How will appraisers deal with the new water-conserving plumbing fixtures law?

The Governor doesn’t like my toilet. Or my faucet. Or my shower head. If you didn’t know, on January 1, 2017 it’s going to become law in California for residential and commercial property owners to install water-conserving plumbing fixtures if the property was built before 1994. You can read the details of the law here, but let’s consider how this might play out. I’d love to hear your take too. Any thoughts?

Question: Will home values be affected depending on whether water-conserving plumbing fixtures are present or not? How will appraisers deal with this new law?

1) Wait and see: This is one of those issues that is only theoretical right now. We are going to have to wait to see how it plays out. That’s the truth.

2) Laws & value: Just because a law exists doesn’t necessarily mean value exists. For instance, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are required by law in certain instances in California, but the lack of these items doesn’t mean the house is worth less. Is the market that sensitive where buyers would walk through and say, “I’m going to pay $25 less for this house because a smoke detector is missing in the bedroom”? I doubt it. My sense is buyers would probably pay the same amount for a house whether smoke detectors or CO alarms are there or not. I realize toilets are more costly than smoke detectors though, so that is something we have to consider.

3) Expectations of buyers & value: A key issue is whether buyers will expect water-conserving plumbing fixtures once sellers are required to begin disclosing if there are any non-compliant fixtures at a property. The truth is right now buyers really don’t expect these fixtures. Have you ever seen a contract where a buyer said, “Seller to update all plumbing fixtures or provide a credit to the buyer to cure the outdated fixtures”? Probably not. This doesn’t mean buyers aren’t willing to pay more for newer features, but only that buyers don’t tend to draw a line of demarcation for these features right now when making an offer on a house. But will they in the future because of this law? In short, if it becomes a big deal to buyers, then it needs to be a big deal for appraisers. If buyers come to a place where they expect a price discount when specific water-conserving plumbing fixtures are not present, then it is a value issue. If buyers could care less, then it really wouldn’t be prudent for appraisers to penalize a property for not having these items – even though there is a law in place.

4) The silliness of focusing on small-ticket items: Let’s be cautious about asking appraisers to analyze the value impact of a toilet that flushes 1.5 gallons vs 4 gallons. Can appraisers or anyone for that matter really be that precise? Is the market honestly that sensitive to the point where buyers would pay more or less for this minor difference? Let’s be realistic and consider many buyers would likely notice the age of the toilet rather than how much it flushes exactly. On a different level though, some buyers want/need toilets that have a more powerful flush because… well, you know. On the other hand, if the cost to replace plumbing fixtures throughout a house is going to be thousands of dollars, then that is something buyers might really care about.

5) The way lenders handle this is a big deal: The state law doesn’t require sellers to replace fixtures when selling a home, but sellers do need to disclose non-compliant fixtures. Thus when lenders read about non-compliant fixtures in a purchase contract, will they require plumbing fixtures to be updated? That is the million-dollar question. What will lenders do during a refinance too? Will they ask appraisers to identify if there are any non-compliant fixtures? That would be a bad idea since appraisers aren’t trained to identify such fixtures. If lenders are strict about applying this law, it can end up impacting how sellers prepare to sell their homes, repairs buyers request in contracts, and what lenders ask appraisers to do when these features are not present. 

I hope that was interesting or helpful.

Recent Podcast: By the way, I did a podcast a couple of weeks ago with Marguerite Crespillo. It’s always fun to talk shop. Listen below (or here).

Questions: What impact do you think this law will have on real estate (if any)? Did I miss something? Appraiser colleagues, what else would you add? I’d love to hear your take.

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Are we really back to “bubble” prices?

We’re back at the peak of the market. Well, that’s what some of the national indexes are saying. So imagine yourself in line at Starbucks and someone remarks, “I heard on CNN we are back to bubble prices.” What would you say? Let’s look at some of the “national” trends below and then kick around a few thoughts. I’d love to hear your take in the comments.

bubble-prices-image-purchased-from-123rf-sacramento-appraisal-blog

Case-Shiller National Index: This index shows the “national” market is about where it was during the peak of the index in 2006 (source).

case-shiller-national-index-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

Freddie Mac National Price Index: This index shows the “national” market is about where it was during the peak of the index in 2007 (source). 

freddie-mac-price-index-united-states-sacramento-appraisal-blog

Freddie Mac California Price Index: The “national” index in gray shows we are back to the peak of the market, but the state index in black shows California is still about 5% below the peak (source).  

freddie-mac-price-index-california-sacramento-appraisal-blog

Freddie Mac Sacramento Price Index: The national index in gray shows we are back to the peak, but the local Sacramento index in black shows we are still a ways off (source).

freddie-mac-price-index-sacramento-sacramento-appraisal-blog

Some quick thoughts:

1) I want to buy in the national market: There is no such thing as a national market, which makes “national” indexes only so valuable (or sometimes totally useless). As Jonathan Miller says, real estate is local and we have thousands of local markets instead of one national market. Therefore we ought to be naturally cautious about national metrics (see Barry Ritholtz rip NAR’s affordability index). In short, I watch “national” indexes, but I look to the local market for the real trend.

2) Different Peak: The “national” market peaked around 2007 depending on which index you’re looking at, but Sacramento peaked in 2005. Media outlets often talk about the housing “bubble” bursting in 2007 when in fact that wasn’t true for many markets (including Sac).

3) Current Values: Many Sacramento neighborhoods are still a good 10-15%+ below the peak of the market, though some classic areas are getting very close (while other depressed areas have much further to go). I included some neighborhood graphs below for reference.

4) Condos & Land: Let’s remember not all property types trend the same way. For instance, the condo market has struggled since the housing “bubble” burst. Owner occupancy rates being too low have stalled many complexes from obtaining financing, which has stalled value increases too. Vacant land is also far below where it was at the peak because there is less new construction today and we don’t have land speculators like we did 10+ years ago. 

Specific Neighborhoods (Are we there yet?):

college-glen-7

east-sac

4-plex-carro

del-paso-manor

curtis-park

I hope this was helpful.

Questions: Are there any national metrics you pay attention to? Any you’d recommend avoiding? Did I miss something? I’d love to hear your take.

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Picky buyers, the housing crash, and a Sacramento market update

How did the previous housing crash affect buyers? In other words, how are buyers different today because of what they went through years ago? Without writing a dissertation, let’s consider a few thoughts below. Then for anyone interested, let’s take a deep look at the Sacramento market. Any thoughts?

56718353 - careful and picky choice of properties with a magnifying glass

Three ways the housing crash seems to have impacted buyers:

  1. Getting into Contract: Despite inventory being low, buyers seem to be picky about price. In other words, if the price isn’t right, they won’t make an offer (in Sacramento at least). Sellers haven’t fully embraced this yet, but it’s very real. You’d think buyers would feel desperate and offer on anything since housing inventory is sparse, but it’s simply not the case. There could be many reasons for this, but one of them is buyers are being cautious about what they offer because they don’t want to feel like they are making the mistake of overpaying like they did a decade ago. Of course prices today are much higher than they were just four years ago and buyers are willing to pay these prices. It’s just buyers are generally more cautious about overpaying. Also, keep in mind buyers are much more informed about prices because of Metrolist, Zillow, Redfin, etc…. This means buyers can often sniff out something that’s overpriced.
  2. Staying in Contract: Many real estate agents in Sacramento have been reporting contracts falling out of escrow much more often. It’s like buyers are picky about getting into contract in the first place and then they are picky about staying in contract. I’ve heard some say contracts falling apart is a sign the market is beginning to crash, but there have actually been more sales this year than last year in Sacramento. Thus the truth is more contracts are actually closing regardless of however many are falling out.
  3. Sensitive about Location & Condition: Buyers seem to be exhibiting a sensitivity to adverse locations and properties that are not in pristine condition. In other words, buyers have higher expectations about what they are buying and they aren’t overlooking the true condition of a home or paying top dollar for junk. Lenders and appraisers certainly aren’t overlooking the condition either (or at least they shouldn’t be). Also, consider how HGTV and other networks have exploded in popularity this past decade. I have to think constantly seeing the latest designs on TV (and Pinterest) only helps foster a more finicky buyer when looking for a home.

What do you think? Any further insight? Let’s talk. Please comment below.

—-—–—– And here’s my big monthly market update  ———–—–

big-monthly-market-update-post-sacramento-appraisal-blog-image-purchased-from-123rfTwo ways to read the BIG POST:

  1. Scan the talking points and graphs quickly.
  2. Grab a cup of coffee and spend time digesting what is here.

DOWNLOAD 79 graphs HERE: Please download all graphs in this post (and more) here as a zip file. Use them for study, for your newsletter, or some on your blog. See my sharing policy for 5 ways to share (please don’t copy verbatim). Thanks.

Quick Market Summary: The market is softening just like we’d expect to see during the fall. Sometimes we talk about real estate in only hyper-positive terms as if values do nothing but increase, but that’s simply not realistic. Almost every year values soften as a part of the normal real estate cycle, and that seems to be what we’re seeing right now. It’s starting to take longer to sell, prices are down a few percent from the summer, housing inventory is up from a few months back, and sales volume is beginning to slough off. Keep in mind one year ago it was taking an average of 6 days longer to sell, which reminds us the fall market this year has been more aggressive so far. Overall single family housing feels flat and the market is very price sensitive, so sellers ought to be very cautious about pricing according to properties that are actually getting into contract in their neighborhood and price range. On a different note the 2-4 unit market has been somewhat subdued for a number of years as values have recovered much more slowly than the single family market, but it seems to be heating up as news of higher rents is spreading to investors. Let’s keep an eye on that and of course keep hoping the economy and wage growth can drive values more than low interest rates and freakishly low housing inventory. Check out specific stats and graphs below for Sacramento County, the Sacramento Region, & Placer County.

Sacramento County:

  1. The median price was $317,000 in September. It dipped 2% from the previous month, but is 9% higher than last year.
  2. The average price per sq ft was $201 last month (down 2% from the previous month, but still 7% higher than last year).
  3. There were only 25 short sales in the county last month.
  4. Sales volume was 3% higher this September compared to September 2015.
  5. It took 4 days longer to sell a house last month compared to the previous month (though one year ago it was taking 6 days longer to sell).
  6. Sales volume is up 7% this year compared to last year.
  7. FHA sales volume is down 7% this year compared to 2015 (keep in mind nearly 26% of all sales were FHA this past quarter).
  8. Cash sales are down 7.6% this year (they were only 13.6% of all sales this past quarter).
  9. Housing inventory is 5% lower than the same time last year.
  10. The average sales price at $346,000 softened by 2% last month (but is 10% higher than last year).

Some of my Favorite Graphs this Month:

median-price-since-2013-in-sacramento-county

price-metrics-since-2015-in-sacramento-county-look-at-all

inventory-in-sacramento-county-since-2013-part-2-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

distressed-sales-since-2009-in-sacramento-county

inventory-september-2016-by-home-appraiser-blog

fha-and-cash-sales-by-quarter-in-sacramento-county

cdom-in-sacramento-county-by-sacramento-regional-appraisal-blog

sales-volume-in-sacramento-county-since-2012

seasonal-market-in-sacramento-county-4

seasonal-market-in-sacramento-county-sales-volume-6

SACRAMENTO REGIONAL MARKET:

  1. The median price was $355,000 in September. It’s down less than 1% from the previous month, but is 9% higher than last year.
  2. The average price per sq ft was $207 last month. It went down 1.5% from the previous month, but is 7% higher than last year.
  3. It took 4 days longer to sell compared to the previous month (but 6 less days compared to September 2015).
  4. Sales volume was 3% higher this September compared to September 2015.
  5. FHA sales volume is down 7.5% this year compared to last year.
  6. Cash sales were 16% of all sales last month (FHA sales were 22%).
  7. Cash sales are down 6% this year compared to last year.
  8. Housing inventory is 9% lower than the same time last year.
  9. REOs were 2.5% and short sales were 1.3% of all sales last month.
  10. The average sales price was $393,000 in September. It softened by 1% last month but is 9% higher than last year.

Some of my Favorite Regional Graphs:

sales-volume-2015-vs-2016-in-sacramento-placer-yolo-el-dorado-county

sacramento-region-volume-fha-and-conventional-by-appraiser-blog

median-price-sacramento-placer-yolo-el-dorado-county

regional-inventory-by-sacramento-regional-appraisal-blog

days-on-market-in-placer-sac-el-dorado-yolo-county-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

regional-market-median-price-by-home-appraiser-blog

median-price-and-inventory-in-sacramento-regional-market-2013

PLACER COUNTY:

  1. The median price was $432,000 last month, which is up 11% from last year.
  2. The average price per sq ft was $212 last month. It softened by 1.5% from the past couple months, but is 4.7% higher than last year.
  3. It took 1 day longer to sell compared to the previous month (but 5 less days compared to September 2015).
  4. Sales volume was similar this September compared to September 2015.
  5. FHA sales volume is down 15% this year compared to last year.
  6. Cash sales were nearly 16% of all sales last month (FHA sales were nearly 16% also).
  7. Cash sales are down 1.7% this year compared to last year.
  8. Housing inventory is 16% lower than the same time last year.
  9. REOs were 1.3% and short sales were 1.1% of all sales last month.
  10. The average sales price was $483,000 and is 8.5% higher than last year.

Some of my Favorite Placer County Graphs:

days-on-market-in-placer-county-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog months-of-housing-inventory-in-placer-county-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog number-of-listings-in-placer-county-2016 placer-county-housing-inventory-by-home-appraiser-blog placer-county-median-price-since-2014-part-2-by-home-appraiser-blog placer-county-sales-volume-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

DOWNLOAD 79 graphs HERE: Please download all graphs in this post (and more) here as a zip file. Use them for study, for your newsletter, or some on your blog. See my sharing policy for 5 ways to share (please don’t copy verbatim). Thanks.

Classes I’m teaching in Lake Tahoe: On October 21st I’ll be teaching two classes in Lake Tahoe for an Appraisal Institute Conference. This is an enormous honor and I look forward to mingling with appraisers and sharing ideas. Click here for details.

Question: Did I miss anything? Any other market insight you’d like to add? What are you seeing out there? I’d love to hear your take.

If you liked this post, subscribe by email (or RSS). Thanks for being here.

Making the numbers say what we want (and a Sacramento market update)

We can make numbers say whatever we want. We see this all the time in the media, politics, and even in real estate. Sometimes it’s a matter of intentionally fudging the numbers, but other times we might be honest about sharing something but actually still get it totally wrong. Today I want to highlight a real life example how we can end up saying something totally different about the market depending on the numbers we’re looking at. Whether you’re local or not, I hope you can take something away from this post. Then for those interested we’ll dive into a big Sacramento market update. Any thoughts? I’d love to hear your take.

Example 1: Sales price to list price ratio:

sold-vs-list-price-percentage-in-sacramento-county

The sales vs. list price percentage is the ratio between the sales price and whatever the most recent list price was before a property got into contract. For example, imagine a property listed at $100,000, was reduced to $98,000, and then went into contract at $98,000. The sales to list price would be 100% (98/98). If we look at this metric alone and see a county average of 100%, it looks like properties are selling for whatever they’re listed for. Woohoo, the market is hot!!!

Example 2: Sales price to ORIGINAL list price ratio:

sales-price-to-original-list-price-in-sacramento-county-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

The sales to original list price ratio is the relationship between the original list price and the final sales price. For example, imagine a property listed at $100,000 but was reduced to $98,000, and then went into contract at $96,000. The sales to list price ratio would be 96% (96/100). This metric takes into account ALL price reductions, and in my mind tells a more fuller story of the market.

KEY QUESTION: Which one above does your CMA report?

BIG POINT: If we look at the sales price to list price ratio the market seems like it’s NOT softening. But if we take a deeper look at the sales price to ORIGINAL list price ratio, we see properties on average sold for 4% less than their original list price last month. This is definitely a more telling stat because it reminds us how many properties have been overpriced lately. Remember, there were nearly 1800 sales last month, so an average 4% decline is a big stat. But it’s easy to miss that if we don’t know what to look for and end up reporting the first stat above.

—-—–—– And here’s my big monthly market update  ———–—–

big-monthly-market-update-post-sacramento-appraisal-blog-image-purchased-from-123rfTwo ways to read the BIG POST:

  1. Scan the talking points and graphs quickly.
  2. Grab a cup of coffee and spend time digesting what is here.

DOWNLOAD 70 graphs HERE: Please download all graphs in this post (and more) here as a zip file. Use them for study, for your newsletter, or some on your blog. See my sharing policy for 5 ways to share (please don’t copy verbatim). Thanks.

Quick Market Summary: The market feels like it should at this time of year. It’s taking slightly longer to sell than it was a couple of months ago, the sales to original list price ratio has been declining, and prices are softening as the hot summer fades away. This doesn’t mean the market is dull at every price range though. In fact, the bottom of the market under $300,000 is definitely more aggressive than properties above $500,000. Right now housing inventory is 11% lower than it was the same time last year and a whopping 35% lower than it was in 2014. If you remember, two years ago the market felt extremely dull and there were about 400 price reductions every day when logging in to MLS (this year price reductions are hovering around 200 tops every day (that’s for the entire MLS coverage area)). This reminds us some fall markets are softer than others. Sales volume this year has been about the same as it was last year, though it’s important to note FHA is down 6% and cash is down over 8% so far. Celebrity house flipping seminars are coming to town frequently in Sacramento, but keep in mind only 2% of all sales in the region last month were bank-owned, which reminds us low-priced fixer deals on MLS are pretty much a thing of the past. Lastly, there has been lots of talk about the market having shifted or beginning a downturn, but right now the stats look to be showing a normal seasonal slowing. We often hear things like, “the market is starting to tank”, but unless we see a real change in the stats or hear something more definitive from the real estate community about values declining, let’s be in tune with the slowing seasonal market. In case it’s useful, here is a video tutorial I did a couple of weeks ago to walk through the slowing season and what it looked like in 2005 also.

Sacramento County:

  1. The median price is 102% higher than it was in early 2012.
  2. Sales volume was up 8.5% this August compared to August 2015.
  3. There were only 4 sales under $100K last month (single family detached).
  4. Sales volume is up about 4% this year compared to last year.
  5. Housing inventory is 11% lower than the same time last year (only 1.57 months of inventory).
  6. FHA volume is down about 6% this year compared to 2015 (though they were 26% of all sales last month).
  7. Cash sales were only 14% of all sales last month.
  8. It took an average of 26 days to sell a home last month, which is 1 day less than the previous month (and 8 less days compared to last year).
  9. REOs were only 3% of all sales last month and short sales were 2.8%.
  10. The median price increased by 1% from last month, is down 3% from two months ago, and is up nearly 12% from last year at the same time.

Some of my Favorite Graphs this Month:

inventory-in-sacramento-county-since-2013-part-2-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

median-price-context-in-sacramento-county

median-price-since-2013-in-sacramento-county

price-metrics-since-2015-in-sacramento-county-look-at-all

inventory-august-2016-by-home-appraiser-blog

cdom-in-sacramento-county-by-sacramento-regional-appraisal-blog

sales-volume-in-sacramento-county-since-2012

SACRAMENTO REGIONAL MARKET:

  1. The median price is 98.5% higher than it was in early 2012.
  2. It took the same time to sell last month compared to the previous month (but 8 less days compared to August 2015).
  3. Sales volume is about the same as it was last year at the same time (very slightly more this year so far)
  4. Cash sales were 15% of all sales last month.
  5. Cash sales volume is 6.4% lower this year than last year.
  6. FHA sales were 22% of all sales last month.
  7. FHA sales volume is down nearly 7% this year so far.
  8. There is 1.77 months of housing supply in the region right now, which is over 13% lower than the same time last year.
  9. The median price increased last month, but it’s down from two months ago. The median price is up nearly 9% from last year at the same time. The average sales price and average price per sq ft are both up about 8% from last year too.
  10. REOs were only 2% of all sales last month and short sales were the same.

Some of my Favorite Regional Graphs:

median-price-sacramento-placer-yolo-el-dorado-county

regional-inventory-by-sacramento-regional-appraisal-blog

sacramento-region-volume-fha-and-conventional-by-appraiser-blog

days-on-market-in-placer-sac-el-dorado-yolo-county-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

number-of-listings-in-sacramento-regional-market

interest-rates-inventory-median-price-in-sacramento-regional-market-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog-market

number-of-listings-in-placer-yolo-el-dorado-sacramento-by-home-appraiser-blog

PLACER COUNTY:

  1. Today’s median price is 70% higher than it was in early 2012.
  2. It took 4 more days to sell a house last month than the previous month (but 6 less days than last year at the same time).
  3. Sales volume was down less than 1% in August 2016 compared to last August and is down slightly for the year about 3%.
  4. Both FHA sales were 16% and cash sales were 19% of all sales last month.
  5. There is 2.05 months of housing supply in Placer County right now, which is down nearly 13% from the same time last year.
  6. The median price declined about 1% from the previous month, but for a better context it’s up 7% from last year at the same time.
  7. The average price per sq ft was $214 last month (was $202 last year at the same time).
  8. The average sales price was $472K last month (up about 4% from last year).
  9. Bank owned sales were only 1% of all sales last month.
  10. Short sales were 2% of sales last month.

Some of my Favorite Placer County Graphs:

placer-county-median-price-since-2014-part-2-by-home-appraiser-blog

placer-county-housing-inventory-by-home-appraiser-blog

months-of-housing-inventory-in-placer-county-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

number-of-listings-in-placer-county-2016

days-on-market-in-placer-county-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

placer-county-sales-volume-by-sacramento-appraisal-blog

DOWNLOAD 70 graphs HERE: Please download all graphs in this post (and more) here as a zip file. Use them for study, for your newsletter, or some on your blog. See my sharing policy for 5 ways to share (please don’t copy verbatim). Thanks.

how-to-think-like-an-appraiser-class-by-ryan-lundquistAppraisal Class I’m teaching: On September 29 from 9am-12pm I’m doing my favorite class at SAR called HOW TO THINK LIKE AN APPRAISER. This is a tremendous time where we’ll talk about seeing properties like an appraiser does. We’ll look at comp selection, using price per sq ft properly, and so many issues. My goal is to help you walk away glad you came and full of actionable ideas for business. Register here.

Question: Did I miss anything? Any other market insight you’d like to add? What are you seeing out there? I’d love to hear your take.

If you liked this post, subscribe by email (or RSS). Thanks for being here.