Matthew Gardner Weekly COVID-19 Housing & Economic Update: 5/18/2020

In this week’s episode of Mondays with Matthew, Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner kicks off a series of episodes in which he answers questions from his followers. The first deals with how COVID-19 will impact buyer behaviors, especially in more urban markets.

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Pent Up Demand

We notice a very interesting dynamic in the market right now.

There was clearly a pent-up real estate demand created during the recent time when in-person showings were not allowed.  The numbers back it up.

First, a little background.  During a portion of “Shelter in Place,” all in-person viewing of properties ceased.  Instead, buyers spent time online viewing virtual tours and 3-D photography.

Even though clients could view homes virtually, purchase activity did slow down.

Today, showings are allowed again as long as clear protocols are followed.  We’ve implemented a Safe Showings program to keep our clients protected.

Now, to the numbers.

Through the first two weeks of May 2020, the number of closed properties is down compared to the same time period in 2019.

In most cases these closed properties are a result of purchase agreements that were written in April- a time when in-person showings were restricted.

So, a decrease in closings was expected.

However, the number of new written contracts so far this month is up considerably compared to the same time frame last year.

Specifically,

  • Metro Denver closed properties down 47%
  • Metro Denver new contracts up 6%
  • Northern Colorado closed properties down 41%
  • Northern Colorado new contracts up 19%

So, buyer activity is up compared to last year, even in our current environment.

This speaks to the resiliency of our market and the effect of low interest rates.

At Windermere Real Estate we are taking Safer at Home and Social Distancing very seriously.  Our people are following our Safe Showings protocol, staying connected to their clients, and providing help wherever needed.

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Matthew Gardner Weekly COVID-19 Housing & Economic Update: 5/11/2020

Job growth is critical to the health of the housing market, so on this week’s episode of “Mondays with Matthew,”  Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner analyzes the effect of COVID-19 on employment and what we can expect for the duration of the year.

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What the Numbers Say

April represents the first time we can look at the impact of COVID-19 on a full month of real estate activity.

To no one’s surprise, activity in April in terms of closings and new contracts did slow significantly.

Much of this slowing was caused by in person showings not being allowed for most of the month.

(showings are now allowed again by following Safe Showings protocols)

Here’s what the numbers say…

Closed transactions were down compared to April 2019

  • 26% in Northern Colorado (Larimer & Weld)
  • 27% in Metro Denver

New written purchase agreements were down compared to April 2020

  • 48% in Northern Colorado
  • 44% in Metro Denver

So, while activity did slow, there was nothing resembling a “screeching halt” that took place.

While the way property is shown has certainly changed, the market is still very active and we expect activity to increase even more with showings now being allowed again.

At Windermere Real Estate we are taking Safer at Home and Social Distancing very seriously.  Our people are following our Safe Showings protocol, staying connected to their clients, and providing help wherever needed.

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Why No Crash

This week we hosted our clients and friends for a special online event with our Chief Economist Matthew Gardner.

Matthew talked about a variety of topics that are on people’s mind right now including home values.

Matthew sees no evidence that home values will crash and actually sees signs that they may rise this year nationally.

Here’s why he says this:

  • Mortgage rates will remain under 3.5% for the rest of the year so there won’t be any interest-rate pressure on prices
  • Inventory, which was already at record-lows, will drop even further keeping the supply levels far below normal
  • New home construction will continue to be under-supplied and will be nothing like the over-supplied glut of inventory that we saw in 2008
  • The vast majority of employees being laid off and furloughed are renters
  • Homeowners have a tremendous amount of equity in their homes right now compared to 2008 which will prevent an influx of short sales and foreclosures

If you would like to receive a recording of the webinar we would be happy to send it to you.  Feel free to reach out and ask for the link.

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At Windermere Real Estate we are taking Shelter in Place and Social Distancing very seriously.  Our people are working at home, staying connected to their clients, and providing help wherever needed.

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Inventory Drop

An impact we expected from COVID-19 to the housing market is reduced inventory.  That prediction is certainly proving to be true.

In March, the number of withdrawn properties from the MLS went up 68% in Larimer County and 38% in Weld when compared to March 2019.

Reduced inventory is one reason why we don’t expect a significant drop in home prices in 2020.  We don’t see a glut of housing supply dragging prices down.

So how are properties being sold now?  Virtually!  We are helping people view homes using virtual 3D Tours and live online walk-throughs.

Our business right now is certainly not business as usual and our industry has proven to be resourceful so we can still help people with urgent real estate needs.

At Windermere Real Estate we are taking Shelter in Place and Social Distancing very seriously. Our people are working from home, staying connected to their clients, and providing help wherever needed.

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Matthew Gardner Weekly COVID-19 Housing & Economic Update: 3/30/2020

Every Monday Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner provides an update regarding the impact of COVID-19 on the US economy and housing market. This week he discusses what it really means for the economy and housing to be in a COVID-19 induced recession (hint: it’s not all bad news).

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Matthew Gardner – Will There Be A Recession in 2020?

Windermere Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, answers the most pressing question on everyone’s minds: Will there be a recession in 2020? Here’s what he expects to see.

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Matthew Gardner’s 2020 Mortgage Rate Forecast

Each year Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, forecasts into the next. Here’s what he expects for Mortgage Rates in 2020.

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2020 Economic & Housing Market Forecast

As we head toward the end of the year, it’s time to recap how the U.S. economy and housing markets performed this year and offer my predictions for 2020.

 

U.S. Economy

In general, the economy performed pretty much as I expected this year: job growth slowed but the unemployment rate still hovers around levels not seen since the late 1960s.

Following the significant drop in corporate tax rates in January 2018, economic growth experience a big jump. However, we haven’t been able to continue those gains and I doubt we’ll return to 2%+ growth next year. Due to this slowing, I expect GDP to come in at only +1.4% next year. Non-residential fixed investment has started to wane as companies try to anticipate where economic policy will move next year. Furthermore, many businesses remain concerned over ongoing trade issues with China.

In 2020, I expect payrolls to continue growing, but the rate of growth will slow as the country adds fewer than 1.7 million new jobs. Due to this hiring slow down, the unemployment rate will start to rise, but still end the year at a very respectable 4.1%.

Many economists, including me, spent much of 2019 worried about the specter of a looming recession in 2020. Thankfully, such fears have started to wane (at least for now).

Despite some concerning signs, the likelihood that we will enter a recession in 2020 has dropped to about 26%. If we manage to stave off a recession in 2020, the possibility of a slowdown in 2021 is around 74%. That said, I fully expect that any drop in growth will be mild and will not negatively affect the U.S. housing market.

 

Existing Homes

As I write this article, full-year data has yet to be released. However, I feel confident that 2019 will end with a slight rise in home sales. For 2020, I expect sales to rise around 2.9% to just over 5.5 million units.

Home prices next year will continue to rise as mortgage rates remain very competitive. Look for prices to increase 3.8% in 2020 as demand continues to exceed supply and more first-time buyers enter the market.

In the year ahead, I expect the share of first-time buyers to grow, making them a very significant component of the housing market. 

 

New Homes

The new-home market has been pretty disappointing for most of the year due to significant obstacles preventing builders from building. Land prices, labor and material costs, and regulatory fees make it very hard for builders to produce affordable housing. As a result, many are still focused on the luxury market where there are profits to be made, despite high demand from entry-level buyers.

Builders are aware of this and are doing their best to deliver more affordable product. As such, I believe single-family housing starts will rise next year to 942,000 units—an increase of 6.8% over 2019 and the highest number since 2007.

As the market starts to deliver more units, sales will rise just over 5%, but the increase in sales will be due to lower priced housing. Accordingly, new home prices are set to rise just 2.5% next year.

 

Mortgage Rates

Next year will still be very positive from a home-financing perspective, with the average rate for a 30-year conventional, fixed-rate mortgage averaging under 4%. That said, if there are significant improvements in trade issues with China, this forecast may change, but not significantly.

 

Conclusion

In this coming year, affordability issues will persist in many markets around the country, such as San Francisco; Los Angeles; San Jose; Seattle; and Bend, Oregon. The market will also continue to favor home sellers, but we will start to move more toward balance, resulting in another positive year overall for U.S. housing. 

 

 

About Matthew Gardner:

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

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