MARKET REPORT: April 2021

 

With the highest medium and average sales prices that we have seen in over a year and  inventory weighing in at record lows, April 2021 rang in an unprecedented time in real estate. A surefire indicator of market conditions, 6-9 months of inventory is considered a balanced market. Under 6 makes for a Seller’s market, and over 6, a Buyer’s market. The average inventory in Florida today across all price points is 1.8. That’s right, a mere 1.8! Never fear, however, hope isn’t lost for the motivated buyer in Florida.

Whether you’re a buyer or seller, this market calls for strategy. To approach real estate with a recipe for success, you must account for the ingredients at hand.

Here’s the bread and butter of it: cash sales are up significantly in Palm Beach County, according to the April 2021 Florida Realtors report. It’s important to remember “cash sales” doesn’t always mean green: but instead, that the transaction was not contingent upon financing.

 So, for our seller’s out there: you’ve got high probabilities of a cash offer coming your way. Now, does this mean you shouldn’t accept a finance offer? Not in the least! It means that Sellers are empowered to “demand” certain elements should you accept a mortgage. Such as a quicker loan commitment— meaning the contingency for finance ends faster (including appraisal and loan conditions). You can also weigh your options on whether to allow an appraisal contingency— for the right buyer, omitting this step may suit just fine, and the finance offer can move forward.

As for buyers? It’ll be key to keep in mind that you’re competing against cash offers— so offers need to be written aggressively, and with the least amount of contingencies. That said, it’s important to ensure you’re protected as well; and in that, a good agent will make all the difference.

Now factors aren’t the same across all price points. April’s market sweet spot is the $400-599k price point. In this turf, homes are selling in a stunning 8 days. That, compared to the 1,000,000 plus market, which is an average of 27 days to contract. So if you’re selling a home at $500,000, your price is right, the place is properly staged, and sports curb appeal? Well, you’d better start packing!

Buyers—I’m sure you’ve read your fair share of stories on scarcity, that homes just can’t be found. We’re here to tell you that they absolutely can! Simply put, you’ll need three tricks to compete in this market: an aggressive offer, the preparation to write it quickly, and a partnership with the right agent who has your back and your interests in mind.

Sellers— are you scared to sell because you haven’t yet pinned down where you’ll go next? Not to worry, we have a plan for that. Let’s partner up to sell your home and gain you the most we can, while holding space for a strategy that allows you time to find the right home for your needs. It’s a Seller’s market out there, and you’re in the driver’s seat for both your sale AND your purchase. Sit down with Noreen and I of the All About Florida Homes team of Lang Realty, and we’ll put the priorities of you and your family front and center to build you a strategy that feels the perfect fit.

 

February’s Market Report

The other day, two new listings went live.  In a normal market, we’d chalk this up to a delightful day. Instead, yesterday quickly became a deluge of frantic calls from buyer’s agents and consumers, all desperate for an opportunity to view and offer on these listings. Within hours of going on the market, we saw over 100 showing requests and multiple offers on both properties. This has taken shape as the new normal for us in South Florida. Inventory has been so scarce that when a new listing, especially a single family home, comes on and is priced right, it goes in the blink of an eye.

As more people manage to get their COVID-19 vaccinations, we fully expect an increase in the frequency of new listings, which spells good news for prospective home buyers in search of a new place.

That said, we’re seeing an uptick in the numbers of buyers out there, with the influx of people looking for second homes, or to relocate to South Florida away from the crowded cities and cold weather. With these market trends in mind, it’s essential that buyers are fully prepared to make an offer, and that their Realtors are strategic and well equipped to work in a multiple offer scenario. In this landscape, helping a buyer stand out is one of our most important responsibilities. Communication is key, and price isn’t the only answer to coming out on top in a multiple offer situation.

The January market report found us with some very interesting, insightful statistics.

If you’re a faithful reader of our market reports, you might remember that last January the market was busy— we had months of inventory; but comparing January 2020 to January 2021 for Palm Beach County tells quite the story

Inventory is 3 months up to $600,000— half of where it was just one year ago. The reason for this is the frenzy that occurs when a new listing goes live. The $1,000,000 price point, a highly sought after market in South Florida, has gone from 19 months of inventory (a ridiculously strong Buyers market) to a balanced market of 9 months; but these, too, are coming and going fast!  This reduction of inventory we’re seeing is a result of sellers going off-market due to the pandemic, and out of state buyers venturing in, in addition to our traditional local buyers.

Even with the reduced inventory, our dollar volume is up from $667 million to $979 million. Both the average and the median sales price in Palm Beach county are up as well, with the average weighing in at nearly $850K— a reflection of higher priced homes going under contract. This hardly comes as a surprise, what with the reduction in inventory from 19 months to 9 months in just a single year.

With low interest rates, you might expect to find cash sales trending down; but they too are up from this time last year. Why, you might ask? Simple— in multiple offer scenarios, cash is king. These offers are typically desirable over their competition. I would suspect that, with this in mind, many buyers are often paying cash and then turning around after closing to do a cash-out refinance.

It’s an interesting time in the world to say the least, and a particularly interesting time for real estate. In Palm Beach County, we’re fortunate to be at the heart of such a sought after area. So sellers, if you’re considering selling? I can say with great confidence that now’s the time!

September Saw a Hot Market for Buyers and Sellers!

So much has changed in our world since last year— so much has changed within the Palm Beach County Real Estate Market, too. With our low inventory in PBC, the low interest rate for financing, and less and less people willing to wait on finding their dream home, the market landscape is almost antithetical to last year’s.

The time to contract and time to close is down by almost 50% and 25% respectively, showing just how decisive buyers need to be when home shopping— as options are quickly flying off the shelves! Our median sales price is up to $400,000 and average sales price is up to $656,309, as higher priced homes drive up the numbers. With such low interest rates, you might expect that most would would finance to take advantage of these historically affordable rates, but with home shopping being so competitive and cash-purchase providing a clear advantage in many cases, we’re now seeing a much higher percentage of cash closings— an almost 35% increase over the same time last year.

 

The market from $300,000 up to $999,999 is a sellers market.. So, sellers— be strategic on your pricing! Look at closed sales as a true benchmark, adjust accounting for low inventory, and place strategically, keeping your competition in mind. Buyers— this is not a market moment for “ifs” or casual looking; this is a moment for getting your ducks in a row and, upon finding the perfect home, getting that offer written and out there ASAP!

A market over $1,000,000 is a balanced market— so strategic pricing, curb appeal, and staging will be your greatest allies. There’s competition in this scenario, but not as much as there once was due to lowering inventories in Palm Beach County.

As realtors, we have an essential job to do for both our buyers and sellers in this fast moving market. In addition to readying a home for sale, we must work with our seller to determine which offer is the right contract for them. It’s not always simply a matter of price— the terms do matter. The strength of the buyer matters, and the relationship and teamwork with the buyer’s agent matter.

For our buyers, we aim to work with you to ensure you’re ready to buy when the opportunity strikes. This type of preparation tends to involve proof of funds or lender pre-approval— and not just the piece of paper that states you’re eligible for a loan, but the phase of the process that finds the lender comfortable talking to the listing agent and providing confidence in the qualifications of You, the buyer.

Representing a buyer in a multiple offer situation is always a challenge, but never an insurmountable one. It’s not simply the best or highest price that wins— it can be a matter of heart and care, too. We, as the agent team, need to demonstrate to the listing agent that we’re versed in what we’re doing and are prepared to get all of our clients to the closing table. One of the ways we accomplish this and get our buyers all the way, is by encouraging them to write a personal letter to the seller. Something to humanize the process— so that, when it comes down to decisions by the seller, it isn’t just another offer in the stack, it’s a piece of you and your story.

This month, we’ve seen a fast moving market, much competition, no shortages of offers, and homes going under contract after mere hours on the market. While this is excellent news for the economy, it can be a challenge for the individual buying or selling. So, choosing the right partner for the job is essential. We, Noreen Payne and Amy Snook of the All About Florida Homes Team of Lang Realty, are here to tackle the next step with you when you’re ready.

 

July’s Market Report!

It is a fact that there is a serious shortage of single family homes listed in Palm Beach County. In my many years in this industry I don’t recall ever seeing this strong of a seller’s market . If you will recall in months past, I shared with you that one way we evaluate a market is based upon inventory (or as some people call it consumption), further than 6-9 months of Inventory is considered a balanced market, under 6 is a Sellers Market and Over 9 is a Buyers market. When analyzing various market segments, we were amazed to see just how low the number of months of inventory actually is in Palm Beach County

Sales Price
$300 – $400,000    2 Months of Inventory   Seller’s Market
$400 – $599,000   3 Months of Inventory   Seller’s Market
$600 – $999,999   5 Months of Inventory   Seller’s Market
$1,000,000 +         7 Months of Inventory     Balanced Market

As we’ve recently shared, we started 2020 with over 19 months of inventory in the $1,000,000+ market.

To clarify, the above is specific for Palm Beach County and we should also state that we do see pockets of communities that tell a different story as some communities have stricter Covid showing requirements and certain buyer populations are not seeing homes in person due to Covid either.

What is absolutely amazing that if August results are as strong as July (which we fully expect them to be), then it is probable that we will be trending ahead of last years numbers. Low interest rates coupled with low inventory are making for the perfect storm to bring in a buyers frenzy on many homes.

July provided the highest number of new listings since before our shut down but as you can see above, we still need more inventory in our market.

Buyers are able to buy more home due to the interest rate – unfortunately (or fortunately for the sellers) the buyers you are competing for are also in the same position and currently we have more buyers than sellers.

So Seller’s; is this a good time to sell? Yes! This is the perfect time to get on market and sell your home – in fact, Palm Beach County could really use your home on the market as buyers need more options.

 

April 2020 Market Report!

In our last market report, we shared that the effects of Covid 19 would be evident in the April results and as forecasted the drop was drastic. Closed statistics in Palm Beach County are down 30% year over year, new pending sales dropped 54.6% and new listings are down almost 40%.

However, Believe it or not, there IS good news.

As fast as we dropped, we are already in midst of a recovery – yes, that quickly. It is being referred to as a V-shaped Economic rebound – a quick drop and a quick rebound.

Over the past six weeks the market has been showing tremendous gains – Florida Realtors even reports that the activity and results are now back to early March levels which was a “hot” market. Listings (if priced right) are coming back on and selling as quickly as they come on due to low inventory. If you are even considering selling your home, now IS the time. Stage, Price it Right, Market it properly and get ready for activity – of course, as we have shared over the past few months – ensure that your photos allow clients to truly understand the home’s layout or include a 360 walk through.

So the market has quickly rebounded but does this mean things are all back to normal?

Frankly, it is simply too soon to know. The loss of jobs, the impact of borrowers ability to obtain loans as a result, tightening credit requirements, and the impact of forbearance agreements on future loans all may and most likely will impact the market – The recovery of the economy and the job market is critical to our country and to the real estate market.

A lot can happen over the next 30 days and as workers go back to work and communities open up we are optimistic and excited to see the May results in a few weeks!

– Amy & Noreen

Market Report Through 3/31/2020

    While we analyze the market monthly and provide a report, this one is different and it is so essential that we all understand what is happening to the real estate market, as a result of Covid-19, so that we,together, can make educated decisions.

   There is little doubt that Covid-19 and the shut down have impacted our Palm Beach County Real Estate but in what way and what to expect I believe will surprise most consumers.    

    The first quarter results are in and as many of you know, we were trending for a great year with year over year results showing improvements from last year – and March results showed the same improvement of Closed Sales, Median and Average Sales Prices up year over year. That may surprise many people but know that closed sales in March are a result of contracts from earlier in the year – Pre-Shutdown.   March closed sales while up from February are at a much lower rate of growth from earlier in the year – so while they were closing, there were a percentage that simply did not close due to the uncertainty surrounding Covid-19, the financial impact, etc. The months of inventory over $1,000,000 is down to 13 months and if you will recall was almost 19 months just a few months ago.  Did homes sell?  Certainly but also we saw homes come off the market.     $600,000 to $999,999 is a balanced market but 300,000 to $599,000 is now a sellers’ market.    We do expect, of course, the April numbers to really reflect the effects of all that has been happening in our world.  These numbers will be out in just two weeks.

    This brings me to an important point of this 1st Quarter analysis and what to expect, in my humble opinion, moving forward.  We have clients and prospects calling and asking is now the time to buy?  Is now the time to sell?  What drives the real estate market – two major factors are interest rates and inventory.    For now the federal reserve is doing a good job keeping the interest rates low – while they are bouncing a bit – they are still very attractive for a new loan.  Inventory overall is low – regardless of the price point and what happens when inventory is low?  You will find the listing and sales prices are higher –

     We are having to get creative in how we show property, we are capitalizing on all technological opportunities for listings from the photography to the 360 virtual tours – “showing” the home without having to physically show the home to every potential interested party.  We are all operating efficiently and effectively and as a result homes are selling.  In fact to homes that we listed in the past 30 days were under contract within days of being listed and at or close to list price!   

    So while we are living in these uncertain, scary times – it is essential that our economy recover – for all of our sakes and to be able to share with you all that homes are being listed, that home are selling and that our market is start to once again move is wonderful news that I am honored to share! 

Amy

 

COVID-19 Personal Financial FAQ’s for Homebuyer’s

1. My company’s offices are closed, and I am having a hard time providing my final verification of employment within the 10 days prior to loan closing.

FHA and RHS are allowing verbal verification of employment. Specifically, your employer can provide this by phone. RHS is also allowing email verification. If you cannot get either of these, the lender will require higher reserves to cover risk. 

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will allow verbal verification when available and an email verification under certain conditions. They have also made other forms of temporary verification available in order to help with verification while social distancing

2.My lender indicated that the IRS has shut down and they cannot process loans without an income verification document that only the IRS can generate. Is this true?

Luckily, there is precedence for an IRS shutdown based on several recent government shutdowns. Some lenders may require this document, but Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and FHA do not so this is a lender overlay.

Fannie and Freddie both issued guidance in January 2019 following the previous government shutdown to note that they do not require the 4506T IRS tax transcripts at closing. Rather, they only require a request for the document be signed by the borrower. However, they do require the tax transcript be submitted as part of their post-closing review. NAR has asked both Fannie and Freddie to clarify and publish updated guidance given the unique challenges posed by COVID-19.

Furthermore, the IRS reopened this facility during the shutdown as it was deemed essential. We have reached out to the IRS on this point.

  1. I have heard that the FHA, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac have raised rates and fees on borrowers with lower credit scores or smaller down payments?

    These claims are not true. To date, neither the FHA nor Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have made any changes to credit scoring or down payment requirements. The only change they have made for borrowers is to allow MORE flexibility in how a lender can verify employment.

    However, some individual lenders are adding their own, higher standards on these products. The rational is that the cost of servicing these loans has surged due to the widespread forbearance that is taxing servicers’ resources. Under forbearance, the servicer must continue to pay PITI to the investor, but the sheer volume of forbearance to deal with the COVID-19 response is unprecedented. Since lower-credit borrowers are more likely to take forbearance and servicing is harder to get, lenders are less willing to extend this credit regardless of the FHA or GSEs’ standards.

    NAR sent a letter to the Treasury, Federal Reserve, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency requesting help for servicers dealing with the unprecedented demands on funds due to broad forbearance requests. Improving servicing is one key to improving the flow of funds to borrowers and homeowners.

    Ginnie Mae has announced the creation of a new program, that should help alleviate lender concerns and improve access to mortgage financing. The program will provide cover for lenders by advancing them the money so they can make the required pass- through payments to investors during the forbearance period.

30-Year Mortgage Rate Drops Again, Down to 3.33%

“Rates dropped for the second week in a row due to “improvements in market liquidity and sentiment,” says Freddie Mac economist.” – FloridaRealtors.org

MCLEAN, Va. – Freddie Mac’s Primary Mortgage Market Survey for this week found declines for the second week in a row.

This week, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.33%, which is down from last week’s 3.5%. It averaged a 0.7 point for this week; a year ago, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.08%.

“Mortgage rates have drifted down for two weeks in a row and that drop reflects improvements in market liquidity and sentiment,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist.

Khater says the “market has stabilized relative to prior weeks (and) homebuyer demand has declined in response to current economic conditions. The good news is that the pending economic stimulus is on the way and will provide support for both consumers and businesses.”

The 15-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 2.82% with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.92%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.56%.

Adjustable-rate mortgages (5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid ARM)) averaged 3.40% with an average 0.3 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.34%. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.66 percent.

© 2020 Florida Realtors® (All Credit to FloridaRealtors.org for this article)

 

Fed Slashes Interest Rates Near Zero, Eases Lending Rules- Florida Realtors

“In addition to a full-percent interest rate cut, the Fed will take other stimulus steps, saying COVID-19 “weighs on economic activity and poses (economic) risks.” The move should benefit adjustable rate mortgages, credit cards and other short-term loans.”

“The Federal Reserve took emergency action Sunday and slashed its benchmark interest rate by a full percentage point to nearly zero (0% to 1/4%) and announced it would purchase more Treasury securities to encourage lending to try to offset the impact of the coronavirus outbreak. The central bank said the effects of the outbreak will weigh on economic activity in the near term and pose risks to the economic outlook. The central bank said it will keep rates at nearly zero until it feels confident the economy has weathered recent events.

The Fed also said it will purchase $500 billion of Treasury securities and $200 billion of mortgage-backed securities to smooth over market disruptions that have made it hard for banks and large investors to sell Treasuries.”

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