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Existing-Home Sales Fizzle

After early gains in the season, April existing-home sales fizzled, with every region sputtering, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reports. Activity in April declined 2.5 percent to 5.46 million, down 1.4 percent from the prior year. Inventory increased 9.8 percent to 1.8 million, but, by comparison, was 6.3 percent lower than the prior year.

“The root cause of the underperforming sales activity in much of the country so far this year continues to be the utter lack of available listings on the market to meet the strong demand for buying a home,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “REALTORS® say the healthy economy and job market are keeping buyers in the market for now, even as they face rising mortgage rates; however, inventory shortages are even worse than in recent years, and home prices keep climbing above what many home shoppers are able to afford.”

Currently, inventory is at a four-month supply. In April, existing homes averaged 26 days on market, three days less than the prior year. All told, 57 percent of homes sold were on the market for less than one month.

“What is available for sale is going under contract at a rapid pace,” Yun says. “Since NAR began tracking this data in May 2011, the median days a listing was on the market was at an all-time low in April, and the share of homes sold in less than a month was at an all-time high.”

In April, the metropolitan areas with the fewest days on market and most realtor.com® views, according to realtor.com®’s Market Hotness Index, were Midland, Texas; Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio; and Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.

The median existing-home price for all house types (single-family, condo, co-op and townhome) was $257,900, a 5.3 percent increase from the prior year. The median price of an existing single-family home was $259,900, while the median price for an existing condo was $242,500.

“With mortgage rates and home prices continuing to climb, an increase in housing supply is absolutely crucial to keeping affordability conditions from further deterioration,” says Yun. “The current pace of price appreciation far above incomes is not sustainable in the long run.”

Existing-home sales in the single-family space came in at 4.84 million in April, a 3 percent decrease from 4.99 million in March, and a 1.6 percent decrease from 4.92 million the prior year. Existing-condo and -co-op sales came in at 620,000, a 1.6 percent increase from March, and no different than the prior year.

Twenty-one percent of existing-home sales in April were all-cash, with 15 percent by institutional investors; 3.5 percent were distressed.

Across the country, existing-home sales fell or remained stagnant, declining 4.4 percent in the Northeast to 650,000, with a median price of $275,200; declining 3.3 percent in the West to 1.19 million, with a median price of $382,100; declining 2.9 percent in the South to 2.33 million, with a median price of $227,600; and unchanged in the Midwest, at 1.29 million, with a median price of $202,100.

Additionally, first-time homebuyers comprised 33 percent of existing-home sales in April, up from 30 percent in March.

“Especially with mortgage rates going up in recent weeks, prospective buyers should visit with more than one lender to ensure they are getting the lowest rate possible,” says NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall. “Receiving a rate quote from multiple lenders could lead to considerable savings over the life of the loan. Ask a REALTOR® for a few recommendations of lenders to contact to get a quote.”

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Gen Z—The Next Wave of Consumer Game Changers?

Generation Z, loosely defined as the generation born anywhere from 1995 or 1998 to 2016, is predicted to hit the post-college marketplace in much the same way as millennials—managing considerable debt. Yet, simultaneously, they’re gaining traction as the next consumer powerhouse, representing billions of dollars for retailers and more.

Regarded as the most diverse and inclusive generation yet, Gen Z represents those around 19 years of age and younger. Perhaps most significant to real estate professionals, Gen Zers are expected to account for about 40 percent of all consumers by 2020. According to the New York Times, they represent “billions in spending power.” Here’s a look into this post-millennial next generation.

They’re more conscientious. According to the Times, members of Gen Z are generally conscientious, hard-working and mindful, if not anxious about the future. For real estate professionals, this generation could be seeking more than just a home—they could be looking for a positive and secure living experience where they’re actively engaged with their neighborhoods and communities.

Technology is more than just influential. Members of Gen Z are the first generation born in the age of smartphones. According to a profile featured in Business Insider, technology doesn’t just play a key role in their lives; it shapes their entire worldview. This could mean future homebuyers from this generation are looking for smart homes, complete with appliances and systems that enhance their daily routines with just a voice command or a tap.

Early starters are the norm. According to an analysis, Gen Z may be considered more self-starting and entrepreneurial than previous generations. This could mean members are looking to enter the workplace sooner, or start their own businesses out of high school. For the housing market, it could also mean a new generation looking toward homeownership earlier than Gen Yers (millennials).

For a generation conscious of safety and security, a home warranty may be a perfect complement to a new home purchase. American Home Shield® offers a range of plans and packages to help protect the homes and budgets of customers at every step of the homeownership journey.

For more articles like this, please visit www.ahs.com/home-matters.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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The State of Women Real Estate Brokers in California

While a greater number of women in real estate are achieving positions on boards at a national level, women still trail behind men in obtaining leadership positions in some states, including California. While some studies suggest that gender discrimination is to blame for this disparity, others claim that women are choosing to opt out of leadership positions to start their own brokerages.

2020 Women on Boards, a campaign that endeavors to increase the percentage of women on U.S. company boards to 20 percent by 2020, released its annual Gender Diversity Index (GDI), which provides updates on the representation of women on the boards of the nation’s most profitable companies, tracking those featured in the Fortune 1000 list. Between 2016 and 2017, the latest GDI reveals that real estate entities had the greatest percentage of women on boards in 2017 at 3.1 percent—higher than financial services, industrials, energy and technology.

In California, however, the numbers for women real estate brokers in leadership positions are bleak. According to the California Association of REALTORS® (C.A.R.) Membership Survey conducted in 2017, including nearly 1,600 REALTORS®, women comprise only a third of leadership positions in brokerage firms with more than 100 agents, even though they make up 57 percent of REALTORS® in the state. In addition, the survey reveals that women have led 29 percent of the top 500 firms across the country for the past five years.

While an evident gender gap in leadership in broker/owner positions and teams shows that women are missing out on these opportunities, C.A.R.’s report suggests that this discrepancy might be due to women opting out of the corporate ladder to start their own brokerages. C.A.R.’s interviews with 25 case studies reveal that some women are choosing to create their own businesses for the following reasons:

  • Desire to create a company that reflects their unique vision and values
  • Existing brokerage models fail to meet their needs or provide them with sufficient freedom
  • Ability to accommodate their multiple roles as wife, mother, leader, etc.
  • Childcare needs

One of the obstacles women in real estate face is achieving a work/life balance so they can succeed in a career they love while maintaining their relationships and meeting obligations in their personal lives. Women professionals also desire the freedom that comes with being their own boss and creating a company that reflects their values and individuality. It would be optimal if both the corporate sector and entrepreneurship could help women meet their needs, but the latter option currently seems to do a better job of it.

Patno_Desiree_2018_60x60Desirée Patno is president and CEO of the National Association of Women in Real Estate Businesses (NAWRB). For more information, please visit www.nawrb.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Experts Are Eyeing a Recession in 2020—but It’s Not Why You Think

The economy is on a roaring run. Is a downturn imminent?

Experts in housing are predicting a recession starting in 2020, according to Zillow’s 2018 Q2 Home Price Expectations Survey; however, they anticipate monetary policy—not the housing market—as primarily responsible for the swing.

The Federal Reserve has been guiding fiscal policy since the Great Recession, gradually firming up interest rates—the Fed hiked rates recently, and there are fair odds the policymaker will do the same this summer, and once more after that this year. According to the experts surveyed, if the Fed moves too rapidly on rates, the economy could lose steam.

There are housing implications when rates rise. Not only can adjustable interest on mortgages rise; affordability can suffer, and confidence can be deterred—an impact more often pseudo-psychological than tangible. (According to an informal poll, 83 percent of our readers believe an increase in interest rates is “harmful to real estate.”) The adjustable mortgage rate is at an average 3.82 percent, according to Freddie Mac, and affordability is at its lowest in six years, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reports.

Barring major market shifts, appreciation will continue on its current tear, according to the experts surveyed. They forecast home values will increase 5.5 percent in 2018, to a median $220,800.

“As we close in on the longest economic expansion this country has ever seen, meaningfully higher interest rates should eventually slow the frenetic pace of home value appreciation that we have seen over the past few years—a welcome respite for would-be buyers,” says Aaron Terrazas, senior economist at Zillow. “Housing affordability is a critical issue in nearly every market across the country, and while much remains unknown about the precise path of the U.S. economy in the years ahead, another housing market crisis is unlikely to be a central protagonist in the next nationwide downturn.”

“Constrained home supply, persistent demand, very low unemployment, and steady economic growth have given a jolt to the near-term outlook for U.S. home prices,” says Terry Loebs, founder of Pulsenomics, which conducted the survey with Zillow. “These conditions are overshadowing concerns that mortgage rate increases expected this year might quash the appetite of prospective homebuyers.”

Over 100 experts participated in the survey.

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

DeVita_Suzanne_60x60Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

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Regulatory Relief Bill Passes Congress – Is Mortgage Lending Freedom Ahead?

Change is coming to the mortgage industry in the form of lessened restrictions for many community banks, along with greater consumer protections. The Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act—a bill rolls back many Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act regulations imposed in 2008 following the financial crisis—has been signed into law. Just two months after it passed the Senate in a 67-31 vote on March 14, it was voted in by the House on Tuesday (248-159), and signed by President Trump on Thursday.

“I applaud my former colleagues in Congress for coming together to pass the most significant financial reform legislation in recent history,” said Mick Mulvaney, acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), in a statement on Thursday. The CFPB has been the Dodd-Frank enforcer since the agency was established in 2011.

“This new law will improve consumers’ access to credit, reduce regulatory burdens on credit unions and community banks, and fuel economic growth and job creation across the nation,” Mulvaney said. “As Acting Director of the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, I am pleased to see the long-overdue reforms to the regulations governing mortgage lending. These changes will allow community banks and credit unions to focus on making prudent loans to prospective homebuyers without being tied up in expensive and excessive red tape. I stand ready to work with Congress and the rest of the Administration to implement these new reforms that will promote a brighter, more prosperous future.”

Industry professionals are largely in support of the bill, as it would prove beneficial to real estate lending, particularly for smaller banks that provide mortgages to homebuyers.

“This bill will allow smaller lenders to be more community engaged, hopefully providing greater access for mortgage credit to consumers,” says Paul Mydelski, founder and chairman of RE/MAX Leading Edge.

The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) has long supported this type of reform, believing that the restrictions previously imposed have only hurt the real estate community by creating an unfair advantage for bigger banks.

“We commend members of Congress for passing this bipartisan legislation to level the lending playing field for community banks and credit unions,” said NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall in a statement. “This bill provides appropriate consumer protections while going a long way toward removing undue regulatory burdens on small lenders, which will help keep them strong, so they can help keep communities strong.”

Ahead of the Senate vote, NAR sent a letter to the House of Representatives in support of the bill and on behalf of all members. The letter cited the following benefits:

  • Removes undue regulatory burdens for community banks and credit unions that stand in the way of affordable credit for businesses and consumers
  • Proposes Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac framework for considering alternatives to credit scores, taking into account other financial factors for mortgage eligibility
  • Provides the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection access to regulate Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) lenders, enforcing vetting of homeowners’ ability to repay loans levied as tax assessments on their homes
  • Amends the Federal Deposit Insurance Act, clarifying requirements for acquisition, development or construction (ADC) loans
  • Prohibits manufactured housing retailers and sellers from being defined as loan originators if they do not receive compensation or gain for taking loan applications for residential mortgages

Lawrence Yun, chief economist and senior vice president of Research at NAR, told RISMedia, “It is very good news for homebuilders, because they need to get funding from small-sized banks and not from Wall Street. This will permit more construction loans, creating more inventory. It is solidly positive news.”

Various other housing institutions have been vocal since the bill’s passing, as well. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) followed suit and also sent a letter in support of the bill.

“NAHB is pleased the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act contains critical reform elements that would help to alleviate the tight credit conditions that are keeping more buyers on the sidelines even as the housing market strengthens,” said the letter, according to NAHBNow.

“Community Banks are the most common source of lending for home construction and are key providers of home mortgage loans, including mortgages for first-time homebuyers and consumers in rural communities and other underserved market segments,” the letter continued. “With regulatory pressures on community banks still impacting the cost and availability of construction and mortgage credit, there cannot be sustainable housing recovery without bipartisan congressional action on these critical issues.”

In addition, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) applauded the House for its passing vote.

“The bill marks years’ worth of work by a group of bipartisan Senators and parallel and focused advocacy by the legislative and policy teams at MBA,” said MBA President and CEO David Stevens in an MBA Newslink interview. “I want to commend the House of Representatives for joining the Senate and passing this bill, which will protect consumers and provide greater access to mortgage credit.”

While banks will see the most impact, those who regularly practice in the real estate industry are looking forward to increased lending freedoms, which will be a widespread boon to the housing sector.

“Bravo! I applaud this bipartisan effort to provide regulatory relief to the smaller community banks,” says Carrie Zeier, owner and CEO of RE/MAX Elite. “While this bill provides necessary protection for consumers, it unburdens the small lenders and affords additional opportunities for future homeowners. This will have a positive impact as a whole in the real estate community.”

Community banks, who stand to benefit the most from the bill’s passing, are celebrating the win.

“This hard-fought, long-awaited community bank regulatory relief legislation will put community banks in an enhanced position to foster local economic growth and prosperity. By unraveling some of the suffocating regulatory burdens community banks face, they are better able to unleash their full economic potential to the benefit of their customers and communities,” Independent Community Bankers of America® (ICBA) President and CEO Rebeca Romero Rainey said in a statement. “ICBA thanks Congress for passing this crucial bipartisan bill, along with the thousands of community bankers, affiliated state associations and other industry allies who have fought for years for substantial regulatory relief that will strengthen economic growth, job creation and consumer protection in local communities.”

This story has been updated.

Dominguez_Liz_60x60_4cLiz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com. For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Regulatory Relief Bill Passes Congress – Is Mortgage Lending Freedom Ahead? appeared first on RISMedia.

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