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Housing Forecast 2018-2019: Declining New Demand

Take a step back from whatever data you normally look at. We’ll begin big picture with how many housing units are needed to accommodate changes in the United States. By housing units, I’m including single family dwellings, apartments and condos, as well as mobile . This is the key to a housing forecast, after which it makes sense to think about construction by different types, home prices and rental vacancy rates. We’ll keep this analysis at the national level; you can use the same logic to look at your own state or metropolitan area.

Dr. Bill Conerly; historical data from Census Bureau

Drivers of growth are population, changes in household size, and pent-up demand. Population growth is the biggest factor, so let’s start there. The surprising news is how soft population growth has been in recent years. Last year’s increase of 0.7 percent was the lowest percentage gain since 1937. For the 20 years prior to the last recession, growth averaged 1.2 percent. That may seem close to 0.7, but most housing is built for new demand, not as replacement. At 0.7 percent growth, new demand is just 58 percent of what it would be at 1.2 percent population growth. That tells us that we need to forget old averages, like housing starts of 1.5 million units a year. Let’s assume that next year is like last year. Population will grow by about 2.278 million people.

 

The second driver of housing demand is reduction of average size of households. When a couple split up and each get their own home, that increases demand for housing. (Recall that we include apartments when we use the word “housing.”) In the opposite direction, when a young adult gives up an apartment to move back home with the parents, demand for housing decreases. We can measure this by average size of a household. When average size (number of people) goes down, demand for housing is going up.

Despite the meme about young adults living in their parents’ basements, the average household size is now lower than before the recession. (In 2006, average was 2.57 people per household; most recently 2.53.) If average household size levels out, we’ll have about 0.881 million new households. But if the recent downward trend continues, we’ll have 1.183 million. That’s a pretty big swing, so household size is a large driver of housing demand.

The ability to live on one’s own, whether that means moving out from parents or from an ex-spouse, ties to employment and wage rates. As we noted in our article on the consumer spending forecast, job growth has been moderately slow, and wage inflation has not accelerated. I expect wage rates to improve next year, but not soon enough to change the trend in household size. So new demand for housing units will be (under these assumptions) 1.183 million units. For comparison purposes, so far this year we are on pace to build 1.287 million single family houses, apartment and condo units, and manufactured homes. Looks like we’re building too much, at least nationwide.

Will pent-up demand take up some of these homes? I look at how many vacant housing unitsthere are. Some vacancy is normal and even good. For non-rental housing (mostly single family homes, but also some condos), average vacancy is 1.4 percent. In the recession, vacancy hit 2.9 percent, but most recently was down to 1.5 percent. So supply is not tighter than normal despite talk of another housing bubble.

On the rental side (mostly apartments but some single family homes included), average is 7.0 percent but we are now at 7.3 percent (down from 11.1 percent in the recession). The underlying data are not terribly precise, but we’re certainly in the ballpark of normal vacancy. This looks to me like we do not have too much or too little inventory relative to demand. (Note that some real estate analysts use the word “inventory” to describe the number of houses listed with real estate agents. That is not at all a measure of inventory or supply.)

A few points makes the analysis a little more difficult. These are national data. While people are mobile, most housing is not. An excess of houses in Detroit or Cleveland cannot help people moving to Utah or Florida. We also don’t count demolitions or houses left permanently vacant very well, nor do we have a solid handle on vacation homes.

Nonetheless, I’m comfortable saying that we don’t need an increase in home construction, and would be just fine with a five percent reduction in housing starts next year and in 2019, which is my forecast.

Given that both owned and rental vacancy rates are about normal, do we need to change the mix of single family and multifamily construction? For most of the 1990s and 2000s about 80 percent of new construction were single family units; that figure is down to around 65 percent now. With millennials entering their child-rearing ages, we should see greater demand for suburban houses and less demand for urban apartments and condos, as I argued in my Multi-Family Real Estate Forecast: 2014-2020.

As for home pricing, if we’re currently building more houses than we need, then prices don’t need to firm up. I expect long-term interest rates to rise a little, which won’t help prices. Although there’s not much reason to expect a collapse, the recent six percent nationwide price increase seems a bit much given the demographics. I would think that three percent would be more realistic.

This national picture may not apply to your neighborhood at all. Real estate is local, so look at your community. Begin with population data. (Household data are harder to find at the local level.) Understand your own community by looking at historic data on housing units permittedper 100 new residents. Don’t be too swayed by local gossip. Instead, begin with demographics.

Cities Higher at Risk for Bubble

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Are we in a housing bubble? Whenever house prices increase faster than general inflation for a year or two, we hear that question more often. Can the market sustain the new higher price, or has something artificially or temporarily inflated these prices?

Nationally, over the past five years, the increase in house prices has outpaced inflation by 34 percent cumulatively since 2012 (figure 1). Though noteworthy, the increase is less than half the pace seen between 1997 and 2006, which saw house price growth outpace inflation by 87 percent.

Locally, there are areas of concern

Of course, real estate is local, so we should also ask if there are any regional housing bubbles. We examined the same two key factors to measure the likelihood that a metropolitan statistical area (MSA) is in a bubble, and we offer a method that ranks the largest MSAs against each other based on these factors.

We began with the 37 largest MSAs and looked at the real increase in house prices since their lowest point following the crisis (the trough) and our measure. We then sum the rankings and re-rank the MSAs most likely to be in a bubble, our “bubble watch” rank.

The top 10 MSAs are ranked high on both home price growth and lack of affordability measures. But further down the list, the rank could be driven by one measure or the other.

How Irma will affect real estate market

Like it did to everything else in Northeast Florida, Hurricane Irma dealt a significant impact to the residential real estate market.

But, like much else, it will come back, according to real estate professionals who’ve weathered the storms for years.

Bill Watson, founder and chairman of Watson Realty Corp., said the local effects of the hurricane began Sept. 8 for his 1,600 employees in 43 offices in North and Central Florida and South Georgia. That was two days before the storm made landfall in the Florida Keys.

“The first phase is when the hurricane warning comes. When the schools close, that affects your workforce,” he said.

Most Realtors are independent contractors and when schools are closed by an approaching storm, they take care of their children and families, Watson said.

After Irma, it was time to assess the damage on the personal and corporate levels and return to work. For many, that began about 12 hours after the storm left the area.

“We reopened Tuesday at noon. Two agents took clients to see houses and we also closed two contracts on Wednesday,” said Sherry Davidson, co-founder of Davidson Realty, which has offices in Jacksonville Beach and St. Augustine.

Linda Sherrer, CEO and president of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Florida Network Realty, said five of her firm’s eight offices opened Tuesday, followed by the other three on Wednesday when power was restored to those locations.

The first step was to determine if properties had been damaged.

“Our agents started calling all of their listings and all of their buyers,” Sherrer said.

The post-storm phase brings its own challenges that involve title companies and lenders.

Unless a contract was executed, lenders won’t fund the loan until the home is inspected to determine whether the property was damaged. That will probably mean adding about a week or 10 days to the process, Davidson said.

Watson said damage to a property that’s under contract doesn’t necessarily void a sale, provided repairs can be completed within a set time.

“You have 10 days to determine whether the damage is minor and if so, the seller has to notify the buyer,” he said. “If the damage is minor, the seller has 30 days to repair it.”

If the damage is more than what’s considered minor — about 3 percent of the value — the buyer has the option to continue to closing or walk away from the contract, Watson said.

After the initial disruption, the market will return to its previous level, said Sherrer, who has been selling real estate in Northeast Florida through good weather and bad since 1979.

“We’ve got low inventory and low interest rates and demand is very strong. That points to a strong rebound,” she said.

The number of that were damaged will make the untouched properties increase in value.

“If you have an undamaged house that’s ready to move in, you’ll be able to bump up the price. There are still plenty of buyers, but not as much inventory,” Watson said.

He also said Hurricane Irma probably will change the market for the next several months.

“We’ll never get the September business back. And it probably won’t be really back in October, but November and December will be better than they should have been.”

Home sales drop—again—and will continue ‘unless supply miraculously improves’

House . Real Estate Sign in Front of a House.

After a brief improvement in June, home sales continued their downward slide in July, with buyers signing fewer contracts to purchase existing .

An index of so-called pending home sales, which represent closings one to two months from now, fell 0.8 percent compared with June, according to the National Association of Realtors. That is the fourth monthly drop in the past five months. June’s reading was also revised lower. The index is now 1.3 percent below a year ago and has fallen on an annual basis in three of the past four months.

“Buyer traffic continues to be higher than a year ago, the typical listing has gone under contract within a month since April,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors. “The reality, therefore, is that sales in coming months will not break out unless supply miraculously improves. This seems unlikely given the inadequate pace of housing starts in recent months and the lack of interest from real estate investors looking to sell.”

 The supply of homes for sale at the end of July came in at 2.11 million, 9 percent lower than a year ago. That has fallen year over year for 26 consecutive months.

The housing market remains stuck in a holding pattern with little signs of breaking through. The pace of new listings is not catching up with what’s being sold at an astonishingly fast pace,” Yun added.

Closed sales to buy existing homes fell more than expected in July, with Realtors citing the lack of supply as the primary reason. Prices are also a factor though. The median price of a home sold in July hit $258,300, the highest July price on record. Mortgage rates have been falling through the summer and are now sitting at 2017 lows, but they are still slightly higher than one year ago. Rates have been so low for so long that they provide little relief from the fast-rising prices.

California, which boasts the priciest and tightest in the nation, saw sales slip across the board in July. The number of homes for sale fell yet again and prices hit decade highs.

“The San Francisco Bay Area posted modest year-over-year gains in home sales this May and June, but a tight inventory and waning affordability have taken a toll, and July 2017 sales fell to the lowest level for a July in six years,” said Andrew LePage, research analyst at CoreLogic.

Pending home sales in the Northeast fell 0.3 percent for the month and were 2.4 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest, sales decreased 0.7 percent for the month and were 2.8 percent lower than July 2016. In the South, sales declined 1.7 percent from June and were 0.2 percent below last July. In the West, sales rose 0.6 percent for the month but were 4.0 percent below a year ago.

Yun noted that national sales numbers could weaken more than expected this fall, due to the disruption in the Houston housing market from Hurricane Harvey.

Existing-Home Sales Retreat 1.8 Percent in June

Existing-Home Sales Retreat 1.8 Percent in June

WASHINGTON (July 24, 2017) — Existing-home sales slipped in June as low supply kept selling at a near record pace but ultimately ended up muting overall activity, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Only the Midwest saw an increase in sales last month.

Total existing-home sales1, https://www.nar.realtor/topics/existing-home-sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, decreased 1.8 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.52 million in June from 5.62 million in May. Despite last month’s decline, June’s sales pace is 0.7 percent above a year ago, but is the second lowest of 2017 (February, 5.47 million).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says the previous three-month lull in contract activity translated to a pullback in existing sales in June. “Closings were down in most of the country last month because interested buyers are being tripped up by supply that remains stuck at a meager level and price growth that’s straining their budget,” he said. “The demand for buying a home is as strong as it has been since before the Great Recession. Listings in the affordable price range continue to be scooped up rapidly, but the severe housing shortages inflicting many markets are keeping a large segment of would-be buyers on the sidelines.”

Added Yun, “The good news is that sales are still running slightly above last year’s pace despite these persistent market challenges.”

The median existing-home price2 for all housing types in June was $263,800, up 6.5 percent from June 2016 ($247,600). Last month’s median sales price surpasses May as the new peak and is the 64th straight month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory3 at the end of June declined 0.5 percent to 1.96 million existing homes available , and is now 7.1 percent lower than a year ago (2.11 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 25 consecutive months. Unsold inventory is at a 4.3-month supply at the current sales pace, which is down from 4.6 months a year ago.

First-time buyers were 32 percent of sales in June, which is down from 33 percent both in May and a year ago. NAR’s 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in late 20164 – revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 35 percent.

“It’s shaping up to be another year of below average sales to first-time buyers despite a healthy that continues to create jobs,” said Yun. “Worsening supply and affordability conditions in many markets have unfortunately put a temporary hold on many aspiring buyers’ dreams of owning a home this year.”

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate(link is external) for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage declined for the third consecutive month, dipping to 3.90 percent in June from 4.01 percent in May. The average commitment rate for all of 2016 was 3.65 percent.

Properties typically stayed on the market for 28 days in June, which is up from 27 days in May but down from 34 days a year ago. Short sales were on the market the longest at a median of 102 days in June, while foreclosures sold in 57 days and non-distressed homes took 27 days. Fifty-four percent of homes sold in June were on the market for less than a month.

Inventory data from realtor.com® reveals that the metropolitan statistical areas where listings stayed on the market the shortest amount of time in June were Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., 23 days; Salt Lake City, Utah, 26 days; San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., 27 days; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., 29 days; and Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo., at 30 days.

“Prospective buyers who postponed their home search this spring because of limited inventory may have better luck as the summer winds down,” said President William E. Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California. “The pool of buyers this time of year typically begins to shrink as households with children have likely closed on a home before school starts. Inventory remains extremely tight, but patience may pay off in coming months for those looking to buy.”

All-cash sales were 18 percent of transactions in June, down from 22 percent both in May and a year ago, and the lowest since June 2009 (13 percent). Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 13 percent of homes in June, down from 16 percent in May and unchanged from a year ago. Fifty-six percent of investors paid in cash in June.

Distressed sales5 – foreclosures and short sales – were 4 percent of sales in June, down from both May (5 percent) and a year ago (6 percent) and matching last September as the lowest share since NAR began tracking in October 2008. Three percent of June sales were foreclosures and 1 percent were short sales.

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales

Single-family home sales dipped 2.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.88 million in June from 4.98 million in May, but are still 0.6 percent above the 4.85 million pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $266,200 in June, up 6.6 percent from June 2016.

Existing condominium and co-op sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 640,000 units in June (unchanged from May), and are 1.6 percent higher than a year ago. The median existing condo price was $245,900 in June, which is 6.5 percent above a year ago.

Regional Breakdown

June existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 2.6 percent to an annual rate of 760,000, but are still 1.3 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $296,300, which is 4.1 percent above June 2016.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales rose 3.1 percent to an annual rate of 1.32 million in June (unchanged from June 2016). The median price in the Midwest was $213,000, up 7.7 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South decreased 4.7 percent to an annual rate of 2.23 million (unchanged from a year ago). The median price in the South was $231,300, up 6.2 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West declined 0.8 percent to an annual rate of 1.21 million in June, but remain 2.5 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $378,100, up 7.4 percent from June 2016.

Central Florida home sales up 8.8% in May

More and townhomes/condos sold and the median sale price increased in the Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford area in May when compared to the year-ago period, according to the latest housing data released by Realtors. In May, 3,428 homes and 983 townhomes/condos sold in metro Orlando. The number of homes sold was up 8.8 percent from May 2016, while the number of townhomes/condos sold rose 17.6%.

Along with an increase in units sold in the Central Florida area, median sales prices also were up. Last month, the median home sale price in the area grew 7 percent to $240,788 and the median townhome/condo sale price increased 12.1 percent to $150,000.

These year over year increases are no surprise to President of the Orlando Regional Realtor Association, Bruce Elliott. “Orlando has strong job growth and a great quality of life that makes this area a great place to live. There have been a lot of third-party sources, from Forbes magazine to WalletHub, showing a variety of different statistics about how good Orlando is.”

Along with higher numbers in metro Orlando, the state also saw an increase in the number of homes and townhomes/condos sold in last month when compared to May 2016.

“Closed sales of existing homes in the Sunshine State not only rebounded from a relatively flat April, they positively surged to record highs in May of 2017,” said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Brad O’Connor. “To be more specific, May’s sale totals of 27,850 existing single-family homes and 11,538 existing condos and townhomes were the most ever recorded [by Florida Realtors] for a single month in either property type category. In both cases, these totals were also markedly higher than the very strong number of sales racked up in May of 2016.”

The median sale prices also rose when compared to last year. Last month, the median sale price for a home in Florida grew 7.7 percent to $239,000 and the median sale price for a townhome/condo rose 8.1 percent to $178,000 when compared to the year-ago period.

Home prices on the rise in metro Orlando

House . Real Estate Sign in Front of a House.

If you want to buy a home in metro Orlando, be prepared to spend more, according to a new Zillow report on affordability.

“Home values have soared in recent years, sending the national median as high as it’s ever been and forcing home buyers to pay more – even though their incomes do not always keep up,” Zillow’s Chief Economist Svenja Gudell said. “While low mortgage interest rates have helped keep the typically valued U.S. home affordable by historical standards, the real prices on actually available to buy is hurting affordability in many areas.”

In metro Orlando, the median list price of homes on the market was $259,900 in first-quarter 2017, which means mortgage payments would take up 23 percent of the area’s median income, compared with the 20.4 percent required between 1985-2000.

It’s also more than the 18.2 percent of the area’s median income currently required for mortgage payments for a median valued home (many of which are not for sale). Orlando’s median home value was $203,500 for first-quarter 2017, according to the report.

The median list price for a U.S. home in the first quarter was $246,900 – well above the $197,100 median home value, according to Zillow

Further, mortgage affordability in Orlando is forecast to reach between 20.7 percent to 25.6 percent of the median income, depending on if the mortgage interest rate rises to between 5 percent to 7 percent.

To see the full report, click here. (And see the slideshow for a look inside the mansion once owned by former NBA star Horace Grant, which now is back on the market.)

Kyle Swenson is a general assignment reporter.

Pending home sales drop 1.3% in April as spring housing market shows weakness

  • The spring continues to be plagued by a lack of
  • Home shoppers signed 1.3 percent fewer contracts to buy existing homes in April compared with March
  • That drop comes after a larger-than-expected drop in closed home sales in April.
  • Home for sale in Miami.

    Pending home sales down 1.3% in April  

    Home buyers pull back again in April, signing fewer contracts

    The spring housing market continues to be plagued by a lack of homes for sale. Home shoppers signed 1.3 percent fewer contracts to buy existing homes in April compared with March, according to a monthly index from the National Association of Realtors. March’s reading was also revised down. The index is 3.3 percent lower than April of 2016.

    “Much of the country for the second straight month saw a pullback in pending sales as the rate of new listings continues to lag the quicker pace of homes coming off the market,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors, adding that foot traffic is higher than a year ago.

    The drop comes after a larger-than-expected drop in closed home sales in April. More sellers listed their homes in April, but the number of listings was still 9 percent lower than a year ago. Tight supply continues to put upward pressure on home prices, which are now rising at three times the rate of incomes.

    “We know two things heading into the summer selling season. One, home prices continue to leap forward. Two, homebuyers continue to jump into the market.”-Nela Richardson, chief economist, Redfin

    “The unloading of single-family homes purchased by real estate investors during the downturn for rental purposes would also go a long way in helping relieve these inventory shortages,” said Yun. “To date, there are no indications investors are ready to sell.”

    Weaker sales are not due to a lack of potential buyers, especially this year, as millennials age into their home-buying years and confidence in the U.S. improves. Home buyer demand surged in April, according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage. The number of clients requesting home tours jumped 12 percent.

    “We know two things heading into the summer selling season. One, home prices continue to leap forward. Two, homebuyers continue to jump into the market,” said Redfin chief economist Nela Richardson. “A pop of new listings only encourages more homebuyers to barge their way into this crowded and competitive, low-inventory market in order to take advantage of still-low mortgage rates.”

    Regionally, pending home sales in the Northeast decreased 1.7 percent for the month and are 0.6 percent below a year ago. In the Midwest, the index fell 4.7 percent for the month and 6.1 compared to a year ago. In the South, sales fell 2.7 for the month and are 2.3 percent below last April. The index in the West rose 5.8 percent in April but is still 4.2 percent below a year ago.

New York Real Estate

Tavistock preps plans for 2 new Lake Nona apartment projects

Tavistock Development Co. LLC has plans in the works to bring two new multifamily projects — including one it’s calling “micro apartments” — to southeast ’s booming Lake Nona community.

Early planning is underway for a second multifamily development in the Lake Nona Town Center, temporarily being called The Distillery, which would be 11 stories high and include a mix of uses within it, according to documents.

The most unique part about the project is the residential units themselves, which is something Tavistock plans to experiment with by making them about 10-15 percent smaller than what’s now available in Orlando, Vice President of Development Operations Ralph Ireland told Orlando Business Journal.

The plan is to test out six “truly micro” units, at about 375 square feet each, Ireland said. If that’s successful, Tavistock may try to do some in its next apartment project.

“Because we’re always trying to innovate, we want to do things in Lake Nona that haven’t been done elsewhere in Central Florida,” Ireland told OBJ. “Of course, we can’t just roll out 150 micro units because we don’t know how it’s going to work. But we’re trying to get something more efficient. And they will be well amenitized within the units and in the common areas.”

Tavistock already has secured a foundation permit for this project, and is seeking city staff approval on a final plat. is expected to start in May or June next year.

Kimley-Horn & Associates Inc. in Orlando is the civil engineer, the project architects are Silver Springs, Md.-based Torti Gallas & Partners Inc. and Columbus, Ohio-based M+A Architects, and the landscape architect is Dix.Hite + Partners LLC.