Category Archives: Housing Market

National Average Rent Drops For First Time In 2 Years As US Property Market Sags

Here’s the latest sign that the US housing market is in the early phases of a nation-wide retreat: For the first time in two years, average national monthly rents declined on a QoQ basis – even as the national average rent continued to climb (up 3.2%) on a YoY basis.

Corresponding with the summer slowdown (a period when the rental market is at its slowest), the national average rent decreased for the first time since February 2017, declining by 0.1% – or $1 – from last month to $1,471, according to Rent Cafe’s quarterly report on the American market for rental housing.

The decrease might seem insignificant, but combined with the slowest year-over-year hike in the past 13 months – 3.2% ($45) – it suggests a slight wind-down in rent prices against the backdrop of a more volatile financial climate, according to Yardi Matrix.

Apartment rents have seen minor declines since last month in more than half of the cities analyzed by RentCafe, with small and large cities leading the trend (prices dropped 59% in small cities, and 56% in large cities), while 42% of mid-sized cities saw rental rates decline in September.

These cities recorded the biggest declines:

  • Provo (-2.2%)
  • North Charleston(-1.5%)
  • Santa Clara (-1.3%)
  • Portland (-1.2%)
  • Midland (-1.5%)

These cities saw the biggest upticks:

  • Syracuse (2.2%)
  • Moreno Valley (2.1%)
  • Manhattan (1.5%)
  • Torrance (1.4%)
  • Los Angeles (1.2%)

Interestingly enough, changing the time frame slightly presents an entirely different picture. Rents for apartments in more than half of the largest rental hubs in the country have declined between August and September. This includes 65% of the country’s mega hubs (like Manhattan).

Meanwhile, rents decreased in three of the five most expensive large cities in the country since August, during which time only NY hubs recorded an increase. Rents in the Bay Area retreated by -0.1% in San Francisco ($3,703) and -1.1% in San Jose ($2,762) while average rent in Manhattan and Brooklyn ($2,956 for both now) increased by 1.5% and 0.5% on an MoM basis, respectively.

Across the ‘small cities’ category, cities and areas that were already among the cheapest to live in saw their average rents decline, as did the most expensive small cities, like San Mateo, Calif. which saw its average rent decline slightly by 0.5% between August and September. Cambridge, Mass., another one of the most expensive small cities, also saw its average rent decline by 0.6% during the same period..

Meanwhile, after a 0.8% drop, the average rental price in Brownsville, TX, known to Rent Cafe as the cheapest town to rent in, reached $721.

On another tip, Rent Cafe’s data revealed that two-bedroom apartments are the most popular among renters.

As for the survey’s methodology, the company’s researchers analyze data collected across 260 of the largest cities and greater metropolitan areas in the US, while the data on average rents comes directly from competitively-rented (market-rate) large-scale multifamily properties (mostly apartment buildings with at least 50 units). Though it’s different from federal data on the housing market, the study offers some insight into the behavior of people who rent apartments, who are typically younger and without families. All of these data are collected, compiled and analyzed via the Yardi Matrix, a data analysis tool.

Source: ZeroHedge

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Pending Home Sales Confirm Housing Market Rebound

After new- and existing-home-sales rebounded notably in August, expectations were that pending sales would complete the trifecta and sure enough it did (rising 1.3% MoM, better than the 1.0% expected jump)

Source: Bloomberg

Pending home sales rose 2.48% YoY – the biggest annual jump since April 2016…

Source: Bloomberg

All regions saw an increase in sales in August:

  • Northeast up 1.4%; July fell 1.6%
  • Midwest up 0.6%; July fell 2.4%
  • South up 1.4%; July fell 2.4%
  • West up 3.1%; July fell 3.4%

But we note that The Northeast (-1.1%) and Midwest (-1.6%) both fell year-over-year.

The question is – what happens next? As mortgage rates have rebounded higher and mortgage applications have already tumbled since this sales data…

Source: Bloomberg

Source: ZeroHedge

Bidding Wars For US Homes Collapse To Eight-Year Low

Bidding wars for homes in Seattle, San Jose, and San Francisco have crashed in the past year, reflecting an alarming national trend, according to a new report from Redfin.

The report found that the national bidding-war rate in August was 10.4%, down from 42% a year earlier. The rate printed at the lowest level since 2011.

At the start of 2018, the national bidding-war rate was 59%, then plunged as home buyers became uncomfortable with sky-high housing prices, increasing mortgage rates, and economic uncertainty surrounding the trade war. The housing market started to cool in late 2018, as the competition among home buyers collapsed by 4Q18, this is an ominous sign for the national housing market that could soon face a steep correction in price.

Even with eight months of declining mortgage rates in 2019, bidding-wars among home buyers continue to drop. This is somewhat troubling because the government’s narrative has been declining rates will boom housing, but as of Wednesday, mortgage applications continue to fall. Home buyers aren’t coming off the sidelines, and there’s too much uncertainty surrounding the economy with recession risks at the highest levels in more than a decade.

“Despite remaining near three-year lows, mortgage rates have failed to bring enough buyers to the market to rev up competition for homes this summer,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. Recession fears have been enough to spook some would-be buyers from making the big financial commitment of a home purchase. But assuming a recession doesn’t arrive this fall or winter, consumers will likely adjust to the new ‘normal’ of continued volatility in the stock and global markets, and the people who need and want to make a move will take advantage of low mortgage rates.”

As for one of the hottest real estate markets in the country, that being San Francisco, the bidding-war rate was 31% in August, down from 73.5% a year earlier. The lack of demand has certainly cooled housing prices, now expected to fall 1% YoY.

The rate in San Jose was 10.3% in August, down from 77% a year earlier, and in Seattle, another hot city for real estate, it saw its rate at 9.4%, down from 37.8% last August.

“Competition in the Seattle area has certainly slowed down since the second half of 2018. Last year, five out of five offers I submitted faced competition; now, it’s one in five,” said local Redfin agent Michelle Santos.

“Now, for desirable homes, competition is still fierce, and the winning offer is one that’s above the list price and waives contingencies. At the same time, average homes sit on the market for quite some time before they get any offers.”

With the rapid decline of competition among home buyers and a flood of inventory entering the market, real home prices are starting to correct in major cities. Real price change over the last 12 months is falling in Seattle, San Francisco, and New York, according to new CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index data.

With competition among home buyers evaporating in a very short period of time, this could mean a downturn in the real estate market is imminent.

Source: ZeroHedge

The Global Mansion Bust Has Begun

Global real estate consultancy firm Knight Frank LLP has warned that the global synchronized decline in growth coupled with an escalating trade war has heavily weighed on luxury home prices in London, New York, and Hong Kong.

According to Knight Frank’s quarterly index of luxury homes across 46 major cities, prices expanded at an anemic 1.4% in 2Q19 YoY, could see further stagnation through 2H19.

Wealthy buyers pulled back on home buying in the quarter thanks to a global slowdown, trade war anxieties, higher taxes by governments, and restrictions on foreign purchases.

Mansion Global said Vancouver was the hottest real estate market on Knight Frank’s list when luxury home prices surged 30% in 2016, has since crashed to the bottom of the list amid increased taxes on foreign buyers. Vancouver luxury home prices plunged 13.6% in 2Q19 YoY.

Financial hubs like Manhattan and London fell last quarter to the bottom of the list as luxury home prices slid 3.7% and 4.9%, respectively.

Hong Kong recorded zero growth in the quarter thanks to a manufacturing slowdown in China, an escalating trade war, and protests across the city since late March.

However, European cities bucked the trend, recorded solid price growth in 2Q19 YoY, though the growth was muted when compared to 2017-18.

Berlin and Frankfurt were the only two cities out of the 46 to record double-digit price growth for luxury homes. Both cities benefited from a so-called catch-up trade because prices are lower compared to other European cities. Moscow is No. 3 on the list, saw luxury home prices jump 9.5% in 2Q19 YoY.

The downturn in luxury real estate worldwide comes as central banks are frantically dropping interest rates. The Federal Reserve cut rates 25bps for the first time since 2008 last month, along with Central banks in New Zealand, India and Thailand have all recently reduced rates.

The main takeaway from central banks easing points to a global downturn in growth, and resorting to sharp monetary policy action is the attempt to thwart a global recession that would ultimately correct luxury home prices.

“Sluggish economic growth explains the wave of interest rate cuts evident in the last three months as policymakers try to stimulate growth,” wrote Knight Frank in the report.

* * *

As for a composite of all global house prices, Refinitiv Datastream shows price trends started to weaken in 2018, and in some cases, completely reversed like in Australia.

House price growth for OECD countries shows the slowdown started in 2016, a similar move to the 2005 decline.

If it’s luxury real estate or less expensive homes, the trend in price has peaked and could reverse hard into the early 2020s.

Central banks are desperately lowering interest rates as the global economy turns down. Likely, the top is in, prepare for a bust cycle.

Source: ZeroHedge

Mortgage Refinance Soar 37% To Highest Level Since Mid-2016 As Mortgage Rates Plunge: Purchase Applications Rise Only 1.9%

Ah, to be a mortgage banker doing refinancings as the global economy grinds to a halt.

According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, refinancing applications rose 37% week-over-week (WoW).

Refi applications have soared to their highest level since mid-2016 as mortgage rates plunge.

Mortgage purchase applications have not been the same since lenders tightened their lending standards and banks increased capital ratios. Not to mention the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

As the NY Fed. pointed out, housing debt is almost back to its prior housing bubble peak of $10 trillion.

Phoenix AZ leads the nation in QoQ mortgage debt growth. Why? A rebound effect in the lower tier of Phoenix home prices.

Source: Confounded Interest

New Home Sales Miss As Mortgage Rate Collapse Fails To Bring Buyers Back

Despite yesterday’s disappointing existing home sales print, new home sales were expected to spike (after dropping for two straight months), and did – thanks to a large downward revision in May.

New Home Sales were 646k SAAR in June – missing expectations of 658k. However this 7.0% MoM jump was bigger than expected thanks to the 8.2% revised plunge in May.

May new-home sales were revised down to 604,000 from 626,000; March and April purchases were also revised lower.

Year-over-year, new home sales rebounded…

Purchases of new homes jumped in the West by the most since August 2010, while sales also rose in the South. Sales in the Midwest slumped to 56,000 last month, the slowest pace since September 2015.

The supply of homes at the current sales rate declined to 6.3 months from 6.7 months in May.

The median sales price was little changed from a year earlier at $310,400.

Despite a collapse in mortgage rates, new home sales refuse to accelerate…

Time for a Fed rate-cut then… because that has helped housing, right? Oh wait…

Source: ZeroHedge

Amazon Plows Into Real Estate Market With Realogy Pact To Transform Homebuying Process

Unhappy with its market share in the US real estate market, the largest online retailer in the world and global commercial monopolist, Amazon, announced a deal on Tuesday morning with the largest US residential real estate brokerage company, Realogy, in a strategy designed to boost sales for both.

As CNBC reports, Realogy – whose stock soared 25% on the news – and Amazon will now offer TurnKey, a horizontally and vertically integrated program meant to streamline and optimize the home- and furniture-buying process, by taking potential homebuyers through the Amazon portal and connects them to a Realogy agent. Once they purchase a home, they then get complimentary Amazon Home Services and products worth up to $5,000.

Realogy, which is the largest real estate broker in the US and which owns such brands as Coldwell Banker, Century 21, Sotheby’s International Realty, Corcoran, ERA and Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate, has been facing stiff online competition from newcomers like Compass and Redfin, which rely heavily on high-tech, online platforms. As CNBC’s Diana Olick writes, “partnering with Amazon gives Realogy a platform unlike any other, not to mention access to more buyer data.”

“We’re the market leaders in this industry and we like that position, but you always have to be innovating to stay ahead, you’ve got to be willing to cannibalize yourself, you’ve got to do all the things that a big successful company needs to do to stay on the forefront,” said Realogy CEO Ryan Schneider.

“In a world that is awash with low quality lead generation out there, where you can get real estate leads from millions of online websites, giving an agent and franchisees high-quality leads from a source like Amazon and Realogy together is a real differentiator that’s going to be very powerful for the group.”

The group’s simple strategy for success: Always Be Closing... and then get the buyer to purchase a whole lot of additional stuff as well.

Here’s how it will work: a potential buyer will go to the TurnKey portal on Amazon and put in information on the type of home they’d like to purchase, the location and price. Amazon then matches them with a Realogy agent. Once the buyer closes on the home, Amazon connects them with services and experts in the area. The buyer not only gets a selection of Amazon Home Services, like painting or hanging a large TV, but they also gain access to smart home products, like a Ring doorbell, to be installed by Amazon professionals. The value of the free products and services can range from $1,000 to $5,000 depending on the purchase price of the home.

“Customers can be overwhelmed when moving, and we’re excited to be working with Realogy to offer homebuyers a simplified way to settle into a new home,” said Pat Bigatel, director of Amazon Home Services. “The Amazon Move-In Benefit will enable homebuyers to adapt the offering to their needs — from help assembling furniture, to assisting with smart home device set up, to a deep clean, and more.”

As CNBC notes, one of the nation’s largest homebuilders, Lennar, previously partnered with Amazon in 2018, introducing smart-home “experience showrooms.” Amazon outfitted Lennar model homes with smart-home technology available for purchase on its site. In something of a show-and-sell strategy, Lennar then offered 90 days of free Amazon home services with the purchase of a home.

Amazon, Google, Apple, most of the technology-centric companies are starting to think about the home as a centerpiece for the way they think about the future of how their products work and how they interact with them, ” said Stuart Miller, executive chairman of Lennar, in an interview in May 2018. “Home automation is a point of attraction. It’s a proxy for a lot of other things.”

The new TurnKey service will first launch in 15 major metropolitan housing markets, including Seattle, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago and Washington, D.C., and will then expand into more markets. However Realogy CEO Ryan Schneider did not suggest that this is a stepping stone to putting Realogy brokerages’ listings on Amazon.

“We’ve never had that conversation with Amazon,” he said.

Of course, when Amazon decides to simply eliminate the middleman, it will do so without holding such a conversation in advance. For now, however, Realogy shares are enjoying the added exposure and the stock has soared over 25% this morning on the Amazon news.

Source: ZeroHedge