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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The market is definitely maybe going to do that one thing in the future

The market is doing great. It’s about to crash. Values are fine but they’re slowing. Actually, the “bubble” popped two months ago. Right now there are some strong opinions about real estate trends. It feels a bit manic to be honest as some say the market is tame while others say it’s beginning a downward slide. In light of this, I hoped to kick around some ideas together. What do you think?

36852833 - businessman holding a glass ball,foretelling the future.

A few things to consider when the market begins to slow:

  1. Don’t let headlines become your talking points: It seems like sensational headlines and stories can become our talking points if we’re not careful. It’s easy to let this happen in our personal lives, so two weeks ago we were offended by Ryan Lochte, this week it’s Colin Kaepernick, and next week it’s going to be some other person or situation. I’m not saying these things don’t matter, but only that it’s easy to get swept up in the latest headlines. The same thing happens with real estate articles and opinions. It’s easy to hear something and swiftly conclude “the market is doing this or that,” without really fact checking our local market. My advice would be to let local data inform our market statements.
  2. Be careful about predicting value: It’s really not the job of real estate professionals to predict what values will do in the future. If I asked you to predict exactly what Apple stock will be worth in one year, could you be precise? Or tell me how consumers will feel about Netflix in 5 years from now. Or let’s keep it simple. Who is going to be President in two months? You get the point. Everyone is asking where the real estate market is heading, but the most honest thing we can say is, “I don’t know what the market is going to do. My crystal ball is broken. But I can tell you in depth what the market is doing right now and what it seems poised to do in the immediate future.”
  3. Know the seasonal trend: Almost every single year in the later summer the real estate market slows down and the real estate community tends to freak out. What is happening? Has the “bubble” popped? Is the market starting to turn? It’s as if we are disconnected from seasonal trends and thus treat any slowing like it’s something totally unexpected. Like I said two weeks ago, weighing a slowing market is like stepping on a scale at the right time of day. Frankly, we have to be able to answer questions like this: What does the market normally do at this time of year or during this month? Does it take longer to sell? What happens with sales volume? Does monthly inventory usually go up or down? Do prices usually soften or increase? Answers to these questions can show us how the seasonal market usually behaves and then help us interpret whether a current slowing is something normal or not. Here’s a good rule of thumb: Unless we see something that indicates this is more than a seasonal slowing, it’s probably an okay idea to consider this a seasonal slowing.
  4. Preaching the market is going to change: For those preaching a coming change in the market, here are a few questions: What is going to cause the market to change? When is it going to happen? And by how much will values decline? In reality it’s a given that at some point in the future the market is going to change. Why? Because that’s what markets do. They go up and they go down. While I’m not a huge fan of predicting real estate, I guess if someone has a platform of change, I’d rather hear some specifics because otherwise preaching change seems like prophesying something inevitable. Know what I’m saying?

I hope this was helpful and relevant.

Video Market Screencast: In the following video I talk about seeing the seasonal market and what the market was like in 2005 when values began to decline. I hope this will be helpful and maybe even a game-changer for some. Watch below (or here). Yeah, it’s not short, but maybe watch it in the background while working.

Questions: What is point #5? Did I miss anything? Which point resonated with you the most? Do you think what’s happening now is a seasonal trend or is it something else? I’d love to hear your take.

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If the real estate market did shift…

The new buzz word in real estate is SHIFT. Everywhere I go I hear this word, and it seems like every other article is about a coming change in the market. Thus the question becomes, how would you recognize if the market did begin to shift? What signs would you look for? Let’s kick around some ideas below and I’d love to hear your take in the comments. Any thoughts?

change sign - purchased by sacramento appraisal blog by 123rf dot com

Key points when considering a market shift:

  1. Markets go up and down: Just like the stock market, gold, or any other commodity, at some point real estate values will go up and at some point they’ll go down. Bottom line.
  2. See it first in the listings: When the market does eventually “shift”, we’ll see the change in the listings before the sales. This means properties will begin to struggle to sell at the same level as the “comps”, which will lead to price declines. This underscores the importance of paying close attention to pendings and listings to see the current market. Granted, every year someone says, “the market is declining” when the fall season begins to unfold because values begin to soften. Just be aware there is a difference between a normal seasonal softening and a definitive declining trend.
  3. Word on the street: One of the ways we’ll know the market has changed is the real estate community will feel it in the number of offers, feedback from buyers and sellers, more credits being given to buyers, etc… We can always look at stats, but there is something powerful about the word on the street from real estate insiders.
  4. The previous peak: It’s always interesting to see how close or far prices are from their high point ten years ago, but there isn’t any rule that says prices have to get back to their height for a decline to happen.
  5. Watch higher & lower prices: The market isn’t always doing the same thing at every price range or in every neighborhood. When it comes to values declining, watch the top and bottom carefully because one of them might change direction before the other. Which one?
  6. Other metrics: I included an image below to talk through some of the metrics we might watch to know the market is softening. Again, these things all tend to happen during the fall months every year, but no matter what time of year we are not likely to get to full-fledged value declines without passing through a softening stage. Be sure to watch the sales to list price ratio too (I forgot to include that in the image).
  7. The power of lenders: Values have increased these past four years, but wage growth has been more or less stagnant. This means some buyers will now begin to struggle to afford higher prices. The temptation for lenders is to develop more creative financing to help buyers keep playing the game. Does anyone else think Kenny Loggins’ Highway to the Danger Zone would be good background music for this point?
  8. Future clients: This conversation can feel stressful for those who work in real estate because a change in the market can lead to a change in clients. Yet markets always change, so that’s something we can be prepared for, right? Blockbuster Video had a lucrative operation until they didn’t adapt to the way the internet changed the DVD rental landscape. When it comes to business we can spend so much time holding on to the way things have been that like Blockbuster we don’t take steps to adapt and position ourselves to be Redbox or Netflix so to speak. Here are two questions to continually ask: Who are you clients going to be in the future? What are your clients going to need in the next few years?

Signs of a soft market

I hope this was helpful.

Questions: What is point #9? What other metrics can we watch to see the market change? Anything I left out? I’d love to hear your take.

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Advice for an increasing real estate market (and Sacramento trends)

When the market is flat, it’s easy to impress clients and look like a guru because of how accurate your values are. But when inventory shrinks, demand is off-the-hook, and the market shifts, it’s not always easy to nail value because things can change quickly in a short period of time. In light of the market increasing in value lately in many areas of the country, I thought it would be useful to offer some quick advice for dealing with increases. Then at the bottom of the post I have my ridiculously long Sacramento market update. I’d love to hear your take. Any thoughts?

increasing market advice for agents and appraisers - sacramento regional appraisal blog

Advice for Agents: When values are increasing, it’s crucial to pay careful attention when pulling comps before a listing. The tricky part in a “hot” market is it can be possible to get into contract at much higher levels than what is reasonable, so in a sense the agent has to really spend time weighing what a realistic value looks like before the listing hits the market. Keep in mind a lender’s appraiser is going to need to come up with a value that is supported by market data, reasonable for the neighborhood, and representative of the market. It’s easy to say, “The market is ‘hot’ and inventory is low, so I priced it higher,” but there really has to be support for the higher value. I recommend asking yourself the following questions and then talking clients through the answers.

  1. Is there support for value at the list price? (sales, pendings, listings, data)
  2. Is the list price reasonable? Does it make sense for the neighborhood?
  3. Would the market pay this price or would only one buyer pay this amount?

Advice for Appraisers: In an increasing market appraisers need to spend time figuring out how much the market has changed in recent time. In other words, if there has been upward value movement since the most recent sales got into contract, it could be very reasonable to give upward market adjustments to the comps. I suggest paying careful attention to competitive pendings, making market graphs in each report to help see the market, and keep an eye on competitive neighborhoods too in case data is sparse in the subject neighborhood. Lastly, let’s remember value increases might look more aggressive in some areas than others, so adjustments won’t look the same in every neighborhood or price range. Moreover, a typical canned market adjustment might be 1% per month (because that’s what a mentor taught us to do), but that might not be legit at all (like most canned adjustments). What does the market say? Let’s do our best to listen and then adjust if needed.

Questions: Any thoughts? What other advice would you give?

—————– For those interested, here is my big 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 77 graphs HERE: Please download all graphs in this post (and more) here as a zip file (or send me an email). 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 has been showing value increases. Whether looking at the median price, average price, or average price per sq ft, all the numbers sound “hot” so to speak. This isn’t a surprise though because it’s what normally happens in April. It’s worth noting it took 8 less days to sell last month compared to the same time last year, and the median price is up in the region by nearly 8% from last April. FHA sales were roughly 25% of all sales last month in Sacramento County, though they are down slightly from 27-28% of the market in past quarters (this is a stat worth watching over time). Sales volume for the entire year is down slightly, but not by much. In short, the stats are glowing overall because there has been upward growth with most metrics. However, buyers are still exhibiting price sensitivity. If properties are not priced correctly they are sitting instead of selling. Moreover, under the umbrella of a “hot market”, some sellers are simply pricing WAY too high for the market. They hear the word “hot”, but that doesn’t mean you can sell for anything. Lastly, just because the market has increased in value in some neighborhoods and the entire county doesn’t mean values are increasing for every property type or in every price range.

Sacramento County:

  1. It took an average of 31 days to sell a home last month.
  2. It took 6 less days to sell last month that the previous month.
  3. It took 11 less days to sell this April compared to last April.
  4. Sales volume is down slightly from last year by 3%.
  5. There is only 1.3 months of housing supply in Sacramento County.
  6. Housing inventory is 15% lower than it was last year at the same time.
  7. The median price increased by 1% last month.
  8. The median price is 10% higher than the same time last year.
  9. The avg price per sq ft increased by 2.8% last month.
  10. The avg price per sq ft is 8.8% higher than the same time last year.

Some of my Favorite Graphs this Month:

inventory - April 2016 - by home appraiser blog

CDOM in Sacramento County - by Sacramento Regional Appraisal Blog

Median price since 2013 in sacramento county

price metrics since 2015 in sacramento county - look at all

median price and inventory since 2005 - by sacramento appraisal blog

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

fha and cash in sac county - sacramento appraisal blog

seasonal market in sacramento county sales volume 2

SACRAMENTO REGIONAL MARKET:

  1. It took 6 less days to sell last month compared to the previous month.
  2. It took 8 less days to sell this April compared to last April.
  3. Sales volume was 4.6% lower in April 2016 compared to last April.
  4. Short sales were 3% and REOs were 3% of sales last month.
  5. There is 1.6 months of housing supply in the region right now.
  6. Housing inventory is 9.5% lower than it was last year at the same time.
  7. The median price increased 3% last month from the previous month.
  8. The median price is 7.7% higher than the same time last year.
  9. The avg price per sq ft increased 2.5% last month.
  10. The avg price per sq ft is 6% higher than the same time last year.

Some of my Favorite Regional Graphs:

median price sacramento placer yolo el dorado county

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

sacramento region volume - FHA and conventional - by appraiser blog

Regional Inventory - by Sacramento regional appraisal blog

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

median price and inventory in sacramento regional market

PLACER COUNTY:

  1. It took 6 less days to sell a house last month than March.
  2. It took 2 less days to sell this April compared to last April.
  3. Sales volume was 6% lower in April 2016 compared to last April.
  4. FHA sales were 17% of all sales last month.
  5. Cash sales were 21% of all sales last month.
  6. There is 1.8 months of housing supply in Placer County right now.
  7. Housing inventory is 6.7% lower than it was last year at the same time.
  8. The median price increased 5.6% last month (take with a grain of salt).
  9. The median price is up 9.2% from April 2015.
  10. Short sales were 2.7% and REOs were 1% of sales last month.

Some of my Favorite Placer County Graphs:

days on market in placer county by sacramento appraisal 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

Placer County price and inventory - by sacramento appraisal blog

Placer County sales volume - by sacramento appraisal blog

I hope this was helpful and interesting.

DOWNLOAD 77 graphs HERE: Please download all graphs in this post (and more) here as a zip file (or send me an email). 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.

SacBee: By the way, the second article I wrote for the SacBee real estate section went live. It’s called “One size does not fit all when talking about the housing market.”

Questions: Any advice you’d give to clients right now about pricing? Is there any other market insight you’d like to add? I’d love to hear your take.

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