The health of a residential real estate market can be written about in many ways, often depicting(or spinning) the author’s own viewpoint or opinion. Certainly as real estate professionals we’re prone to do this as much as anyone, so it’s best just to let the facts speak for themselves.
Home Prices Running Steady
In 2004, our local Phoenix Metro area began an upward rise in the median sales price that reached a frenetic peak in July of 2006. In January of 2001, the median sales price in the Phoenix Metro area was $128,000. Three years later it had risen to $151,000, a robust increase of 18%, or 6% per year. Then it went up 14% the next year (2005). Then it soared to its peak in July of 2006 at $260,000. I think we all agree that this price rise was NOT HEALTHY. Just as dramatically unhealthy was the market collapse that saw the median sales price drop to $110,000 in October of 2011, a frightening 58% in 5 years with most of that decrease happening in just 18 months during 2008-2009.
Since 2011, prices have been steadily rising. I realize that “steadily” is not very sexy but in fact, it beats the heck out of two up and down market flings that ruined millions across the country and hundreds of thousands in Arizona. Perhaps steadily should be the new sexy. Prices are again rising, as are rental rates, Arizona’s population is increasing again, jobs are being created, and new home construction is heading up. This is evidence (see below) of our states residential real estate health.
Foreclosures Have Virtually Disappeared.
Foreclosures, which saw hundreds of families lose their homes weekly, have swung to an amazing,almost nation leading, basement rate of .05%. Arizona ranks 43 out 51 states (including DC) for non-current loans and 49 out of 51 for homes in foreclosure. Considering that just a few years ago we were leading the nation in foreclosures, this is an amazing turnaround.
Michael Orr (Cromford Report/ASU) details how the Black Knight Financial Service Mortgage Monitor report for March shows a dramatic fall in mortgage loan delinquency over the past 2 months. There is something of a seasonal pattern in these numbers and January to March is the time of year when the delinquency rate tumbles almost every year. However, it is significant that the total delinquency rate for the USA is now at pre-housing crisis levels and the 30-day delinquency rate is the lowest in well over 15 years.
To provide some perspective, these states have the highest rate of foreclosures compared to AZ’s .05%:
- New Jersey 4.3%
- New York 3.7%
- Hawaii 3.5%
- Maine 2.7%
- Florida 2.6%
- New Mexico 2.4%
- Delaware 2.3%
- District of Columbia 2.2%
- Rhode Island 2.2%
- Connecticut 2.1%
New Construction Permits Highest in 9 Years
For the first quarter of 2016 there were 4,436 single family permits in total, up 33% from 3,333 last year and the highest number since 2007, when there were 8,710. Mesa and Chandler are the two cities with the fastest growth in new home construction while Goodyear and Gilbert are decelerating.
The top locations so far in 2016 are:
- Phoenix 656 – up 47% from 445 in Q1 2015
- Mesa 478 – up 76% from 271
- Gilbert 468 – down 1% from 475
- Peoria 374 – up 22% from 307
- Unincorporated Pinal County 358 – up 37% from 261
- Chandler 340 – up 73% from 196
- Buckeye 314 – up 64% from 191
- Queen Creek 239 up 24% from 192
- Scottsdale 212 – up 13% from 187
- Goodyear 200 – down 17% from 242
- Maricopa 200 – up 36% from 147
So without exaggerating, based on these stories anyway, we’d have to say this checkup went pretty well.
Though Jonathan and I like to provide market updates each week, the most accurate data comparisons are quarter vs quarter, and having just wrapped up the first quarter, we can now compare this 2016 first quarter with the first quarter of 2015, with much thanks to Michael Orr of the Cromford Report.
For readers who would prefer the, “Just get to the bottom line Mike,” in a nutshell, the market is quite healthy except for the low end (hugely diminished inventory making it tough on entry level buyers) and the high end luxury (too much supply) which is great for our high end buyers who have lots of choices.
Now a little more detail: Market conditions remain very diverse with different price ranges in dramatically different situations. We will start with the overall numbers and then break them down to try to make more sense of what is going on.
Here are the basic ARMLS (Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service) numbers for April 1, 2016 relative to April 1, 2015 for all areas & types:
- Active Listings: 22,493 versus 22,303 last year – up 0.9% – but down 0.4% from 22,587 last month
- Under Contract Listings: 12,427 versus 11,986 last year – up 3.7% – and up 5.6% from 11,773 last month
- Monthly Sales: 8,548 versus 7,893 last year – up 8.3% – and up 46.6% from 5,829 last month
- Monthly Average Sales Price per Sq. Ft.: $138.96 vs $131.99 last year – up 5.3% – and down 1.7% from $141.09 last month
- Monthly Median Sales Price: $215,000 versus $200,000 last year – up 7.5% – and up 1.4% from $212,000 last month
Sales, pending listings and under contract counts are all up from both last month and last year. This represents a firming of demand, which has brought the Cromford® Demand Index to a level we have not seen since June 2013, almost 3 years ago. This demand increase mainly affects the price range from $175,000 up to $600,000.
The supply of active listings is now higher than 12 months earlier for the first time since December 2014. However the Cromford® Supply Index has stopped rising and reached a plateau of 81.3, telling us we have a continued shortage of homes for sale compared with a normal market. This is deceptive for much of the market because almost all of the missing homes for sale are at the affordable end of the market below $175,000, where they are missing in huge numbers. The absence of the normal low end supply is not just in homes for sale. Affordable homes for rent are also extremely scarce. Entry level buyers and potential tenants are facing strong rises in price with no sign of relief.
So the low-end of the market has too little supply while the high end has too much. The mid-range is in the happiest “Goldilocks” state, with neither too little nor too much. Mid-range prices are stable and volumes are growing. Since the mid-range is by far the most important sector for the construction industry this is excellent news for most builders.
Despite the excessive supply, the high-end luxury market had a good first quarter from a volume perspective, with 79 closed sales for ARMLS listings priced over $2 million. This compares well with 68 in the first quarter of 2015 and we have to go all the way back to 2008 to find a first quarter with higher sales volume. The abundance of supply means there is plenty of choice for high-end luxury buyers and they are finding homes they like. For sellers it means they will need plenty of patience because of all the competition from other sellers. It also means they may have to settle for a lower contract price than they anticipated, especially if they are accustomed to looking up their home on Zillow.
Stocks Versus Real Estate?
At last glance this Monday morning, the stock market’s DJIA was off 200 points. That’s really good news considering it started the day being negative by 1000 points — something about China’s slowing economy affecting our market. Hmm.
What usually occurs when this happens is people begin to consider where they should put their investment monies if they were to sell off their stock. Is there a safe harbor out there? What’s interesting to me is that this global stock selloff is confirming what gold and silver investors have known for the past month, that world instability is good for them as the shaky markets drive up the price of precious metals. These commodities have risen 7% in the past 30 days. There are some however who are not as bullish on these metals as they used to be.
An industry expert told me today that Phoenix real estate should perform relatively well with the sort of deflation that many fear we will be driven into based on China’s current economic trend. This, he said, was because of our chronic short supply in relation to our growing population, which if you have been following us for a while, you probably have heard us talk about more than a few times!
I wonder if many will see Phoenix real estate investments as that safe harbor. Why? We have rapidly rising rent prices, low mortgage rates, and even though it’s a seller’s market for most investor price ranges, prices are still competitive compared to other metropolitan areas in the country. It’s a market that many see stability and future growth in.
Though my near 40 year career has been in real estate, and I’ve always been an advocate for Real Estate investment, my intention is not to bash stocks. In fact, my father’s success in investing utilized a balance of both real estate AND stocks. He was a common butcher with uncommon trust in his advisors who helped him select singular stocks based on their individual merit. He kept them for the long haul and never seemed to worry about the day to day gyrations of his stock because he was secure with the inherent strength of these selected companies. In the end he was financially well cared for and more importantly he lived life well, relatively free of worry, excepting of course for some of his wayward children – present company included. The point being, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Real Estate is always better than stocks.
While real estate and the stock market are entirely different animals, they do both share that quality where the little guy is most successful when he plays the long term buy and hold strategy, like my father did.
“In the end…my father was financially well cared for and more importantly he lived life well, relatively free of worry…”
These are fascinating times we live in – in every corner of the globe.
Let us know if we can help you. If you or someone you know is considering a rental investment, or a first time home purchase, have them call me at 602-689-3100. We can help.
The Phoenix Metro Seller’s market has returned which of course means good news and bad news. We just need to first answer the question, “Are you buying or selling?” And if neither, keep reading anyway because it will help give you a lead-in to a conversation besides “Isn’t it great weather we’re having lately?” Now you can say, “Have you heard how the residential real estate market has been heating up?
How has it been heating up Mike? Since last quarter:
- Active listings are down by 6%
- Under Contract listings are up by 29% and Pending Sales are up by 28%
- Sales have increased 40% (8255 vs 5171)
- Monthly Listing Supply Dropped from 5.5 to 3.1 (39% decrease)
- Pending Price Per Square Ft (PSF) rose from $131 PSF to $137 (5% increase)
- Monthly Sales PSF rose from $131 to $136 (4% in one quarter)
First the good news for owners/sellers:
- Prices are rising hence equity is increasing
- Inventory is shrinking, Market Times are Decreasing
- Underwater homeowners may soon be above water – Choices may emerge
- Refinance options may be back on the table – Interest rates remain low
- Caveat: All Real Estate is local — the Seller’s Market news is not for everyone — yet
Now the bad news for ‘on the fence’ and future buyers:
- With rising prices you will get less house for the money or;
- Paying more for the same type house gets you a higher payment
- With less inventory you will have less choice, with more competition
- Your rents are rising or it may be getting a little too cozy living with family
- Caveat: All Real Estate is local – In some areas it’s still a buyer’s market – for now
Is there good news still for buyers? Absolutely! There are communities that are still in a buyer’s market realm, and even if you’re looking in a hot area you can still do well with a good buyer strategy. Also, mortgage rates are still low. Unfortunately, the window in that vein is closing.
HomeSmart Opens New World Headquarters in Scottsdale
HomeSmart Realty is preparing the opening of its new 66,000 SqFt World Headquarters in Scottsdale within the 101 loop near Princess Drive and Frank Lloyd Wright (pictured below). The recent acquisition by CEO Matt Widdows will become HomeSmart’s new corporate location having just vacated the current location at 32nd St and Camelback. HomeSmart will still have a presence on Camelback, opening up a new office there as well.
The office will be split between the corporate side and the sales agents’ side. Having already been a leader of innovation and technology, we’re excited about having the latest and greatest available for the benefit of our clients. Jonathan, and I will be relocating to the new location when the office remodeling is complete – we hope shortly.
Along with the Camelback location there are 10 other offices in the Valley. One of the great perks of our business is that HomeSmart lets each professional use any office facility in the Valley as if it’s our own 24/7 utilizing a pass card.
First things first, we welcome a new team member, Barbara Anderson, to the Bodeen Team and the HomeSmart Elite group. Though new to our group, Barb is not a novice to real estate. She is however getting back into the game after a prolonged absence in the education field. Barb and hubby Bruce just celebrated their 44th wedding anniversary.
Barb joined us yesterday for her first HomeSmart Elite monthly meeting. It was indeed timely as our keynote speaker, Director Michael Orr of ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business presented the Elite Group with encouraging homeowner data and trends indicating that change is already afoot in our local real estate market. You will be hearing about this starting now in the local news.
The Bodeen Team subscribes to Mr. Orr’s market data which we view in real-time each day. Our subscription grants us permission to reproduce his information to you. I would say that there are few, if any entities in the country that have the amazing statistical data that Orr does. He starts each meeting with the caveat that his background is mathematics, and his passion is real estate trends and numbers.
And I should clarify that the news was positive for homeowners but not so much for buyers who are still on the sidelines, unless they decide to become a homeowner sooner rather than later. That to me was the important take-away from this meeting yesterday.
Michael provided us with a whimsical chart (see below) showing us his “Market Cycles.” As you can see, he believes we are re-entering a period of “Optimism” which last occurred 12 years ago in 2003. This period historically preceded the Three E’s: Enthusiasm, Exhilaration, Euphoria. This is when sales and appreciation happened at dizzying intensity. It was an exciting time, but it wasn’t fun.
Another very interesting chart shows the annual rate for U.S. Household Formation. According to this chart, the number of newly formed households radically spiked in the last quarter of 2014. This, among other issues (see Summary below) could create huge demand.
There are a number of reasons why Orr is so Seller Bullish
- Supply is well below normal (83% of normal)
- Demand is low but growing (95% of normal)
- AZ loan delinquency below normal at 4.5%
- Foreclosures below long term average
- Lending rules starting to loosen
- Entry market heating up
- High end market cooling down
- Economy and jobs continue to improve
- Time to change from relief to optimism
He also didn’t see any slowdown for single family detached rental demand as he points out that we have only a 25 day amount of rental inventory available. And, he adds, is in the higher priced end. The supply for home rentals priced between $900 and $1200 per month is down 50% from a year ago.
So there we have it. In the words first memorialized in song by Bob Dylan, ‘The times they are a changin.’ Hang on.
There’re several different ways to interpret sales numbers from January. On the one hand, there seems to be the same trend occurring that we experienced in 2014; consistent, flat balanced. Yet sellers at the low and medium price ranges have some valid reasons to feel hopeful as we head into the prime selling season. Buyers are certainly not in trouble, but they need to keep an eye on supply. If that starts falling early this year, we could see the re-emergence of multiple offer situations.
I actually believe we’ll start to see sales numbers increase this spring. Strong optimism for Phoenix and Arizona (more on that on the next page) felt by many will breed action. I’m hopeful that the Millennials and the “Penalty Box” folks will be getting back in the game. If that happens, we’ll quickly see competitive bidding and price increases, especially in the low to medium range. This is another admonition for any fence sitting buyers out there – move!
Here are the basic MLS numbers for February 1, 2015 relative to February 1, 2014 for the Phoenix Metro area and includes all home types:
- Active Listings: 23,950 versus 25,541 last year – down 6.2% – but up 6.0% from 22,604 last month
- Pending Listings: 5,631 versus 5,723 last year – down 1.6% – but up a whopping 27.7% from 4,410 last month
- Under Contract Listings: 8,776 versus 8,595 last year – up 2.1% – and up 30.5% from 6,724 last month
- Monthly Sales: 4,781 versus 4,862 last year – down 1.7% – and down 26.1% from 6,466 last month – these are closings that began in 2014.
- Monthly Average Sales Price per Sq. Ft. $130.87 versus $125.54 last year – up 4.2% – but down 0.8% from $131.87 last month
- Monthly Median Sales Price: $195,000 versus $183,000 last year – up 6.6% – but down 1.0% from $197,000 last month. (Data thanks from Michael Orr and the Cromford Report)
Also, as we’ve previously reported, mortgage rates hit a 15 month low recently and are now around 3.75% for a 30 year fixed rate. The Feds have also been decreasing their tight mortgage controls including coming up with a 3% conventional down payment loan and reducing FHA mortgage insurance making these loans more affordable.
One final mortgage tip. We know of mortgage money sources for “penalty box” prospective borrowers who may be able to qualify for a loan without waiting for the statutory 3 or 7 year wait period if they’ve had a short sale or foreclosure. Yes, the interest rate is higher but not usurious. It may make sense if you’ve found a great home and you can lock in the price now. Give us a call and we’d be happy to share that info.