A second housing price index is showing an uptick in the rate of appreciation, possibly because interest rates declines have begun to mitigate affordability issues. CoreLogic says its Home Price Index for July was up 3.6 percent in July, the annual increase in June, was 3.4 percent. On a month over month basis the gain was 0.5 percent compared to an increase of 0.4 percent the previous month. Last week Black Knight noted that the rate of increase in its index had risen for the first time in 16 months.
CoreLogic Chief Economist Frank Nothaft said, “Sales of new and existing homes this July were up from a year ago, supported by low mortgage rates and rising family income. With the for-sale inventory remaining low in many markets, the pick-up in buying has nudged price growth up. If low interest rates and rising income continue, then we expect home-price growth will strengthen over the coming year.”
Annual price gains were experienced in all states but Connecticut and South Dakota. The highest increases were posted in Idaho (11.5 percent) Utah (8.4 percent) and Maine (7.7 percent).
The company’s forecast is for home prices to increase by 5.4 percent on a year over year basis from July to this year to the corresponding month in 2020. On a month-over-month basis, home prices are expected to increase by 0.4 percent from July 2019 to August 2019.
The graph below shows a comparison of the national year-over-year percent change for the CoreLogic HPI and CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index from 2000 to present month with forecasts one year into the future. Both the CoreLogic HPI Single Family Combined tier and the CoreLogic Case-Shiller Index are posting positive, but moderating year-over-year percent changes, and forecasting gains for the next year.
“Although the rise in home prices has slowed over the past several months, we see a reacceleration over the next year to just over 5 percent on an annualized basis,” CEO President and CEO Frank Martell commented. “Lower rates are certainly making it more affordable to buy homes and millennial buyers are entering the market with increasing force. These positive demand drivers, which are occurring against a backdrop of persistent shortages in housing stock, are the major drivers for higher home prices, which will likely continue to rise for the foreseeable future.”
During the second quarter of 2019, CoreLogic and RTi Research conducted a survey of Millennial generation consumer-housing sentiment. They found that approximately 26 percent of that age group expressed an interest in buying a home in the next 12 months, but only 8 percent indicated a desire to sell their home within the same time frame. This means that new housing starts, or sellers from other age cohorts, will need to make up the necessary available supply to meet the demand. This desire to buy while housing stock is limited will continue to force prices up as buyers search for a home to purchase.
CoreLogic considers 37 percent of large metropolitan areas to have an overvalued housing stock as of July. Their analysis categorizes home prices in individual markets as undervalued, at value or overvalued by comparing home prices to their long-run, sustainable levels, which are supported by local market fundamentals such as disposable income. Twenty-three percent were undervalued, and 40 percent were at value. When the analysis is done on only the top 50 markets 40 percent were overvalued, 16 percent were undervalued, and 44 percent were at value.
In June, New York State rolled out a slate of proposals to protect renters. Among other changes, the new legislation closes several loopholes that have permitted owners to legally spike rents following renovations—a tactic that has been successfully used to deregulate more than 150,000 units over the past two decades. In essence, under the new legislation, owners will no longer be able to deregulate rent-regulated apartments at all. While the new legislation is certainly good news for many renters, for the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who now already live in unregulated apartments, the current legislation doesn’t fix their current woes. But could a five-year rent freeze help? It may sound impossible, but this is precisely what Berlin—once an oasis of inexpensive rents—has just approved as a way to put the brakes on rising rental prices.
Berlin’s changing rental landscape and five-year price freeze
Just a decade ago, Berlin was still known around the world as a phenomenally cool city where one could rent a large apartment at a very reasonable rate. As Berlin’s economy has improved and its tourism industry has expanded, finding an affordable apartment in some of Berlin’s most desirable neighborhoods has become increasingly difficult.
By one estimate, since 2008, Berlin rents have doubled from 5.60 euros to 11.40 euros. Downtown neighborhoods such as Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg have been especially hard hit. And prices aren’t just soaring on the rental side of the market. Buying a unit in Berlin is also increasingly out of reach. According to a recent report by the UK-based Frank-Knight, in 2017, Berlin bucked global trends, becoming the only major city in the world to report real estate price growth above 20 percent. However, in a city with more renters than any other European city, Berliners’ real concern remains the rising cost of rentals.
To be clear, Berliners are still not as hard up as people in New York, London, Paris, or Tokyo, but there are fears the city may be heading in this direction. On average, one-bedroom units in Berlin’s center are about 1,000 euros per month. Of course, this figure reflects area averages, and therefore, takes into account the high number of units still being rented out at pre-gentrification prices. As a result, if you’re new to Berlin’s housing market and looking for an apartment, you’ll likely pay much more than 1,000 euros monthly for a decent one-bedroom unit in a desirable neighborhood—as much as 1,500 to 2,000 euros or roughly $1,700 to $2,250 USD.
With rents rising, competition is also getting tough. A recent BBC report noted that over 100 prospective tenants often show up for apartment viewings. To stand out, some Berliners have reportedly even started to bribe prospective landlords who are willing to take them on as tenants. One couple, both professional photographers, reportedly offered prospective landlords a free photoshoot. Another house hunter posted a sign offering regular baking to any landlord willing to rent her a flat. While a free photoshoot or weekly fresh-based bread may not be enough to close a deal in New York City, such bribes are apparently growing increasingly common in Berlin’s rental market.
To put the kibosh on the rising rents, tough competition, and bribes, on June 18, the Berlin Senate voted in favor of a five-year rental freeze. Although planned to take effect on January 2020, the freeze will be applied retroactively from June 18. While many Berliners are in support, not everyone in Germany is happy about the proposal. Some critics worry that the freeze will prevent landlords from making necessary repairs to their buildings. Business analysts also fear the freeze may negatively impact Berlin’s economy. Even Chancellor Angela Merkel is skeptical. She’s suggested that building more affordable housing in the city may be a better solution.
Could a five-year rental freeze work in New York City?
Theoretically, a five-year freeze on both rent-regulated and market-rate units could be imposed—albeit not without major backlash from the real estate industry—but would it help control the city’s already inflated rental market?
NYU Furman Center’s historical data reveals that a lot can happen in five years, depending on a wide range of factors. The graph above features real median gross rental prices for MN 03 (the Lower East Side-Chinatown) compared to Manhattan and citywide rents from 2006 to 2017. As illustrated, had a five-year freeze on rents come into play in 2012, average rental prices would have been about $200 less on average by 2017. However, in the inflated Lower East Side-Chinatown market, a rental freeze in 2012 would have had virtually no impact on real median gross rental prices at all since the freeze would have happened during the area’s 2012 peak in prices.
Another risk of imposing a five-year rental freeze in New York City is what would happen next. In Berlin, no new lease can be 10 percent higher than the previous lease, but in New York, owners of unregulated units are free to raise rents as high as they like when an apartment turns over and even when an existing tenant renews a lease. The risk, then, is that if the city did impose a five-year freeze, owners would rebel and spike rents after the freeze, creating an even more untenable rental landscape.
Housing starts reversed course in May, signaling a slowdown in production, according to the latest report from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Dept. of Commerce.
According to the analysis, housing starts fell 0.9% in May 2019 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.269 million units.
Navy Federal Credit Union Economist Robert Frick said another weak housing report shows the housing industry is far from producing homes at a rate to satisfy demand.
“Housing starts in May were below both the annualized April rate and the rate from May a year ago, and housing completions in May were also below April’s rate and May 2018’s rate,” Frick said. “Permits rose strongly in May from April, which is good news, but were down from May of last year. Together the numbers show the housing industry continues to slip from last year.”
Single-family production retreated 6.4% from last month to 820,000 units while multifamily starts came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 436,000 units.
Additionally, single-family completions decreased 5% in 2019 to a rate of 890,000, while multifamily starts came in at 319,000 units.
However, permits grew 0.3% in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.29 million.
Single-family authorizations increased 3.7% from last month’s rate to 815,000 permits and multifamily permits came in at an annualized rate of 442,000.
“At the current rate, the industry this year will build fewer than the 200,000 needed to keep up with population growth and demand,” Frick said. “Sub 4% mortgage rates should boost demand, but while the rate of home price increases is slowing, it is still rising, putting the dream of homeownership out of the reach of more Americans.”
“Given the restrictions of too little land zoned for housing, restrictive local building codes, and expensive labor and materials, home builders are hard-pressed to meet the growing demand for new homes,” Frick concluded.
All that glitters is gold when you’re talking about high-end real estate along the Atlantic Ocean. The Golden Isles are a chain of barrier islands sitting midway between Savannah, GA, and Jacksonville, FL.
If you’re unfamiliar with names like St. Simons Island, Little St. Simons Island, Sea Island, Jekyll Island, and Brunswick, that’s because they’re hidden gems along Georgia’s oft-overlooked coastline.
The island chain offers just the right blend of notoriety and privacy and was tabbed last year as “The Secluded Island Hideaways for America’s Rich and Famous” by the Wall Street Journal. In addition to seclusion, the allure of these isles is intimately tied to golf. In fact, the golf tradition of the Golden Isles dates back at least a century.
With a backdrop of golf history and award-winning courses, it’s no surprise that pro golfers have snapped up homes in the Golden Isles.
Golf Hall of Famer Davis Love III is one such linksman. The 21-time PGA Tour winner owns a pristine plantation-style home on St. Simons Island.
Love’s 5-acre spread is located in a private, serene neighborhood and includes a fully functioning farm. Known as Sinclair Farm, Love’s summery sanctuary is way, way above par.
It’s currently on the market for $4.48 million and eagerly awaits a buyer in search of a place with a golden reputation.
There’s only one divot—the golfer’s home has been up for sale for sixlong years. We’ll spare you the albatross jokes.
In 2013, Love’s property landed on the market at a price of $5.5 million. So what’s the holdup? Why aren’t buyers swooning over Love’s beautiful island compound?
St. Simons Island offers the best of island life. The plantation-style house is gorgeous. The property is enormous and lush. We’re talking endless summer, twinkling stars on clear nights with fireflies flitting around. The beach right around the corner.
To dig in to the reasons, we spoke with a couple of local agents.
An abundance of options
On Sea Island and St. Simons Island, there are over 50 listings priced between $1 million and $14 million, according to Rhonda NeSmith, an agent with Coldwell Banker Platinum Partners.
“People who can afford to buy in this price range have options,” she said. “This property is really nice and private, but a lot of people come to the area to be either in a golf community or on the water.”
Love’s secluded property is located in an area with only six other homes, and the street to reach the home is quite dark and winding, NeSmith said.
With an abundance of waterfront and golf course properties available, this lovely island spread might be … too remote?
The listing mentions views of a marsh in the distance. NeSmith said “distance” is a bit of an understatement: “There’s a 50-acre property in between this one and the marsh, so there’s not much to see in that regard.”
However, the views of the sky are unparalleled. NeSmith told us, “I can guarantee the view of the night sky from this property is an amazing sight.”
The home is also competing with luxury homes on the other Golden Isles, and many of those options are gated, private islands for residents only.
New construction in the area also plays a role. Even though Love’s home is only two decades old, many high-end buyers want a place with no previous owners.
“This home was built in 1999,” said Maria Jennings, real estate agent with DeLoach Sotheby’s International Realty. “There’s a fair amount of new construction in the area. This presents some competition for this kind of home.”
The vacation vibe
Jennings told us the Golden Isles are a popular destination for vacationers, retirees, and owners of second homes.
“The island tends to attract retirees that want to downsize,” Jennings said. “They’re looking for something that’s easy to maintain, and this property requires a lot of upkeep.”
Five acres aren’t going to tend to themselves. And with a fully functioning farm, upkeep is a daily commitment, which runs counter to the idea of having a low-key retreat.
Vacationers, she said, are looking for something similar: a place to stay that requires little maintenance and has enough space to spread out and relax, but not so much that keeping things clean, tidy, and in working order takes the fun out of the experience.
“The farm makes this property really unique, which is good, but it also narrows down the kind of buyer looking for this kind of home.”
You can’t hurry Love
For someone like Love, a native of the Golden Isles area and a professional athlete with presumably a sizable nest egg, selling the property quickly isn’t a top priority. He ranks among the top 20 money earners all-time in the world of professional golf, having pulled down nearly $45 million in career earnings.
“I tend to think he built this as his forever home, but obviously something changed,” says NeSmith. “Still, he probably doesn’t need to sell it for the money.”
The lack of urgency is reflected in the years the home has spent on the market and the relative lack of price cuts. The asking price was cut in 2015, 2017, and then again earlier this year to its present price.
“The house is worth its current asking price,” said NeSmith. “So that’s not the issue here. The property is just really unique for the area.”
So what kind of buyer will fall in love with an island farm?
“It’s probably going to be someone middle-aged that’s relocating that wants to be close to the water but still have the farm feel,” said Jennings. “That’s a pretty unique buyer.” If you fit the very specific bill, Love is still waiting for you to take a swing.
In February, annual home price gains slowed across the country, according to the latest Case-Shiller Home Price Index from S&P Down Jones Indices and CoreLogic.
The report’s results showed that February 2019 saw an annual increase of 4% for home prices nationwide, falling from the previous month’s report.
The graph below highlights the average home prices within the 10-City and 20-City Composites.
(Click to enlarge)
Before seasonal adjustment, the National Index decreased 0.2% month over month in February. The 10-City Composite and the 20-City Composite both posted a 0.2% month over month decrease.
After seasonal adjustment, the National Index recorded a month-over-month gain of 0.3% in February. Additionally, the 10-City Composite and the 20-City Composite posted also posted a 0.2% month-over-month increase.
The 10-City and 20-City composites reported a 2.6% and 3.1% year-over-year increase for the month, respectively. Before seasonal adjustment, 14 of 20 cities reported increases, while 17 of 20 cities reported increases after the seasonal adjustment.
S&P Dow Jones Indices Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee David Blitzer said the pace of increases for home prices continues to slow.
“Homes began their climb in 2012 and accelerated until late 2013 when annual increases reached double digits,” Blitzer said. “Subsequently, increases slowed until now when the National Index is up 4% in the last 12 months.”
And although sales of existing single-family homes have recovered since 2010 and reached their peak one year ago in February 2018, home sales have drifted down over the last year except for a one-month pop in February 2019, according to Blitzer.
“Sales of new homes, housing starts, and residential investment had similar weak trajectories over the last year,” Blitzer said. “Mortgage rates are down one-half to three-quarters of a percentage point since late 2018.”
Additionally, Blitzer notes that regional housing trends are changing, especially as previously thriving housing markets continue to lose appreciation.
According to the report, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tampa reported the highest year-over-year gains among all of the 20 cities.
In February, Las Vegas led with a 9.7% year-over-year price increase, followed by Phoenix with a 6.7% increase and Tampa with a 5.4% increase. Notably, only one of the 20 cities reported larger price increases in the year ending February 2019 versus the year ending January 2019.
“The largest year-over-year price increase is 9.7% in Las Vegas; last year, the largest gain was 12.7% in Seattle. Regional patterns are shifting. The three California cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego have the three slowest price increases over the last year. Chicago, New York and Cleveland saw only slightly larger prices increases than California,” Blitzer said. “Prices generally rose faster in inland cities than on either the coasts or the Great Lakes. Aside from Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tampa, which saw the fastest gains, Atlanta, Denver, and Minneapolis all saw prices rise more than 4% — twice the rate of inflation.”
There are Bauhaus shows around the world all year long
April marks the 100th anniversary of the Bauhaus, the immensely influential art and design school founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar, Germany, in 1919. Though the school was only in existence for a total of 14 years, it engaged some of the biggest names in 20th-century art and design—Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer, Gunta Stölzl, Josef and Anni Albers, to name a few—and set in motion visions of modernism that have echoed across disciplines and decades.
Indeed, the Bauhaus’s history is rich and its legacy even more so. So it’s no wonder that cultural institutions around the world have been mounting exhibitions aimed at exploring various facets of the powerful school. To help design nerds keep up with all that’s happening this year, we’ve rounded up major shows on the Bauhaus and will update the list as we learn of more.
“The Whole World a Bauhaus” is divided into eight different chapters, each focusing on an aspect of work and life at the Bauhaus during its operation: Art, Crafts, and Technology; Floating; Community; Encounters; The Total Work of Art; New Man; Radical Pedagogy; and Experiment. These sections highlight the [projects] students did in their revolutionary workshops with industrial materials and processes, the school’s major impact on the international avant-garde, and how the students and instructors sought to rethink their world.
As a key figure in the rise of modern tubular steel furniture, Lorenz’s importance stems not only from his furniture designs, but also from his patented inventions and successful entrepreneurial ventures…Like virtually no other material, tubular steel embodied avant-garde ideals of the Bauhaus such as the quest for a “machine aesthetic” and radically new structural solutions, which culminated in the famous cantilever chair.
For the first time, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam spotlights the Dutch Bauhaus network in a wide-ranging retrospective, revealing over sixty artists, designers, architects, and other intermediaries from the Netherlands who were personally and artistically involved with the Bauhaus, and vice versa, between 1919 and 1933.
The edition “Still Undead” explores the immaterial, the ephemeral, and the performative and departs from Kurt Schwerdtfeger’s reflecting light plays, which were produced for a Bauhaus party in 1922 and later on became important for the evolution of film subculture including expanded cinema.
The final edition of a major research project focusing on a transnational perspective of the Bauhaus, “Still Undead” exhibitions will also be shown at Zentrum Paul Klee (September 20, 2019 to January 12, 2020) in Bern, Switzerland, and Nottingham Contemporary (September 21, 2019 to January 5, 2019).
The selection on view in this exhibition stands in for the multitude of relationships with other artists that Paul Klee cultivated throughout his life. It demonstrates how central Klee’s engagement with their art, which spans the movements of Expressionism and Surrealism, Cubism and Concrete art, was for his artistic development.
The exhibition documents—on the basis of little-known testimonies—van de Velde’s artistic sources, his ideas of reform, and the foundation of two art schools. It opens the view to his companions, as well as his complete oeuvre as an architect and universal designer.
The collection is centered around the oldest museum collection worldwide of Bauhaus workshop oeuvres. The collection was started by Walter Gropius as early as the 1920s. Selected paths in the development of art, architecture and design will present the lasting impact this unique school of design has had around the world.
[The exhibition] will endeavor to make the sheer expressive variety of Schlemmer’s work visible. Its chief focus will be on his work from the 1920s and 1930s. This includes Schlemmer’s time at the Bauhaus school in Weimar and subsequently in Dessau, his work as a muralist, and his stage and dance projects.
The show will provide a deeper understanding of this restless innovator, artist, educator, and writer, considered one of the most influential figures of the avant-garde. The works in the exhibition span a period from the early 1920s to the 1940s revealing a diverse practice that defies categorization, moving fluidly between disciplines that encompassed photography, painting, sculpture, film, and design.
Following this exhibit, Hauser & Wirth is also putting on “Max Bill. Bauhaus Constellations,”on view from June 9, 2019 to September 14, 2019, focusing on the “dynamic dialogues” between the Swiss designer and various Bauhaus figures.
June 11, 2019 to October 13, 2019: “Bauhaus Beginnings” at Getty Research Institute, Getty Center, (Los Angeles, CA)
“Bauhaus Beginnings”considers the school’s early dedication to spiritual expression and its development of a curriculum based on the elements deemed fundamental to all forms of artistic practice. The exhibition presents more than 250 objects including woodcut prints, drawings, collages, photography, textile samples, artists’ books, student notebooks, masters’ teaching aids and notes, letters, and ephemera from the school’s founding and early years.
The show is accompanied by an online exhibition “Bauhaus: Building the New Artist,” which launches on June 19 and will feature “interactive activities modeled after the exercises developed by Bauhaus instructors.”
September 6, 2019 to January 27, 2020: “Original Bauhaus” at Berlinische Galerie (Berlin, Germany)
How did the woman sitting on the tubular-steel chair become the most famous anonymous figure from the Bauhaus? Does the Haus am Horn in Weimar have a secret twin? Why have the tea infusers, which were created as prototypes for industrial production, always remained one-of-a-kind pieces? “Original Bauhaus” sheds light on how unique work and series, remake, and original are inseparably linked in the history of the Bauhaus.
The Dessau collection is distinctive: Its exhibits and objects tell the story of teaching and learning, free design and the development of industrial prototypes, artistic experiment, and engagement with the marketplace at the to-date unparalleled school of design.
Mortgage rates remained unchanged in the week ending 28th February. The stall in the downward trend came off the back of 3 consecutive weeks of decline. 30-year fixed rates remained unchanged at 4.35%, holding at the lowest level since 7th February’s 4.32%. The figures were released by Freddie Mac.
30-year fixed rates have fallen by 59 basis points since mid-November of last year, the most recent peak.
The pause in rates came as concerns over the global and U.S economic outlook continued to linger. Mixed sentiment towards progress on trade talks between the U.S and China led to a mid-week hiccup. The North Korea Summit also ended abruptly, which was not the outcome that the markets were looking for.
Economic Data from the Week
Economic data released through the week included December housing sector numbers and consumer confidence figures on Tuesday. December factory orders and January pending home sales on Wednesday that came ahead of 4th quarter GDP numbers on Thursday.
On the housing front, house price growth slowed further in December, according to the S&P / CS HPI Composite figures. Coupled with falling mortgage rates, the slower growth in house prices will be welcomed news for prospective home buyers.
Building permits continued its upward trend in December, following a 5% jump in November. In contrast, housing starts slumped by 11.2%, though this could be more to do with the weather than market conditions.
The good news was a combined jump in consumer confidence and pending home sales. Activity in the spring could deliver a much-needed boost to the sector.
Finally, the 4th quarter GDP numbers were in line with expectations. While growth was significantly slower than the 3rd quarter, it could have been far worse. Nonetheless, slower growth and FED Chair Powell’s testimony contributed to the steady mortgage rate figures.
Freddie Mac Rates
The weekly average rates for new mortgages as of 28th February were quoted by Freddie Mac to be:
30-year fixed rates held steady at 4.35% in the week. Rates were down from 4.43% from a year ago. The average fee also remained unchanged at 0.5 points.
15-year fixed rates fell by 1 basis points to 3.77% in the week. Rates were down from 3.90% from a year ago. The average fee increased from 0.4 points to 0.5 points.
5-year fixed rates also remained unchanged at 3.84% in the week. Rates increased by 22 basis points from last year’s 3.62%. The average fee held steady at 0.3 points.
Mortgage Bankers’ Association Rates
For the week ending 22nd February, rates were quoted to be:
Average interest rates for 30-year fixed, backed by the FHA, decreased from 4.68% to 4.64%. Points decreased from 0.58 to 0.48 (incl. origination fee) for 80% LTV loans.
Average interest rates for 30-year fixed with conforming loan balances decreased from 4.66% to 4.65%. Points remained unchanged at 0.42 (incl. origination fee) for 80% LTV loans.
Average 30-year rates for jumbo loan balances decreased from 4.56% to 4.40%, the lowest level since January 2018. Points increased from 0.23 to 0.29 (incl. origination fee) for 80% LTV loans.
Weekly figures released by the Mortgage Bankers Association showed that the Market Composite Index, which is a measure of mortgage loan application volume, surged by 5.3% in the week ending 22nd February. The increase follows on from a 3.6% rise from the previous week.
The Refinance Index rose by 5% in the week ending 22nd February. The rise follows on from a 6% jump in the previous week.
The share of refinance mortgages decreased from 41.7% to 40.4%, following a fall from 41.8% to 41.7% in the week prior.
According to the MBA, home buyers responded favorably to the shift in the mortgage rate environment. Purchase applications for both conventional and government loans were reported to have risen in the reporting week. The upward trend in refinance application volume saw the index hit its highest level in a month.
For the week ahead
It’s a particularly busy week ahead. On the data front, February’s service sector PMI and December new home sales figures will provide direction on Tuesday. Service sector activity will need to impress to ease any immediate concerns over the economic outlook.
Trade figures and February’s ADP nonfarm employment change figures will influence Treasury yields on Wednesday.
Economic data out of the U.S on Thursday includes 4th quarter nonfarm productivity and unit labor costs, which will be released alongside the weekly jobless claims figures. Barring a material deviation from forecast, the numbers will unlikely have a material impact.
Outside of the numbers, there are plenty of factors that will influence Treasury yields and ultimately mortgage rates. Trade talks between China and the U.S, Brexit, and China’s trade data are just a number of drivers ahead of Freddie Mac’s mortgage rates, which will be released on Thursday.
December is usually the slowest month for the housing market, but this season is not so normal. Some unique dynamics may make this December one of the better times to both buy and sell a home.
First and foremost, mortgage rates are turning what was a red-hot market into a lukewarm market, and that is motivating buyers more than usual.
Rates are now about a full percentage point higher than they were a year ago, hovering now just below 5 percent. They are expected to move higher in 2019, however.
A real estate agent shows a home in a Chicago suburb.
Photo: Larry Collins
December is usually the slowest month for the housing market, but this season is not so normal. Some unique dynamics may make this December one of the better times to both buy and sell a home.
First and foremost, mortgage rates are turning what was a red-hot market into a lukewarm market, and that is motivating buyers more than usual. That’s because home prices ran up so far so fast during the recent historic housing shortage, that higher rates are having an outsized impact.
Real estate agent Lynn Fairfield of Re/Max Suburban held an open house Sunday in suburban Chicago, and rates were front and center in the living room conversations.
“I see more people buying right now because they’re afraid rates will be higher in 2019,” said Fairfield.
The average rate on the 30-year fixed spiked this past fall, after flatlining over the summer. Rates are now about a full percentage point higher than they were a year ago, hovering now just below 5 percent. They are expected to move higher in 2019, however.
Combine that with strong home price appreciation over the past two years, and some buyers, especially first-timers, have now hit an affordability wall. That is why sales of both new and existing homes have been weaker for several months, but that also presents an opportunity for buyers. Prices are finally starting to ease — or, at least, the gains are shrinking.
Prices are usually lower in the winter months, in fact 18 percent lower in the Chicago area on average than at the peak of the market in June, according to Re/Max. So add higher rates to that, and sellers will have to be more flexible this year. The sky is no longer the limit. Not even close.
“The housing market always lets up a little in the fall, when kids are back in school and the home shopping season wraps up for the holidays,” said Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow. “But this fall and winter are shaping up to be more favorable for those buyers who have struggled to get into the housing market for several years amid red-hot competition.”
Zillow is seeing a sharp increase in the share of properties with price cuts, even in overheated markets like Seattle, Las Vegas and Boston.
Real estate agent Lynn Fairfield, with RE/MAX Suburban, shows a home in a Chicago suburb.
Photo: Larry Collins
Of course the number of new listings are the lowest in December, as a new home is not traditionally a holiday gift, and anyone with children doesn’t want to move during the school year.
“Though the holiday season is not going to give you plenty of options to choose from, there are reasons why you should NOT put your home search on hold for the holidays,” said Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com. “Chief among them, December is the best time of year if you want to avoid competitions.”
Views per property are 21 percent lower in December than they are during the rest of the year, according to Realtor.com.
While supply and competition may both be at their low point, motivation is at its high point, for both buyers and sellers.
“That buyer has to move. Either they have a lease expiring Jan. 1, or they have saved enough money for their down payment, so they are motivated to buy,” said Fairfield. “A lot of people are more motivated price-wise from the selling standpoint too, because they too want to get to their next location.”
So far this year, the 30-year-fixed has averaged 4.53%, compared to 3.99% in 2017
Rates for home loans tumbled as turmoil rocked global financial markets, but any reprieve in rates may come too late for would-be home buyers or refinancers.
The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.81% in the November 21 week, down 13 basis points, mortgage liquidity provider Freddie Mac said Wednesday. That’s the biggest weekly decline since January 2015 and the lowest level for the popular product since early October. The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.24%, down 12 basis points during the week. The 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage averaged 4.09%, down from 4.15%.
Those rates don’t include fees associated with obtaining mortgage loans.
Fixed-rate mortgages follow the U.S. 10-year Treasury noteTMUBMUSD10Y, +0.00% , although with a slight delay. As a global stock sell-off has raged over the past week, bonds have been the best house in a bad neighborhood. The yield on the benchmark 10-year bond touched a six-week low Monday. Bond yields decline as prices rise, and vice versa.
Meanwhile, this week has brought a raft of fresh information on the housing market, little of it cheery.
Sales of already-owned homes perked up in October, but are still lower than the year-ago selling pace by more than 5%. Home builders broke ground on more — but not enough — homes. And one fresh data point bears watching: mortgage applications for newly-constructed houses are plunging, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. As the chart above shows, they’re now lower than year-ago levels by double digits.
It’s possible more new-home buyers are making their purchases with cash as interest rates rise. But it’s just as likely that the tumble in applications is an early warning sign on new-home sales in the coming months. If so, that would mean trouble for the housing market — and the economy.
Only about 1.86 million Americans now have an “interest rate incentive” to refinance, data provider Black Knight said earlier in November. And refis made up the smallest share of all mortgage applications since December 2000 this past week, the Mortgage Bankers said. Housing market conditions may be easing enough for motivated buyers to catch a break, and there may be brief windows in which some homeowners can grab a refinance. But if Americans aren’t watching, or aren’t ready to pounce, those opportunities may slip by.
The homeownership rate increased slightly in the third quarter, driven primarily by a jump in first-time homebuyers.
The homeownership rate increased to 64.4% in the third quarter of 2018, according to the latest report from the U.S. Census Bureau. This is up slightly from 64.3% in the second quarter and from 63.9% in the third quarter of 2017.
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(Source: U.S. Census Bureau)
This increase was driven primarily by first-time homebuyers as more Millennials opted out of renting and entered into the homeownership market.
“Led by another surge in owner household formation, homeownership rates are up again, but those gains are not driven by those who experienced the housing crash and lived to tell about it,” said Skylar Olsen, Zillow director of economic research and outreach. “First-time home buyers drove the market this year.”
“The homeownership rate of the 45 to 55 age bracket dropped quarter-over-quarter, while the under 35 age bracket continues to rally,” Olsen said. “Their homeownership rate is up a whopping 1.2% since Q3 2017 to 36.8%.”
Homeownership among those under age 35 increased from 35.6% in the third quarter 2017 and 36.5% in the second quarter this year to 36.8% in the third quarter 2018, the report showed.
Meanwhile, those ages 35 to 44 years dropped from 60% in the second quarter to 59.5% in the third quarter. This is still up slightly from 59.3% in the third quarter 2017. Those ages 45 to 54 years also saw a decrease, falling from 70.6% in the second quarter to 69.7% in the third. This is also still up from 69.1% in the third quarter of 2017.
Older generations also saw an increase in their homeownership rate. The rate for those ages 55 to 64 increased from 75.1% the previous quarter and 75% the previous year to 75.6% in the third quarter. Those ages 65 years and older saw an increase from 78% in the second quarter to 78.6% in the third quarter this year, however this is down slightly from 78.9% in the third quarter of 2017.
“Today’s report shows that more people are choosing homeownership over renting, and a large part of that story is the historically large number of first-time homebuyers,” said Tian Liu, Genworth Mortgage Insurance chief economist. “In the past two years, first-time homebuyers have purchased at least 1.9 million homes each year. That is more than the pace of household formation over the same period, meaning that the transition from renting to own is the more powerful driver of housing demand.”
“That has also been an important and often overlooked reason for the rapid rise in home prices, as more buyers came into the market,” Liu said. “Paradoxically, the rise of first-time homebuyers, which has pushed home prices up, also is slowing home sales today. These events caused the homeownership rate and home sales to diverge this quarter.”
The Hispanic homeownership rate saw a quarterly drop as it fell from 46.6% in the second quarter to 46.3% in the third quarter. This was still up slightly from 46.1% in the third quarter of 2017.
Among whites, the homeownership rate increased from 72.5% in the third quarter of 2017 and 72.9% in the second quarter this year to 73.1% in the third quarter of 2018. Blacks also saw an increase from last quarter, rising from 41.6% to 41.7%, however the rate dropped from last year’s 42%.