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Recession? Yes. Housing Crash? No.

With over 90% of Americans now under a shelter-in-place order, many experts are warning that the American economy is heading toward a recession, if it’s not in one already. What does that mean to the residential real estate market?

What is a recession?

According to the National Bureau of Economic Research:

“A recession is a significant decline in economic activity spread across the economy, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales.”

COVID-19 hit the pause button on the American economy in the middle of March. Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, and Morgan Stanley are all calling for a deep dive in the economy in the second quarter of this year. Though we may not yet be in a recession by the technical definition of the word today, most believe history will show we were in one from April to June.

Does that mean we’re headed for another housing crash?

Many fear a recession will mean a repeat of the housing crash that occurred during the Great Recession of 2006-2008. The past, however, shows us that most recessions do not adversely impact home values. Doug Brien, CEO of Mynd Property Management, explains:

“With the exception of two recessions, the Great Recession from 2007-2009, & the Gulf War recession from 1990-1991, no other recessions have impacted the U.S. housing market, according to Freddie Mac Home Price Index data collected from 1975 to 2018.”

CoreLogic, in a second study of the last five recessions, found the same. Here’s a graph of their findings:Recession? Yes. Housing Crash? No. | Simplifying The Market

What are the experts saying this time?

This is what three economic leaders are saying about the housing connection to this recession:

Robert Dietz, Chief Economist with NAHB

“The housing sector enters this recession underbuilt rather than overbuilt…That means as the economy rebounds – which it will at some stage – housing is set to help lead the way out.”

Ali Wolf, Chief Economist with Meyers Research

“Last time housing led the recession…This time it’s poised to bring us out. This is the Great Recession for leisure, hospitality, trade and transportation in that this recession will feel as bad as the Great Recession did to housing.”

John Burns, founder of John Burns Consulting, also revealed that his firm’s research concluded that recessions caused by a pandemic usually do not significantly impact home values:

“Historical analysis showed us that pandemics are usually V-shaped (sharp recessions that recover quickly enough to provide little damage to home prices).”

Bottom Line

If we’re not in a recession yet, we’re about to be in one. This time, however, housing will be the sector that leads the economic recovery.

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What You Can Do to Get Your House Ready to Sell [INFOGRAPHIC]

What You Can Do to Get Your House Ready to Sell | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights:

  • Believe it or not, there are lots of things you can do to prep your house for a sale without even going to the store.
  • Your real estate plans don’t have to be completely on hold even while we’ve hit the pause button on other parts of daily life.
  • Tackling small projects from cleaning the corners you may normally skip to tidying up your yard are easy and necessary wins if you’re thinking of listing your house and making a move.
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Why Home Office Space Is More Desirable Than Ever

For years, we’ve all heard about the most desirable home features buyers are looking for, from upgraded kitchens to remodeled bathrooms, master suites, and more. The latest on the hotlist, however, might surprise you: home offices.

In a recent article by George Ratiu, Senior Economist with realtor.com, he notes how listings with an office are selling quickly:

“As more companies have been embracing remote work, buyers are driving demand for houses with home offices higher. Homes featuring the term ‘office’ are selling 9 days faster than the overall housing inventory.”

Today, more and more people are working remotely, and that’s not just because the current pandemic is prompting businesses to operate virtually. According to the same piece and the most recent data available, the number of employees working at home was fairly steady from 1997 – 2004 but has been climbing ever since (see graph below):Why Home Office Space Is More Desirable Than Ever | Simplifying The MarketClearly, the work-from-home population is growing, and technology is making it possible. Just last month, according to an article on Think Google, searches for telecommuting hit an all-time high, and that’s certainly no surprise given our current situation.

People all over the U.S. are looking for answers on how to be most effective at home, and it’s making the ideal workspace more and more desirable. In fact, best practices from seasoned work-from-home professionals, like Chris Anderson, Senior Account Executive at HousingWire, tout that having a dedicated space is a must for productivity.

With today’s increasing demand for home offices, it’s a great feature to highlight within your listing if you’re selling a house that may meet this growing need. From bright natural light with large windows to built-in bookshelves or a quiet and secluded atmosphere, whatever makes your office space shine is worth mentioning to buyers when you’re ready to list your house.

Ratiu concludes:

“For housing, the continued increase in the share of remote workers implies that demand for homes with offices or dedicated work spaces will continue to increase. The current coronavirus pandemic offers a dramatic indication of the fact that companies and employees will have to develop plans and clearer policies for remote work beyond the current crisis.”

Bottom Line

Remote work may become more widely accepted as this current crisis teaches businesses throughout the country what it takes to function virtually. So, what seems like a business challenge today may be more of the norm tomorrow. With that in mind, if you have a home office, your house may be more desirable to buyers than you think.

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How Technology Is Enabling the Real Estate Process

Today’s everyday reality is pretty different than it looked just a few weeks ago. We’re learning how to do a lot of things in new ways, from how we work remotely to how we engage with our friends and neighbors. Almost everything right now is shifting to a virtual format. One of the big changes we’re adapting to is the revisions to the common real estate transaction, which all vary by state and locality. Technology, however, is making it possible for many of us to continue on the quest for homeownership, an essential need for all.

Here’s a look at some of the elements of the process that are changing (at least in the near-term), due to stay-at-home orders and social distancing, and what you may need to know about each one if you’re thinking of buying or selling a home sooner rather than later.

1. Virtual Consultations – Instead of heading into an office, you can meet with real estate and lending professionals through video chat. Whether it’s your first initial needs analysis as a buyer or your listing appointment as a seller, you can still get the process started remotely and create a plan together. Your trusted advisor is still on your side.

2. Home Searches & Virtual Showings – According to theNational Association of Realtors (NAR), the Internet is one of the three most popular information sources buyers use when searching for homes. Your real estate agent can send you listing information and help you request a virtual showing when you’re ready to start looking. This means you can virtually walk through the homes on your wish list while keeping your family safe. As a seller, you can still have virtual open houses and virtual tours too, so as not to miss those buyers looking to find a home right now.

3. Document Signing – Although this is another area that varies by state, today more portions of the transaction are being done digitally. In many areas, your agent or loan officer can set up an account where you can upload all of the required documents and sign electronically right from your computer.

4. Sending Money – Whether you need to pay for an appraisal or submit closing costs, there are options available. Depending on the transaction and local regulations, you may be able to pay by credit card, and most banks will also allow you to wire funds from your account. Sometimes you can send a check by mail, and in some states, a mobile escrow agent will pick up a check from your home.

5. Closing Process – Again, depending on your area, a mobile notary may be able to bring the required documents to your home before the closing. If your state requires an attorney to be present, check with your legal counsel to see what options are available. Also, depending on the title company, some are allowing drive-thru closings, which is similar to doing a transaction at a bank window.

Although these virtual processes are starting to become more widely accepted, it does not mean that this is the way things are going to get done from now on. Under the current circumstances, however, technology is making it possible to continue much of the real estate transaction today.

Bottom Line

If you need to move today, technology can help make it happen; there are options available. Let’s touch base today to discuss your situation and our local regulations, so you don’t have to put your real estate plans on hold.

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How to Find the Perfect Real Estate Agent

There’s a ton of real estate information available in the news today and on the Internet. It can be extremely confusing, especially in times of uncertainty like we’re facing right now.

If you’re thinking of buying or selling this year, you need an agent who can help you:

  • Make sense of this rapidly evolving housing market
  • Navigate everything from virtual showings to new online marketing strategies
  • Price your home correctly at the beginning of the selling process
  • Determine what to offer on your dream home without paying too much or offending the seller

Dave Ramsey, a financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

Hiring an agent who has a finger on the pulse of the current market will make your buying or selling experience so much easier.

So, how do you identify who truly understands what’s happening right now? How do you know who will take the time to simply and effectively explain what today’s market conditions mean to you and your family?

Check out the agent on social media. What are they posting on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and more? Are they using their social media platforms to share relevant, helpful information, or are they just posting memes and recipes? The best agents are committed to educating the consumer so they can feel confident when buying or selling a home.

Bottom Line

What agents are posting online will help you determine who meets the criteria Dave Ramsey suggested you look for: someone with the heart of a teacher. Let’s connect today, so you can work with a true trusted real estate professional.

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Will Surging Unemployment Crush Home Sales?

Ten million Americans lost their jobs over the last two weeks. The next announced unemployment rate on May 8th is expected to be in the double digits. Because the health crisis brought the economy to a screeching halt, many are feeling a personal financial crisis. James Bullard, President of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, explained that the government is trying to find ways to assist those who have lost their jobs and the companies which were forced to close (think: your neighborhood restaurant). In a recent interview he said:

“This is a planned, organized partial shutdown of the U.S. economy in the second quarter. The overall goal is to keep everyone, households and businesses, whole.”

That’s promising, but we’re still uncertain as to when the recently unemployed will be able to return to work.

Another concern: how badly will the U.S. economy be damaged if people can’t buy homes?

A new concern is whether the high number of unemployed Americans will cause the residential real estate market to crash, putting a greater strain on the economy and leading to even more job losses. The housing industry is a major piece of the overall economy in this country.

Chris Herbert, Managing Director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, in a post titled Responding to the Covid-19 Pandemic, addressed the toll this crisis will have on our nation, explaining:

“Housing is a foundational element of every person’s well-being. And with nearly a fifth of US gross domestic product rooted in housing-related expenditures, it is also critical to the well-being of our broader economy.”

How has the unemployment rate affected home sales in the past?

It’s logical to think there would be a direct correlation between the unemployment rate and home sales: as the unemployment rate went up, home sales would go down, and when the unemployment rate went down, home sales would go up.

However, research reviewing the last thirty years doesn’t show that direct relationship, as noted in the graph below. The blue and grey bars represent home sales, while the yellow line is the unemployment rate. Take a look at numbers 1 through 4:Will Surging Unemployment Crush Home Sales? | Simplifying The Market

  1. The unemployment rate was rising between 1992-1993, yet home sales increased.
  2. The unemployment rate was rising between 2001-2003, and home sales increased.
  3. The unemployment rate was rising between 2007-2010, and home sales significantly decreased.
  4. The unemployment rate was falling continuously between 2015-2019, and home sales remained relatively flat.

The impact of the unemployment rate on home sales doesn’t seem to be as strong as we may have thought.

Isn’t this time different?

Yes. There is no doubt the country hasn’t seen job losses this quickly in almost one hundred years. How bad could it get? Goldman Sachs projects the unemployment rate to be 15% in the third quarter of 2020, flattening to single digits by the fourth quarter of this year, and then just over 6% percent by the fourth quarter of 2021. Not ideal for the housing industry, but manageable.

How does this compare to the other financial crises?

Some believe this is going to be reminiscent of The Great Depression. From the standpoint of unemployment rates alone (the only thing this article addresses), it does not compare. Here are the unemployment rates during the Great Depression, the Great Recession, and the projected rates moving forward:Will Surging Unemployment Crush Home Sales? | Simplifying The Market

Bottom Line

We’ve given you the facts as we know them. The housing market will have challenges this year. However, with the help being given to those who have lost their jobs and the fact that we’re looking at a quick recovery for the economy after we address the health problem, the housing industry should be fine in the long term. Stay safe.

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The Housing Market Is Positioned to Help the Economy Recover [INFOGRAPHIC]

The Housing Market Is Positioned to Help the Economy Recover | Simplifying The Market

Some Highlights

  • Expert insights are painting a bright future for housing when the economy bounces back – and it will.
  • We may be facing challenging economic times today, but the housing market is poised to help the economy recover, not drag it down.
  • Let’s connect to make sure you’re informed and ready when it’s time to make your move.
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Looking to the Future: What the Experts Are Saying

As our lives, our businesses, and the world we live in change day by day, we’re all left wondering how long this will last. How long will we feel the effects of the coronavirus? How deep will the impact go? The human toll may forever change families, but the economic impact will rebound with a cycle of downturn followed by economic expansion like we’ve seen play out in the U.S. economy many times over.

Here’s a look at what leading experts and current research indicate about the economic impact we’ll likely see as a result of the coronavirus. It starts with a forecast of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

According to Investopedia:

“Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the total monetary or market value of all the finished goods and services produced within a country’s borders in a specific time period. As a broad measure of overall domestic production, it functions as a comprehensive scorecard of the country’s economic health.”

When looking at GDP (the measure of our country’s economic health), a survey of three leading financial institutions shows a projected sharp decline followed by a steep rebound in the second half of this year:Looking to the Future: What the Experts Are Saying | Simplifying The MarketA recent study from John Burns Consulting also notes that past pandemics have also created V-Shaped Economic Recoveries like the ones noted above, and they had minimal impact on housing prices. This certainly gives hope and optimism for what is to come as the crisis passes.

With this historical analysis in mind, many business owners are also optimistic for a bright economic return. A recent PricewaterhouseCoopers survey shows this confidence, noting 66% of surveyed business owners feel their companies will return to normal business rhythms within a month of the pandemic passing, and 90% feel they should be back to normal operation 1 to 3 months after:Looking to the Future: What the Experts Are Saying | Simplifying The MarketFrom expert financial institutions to business leaders across the country, we can clearly see that the anticipation of a quick return to normal once the current crisis subsides is not too far away. In essence, this won’t last forever, and we will get back to growth-mode. We’ve got this.

Bottom Line

Lives and businesses are being impacted by the coronavirus, but experts do see a light at the end of the tunnel. As the economy slows down due to the health crisis, we can take guidance and advice from experts that this too will pass.

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The #1 Thing You Can Do Now to Position Yourself to Buy a Home This Year

The last few weeks and months have caused a major health crisis throughout the world, leading to a pause in the U.S. economy as businesses and consumers work to slow the spread of the coronavirus. The rapid spread of the virus has been compared to prior pandemics and outbreaks not seen in many years. It also has consumers remembering the economic slowdown of 2008 that was caused by a housing crash. This economic slowdown, however, is very different from 2008.

One thing the experts are saying is that while we’ll see a swift decline in economic activity in the second quarter, we’ll begin a sharp rebound in the second half of this year. According to John Burns Consulting:

“Historical analysis showed us that pandemics are usually V-shaped (sharp recessions that recover quickly enough to provide little damage to home prices), and some very cutting-edge search engine analysis by our Information Management team showed the current slowdown is playing out similarly thus far.” 

Given this situation, if you’re thinking about buying a home this year, the best thing you can do right now is use this time to get pre-approved for a mortgage, which you can do from the comfort of your home. Pre-approval will help you better understand how much you can afford so that you can confidently do the following two things when you’re ready to buy:

1. Gain a Competitive Advantage

Today’s low inventory, like we’ve seen recently and will continue to see, means homebuyers need every advantage they can get to make a strong offer and close the deal. Being pre-approved shows the sellers you’re serious about buying a home, which is always a plus in your corner.

2. Accelerate the Homebuying Process

Pre-approval can also speed-up the homebuying process so you can move faster when you’re ready to make an offer. Being ready to put your best foot forward when the time comes may be the leg-up you need to cross the finish line first and land the home of your dreams.

Bottom Line

Pre-approval is the best thing you can do right now to be in a stronger position to buy a home when you’re ready. Let’s connect today to get the process started.

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The Economic Impact of Buying a Home

We’re in a changing real estate market, and life, in general, is changing too – from how we grocery shop and meal prep to the ways we can interact with our friends and neighbors. Even practices for engaging with agents, lenders, and all of the players involved in a real estate transaction are changing to a virtual format. What isn’t changing, however, is one key thing that can drive the local economy: buying a home.

We’re all being impacted in different ways by the effects of the coronavirus. If you’re in a position to buy a home today, know that you’re a major economic force in your neighborhood. And while we all wait patiently for the current pandemic to pass, there are a lot of things you can do in the meantime to keep your home search on track.

Every year the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shares a report that notes the full economic impact of home sales. This report summarizes:

“The total economic impact of real estate related industries on the state economy, as well as the expenditures that result from a single home sale, including aspects like home construction costs, real estate brokerage, mortgage lending and title insurance.”

Here’s the breakdown of how the average home sale boosts the economy:The Economic Impact of Buying a Home | Simplifying The MarketWhen you buy a home, you’re making an impact. You’re fulfilling your need for shelter and a place to live, and you’re also generating jobs and income for the appraiser, the loan officer, the title company, the real estate agent, and many more contributors to the process. For every person or business that you work with throughout the transaction, there’s also likely a team behind the scenes making it all happen, so the effort multiplies substantially. As noted above in the circle on the right, the impact is almost double when you purchase new construction, given the extra labor it requires to build the home.

The report also breaks down the average economic impact by state:The Economic Impact of Buying a Home | Simplifying The MarketAs a buyer, you have an essential need for a home – and you can make an essential impact with homeownership, too. That need for shelter, comfort, and a safe place to live will always be alive and well. And whenever you’re able to act on that need, whether now or later, you’ll truly be creating gains for you, your family, local business professionals, and the overall economy.

Bottom Line

Whenever you purchase a home, you’re an economic driver. Even if you’re not ready or able to make a move now, there are things you can do to keep your own process moving forward so you’re set when the time is right for you. Let’s connect to keep your home search – and your local contributions – on track.