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Is a Recession Here? Yes. Does that Mean a Housing Crash? No.

On Monday, the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) announced that the U.S. economy is officially in a recession. This did not come as a surprise to many, as the Bureau defines a recession this way:

“A recession is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, normally visible in production, employment, and other indicators. A recession begins when the economy reaches a peak of economic activity and ends when the economy reaches its trough. Between trough and peak, the economy is in an expansion.”

Everyone realizes that the pandemic shut down the country earlier this year, causing a “significant decline in economic activity.”

Though not surprising, headlines announcing the country is in a recession will cause consumers to remember the devastating impact the last recession had on the housing market just over a decade ago.

The real estate market, however, is in a totally different position than it was then. As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, explained:

“Many still bear scars from the Great Recession and may expect the housing market to follow a similar trajectory in response to the coronavirus outbreak. But, there are distinct differences that indicate the housing market may follow a much different path. While housing led the recession in 2008-2009, this time it may be poised to bring us out of it.”

Four major differences in today’s real estate market are:

  1. Families have large sums of equity in their homes
  2. We have a shortage of housing inventory, not an overabundance
  3. Irresponsible lending no longer exists
  4. Home price appreciation is not out of control

We must also realize that a recession does not mean a housing crash is will follow.  In three of the four previous recessions prior to 2008, home values increased. In the other one, home prices depreciated by only 1.9%.

Bottom Line

Yes, we are now officially in a recession. However, unlike 2008, this time the housing industry is in much better shape to weather the storm.

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Real Estate Will Lead the Economic Recovery

With more U.S. states reopening for business this summer, and as people start to return to work, we can expect the economy to begin improving. Most expert forecasts indicate this economic recovery will start to happen in the second half of this year. As we get back to work and the financial landscape of the country begins to turn around, many experts also agree that real estate has the potential to lead the way in the recovery process.

According to Ivy Zelman of Zelman & Associates:

 “Housing will fare better than expected during this severe downturn.”

In addition, CNBC notes:

“Mortgage demand from home buyers shows unexpectedly strong and quick recovery…The quick recovery has surprised most forecasters.”

Robert Dietz, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President for Economics and Housing Policy of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) says:

“Overall, the data lend evidence to the NAHB forecast that housing will be a leading sector in an eventual economic recovery.”

One of the big reasons why housing has the potential to be such a driving force is the significant impact it has on the local economy. This impact is particularly strong when a newly constructed home is built and sold. According to a recent study by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average new home sale has a total economic impact of $88,416. As outlined in the graphic below, this is a combination of income generated from real estate industries, expenditures, and new home construction.Real Estate Will Lead the Economic Recovery | Simplifying The MarketWith so many unknowns today, especially in the wake of a worldwide pandemic, one known factor is the bright spark the housing market can play in local and national recovery. Buying and selling a home goes well beyond personal growth and satisfaction – it supports our economy as a whole.

Bottom Line

According to experts, the economy will begin to recover in the second half of this year. With real estate as a driver, that recovery may start sooner than we think.

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The Shocking News in the Unemployment Report

Last Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released their May Employment Situation Summary. Leading up to the release, most experts predicted the unemployment rate would jump up to approximately 20% from the 14.7% rate announced last month.

The experts were shocked.

The Wall Street Journal put it this way:

“The May U.S. jobless rate fell to 13.3% and employers added 2.5 million jobs, blowing Wall Street expectations out of the water: Economists had forecast a loss of 8.3 million jobs and a 19.5% unemployment rate.”

In addition, CNBC revealed:

“The May gain was by far the biggest one-month jobs surge in U.S. history since at least 1939.”

Here are some of the job gains by sector:

  • Food Service and Bartenders – 1,400,000
  • Construction – 464,000
  • Education and Health Services – 424,000
  • Retail – 368,000
  • Other Services – 272,000
  • Manufacturing – 225,000
  • Professional Services – 127,000

There’s still a long way to go before the economy fully recovers, as 21 million Americans remain unemployed. That number is down, however, from 23 million just last month. And, of the 21 million in the current report, 73% feel their layoff is temporary. This aligns with a recent Federal Reserve Bank report that showed employers felt 75% of the job losses are temporary layoffs and furloughs.

The Employment Situation Summary was definitely a pleasant surprise, and evidence that the country’s economic turnaround is underway. The data also offers a labor-market snapshot from mid-May, when the government conducted its monthly survey of households and businesses. Many states did not open for business until the second half of May. This bodes well for next month’s jobs report.

Bottom Line

We cannot rejoice over a report that reveals millions of American families are still without work. We can, however, feel relieved that we are headed in the right direction, and much more quickly than most anticipated.

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National Homeownership Month [INFOGRAPHIC]

National Homeownership Month [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • National Homeownership Month is a great time to reflect on how we can each promote stronger community growth.
  • Homeownership helps families build financial freedom, find greater happiness and satisfaction, and make a positive impact on our local communities.
  • Let’s connect today if homeownership is part of your future plans.
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Three Things to Understand About Unemployment Statistics

Tomorrow morning the Bureau of Labor Statistics will release the latest Employment Situation Summary, which will include the most current unemployment rate. It will be a horrific number. Many analysts believe unemployment could be greater than 20%. These numbers represent families across the nation that are not sure when (or if) they will return to work. The emotional impact on these households is devastating.

There are, however, some small rays of light shining through on this issue. Here are three:

1. The actual number of unemployed is less than many are reporting

The number of people unemployed is sometimes over-exaggerated. It seems that every newscaster talks about the 40+ million people “currently” unemployed. It is true that, over the last ten weeks, over 40.7 million people have applied for unemployment. It is also true, however, that many of those people have already returned to work or gotten a new job. The actual number of people currently unemployed is 21.1 million. This is still a horrible number, but about half of what is often being reported.Three Things to Understand About Unemployment Statistics | Simplifying The Market

2. Of those still unemployed, most are temporary layoffs

Last month’s unemployment report showed that 90% of those unemployed believe their status is temporary. Friday’s report will probably show a decline in that percentage as the original number was somewhat optimistic. However, a recent survey by the Federal Reserve Bank showed that employers believe over 75% of job losses are temporary layoffs and furloughs. This means 3 out of 4 people should be returning to work as the economy continues to recover.

3. Those on unemployment are receiving assistance

According to a recent study from the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics at the University of Chicago, 68% of those who are eligible for unemployment insurance receive benefits that exceed lost earnings, with 20% receiving benefits at least twice as large as their lost earnings.

Bottom Line

Tomorrow’s report will be difficult to digest. However, as the nation continues to reopen, many of those families who are impacted will be able to return to work.

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Is it Time to Sell Your Vacation Home?

The travel industry is one of the major sectors that’s been hit extremely hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, it’s hard to know how long it will take for summer travelers to be back in action and for the industry to fully recover. Homeowners who rent their secondary properties on their own or through programs like Airbnb, which has over 660,000 listings in the U.S. alone, have been impacted in this challenging time. Some of these homeowners are considering selling their vacation homes, and understandably so.

A recent CNN article indicated:

“With global travel screeching to a halt during the pandemic, a number of Airbnb hosts are planning to sell their properties…These desperate moves come as hosts face the possibility of losing thousands of dollars a month in canceled bookings while bills, maintenance costs, and mortgage payments pile up.”

If you’re one of the property owners in this position, you too may be feeling the pain of decreased travel, especially as we prepare for the typical busy summer vacation season. A recent survey notes that 48% of Americans have already canceled summer travel plans due to the current health crisis. In addition, 36% indicated they don’t have vacation plans, and only 16% said they did not cancel their summer travel.

The same survey also asked, “How long will you wait before traveling again?” Not surprisingly, only 29% of respondents are planning to travel within the next 6 months. That means 71% are putting their plans on hold for at least 6 months, or are still unsure about future travel. That can continue to add to the significant income loss that many property renters felt this spring.Is it Time to Sell Your Vacation Home? | Simplifying The MarketIf you’re considering selling your rental property, know that there are two key factors indicating that selling your vacation home now may be your best move as a homeowner.

1. Inventory Shortage

The inventory of overall homes for sale is well below the demand from potential buyers, so many eyes may be searching for a home like yours. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), total housing inventory, meaning homes available to purchase, is down 19.7% from one year ago (see graph below):Is it Time to Sell Your Vacation Home? | Simplifying The MarketInventory across the country continues to be a challenge, with only a 4.1-month supply of listings available at the current sales pace. For a balanced market, where there are enough homes available for interested buyers to purchase, that number would need to bump up to a 6-month supply. This means we don’t have enough inventory for the number of buyers looking for homes, so selling in this scenario is ideal. Buyers are looking now, and some vacation homes make a great primary residence or second home for those eager to escape from more populated urban areas.

2. Home Prices

The lack of inventory is also keeping homes from depreciating in value. Today, prices are holding strong and experts forecast home price appreciation to continue throughout this year. Selling your home while prices are holding steady is a sound business move. You’ll likely have equity you’ve earned working for you as well. If your home has been vacant for the past few months, the forced savings you have built in your equity may help balance out possible rental income loss due to the slowdown in the travel industry.

Bottom Line

We don’t know exactly when heightened summer travel will return or what it will look like when it does. If you’re considering selling your vacation home, let’s connect today to determine your options in the current market.

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Home Prices: It’s All About Supply and Demand

As we enter the summer months and work through the challenges associated with the current health crisis, many are wondering what impact the economic slowdown will have on home prices. Looking at the big picture, supply and demand will give us the clearest idea of what’s to come.

Making our way through the month of June and entering the second half of the year, we face an undersupply of homes on the market. Keep in mind, this undersupply is going to vary by location and by price point. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), across the country, we currently have a 4.1 months supply of homes on the market. Historically, 6 months of supply is considered a balanced market. Anything over 6 months is a buyer’s market, meaning prices will depreciate. Anything below 6 months is a seller’s market, where prices appreciate. The graph below shows inventory across the country since 2010 in months supply of homes for sale.Home Prices: It’s All About Supply and Demand | Simplifying The MarketRobert Dietz, Chief Economist for the National Home Builders Association (NAHB) says:

“As the economy begins a recovery later in 2020, we expect housing to play a leading role. Housing enters this recession underbuilt, not overbuilt. Estimates vary, but based on demographics and current vacancy rates, the U.S. may have a housing deficit of up to one million units.”

Given the undersupply of homes on the market today, there is upward pressure on prices. Looking at simple economics, when there is less of an item for sale and the demand is high, consumers are willing to pay more for that item. The undersupply is also prompting bidding wars, which can drive price points higher in the home sale process. According to a recent MarketWatch article:

 “As buyers return to the market as the country rebounds from the pandemic, a limited inventory of homes for sale could fuel bidding wars and push prices higher.”

In addition, experts forecasting home prices have updated their projections given the impact of the pandemic. The major institutions expect home prices to appreciate through 2022. The chart below, updated as of earlier this week, notes these forecasts. As the year progresses, we may see these projections revised in a continued upward trend, given the lack of homes on the market. This could drive home prices even higher.Home Prices: It’s All About Supply and Demand | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

Many may think home prices will depreciate due to the economic slowdown from the coronavirus, but experts disagree. As we approach the second half of this year, we may actually see home prices rise even higher given the lack of homes for sale.

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The Benefits of Homeownership May Reach Further Than You Think

More than ever, our homes have become an integral part of our lives. Today they are much more than the houses we live in. They’re evolving into our workplaces, schools for our children, and safe havens that provide shelter, stability, and protection for our families through the evolving health crisis. Today, 65.3% of Americans are able to call their homes their own, a rate that has risen to its highest point in 8 years.

June is National Homeownership Month, and it’s a great time to reflect on the benefits of owning your own home. Below are some highlights and quotes recently shared by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). From non-financial to financial, and even including how owning a home benefits your local economy, these items may give you reason to think homeownership stretches well beyond a sound dollars and cents investment alone.

Non-Financial Benefits

Owning a home brings families a sense of happiness, satisfaction, and pride.

  • Pride of Ownership: It feels good to have a place that’s truly your own, especially since you can customize it to your liking. “The personal satisfaction and sense of accomplishment achieved through homeownership can enhance psychological health, happiness and well-being for homeowners and those around them.”
  • Property Maintenance and Improvement: Your home is your stake in the community, and a way to give back by driving value into your neighborhood.
  • Civic Participation: Homeownership creates stability, a sense of community, and increases civic engagement. It’s a way to add to the strength of your local area.

Financial Benefits

Buying a home is also an investment in your family’s financial future.

  • Net Worth: Homeownership builds your family’s net worth. “The median family net worth for all homeowners ($231,400) increased by nearly 15% since 2013, while net worth ($5,000) actually declined by approximately 9% since 2013 for renter families.”
  • Financial Security: Equity, appreciation, and predictable monthly housing expenses are huge financial benefits of homeownership. Homeownership is truly the best way to improve your long-term net worth.

Economic Benefits

Homeownership is even a local economic driver.

  • Housing-Related Spending: An economic force throughout our nation, housing-related expenses accounted for more than one-sixth of the country’s economic activity over the past three decades.
  • GDP Growth: Homeownership also helps drive GDP growth as the country aims to make an economic rebound. “Every 10% increase in total housing market wealth would translate to approximately $147 billion in additional consumer spending, or 0.8% of GDP, as well as billions of dollars in new federal tax revenue.”
  • Entrepreneurship: Homeownership is even a form of forced savings that provides entrepreneurial opportunities as well. “Owning a home enables new entrepreneurs to obtain access to credit to start or expand a business and generate new jobs by using their home as collateral for small business loans.”

Bottom Line

The benefits of homeownership are vast and go well beyond the surface level. Homeownership is truly a way to build financial freedom, find greater satisfaction and happiness, and make a substantial impact on your local economy. If owning a home is part of your dream, let’s connect today so you can begin the homebuying process.

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Top Reasons to Own Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC]


Top Reasons to Own Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • June is National Homeownership Month, and it’s a great time to consider the benefits of owning your own home.
  • If you’re in a position to buy, homeownership might help you find the stability, community, and comfort you’ve been searching for this year.
  • Let’s connect today to determine if homeownership is the right next step for you and your family.
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Economists Forecast Recovery to Begin in the Second Half of 2020

With the U.S. economy on everyone’s minds right now, questions about the country’s financial outlook continue to come up daily. The one that seems to keep rising to the top is: when will the economy begin to recover? While no one knows exactly how a rebound will play out, expert economists around the country are becoming more aligned on when the recovery will begin.

According to the latest Wall Street Journal Economic Forecasting Survey, which polls more than 60 economists on a monthly basis, 85.3% believe a recovery will begin in the second half of 2020 (see graph below):Economists Forecast Recovery to Begin in the Second Half of 2020 | Simplifying The MarketThere seems to be a growing consensus among these experts that the second half of this year will be the start of a turnaround in this country.

Chris Hyzy, Chief Investment Officer for Merrill notes:

“We fully expect the economy could begin to pick up in late June and July with a strong recovery in the fourth quarter.” 

In addition, five of the major financial institutions are also forecasting positive GDP in the second half of the year. Today, four of the five expect a recovery to begin in the third quarter of 2020, and all five agree a recovery should start by the fourth quarter (see graph below):Economists Forecast Recovery to Begin in the Second Half of 2020 | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

The vast majority of economists, analysts, and financial institutions are in unison, indicating an economic recovery should begin in the second half of 2020. Agreement among these leading experts is stronger than ever.