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Shot of a mature woman sitting on a bench on her front porch drinking a coffee

Experts Predict Economic Recovery Should Begin in the Second Half of the Year

One of the biggest questions we all seem to be asking these days is: When are we going to start to see an economic recovery? As the country begins to slowly reopen, moving forward in strategic phases, business activity will help bring our nation back to life. Many economists indicate a recovery should begin to happen in the second half of this year. Here’s a look at what some of the experts have to say.

Jerome Powell, Federal Reserve Chairman

“I think there’s a good chance that there’ll be positive growth in the third quarter. And I think it’s a reasonable expectation that there’ll be growth in the second half of the year…

So, in the long run, I would say the U.S. economy will recover. We’ll get back to the place we were in February; we’ll get to an even better place than that. I’m highly confident of that. And it won’t take that long to get there.”

Nonpartisan Analysis for the U.S Congress

“The economy is expected to begin recovering during the second half of 2020 as concerns about the pandemic diminish and as state and local governments ease stay-at-home orders, bans on public gatherings, and other measures. The labor market is projected to materially improve after the third quarter; hiring will rebound and job losses will drop significantly as the degree of social distancing diminishes.”

Neel Kashkari, President, Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank

“I think we need to prepare for a more gradual recovery while we hope for that quicker rebound.”

We’re certainly not out of the woods yet, but clearly many experts anticipate we’ll see a recovery starting this year. It may be a bumpy ride for the next few months, but most agree that a turnaround will begin sooner rather than later.

During the planned shutdown, as the economic slowdown pressed pause on the nation, many potential buyers and sellers put their real estate plans on hold. That time coincided with the traditionally busy spring real estate season. As we look ahead at this economic recovery and we begin to emerge back into our communities over the coming weeks and months, perhaps it’s time to think about putting your real estate plans back into play.

Bottom Line

The experts note a turnaround is on the horizon, starting as early as later this year. If you paused your 2020 real estate plans, let’s connect today to determine how you can re-engage in the process as the country reopens and the economy begins a much-anticipated rebound.

Smiling woman with closed eyes in yoga pose on table at home

Unemployment Report: No Need to Be Terrified

Last Friday, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released its latest jobs report. It revealed that the economic shutdown made necessary by COVID-19 caused the unemployment rate to jump to 14.7%. Many anticipate that next month the percentage could be even higher. These numbers represent the extreme hardship so many families are experiencing right now. That pain should not be understated.

However, the long-term toll the pandemic will cause should not be overstated either. There have been numerous headlines claiming the current disruption in the economy is akin to the Great Depression, and many of those articles are calling for total Armageddon. Some experts are stepping up to refute those claims.

In a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article this past weekend, Josh Zumbrun, a national economics correspondent for the Journal explained:

“News stories often describe the coronavirus-induced global economic downturn as the worst since the Great Depression…the comparison does more to terrify than clarify.”

Zumbrun goes on to explain:

“From 1929 to 1933, the economy shrank for 43 consecutive months, according to contemporaneous estimates. Unemployment climbed to nearly 25% before slowly beginning its descent, but it remained above 10% for an entire decade…This time, many economists believe a rebound could begin this year or early next year.”

Here is a graph comparing current unemployment numbers (actual and projected) to those during the Great Depression:

Unemployment Report: No Need to Be Terrified | MyKCM

Clearly, the two unemployment situations do not compare.

What makes this time so different?

This was not a structural collapse of the economy, but instead a planned shutdown to help mitigate the virus. Once the virus is contained, the economy will immediately begin to recover. This is nothing like what happened in the 1930s. In the same WSJ article mentioned above, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, who has done extensive research on the depression in the 1930s, explained:

“The breakdown of the financial system was a major reason for both the Great Depression and the 2007-09 recession.” He went on to say that today – “the banks are stronger and much better capitalized.”

What about the families and small businesses that are suffering right now?

The nation’s collective heart goes out to all. The BLS report, however, showed that ninety percent of the job losses are temporary. In addition, many are getting help surviving this pause in their employment status. During the Great Depression, there were no government-sponsored unemployment insurance or large government subsidies as there is this time.

Today, many families are receiving unemployment benefits and an additional $600 a week. The stimulus package is helping many companies weather the storm. Is there still pain? Of course. The assistance, however, is providing much relief until most can go back to work.

Bottom Line

We should look at the current situation for what it is – a predetermined pause placed on the economy. The country will recover once the pandemic ends. Comparisons to any other downturn make little sense. Bernanke put it best:

“I don’t find comparing the current downturn with the Great Depression to be very helpful. The expected duration is much less, and the causes are very different.”

Green and red arrow signs pointing in up and down direction. Buy and Sell Concept.

Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020?

With the housing market staggered to some degree by the health crisis the country is currently facing, some potential purchasers are questioning whether home values will be impacted. The price of any item is determined by supply as well as the market’s demand for that item.

Each month the National Association of Realtors (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for the REALTORS Confidence Index.

Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand) during this pandemic.

Buyer Demand

The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020? | MyKCMThe darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes is in that area. The survey shows that in 34 of the 50 U.S. states, buyer demand is now ‘strong’ and 16 of the 50 states have a ‘stable’ demand.

Seller Supply

The index also asks: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020? | MyKCMAs the map above indicates, 46 states and Washington, D.C. reported ‘weak’ seller traffic, 3 states reported ‘stable’ seller traffic, and 1 state reported ‘strong’ seller traffic. This means there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the needs of buyers looking for homes right now.

With demand still stronger than supply, home values should not depreciate.

What are the experts saying?

Here are the thoughts of three industry experts on the subject:

Ivy Zelman:

“We note that inventory as a percent of households sits at the lowest level ever, something we believe will limit the overall degree of home price pressure through the year.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American:

“Housing supply remains at historically low levels, so house price growth is likely to slow, but it’s not likely to go negative.”

Freddie Mac:

“Two forces prevent a collapse in house prices. First, as we indicated in our earlier research report, U.S. housing markets face a large supply deficit. Second, population growth and pent up household formations provide a tailwind to housing demand.”

Bottom Line

Looking at these maps and listening to the experts, it seems that prices will remain stable throughout 2020. If you’re thinking about listing your home, let’s connect to discuss how you can capitalize on the somewhat surprising demand in the market now.

Photo taken in München, Germany

Why Home Equity Is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market

Given how we have seen more unemployment claims than ever before over the past several weeks, fear is spreading widely. Some good news, however, shows that more than 4 million initial unemployment filers have likely already found a new job, especially as industries such as health care, food, and grocery stores, retail, delivery, and more increase their employment opportunities. Breaking down what unemployment means for homeownership, and understanding the significant equity Americans hold today, are important parts of seeing the picture clearly when sorting through this uncertainty.

One of the biggest questions right now is whether this historic unemployment rate will initiate a new surge of foreclosures in the market. It’s a very real fear. Despite the staggering number of claims, there are actually many reasons why we won’t see a significant number of foreclosures like we did during the housing crash twelve years ago. The amount of equity homeowners have today is a leading differentiator in the current market.

Today, according to John Burns Consulting58.7% of homes in the U.S. have at least 60% equity. That number is drastically different than it was in 2008 when the housing bubble burst. The last recession was painful, and when prices dipped, many found themselves owing more on their mortgage than what their homes were worth. Homeowners simply walked away at that point. Now, 42.1% of all homes in this country are mortgage-free, meaning they’re owned free and clear. Those homes are not at risk for foreclosure (see graph below):Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | MyKCM

In addition, CoreLogic notes the average equity mortgaged homes have today is $177,000. That’s a significant amount that homeowners won’t be stepping away from, even in today’s economy (see chart below):Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | MyKCM

In essence, the amount of equity homeowners have today positions them to be in a much better place than they were in 2008.

Bottom Line 

The fear and uncertainty we feel right now are very real, and this is not going to be easy. We can, however, see strength in our current market through homeowner equity that was not been there in the past. That may be a bright spark to help us make it through.

Shot of a young couple giving each other a high five while moving house

U.S. Home Ownership Rate Rises to Highest Point in 8 Years

For nearly two months, most of us have been following strict stay-at-home orders from our state and local governments. It is a whole new way of life that has put our daily lives on pause. On the other hand, many of us have also found a sense of comfort by slowing down and spending time at home, highlighting the feeling of security that comes with having a much-needed safe place for our families to live.

The latest results of the Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS) provided by the U.S. Census Bureau shows how Americans place immense value in homeownership, and it is continuing to grow in the United States. The results indicate that the homeownership rate increased to 65.3% for the first quarter of 2020, a number that has been rising since 2016 and is the highest we’ve seen in eight years (see graph below):U.S. Homeownership Rate Rises to Highest Point in 8 Years | MyKCMWhy is the rate increasing? The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) explained:

“Strong owner household formation with around 2.7 million homeowners added in the first quarter has driven up the homeownership rate, especially under the decreasing mortgage interest rates and strong new home sales and existing home sales in the first two months before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the economy.”

The NAHB also emphasizes the year-over-year increase in each generational group:

“The homeownership rates among all age groups increased in the first quarter 2020. Households under 35, mostly first-time homebuyers, registered the largest gains, with the homeownership rate up 1.9 percentage points from a year ago. Households ages 35-44 experienced a 1.2 percentage points gain, followed by the 55-64 age group (a 0.9 percentage point increase), the 45-54 age group (a 0.8 percentage point gain), and the 65+ group age (up by 0.2 percentage point).” (See chart below):

U.S. Homeownership Rate Rises to Highest Point in 8 Years | MyKCMHomeownership is an important part of the American dream, especially in moments like this when many are feeling incredibly grateful for the home they have to shelter in place with their families. COVID-19 may be slowing our lives down, but it is showing us the emotional value of homeownership too.

Bottom Line

If you’re considering buying a home this year, let’s connect to set a plan that will help you get one step closer to achieving your dream.

House and key on blue background. Minimal creative style.

Keys to Selling Your House Virtually

In a recent survey by realtor.com, people thinking about selling their homes indicated they’re generally willing to allow their agent and some potential buyers inside if done under the right conditions. They’re less comfortable, however, hosting an open house. This is understandable, given the health concerns associated with social contact these days. The question is, if you need to sell your house now, what virtual practices should you use to make sure you, your family, and potential buyers stay safe in the process?

In today’s rapidly changing market, it’s more important than ever to make sure you have a digital game plan and an effective online marketing strategy when selling your house. One of the ways your agent can help with this is to make sure your listing photos and virtual tours stand out from the crowd, truly giving buyers a detailed and thorough view of your home.

So, if you’re ready to move forward, virtual practices may help you win big when you’re ready to sell. While abiding by state and local regulations is a top priority, a real estate agent can help make your sale happen. Agents know exactly what today’s buyers need, and how to put the necessary digital steps in place. For example, according to the same survey, when asked to select what technology would be most helpful when deciding on a new home, here’s what today’s homebuyers said, in order of preference:

  • Virtual tour of the home
  • Accurate and detailed listing information
  • Detailed neighborhood information
  • High-quality listing photos
  • Agent-led video chat

After leveraging technology, if you have serious buyers who still want to see your house in person, keep in mind that according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), there are ways to proceed safely. Here are a few of the guidelines, understanding that the top priority should always be to obey state and local restrictions first:

  • Limit in-person activity
  • Require guests to wash their hands or use an alcohol-based sanitizer
  • Remove shoes or cover with booties
  • Follow CDC guidance on social distancing and wearing face coverings

Getting comfortable with your agent – a true trusted advisor – taking these steps under the new safety standards might be your best plan. This is especially important if you’re in a position where you need to sell your house sooner rather than later.

Nate Johnson, CMO at realtor.com ® notes:

“As real estate agents and consumers seek out ways to safely complete these transactions, we believe that technology will become an even more imperative part of how we search for, buy and sell homes moving forward.”

It sounds like some of these new practices might be here to stay.

Bottom Line

In a new era of life, things are shifting quickly, and virtual strategies for sellers may be a great option. Opening your doors up to digital approaches may be game-changing when it comes to selling your house. Let’s connect so you have a trusted real estate professional to help you safely and effectively navigate through all that’s new when it comes to making your next move.

Journalist photography of San Diego, CA. During stay at home order, COVID-19 pandemic. Empty streets and beaches , beach parking lots closed, restaurants closed and only serving take out, police patrolling the area. March 2020

Will This Economic Crisis Have a V, U, or L-Shaped Recovery?

Many American businesses have been put on hold as the country deals with the worst pandemic in over one hundred years. As the states are deciding on the best strategy to slowly and safely reopen, the big question is: how long will it take the economy to fully recover?

Let’s look at the possibilities. Here are the three types of recoveries that follow most economic slowdowns (the definitions are from the financial glossary at Market Business News):

  • V-shaped recovery: an economic period in which the economy experiences a sharp decline. However, it is also a brief period of decline. There is a clear bottom (called a trough by economists) which does not last long. Then there is a strong recovery.
  • U-shaped recovery: when the decline is more gradual, i.e., less severe. The recovery that follows starts off moderately and then picks up speed. The recovery could last 12-24 months.
  • L-shaped recovery: a steep economic decline followed by a long period with no growth. When an economy is in an L-shaped recovery, getting back to where it was before the decline will take years.

What type of recovery will we see this time?

No one can answer this question with one hundred percent certainty. However, most top financial services firms are calling for a V-shaped recovery. Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo Securities, and JP Morgan have all recently come out with projections that call for GDP to take a deep dive in the first half of the year but have a strong comeback in the second half.Will This Economic Crisis Have a V, U, or L-Shaped Recovery? | MyKCM

Is there any research on recovery following a pandemic?

There have been two extensive studies done that look at how an economy has recovered from a pandemic in the past. Here are the conclusions they reached:

1. 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.”

2. Harvard Business Review:

“It’s worth looking back at history to place the potential impact path of Covid-19 empirically. In fact, V-shapes monopolize the empirical landscape of prior shocks, including epidemics such as SARS, the 1968 H3N2 (“Hong Kong”) flu, 1958 H2N2 (“Asian”) flu, and 1918 Spanish flu.”

The research says we should experience a V-shaped recovery.

Does everyone agree it will be a ‘V’?

No. Some are concerned that, even when businesses are fully operational, the American public may be reluctant to jump right back in.

As Market Business News explains:

“In a typical V-shaped recovery, there is a huge shift in economic activity after the downturn and the trough. Growing consumer demand and spending drive the massive shift in economic activity.”

If consumer demand and spending do not come back as quickly as most expect it will, we may be heading for a U-shaped recovery.

In a message last Thursday, Chris Hyzy, Chief Investment Officer for Merrill and Bank of America Private Bank, agrees with other analysts who are expecting a resurgence in the economy later this year:

“We’re forecasting real economic growth of 30% for the U.S. in the 4th quarter of this year and 6.1% in 2021.”

His projection, however, calls for a U-shaped recovery based on concerns that consumers may not rush back in:

“After the steep plunge and bottoming out, a ‘U-shaped’ recovery should begin as consumer confidence slowly returns.”

Bottom Line

The research indicates the recovery will be V-shaped, and most analysts agree. However, no one knows for sure how quickly Americans will get back to “normal” life. We will have to wait and see as the situation unfolds.

African American woman working in home office

Uncertainty Abounds in the Search for Economic Recovery Timetable

Earlier this week, we discussed how most projections from financial institutions are calling for a quick V-shaped recovery from this economic downturn, and there’s research on previous post-pandemic recoveries to support that expectation.

In addition, we noted how there are some in the business community who believe we may instead be headed for a U-shaped recovery, where the return to previous levels of economic success won’t occur until the middle of next year. Yesterday, Reuters released a poll of U.S. and European economists which revealed that most surveyed are now leaning more toward a U-shaped recovery.

Here are the results of that poll:Uncertainty Abounds in the Search for Economic Recovery Timetable | MyKCM

Why the disparity in thinking among different groups of economic experts?

The current situation makes it extremely difficult to project the future of the economy. Analysts normally look at economic data and compare it to previous slowdowns to create their projections. This situation, however, is anything but normal.

Today, analysts must incorporate data from three different sciences into their recovery equation:

1. Business Science – How has the economy rebounded from similar slowdowns in the past?

2. Health Science – When will COVID-19 be under control? Will there be another flareup of the virus this fall?

3. Social Science – After businesses are fully operational, how long will it take American consumers to return to normal consumption patterns? (Ex: going to the movies, attending a sporting event, or flying).

The challenge of accurately combining the three sciences into a single projection has created uncertainty, and it has led to a wide range of opinions on the timing of the recovery.

Bottom Line

Right now, the vast majority of economists and analysts believe a full recovery will take anywhere from 6-18 months. No one truly knows the exact timetable, but it will be coming.

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Today’s Homebuyers Want Lower Prices. Sellers Disagree.

The uncertainty the world faces today due to the COVID-19 pandemic is causing so many things to change. The way we interact, the way we do business, even the way we buy and sell real estate is changing. This is a moment in time that’s even sparking some buyers to search for a better deal on a home. Sellers, however, aren’t offering a discount these days; they’re holding steady on price.

According to the most recent NAR Flash Survey (a survey of real estate agents from across the country), agents were asked the following two questions:

1. “Have any of your sellers recently reduced their price to attract buyers?”

Their answer: 72% said their sellers have not lowered prices to attract buyers during this health crisis. 

2. “Are home buyers expecting lower prices now?”

Their answer: 63% of agents said their buyers were looking for a price reduction of at least 5%.Today’s Homebuyers Want Lower Prices. Sellers Disagree. | MyKCM

What We Do Know  

In today’s market, with everything changing and ongoing questions around when the economy will bounce back, it’s interesting to note that some buyers see this time as an opportunity to win big in the housing market. On the other hand, sellers are much more confident that they will not need to reduce their prices in order to sell their homes. Clearly, there are two different perspectives at play.

Bottom Line

If you’re a buyer in today’s market, you might not see many sellers lowering their prices. If you’re a seller and don’t want to lower your price, you’re not alone. If you have questions on how to price your home, let’s connect today to discuss your real estate needs and next steps.

Cropped shot of a businesswoman using a digital tablet with graphs on it in a modern office

Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again.

With all of the unanswered questions caused by COVID-19 and the economic slowdown we’re experiencing across the country today, many are asking if the housing market is in trouble. For those who remember 2008, it’s logical to ask that question.

Many of us experienced financial hardships, lost homes, and were out of work during the Great Recession – the recession that started with a housing and mortgage crisis. Today, we face a very different challenge: an external health crisis that has caused a pause in much of the economy and a major shutdown of many parts of the country.

Let’s look at five things we know about today’s housing market that were different in 2008.

1. Appreciation

When we look at appreciation in the visual below, there’s a big difference between the 6 years prior to the housing crash and the most recent 6-year period of time. Leading up to the crash, we had much higher appreciation in this country than we see today. In fact, the highest level of appreciation most recently is below the lowest level we saw leading up to the crash. Prices have been rising lately, but not at the rate they were climbing back when we had runaway appreciation.Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | MyKCM

2. Mortgage Credit

The Mortgage Credit Availability Index is a monthly measure by the Mortgage Bankers Association that gauges the level of difficulty to secure a loan. The higher the index, the easier it is to get a loan; the lower the index, the harder. Today we’re nowhere near the levels seen before the housing crash when it was very easy to get approved for a mortgage. After the crash, however, lending standards tightened and have remained that way leading up to today.Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | MyKCM

3. Number of Homes for Sale

One of the causes of the housing crash in 2008 was an oversupply of homes for sale. Today, as shown in the next image, we see a much different picture. We don’t have enough homes on the market for the number of people who want to buy them. Across the country, we have less than 6 months of inventory, an undersupply of homes available for interested buyers.Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | MyKCM

4. Use of Home Equity

The chart below shows the difference in how people are accessing the equity in their homes today as compared to 2008. In 2008, consumers were harvesting equity from their homes (through cash-out refinances) and using it to finance their lifestyles. Today, consumers are treating the equity in their homes much more cautiously.Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | MyKCM

5. Home Equity Today

Today, 53.8% of homes across the country have at least 50% equity. In 2008, homeowners walked away when they owed more than what their homes were worth. With the equity homeowners have now, they’re much less likely to walk away from their homes.Think This Is a Housing Crisis? Think Again. | MyKCM

Bottom Line

The COVID-19 crisis is causing different challenges across the country than the ones we faced in 2008. Back then, we had a housing crisis; today, we face a health crisis. What we know now is that housing is in a much stronger position today than it was in 2008. It is no longer the center of the economic slowdown. Rather, it could be just what helps pull us out of the downturn.