The median price for a single-family home in California jumped 10% in December, the biggest year-over-year gain in more than four years, as low mortgage rates and a shortage of homes for sale boosted competition for properties.
The state’s median home price was $615,090, more than double the U.S. median, according to the California Association of Realtors. Home sales rose 7.4% compared with December 2018.
“California experienced an unusual jump in its median price at the end of the year when the market is supposed to cool down,” said CAR Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young. “The surge in price is a byproduct of the imbalance between supply and demand as market competition continues to heat up.”
The supply of homes for sale, measured as the amount of time it would take to sell off existing stock, shrank to 2.5 months from 3.5 months a year earlier.
The Los Angeles metro area saw the biggest jump in home prices, up 10% from a year earlier to a median of $550,000. Sales surged 16%, CAR said.
The next-biggest jump was in the cheapest area of the state. The Central Valley, an inland swath that runs about 450 miles from Bakersfield to Redding, had a median price of $342,000 in December, a jump of 7.7% from a year earlier, according to CAR data. Sales rose 12% in the same period.
The Inland Empire, east of Los Angeles, had a median price of $385,000, up 7.2% from a year ago, and sales were up 13%, the CAR report said.
The San Francisco Bay area, the most expensive region, had a median price of $908,750, up 6.9% from a year ago. Sales jumped 16% in the same period.
The Central Coast, stretching from Los Angeles to San Francisco, had a 2.2% drop in median price to $700,000. Sales surged up 42% as buyers rushed to snap up the lower prices, CAR said.
Counties with public school enrollment gains experienced higher price appreciation in the last 7 years, a NAR analysis shows.
Across the country, hallways and classrooms are full of activity. More than three-fourths of the school-aged population, 48.2 million students, were enrolled in a public elementary and secondary school in 2018. Each year, the U.S. Census Bureau releases school enrollment figures that give a snapshot of where these kids choose to enroll.
Based on the data, between fall of 2011 and fall 2018, enrollment in public elementary and secondary schools declined 1.4% across the United States. While the number of students at each grade level is primarily influenced by population trends, enrollment in kindergarten had the highest decline of 5% followed by grade 1 – grade 4 (3%).
However, changes in enrollment vary by area. Among 810 counties, public school enrollment increased in 42% (339 counties) of these counties in the United States. An analysis of county data on school populations reveals that the following counties experienced the highest gains in public school enrollment within the last 7 years:
Parsing out by level of school, most of the counties above experienced a higher increase of public school enrollment in kindergarten, followed by middle school during 2011 and 2018. For instance, in Dallas County, IA, the number of students enrolled in a public school kindergarten in 2018 was 1.8 times higher than the number of students in 2011. This also shows that the population of young kids (5 years old) in Dallas County, IA significantly increased in this area in the last 7 years. However, in Arlington County, VA, the greatest increase occurred at middle school. Students in grades 5 to grade 8 increased by 98% (3,997 more students) in 2018 compared to 2011. Thus, based on the school enrollment data, the population of kids between the ages of 10 and 13 rose in Arlington County during 2011 and 2018.
How does this increase in public school enrollment affect the local area?
First of all, school enrollment growth may reflect stronger local county employment as more new residents move into the region because of jobs and they bring along their school-aged children. At the most basic level, more labor means more goods and services being produced, so that local economic activity rises.
Literature review has shown that homeownership has positive effects on the academic achievement of children1. Homeownership brings residential stability, and stability raises the educational attainment of children. According to a NAR Survey2, over half of recent buyers with children under the age of 18 living in their home cited the school district as an influencing factor in their neighborhood choice. Therefore, since more people are moving to these school districts, housing demand is expected to increase.
Data shows that counties with enrollment gains experienced higher home price increases. In the last 7 years, home prices increased 33 percent on average in the counties with enrollment gains. Especially, in the top 20 counties with the highest enrollment gains, home prices increased 37 percent on average. For instance, in Dallas County, IA, public school enrollment rose 64 percent while home prices increased 51 percent in the last 7 years. Respectively, in Midland County, Texas, public school enrollment increased 31 percent while home prices rose 52 percent. However, home prices rose 18 percent on average in the counties where enrollment declined during 2011 and 2018. Thus, ceteris paribus (with other conditions remaining the same), public school enrollment is estimated to have a positive effect on housing prices.
All in all, REALTORS® should expect busier activity in the counties where public school enrollment is rising.
The graph below shows the positive relationship between public school enrollment and housing prices.
1 Yun, L., & Evangelou, N. (2016). Social Benefits of Homeownership and Stable Housing. National Association of Realtors®.
2 2019 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. National Association of REALTORS® read more… https://www.nar.realtor/blogs/economists-outlook/public-school-enrollment-trends-and-home-prices?AdobeAnalytics=ed_rid%3D2200528%26om_mid%3D1732%7CMembersEdgeNews_2019_12_5_Agents%26om_ntype%3DMEMBER%27S%20EDGE%20(news)
Connecticut’s governor proposed putting a toll gantry on the 1-mile section of I-684 that goes out of New York.
The proposal to put a tollbooth on the Connecticut mile of Interstate 684 apparently elicited negative reactions from Connecticut politicians as well as New Yorkers. Democrats in the Connecticut State Senate are less than enthusiastic about Gov. Ned Lamont’s plan for tolls at 14 spots throughout the state.
Lamont wants to put tolls on roads in his state to raise revenue and pay for repairs. One of the roads he picked is I-684, the “interstate highway” that runs down the east side of Putnam and Westchester counties in New York.
The toll plaza would go in the 1.4 mile stretch of I-684 that is in Connecticut. The toll gantry would be sandwiched between the exit for the Westchester County Airport to the south and the exit for Armonk, home of IBM, to the north.
Lamont met with the Democratic caucus Wednesday to go over his plan and hear questions and concerns from the caucus. Senate President Martin Looney told Patch that there was broad support for Lamont’s proposed transportation fixes, but disagreement on how to pay for them.
“We need to find something that is broadly palatable in the General Assembly and also to the public,” Looney said.
The caucus didn’t take a headcount on support for Lamont’s plan. Looney said Lamont was going to reflect on what he heard in the caucus meeting.
Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff said everyone acknowledges that it’s vitally important to upgrade Connecticut’s transportation infrastructure. He said Lamont carefully listened to concerns from legislators.
“How we get there and how we pay for it is certainly a different story,” Duff said. “But it was a very frank conversation with the governor.”
Lamont campaigned on truck-only tolling, but said after being elected it wouldn’t create enough revenue for the state and could run into some legal challenges from the trucking industry. Lamont rolled out a 50-toll gantry plan that took up part of the 2019 legislative session, but in the end never got a full vote. Any toll vote would likely become a hot-button issue in the 2020 election where state representatives and senators are up for re-election.
Legislative Republicans in Connecticut have been steadfast in their opposition to tolls. House Republican Leader Themis Klarides said that there is common ground in Lamont’s latest plan and it was more well-thought than previous iterations, but tolls are still a non-starter.
Non-starter was exactly the term New York State Senator Pete Harckham used, talking about his constituents in Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester counties who would be unfairly affected. “Governor Lamont’s plan to place a toll on I-684 is a nonstarter because it disproportionately impacts New York commuters. There are enough roads elsewhere in Connecticut to toll to fund infrastructure projects in Connecticut.”
Decades of misgovernance and misplaced priorities have left the state fighting fire with . . . blackouts.
California is staying true to its reputation as the land of innovation — it is making blackouts, heretofore the signature of impoverished and war-torn lands, a routine feature of 21st-century American life.
More than 2 million people are going without power in Northern and Central California, in the latest and biggest of the intentional blackouts that are, astonishingly, California’s best answer to the risk of runaway wildfires.
Power — and all the goods it makes possible — is synonymous with modern civilization. It shouldn’t be a negotiable for anyone living in a well-functioning society, or even in California, which, despite its stupendous wealth and natural splendor, has blighted itself over the decades with misgovernance and misplaced priorities.
The same California that has been the seedbed of world-famous companies that make it possible for people to send widely viewed short missives of 280 characters or less, and share and like images of grumpy cats, isn’t doing so well at keeping the lights on.
The same California that has boldly committed to transitioning to 50 percent renewable energy by 2025 — and 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 — can’t manage its existing energy infrastructure.
The same California that has pushed its electricity rates to the highest in the contiguous United States through its mandates and regulations doesn’t provide continuous access to that overpriced electricity.
California governor Gavin Newsom, who has to try to evade responsibility for this debacle while presiding over it, blames “dog-eat-dog capitalism” for the state’s current crisis. It sounds like he’s referring to robber barons who have descended on the state to suck it dry of profits while burning it to the ground. But Newsom is talking about one of the most regulated industries in the state — namely California’s energy utilities, which answer to the state’s public utilities commission.
This is not exactly an Ayn Rand operation. The state could have, if it wanted, pushed the utilities to focus on the resilience and safety of its current infrastructure — implicated in some of the state’s most fearsome recent fires — as a top priority. Instead, the commission forced costly renewable-energy initiatives on the utilities. Who cares about something as mundane as properly maintained power lines if something as supposedly epically important — and politically fashionable — as saving the planet is at stake?
Meanwhile, California has had a decades-long aversion to properly clearing forests. The state’s leaders have long been in thrall to the belief that cutting down trees is somehow an offense against nature, even though thinning helps create healthier forests. Biomass has been allowed to build up, and it becomes the kindling for catastrophic fires.
As Chuck DeVore of the Texas Public Policy Foundation points out, a report of the Western Governors’ Association warned of this effect more than a decade ago, noting that “over time the fire-prone forests that were not thinned, burn in uncharacteristically destructive wildfires.”
In 2016, then-governor Jerry Brown actually vetoed a bill that had unanimously passed the state legislature to promote the clearing of trees dangerously close to power lines. Brown’s team says this legislation was no big deal, but one progressive watchdog called the bill “neither insignificant or small.”
On top of all this, more people live in remote areas susceptible to fires, in part because of the high cost of housing in more built-up areas.
There shouldn’t be any doubt that California, susceptible to drought through its history and whipped by fierce, dry winds this time of year, is always going to have a fire problem. But there also shouldn’t be any doubt that dealing with it this poorly is the result of a series of foolish, unrealistic policy choices.
California’s overriding goal should have been safe, cheap, and reliable power, a public good so basic that it’s easy to take for granted. The state’s focus on ideological fantasies has instead ensured it has none of the above.
Total existing home sales, including single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, dropped 2.2% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million in September. However, sales were still 3.9% higher than a year ago.
The first-time buyer share rose to 33% in September from 31% last month and 32% a year ago. The September inventory stayed the same at 1.83 million units from August but decreased from 1.88 million units a year ago. At the current sales rate, the September unsold inventory represents a 4.1-month supply, up from a 4.0-month supply last month and down from a 4.4-month a year ago.
Homes stayed on the market for an average of 32 days in September, up from 31 days last month and equal to a year ago. In September, 49% of homes sold were on the market for less than a month.
The September all-cash sales shared 17% of transactions, down from 19% last month and 21% a year ago.
The September median sales price of all existing homes was $272,100, up 5.9% from a year ago, representing the 91st consecutive month of year-over-year increases. The median existing condominium/co-op price of $248,600 in September was up 4.5% from a year ago.
Regionally, all regions saw a decline in existing home sales in September compared to the previous month, ranging from 0.9% in the West to 3.1% in the Midwest. On a year-over-year basis, sales rose in all four major regions except for the Midwest, ranging from 1.5% in the Northeast to 6.0% in the South. Sales in the Midwest was nearly unchanged to September 2018.
This monthly decline indicates that sales are not consistently increasing in response to falling mortgage rates, as rapidly rising home prices and tight inventory continue to weigh on housing sector and prevent home sales growth. As mortgage rates below 4% are very attractive to homebuyers, more new home building is needed to meet housing demand. Indeed, supported by low mortgage rates and solid job growth, builder confidence continued to improve, which rose to 20-month high in October.
July 2019 saw an annual increase of 3.2% for home prices nationwide, matching the previous month’s pace, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index from S&P Dow Jones Indices and CoreLogic.
The 10-City and 20-City composites reported a 1.6% and 2% year-over-year increase, respectively. During the month, 15 of 20 cities reported increases both before and after seasonal adjustment.
“Year-over-year home prices continued to gain, but at ever more modest rates,” says Philip Murphy, managing director and global head of index governance at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “Charlotte surpassed Tampa to join the top three cities, and Seattle may be turning around from its recent negative streak of YOY price changes, improving from -1.3% in June to -0.06% in July.”
According to the index, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Charlotte reported the highest year-over-year gains among all of the 20 cities.
In July, Phoenix led with a 5.8% year-over-year price increase, followed by Las Vegas with a 4.7% increase and Charlotte with a 4.6% increase. Seven of the 20 cities reported larger price increases in the year ending July 2019 versus the year ending June 2019.
“Overall, leadership remains in the southwest (Phoenix and Las Vegas) and southeast (Charlotte and Tampa),” Murphy said. “Other pockets of relative strength include Minneapolis, which increased its YOY gain to 4.2%, and Detroit, which is closely behind at 4.1% YOY.”
“The 10-City and 20-City Composites both experienced lower YOY price gains than last month, declining to 1.6% and 2.0% respectively. However, the U.S. National Home Price NSA Index remained steady with a YOY price gain of 3.2%, the same as prior month,” Murphy said. “Home price gains remained positive in low single digits in most cities, and other fundamentals indicate renewed housing demand.”
The graph below highlights the average home prices within the 10-City and 20-City Composites:
Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) rate averaged 3.49 percent, the lowest it has been since October 2016.
Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s Chief Economist says, “Mortgage rates continued the summer swoon due to weaker economic data. While economic growth is clearly slowing due to rising manufacturing and trade headwinds, economic fundamentals are still solid for U.S. consumers. The unemployment rate is low, housing affordability is improving, homebuyer demand is rising, and home price growth is stable.”
30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.49 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending September 5, 2019, down from last week when it averaged 3.58 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.54 percent.
15-year FRM averaged 3.00 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.06 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.99 percent.
Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.
The euro area is at risk of a new real estate bubble as a result of expansionary monetary policy from the European Central Bank (ECB), Commerzbankanalysts have warned.
The ECB council meets on Thursday June 6, and is likely to decide on the details of the third edition of its targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTRO-III) program, a series of Eurosystem operations that provide financing to credit institutions for periods of up to four years.
TLTROs offer long-term funding at attractive conditions to banks in order to encourage them to lend capital to the real economy.
The central bank has faced calls from some corners of the market for fresh stimulative measures to aid the anemic European economy, and the third round of TLTROs represent a continuation of its expansionary monetary course.
“With a view to low core inflation, some policies are often passed off as a free lunch,” a note from Commerzbank senior economists Dr Ralph Solveen and Dr Jorg Kramer said in a note Friday.
“Yet the ECB’s expansionary monetary policy has a cost and it comes in the form of higher house prices, which already appear expensive in some countries, and the threat of a property price bubble is a real possibility.”Rising house prices
Commerzbank highlighted that house prices have been rising rapidly in the majority of eurozone economies, including the large economies of Germany, Belgium and France. With an increase of around 4.5% in the course of 2018, Germany was slightly above average in terms of rising house prices, while Slovenia and Latvia saw double-digit rises. Portugal, the Netherlands and Luxembourg all rose at almost 10% rates.
Yet Commerzbank analysts anticipate that ECB interest rates will remain in negative territory for the foreseeable future, further heightening the threat of a real estate bubble.
“The relation between house prices and rents, a frequently used measure for the valuation of real estate, has risen by more than 10% since early 2015. This is less than 5% below its level at the beginning of 2008, when the housing market in some euro area countries had formed considerable bubbles,” the note stated.
Commerzbank expects that if the ECB maintains its monetary policy stance until the end of 2020, average house prices will exceed pre-crisis levels.Falling debt and no building boom
Solveen and Kramer pointed out that the strength of impact of a bursting price bubble on the real economy depends, in part, on the extent to which rising house prices are accompanied by rising debt and a construction boom.
The euro zone as a whole is not yet in this position, the analysts suggested, with private household debt relative to GDP falling steadily across most of Europe’s Economic and Monetary Union (EMU), although Belgium and France were noted as exceptions.
There is also no question of a construction boom, the economists highlighted, and the share of residential construction investment in eurozone GDP is now significantly lower than at the beginning of 2008.
“The situation is somewhat different in Germany, where the rise in prices in recent years has been accompanied by a sharp rise in construction investment and bottlenecks are increasingly occurring in the construction sector,” the Commerzbank note stated.
“However, the share of residential construction investment in GDP is still lower than at the beginning of the monetary union, and there was certainly no construction boom in Germany at that time.”
As the housing market shifts further in favor of homebuyers, Ellie Mae’slatest Millennial Tracker Survey reveals that purchase requests from Millennials increased to 87% of all purchase requests made in February, a 2% increase from January.
The survey also revealed that although conventional loans continue to be the most popular loan product among the generation, they fell slightly to 68% of all loans.
Interest in refinances fell two percentage points from the previous month, coming in at 11% of all loans for Millennial borrowers.
“The percentage of purchase loans is on the rise with Millennials continuing to enter the homebuying market for their first or maybe even second purchase,” Executive Vice President of Strategy and Technology Joe Tyrrell said. “The increase in days-to-close we saw in February is relative to the percentage increase in purchases versus refinances, as purchases typically take longer to close.
According to the survey, it typically took Millennials 46 days to close on conventional loans, which is the longest average time to close since January 2017. Among conventional loans closed by Millennials in February, it typically took the generation 44 and 53 days to close on a purchase and refinance loans, respectively.
Notably, the Millennial Tracker also discovered that the average time to close on all loans decreased to 42 days in February. During the same period, the average closing time on FHA loans fell to 42 days, while the average time to close on VA loans increased to 59 days month-to-month.
Lastly, the survey highlighted that the average FICO score for Millennial borrowers edged up to 723 in January, rising from 722 in January, according to Ellie Mae.
In July 2018, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced its intention to levy tariffs on a series of imports from China. USTR rolled out proposed tariffs in three waves, with the third list (List 3) covering approximately $200 billion worth of Chinese imports. The List 3 goods comprises 5745 items, approximately 450 of which are commonly used in the residential construction industry.
The NAHB economics department examined the imports identified on List 3 and published a special study that estimated the economic effects that the proposed 10-percent tariff would have on the residential construction industry. The value of the 450 building materials included on List 3 is roughly $10 billion. A 10-percent tariff on these goods, therefore, represented a $1 billion tax increase on the housing industry.
One of the questions going into the fourth quarter of 2018 was to what extent the tariffs—even the announcement of intent to levy tariffs in the future—would affect the amount of imports of building materials and construction supplies. As the recently released January 2019 trade data show, the effects of both tariffs levied, as well as announcement of future tariffs, have been substantial.
To analyze these effects, the average monthly change in import value of the 450 items between 2011 and 2017 was compared to monthly changes from January 2018 through January 2019. The “floating” nature of major Chinese holidays affecting capital flows necessitated comparison to the historical average in order to smooth out holiday induced seasonal effects that may occur in different months in different years.
As illustrated in the figure below, the largest disparities between trade flows in 2018 and the 2011-2017 period occurred in April and December 2018.
Although the 2018 study on building materials imports focused on List 3, some goods used in residential construction were affected by the section 232 tariffs (i.e. tariffs levied based on national security concerns) imposed on certain steel and aluminum imports (25 percent and 10 percent, respectively). These tariffs went into effect in March 2018 and clearly had an effect on April 2018 imports from China.
When the USTR announced tariffs to be levied on List 3 beginning September 24th, 2018, the office also announced that the tariff rate would be time sensitive. Although the tariff would initially be set at 10 percent, that rate had a planned increase to 25 percent on January 1st, 2019 in the event that China and the United States could not resolve their differences by the end of the year.
Expectations of a substantial tariff rate increasingly took hold as it was reported that the two countries were not making meaningful progress in negotiations. The data indicate that these expectations brought the timing of imports forward (to December) in order to avoid the increase.
On December 17th, 2018, however, President Trump announced that the rate hike would be delayed to March. Consequently, the data show that imports of building materials declined more than 20 percent in January 2019—in stark contrast to the historical 15-percent increase seen in January.
The President delayed the tariff rate increase indefinitely on February 24, 2019, citing “substantial progress” in trade talks between American and Chinese officials. NAHB will continue to monitor import data releases to examine the possible effects of that announcement.