In a Wall Street Journal article from May 11, 2017, by Laura Kusisto and Chris Kirkham, we read that millennials and other younger buyers are becoming much more focused on BUYING rather than renting in the past year. This trend is likely to continue.
It is not surprising with lower unemployment, still-low interest rates and FHA loans with 3.5% down payments available to home buyers (*buy to OWN, not as an investment). What effect does this have on us as investors? Seemingly it will drain the rental pool.
In reality, however, there is a great shortage of good single family homes since housing starts have not yet made up for the gap in new construction created during the recession. Thus renters are still likely to be quite plentiful. Prices, however, are likely to get a boost from this increased buying activity. The home buyers using the 3.5%-down FHA loan are less price-sensitive and willing to pay more for a home they like (after all the difference for them is only 3.5% of the extra amount which is negligible).
Appraisals will track higher as sales prices increase, creating a virtuous cycle of appreciation, also fueled by the inaccurate, but popular sites like Zillow, Trulia (etc.) which reflect the increasing prices in their estimates.
In some of our markets, it may not be a bad idea to sell and take profits. Some markets have already appreciated quite a bit in the past few years, markets like Phoenix, Las Vegas and Dallas. In other markets, as prices increase our equity builds up faster.
Another benefit is since the younger generation of buyers seeks less expensive homes, the builders are creating more and more of those see in the WSJ (article below). Since these homes have exactly the kind of size and price we seek as investors, it will widen the inventory pool from which to buy, as investors are sometimes faced with tight selections.
We will discuss this issue, as well as much more, including the improvement in FNMA’s loan guidelines affecting investors, during our 1-Day Expo on Saturday, May 20th near the San Francisco Airport. Mention this blog and you can attend free. There will be market teams, lenders, expert speakers on issues critical to investors, and lots of networking. To see some detail, please go to www.icgre.com/events. To register or contact us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Wall Street Journal article is copied in its entirety below:
The Next Hot Housing Market: Starter Homes
Millennials are buying homes, steering builders toward lower price points
Home buyer Darin Fredericks and his wife Summer Fredericks in the kitchen of their new home in Ontario, Calif., last November. PHOTO: PATRICK T. FALLON FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Updated May 11, 2017 8:09 p.m. ET
First-time buyers are rushing to buy homes after a decade on the sidelines, promising to kick a housing market already flush with luxury sales into a higher gear.
Tracking home sales to a particular age group is hard, but a series of data points form a mosaic of a generation of young people ready to buy: The number of new-owner households was double the number of new renter households in the first quarter of this year, the share of first-time buyers is creeping back toward the historical average, and mortgages for first-timers are on the rise.
“They’re crawling out of their parents’ basements, they’re forming households and they’re looking to buy,” said Doug Bauer, chief executive of home builder Tri Pointe Group Inc., which operates in eight states.
In a shift, new households are overwhelmingly choosing to buy rather than rent. Some 854,000 new-owner households were formed during the first three months of the year, more than double the 365,000 new-renter households formed during the period, according to Census Bureau data. It was the first time in a decade there were more new buyers than renters, according to an analysis by home-tracker Trulia.
Homebuilders are beginning to shift their focus away from luxury homes and toward homes at lower price points to cater to this burgeoning millennial clientele. Demographers generally define millennials as people born between roughly 1980 and 2000.
In the first quarter of this year, 31% of the speculative homes built by major builders were smaller than 2,250 square feet, indicating they were in the starter-home range, according to housing-research firm Zelman & Associates. That is up from 27% a year ago and 24% in the first quarter of 2015.
“There’s an increasing confidence level in that part of the market,” said Gregg Nelson, co-founder of California home builder Trumark Cos. “The recovery is finally starting to take hold in a broader way.”
The shift reflects a reversal of a pattern that has driven the five-year housing-market expansion.
Up until now, the luxury market has soared, while the more affordable end of the market has struggled. Tough lending standards, slow wage growth, growing student-debt obligations and a newfound fear of homeownership have combined to crimp demand among millennials in particular.
Now, the return of first-time buyers is allaying fears that millennials might eschew homeownership permanently. But it also provides an infusion of new demand while housing supply is tight and home price growth is significantly outstripping wage gains.
Home prices in February increased by 5.8% over the same month a year earlier, according to the most recent S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index.
The return of first-time buyers is accelerating. In all, they have accounted for 42% of buyers this year, up from 38% in 2015 and 31% at the lowest point during the recent housing cycle in 2011, according to Fannie Mae, which defines first-time buyers as anyone who hasn’t owned a home in the past three years.
While economists and builders said lending standards have started to ease, getting a mortgage remains challenging for young buyers with shorter credit histories and, in many cases, student debt. Mortgage rates are also expected to rise further this year, posing an added challenge. Rates for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has risen to 4.05%, up from about 3.5% in November, according to Freddie Mac.
In Orange County, Calif., Trumark’s Mr. Nelson said he has been selling entry-level homes at nearly double the rate of his higher-end ones. He is even gaining confidence to build homes in more far-flung locations. The company is about to begin construction on a 114-home project in the Inland Empire east of Los Angeles and another development in Manteca, Calif., about 80 miles east of San Francisco. Both areas were hard-hit during the housing crash and were among the slowest to recover.
Builders largely avoided the exurbs after the bubble burst in 2006. But because the land there is cheaper, they can build lower-end homes more profitably.
“Most builders really preferred to stick straight down the fairway, right at the corner of Main and Main. They were afraid to go back into the rough where they built a lot of homes in the prior cycle,” said Alan Ratner, a senior home-building analyst at Zelman.
Outside Las Vegas, Tri Pointe has introduced a new home design that is specifically targeted to millennial buyers, featuring indoor-outdoor patios and deck spaces, as well as a separate downstairs bedroom-and-bathroom suite that could be rented out to a housemate. Mr. Bauer said the homes, geared toward first-time buyers, have been selling more rapidly than pricier homes.
Joey Liu, a 28-year-old technology worker, purchased his first home in San Jose, Calif., earlier this year. He said it is more expensive than renting but that he is getting to the stage in life where it was time to buy.
“A lot of friends of mine bought a home so I started thinking maybe it was time to buy a home and stop paying rent,” said Mr. Liu, who settled on a three-bedroom townhouse for $690,000. He plans to rent out a room to help with the expenses.
He had three housewarming parties to celebrate his newfound status. “This is my first house, so it definitely feels different,” he said.
Builders say their return to the starter-home market shouldn’t invite comparisons to the fevered construction of the mid-2000s.
“One of the misconceptions is that here we go again, this is another 2005, 2006 where all these builders are going to build hundreds of thousands of homes. We’re not going crazy,” said Brent Anderson, vice president of investor relations at Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Meritage Homes Corp. Mr. Anderson said that last year the company was building four to five speculative homes per community and is now up to 6.4 on average.
Building executives said one challenge is that many people are buying first homes later in life, meaning they have higher incomes and greater expectations molded by years of living in luxury downtown rentals. Such buyers also appear wary of driving farther out to get more space.
Sheryl Palmer, president, and chief executive of Scottsdale-Ariz.-based Taylor Morrison Home Corp., said to cater to this demographic the company is building more three-story townhouses or single-family homes on narrow lots. She said about one-third of the company’s buyers this year are millennials, up from 22% last year.
Even Toll Brothers Inc., which typically builds homes for the top end of the market, is venturing into lower price points. In Houston, the company is building homes starting in the mid-$300,000s range, while a typical Toll home in the area costs around $850,000.
Appeared in the May. 12, 2017, print edition as ‘Generation of Renters Now Buying.’
The Dow closed down 588 points last Wednesday as worries of a China Slowdown permeate the business community. Even though there was some recovery in the market on Wednesday the market is still volatile. In looking at this from the prism of a single family home investor; there are pros and cons to consider.
On the pro side, it’s already assumed that any interest rate hike by the fed will now be postponed until things feel stable. Since it takes time for a rate hike to translate to mortgage rates, we get more time with our delightfully low mortgages. Of course, since most mortgages have yearly caps, it will take even longer (in some cases much longer) for rates to climb in a significant way.
Also on the pro side, people are confused as to where money should operate. The knee-jerk
reaction is to have money sit as cash (with close to zero yields). However, when people are scared of stock markets, real estate and (especially) single family homes usually become more interesting as a safe hard asset that produces income, which we tell our clients at ICG as well.
People may also feel this is not a bad time to pull money out of stocks and finally buy a home for themselves since they might have been planning to do it anyway – this would not be a bad time to deploy that cash, right into locking in a low rate 30-year fixed loan. This, of course, would boost real estate markets in the single family home sector.
On the con side, obviously what is happening is not engendering a lot of overall economic confidence and more doom-and-gloom messages are circulating. This can create an environment where people “hunker down” which will not help the housing market.
We will also have Ralph Bunje Jr. talking about reverse and regular 1031 exchanges and how to do them right, and Charles Byrd about using Evernote for business, and total life organization and efficiency. We will have market teams from the best United States markets and lots of Q & A, networking and learning. Anyone mentioning this blog can attend for free with two guests. Just email us at email@example.com or call at 415-927-7504. Looking forward to seeing you!
Investors who have been buying older homes from bank foreclosures during the recession are now realizing some of the benefits of buying new homes built this year, in 2015 direct from developers (or minimally a massive renovation – like new). The lower future incidence of repairs, the warranties, the potential developer giveaways–possible only in new home purchases (a builder can give the buyer a covered patio which may be a $6,000 option, but only costs the builder $2,000 to build) and the modern amenities and floor plans are starting to attract more investors.
Since buying homes is in its core a long term investment, starting with new homes is a great send-off with many extra years of performance available. Getting loans on new homes is usually one of the easiest procedures, and with today’s low rates, locking in a 30-year fixed rate loan on a brand-new home is an excellent “stake in the ground” for anyone’s future. Of course, investors should not just blindly buy brand-new homes. The locations have to have the numbers – the right rents for the right prices.
There are some excellent markets providing very good numbers and cash flows in good areas.
For more information, you are invited to attend our quarterly ICG Real Estate 1-Day Expo this Saturday. You will not only meet teams from the most relevant markets and see the possibilities for yourself, but there will be expert speakers on important topics such as the new twists in Asset Protection (you must know about this), buying real estate from your Self-Directed IRA, and getting real estate financing for purchases from within your IRA.
There will be information for new investors and established investors on how to move forward powerfully. There will also be lenders to update us as to the ever-improving loan possibilities for investors (domestic and foreign), and lots of great Q&A and networking. The event is near the San Francisco Airport this Saturday, March 7th, from 10 AM to 6:30 PM. You may also register by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 415-927-7504.
In a Wall Street Journal article from December 31, 2014, by Kathleen Madigan, it is mentioned that overall in the United States (as per the Case-Shiller 20 City Index) prices were up 4.6% from the previous year by the end of October 2014. The pace of growth has slowed from 4.8% in September and 10% in the first quarter. The article goes on to say this could indicate the markets are moving toward stabilization.
Understandably, in Florida, there is likely to be more price appreciation, as the state as a whole reflects the recession effect due to the ultra-slow judicial foreclosure periods. All in all, however, it’s definitely time to look to the stable markets with great economies and low unemployment. It is time for the classic long term hold of houses, where the tenant pays off the (very low) fixed-rate mortgage while inflation keeps eroding it.
No doubt newer homes will figure more prominently in 2015. The classic investment thesis holds strong in 2015 with an extra HUGE bonus: super low interest rates are still here – but many think they will vanish in the coming years.
Happy New Year!
Below is the article in its entirety for your review:
SLOWING PRICE GAINS SUGGEST STABLER MARKET
By Kathleen Madigan (WSJ) Updated Dec. 31, 2014 12:41 a.m. ET
Yearly growth in home prices across the U.S. continued to moderate early in the fourth quarter, suggesting the housing market may be settling into a more sustainable recovery.
Prices nationwide increased 4.6% in the year ended in October, according to the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller home-price report released Tuesday. That was down from 4.8% in September and a far cry from the 10%-plus gains in the first quarter. A 20-city measure more closely followed by economists increased 4.5% over the year in October, also down sharply from double-digit gains earlier in the year.
Demand for housing has slowed significantly in recent months despite stronger job growth, a rebound in consumer confidence and falling gasoline prices, which puts more money into consumers’ pockets. Sales of both new and existing homes fell in November. Yet the slowing trend is a positive for the 2015 housing outlook, say economists who follow the industry.
Price appreciation of about 5% is close to a sweet spot where more buyers are able to purchase a home and current owners accumulate housing wealth, but the market avoids a price bubble that could trigger a financial crisis, as happened in 2007.
“It’s a healthier market because first-time buyers feel more comfortable about coming in,” said Bill Banfield, vice president of capital markets at mortgage lender Quicken Loans, adding that the industry needs more first-time buyers to buy smaller homes that allow existing owners to move up into new construction or to an existing house that better suits their needs.
For 2014, however, first-time buyers accounted for only 29% of existing-home sales, according to data from the National Association of Realtors, much less than the historical norm of 40% for sales of primary residences.
Economists at IHS Global Insight agree slower price appreciation is positive for the housing outlook. “Home appreciation at a reasonable pace makes homeownership an attainable dream,” said Stephanie Karol, a U.S. economist at IHS Global. A repeat of the double-digit growth seen in early 2014 “would risk producing a bubble,” she said.
But just as each real-estate market is local, she pointed out the Case-Shiller price index of 20 cities masks the individual pricing experience going on across the country.
“Prices are rising fastest in cities such as San Francisco where geographic or legal constraints limit new construction,” Ms. Karol said. Cities with fewer zoning laws and more space—such as Charlotte, N.C., and Phoenix—are seeing smaller price gains.
Still, the average home-price gain of about 5% is good, she said, and IHS Global is upbeat about home demand and prices in 2015. The forecasting firm projects home prices, as measured by an index compiled by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, will increase 5% over the course of next year and sales of new and existing homes will average 5.92 million, up from 2014’s current pace of about 5.3 million.
Here is a link to the Wall Street Journal U.S. Housing Market Tracker:
The WSJ reports (in an article on Saturday 10/18 by Joe Light), that Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and mortgage lenders are in discussions to ease lending standards; including loans with 3% down to homeowners and allowing people with weak credit access to home loans.
Apparently, an agreement is in sight to enact these measures.
Even if none of this trickles down to investors (which I doubt), this is great news. As more people qualify for loans, greater demand for homes is likely to help push values up in many markets. It will also be easier to sell investment homes due to the larger pool of potential homeowner buyers.
I suspect that, as usual, the more lax lending standards will reach investors in one form or another; making investors able to increase their portfolio at the current incredibly low rates (from a historical perspective). We are already seeing a local lender in Oklahoma City lending to foreigners at good investor rates (albeit at 50% down), as well as to investor purchases for investors owning between 10-15 financed properties (also with 50% down. In fact the loan is identical to the foreign investors’ loan). This lender has already agreed to lend in Atlanta and may soon expand to other states as well.
This is positive news for investors, no matter how you slice it.
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