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The latest consumer findings from a National Association of REALTORS® survey reveal many more Americans believe now is a good time to sell a home. An increasing number of Americans also believe now is a good time to buy a home. The positive feeling many Americans have about the housing market is largely due to their attitude towards the economy, according to NAR’s second quarter Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey.

The quarterly survey, which tracks real estate trends, renters and homeowner views and aspirations regarding homeownership, and expectations in the mortgage market, found 46 percent of those surveyed strongly believe now is a good time to sell a home, up from 37 percent in the first quarter of 2019. Seventy-three percent of people believe now is a good time to sell, while 27 percent say now is not a good time to sell. Those who are in the West (70 percent) are most likely to think now is a good time to sell a home.

NAR’s chief economist Lawrence Yun noted home prices have increased only moderately and that is a contributing factor as to why an overwhelming majority of Americans feel now is a good time to sell. “With home price appreciation slowing, home sellers understand that the days of large price gains from holding an extra year are over,” said Yun.

The number of Americans who think now is a good time to buy a home also has increased. Of those respondents, 38 percent answered they strongly believe that notion, and 27 percent said they moderately believe the present is a good time to buy. Meanwhile, 35 percent disagreed, stating now is not a good time to make a home purchase, which is unchanged from the first quarter.

The optimistic feelings about buying and selling are attributed to positive outlooks on the economy. Fifty-five percent of those polled feel the economy is improving, up from 53 percent in the previous quarter. Optimism was greatest among those who earn $100,000 or more and those who reside in rural areas.

Alan Barbic, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, believes it is definitely a good time to sell a home and a good time to buy, as well. “Homes may not sell for as much as they would have a year ago, but they have appreciated enough that many sellers feel it is still a good time to sell,” said Barbic. “On the other hand, the strong demand for homes has never diminished and now that mortgage interest rate hikes don’t appear to be coming in the near future, buyers are encouraged to continue with their home search.”

Yun said that mortgage affordability was promising over the second quarter, and he expects this trend will continue. “Lower mortgage rates, along with job and wage growth, will lead to an increase in sales and thereby contribute positively to economic growth in the upcoming quarters,” Yun predicted.

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According to the National Association of REALTORS® 2019 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends, one in six Gen Xers purchased a multi-generational home, with 52 percent of those Gen X buyers indicating they did because their adult children have either moved back or never left home.

“The high cost of rent and lack of affordable housing inventory is sending adult children back to their parents’ homes either out of necessity or an attempt to save money,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

The study, which evaluates the generational differences of recent homebuyers and sellers, found older millennials have more similarities with Gen Xers and younger boomers, as this group also appears to be leaning toward the purchase of a multi-generational home. Older millennials who bought a multi-generational home (9 percent) were most likely to do so in order to take care of aging parents (33 percent), or to spend more time with those parents (30 percent).

Gen X typically refers to the group born between the mid-60s and early 1980s. Gen Y, also known as millennials, refers to the group born between the mid-1980s and 2000. Millennials as whole account for the largest share of buyers, at 37 percent. Gen Xers account to 26 percent of buyers.

Alan Barbic, president of the Silicon Valley Association ofREALTORS®, is seeing these trends in the Bay Area. “With rents rising and housing affordability challenging, we are seeing families moving in together and seeing it as an advantage,” says Barbic. “Parents want to help their children save so they can someday afford their own home. Older millennials want to take care of their parents. Some bookended boomers are helping their children on one end and their parents on the other.”

Barbic adds, “Many municipalities are now easing restrictions allowing secondary units to be built on single-family residential properties, which helps families and alleviates the growing lack of housing at the same time. These reasons also point to the family unit being important to many Americans.”

Interestingly, downsizing to a smaller home is not currently common among any of the generations. The study speculates Gen Xers and boomers who may have been interested in downsizing could have been hindered by a lack of smaller inventory; or may have been impeded by the increase in multi-generational living to accommodate the needs of adult children and aging parents.

The survey also reveals buyers and sellers across all age groups (87 percent) continue to seek the assistance of a real estate agent when buying and selling a home. “Help understanding the buying process” was cited as the top benefit younger millennials said their agent provided.

Even though income and sales volume of REALTORS® have dropped slightly in the past year, membership in the National Association of REALTORS® has increased, as more younger agents continue to enter the industry. According to the “2018 National Association of REALTORS® Member Profile,” membership increased 6 percent from 1.22 million in March 2017 to 1.30 million in April 2018.

“Younger Americans are seeking business opportunities that working in real estate provides,” said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun. But Yun also noted the overall trend is still a slightly older age profile.

Members of NAR account for about half of all active real estate licensees in the U.S. REALTORS® go beyond state licensing requirements by subscribing to NAR’s Code of Ethics and standards of practice and committing to continuing education.

“All real estate licensees are not the same. Only real estate licensees who are members of the National Association of REALTORS® are properly called REALTORS®. They display the REALTOR® logo on their business card or other marketing material,” explained Bill Moody, president of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®. The REALTOR® association has over 4,500 REALTORS® and affiliate members engaged in the business of real estate on the Peninsula and in the South Bay.

“REALTORS® are committed to treat all parties to a transaction honestly. REALTORS® subscribe to a strict code of ethics and are required to complete a two and a half hour Code of Ethics course every two years,” said Moody.

The NAR member survey found the median age of REALTORS® was 54 this year, slightly up from 53, the last two years. Sixty-three percent of realtors are female. The typical REALTOR® is a 54-year-old white female who attended college and is a homeowner.

Sixty-five percent of REALTORS® are licensed sales agents, 21 percent hold broker licenses, and 15 percent hold broker associate licenses. New members tended to be more diverse than more experienced members. Twenty-five percent with two years of experience or less were minorities, up from 22 percent last year.

According to Moody, the national survey reflects the profile of incoming members in the local REALTOR® group, which has over 4,500 members. “Our new members definitely reflect a younger and more diverse group of agents,” said Moody.

Impacted by low inventory, the typical number of transactions decreased slightly from 12 transactions in 2016 to 11 transactions in 2017. REALTORS® said the main factors limiting potential clients in completing transactions are difficulty finding the right property (35 percent), housing affordability (17 percent), and difficulty in obtaining mortgage financing (12 percent).

 

 

In a span of one week, two top officials have told Silicon Valley REALTORS® that, at least for the Bay Area, particularly the Silicon Valley region, the worst for home sales is over, that there are better days ahead. However both of these officials said a full recovery will take time.

At a general membership meeting of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS®, National Association of REALTORS® Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research Dr. Lawrence Yun told REALTORS® “the worst in (home) sales is clearly over. … Even in the worst market, the bleeding has stopped.”

Dr. Yun at the SILVAR general membership meeting.

Yun said, particularly in the San Francisco –San Jose area, the bottom has already occurred and prices are beginning to firm up.

California’s housing market recovery started even before the home buyer tax credit, according to the national economist. “California’s housing market correction was short, sharp and fast,” Yun said.

The key test will be this winter. “If this winter’s sales match up with other winter home sales, I would say that would be a very positive sign,” Yun said. “Let’s give it time.”

In the meantime, Yun said those with strong credit who can buy, should buy, while mortgage interest rates are still at a 50-year low.

“I don’t expect rates to remain low. They may increase next year,” Yun said. “If you’re willing to stay well within a budget and are comfortable with it, at a 4.4 mortgage interest rate you’re protected under inflation.”

Check out Yun’s PowerPoint presentation here.

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California Department of Real Estate Commissioner Jeff Davi spoke at a SILVAR District tour meeting in Los Gatos last week and said much of the same thing. He told REALTORS® that “there are better days ahead.”

Davi marveled at the vast improvement in housing affordability and historically low interest rates.  “I promise you this, rates are not going to stay at 3 or 3.5 percent fixed. The affordability index is fabulous. Buyers are now better off. They have great opportunities in this market,” Davi said.

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Left to right: SILVAR President-elect Gene Lentz, DRE Commissioner Jeff Davi, Board Director Suzanne Yost, Los Gatos/Saratoga District Chair Bill Rehbock and C.A.R. Past President Jim Hamilton.

 

So, what’s holding back a full recovery?

Yun said the unemployment rate has stopped rising dramatically, but it is still high, and while we are seeing some job creation, it’s not coming quick enough and not large in numbers. Corporate profits are rising, but business spending is down. Businesses continue to hesitate because they’re uncertain about how they will be impacted by health care legislation, the recently passed financial regulatory bill and potential taxes. Right now, they realize they can still make a profit with fewer employees.

“We need job creation. If business spending increases, the economy would be more robust,” Yun said.

Pay attention to foreclosure numbers, as these numbers will signal what’s ahead, Davi said. In 2006, there were 12,000 foreclosures. In 2008, there were 240,000 foreclosures. Last year, the number of foreclosures slightly fell to 200,000 – still a lot, but a good sign, nevertheless. Foreclosures need to get back to the 2006 level, Davi said.

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