itok=Fy7a4zl_

Seasonally adjusted home sales edged 0.1% lower on a month over month basis, and 15% on a year over year basis. Or, as Steve Saretsky put it, “either way you slice it not a great month for one of the worlds most resilient housing markets.”

And as sales continue to slide inventory is beginning to build. For sale inventory crept up by 4% year over year, increasing for the first time in three years, and the highest May increase since 2010.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Year-over-Year-Change-in-Inventory-May.png?itok=QxM59913

In light of the above, it is not surprising that the average sales price dipped 6% year over year in May, which however was not nearly as bad as April when year over year declines registered a head turning 11% decline.

But more troubling is that when looking at the smoothed out index of the MLS HPI prices showed the smallest possible increase of just 1% year over year in May, the lowest since September 2009. Not only did this mark the 13th consecutive month of decelerating year over year gains per the Canadian Real Estate Association, but at the current rate of slowdown, next month Canada will record the first annual drop in home prices since the global financial crisis.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/Screen-Shot-2018-06-19-at-12.34.41-PM-696x474.png?itok=BhmwUGHt

The silver lining: condos continue to hold up well as buyers tumble down the housing ladder; here prices posted a 13% increase from May 2017.

CREA’s chief economist Gregory Klump shouldered much of the blame on tighter borrowing conditions, “This year’s new stress-test became even more restrictive in May, since the interest rate used to qualify mortgage applications rose early in the month. Movements in the stress test interest rate are beyond the control of policy makers. Further increases in the rate could weigh on home sales activity at a time when Canadian economic growth is facing headwinds from U.S. trade policy frictions.”

Klump’s theory stacks up well with recent data which suggests fringe borrowers are being pushed towards the private lending space, particularly in Ontario. Mortgage originations at private lenders in the Q1 2018 rose to $2.09 billion in Ontario, a 2.95% increase from last year. The market share of private lending went from 5.71% of originations in Q1 2017, to 7.87% in Q1 2018, despite originations at other channels dropping.

In other words, there is a surge in unregulated, non-bank lending, just as the housing bubble pops, precisely what happened the last time there was a full-blown financial crisis.

Source: ZeroHedge

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Seasoned Silicon Valley Techies Struggle On Six-Figure Salaries

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Several Silicon Valley employees, including a software engineer for Twitter who made a $160,000 salary, were mocked online after complaining about their living standards in an article for The Guardian.

In the article, entitled “Scraping by on six figures? Tech workers feel poor in Silicon Valley’s wealth bubble,” the employee complained that his six-figure salary was “pretty bad” for the area.

“I didn’t become a software engineer just to make ends meet,” proclaimed the employee“Families are priced out of the market.”

“The biggest cost is his $3,000 rent – which he said is ‘ultra cheap’ for the area – for a two-bedroom house in San Francisco, where he lives with his wife and two children,” reported The Guardian sympathetically. “He’d like a slightly bigger place, but finds himself competing with groups of twenty somethings happy to share accommodation while paying up to $2,000 for a single room.”

“Prohibitive costs have displaced teachers, city workers, firefighters and other members of the middle class, not to mention low-income residents,” they continued. “Now techies, many of whom are among the highest 1% of earners, are complaining they, too, are being priced out.”

The Guardian also covered other Silicon Valley employees in the piece who were earning “between $100,000 and $700,000 a year” but still allegedly had trouble “making ends meet.”

“One Apple employee was recently living in a Santa Cruz garage, using a compost bucket as a toilet. Another tech worker, enrolled in a coding boot camp, described how he lived with 12 other engineers in a two-bedroom apartment rented via Airbnb,” The Guardian reported.

“It was $1,100 for a fucking bunk bed and five people in the same room. One guy was living in a closet, paying $1,400 for a ‘private room,’” one man complained, while a female employee added, “We make over $1m between us, but we can’t afford a house… This is part of where the American dream is not working out here.”

Other established San Francisco residents mocked tech employees for their complaints.

“Scraping by in the Bay Area on a six-figure salary sure must be difficult!joked San Francisco Chronicle reporter Lizzie Johnson.

Source: By Charlie Nash | Breitbart

The Best Housing Markets for Home Flippers

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House flipping activity surged to an 11-year high this year, with more than 207,000 homes flipped, according to ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate data firm. But the key is knowing where to be and when. “The sweet spot for successful home flipping is finding the neighborhoods just emerging as the next hot neighborhoods in a city,” says Daren Blomquist, a senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. The firm says the average profit for a housing flip in 2017 was $68,100.

Realtor.com® ranked the 200 largest metros according to the share of all home sales categorized as a flip (defined as any type of home that is bought and resold within a three- to 12-month period). Researchers limited their rankings to two metros per state for geographic diversity and only included markets where the average profit was at least $30,000.

The following are the best housing markets for home flippers, according to realtor.com®:

1. Nashville, Tenn.

  • Ratio of flips to all home sales: 4.1%
  • Average flip profit: $87,200

2. Fresno, Calif.

  • Ratio of flips to all home sales: 3.5%
  • Average flip profit: $53,200

3. Palm Bay, Fla.

  • Ratio of flips to all home sales: 3.3%
  • Average flip profit: $71,500

4. North Port, Fla.

  • Ratio of flips to all home sales: 3.3%
  • Average flip profit: $85,300

5. Baton Rouge, La.

  • Ratio of flips to all home sales: 3.2%
  • Average flip profit: $70,000

6. Chattanooga, Tenn.

  • Ratio of flips to all home sales: 3.1%
  • Average flip profit: $65,800

7. Los Angeles

  • Ratio of flips to all home sales: 3%
  • Average flip profit: $169,400

8. Lubbock, Texas

  • Ratio of flips to all home sales: 2.7%
  • Average flip profit: $46,000

Source:Flip It Good! Top 10 Home-Flipping Hotbeds Where Profits Are Through the Roof,” realtor.com® (May 23, 2018)

Yet Another Sign The Housing Cycle Has Peaked

The early stages of a housing cycle are fun for pretty much everyone. Homeowners see their equity start to rise and feel smart for having bought, home seekers have to pay up, but not too much, and fully expect their new home to keep appreciating. People with modest incomes feel a bit of pinch but can still afford to stick around.

But later on the bad starts to outweigh the good. Existing homeowners still enjoy the ride but would-be buyers find themselves priced out of their top-choice neighborhoods. And residents who aren’t tech millionaires find that they can no longer afford to live where they work. Consider the plight of a teacher or cop pretty much anywhere in California these days:

Housing prices drive Davis teachers out of town. Legislators could give them a break from parcel taxes.

Drew Barclay has a master’s degree in education and three years of experience as an English teacher, but, like most new teachers in Davis, he can’t afford to live there.

Instead, Barclay, 31, shares a rental in Sacramento that costs him $950 a month — about 40 percent of the $2,550 he brings home each month after taxes.

He is so certain that he won’t be able to qualify for a loan for a home in Davis on his $47,000 annual salary that he hasn’t bothered to house hunt. The median price for a house in the city in March was $682,500, according to tracking firm CoreLogic. Renting also is prohibitive, with the average rent in Davis about $2,500 a month, according to Zillow, a real estate website.

Davis Joint Unified officials hope to get a little help from state legislators. Last week, the state Senate voted 24-8 to waive the annual school district parcel tax of $620 for teachers and other employees of the Yolo County school district.

Davis school board member Alan Fernandes said that about two-thirds of the district’s teachers live outside Davis where housing is less expensive. He said the bill would encourage more of the district’s teachers to live in the community they serve.

Davis Joint Unified regularly passes parcel taxes to keep class sizes down and to support classroom programs. In 2016, 71 percent of Davis voters approved Measure H, a yearly tax of $620 on each parcel of taxable real property in the district for eight years. The measure raises $9.5 million a year to support math, reading and science programs and reduced class sizes for elementary grades.

But the roughly $50 a month exemption isn’t likely to help Davis Joint Unified teachers enough to make buying a house affordable. The teachers are some of the lowest-paid educators in the region, with some of the highest health care costs.

Barclay said he knows teachers 10 or 15 years older than he is who are renting rooms in other educators’ homes to get by. He said some teachers have weekend jobs to make enough money to pay their bills.

“Because I’m fairly certain I can’t put down permanent roots here, I don’t see this position as a permanent one,” Barclay said of his job as an English teacher at Davis Senior High School.

California school districts have responded by offering signing bonuses, housing stipends, computers and free tuition to educators who sign up with their districts.

When housing costs reach this point there’s no real fix. Raise taxes to increase teacher pay and there’s political trouble. Cut back on other services and the quality of life declines. “Streamline” the schools and educational outcomes and teacher morale plummet.

There’s a limit, in other words, to the ascent of home prices beyond which the system starts to break down. And when the people who make a town run smoothly – teachers, firefighters, cops, sanitation workers – can no longer afford to live there, that town has clearly crossed the line.

Based on the Case-Shiller home price index, which is now back to its 2007 housing bubble peak, there are a lot more Davis, CAs out there, with all the pathologies that that implies.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-05-29_6-04-48_0.jpg?itok=Lh4f9UCG

A housing bubble, of course, is just a symptom of a bigger problem. Easy money distorts the workings of a market economy by causing the prices of many assets to soar beyond all reason, enriching the owners and impoverishing the users. Typically, when housing reaches this point so have stocks and other financial assets, CEO salaries, corporate concentration, political corruption and a long list of other evils that feed on low interest rates and lax lending standards. The confluence of resulting problems then brings the cycle to a noisy end.

Housing says we’re getting close.

Source: ZeroHedge

Understanding The Interest Rate Headwind Facing Housing

There are a large number of public and private services that measure the change in home prices. The algorithms behind these services, while complex, are primarily based on recent sale prices for comparative homes and adjusted for factors like location, property characteristics and the particulars of the house. While these pricing services are considered to be well represented measures of house prices, there is another important factor that is frequently overlooked despite the large role in plays in house prices.

In August 2016, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate as reported by the Federal Reserve hit an all-time low of 3.44%. Since then it has risen to its current level of 4.50%. While a 1% increase may appear small, especially at this low level of rates, the rise has begun to adversely affect housing and mortgage activity. After rising 33% and 22% in 2015 and 2016 respectively, total mortgage originations were down -16% in 2017. Further increases in rates will likely begin to weigh on house prices and the broader economy. This article will help quantify the benefit that lower rates played in making houses more affordable over the past few decades. By doing this, we can appreciate how further increases in mortgage rates might adversely affect house prices.

Lower Rates

In 1981 mortgage rates peaked at 18.50%. Since that time they have declined steadily and now stands at a relatively paltry 4.50%. Over this 37-year period, individuals’ payments on mortgage loans also declined allowing buyers to get more for their money. Continually declining rates also allowed them to further reduce their payments through refinancing. Consider that in 1990 a $500,000 house, bought with a 10%, 30-year fixed rate mortgage, which was the going rate, would have required a monthly principal and interest payment of $4,388. Today a loan for the same amount at the 4.50% current rate is almost half the payment at $2,533.

The sensitivity of mortgage payments to changes in mortgage rates is about 9%, meaning that each 1% increase or decrease in the mortgage rate results in a payment increase or decrease of 9%. From a home buyer’s perspective, this means that each 1% change in rates makes the house more or less affordable by about 9%.

Given this understanding of the math and the prior history of rate declines, we can calculate how lower rates helped make housing more affordable. To do this, we start in the year 1990 with a $500,000 home price and adjust it annually based on changes in the popular Case-Shiller House Price Index. This calculation approximates the 28-year price appreciation of the house. Second, we further adjust it to the change in interest rates. To accomplish this, we calculated how much more or less home one could buy based on the change in interest rates. The difference between the two, as shown below, provides a value on how much lower interest rates benefited home buyers and sellers.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/1-house-inflation.png?itok=naYdkoxQData Courtesy: S&P Core Logic Case-Shiller House Price Index

The graph shows that lower payments resulting from the decline in mortgage rates benefited buyers by approximately $325,000. Said differently, a homeowner can afford $325,000 more than would have otherwise been possible due to declining rates.

The Effect of Rising Rates

As stated, mortgage rates have been steadily declining for the past 37 years. There are some interest rate forecasters that believe the recent uptick in rates may be the first wave of a longer-term change in trend.  If this is, in fact, the case, quantifying how higher mortgage rates affect payments, supply, demand, and therefore the prices of houses is an important consideration for the direction of the broad economy.

The graph below shows the mortgage payment required for a $500,000 house based on a range of mortgage rates. The background shows the decline in mortgage rates (10.00% to 4.50%) from 1990 to today.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2-pay-per-mtge.png?itok=FaM3amlH

To put this into a different perspective, the following graph shows how much a buyer can afford to pay for a house assuming a fixed payment ($2,333) and varying mortgage rates. The payment is based on the current mortgage rate.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/3-payments.png?itok=QlXlfTjL

As the graphs portray, home buyers will be forced to make higher mortgage payments or seek lower-priced houses if rates keep rising.

Summary

The Fed has raised interest rates six times since the end of 2015. Their forward guidance from recent Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting statements and minutes tells of their plans on continuing to do so throughout this year and next. Additionally, the Fed owns over one-quarter of all residential mortgage-backed securities (MBS) through QE purchases. Their stated plan is to reduce their ownership of those securities over the next several quarters. If the Fed continues on their expected path with regard to rates and balance sheet, it creates a significant market adjustment in terms of supply and demand dynamics and further implies that mortgage rates should rise.

The consequences of higher mortgage rates will not only affect buyers and sellers of housing but also make borrowing on the equity in homes more expensive. From a macro perspective, consider that housing contributes 15-18% to GDP, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). While we do not expect higher rates to devastate the housing market, we do think a period of price declines and economic weakness could accompany higher rates.

This analysis is clinical using simple math to illustrate the relationship, cause, and effects, between changes in interest rates and home prices. However, the housing market is anything but a simple asset class. It is among the most complex of systems within the broad economy. Rising rates not only impact affordability but also the general level of activity which feeds back into the economy. In addition to the effect that rates may have, also consider that the demographics for housing are challenged as retiring, empty-nest baby boomers seek to downsize. To whom will they sell and at what price?

If interest rates do indeed continue to rise, there is a lot more risk embedded in the housing market than currently seems apparent as these and other dynamics converge. The services providing pricing insight into the value of the housing market may do a fine job of assessing current value, but they lack the sophistication required to see around the next economic corner.

Source: ZeroHedge

Run Up In Home Prices Is ‘not sustainable’ Says NAR Chief Economist

  • Home values have been rising for six straight years, and the gains have been accelerating for the past two years.
  • The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage is nearly a full percentage point higher today than it was in September 2017, its latest low.
  • Homebuyer demand may be weakening. A monthly survey from Redfin found fewer potential buyers requesting home tours or making offers.

Home values have been rising for six straight years, and the gains have been accelerating for the past two years. Unlike the last housing boom, the gains are not driven by fast and easy mortgage money, but instead by solid buyer demand and very low supply. Still, like the last housing boom, some are starting to warn these price gains cannot continue.

“The continuing run-up in home prices above the pace of income growth is simply not sustainable,” wrote Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, in response to the latest price reading from the much-watched S&P CoreLogic Case Shiller Home Price Indices. “From the cyclical low point in home prices six years ago, a typical home price has increased by 48 percent while the average wage rate has grown by only 14 percent.”

Yun also pointed to rising mortgage interest rates as a factor that would weaken affordability. The average rate on the 30-year fixed mortgage is nearly a full percentage point higher today than it was at its most recent low in September 2017.

Some argue that despite weakened affordability, demand is just so strong that it can support higher home prices. Improving economic factors are seeing to that.

“A generally strong economy and favorable demographic tailwinds driven by the huge millennial generation aging into their home buying prime will help ensure that demand stays high, even as prices rise,” wrote Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow. “Getting a mortgage remains incredibly affordable compared to paying rent each month.”

But he admits that the “advantage is starting to erode, as mortgage interest rates rise alongside prices and income growth lags behind.”

Weakening Demand

And demand may in fact be weakening. A monthly survey from Redfin found fewer potential buyers requesting home tours or making offers.

“April was the first time in 27 months that we saw a year-over-year decline in the number of customers touring homes,” said Redfin’s chief economist, Nela Richardson. “We believe this was driven by the low levels of new listings in March.”

Richardson points to an increase in new listings in April is a positive turn for home buyers, which could bode well for futures sales. Prices, however, still stand in the way, and the increased inventory was more pronounced in higher-priced tiers.

Meanwhile the home price gains are widest on the low end of the market, where supply is leanest. That is why home sales have been dropping most on the low end. Evidence is now mounting that a growing number of first-time buyers are giving up and dropping out of the market altogether. Sales to first-time buyers dropped 2 percent in the first quarter of this year compared with the first quarter of 2017, according to Genworth Mortgage Insurance.

“This quarter’s decline in first-time home buyer sales reflects a slowdown in cyclical momentum as the first-time home buyer market approached its historical norms. It also reflects a shortage of available homes priced at or below the median first-time home buyer market price of $250,000,” wrote Tian Liu, Genworth’s chief economist. “Supply pressures will continue to drive price appreciation and freeze out a large percentage of the 2.7 million first-time home buyers who are still missing from the market.”

Competition from all-cash investors continues to thwart first-time buyers, most of whom are reliant on mortgage financing. With so little supply available, bidding wars are the rule, rather than the exception.

“When you’re competing against 10 other offers, you have to stand out, so sometimes a letter to the sellers can pull on the emotional heartstrings, but really it’s all about the dollars,” said Karen Kelly, a real estate agent with Compass in the Washington, D.C., area.

Measuring Affordability

Half of the homes on the market in D.C. in April sold in eight days or less, according to the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtors. Home prices in D.C. were over 13 percent higher in April of this year compared with a year ago. The number of listings was down more than 3 percent.

Affordability continues to be a tricky metric to monitor. Some economists argue that housing is no less affordable than it was in the early part of this century, when adjusting for inflation. No question, though, even if home prices are still lower than they were during the last housing boom, adjusting for inflation, the mortgage market today is nothing like it was then.

In fact, affordability was largely meaningless back then, since buyers could put no money down for a home and pay incredibly low monthly payments, using mortgage products that adjusted higher over time and tacked huge costs onto later payments. Those so-called negative amortization loans caused the housing crash and are not offered today.

Source: By Diana Olick | CNBC

Case-Shiller Home Prices Rise At Fastest Pace In 4 Years To New Record High

Thanks to a modest downward revision in February’s print, March’s Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index rose at 6.79% YoY – the fastest price appreciation since June 2014.

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-05-29_6-02-09.jpg?itok=W8scUqCV

Surpassing July 2006’s record high…

https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/inline-images/2018-05-29_6-04-48.jpg?itok=1JMx6zc0

Broadening out from the 20-City composite, the national home-price gauge climbed 6.5% YoY, matching February’s YoY advance that was the biggest since May 2014.

Of course, since March, interest rates have spiked and along with them mortgage rates, plunging mortgage apps, and as property-price appreciation continues to outpace worker pay (by 3.8 times!), it is proving a disadvantage for younger or first-time buyers even as it means rising homeowner equity for others.

“Months-supply, which combines inventory levels and sales, is currently at 3.8 months, lower than the levels of the 1990s, before the housing boom and bust,” – David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P index committee, said in a statement –

“Until inventories increase faster than sales, or the economy slows significantly, home prices are likely to continue rising.”

All 20 cities in the index showed year-over-year gains, led by a 13 percent increase in Seattle, a 12.4 percent advance in Las Vegas and 11.3 percent pickup in San Francisco.

Source: ZeroHedge