Low interest rates, housing shortage, everyone working from home, etc etc etc., all of which came together to create the perfect storm for another record-breaking year in real estate. Here are the new housing records set in 2021.
Cheers to the new year with a more balanced housing market! Hopefully.
It's rough out there for home buyers—bidding wars, crazy fast appreciation, and homes going into contract in a week! A strong stock market and low interest rates have increased the purchasing power of buyers. With such fierce competition, buyers need to get pre-approved and be ready to go see homes the second they hit the market to stand a fighting chance. You know what they say: “If you stay ready, you don’t gotta get ready”...or something like that.
Also, plot twist: millennials are unexpectedly the ones driving this market, buying multi-million dollar "starter homes". Amazing what you can afford once you stop going out to brunch for avocado toast.
Remember last March when the world shut down and we all rushed to the grocery stores to buy toilet paper in an irrational panic? Well, here we are one year later and that same energy seems to have translated to any decent house that pops up on the market. Along with many other agents, I've been spending the last many months taking a brutal beating with my buyers in this insane housing market. Buyers are waiving all contingencies and far exceeding the comp prices just for the chance to get a house. 20, 30, even 40+ offers are not uncommon anymore. And there's no signs of this letting up for the rest of the year. But unrelated good news: at least we get to procrastinate one more month until May 17th to do our taxes!
In a strange turn of events, rent levels and home prices have diverged across the country. Home values increased in all of the 100 largest metros in the U.S. But in some of the richest cities—rent prices fell, many by double-digit percentages.
Why is this very unusual trend happening? Like so many other financial and social matters, it might be the economic divide. The pandemic has unfortunately widened the gap between those who are thriving financially and those who are barely scraping by. While the stock market continues to go up, making wealthy people even wealthier, millions of Americans remain unemployed and struggling.
And the same is happening in our housing market. As demand for homes soars and prices are increasing at a much faster pace than incomes, high-end homeowners are seeing their property values skyrocket. Meanwhile, those looking to purchase low to middle-tier houses are finding it difficult to even afford a place.
But they're not ending up where you might think. SF residents are indeed leaving the city in droves, but they're not going very far. We keep hearing about this mass exodus to more affordable places like Austin or Denver, but USPS data shows that they're mostly heading across the bridges to other Bay Area counties including Alameda, San Mateo, and Marin. Maybe after things return to normal(ish), everyone will want to head back to the city again and there will finally be more inventory everywhere else!
Demand for housing has continued to rapidly grow throughout 2020, and it is only expected to surge even further as economies reopen in 2021. Zillow predicts that annual home sales will reach their highest since the 1980s, forecasting nearly 22% growth.
They also believe that city living will make a comeback next year, especially as the vaccine becomes more widely available to the general public. While a lot of young adults moved back in with their parents this year to save money, it is likely that once the economy bounces back, they will be moving back into big urban areas in droves. (Does that mean the sad SF condo market will finally make a comeback??)
Zillow also expects that buyers will continue having a hard time affording homes, particularly if mortgage rates start to increase in 2021 and housing prices remain high. At the same time, if rates are indeed predicted to rise later in the year, this may cause an even bigger buyer frenzy for those looking to lock in low rates ASAP. Sadly there seems to be no end in sight for bidding wars. :(
Amidst a tough year in terms of the pandemic, widespread economic shutdowns, business furloughs, and record high unemployment rates, one of the silver linings in the train wreck that is 2020 has been the boost in the real estate market. As more people began to work from home and interest rates dropped, the demand for homes surged which created a rush to purchase property.
But this may be creating somewhat of a false sense of security for the overall economy, as the booming housing market doesn’t necessarily reflect the portion of the population that remains unemployed and counting on mortgage forbearance benefits. There is definitely promising data that the economy is slowly healing, but with continued small business failures and corporate company bankruptcies, we should probably proceed with caution.
We know that real estate is booming, but not all homes are created equal. Which ones are flying off the shelves and which are getting stale from sitting out for so long? In Santa Clara County, single-family homes continue to be a hot commodity while condos and townhomes lag behind. Many sellers are having to drop their prices to attract buyers to their units. In SF, some agents are even offering free cars and roundtrip flights to Paris to incentivize condo buyers. So what’s the deal?
Condos are usually in high demand among middle income households, but with the pandemic-induced hit on the economy, these households are being forced to put their real estate plans on hold. Meanwhile, higher income earners have largely remained unaffected. Combine that with lower interest rates and the demand for extra space and yards being at an all time high, and it’s pretty clear why single family homes are getting multiple bids and going pending in less than a week. The bright side? You can probably get a pretty good deal on a condo or townhouse right now. And maybe even a free car on the side?
Among all of the crazy things that 2020 will be remembered for, a record-breaking year for real estate will definitely be one of its more surprising outcomes. Since the pandemic hit, about 2.9 million U.S. homes have been put on the market. That’s almost 400,000 fewer homes than the same time in 2019. What gives?
Sellers these days are more reluctant to list their homes due to financial uncertainty, while buyers (particularly first-timers) can't wait to take advantage of low mortgage rates. All of this creates the perfect storm of low housing inventory. With this pandemic still in full force and the Fed promising to keep rates low for a few more years, even the CEO of Redfin expects this "absolutely insane" housing demand to last into 2021...at least! (And in the same breath, he also doesn't see how this can possibly last forever.)
The housing market is one of the few sectors to experience a true V-shaped recovery following the initial hit from the pandemic. But without enough houses for sale, the newfound demand is unfortunately driving an affordability crisis, where in many cases, higher home prices strip away the benefit of lower interest rates.
All things real estate.