Currently, COVID-19 is not having a significant impact on the housing market, yet its effects will eventually be felt in the real estate trenches.
The Coronavirus and Housing: Despite all the news swirling about the Coronavirus, the Orange County real estate market is still rocketing forward with an Expected Market Time of 48 days. At first, news of the Coronavirus seemed like a distant crisis on the other side of the world. Then, at the end of January, the first case on U.S. soil was announced. It was not until the end of February when top federal health officials warned that the virus would spread in the United States.
Since then, everyone has been confronted with a deluge of information and misinformation. Many mistakenly ran to purchase N95 face masks and now they are nowhere to be found. Others are stockpiling water, toilet paper, canned goods and everyday essentials. The response has been similar to Y2k when the banking system and world economy was supposed to crash due to a computer glitch in ringing in the year 2000, which never materialized.
The Coronavirus is beginning to interrupt daily life. There are no more samples at Costco. After the kids’ soccer matches, the handshake has been replaced with a fist bump. Parishioners are no longer holding hands or offering a hand in peace. Starbucks no longer allows reusable cups. There are signs in the grocery store limiting the number of certain items.
As the virus began to spread out of control not only in China, but South Korea, Italy and Iran, Wall Street and financial markets around the world panicked and moved their money out of stocks and into long term bonds, United States treasuries. When that occurs, long term mortgage interest rates fall.
So, how will the Coronavirus outbreak affect housing? There is no absolute, 100% certain answer. Instead, it all boils down how long this crisis will last and how large of an impact it will have on United States soil and the rest of the world. In China, the number of new cases is dwindling, a glimpse of hope that this too will end. Currently, the data does not indicate any change in the local housing market. The supply of homes to purchase in Orange County is at its lowest level for a start to March since 2013, and demand (last 30-days of pending sales) is at its highest level since 2016. With not enough supply and strong demand, the Expected Market Time (the time between pounding in the FOR-SALE sign and opening escrow) is at 48 days, a HOT Seller’s Market and its lowest level since 2013.
As a direct result from the COVID-19 outbreak, mortgage rates have dropped to a record low and will most likely drop even further. There is a chance that they break below 3% and into the 2’s. This inevitably will provoke many more to purchase, juicing demand. For a $750,000 mortgage, today’s 3.25% rate amounts to a $492 per month savings compared to March 2019’s 4.4% rate. That’s a savings of $5,904 per year. If rates drop to 3%, it’s a $594 per months savings, or $7,128 per year. And, at 2.75%, it’s a savings of $694 per month, or $8,328 per year. In doing the math, it is easy to see how lower rates will stimulate demand. The impact on affordability is astounding.
Housing demand has skyrocketed due to historically low rates that are not going anywhere anytime soon.
The Impact of Low Rates: A buyer’s purchasing power has dramatically improved thanks to ultra-low mortgage rates.
Attending an air show for the first time is quite an experience, especially when fighter jets take off and rocket across the sky. The blast from the engines is deafening, the orange glow from the afterburners is visible from the ground, and the powerful vibrations can be felt coursing through a spectator’s body. It is the specially designed jet fuel that allows these aircraft to soar through the air. Housing has “specially designed jet fuel,” also known as ultra-low mortgage rates, that is allowing the market to soar in 2020. These historically low rates are not going to budge much from the mid-3’s. And, the recent news of the coronavirus has driven mortgage rates lower over the past month. The Orange County housing market is extremely hot, and as the year unfolds the heat continues to crank higher and higher.
This hot market can also be seen in Irvine where the Total Inventory of Properties available for sale as of February was 587, up 17.6% from 499 last month and down -18.5% from 720 in February of last year. February 2020 Inventory was at a mid range compared to February of 2019 and 2018. The Selling Price vs Listing Price reveals the average amount that Sellers are agreeing to come down from their list price. The lower the ratio is below 100% the more of a Buyer's market exists, a ratio at or above 100% indicates more of a Seller's market. The February 2020 Selling Price vs List Price of 97.3% was up from 96.3% last month and up from 96.6% in February of last year. Check out the latest homes to hit the Irvine market here.
The slower markets of 2018 and the first half of 2019 now seem like a distant mirage to most buyers. For a minute, buyers looked as if they were finally going to get a turn, but that all disappeared. In 2020 housing is sizzling hot again. To understand where this heightened demand and buyer’s exuberance is coming from it is necessary to consider where interest rates have historically been and their impact on affordability. The chart below highlights how higher interest rates limit the price of a home that a buyer can afford. In 1980, the average mortgage rate was 13.75%. For a desired monthly payment of $3,000 per month with 20% down, a buyer back then was looking at a $338,750 home. Rates continued to drop decade after decade. In 2000, the 8% mortgage allowed a buyer to look at purchasing a $511,250 home. It increased to a $602,500 home just prior to the Great Recession. Flash forward to today’s 3.5% mortgage rate and that buyer desiring a $3,000 per month payment is now looking at an $835,000 home.
There are many clear financial benefits to owning a home: increasing equity, building net worth, growing appreciation, and more. If you’re a renter, it’s never too early to make a plan for how homeownership can propel you toward a stronger future. Here’s a dive into three often-overlooked financial benefits of homeownership and how preparing for them now can steer you in the direction of greater stability, savings, and predictability.
1. You Won’t Always Have a Monthly Housing Payment
According to a recent article by the National Association of Realtors (NAR):
“If you’ve been a lifelong renter, this may sound like a foreign concept, but believe it or not, one day you won’t have a monthly housing payment. Unlike renting, you will eventually pay off your mortgage and your monthly payments will be funding other (possibly more fun) things.”
As a homeowner, someday you can eliminate the monthly payment you make on your house. That’s a huge win and a big factor in how home ownership can drive stability and savings in your life. As soon as you buy a home, your monthly housing costs will begin to work for you as forced savings, coming in the form of equity. As you build equity and grow your net worth, you can continue to reinvest those savings into your future, maybe even by buying that next dream home. The possibilities are truly endless.
2. Home ownership Is a Tax Break
One thing people who have never owned a home don’t always think about are the tax advantages of home ownership. The same piece states:
“Both the interest and property tax portion of your mortgage is a tax deduction. As long as the balance of your mortgage is less than the total price of your home, the interest is 100% deductible on your tax return.”
Whether you’re living in your first home or your fifth, it’s a huge financial advantage to have some tax relief tied to the interest you pay each year. It’s one thing you definitely don’t get when you’re renting. Be sure to work with a tax professional to get the best possible benefits on your annual return.
3. Monthly Housing Costs Are Predictable
A third item noted in the article is how monthly costs become more predictable with home ownership:
“As a homeowner, your monthly costs are most likely based on a fixed-rate mortgage, which allows you to budget your finances over a long period of time, unlike the unpredictability of renting.”
With a mortgage, you can keep your monthly housing costs steady and predictable. Rental prices have been skyrocketing since 2012, and with today’s low mortgage rates, it’s a great time to get more for your money when purchasing a home. If you want to lock-in your monthly payment at a low rate and have a solid understanding of what you’re going to spend in your mortgage payment each month, buying a home may be your best bet.
If you’re ready to start feeling the benefits of stability, savings, and predictability that come with owning a home, let’s get together to determine if buying an Irvine home sooner rather than later is right for you.
The Orange County housing market is officially a HOT Seller’s Market.
Getting Hot: The market is getting crazy hot below $1 million.
Mother Nature’s seasons do not matter. Sitting outside, watching one of the kid’s games from the sidelines can get really hot when there are no clouds in the sky. Wearing jeans is often a mistake that is made, a natural target for the sun’s incredible intensity while sitting in a folding chair. The darker the jean, the quicker the temperature rises. With interest rates at lows not seen since October 2016, there are no clouds in the sky and housing is already really hot. The Spring Market has officially arrived in Orange County. Some price ranges are really feeling the intense heat of blistering buyer demand. Housing has not been this hot since April 2018, nearly two years ago. Once again buyers are tripping over themselves to purchase.
Thinking about selling? Get an instant computer-generated rough value, check out our home valuation page here.
The Irvine market is showing similar signs with New Listings in January 2020 at 282, up 118.6% from 129 last month and down -12.4% from 322 in January of last year. While an interesting difference can be seen in our days on market, January was 61, down -3.2% from 63 days last month and up 8.9% from 56 days in January of last year. The January 2020 DOM was at its highest level compared with January of 2019 and 2018. Stay informed by creating your own Irvine market report here.
Homes that are priced well according to their condition, location, and upgrades, are fetching multiple offers within the first couple of days. The bidding war days are back. When a home generates 15 offers to purchase, there is only one winner, meaning 14 buyers need to go back to the drawing board. After a couple of failed attempts, many buyers sharpen their pencils and write extremely aggressive offers, willing to stretch the price a little bit, even if it means paying more than the most recent comparable sale.
This market can be extremely frustrating for a buyer. It is all due to hot buyer demand fueled by low mortgage rates. Patience and a comprehensive strategy are a buyer’s bet in finding success. The expected market time (the time between hammering in the FOR-SALE sign and opening escrow) for all of Orange County is now at 55 days. When the expected market time drops below 60 days, the market is considered a rock-solid seller’s market with steady price appreciation. Last year, Orange County never dipped below the 60-day threshold. It appears as if 2020 is going to be much hotter than the last couple of years.
The demand for housing is coming at the market like a freight train, with the law of supply and demand on full display. The ongoing shortage of available homes for sale combined with a surge of homebuyers is forcing home prices up, according to Redfin. And where it stops, nobody knows.
This shortage can also be seen in Irvine where the Total Inventory of Properties available for sale as of January was 566, down -17.1% from 683 in January of last year. Also, the number of New Listings in January 2020 was 278, down -13.7% from 322 in January of last year. Check out the latest Irvine homes to hit the market at https://ir-vine.house/AllIrvine
HousingWire’s Julia Falcon reports that homebuyers are not waiting for spring, as usual, to buy, heating up home buying competition early in 2020. “In fact, there were only 1.4 million units available for sale in December, the lowest level in at least 20 years, according to the National Association of Realtors,” she says. She goes on to say that beyond that, December saw the largest year-over-year decline of housing inventory in almost three years, with inventory declining 12%.
Mortgage rates remaining historically low is a factor in all this. They are now at their second-lowest in three years. The double-edged sword in all this is that while low rates are driving some buyers into the market, they also contribute to many others holding onto their homes, happy to have their newly refinanced mortgage. Those with paid-off homes are enjoying the freedom of cash-out refinances at historically low rates, updating their homes and staying put.
“With every new release of data this year, I’m becoming more and more confident that demand will be strong in 2020—just as strong as, if not stronger than, in 2018 and 2017,” said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather. “The big question for the housing market this year is supply. Will homeowners sit on the sidelines, content with their refinanced loans, or will they want to get in on the action too and move up, move down, or cash out entirely?”
There was a time when we thought bidding wars were behind us, but that was short-lived. “A rise in bidding wars and a continuous spike in home prices may soon be the result of a 10-year peak in home buying demand and 20-year low in the number of homes for sale,” says Falcon. If you are thinking about selling, and wanting an instant computer-generated rough value, check out our home valuation page here.
The silver lining in all this is that in some markets there will be some relief for home buyers hoping for more selection in the form of newly-built homes. Add this all together, and with 11 months left in the year, 2020 may turn out to be the most robust housing market in nearly a decade.
Source: HousingWire | Redfin, | NARTBWS
Rates Currently Trending: Neutral
Mortgage rates are trending sideways to slightly higher this morning. Last week the MBS market improved by +25bps. This was enough to move rates very slightly lower last week. We saw a bit of rate volatility last week.
While your team may not have made it to the final game, the Superbowl is the perfect excuse to bring together your family and friends for a day of fun. Whether the 49ers or the Chiefs win, you can throw a party that will be sure to win.
Here are a few tips that will help you throw the best Superbowl party on the block.
Have great snacks
Having the best food is an easy way to guarantee your guests will have a great time. Consider making football-themed snacks or if you want to be a little more festive, try your hand at Latin food (maybe Cubanos!) to celebrate the game taking place in Miami, a place known for their love of Latin food!
Make themed drinks
While beer is definitely known as the drink of football, you can use this opportunity to create a themed beverage based on the team of your choice (or both!) that can be served both with and without alcohol, especially if kids will be around during the party.
Check your channels
Make sure before you begin any planning, you have the channel that will be playing the Superbowl this year!
Make your own games
Guests love to be engaged. Keep them involved by having everyone rate the commercials or take prop bets - like who will be MVP or if the halftime performer will get caught lip-syncing!
Especially if you’re a fan of a team in the game, keep in mind that it is just a game! Enjoy the company of your loved ones and have fun!!
With the holidays in the rearview mirror, the 2020 Orange County housing market is revving its massive engine.
Getting Hot: Strong demand and a low supply of available homes is allowing the market to accelerate fast.
Drag racecars are loud. After a quick burn of the tires to get them hot and ready to go, the cars back up behind the starting line and wait for the race to begin. The drivers are ready, and the initial light goes on. The yellow flashes next indicating that the start is moments away. It is quickly followed by a green light… it is GO TIME!! The race cars accelerate down the track at a mind-blowing speed. The 2020 housing market is looking a lot like a drag race. The green light just went on and the market is already propelling down the racetrack at an amazing speed.
It was just a year ago that housing was moving along at a much slower pace. Buyers were taking their time and it definitely was not a race to purchase. Mortgage rates were at 4.5%, eating into a buyer’s motivation to find a home. Flash forward a year later and there is no lingering inventory from the prior year. Interest rates are at 3.75%. The low interest rate environment is the rocket fuel that is propelling the market down the drag strip. Multiple offers are once again the norm. Homes that are priced well and in good condition are selling quickly. In most cases it is the winning bidder who finds success.
Everything priced below $1 million is experiencing a HOT market. It all boils down to supply and demand. Current demand is extremely strong, and the active inventory is at exceptionally anemic levels. Compared to last year, there are 34% fewer homes on the market right now, and demand (new pending sales over the prior month) is up by 19%.
This inventory challenge can also be seen in Irvine, the number of New Listings in December 2019 was 129, down -40.6% from 217 last month and down -21.3% from 164 in December of last year. Check out the latest homes to hit the market at https://ir-vine.house/AllIrvine
Reflecting back on 2019, we discover that the mortgage market in 2019 had its best year since the height of the pre-crisis boom, even though it was anyone’s ball game judging by what was going on early last year.
“Lenders extended $2.4 trillion in home loans last year, the most since 2006, according to industry research group Inside Mortgage Finance,” says Realtor’s Orla McCaffrey. “That was also a 46% increase from 2018.”
Robust mortgage lending is always regarded as a good sign for housing, which has seen a rebound in price growth and home sales after a period of declining gains. “A refinancing frenzy, induced by last year’s trio of interest-rate cuts, fueled the mortgage making and helped steady the industry,” says McCaffrey. “The refinancing boom also bodes well for the broader economy, since homeowners saving on their monthly mortgage payments are likely to spend more on goods and services.”
She goes on to quote Freddie Mac’s chief economist Sam Khater, who says when a large and cyclical part of the economy—housing—is starting to improve, it’s a good sign for the economy at large. Also cited is the Mortgage Bankers Association, which estimates that refinances made up 38% of mortgage originations last year.
The average rate on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, the most popular home loan in the U.S., dropped considerably by the end of 2019, and the average rate is now its lowest level in more than three months. December sales of existing homes jumped nearly 11% from the year before, according to the National Association of Realtors. While the uptick in mortgage lending is a boon, it does not mean it will be easy to buy a home this spring, according to McCaffrey. “Major barriers including a lack of housing supply and relatively tight bank-lending standards are pushing homeownership out of reach for many Americans.” The price of homes continues to rise faster than incomes, meaning affordability will remain an issue. Still, there is an expectation that interest rates will hold steady or even keep falling — a good sign for mortgage lending in 2020, analysts say.
Orange County Demand: In the past two-weeks demand increased by 19%.
Demand, the number of new pending sales over the prior month, increased from 1,434 to 1,702, an additional 268 pending sales, up 19%. Demand will continue to rise from here, peaking in late April to mid-May. The current pace of new pending sales is outstripping the increase in the active inventory, which is why the market is currently getting hotter. Check out new inventory at https://www.homesforsaleinirvineoc.com/search/advanced_search/.
Source: TBWS & OC Housing Report
Rates Currently Trending: Neutral
Mortgage rates are trending sideways this morning. Last week the MBS market improved by +30 bps. This was enough to move rates or fees lower last week. We saw high rate volatility on Thursday of last week. Otherwise, there was very little movement.
New home sales numbers are coming out as we begin 2020, and they’re encouraging ones. According to Realtor’s Jacob Passy, the index of pending home sales increased 1.2% in November from the previous month, as reported to the National Association of Realtors.
In Orange County December Property sales were 2,412, up 37.9% from 1,749 in December of 2018 and 10.2% higher than the 2,189 sales last month. December 2019 sales were at their highest level compared to December of 2018 and 2017.
“The index records transactions that have not yet closed but where a contract has been signed,” says Passy. “As a result, the index serves as an indicator for existing-home sales reports in the coming months.” This means as compared to November of 2018 contract signings were up 7.4%.
The wild West <US> is where sales increased substantially, bumping the increase to 5.5%, while contract signings only saw marginal changes in the Northeast (down 0.1%), South (down 0.2%), and Midwest (up 1%). When compared with last year, sales were up in all four regions.
Passy says the inventory of homes for sale will remain a challenge, quoting NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun: “Despite the insufficient level of inventory, pending home contracts still increased in November. The favorable conditions are expected throughout 2020 as well, but supply is not yet meeting the healthy demand.”
In Orange County the Total Inventory of Properties available for sale as of December was 4,499, down -13.1% from 5,178 last month and down -26.5% from 6,121 in December of last year. December 2019 Inventory was at a mid range compared to December of 2018 and 2017.
In the homebuilding arena, most economists expect things to pick up next year, but not enough to fully meet the demand. That means home prices should continue to increase at healthy — if somewhat slower — pace.
“Mortgage rates are anticipated to remain at their current, historically-low levels in 2020, but that may not be enough to make buying a home affordable for would-be buyers struggling to get enough money together to make a purchase,” says Passy.
Source: Realtor, TBWS
Rates Currently Trending: Neutral
Mortgage rates are trending slightly higher so far today. Last week the MBS market improved by +5bps. This caused rates and fees to remain mostly unchanged. We saw moderate rate volatility throughout most of the week.