Tag Archives: DataQuick

The Next Housing Crisis May Be Sooner Than You Think

How we could fall into another housing crisis before we’ve fully pulled out of the 2008 one.

https://i0.wp.com/cdn.citylab.com/media/img/citylab/2014/11/RTR2LDPC/lead_large.jpgby Richard Florida

When it comes to housing, sometimes it seems we never learn. Just when America appeared to be recovering from the last housing crisis—the trigger, in many ways, for 2008’s grand financial meltdown and the beginning of a three-year recession—another one may be looming on the horizon.

There are at several big red flags.

For one, the housing market never truly recovered from the recession. Trulia Chief Economist Jed Kolko points out that, while the third quarter of 2014 saw improvement in a number of housing key barometers, none have returned to normal, pre-recession levels. Existing home sales are now 80 percent of the way back to normal, while home prices are stuck at 75 percent back, remaining undervalued by 3.4 percent. More troubling, new construction is less than halfway (49 percent) back to normal. Kolko also notes that the fundamental building blocks of the economy, including employment levels, income and household formation, have also been slow to improve. “In this recovery, jobs and housing can’t get what they need from each other,” he writes.

Americans are spending more than 33 percent of their income on housing.

Second, Americans continue to overspend on housing. Even as the economy drags itself out of its recession, a spate of reports show that families are having a harder and harder time paying for housing. Part of the problem is that Americans continue to want more space in bigger homes, and not just in the suburbs but in urban areas, as well. Americans more than 33 percent of their income on housing in 2013, up nearly 13 percent from two decades ago, according to newly released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The graph below plots the trend by age.

Over-spending on housing is far worse in some places than others; the housing market and its recovery remain highly uneven. Another BLS report released last month showed that households in Washington, D.C., spent nearly twice as much on housing ($17,603) as those in Cleveland, Ohio ($9,061). The chart below, from the BLS report, shows average annual expenses on housing related items:

(Bureau of Labor Statistics)

The result, of course, is that more and more American households, especially middle- and working-class people, are having a harder time affording housing. This is particularly the case in reviving urban centers, as more affluent, highly educated and creative-class workers snap up the best spaces, particularly those along convenient transit, pushing the service and working class further out.

Last but certainly not least, the rate of home ownership continues to fall, and dramatically. Home ownership has reached its lowest level in two decades—64.4 percent (as of the third quarter of 2014). Here’s the data, from the U.S. Census Bureau:

(Data from U.S. Census Bureau)

Home ownership currently hovers from the mid-50 to low-60 percent range in some of the most highly productive and innovative metros in this country—places like San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles. This range seems “to provide the flexibility of rental and ownership options required for a fast-paced, rapidly changing knowledge economy. Widespread home ownership is no longer the key to a thriving economy,” I’ve written.

What we are going through is much more than a generational shift or simple lifestyle change. It’s a deep economic shift—I’ve called it the Great Reset. It entails a shift away from the economic system, population patterns and geographic layout of the old suburban growth model, which was deeply connected to old industrial economy, toward a new kind of denser, more urban growth more in line with today’s knowledge economy. We remain in the early stages of this reset. If history is any guide, the complete shift will take a generation or so.

It’s time to impose stricter underwriting standards and encourage the dense, mixed-use, more flexible housing options that the knowledge economy requires.

The upshot, as the Nobel Prize winner Edmund Phelps has written, is that it is time for Americans to get over their house passion. The new knowledge economy requires we spend less on housing and cars, and more on education, human capital and innovation—exactly those inputs that fuel the new economic and social system.

But we’re not moving in that direction; in fact, we appear to be going the other way. This past weekend, Peter J. Wallison pointed out in a New York Times op-ed that federal regulators moved back off tougher mortgage-underwriting standards brought on by 2010’s Dodd-Frank Act and instead relaxed them. Regulators are hoping to encourage more home ownership, but they’re essentially recreating the conditions that led to 2008’s crash.

Wallison notes that this amounts to “underwriting the next housing crisis.” He’s right: It’s time to impose stricter underwriting standards and encourage the dense, mixed-use, more flexible housing options that the knowledge economy requires.

During the depression and after World War II, this country’s leaders pioneered a series of purposeful and ultimately game-changing polices that set in motion the old suburban growth model, helping propel the industrial economy and creating a middle class of workers and owners. Now that our economy has changed again, we need to do the same for the denser urban growth model, creating more flexible housing system that can help bolster today’s economy.

https://i2.wp.com/www.thefifthestate.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/High_Density_Housing_____20120101_800x600.jpg
Dream housing for new economy workers
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Single Family Construction Expected to Boom in 2015

https://i0.wp.com/s3.amazonaws.com/static.texastribune.org/media/images/Foster_Jerod-9762.jpgKenny DeLaGarza, a building inspector for the city of Midland, at a 600-home Betenbough development.

Single-family home construction is expected to increase 26 percent in 2015, the National Association of Home Builders reported Oct. 31. NAHB expects single-family production to total 802,000 units next year and reach 1.1 million by 2016.

Economists participating in the NAHB’s 2014 Fall Construction Forecast Webinar said that a growing economy, increased household formation, low interest rates and pent-up demand should help drive the market next year. They also said they expect continued growth in multifamily starts given the nation’s rental demand.

The NAHB called the 2000-03 period a benchmark for normal housing activity; during those years, single-family production averaged 1.3 million units a year. The organization said it expects single-family starts to be at 90 percent of normal by the fourth quarter 2016.

NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said multifamily starts currently are at normal production levels and are projected to increase 15 percent to 365,000 by the end of the year and hold steady into next year.

The NAHB Remodeling Market Index also showed increased activity, although it’s expected to be down 3.4 percent compared to last year because of sluggish activity in the first quarter 2014. Remodeling activity will continue to increase gradually in 2015 and 2016.

Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi told the NAHB that he expects an undersupply of housing given increasing job growth. Currently, the nation’s supply stands at just over 1 million units annually, well below what’s considered normal; in a normal year, there should be demand for 1.7 million units.

Zandi noted that increasing housing stock by 700,000 units should help meet demand and create 2.1 million jobs. He also noted that things should level off by the end of 2017, when mortgage rates probably will  rise to around 6 percent.

“The housing market will be fine because of better employment, higher wages and solid economic growth, which will trump the effect of higher mortgage rates,” Zandi told the NAHB.

Robert Denk, NAHB assistant vice president for forecasting and analysis, said that he expects housing recovery to vary by state and region, noting that states with higher levels of payroll employment or labor market recovery are associated with healthier housing markets

States with the healthiest job growth include Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, Texas and Wyoming, as well as farm belt states like Iowa.

Meanwhile Alabama, Arizona, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico and Rhode Island continue to have weaker markets.

FHA Is Set To Return To Anti-House-Flipping Restrictions


House flippers buy run-down properties, fix them up and resell them quickly at a higher price. Above, a home under renovation in Amsterdam, N.Y. (Mike Groll / Associated Press)

Can you still do a short-term house flip using federally insured, low-down payment mortgage money? That’s an important question for buyers, sellers, investors and realty agents who’ve taken part in a nationwide wave of renovations and quick resales using Federal Housing Administration-backed loans during the last four years.

The answer is yes: You can still flip and finance short term. But get your rehabs done soon. The federal agency whose policy change in 2010 made tens of thousands of quick flips possible — and helped large numbers of first-time and minority buyers with moderate incomes acquire a home — is about to shut down the program, FHA officials confirmed to me.

In an effort to stimulate repairs and sales in neighborhoods hard hit by the mortgage crisis and recession, the FHA waived its standard prohibition against financing short-term house flips. Before the policy change, if you were an investor or property rehab specialist, you had to own a house for at least 90 days before reselling — flipping it — to a new buyer at a higher price using FHA financing. Under the waiver of the rule, you could buy a house, fix it up and resell it as quickly as possible to a buyer using an FHA mortgage — provided that you followed guidelines designed to protect consumers from being ripped off with hyper-inflated prices and shoddy construction.

Since then, according to FHA estimates, about 102,000 homes have been renovated and resold using the waiver. The reason for the upcoming termination: The program has done its job, stimulated billions of dollars of investments, stabilized prices and provided homes for families who were often newcomers to ownership.

However, even though the waiver program has functioned well, officials say, inherent dangers exist when there are no minimum ownership periods for flippers. In the 1990s, the FHA witnessed this firsthand when teams of con artists began buying run-down houses, slapped a little paint on the exterior and resold them within days — using fraudulent appraisals — for hyper-inflated prices and profits. Their buyers, who obtained FHA-backed mortgages, often couldn’t afford the payments and defaulted. Sometimes the buyers were themselves part of the scam and never made any payments on their loans — leaving the FHA, a government-owned insurer, with steep losses.

For these reasons, officials say, it’s time to revert to the more restrictive anti-quick-flip rules that prevailed before the waiver: The 90-day standard will come back into effect after Dec. 31.

But not everybody thinks that’s a great idea. Clem Ziroli Jr., president of First Mortgage Corp., an FHA lender in Ontario, says reversion to the 90-day rule will hurt moderate-income buyers who found the program helpful in opening the door to home ownership.

“The sad part,” Ziroli said in an email, “is the majority of these properties were improved and [located] in underserved areas. Having a rehabilitated house available to these borrowers” helped them acquire houses that had been in poor physical shape but now were repaired, inspected and safe to occupy.

Paul Skeens, president of Colonial Mortgage in Waldorf, Md., and an active rehab investor in the suburbs outside Washington, D.C., said the upcoming policy change will cost him money and inevitably raise the prices of the homes he sells after completing repairs and improvements. Efficient renovators, Skeens told me in an interview, can substantially improve a house within 45 days, at which point the property is ready to list and resell. By extending the mandatory ownership period to 90 days, the FHA will increase Skeens’ holding costs — financing expenses, taxes, maintenance and utilities — all of which will need to be added onto the price to a new buyer.

Paul Wylie, a member of an investor group in the Los Angeles area, says he sees “more harm than good by not extending the waiver. There are protections built into the program that have served [the FHA] well,” he said in an email. If the government reimposes the 90-day requirement, “it will harm those [buyers] that FHA intends to help” with its 3.5% minimum-down-payment loans. “Investors will adapt and sell to non-FHA-financed buyers. Entry-level consumers will be harmed unnecessarily.”

Bottom line: Whether fix-up investors like it or not, the FHA seems dead set on reverting to its pre-bust flipping restrictions. Financing will still be available, but selling prices of the end product — rehabbed houses for moderate-income buyers — are almost certain to be more expensive.

kenharney@earthlink.net. Distributed by Washington Post Writers Group. Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times

4/17/14: So Cal Residential Market Summary

Southern California home sales quickened last month compared with February, as they normally do, but remained far below average and at the lowest level for a March in six years. The median sale price rose to a more-than-six-year high, driven up by demand that continues to exceed supply in many areas, as well as a shift toward a greater share of sales in middle and high-end markets, according to San Diego-based DataQuick.

A total of 17,638 new and resale houses and condos sold in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties last month. That was up 25.7 percent from 14,027 sales in February, and down 14.3 percent from 20,581 sales in March last year.
For seasonal reasons sales shoot up between February and March, with that gain averaging 36.3 percent since 1988, when DataQuick’s statistics begin. Southland sales have fallen on a year-over-year basis for six consecutive months, and last month was the second in a row in which sales were at the lowest level for that particular month in six years.

Sales during the month of March have ranged from a low of 12,808 in 2008 to a high of 37,030 in 2004. Last month’s sales were 26.9 percent below the average number of sales—24,115—for March since 1988. Sales haven’t been above average for any month in more than seven years.
“Southland home buying got off to a very slow start this year, with last month’s sales coming in at the second-lowest level for a March in nearly two decades. We see multiple reasons for this: The inventory of homes for sale remains thin in many markets. Investor purchases have fallen,” said DataQuick Analyst Andrew LePage. “The jump in home prices and mortgage rates over the past year has priced some people out of the market, while other would-be buyers struggle with credit hurdles. Also, some potential move-up buyers are holding back while they weigh whether to abandon a phenomenally low interest rate on their current mortgage in order to buy a different home.”

The median price paid for all new and resale houses and condos sold in the six-county region last month was $400,000, up 4.4 percent from $383,000 in February and up 15.8 percent from $345,500 in March 2013. Last month’s median was the highest since it was $408,000 in February 2008.
The median has risen on a year-over-year basis for 24 consecutive months. Those gains have been double-digit—between 10.8 percent and 28.3 percent—over the past 20 months. The 15.8 percent year-over gain in the median last month marked the lowest increase for any month since September 2012, when the $315,000 median rose 12.5 percent from a year earlier.

The March median sale price stood 20.8 percent below the peak $505,000 median in spring/summer 2007.
DataQuick monitors real estate activity nationwide and provides information to consumers, educational institutions, public agencies, lending institutions, title companies and industry analysts. DataQuick was acquired last month by Irvine-based property information company CoreLogic.
Home prices continue to rise at different rates depending on price segment. In March, the lowest-cost third of the region’s housing stock saw a 21.0 percent year-over-year increase in the median price paid per square foot for resale houses. The annual gain was 15.9 percent for the middle third of the market and 14.3 percent for the top, most-expensive third.

Last month the number of homes that sold for $500,000 or more increased 2.9 percent from one year earlier, while $800,000-plus sales rose 5.4 percent. Sales below $500,000 fell 26.4 percent year-over year, while sales below $200,000 plunged 45.7 percent.
In March, 35.1 percent of all Southland home sales were for $500,000 or more, up from 33.5 percent the month before and up from 27.8 percent a year earlier.
The impact of distressed properties continued to wane.

Foreclosure resales—homes foreclosed on in the prior 12 months—accounted for 6.4 percent of the Southland resale market in March. That was down from a revised 6.7 percent the prior month and down from 13.8 percent a year earlier. In recent months the foreclosure resale rate has been the lowest since early 2007. In the current cycle, foreclosure resales hit a high of 56.7 percent in February 2009.
Short sales—transactions where the sale price fell short of what was owed on the property—made up an estimated 7.7 percent of Southland resales last month. That was down from a revised 9.3 percent the prior month and down from 18.7 percent a year earlier.

Absentee buyers—mostly investors and some second-home purchasers—bought 27.4 percent of the homes sold last month, down from 28.9 percent in February and down from 31.2 percent a year earlier. The monthly average since 2000, when the absentee data begin, is 18.7 percent. The number of homes purchased by absentee buyers in March fell nearly 30 percent from a year earlier and was at its lowest level for a March since 2010. Last month’s absentee buyers paid a median $337,500, up 22.7 percent year-over-year.
In March 5.3 percent of all Southland homes sold on the open market were flipped, meaning they had previously sold in the prior six months. That’s down from a flipping rate of 6.1 the prior month and it’s down from 6.3 percent a year earlier.

Buyers paying cash last month accounted for 29.1 percent of Southland home sales, down from 30.9 percent the month before and down from 35.1 percent in March last year. Since 1988 the monthly average for cash buyers is 16.5 percent of all sales. Cash buyers paid a median $365,000 last month, up 28.1 percent from a year earlier.

In March, Southern California home buyers forked over a total of $4.04 billion of their own money in the form of down payments or cash purchases. That was up from a revised $3.36 billion in February and down from $4.46 billion a year ago. The out-of-pocket total peaked last May at $5.41 billion.
Credit conditions appear to have eased in recent months, although they remain tight in an historical context.

Last month 13.3 percent of Southland home purchase loans were adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs)—nearly double the ARM level of a year earlier. Last month’s figure was up from 12.9 percent in February and up from 7.4 percent in March 2013. Since 2000, a monthly average of about 31 percent of Southland purchase loans have been ARMs.

Jumbo loans, mortgages above the old conforming limit of $417,000, accounted for 29.5 percent of last month’s Southland purchase lending. That was the highest level for any month since the credit crunch struck in August 2007. Last month’s figure was up from 27.2 percent the prior month and up from 23.8 percent a year earlier. Prior to the August 2007 credit crunch jumbos accounted for around 40 percent of the home loan market.

All lenders combined provided a total of $4.96 billion in mortgage money to Southern California home buyers in March, up from a revised $3.91 billion in February and down from $5.29 billion in March last year.

The most active lenders to Southern California home buyers last month were Wells Fargo with 7.1 percent of the total home purchase loan market, Bank of America with 3.0 percent and IMortgage with 2.4 percent.

Government-insured FHA loans, a popular low-down-payment choice among first-time buyers, accounted for 18.4 percent of all purchase mortgages last month. That was down from 18.9 percent the month before and down from 22.5 percent a year earlier. In recent months the FHA share has been the lowest since early 2008, mainly because of tighter FHA qualifying standards and the difficulties first-time buyers have competing with investors and cash buyers.

The typical monthly mortgage payment Southland buyers committed themselves to paying last month was $1,591, up from $1,516 the month before and up from $1,252 a year earlier. Adjusted for inflation, last month’s typical payment was 33.9 percent below the typical payment in the spring of 1989, the peak of the prior real estate cycle. It was 45.9 percent below the current cycle’s peak in July 2007.
Indicators of market distress continue to decline. Foreclosure activity remains well below year-ago and far below peak levels. Financing with multiple mortgages is very low, and down payment sizes are stable, DataQuick reported.

Reposted From: National Mortgage Professional

Southern California Housing Lost It’s Momentum In January

Source: LA Times

Southern California home buyers continue to turn their backs on an expensive market with few houses for sale.

Home prices fell 3.8% in January compared with December, though the median price remained up sharply compared with January of last year, research firm DataQuick reported Wednesday. The price decline, coupled with falling sales, revealed a market that has lost momentum after an explosive price run-up in the first half of 2013.

“Buyers are not overpaying,” said Broker Derek Oie, owner of Century 21 the Oie Group in the Inland Empire. “They know the market has changed.”

January’s median home price, $380,000, is the lowest since May. The year-over-year gain — prices rose 18.4% since January 2013 — is the smallest increase since November 2012.

In the six-county Southland, 14,471 new and resale condos and houses changed hands last month, a three-year low for a January, signaling that high prices and tight inventory have handcuffed buyers. Sales were 9.9% below January 2013 levels and have now fallen year-over-year for four consecutive months.

“The pause is related to a deterioration in affordability,” said Stuart Gabriel, director of UCLA’s Ziman Center for Real Estate. “The urgency to buy has essentially evaporated.”

The price decline from December isn’t unusual; the market typically slows in the winter months. But this year’s decline was slightly sharper than normal, DataQuick said. Investors usually play a larger role in the marketplace this time of year as families pull back. That can drop the median price because investors often seek lower-priced homes.

The median price is the point at which half of homes sell for less and half for more.

Absentee buyers — mostly investors and some second-home purchasers — bought a slightly higher share of homes last month: 27.5%, compared with 27.2% in December.

Prices soared early last year as investors and families rushed to buy homes they viewed as bargains. But the demand pushed prices up quickly, forcing many buyers out of the market.

In last year’s fourth quarter, only 32% of California’s potential home buyers could reasonably afford a median-priced home, the California Assn. of Realtors said Wednesday. That was unchanged from the previous quarter, but down from 48% in the fourth quarter of 2012.

The spring home-buying season should provide clearer insight into the direction of demand and prices.

DataQuick President John Walsh said two big questions hang over the market: Will sellers list more homes to cash in on recent price appreciation? And if inventory does expand, how much pent-up demand is left?

“Unfortunately, we’ll probably have to wait until spring for the answers,” Walsh said in a statement.

Some agents, especially those in wealthier neighborhoods, say they’ve already noticed a shift.

“The moment the clock hit January, it was like a starting gun went off,” South Bay real estate agent David Keller said. “We are all busy.”

Sales in the lower end of the market continued to decline in January, while sales in more affluent neighborhoods rose. The number of homes that sold for $800,000 or more jumped 36.7% compared with a year earlier.

But overall sales fell, as lower-priced neighborhoods remain stymied by low inventory and weak income growth. Even though prices have risen considerably in these areas, many homeowners saw big drops in their home’s value during the housing crash. So listings remain limited because many homeowners still owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.

Real estate agent Leo Nordine said he’s seen the disparity across his coverage area of South Los Angeles and the South Bay, with far more demand in upper-class neighborhoods.

“Everywhere else is really weak,” he said.