The Recovery of the Housing Market Prices

When the United States went through the recession in 2008, not many analysts anticipated such a prolonged period of adverse consequences. The downturn in the economy, that was primarily caused by the housing market bubble, however, is now in the rearview mirror. Or at least, that is what the latest reports created by The Standard & Poor’s Case–Shiller Home Price Indices showcase.

Before diving into the number-heavy data that is the main reason to believe how the housing market is in its “rebirth” stage, defining Case–Shiller Home Price Indices must be done. Basically, Case-Shiller indices are the so-called house price indices for the United States. The numbers are calculated by looking at a minor subset of homes and then generalizing these results on large populations sizes with matching criteria. The ones that are going to be brought up here come from the 20-city composite index as well as the national home price.

With that being said, the latest 20-city index shows a 0.5 percent monthly spike that translates into a 6.2 percent yearly increase in the house prices. The national index, similarly, demonstrated a 0.7 percent increase on a monthly level while the annual rate accumulated to the same 6.2 percent. This is exciting news for the housing industry that has been recovering since 2008 when it faced some of its darkest times.

Even though the aforementioned data clearly presents a reason to be enthusiastic about the future home prices, there is always more to the equation. Case-Shiller’s index is a very prominent tool that millions of people utilize to track real estate prices, but it has its shortcomings. This is why looking at more reports will help minimize the margin of error and facilitate accurate results.

According to Trulia, another outlet that can conduct a market analysis of real estate prices, the nation is still not completely recovered. Ralph McLaughlin, the chief economist for Trulia, indicates that only one-third of all homes have been able to go back to the prices they held before the recession. The other 66 percent can expect to reach those same levels by 2025. If one was to neglect data from an outlet like Trulia and only focus on Case-Shiller’s index, they would expose themselves to wrong interpretations masked by positive numbers.

Regardless of the discrepancies between the levels of optimism shown by Trulia and Case-Shiller’s index, one thing stands – the country is moving in the right direction when it comes to the housing industry. Even if only one in three homes is back at its pre-recession prices, this is a clear sign that the economy is getting better and negative outliers could be neglectable soon. For example, the following data can be treated as a bottom line prediction for where the United States is headed:

  • Number of large cities that have seen positive changes to home prices: 17 out of 20
  • Number of large cities that experienced home price reductions lately: 3 out of 20

Importantly, the aforementioned only applies to monthly levels. When looking at those same 20 cities, every single one of them has seen positive movement in home prices on an annual level. Thus, 100 percent of the sample size analyzed by Case-Shiller’s Index is doing better yearly, while 85 percent is even doing better monthly.

No doubt, Trulia and its chief economist Ralph McLaughlin have a great point when it comes to holding people culpable and not letting anyone get overly excited. Nevertheless, the momentum that the housing market now holds might prove to be just enough to bring back the prices from 2006 or 2007.

Strong Job Creation Numbers Inspiring Young Workers to Enter Housing Market for First Time

For an entire generation of young people, growing up during a time of economic uncertainty has had an undeniable impact on way they approach all manner of financial decisions. Members of this generation have exercised great caution while adopting a risk-averse financial philosophy, and this philosophy has in turn limited their willingness to consider entering the housing market for the first time.

The limited interest among members of this youthful demographic has had a measurable effect on the real estate industry, but it appears that the strength of current economic conditions might finally be enough to convince these young people to test the housing market. It appears that the recent reports of strong job creation numbers — along with a wealth of job openings representing a record high — have inspired a sense of confidence among the group of people least likely to act hastily based on a report of the most recently available economic statistics.

Of course, this does not mean that this youthful generation has not faced difficulties upon entering the housing market for the first time, particularly since the inventory of single-family homes available for purchase is currently at an all-time low. Combined with the fact that apartment vacancies presently stand at just under four percent (3.8 percent, to be precise), it is clear that the sudden increase in demand cannot be met given the currently available supply even when one considers that 371,000 new units are expected for delivery in the next 12 months — not to mention the fact that new apartment construction has never been higher in the past 30 years.

It is not only the residential real estate market that is experiencing the influence of the continued return of strong economic indicators, as the commercial real estate market is also dealing with a level of demand that cannot be met by the current pace of new commercial real estate construction.

This is especially true as it relates to financial services employment as well as professional and business services employment, all of which have outperformed the labor market as a whole. Since companies within these fast-growing categories have primarily targeted recent college graduates for recruitment to new, office-based positions, the demand for new commercial real estate has increased at a rapid rate greatly exceeding the current pace of commercial sector construction.

With the expectation that 2 million new jobs will be added by the close of 2017, there is some concern that a large percentage of these positions will nonetheless go unfilled due to a shortage of skilled workers available for what is now a total of 6 million job openings currently available in the United States. Keeping these and other economic figures in mind, the Fed has continued to favor a moderate monetary policy in an economy lacking any sign that it may be prone to overheating.

Chinese Real Estate Investors Increasingly Targeting Big Cities With Strong Education Programs

Over the past few years, the United States real estate market has experienced an influx of foreign investment, with Chinese buyers continuing to outpace all other foreign real estate investors. While there has already been a great deal of discussion and analyses regarding the multitude of factors driving Chinese investors to put their money in U.S. real estate, until recently much less was known about why these investors ultimately prefer one particular geographic location over another.

Recognizing the inherent value associated with developing a clear understanding of the various factors at play during the decision-making processes employed by foreign real estate investors, a number of recent studies have identified several key reasons behind regional real estate demand. As a result, the data collected through these studies has made it possible to create a projection system delineating the specific U.S. cities Chinese real estate investors are most likely to target over the course of the next year: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, New York, and Miami.

The projection is quite revealing for a number of reasons, including the fact that even a cursory review of the characteristics common among the five cities highlights the factors Chinese real estate investors find most appealing. In addition to featuring the nation’s most prominent cultural centers and strongest local economies, each of the five cities listed in the projection is also known for offering outstanding educational opportunities to its residents.

Whether it is the proximity to so many of the elite colleges and universities located in the city of Boston or access to one of the many outstanding public campuses associated with the University of California, Chinese investors clearly value educational opportunities when selecting real estate properties (obviously, New York and Miami are also home to outstanding academic institutions as well).

Of course, there are other factors to consider beyond access to exceptional academic opportunities, as Chinese investors also weigh the value of U.S. investment properties relative to international properties. The combination of its excellent public school system and comparatively low — in terms of both national and international prices — property costs are among the primary reasons that Los Angeles is expected to be the top housing market targeted by Chinese investors over the next year or so.

Weather also plays an important role as Chinese investors attempt to identify the ideal region for a real estate investment, so it should not come as much of a surprise that warm-weather climates like Miami and Los Angeles are among the top options in the United States. A lack of year-round sunshine is not necessarily a deterrent, however, as each city’s economic outlook as well as its unique cultural makeup also figure prominently among Chinese investors seeking U.S. real estate.

With all else being equal, Chinese investors appear most interested in properties that range in cost from $300,000 to $700,000. Even though property values vary widely among the five cities most likely to appeal to Chinese real estate investors during the year that follows, a price range of $300,000 to $700,000 still ensures access to a broad array of options in the part of the country that each individual investor ultimately concludes as most appealing according to their own personal preferences.

Nearly 5 Million Apartments Needed in US by 2030

Several critical factors — including an aging population, international immigration, and couples increasingly choosing to delay marriage — have resulted in projections indicating a need for the United States to add close to 5 million more apartments by 2030 in order to meet the demands of its rapidly changing population. This is according to a recent study conducted on behalf of the NMHC (National Multifamily Housing Council) and the NAA (National Apartment Association).

As it currently stands, the approximately 39 million people dwelling in apartments is already stressing the capacity of the apartment industry, a product of the fact that, over the past five years, an average of one million new renter households formed each year. Based on those figures, the United States needs to create 325,000 new apartment homes per year in order to meet the projections for future demand. The fact that an average of only 244,000 new apartment homes were built per year from 2012 to 2016 illustrates some of the inherent challenges associated with the growing demand for apartment housing.

It’s important to take a closer look at some of the underlying factors driving the rapid increases in demand for apartment homes in the United States. Since life events play such an important role in driving home purchases, the fact that so many Americans are waiting longer to get married is affecting the level of demand for apartment homes. Married couples with children account for less than 20 percent of households in the United States, a 25-percent drop compared to 1960.

The aging population of the United States is also contributing to the rising demand for apartment homes, as the research conducted by the NMHC and NAA indicate that people 55 and older will be responsible for over 30 percent of future rental apartment homes. Over the last 10 years, the demographic of people age 45 or older made up more than 50 percent of the net increase in rental apartment households, a trend that is expected to continue going forward.

Immigration will also have a substantial impact, but disproportionately so in the border states: 51 percent of all population growth in the US is expected to come from immigration, which will in turn drive the increased demand for apartment housing across the country.

Although the entire country should expect to be affected by the changing population and the growing demand for apartment housing, certain regions of the country are likely to experience greater increases when compared to others. Western states, along with Texas, North Carolina, and Florida, should expect to see the sharpest increase in demand for rental apartment housing through 2030, particularly in cities like Austin, Raleigh, and Orlando.

 

Sharp Upward Trend Continues in Toronto Housing Market

The United States is not the only nation experiencing the return of a booming real estate market: Our neighbors to the north are also in the midst of a similarly extended surge in the marketplace, and it is the renewed strength of the Canadian economy that has powered this upward trend in the average price of existing home sales. Our analyses indicate Toronto is perhaps the most salient example highlighting this continued upward trend, particularly since the city’s average home sale price checked in at $1.2 million in the last month, increasing at a rate representing a 28-year high.

After reviewing each category of housing within Toronto’s city limits — including detached homes, condominiums, and townhouses — it is evident that the sharp increase in the average sale price applies more or less equally to the different types of housing. Even with the 33-percent increase in prices across all housing categories encouraging a 15-percent increase in new listings put on the market, the Toronto housing supply still remains limited by any measure.

Although the sudden increase in equity would lead most economists to predict a continued increase in the number of real estate listings — thereby introducing more balance within the market — our research indicates that many homeowners are still somewhat reluctant to cash in on their gains by putting their home on the market. It is somewhat ironic, but here at Tweed Economics we believe this might be the product of the limited housing supply leaving few good options for potential sellers who wish to remain in the city of Toronto.

City officials are looking at the limited supply of real estate as an issue that may need to be addressed through some sort of government intervention. Throughout our many years working in similar markets in which limited supply issues can be overcome with off-market expertise, intervention by government entities — despite wholly good intentions — all too often leads to unintended consequences that only exacerbate an existing issue or create new, more complex issues.

Various city officials have intimated potential steps they might take to intervene, citing the current lack of affordable housing as a deterrent for first-time homebuyers who wish to live and work in Toronto. This is certainly problematic, and city officials are right to be concerned about a continued lack of supply preventing potential buyers from entering the real estate market. Without first identifying the precipitating factors and understanding how each of these factors influences the market, outside intervention will almost certainly lead to a host of newer and more complicated problems for city officials to handle.

As Toronto city officials discuss the possibility of implementing a vacant-home tax or a foreign-buyers levy in the hopes of reducing real estate speculation, it’s worth pointing out that it is typically ideal to simply allow the market to self-correct. With home values continuing to soar in Toronto, it seems likely that potential sellers in the city will ultimately decide to take advantage of a strong marketplace rather than standing on the sidelines as others reap the rewards of the sharp rise in home equity.

References:

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/real-estate/greater-toronto-area-faces-looming-jump-in-housing-prices-royal-lepage/article33589023

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-04-05/toronto-home-prices-jump-33-in-march-as-market-tightens