Homebuyer Traffic Is on the Rise
One of the biggest surprises of 2020 is the resilience of the residential real estate market. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), is now forecasting that more homes will sell this year than last year. He’s also predicting home sales to increase by 8-12% next year. There’s strong evidence that he will be right.
ShowingTime, a leading showing software and market stat service provider for the residential real estate industry, just reported on their latest the ShowingTime Showing Index:
“Home buyer traffic jumped again in July, recording a 60.7 percent year-over-year increase in nationwide showing activity.”
That means there are 60% more buyers setting appointments to see homes than there were at this same time last year. The number of potential purchasers was also up dramatically in every region of the country:
- The Northeast was up 76.6%
- The West was up 56.7%
- The Midwest was up 52.1%
- The South was up 46.7%
The Housing Market Is Showing a ‘V’ Type Recovery
ShowingTime also indicates the real estate market has already come back from the downturn earlier this year that was caused by shelter-in-place orders. Here are the year-over-year numbers for each region on a monthly basis (See graph below):We’re way ahead of where we were at this time last year. This data validates the thoughts of Frank Martell, President and CEO of CoreLogic, who recently noted:
“On an aggregated level, the housing economy remains rock solid despite the shock and awe of the pandemic.”
If you’re thinking about selling your house, this may be a great time to get the best price and the most favorable terms.
The Beginning of an Economic Recovery
The news these days seems to have a mix of highs and lows. We may hear that an economic recovery is starting, but we’ve also seen some of the worst economic data in the history of our country. The challenge today is to understand exactly what’s going on and what it means relative to the road ahead. We’ve talked before about what experts expect in the second half of this year, and today that progress largely hinges upon the continued course of the virus.
A recent Wall Street Journal survey of economists noted, “A strong economic recovery depends on effective and sustained containment of Covid-19.” Given the uncertainty around the virus, we can also see what economists are forecasting for GDP in the third quarter of this year (see graph below):Overwhelmingly, economists are projecting GDP growth in the third quarter of 2020, with 5 of the 9 experts indicating over 20% growth.
Lisa Shalett, Chief Investment Officer for Morgan Stanley puts it this way:
“Indeed, the ‘worst ever’ GDP reading could be followed by the ‘best ever’ growth in the third quarter.”
As we look forward, we can expect consumer spending to improve as well. According to Opportunity Insights, as of August 1, consumer spending was down just 7.8% as compared to January 1 of this year.
An economic recovery is beginning to happen throughout the country. While there are still questions that need to be answered about the road ahead, we can expect to see improvement this quarter.
The Latest Unemployment Report: Slow and Steady Improvement
Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its latest Employment Situation Summary. Going into the release, the expert consensus was for 1.58 million jobs to be added in July, and for the unemployment rate to fall to 10.5%.
When the official report came out, it revealed that 1.8 million jobs were added, and the unemployment rate fell to 10.2% (from 11.1% last month). Once again, this is excellent news as this was the third consecutive month the unemployment rate decreased.There is, however, still a long way to go before the job market fully recovers. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) put a potential date on that recovery:
“July’s payroll growth, at 1.8 million, still leaves total payrolls 12.9 million lower than in February. And yet if job gains continued at July’s pace, that deficit will be erased by March 2021. If payrolls reclaim their last peak in 13 months, that would be remarkably fast. It took more than six years after the last recession.”
Permanent vs. Temporary Unemployment
During a pandemic, it’s important to differentiate those who have lost their jobs on a temporary basis from those who have lost them on a permanent basis. Morgan Stanley economists noted in the same WSJ article:
“The rate of churn in the labor market remains incredibly high, but a notable positive detail in this month’s report was the downtick in the rate of new permanent layoffs.”
To address this, the core unemployment rate becomes increasingly important. It identifies the number of people who have permanently lost their jobs. This measure subtracts temporary layoffs and adds unemployed who did not search for a job recently. Jed Kolko, Chief Economist at Indeed and the founder of the index reported:
“Core unemployment fell in July for the first time in the pandemic. That’s the good news I was hoping for.”
What about the housing market?
The housing market has continued to show tremendous resilience during the pandemic. Commenting on the labor report, Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), tweeted:
“Housing continues to rebound in another positive labor market report. Home builder and remodeler job gains of 24K for July. Residential construction employment down just 56.4K compared to a year ago. Total residential construction employment at 2.85 million.”
We should remain cautious in our optimism, as the recovery is ultimately tied to our future success in mitigating the ongoing health crisis. However, as Mike Fratantoni, Chief Economist for the Mortgage Bankers Association, reminds us: “The pace of job growth slowed in July, but the gains over the past three months represent an impressive rebound during the ongoing economic challenges brought forth by the pandemic.”
America Is Another Name for Opportunity [INFOGRAPHIC]
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Why Home Office Space Is More Desirable Than Ever
For years, we’ve all heard about the most desirable home features buyers are looking for, from upgraded kitchens to remodeled bathrooms, master suites, and more. The latest on the hotlist, however, might surprise you: home offices.
In a recent article by George Ratiu, Senior Economist with realtor.com, he notes how listings with an office are selling quickly:
“As more companies have been embracing remote work, buyers are driving demand for houses with home offices higher. Homes featuring the term ‘office’ are selling 9 days faster than the overall housing inventory.”
Today, more and more people are working remotely, and that’s not just because the current pandemic is prompting businesses to operate virtually. According to the same piece and the most recent data available, the number of employees working at home was fairly steady from 1997 – 2004 but has been climbing ever since (see graph below):Clearly, the work-from-home population is growing, and technology is making it possible. Just last month, according to an article on Think Google, searches for telecommuting hit an all-time high, and that’s certainly no surprise given our current situation.
People all over the U.S. are looking for answers on how to be most effective at home, and it’s making the ideal workspace more and more desirable. In fact, best practices from seasoned work-from-home professionals, like Chris Anderson, Senior Account Executive at HousingWire, tout that having a dedicated space is a must for productivity.
With today’s increasing demand for home offices, it’s a great feature to highlight within your listing if you’re selling a house that may meet this growing need. From bright natural light with large windows to built-in bookshelves or a quiet and secluded atmosphere, whatever makes your office space shine is worth mentioning to buyers when you’re ready to list your house.
“For housing, the continued increase in the share of remote workers implies that demand for homes with offices or dedicated work spaces will continue to increase. The current coronavirus pandemic offers a dramatic indication of the fact that companies and employees will have to develop plans and clearer policies for remote work beyond the current crisis.”
Remote work may become more widely accepted as this current crisis teaches businesses throughout the country what it takes to function virtually. So, what seems like a business challenge today may be more of the norm tomorrow. With that in mind, if you have a home office, your house may be more desirable to buyers than you think.
Buying a Home: Do You Know the Lingo? [INFOGRAPHIC]
- Buying a home can be intimidating if you’re not familiar with the terms used throughout the process.
- To point you in the right direction, here’s a list of some of the most common language you’ll hear along the way.
- The best way to ensure your homebuying process is a positive one is to find a real estate professional who will guide you through every aspect of the transaction with ‘the heart of a teacher.’