The Way Real Estate Should Be!

Please subscribe to our blog to keep up to date on National, State and local real estate info, as well as local happenings and other useful info.    

Feb. 16, 2021

Phoenix Real Estate update for February 2021

Median Sales Price Up 18%, Inventory Down 61%
Luxury Sales Over $3M up 140%

 

February phoenix real estate market update

 

For Buyers:
Yes, it’s still a good time to buy.  Is it fun?  No.  

Inventory is down 61% from this time last year and competition among buyers is steep.  New listings are not keeping up with demand and the purchase experience can be stressful, disappointing and heartbreaking; but it’s a good time to buy.

The median sales price has risen 18% to $339,000 and the median monthly rental rate through the Arizona Regional MLS has also risen 18%.  A 1,500-2,000 square foot home is roughly $1,600-$1,700 per month to purchase with 10% down while that same home rents at a median of $1,850 per month, up $250 over last year at this time.  For those who would like to reduce and stabilize their monthly housing expense with a historically low 30-year fixed mortgage rate, it’s a good time to buy.

According to the National Association of Home Builders, a family making the median annual income of $72,300 in Greater Phoenix could afford 60.6% of what sold in the 4th Quarter of 2020. That rate has been steadily declining, but it’s still within the normal range of 60-75% for now.  In San Francisco, the median sales price is $1,350,000 and a family making the median annual income of $130,900 can only afford 11% of what’s selling there.  For those who can work from home and no longer need to live in the same expensive city as their employer, it’s a good time to buy.

Finally, it’s a good time to buy because Greater Phoenix is experiencing a housing shortage. Over the past decade a gap between the total number of housing units built and the total number of people to be housed has been growing wider and developers have not been able to bridge it.  This is not something that will be solved this year, and probably not next year either. As affordability wanes, it’s a good time to stake your claim on a home while it’s still an option.

For Sellers:
Brace yourself, the showings are coming.  It’s not uncommon these days to see a stampede of buyers through a home within the first day or so on the market.  It doesn’t matter the price range, all areas and types of homes are flying off the market and so far this month 37% of closings are over asking price. 

The most impressive development has been in the luxury market. After California announced it was considering raising income and other taxes last summer, contracts over $1M surged in Greater Phoenix. So far in 2021, sales between $1M-$3M are up 102% and sales over $3M are up 140% over last year and there is little sign of a slow down.  

Appreciation rates based on annual sales between $1M-$2M range between 5%-6.5% and 2%-5% over $2M.  While the northeast cities of Paradise Valley and Scottsdale have long been associated with luxury real estate, Gilbert has emerged in the top 5 cities for sales over $1M in 2020.

Appreciation rates for homes sold below $600K range from 7%-11% annually and 5%-7% for sales between $600K-$1M.

Posted in Real Estate News
Jan. 19, 2021

Phoenix Real Estate update for January 2021

2020 Broke the Record for Luxury Sales
Supply Down 51%, Slim Pickings in 2021

January 2021 real estate update

For Buyers:
There were 111,036 new listings added to the Arizona Regional MLS (ARMLS) in 2020, only 38 more than 2019, while 100,650 sold.  As of January 10th, 2021 there were only 6,162 listings still active in the MLS, which is the lowest supply count recorded in at least 20 years. To make matters worse, 10% of those properties are outside of the Greater Phoenix boundary.

While the number of new listings barely changed last year, demand for homes accelerated between June and December to 35% above normal. Luxury sales over $1M soared after the pandemic restrictions were lifted. While they were already up 7.7% over 2019 at the end of June, by the end of December annual luxury sales were up 48.7%, securing an enormous record for 2020 at 2,575 sales over $1M.

Outside of the MLS, new home developers have been struggling to meet demand as well.  Despite the road blocks in production due the pandemic, forest fires and supply line disruptions, as of November builders still managed to sell 14% more homes and obtain 28,204 more single family permits for future supply, up 24% over 2019.  The median price of a new single family home only rose 6% from $333K to $353K and considering the median price of a resale home is $335K, that’s extremely competitive.

As supply began to drop last month, December saw 33% of sales closed over asking price and only 10% involved seller-paid closing costs in the 4th Quarter.
Bottom line for buyers starting their search in 2021, be on top of your loan and be ready to pounce on every new listing that fits your needs. Many new listings will be on the market for less than a week prior to accepting a contract.

For Sellers:
The state of Arizona ranked 3rd in the nation for population growth behind Texas and Florida in the latest 2020 Census release.  When the full report comes out later this year, we expect to see California as the #1 source of inbound migration for Greater Phoenix.  Moving companies such as Atlas, United Van Lines and North American have released their annual migration reports and 2 out of the 3 list Arizona in their Top 5 states for inbound moves. United Van Lines specifically cites “retirement” as the primary reason for 37% of inbound moves, 70% were over 55 years old and 63% made incomes over $100,000 per year.

While median home prices have risen 15.5% year-over-year, the median rental rates through ARMLS have also risen 12.9% from $1,550 to $1,750/month. This increase, combined with historically low mortgage rates, has fueled more demand to purchase. 

As the population continues to grow, the housing gap is becoming harder to close. After a decade of underbuilding, this will take more than a few months or a year to correct.  However as prices rise and affordability quickly drops, it’s reasonable to expect some demand to drop with it. With that expectation, home prices are still projected to rise throughout 2021 but possibly at a slower rate in the latter half of the year.  It will be another great year for sellers.

Dec. 15, 2020

Phoenix Real Estate update for December 2020

Supply Down 48%, Contracts Up 35%
CARES Act and Eviction Moratorium Due to Expire December 31st

Phoenix real estate update for december 2020

For Buyers:
Existing protections in place for homeowners during times of financial hardship have come to the forefront in 2020.  While both renters and homeowners alike were struck with unemployment and loss of income this year, homeowners in particular were provided with more immediate relief and a pathway to recovery than their renting counterparts.  

Case in point, there are few experts in the field predicting a foreclosure crisis for homeowners; however there are many housing experts concerned about an eviction crisis for renters after the eviction moratorium ends December 31st.  Under normal circumstances in Arizona a homeowner typically has to miss multiple monthly payments before the lender files a Notice of Trustee Sale, which then provides another 90 days for the homeowner to remediate the situation prior to foreclosure.  However, a renter can be at risk of eviction within a few shorts weeks after missing a single rent payment depending on their landlord’s disposition and rental agreement.

The CARES Act extended another layer of protection for homeowners through forbearance, allowing them to postpone their payments in 3 month increments for up to a year without an effect on their credit. Many lenders have already put in place refinance options after forbearance for homeowners who have accumulated thousands of dollars in unpaid mortgage payments. There is no such plan for renters after the eviction moratorium.  Their rents will be due in full and if they haven’t received rental assistance or sufficient unemployment benefits to cover the amount owed, they will be facing eviction and their credit will be affected. 

So for those questioning whether or not purchasing a home is a good financial decision, the answer is yes. The value of owning a home is not just in its market value, but in stabilizing monthly housing costs during a period of rising rents and the comfort of more protection during times of financial and job insecurity.  Losing one’s home, whether rented or owned, is one of the most stressful things a human being can endure.

For Sellers:
If you are one of the many homeowners facing the end of a forbearance period sometime in the next 3-4 months, you have at least 5 options to remediate your situation.  1) STAY IN YOUR HOME and consult your retirement plan administrator about tapping into your retirement account without penalty until December 31st to cover your unpaid payments; 2) STAY IN YOUR HOME and consult a lender about refinancing your unpaid payments into a new loan; 3) MOVE OUT and rent your home for more than your mortgage payment to cover missed payments or replenish your retirement account; 4) MOVE OUT and consult a lender about acquiring a new loan on a more affordable home; 5) MOVE OUT and sell your home for more than your mortgage balance, walk away with your equity and credit intact to purchase another day. 

None of these options were viable solutions for homeowners facing the 2008 housing crash 12 years ago.  These options are why there is little risk of a foreclosure crisis and price crash in 2021. Because population growth has consistently outpaced housing growth every year over the past 10 years, rents and values are projected to continue rising through 2021 in Greater Phoenix unless builders are able and willing to ramp up production at ludicrous speed.  They are doing their best, but even 25,549 permits issued and 19,889 sales closed on brand new single family homes through October this year hasn’t proven to be enough to satisfy the level of demand for housing that has descended on Greater Phoenix.  Sellers need not worry about their home values declining anytime soon.

Nov. 19, 2020

Phoenix Real Estate update for November 2020

Phoenix real estate market update november 2020

Demand for Homes Up 36%
Rents up 17% Since April

For Buyers:
The Rent vs. Buy scenario has become heavily in favor of buying over the last 5 months.  Eviction moratoriums due to the pandemic have greatly reduced turnover rates in a rental market that is already short of supply.  Lease rates on listings through the Arizona Regional MLS have increased 17% since April overall; and for a home between 1,500-2,000sf the median lease price in the 4th Quarter is $1,850 a month, up a whopping $255 from the 4th Quarter last year.  

While leases have been rising, home values have also risen 16%; however declining interest rates have kept the monthly payments level. The median sales price for a 1,500-2,000sf home is currently $316,000, up $27,000 since April.  Despite this 9% increase (assuming a $15,000-$30,000 investment and interest rate under 3%), purchasing a home could possibly save a renter hundreds of dollars on their monthly budget while simultaneously building equity and ensuring a level of stability in their housing cost. 

For Sellers:
While many people are waiting for the final results of the 2020 election, at least one thing is for certain in Greater Phoenix.  The housing market will not crash in 2021 regardless of the outcome. It may be hard to believe, but the new and resale housing markets don’t move quickly. Unlike the stock market where it takes a push of a button to sell a stock and record the price, it takes longer to sell a home between the marketing time and escrow process. In today’s market, it may take up to a week to negotiate an offer and another 30-45 days for the price to be publicly recorded.  When a market weakens, it takes longer.

Supply in Greater Phoenix has been gradually shrinking for 6 years and was the driver behind price appreciation until the pandemic. To put things in perspective, the Arizona Regional MLS should seasonally have between 25,000-30,000 listings active at this time of year; as of November 9th there are under 8,600.  That type of shortage doesn’t happen overnight and new construction will not be able to fill the gap quickly.

Listings Under Contract should seasonally have between 9,000-10,000 in escrow at this time of year;  as of November 9th there are over 13,000.  This level was reached in June and has stayed consistent for nearly 5 months. Even if demand were to scale back in 2021 and return to a normal level, the market would not see a massive drop in prices; just a slowing in appreciation.

Posted in Real Estate News
Oct. 22, 2020

Phoenix Real Estate update for October 2020

Homes Under Contract Up 36% / Sales Up 23%
Median Sale Price Up 18%

 For Buyers:
A common complaint in the resale market is “there’s nothing for sale”.  However from July through September, the Realtor® community added 30,340 brand new listings to the Arizona Regional MLS and sold 27,746, leaving just 8,203 remaining listings for sale.  That makes this 3rd Quarter the 2nd best in Greater Phoenix history for closings, falling just 436 sales short of 2005.  If that’s not impressive enough, there are another 13,502 properties currently under contract and scheduled to close in the next 30-45 days; up 36% from this time last year.  With this information we can conclude that there is plenty for sale, but many listings are simply not in Active status longer than 24 hours in order to be counted.  Getting the supply count to rise right now is like trying to fill a bathtub when the drain is wide open.

Over half of all listings that went under contract in the 3rd Quarter were Active for only 9 days or less prior to contract.  To quote the movie “Spaceballs”, that’s ludicrous speed!  As exhausting and stressful as it is for buyers and their agents, supply and demand measures indicate prices in Greater Phoenix will continue to rise well into 2021. Hopefully the short-term pain will lead to long-term gain for those who ultimately win a successful contract.

For Sellers:
Appreciation has accelerated significantly since June of this year.  The median sale price is up 18% since last October, but the current measure of $329,900 is up 12% from where it was just 4 months ago at $295,000. While that’s exciting for sellers, the speed at which homes are selling is causing some to worry they will not find somewhere to go after their home closes.  As a result, Realtors® are dusting off rarely used seller contingency addendums stating that any accepted contract will be contingent on the seller finding a home themselves prior to close.  

Compared to last year, sellers are asking 15-20% more for their homes in all price ranges between $150K-$500K. Between $500K-$1M, list prices are up 9-13% and 3-8% for price ranges over $1M.  The highest percentage of sales over asking price in the last 30 days are occurring between $200K-$400K with a measure of 34-45%.  While that’s a high percentage, it’s not the majority of sales. Most properties are still closing at or below asking price. However for those who did go over asking price under $400K, most winning bids were within $7,000 of list.

Posted in Real Estate News
Sept. 17, 2020

Phoenix Real Estate update for September 2020

Wow! 17% Spike in Contracts over $600K in August
34% of Homes Closed Over Asking Price

For Buyers:
The first few weeks of August saw a surprising 17% spike in listings under contract over $600K. This is highly unusual as typically contract activity declines in the 2nd half of the year, especially on the high end; but this is the year 2020 and it’s been full of surprises. What is causing this spike in buyer demand in the luxury market? Luxury sales are partially influenced by stock market performance and corporate profits. August was a good month for the stock market, but the 2nd quarter was not good for corporate profits at all. In fact, they fell to levels we haven’t seen in a decade.  The answer may lie in what’s been dubbed “wealth flight”.  Some states like California are considering increases in income taxes, corporate taxes and a new “wealth tax” in the wake of the pandemic. As a result, the threat of new taxes on already hurting balance sheets is enough for companies and their employees to make the decision to move. This, coupled with the work-from-home movement, is fueling demand in Metro Phoenix where taxes and the cost of housing are comparatively more affordable than other cities.  For buyers waiting for prices to decline, there is no indication of that happening soon despite apocalyptic predictions of another foreclosure wave; at least not while the Valley has a net increase in population moving to the area.  A reasonable expectation over the next year is that prices will continue to rise sharply in the short-term, then possibly rise slower if affordability rates begin to suffer.  The only beam of hope for buyers right now is a boost in new construction. 

For Sellers:
For at least 12 years, builders have been reluctant to ramp up production of new housing supply to accommodate population growth; which is understandable considering they were burned severely when the housing market crashed in 2008. This reluctance has led the market to our current shortage of homes for sale and a frenzy of competition for existing resale homes.  However, last July saw over 3,000 single family permits filed; the largest number filed in a month since March 2007. This should provide some much needed relief for buyers and some added competition for sellers in the coming months. While exciting, this increase in new home permits is not alarming.  The biggest month recorded was July 2004 with 6,291 permits filed.  
That said, 35% of homes closed through the Arizona Regional MLS in August sold over asking price. As incredible as that sounds, this is not the first time Greater Phoenix has seen this measure spike. In fact, 2005, 2009 and 2012 all saw higher percentages; each peak was short-lived over the course of just 2-3 months before sharply dropping again.  This is because as more sellers test market limits and ask for higher and higher prices, their likelihood of selling over asking price drops significantly.

Aug. 24, 2020

Open houses

Often I get asked about open houses during initial meetings with clients.   I recorded a quick video discussing some of the pros and cons of holding an open house during the marketing period of your listing.   What are your thoughts about them?  Leave a comment below!

Posted in Selling Your Home
Aug. 12, 2020

Phoenix Real Estate update for August 2020

July Breaks Records in 2020
65% of Homes Affordable in Greater Phoenix

August real estate 2020

For Buyers:
It’s a jungle out there for buyers, but despite recent appreciation rates the HOI* measure for Greater Phoenix increased to 64.8 for the 2nd Quarter 2020; the previous measure was 63.0. This means that a household making the current median family income of $72,300 per year could afford 64.8% of what sold in the 2nd Quarter of 2020.  By comparison, the HOI measure for the United States was 59.6. 
Historically, a normal range for this measure is between 60-75. During the “bubble” years of excessive appreciation between 2005-2006, the HOI plummeted from 60.1 to 26.6. Typically if it falls below 60, the market should start to see a drop in demand.  With the most recent increase however, Greater Phoenix is still within normal range and experiencing demand 20% above normal for this time of year.
What makes this market significantly different from the infamous bubble and crash is the relation between resale housing growth and population growth. In the early 2000’s, housing was growing faster than the population and creating a glut. This glut went unnoticed due to excessive speculator (i.e. “false”) demand fueled by loose lending practices. When loans tightened up, the glut came roaring into focus as vacant inventory soared to over double the normal levels.  However since 2006, the population has grown faster than housing.  It has taken 14 years, but this population growth fueled by job growth has finally consumed the glut of re-sale housing created during the bubble years and now the market is facing a shortage of homes for sale.
This type of market and appreciation is not sustainable over time, however it’s here now and properties purchased today are expected to continue appreciating over the next 6-12 months.

For Sellers:
So much for the “Summer Slowdown”, July had a record number of closings go through the Arizona Regional MLS; surpassing every July as far back as 2001.  July also broke records in dollar volume with $3.9 Billion sold. The best July ever recorded prior was in 2005 at $2.9 Billion. The monthly appreciation rate finalized 12.5% higher than 2019 and was the 4th highest appreciation rate for July going back to 2001.  
One third of homes closed were over asking price and only 15% involved any sort of seller-paid closing cost assistance; down from a high of 27% last May.  Half of all sellers who accepted contracts in the first week of August did so with 7 days or less on the market.
Contracts on luxury homes over $1M are up an incredible 93% over last year at this time. Between $500K-$1M, contracts are up 64%. Between $300K-$500K, they’re up 39%. Between $250K-$300K, up 15%.  If you need to sell, this is the time to do it.

Posted in Real Estate News
July 14, 2020

Phoenix Real Estate Update for July 2020

Phoenix Real Estate

 

For Buyers:
Greater Phoenix has a population of approximately 4.8 million people and 1.4 million single family homes, condos and townhomes in total inventory.  As of July 8th, only 8,579 of these units were available for sale through the Arizona Regional MLS.  If that number doesn’t cause you to gasp, then this might: only 1,023 are single family homes under $300,000 and that number is diminishing every day. The last month has seen a surge of buyer activity, but it was not met with an equivalent surge of new listings. New listings overall compared to last year were down 7.8% while contracts in escrow soared 24% higher.  For buyers under $300K however, new listings were down 22% in June compared to last year and are down 38% so far in July.  This is causing an extreme amount of buyer competition in this price range. When buyers expand to over $300K, then new home construction starts supplementing inventory and providing some much needed alternatives.  The top 3 cities for single family home permits are Phoenix, Mesa and Buckeye with notable spikes in building permits issued in Surprise, Maricopa and Queen Creek.  Most new homes are selling between $300K-$500K, but buyers looking for a brand new single family home under $300K still have some options. Their best bet is in Pinal County or Buckeye with average sizes between 1,800-2,000 square feet for their budget. Conversely, new listings over $500K saw a spike last month, up 20% over last year.  1,596 new listing came on the market and 2,046 contracts were accepted in this price range in June.

For Sellers:
Brace yourselves.  Half of the sellers who accepted contracts under $400K in the first week of July were on the market for just 8 days or less with their agent prior to contract acceptance.  Sellers who took contracts between $400K-$600K had a median of 14 days on the market with their agent and those who landed contracts between $600K-$1M had a median of 41 days.  It’s a good time to be a seller.  While 28% of all sales in July so far have closed over asking price, that percentage peaks at 41% for those between $200K-$300K. Top cities for closings over asking price are Tolleson, Avondale, Glendale, Gilbert and Youngtown.  Gilbert is the only city in that list with a median sale price over $300K.  Seller-assisted closing costs remain popular and were involved in 23% of all sales in the first week of July. That percentage increases to 33% on transactions closed between $150K-$300K.  Top areas where 50%-60% of sales involved seller accepted closing cost assistance were Youngtown, West Phoenix, Aguila, Glendale, and Tolleson. This supports the theory that sellers receiving offers over asking price in the West Valley and other affordable areas are still open to accepting closing cost assistance if a contract meets their most important needs.

Posted in Real Estate News
June 15, 2020

Frenzy Is Back - 23% of Sales Close Over Asking Price

Frenzy Is Back - 23% of Sales Close Over Asking Price
Luxury Rebound - Contracts Over $500K Up 159%

For Buyers:
Greater Phoenix is officially back to a frenzy market with more properties under contract than available for sale.  Over the past 4 weeks the number of contracts accepted weekly has jumped another 20% since last month’s report, bringing the total recovery since April 5th to 68% and 2.5% higher than it was in late February; before the stock market crashed and the stay home orders were imposed due to COVID-19.  

The most frenzied areas are those with average sale prices between $200K-$400K.  That includes just about all of Southeast Valley and West Valley, North and South Phoenix.  At last count, there were 2,061 properties for sale between $200K-$300K and 4,333 under contract already.  Between $300K-$400K, there were 2,006 available for sale and 3,017 under contract (24% higher than this time last year).  

While all price ranges have rebounded in contract activity, May saw the largest comeback between $500K-$1M where the number of accepted contracts soared 167% from a low of 148 contracts the first week of April to 395 the first week of June.  That’s 58% higher than last year’s count in the same week of 250 contracts. Even more dramatic, contracts over $1M are now up 85% compared to this week last year.

The result for buyers is an inventory that’s back to a pre-pandemic low. In our March update, inventory was at a historic low of 11,087 listings before vacation rentals began flooding the market for sale.  Inventory rose 35% over the course of 4-5 weeks and peaked in mid-April. Since then, inventory has consistently dropped week over week and now lies at 11,232; just 145 more listings than before this whole situation began. 

Low interest rates and positive affordability indicators continue to fuel demand and cause prices to rise.  The big question buyers ask, “Is it still a good time to buy?”. The answer is yes, for now.  Affordability is still within normal range, which is a good reason why there’s so much demand. However, if affordability drops below the normal range for those making the median family income, then the market will begin to cool.  We are not there yet. It’s best to get in while it’s affordable.

For Sellers:
Not surprisingly, there is an increasing percentage of closings over asking price.  23% of all closings so far in June have recorded over asking price, up from 17% recorded in January and 19% recorded in February.  That percentage increases to 38% for closings between $200K-$250K and 27% between $250K-$300K.  It’s not uncommon for sellers to experience multiple offers, escalation clauses and appraisal waivers in today’s environment. In fact, there have been reports of 70 competing offers or more on homes under $300K. 

Sellers who have been on the fence about listing their home lately should seriously consider it now and take advantage while the market is hot.  This spurt in buyer activity may peak very soon and then fall into the typical seasonal decline the Greater Phoenix market experiences every year from July to December.  Pent up demand from the pandemic is now being released, but there’s no guarantee that it will continue at this level for long.  If you planned to sell your home this year, now is the time to list it.

Posted in Real Estate News