Home affordability is at the worst level in seven years, with 24% of the U.S. county housing markets less affordable than their historic affordability averages in the third quarter, the most recent ATTOM Data Solutions Home Affordability Index for third quarter 2016 recorded.
This level is not only up from 22% of markets in the previous quarter, but it is up from 19% of markets a year ago.
The only other time affordability came in worse than this was in third quarter of 2009 when 47% of markets were less affordable than their historic affordability averages.
The affordability index is based on the percentage of average wages needed to make monthly house payments on a median-priced home with a 30-year fixed rate and a 3% down payment — including property taxes and insurance.
“The improving affordability trend we noted in our second quarter report reversed course in the third quarter as home price appreciation accelerated in the majority of markets and wage growth slowed in the majority of local markets as well as nationwide, where average weekly wages declined in the first quarter of this year following 13 consecutive quarters with year-over-year increases,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions.
“This unhealthy combination resulted in worsening affordability in 63% of markets despite mortgage rates that are down 45 basis points from a year ago.
According to the report, out of the 414 counties analyzed in the report, 101 counties (24%) had an affordability index below 100 in the third quarter of 2016, meaning that buying a median-priced home in that county was less affordable than the historic average for that county going back to the first quarter of 2005.
Key counties highlighted include: Harris County (Houston), Texas; Kings County (Brooklyn), New York; Dallas County, Texas; Bexar County (San Antonio), Texas; and Alameda County, California in the San Francisco metro area.
Despite the negative news, Blomquist did point out one positive area.
“Some silver lining in this report is that affordability actually improved in some of the highest-priced markets that have been bastions of bad affordability, mostly the result of annual home price appreciation slowing to low single-digit percentages in those markets,” Blomquist continued.
He explained that this is an indication that home prices are finally responding to affordability constraints — a modicum of good news for prospective buyers who have been priced out of those high-priced markets.
This infographic from ATTOM Data Solutions shows the U.S. home affordability affliction and some possible antidotes.
S&P Dow Jones Indices released the Case-Shiller (CS) National Home Price Index for July. The index rose at a seasonally adjusted annual growth rate of 5.0%, faster than the 2.1% in June. House prices have decelerated since the beginning of 2016 due to the sharp decline in existing home sales at the end of 2015. But, home prices started to accelerate in May and home price appreciation increased to 5.0% in July.
The Home Price Index from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.8% in July, following 3.4% in June, confirming the reacceleration in home prices.
However, local housing markets varied greatly. Figure 2 shows home price appreciation for 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas in July.
Twelve out of the 20 metro areas had positive home price appreciation. The highest one in the list was Portland, OR with an annual rate of 8.2%, followed by Denver with an annual rate of 6.6%. Phoenix placed third with an annual rate of 5.9%.
Home price appreciation in the remaining eight metro areas was negative. They are San Francisco, Washington, DC, Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, and New York. Home price appreciation in Chicago was -5.9%, the lowest among 20 metro areas.
There are a lot more apartments available for purchase these days in Manhattan. And fewer people are buying.
Sales of previously owned condominiums and co-ops fell 20 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier as potential buyers grew cautious amid more choices, according to a report Tuesday from appraiser Miller Samuel Inc. and brokerage Douglas Elliman Real Estate. There were 5,290 resale apartments on the market at the end of September, 53 percent more than the number available in late 2013, the lowest point for listings.
The swelling inventory is providing an opportunity to New Yorkers shut out of a market in which construction has been dominated by ultra-luxury condos aimed at the wealthiest buyers. Resales, particularly those priced at less than $1 million, were in chronically short supply in recent years, and those that made it to the market sparked bidding wars. Now, more owners are listing apartments to profit from climbing values, and they’re finding lots of company.
“Rapidly rising prices over the years have pulled more sellers into the market hoping to cash out,” Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel, said in an interview. “But buyers are more wary. There isn’t the same intensity of activity to burn through the new supply.”
Buyers agreed to pay more than the asking price in just 17 percent of all condo and co-op deals that closed in the third quarter, down from a record 31 percent a year earlier, according to Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman. Consumers also are taking longer to make a decision. Previously owned properties that sold in the period spent an average of 72 days on the market, up from 67 days a year ago.
The median price of all resales in the quarter climbed 2.6 percent to $950,000, Miller Samuel and Douglas Elliman said. That’s a step down in a three-year period in which annual price growth once reached 18 percent. Many sellers have yet to accept that they can no longer name any price, and the disconnect between their expectations and what buyers are willing to pay is contributing to the drop in overall sales, Miller said.
“We’re clearly seeing a slowdown,” Miller said. “This era of aspirational pricing is coming to an end. Buyers get the message first.”
For a Bloomberg Intelligence piece on New York apartment rents, click here.
When Connie Lam wanted to sell her Chelsea studio, she knew that curbing her exuberance would help her sell it fast. Lam, who bought the the 441-square-foot (41-square-meter) unit in 2013 for $555,000, listed it for sale in June, just one month before a planned move to California. Working with Douglas Elliman broker Rachel Altschuler, Lam priced her apartment at $625,000 after seeing that another studio of the same size on her floor was already on the market for $650,000.
“There were people who were interested immediately,” said Lam, 28, an attorney now living in Redwood City. “My goal was to get out and have a buyer who was really solid and wasn’t going to back out on me at the last second.”
The listing drew three offers, and was under contract at the asking price within two weeks. The deal closed in August, while the other apartment on her floor, on the market since May, is still without a buyer. Its price has since been cut to $635,000.
Nothing compliments your outdoor space like indoor style and comfort. Introduce relaxed luxury to your home’s exterior with these four outdoor living space solutions.
1. Pump up your patio.Upgrade the look of your concrete patio with stylish outdoor furniture. Lounge chairs, love seats and sofas are comfy additions to any exterior space. Accent your furniture with throw pillows, potted plants and fashionable side tables. Finish off your patio décor with quirky details like string lighting, vintage candelabras and fun arrangements of succulents.
Include a chimenea or patio-safe fire pit in your plans. A cozy fire will offer mood lighting, warmth and even a place to roast marshmallows.
Design must-haves: Outdoor furniture, chimenea, potted plants, string lighting, throw pillows, succulents.
2. Perfect your pergola. Pergolas are the picture-perfect outdoor living space. Fill your pergola with comfy seating for an outdoor lounging area. Or, open up the space with a beautiful outdoor dining set. Include an antique bar cart or coffee table for a boost in looks and functionality. Wrap up your design with string lighting or a candle chandelier.
Gardens are a wonderful pergola accent. Tall, flowering plants like hibiscus or lilies will give your pergola extra privacy and a stunning aesthetic. Creeping vines are also perfect for an added dash of style and privacy.
Design must-haves: Outdoor dining set, privacy garden, candle chandelier.
3. Kick off your outdoor kitchen. Outdoor kitchens bring the quality and convenience of indoor cooking to summertime grilling. If you have a large backyard, consider adding a full kitchen layout. A grill-smoker combo, refrigerator, prep station and washing area will boost the ease and enjoyment of your summertime cooking.
Introduce an outdoor dining room to complement your kitchen. Keep it basic with an outdoor table, chairs and a stylish cantilever umbrella. Or, go with a full dining set for larger gatherings.
Design must-haves: Grill or smoker, outdoor dining set, food prep areas, refrigerator.
4. Outfit your outdoor fireplace. An outdoor fireplace is the ultimate gathering spot during nice weather. Situate your fireplace near your patio or devote a separate part of your yard to fireside get-togethers. Accentuate your fireplace with comfortable outdoor furniture — wrap around sofas are great for larger spaces —and several small coffee or side tables. If your fireplace is near your home, hang lighting or small lanterns over your seating area. Check out this extra resource in case you are thinking about renovating your property.
Next September, two months before the Presidential election, America celebrates eight years since the Treasury Department took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and turned them into wholly owned subsidiaries. Since then the federal government’s control over the nation’s housing markets has grown even greater than ever.
While we’ve been waiting for policymakers to fix a broken system of housing, the GSE’s and government programs like FHA are using taxpayer-backed credit to make the housing recovery possible—first to keep virtually all credit flowing in the crisis years, now to open the door to homeownership to more marginal borrowers.
If you’re a first-time buyer or have a less than golden credit past, you’d be crazy to go anywhere else than the government for a mortgage—either a GSE low down payment conforming loan program or a direct federal program like FHA. Not only do you stand a much better chance of qualifying., even the premium payment on FHA mortgage insurance has been lowered to make the decision easier.
The latest Urban Institute credit availability index (HCAI) shows that although both private and public mortgage credit availability remains above the record low of 4.6 in the third quarter of 2013 (Q3 2013), it has trended downward over the past four quarters. The HCAI measures the percentage of home purchase loans that are likely to default—that is, go unpaid for more than 90 days past their due date. A lower HCAI indicates that lenders are unwilling to tolerate defaults and are imposing tighter lending standards, making it harder to get a loan. A higher HCAI indicates that lenders are willing to tolerate defaults and are taking more risks, making it easier to get a loan.
However, mortgage credit availability in the government-sponsored enterprises (GSE) channel—Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—has been at the highest level over the past three quarters since the low hit in 2010. Credit availability in the government channel (FVR), which comprises the Federal Housing Administration, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Agriculture Rural Develop.
We just got another sign the housing market is on fire.
On Wednesday, we learned that existing home sales jumped to the fastest pace since February 2007.
Sales rose 3.2% month-over-month to an annualized pace of 5.49 million.
Economists had forecast a rise of 0.9% to an annualized pace of 5.40 million.
In the release from the National Association of Realtors, Lawrence Yun noted that the past two months were the strongest for sales since early 2007.
“This wave of demand is being fueled by a year-plus of steady job growth and an improving economy that’s giving more households the financial wherewithal and incentive to buy,” Yun said.
Ian Shepherdson, chief US economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said in a note out after the report, “In one line: strong across the board.”
But this isn’t the first sign the housing market is roaring back. On Friday we got housing data that posted eight-year highs from the Census Bureau, showing that housing starts rose 9.8% to an annualized pace of 1.174 million, the highest since July 2007.
Building permits, which point to the pace of future construction, rose 7.4% to an annualized pace of 1.343 million.
In Wednesday’s release, NAR president Chris Polychron said that even with the uptick in home prices, demand is still solid across the board.
“The demand for buying has really heated up this summer,” Polychron said, “leading to multiple bidders and homes selling at or above asking price. Furthermore, tight inventory conditions are being exacerbated by the fact that some homeowners are hesitant to sell because they’re not optimistic they’ll have adequate time to find an affordable property to move into.”
And as we highlighted over the weekend, the housing market is reflecting a bigger macroeconomic story of a US economy that is picking up steam.
Deutsche Bank’s Joe LaVorgna spelled this out in a note to clients on Tuesday, writing:
“We remain positive on the housing outlook. The economy has created nearly 3 million jobs over the past year, the unemployment rate is almost a percentage point lower, and consumers have saved well over $100 billion in energy costs over the last 12 months. Moreover, as we highlighted in the latest US Economics Weekly, commercial banks continue to ease lending standards for mortgages …”
In short, there are several positive tailwinds for the housing sector that should result in a more pronounced pickup in activity over the next several quarters. If this is the case, policymakers should become more confident that consumer spending, which accounts for roughly 70% of GDP, is on firm footing.
And it’s not just economists who are bullish on housing. The Federal Reserve’s latest beige book noted an uptick in real-estate activity in several of its 12 districts. The bullish signs are everywhere.
U.S. builders broke ground on apartment complexes last month at the fastest pace in nearly 28 years, as developers anticipate that recent jobs gains will launch a wave of renters
The Commerce Department said Friday that housing starts in June climbed 9.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 million homes. All of that growth came from a 28.6 percent surge in multi-family housing that put apartment construction at its highest rate since November 1987. Starts for single-family houses slipped 0.9 percent last month.
The gains show that what had been a sluggish construction sector is now running on economic adrenaline. Strong job growth and a rebounding economy have increased the numbers of buyers and renters searching for homes, while gradually rising mortgage rates have spurred homeowners to finalize deals.
Housing starts jumped 35.3 percent in the Northeast because of apartments, while climbing 13.5 percent in the South. Home construction slumped in the Midwest and West in June.
Nationwide, housing starts have risen 10.9 percent year-to-date.
Over the past 12 months, employers have added 2.9 million jobs, meaning that there are that many more people with paychecks to spend across the broader economy. The impact of those job gains and the unemployment rate dropping to 5.3 percent has surfaced in housing, where demand is outpacing the supply of homes and creating more pressure to build houses and apartments.
The market for new homes for sale had just 4.5 months of supply in May, compared to 6 months in a healthy market.
Approved building permits rose increased 7.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.34 million in June, the highest level since July 2007. The bulk of that increase came for apartment complexes, while permits for houses last month rose just 0.9 percent.
There are other signs that builders are increasingly optimistic.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index released Thursday climbed to 60 this month, a level last reached in November 2005 — shortly before the housing boom gave way to the mortgage crisis that triggered the Great Recession. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good rather than poor.
Mortgage rates have started to rise, although they remain low by historic standards.
The average 30-year, fixed mortgage rate was 4.09 percent last week, according to the mortgage firm Freddie Mac. That is up from a 52-week low of 3.59 percent.
It’s official. It took six grueling years since the Great Recession ended, but now, the housing recovery enters the second half of 2015 as a fundamentals-driven rebound.
What does it mean now that housing—and its infinite mosaic of geographical fiefdoms down to the submarket and lot-line level—has healed its gravest wounds? What does it mean to developers and builders that buyers and sellers of home properties are people to people, not desperate people to institutions? What does it mean when we say that a housing cycle’s trajectory has moved decisively from a focus on investors’ resources to an exchange of values from owner-occupier to someone who wants to be an owner-occupier of a primary residence?
As we note from RealtyTrac’s latest U.S. Home & Foreclosure Sales Report for May, all of the benchmarks for abnormal residential real estate behavior—cash sales, distressed sales, bank-owned sales, and in-foreclosure sales—dramatically subsided in the past month and, even more dramatically so in the past 12 months.
Here are a few of the highlights of the RealtyTrac May Foreclosure report, noted by Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.
Properties that sold while in the foreclosure process — but not yet bank-owned — accounted for 6.6 percent of all residential property sales in May, down from 8.5 percent the previous month and down from 9.2 percent a year ago
The market has spoken. It’s no longer rewarding investor opportunism, short-term gains for cash-flush buyers, nor quick flippers, nor even global “safe-haven” buyers who buoyed the marketplace as deterioration switched to resilience three years ago.