The Real Estate News Brief: New Foreclosure Bidding Rules, What's a "Normal" Market?, & Renters Who Will Rent Forever
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In this Real Estate News Brief for the week ending September 4th, 2021... new FHFA rules on the foreclosure bidding process, the for-sale homes needed for a “normal” market, and the renters who don’t think they will ever be homeowners.
Hi, I'm Kathy Fettke and this is Real Estate News for Investors. If you like our podcast, please subscribe and leave us a review.
We begin with economic news from this past week. The number of people applying for unemployment has dropped again. The Department of Labor reported that 340,000 people filed for state claims last week. That’s a decline of 14,000 from the week before and the lowest it’s been since the start of the pandemic. Continuing claims are also down, to a total of 2.75 million, and the total for all 8 state and federal programs is 12.2 million. That’s down from 30 million at the peak of the pandemic. (1)
More disappointing is the August report on hiring. The Wall Street Journal had estimated an additional 720,000 jobs, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a disappointing 235,000 new jobs. That’s the lowest number we’ve seen in more than a half a year. Job growth suffered the biggest decline in the retail sector. New government jobs were also down, along with jobs in the construction industry. The official unemployment rate is currently 5.2%, but of course that doesn’t include people who are not looking for a job. (2)
Meanwhile, home prices recorded a third month of record-high price growth. The latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index is up 18.6% in June, on an annual basis. The 20-city index is ever higher, at 19.1%. S&P DJI investing strategist Craig Lazzara says the data is consistent with the hypothesis that the pandemic drove buyers from urban areas to the suburbs. (3)
Pending home sales dipped a little in July. The National Association of Realtors says they were down 1.8%. MarketWatch economists had expected a slight increase. NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun says: “The market may be starting to cool slightly, but at the moment there is not enough supply to match the demand.” (4)
Consumers are also feeling more anxious about the economy. The Conference Board says that consumer confidence fell to a six-month low of 113.8 in August. The worry list includes inflation and the spread of the Delta variant, although there’s some evidence that Covid caseloads have peaked in some of the hardest hit areas. (5)
Mortgage rates are holding steady. Freddie Mac says the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage stayed the same this last week at 2.87%. The 15-year was up one basis point to 2.18%. (6)
In other news making headlines…
New Rules on Foreclosure Bidding Process
Owner-occupants are getting more time to buy foreclosures before investors are allowed to big on them. The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced that it is extending the amount of time that owners have to view and buy foreclosures from 20 days to 30 days. It’s part of the First Look Program first launched in 2009 to help promote owner occupancy and stabilize neighborhoods.
The FHFA’s acting director, Sandra Thompson says: “Extending the amount of time owner-occupants have to bid on an REO property, without competition, is especially important for neighborhood preservation while the supply of homes for sale is severely limited.”
Housing Gap is 1.5 Homes Short of Normal
The housing market needs another 1.5 million for-sale homes to help fill the inventory gap. Analysts at Morgan Stanley say that would get us back to a housing market “normal.” That applies to both the resale market and the building market. (7)
Morgan Stanley strategists say that inventory is lagging about three years behind demand. And the number of homes needed could be as high as 5 million, depending on how you add it all up.
That imbalance is reflected in the rate of home price growth, although DataTrek analyst Nicholas Colas says: “While house prices are certainly trending above long-run growth rates, they are not yet as elevated as 2005 on an 8-year trailing appreciation basis.”
Renters Who Say They’ll Always Be Renters
Many renters hope to someday buy their own homes, but according to a LendingTree survey, half of them don’t think that will ever happen. (8) LendingTree surveyed 2,500 people and 83% said they’d prefer to own their own homes, but 48% said they have doubts about their ability to buy.
So what’s keeping them from buying a home?
More than half said they can’t afford a down payment. About a third said home prices are too high or their credit scores are not good enough. A quarter of them said they don’t have a stable job right now or they are not sure “where” to settle down. Some of the other reasons include student loan debt and plans to get married first.
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Thanks for listening. I'm Kathy Fettke.