REAL ESTATE

With Slow Spring Homebuying, Zillow Predicts Price Drops

7


Zillow’s latest housing market forecast shows a decline in home prices over the next year after a very slow spring homebuying season. While spring is traditionally the hottest time of the housing market, with more sellers and buyers hitting the market at once, this year was stunted significantly. Will this trend continue as housing inventory remains at rock-bottom levels, or are things gradually improving, with a return to normalcy in sight? We’ve got Dr. Skylar Olsen, Chief Economist at Zillow, on to share the latest forecast and which markets could be in trouble.

With mortgage rates still hovering around seven percent, homebuyers and sellers are stuck. Sellers don’t want to trade into a more expensive mortgage payment, and buyers can’t afford today’s median home price. As a result, some under-the-radar, affordable real estate markets are seeing home and rent prices increase, while some traditionally hot markets are already seeing price corrections.

Where will the next correction hit, and which markets will have the most opportunity for real estate investors? Skylar explains it all, plus why Zillow updated their recent home price forecast to show a DROP in home values over the next year.

Dave:

The spring buying season is a super important time for the entire real estate industry, but over the last couple of years it hasn’t been as hot as it normally was. So what actually happened this year? Was it as hot as economists predicted? What did inventory and home price growth even look like and how will that change over the rest of the year? Today we have a market update episode for you.

Hey everyone, and welcome to the BiggerPockets Network. I’m Dave Meyer, and if you’re listening on the BiggerPockets real Estate feed, it’s Friday. So that means we have a bigger news episode for you, but we are also playing this on the market feed. And if you’re there, welcome, good to have you all here for today’s episode. We are bringing on Dr. Skylar Olsen, who is a member of Zillow’s economic research team. And Dr. Olsen is going to share with us a whole bunch of information and research, including an update on the spring buying season that I was just talking about and what actually happened. Is there any signs of a recovery in home sales? We’re also going to talk a lot about inventory as we do in these market episodes because it’s just very important. It’s really driving so much of the market behavior right now. We’ll talk about Zillow’s forecast adjustments and why they think certain markets might be heading for a correction in the next year. And lastly, we will of course pull out our crystal ball as we do with most of the economists and discuss what we think will happen for the rest of the year and into 2025. Let’s bring on Dr. Skylar Olsen.

Skylar, welcome to the BiggerPockets Podcast Network. Thank you for joining us.

Skylar:

Well, thank you so much for having me. We’re

Dave:

First going to start by talking about the spring buying season. Can you just give us some context? What is the spring buying season in the first place?

Skylar:

Yeah, really buying season ramps up in the very early spring. We first start to see existing owners put listings onto the market in January and February. It starts building out of that holiday season, but it hits the crescendo pre pandemic at around April and May these days a little bit later. Actually more like April or excuse me, may and June is when we get the most listings from existing owners of the course of that season. So we’re kind of cussing and moving towards the slowdown at this very moment, but we actually see extra slowdown now because mortgage rates are up kind of near 7% and that puts a real cooling effect on that buyer.

Dave:

And what impact does this busy spring buying season have on the overall housing market in normal times, like back before the pandemic?

Skylar:

So let me give you kind of a ballpark number. If we’re thinking nationally in the month of May pandemic, we used to see over a million homes drop into the market from existing owners. Okay. This is a period of time where interest rates went from 3% up to 7%. So we’ve got a lot of existing owners wanting to hold onto those low rates. So this, we only saw a little over 400,000 ever since mortgage rates have surged up, that existing owner has pulled back. Now May is the crescendo month where we see the most listings come online. So next month we actually expect to see about 90,000 less, and then it kind of cascades into the year we see the fewest listings come on in November and December. Those are the holidays we’ve wrapped up. We’re done. Home shopping season is also during the summer because that’s when you want to be moving.

You don’t want to be carrying your boxes during the snow and during the rain. And when we go through a home shopping season, you better believe the housing economists out there and honestly, agents and any housing professional loan officers are watching it very closely, especially these days to see whether or not this activity is going to start coming back. Because as I mentioned, we are down from what was normal. We’re about 23% down from what was normal, but that is actually way better than at its worst when we were around 36% down nationally. So that’s an improvement and it’s steadily slowly improving from here

Dave:

And 36% down, that’s from its peak in the pandemic or down from what

Skylar:

In April of last year, we had 36% fewer homes from existing owners than in April pre pandemic. Got it. So like a typical April of 2018 and 2019, which was our last normal housing market, because right before the pre pandemic we were about to call it in terms of the recovery from the last housing cycle, which was a long and a very big one. So 2018 to 2019 fairly normal. And then now since mortgage rates have surged up, we’re down 23%, but back last year we were down 36%. So to be only down 23 is the improvement. And then what we’re waiting for is that to come all the way back up to just zero, right back to normal, and that’s steady and slow. We’re up a lot from last year. That’s probably a way that you hear that reported really often. So that kind of number is like, oh, we’re 13% more new listings from existing owners than last year.

But as I just mentioned, last year was our lowest year in terms of that interest rate lock-in in terms of that owner really just feeling like it wasn’t the time to give up that rate. It’s getting a little better now because a time passes. Those existing owners had things happen in their lives. They got divorced, they had children, their children became teenagers and started fighting over the bathroom sink. All sorts of things that happen in your life that make you want that next home and make that low interest rate just less and less worth it. And so as time goes on, we get less locked in from that interest rate. And so we’re starting to see more new listings come online. The problem is interest rates remain near 7% and jump around a lot, and that buyer is really struggling to move forward. It’s really hard to afford a house that’s 7% interest rate, and so prices are soft. Our forecast is that prices will come down very mildly, actually. It’s just a soft down 1.4%, but that’ll still give the buyer a bit of a breathing room. Homes are spending a little bit more time on the market, a little bit more price cuts, but ultimately we’re still tight on inventory, but things are getting a little better, but we’re still tight on inventory.

Dave:

Yeah. So do you think that the average home buyer, the average investor, will feel that increase in inventory year over year in terms of competition or negotiating leverage when they’re trying to buy a home?

Skylar:

If you were participating last year and you were active, yeah, you’ll feel it because relative to that period of time, things I think really will feel like they’re loosening up. Nationally, your homes are spending three days longer on the market than they were last year. That might not seem like a lot, but we were at only 10 days. So three more days from 10, that’s relatively speaking, a bit more breathing room there from last year. So that additional inventory will be felt by someone who has been participating. Let’s say we’re in the market during the heat, heat, heat of the pandemic when interest rates were really low, trying to find your opportunity, but competition was very fierce. Oh, it’ll feel way better than that. Absolutely. That was certainly a coal down from that one. But if you were shopping, say pre pandemic, and then you got nervous by just all of it, right? Pandemic reasonable period of time to be uncertain though generally that’s what when investors just are really important part of the market, they will participate when things are risky and then you smooth out the market and it ends up not being as volatile. So that’s generally what economists think the role of the investor is when we go through something crazy like the pandemic. But if you were a mom and pop landlord and you’ve been sitting it out and you haven’t been in the housing market since pre pandemic, it will actually feel hot.

Dave:

What you’re sharing here is that their inventory is going up largely because life events, but we’re still very low in terms of total inventory in a historical context, do you think that inventory is going to continue to trend upward?

Skylar:

Yeah. Yeah, I think I do. Especially if the mortgage rates remain elevated, people are expecting it to come down, but let’s just stay in the near future because that has been pushed off more to the end of the year in terms of when the Fed might give us a break. So let’s just say mortgage rates stay around this period of time, the buyer is still hesitant because that is an affordability challenge and time goes on for that seller. The seller also is watching, we’ve been saying that mortgage rates would come down for a while and yet they haven’t. So that helps also shake the seller expectation that rates will come down so that seller starts to return inventory. Slackens, right, starts to return. That pool of available homes increases so that when the buyer shows up, there’s more to see. I think homes will spend a little bit more time on the market and things will ease.

And if we are in that holding pattern here, that is a steady and slow path to a healthier and more stable housing market for sure into that near future. Now, I think that’s a fair assessment for the next few months because generally when we head into an election, a lot of people stop making major decisions. So it is this holding pattern and steady return. Mortgage rates probably won’t do anything crazy before then, but the election throws its own kind of wrench and stability no matter what year, no matter what election. And we’ve got a lot of elections across the board coming up. We can hardly crystal ball it, but there are scenarios where we get a rate cut at the end of the year by the Fed. The market thinks we’ll get two rate cuts from the Fed. The Fed says one rate cut, the Federal Reserve operates monetary policy.

So when they cut their policy rate, the Fed funds rate, that can trickle through to mortgage rates so that mortgage rates come down. That’s what we’re expecting. But it’s also possible too that we might not get that. So that’s the more holding pattern element where we’re just in this for longer. But let’s say we get that rate cut, mortgage rates could come down, that I think would help the seller return as well. So then I think we’d see new listings from existing owners improve even faster. The debate becomes does the buyer return with the same alacrity or with the same gusto?

Dave:

So you think that the debate is more on the buyer side than the seller side? It seems to me like if rates went down, of course there’d be more demand. The question to me is if there’s going to be more supply,

Skylar:

Well, no, no. Well, I mean the relative size of it, I think the debate is what happens to prices, right? Because if supply starts, I think the supply could definitely return. There’ll be fewer owners locked in when that rate comes down. I think there are plenty. I say time goes on, but they still have an incentive to hold. So as that rate comes down, that incentive changes as well. So both things start helping the seller comeback. The debate I think, is who’s stronger, whose return is stronger? Because if the buyer, there are a lot of them too. There’s a massive generation of millennials who want to become the first time home buyer. If when mortgage rates fall, they return with a lot of interest, then inventory, which is the pool of homes available at any one time that reflects are prices increasing or not. If the buyer comes back with the same speed as the seller comes back, that inventory can remain low because the buyer drains it just as fast as we can fill up that pool and then that means prices don’t fall, right? So it’s hard to imagine a situation where prices correct very quickly without getting a lot of economic stress without the R word recession. So without a recession, it’s hard to imagine that prices in the housing market will fall because this buyer and seller return with the mortgage rate. And so that’s what I mean by debate is like, well, prices could remain depending on who’s stronger in their return, right? Yeah, there’s a lot waiting.

Dave:

Alright, so we have to take a quick break, but we’ll be right back with more of Skylar Olsen’s market insights right after this. Welcome back investors. Let’s jump back into our market update with Dr. Skylar Olsen. Well, I saw recently that Zillow updated its forecast to now be projecting a 1% decline in housing prices from May, 2024 to 2025. Can you tell us a little bit about what went into that change in your forecast?

Skylar:

So our forecast has two elements to it. There’s momentum. So what are we seeing in all of our time series that help us predict the future? So that would be things like watching the new listings return and then we’re modeling that forward new listings returning faster than we see sales return. That inventory increases. Those are momentum near term time series that we kind of relate to that price growth and then that helps turn that down. Other things that flow in that way are things like think percentage of listings with the price cut, think the number of clicks from people on the site. So a buyer say shopping on zillow.com relative to the number of listings that we, so that’s a demand metric that flows into the forecast. All that’s momentum and how that should flow in through what prices do. And then there’s this other element which is more structural.

So we also forecast out and model, say mortgage rates and population growth, which is a big element. That’s the fundamental demand in housing and then also unemployment and those more R word numbers and all those flow through the things that really push that forecast down was the return in inventory. So in terms of that pool of homes available relative to last year, that’s up 22%, right? So inventory looks like it’s returning a lot relative to that very, very low base relative to say normal times when we just had so much more inventory. In general, it’s still recovering fairly slowly, but relative to last year, anyone who was shopping last year, it’ll start to feel much more slow and that impacts that price growth. And then also percentage of listings with a price cut is very elevated right now. And it has been elevated for, I’d say the past three months, do this all the time. They bounce around, they came down to around six and a half and they went back up to seven and above seven. Ever since that moment we’ve seen percentage of listings with a price cut just remain elevated as well.

Dave:

And that’s just for this one year. I think, correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I’ve seen from zi, you project one year out. Yeah. Is that sort of the extent of the correction you see 1% over one year or what happens after May of 2025?

Skylar:

Oh no. Interesting. Yeah, actually internally and I think publicly we’d be happy to release it as well. We project out two years with this type of modeling, this momentum plus a little bit more structure. But happily, it really depends on who you are because if I’m a first time home buyer, I probably don’t want to hear, oh yeah, no, after this year we expect it to kind of return to flat and moderate growth. But if you’re an existing owner and hoping that you’re at your top of equity also what’s going on here? We have huge amounts of equity that sellers, or excuse me, would be sellers are holding onto. Those owners are holding onto a lot of opportunity, a lot of wealth that was created there. That is, I think, I don’t want to say safe, but it is very hard to get a forecast more negative than what we’re seeing right now.

Got it. We also modeled scenarios, make it really a terrible macro environment. That’s why we have those two separate ideas. There’s momentum from all of the things that should impact prices, like supply and signals from agent pricing and pending all that. And then also that structural. So the structural stuff where we say what will mortgage rates do? What will unemployment do? What will population growth do that? To use that, we can calibrate it. We can say, well, we have a baseline, but what if it goes because very hard to forecast mortgages. What if it goes wrong? And even if we put mortgage rates, you have to put ’em really high up to 8% or 9% to get that forecast to be significantly negative.

Dave:

And is that true even with the labor market? A question I get quite a lot is how if the Fed gets sort of what does wants with the softer labor market, are we going to see a decline in demand and subsequent softness in housing prices?

Skylar:

Yeah, I mean we could honestly, we could especially because you’d start to see it regionally and even now we see soft prices regionally. For example, Zillow recently released our market heat index, which captures some of the metrics that I talked about that went into our forecast percentage of listings with the price cut, the number of users, buyers clicking on homes relative to the homes that are available and the percentage of homes that sell really fast. So these three things capture this market heat, whether or not buyers or sellers have the edge in a market, we call it the market heat index, right? Okay. So there are very limited places that we’re willing to say our buyer’s markets nationally is still a seller’s market relative to its history and this experience on these metrics. But if you go to Florida, there are plenty of buyer’s markets down in Florida, Memphis, Tennessee went probably too hot over the course of the pandemic is now is cooling off quite a lot.

New Orleans has struggled throughout the pandemic and remains very soft. And now you’re starting to see very southern Texas become a buyer’s market as well. So there are these pockets, let’s say we go into recession that will have national numbers with higher unemployment rates and we’ll all talk about that being a concern. But there will be metros that have much higher unemployment rates, right? Because different industries will be impacted more. And so that will happen by the way, in terms of where else are prices still falling? So maybe there’s an opportunity should you want to jump in now and anticipate a return. Think about downtown. So those downtown areas, if I look at a zip code map of almost any, not every but almost any major metropolitan area in the US home prices have been falling and continue to fall in those kind of central cores. And you can make a bet that that liveliness in those areas will return real estate, remember is a long run investment. So for any of those that people who do still like that moreover lifestyle, which there are plenty of us, right? There is opportunities there. I

Dave:

Want to just clarify that even these markets that Skylar’s talking about that are experiencing some corrections, maybe New Orleans with an exception, is that a lot of them were still way above pre pandemic levels like way above and are coming down very modestly just off of their pandemic highs. And so for the vast majority of people who bought even in sort of towards the top are probably doing fine in terms of equity. And obviously on a national level, even a 1% correction is very modest. Yes. We have one more final break, but more from Zillow, Skylar Olsen, when we return. Welcome back to the show. Let’s pick back up where we left off Skylar. You mentioned a couple of markets that could potentially see some of the biggest corrections and softness. What about the other side of the equation? What are some of the hottest markets that you’re seeing?

Skylar:

Yeah, hottest markets are definitely Midwestern. And there you’ve got to think is about affordability in terms of the access to becoming a homeowner. They’ve got a lot of people still willing to move to access that option. Then you have the more relative affordability idea. So northeast, but think markets that are around or between very expensive markets. So your Hartford, Connecticut and your Providence, Rhode Island are smack dab in between Boston and New York. Now, I don’t want to imply either that Boston and New York are, we still see positive home price growth in those areas as well because we don’t have the listings from existing owners. There’s a lot of pullback there. So in that same way, the expensive West coast, we don’t see negative price appreciation there yet either because that existing owner just holds so northeast and west. Think if expensive there we’re seeing consistent home price growth as existing owners hold on. And then in areas like the Midwest, I think there just is so much demand because the opportunity remains.

Dave:

Yeah, I think that’s consistent with everything that we’re seeing and talking about here on the show as well is that affordability really remains one of the key factors in buyer demand. And I’m wondering, Skylar, we’ve been talking mostly about home prices, but if these regional patterns also hold true in terms of rent.

Skylar:

Yes, yes, they definitely do though it is a little bit nuanced. So here Zillow produces the Zillow’s observe rent index. So we’re looking at the change in individual listings when we produce this index. So it’s a really awesome tool to think about the rental market. And let’s say I use this tool Zillow’s rent index, and I break it down by multifamily, so apartments and single family. And here I’m going to have very different dynamics going on because over the course of the pandemic and very recently we have been able to produce a lot of apartments, but they’ve only become available over the last quarter say in a way that’s just really record setting relative to the years before. And all that extra new supply on the apartment side has made it so that while rents are not falling, they’re very soft and softer than pre pandemic.

Now if I’m thinking about single family rents, so think your suburban homes and for our definition, it includes the ones that are attached. So include your townhomes in your picture of your mind. Single family rents continue to grow at pre pandemic levels. So softer than the boom when everyone was moving because of remote work and everything. But at pre pandemic, if not faster depending on where we are. Like some of the places we mentioned, particularly in the Midwest, right, where rent growth in the single family home is still very high. Now think about why you’ve got a lot of people that move into this area, maybe even to become homeowners, but yet they rent first and then they have this barrier to owning, to moving on because of the high mortgage rate pre pandemic. If you wanted to become a new homeowner and you had the down payment and maybe it took you a while to save for it to become a new home or mortgage rates were just such that you would probably save radically relative to renting these days it’s honestly more of a wash if you’re looking at renting a single family home of a quality in a nice neighborhood, that kind of thing.

And so if you can’t move on to for sale, but you still want that lifestyle because say you’re 35, you have kids, you expect that from your life, then you’ll move on to rent it. So you get that extra competition on that side as well. So single family rentals are doing very well, particularly in the places where home prices are also growing. The ones that we mentioned where I don’t have listings from existing owners on the west or the Midwest. The Midwest is where single family rent growth is the strongest. Now, if I want to say where is apartment rent growth the strongest, it’s still in those areas strong ger than other places. But there are more pockets where multifamily apartment rents would be falling. And then the fastest spot is the northeast that I had mentioned where the providence, Rhode Island and Hartford, Connecticut, where the expensive rental markets that are also New York is rents growing in New York now again as well. And Boston too. It’s just that pinch between is where it’s the fastest.

Dave:

Honestly, it’s wild. My sister lives in Providence and she moved up houses and rents out her old one and I think it’s two bedroom, one bath. She gets $4,000 a month for it. It’s crazy that way more than a much bigger house that I own in Denver, for example, would rent for which you would never expect. So super, super interesting. But definitely hearing that anecdotally, in addition to some of the data that Skyler is sharing with us. So Skyler, you gave some advice on what investors should be looking for about downtown areas. Do you have any other tips for our audience?

Skylar:

Yeah, I mean, I think in general the tip for the audience besides check out the opportunity because those areas that I mentioned are not where things are soft. They’re certainly not expecting crash home values should return in these places because they’re just correcting for a lot of the earlier heat that we had seen. And then of course we’re waiting to see what interest rates do. So aside from those downtown, where are the cool markets where there are lots of price cuts? So that conversation that we’ve already had, I think being very aware of the financial market right now is incredibly crucial because the impact of that mortgage rate on the investment potential of buying real estate is huge. So how do you handle that? Well, mortgage rates are elevated right now, but there’s still, if you have this opportunity moving forward, you crunch the numbers and it works for you.

But it’s that edge, right? You have tools now to be able to, for example, shop buyability or shop by monthly payment. So for example, if I’m on Zillow and we have both of these tools, you can kind of shop more for what’s affordable. You get the personalized information about what that mortgage rate might be today. But then as you continue to shop, if the mortgage rate changes, the search criteria of what you can afford will also change. Which means if mortgage rates drop suddenly there are more opportunities. And I think why these kinds of tools are important is because think of the flip side. So you’ve crunched your numbers, you’ve figured out what works out. I think when we approach the housing market, it’s easy to also get a little bit too much momentum. It’s so frustrating. There’s low inventory to find the right home, but you really got to make sure you stay with that due diligence. So let’s say mortgage rates swing back up again, that search criteria is then limited again. And then Buyability is just a way to figure out that other end of it, not just search by that monthly payment for what you can afford monthly if you’d like to then instead search for what that price point is for you. But that mortgage rate is just very, very impactful to the rent versus buy equation and the financial investment side of things. For

Dave:

Sure. That’s great advice. Skylar, before we get out of here, would you allow me to ask you some rapid fire questions about next year? Yeah,

Skylar:

Sure. Let’s

Dave:

Do it. Sure. If you had to guess or predict the fastest growing market in terms of home price appreciation in the next year, what would you think?

Skylar:

In the next year? I’m going to go to Cleveland or St. Louis,

Dave:

Something like that. Okay. I like it. Two relatively affordable cities in the Midwest. Okay, I like it. What about rent growth?

Skylar:

Oh, that’s so funny. So I said that because that’s where rent growth is currently the fastest on more of that apartment side. So I just translated that into a leading indicator over the next year. And then of course our also forecasts are focused in the Midwest. So rent growth, can I split it between multifamily? Yes.

Dave:

Yeah. Nuance is allowed

Skylar:

Single family, I’d say back that same area. I think anyone who’s putting their hat on and thinking to themselves, I want to live in a suburban neighborhood with good schools and trees or that classic, I don’t even want to call it the American dream anymore, but it’s a little too stereotypical. But people that want to go towards that, we’re at a big generational balloon of people that might be wanting that are entering their mid to late thirties as the peak of that millennial generations. It really will bear down on that more affordable Midwest. And the Midwest also looks fairly good for more of the climate change elements. Florida’s got really higher and higher insurance costs these days, so they’re going to get a little bit more challenged. And we’ve also been able to build more in Texas and Florida, so I expect much more softness on both sides, apartments and single family.

But if I was in, we don’t have an official rent forecast, but I’ll go and be fun on this. On the apartments, I think it could swing West Coast in terms of faster rent growth in the same way that it’s cluster around the lifestyle cities on the northeast, the Boston and the New York is kind of where that apartment vibrancy is looking. And San Francisco has been so soft for so long. I hope it for them, but maybe I’ll lean more like the Seattles is kind of where for that one Northeast. It’s still going to be big though. Money down northeast. A little upsetting and fun prediction, go west.

Dave:

Okay. And last question here. Where will interest rates with the average rate on a 30 year fixed rate mortgage? What will it be one year from today?

Skylar:

6.6%.

Dave:

All right. I’m kind of with you. I like it. Alright, well thank you so much Skylar. This has been a lot of fun and very educational. Thank you for sharing the research that you and your team have done with all of us here at BiggerPockets. I’m sure you all know how to get to Zillow, but if you want to connect with Skylar in particular, see the research she and her team are doing, we’ll put links to that in the show notes or description, depending on whether you’re listening or watching on YouTube. Skylar, thanks again for being here.

Skylar:

Yeah, thank you so much for having me. This is a lot of fun.

Dave:

On the market was created by me, Dave Meyer and Kaylin Bennett. The show is produced by Kailyn Bennett, with editing by Exodus Media. Copywriting is by Calico content and we want to extend a big thank you to everyone at BiggerPockets for making this show possible.

 

Help us reach new listeners on iTunes by leaving us a rating and review! It takes just 30 seconds and instructions can be found here. Thanks! We really appreciate it!

Interested in learning more about today’s sponsors or becoming a BiggerPockets partner yourself? Email [email protected].

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.



Source link

UtahDigitalNews.com