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Nov. 14, 2019

Contracts In Escrow Up 19% Over Last Year

Contracts In Escrow Up 19% Over Last Year
Despite Rising Prices, Affordability is Good


For Buyers:
Buyers waiting for prices to come down have been sorely disappointed so far in 2019.  The average sale price per square foot is up 6.7% since last November and the median sales price is now $283,000, up $21,000 from last November’s measure of $262,000.  

Despite rising prices, affordability has remained normal throughout the year.  One relevant factor is Private Sector Earnings in Greater Phoenix has risen 4.5% annually as interest rates have continually declined.  The median family income was measured at $72,900 last quarter and families making that income could afford 68% of what sold last quarter (according to the HOI index published by the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo).  The historical norm for our market is 60-75%.  

Clearly not all buyers have parked on the fence, demand has been hovering 6-7% above normal for our area for about 4 months while supply is 44% below normal.  The only measurable relief for buyers is last month’s supply level was 47% below normal, so it’s 3% less hard to find something suitable.  

For Sellers:
The number of listings under contract may have declined 26% from its May seasonal peak, but it’s nearly 19% higher than it was this time last year.  This, combined with monthly sales up nearly 15% over last year, is a solid indicator that year-end closings will outperform last year despite a shaky start.  

Single Family permits (future supply) are up 4.6% year-to-date and multi-family permits are up 6.4%, reaching a level not seen since 2007. Single family home sales are up 5.7%, but new town home and condo sales are down a whopping 30%, which is surprising.  Resale condos and townhomes have increased in sales volume this year, so the drop in sales for new construction despite an increase in permits indicates that much of the multi-family units constructed are not for individual sale but are for rent.  

This is good news if you’re planning to sell your condo because the majority of developments are not competing for buyers.  This is not good news if you’re renting your condo nearby because that’s an increase in competing units for renters.  “Apartment style” private condo rental rates per square foot have grown less than 1% over the course of 3.5 years according to the Arizona Regional MLS records.

Commentary written by Tina Tamboer, Senior Housing Analyst with The Cromford Report
©2019 Cromford Associates LLC and Tamboer Consulting LLC

Posted in Real Estate News
Oct. 17, 2019

Lower mortgage rates are causing an epic housing shortage

Anyone out hunting for an affordable home today knows that the pickings are slim – and they are about to get slimmer.

Housing inventory hit a record low about two years ago, but a lull in home sales over the past year helped build back much-needed supply, especially in the mid-priced range. Then a sharp drop in rates this summer brought demand back and depleted that supply dramatically.

National housing inventory fell 2.5% annually in September, a sharper decline than August’s 1.8% decrease, according to

Supply has always been leanest on the low end, as investors have been very active in that price range since the foreclosure crisis.

Roughly 5 million mostly entry-level homes have been turned into single-family rentals, and strong demand for those rentals means investors are unlikely to put the homes up for sale anytime soon.

In addition, an unseasonably strong surge in demand at the end of summer and into this fall now has the supply of homes priced below $200,000 down 10% compared with a year ago.

The demand is being fueled by lower mortgage rates. The average rate on the 30-year fixed surged over 5% last November and stayed above 4.5% through March, according to Mortgage News Daily. That made for a lackluster spring housing market, traditionally the busiest time for buying.

Rates then began falling in May and particularly sharply in July and August. By the start of September the average rate was around 3.5%, and sales of both new and existing homes were surging back. Clearly there was substantial pent-up demand from the spring.

Demand also surged in the move-up market, causing supplies there to fall as well. The supply of homes priced between $200,000 and $750,000, which make up 60% of the market, flatlined in September, after 18 months of strong inventory growth. Supply is now expected to decline in the months ahead.

Dwindling options

“If, or better yet, when inventory in this segment begins to take a downturn, the vast majority of homebuyers are going to feel its effects as their options rapidly dwindle,” said George Ratiu, senior economist at “September inventory trends, especially in the mid-market, may be the canary in the coal mine that we could be headed for even lower levels of inventory in early 2020.”

The nation’s homebuilders are not helping the situation much either. Single-family housing starts have been rising very slowly, but mostly in the move-up and luxury segments of the market.

“It’s not just the overall supply of new construction that’s gone down, but the supply of starter homes, so it’s the affordability challenge at the entry level that’s been a particular challenge,” said Robert Dietz, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders. “Right now only about 10% of newly-built home sales are priced under $200,000. Five years ago that share was 1 in 5, and 10 years ago it was 40% of new home sales were priced under $200,000.”

Builders are unlikely to catch up with demand, according to Dietz, who said the market is now undersupplied by about 1 million housing units. Builders may want to build more at the entry level, but they are not able to given the current costs.

“We’ve faced what has been called a perfect storm of supply side challenges,” noted Dietz. “There has been an ongoing labor shortage, we lack the necessary land and lots to build homes, we’ve had building material cost concerns, and then probably the most important factor has been higher regulatory costs since the great recession.”

Builders are therefore putting up pricier homes, but that’s the category with the most supply. In fact, the supply of homes price above $750,000 was 4.7% higher in September compared with September 2018.

Higher demand for homes and lower supply will likely reignite the gains in home prices. Price gains had been shrinking throughout much of this year, but they have now stabilized, and in some markets the increases are widening again.

If mortgage rates should turn higher, then demand could fall back and price gains ease, but if they stay in the current low range, it is very likely that the housing shortage will only get worse, setting the nation up for an incredibly competitive and expensive spring 2020 market.

Posted in Real Estate News
Oct. 16, 2019

Homebuilder confidence surges to highest level in nearly two years, thanks to lower mortgage rates

U.S. homebuilders are loving today’s lower mortgage rates, which are bringing buyers back and boosting sales.

Builder confidence in the single-family market jumped 3 points in October to 71 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, or HMI. That is the highest level since February 2018 and up from 68 in October of last year. Anything above 50 is considered positive sentiment.

“The housing rebound that began in the spring continues, supported by low mortgage rates, solid job growth and a reduction in new home inventory,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde, a homebuilder from Torrington, Connecticut.

Of the index’s three components, current sales conditions rose 3 points to 78, sales expectations over the next six months jumped 6 points to 76 and buyer traffic rose 4 points to 54.

“The second half of 2019 has seen steady gains in single-family construction, and this is mirrored by the gradual uptick in builder sentiment over the past few months,” said Robert Dietz, chief economist at the NAHB. “However, builders continue to remain cautious due to ongoing supply side constraints and concerns about a slowing economy.”

Sentiment may be high, but single-family housing starts are rising very slowly. Builders continue to point to higher costs for land, labor, materials and especially regulatory compliance for their slow production as well as for their focus on the move-up and luxury markets. Housing supply is incredibly low, especially at the entry level, and builders are not doing much to replenish that inventory.

Regionally, on a three-month moving average, builder sentiment in the Northeast posted a 1-point gain to 60. It was also up 1 point to 58 in the Midwest, and in the South it increased 3 points to 73. The West region also saw a 3-point gain to 78.

Posted in Real Estate News
Oct. 9, 2019

Asking Prices up 9% Over Last Year, but are Buyers Paying It?


Asking Prices up 9% Over Last Year, but are Buyers Paying It?
These Homes Have Appreciated the Most since 2000

For Buyers:
The news media is filled with short-term predictions regarding the economy and how it will, or will not, affect real estate prices.  It’s understandable for buyers to want their home to appreciate in value after they purchase, who doesn’t?  However there is far too much attention paid to short-term influences and fluctuations these days and not enough attention paid to the long view.  Real estate is a long-term investment for many people.  Despite the euphoria of 2005-2007 and the nightmare of 2008-2011, on average homes are selling 81.6% higher today than they were in the year 2000.  That’s an average appreciation rate of 4.3% per year over the course of 19 years.  Smaller homes appreciated the most over time while larger homes appreciated the least.  Homes under 1,000sf have appreciated 122% since 2000, an average of 6.4% per year.  Those between 1,000-2,000sf appreciated 106%, an average of 5.6% per year.  2,000-3,000sf appreciated 68% at 3.6% per year.  3,000-4,000sf appreciated 49% at 2.6% per year and homes over 4,000sf appreciated 11% at 0.6% per year.

For Sellers:
Average asking prices per square foot are up 9% over this time last year and they’re continuing to rise. However, not one individual price range has risen 9% or more; confusing, right? That’s because the sharp increase in the average has more to do with a growing market share of luxury active listings over $500K as inventory has plummeted everywhere else. The highest increase is within $200K-$250K, where sellers are asking 5.6% more than they were last year. That’s followed by listings over $1M where they’re asking 4.2% more and $500K-$1M at 4.0%.  All other price ranges are just 1-3% higher.  But are buyers paying?  Actually, many of them are! In the $200K-$250K range, the average sales price per square foot is still 0.8% higher than the average list price; and between $250-$300K the average sales price is 6.8% higher than the average list per square foot. Things change over $500K.  Between $500K-$1M there’s a -6.3% gap between asking price and sales price and over $1M the average sales price is -15.1% below the average asking price. 

Commentary written by Tina Tamboer, Senior Housing Analyst with The Cromford Report
©2019 Cromford Associates LLC and Tamboer Consulting LLC

Posted in Real Estate News
Sept. 30, 2019

What is an "iBuyer" anyway??

What is an “iBuyer”??   


Simply put, the term iBuyer used to group companies that will submit an immediate offer on your home using automated techniques available online.  Companies in this category are most known as Open Door, Offerpad & Zillow, including various others.   The rise in occurrence has certainly been noticeable within the industry in the past 2-3 years since the market favors sellers to the greatest degree since August of 2005.  






All iBuyers Combined

Homes Purchased in July 2019





Homes Purchased in July 2018





Annual Change in purchases





Homes Sold in June 2019





Homes Sold in June 2018





Annual Change in Sales





Median Purchase Price in July 2019





Median Purchase Price in July 2018





Median Sale Price in July 2019





Median Sale Price in July 2018





Homes in Inventory at the End of July







“We can see significant growth in iBuyer activity compared to this time last year, a 25% increase in purchases and a 51% rise in sales. In recent months, Opendoor has consolidated its position as the dominant player while OfferPad and Zillow have experienced little change in volume since the beginning of 2019” - Ryan Sams Empire West Title


If you’re considering selling your home, should you consider selling to an iBuyer?   It is certainly something to consider.  The advantage to an iBuyer is typically convenience.  A seller doesn’t have to show their home to multiple buyers, and can usually pick the closing timeframe.  That being said, you should be very aware of how much your home could “retail” for and understand the net amount you would receive for home in all scenarios. 


I spoke to 4 different sellers that recently sold their home to either Zillow, Offerpad or Open Door.  Here’s their detailed info regarding pricing:


Seller #1 - Approx value = $265,000 - $270,000. Listed for $275,000 with good activity, but needed to sell quickly.  Accepted an offer from Offerpad for $253,000 with 6% fee and $4000 in repairs. Netted $233,000 for their home or 88% of retail value. 


Seller #2 - Approx value = $565,000 - Listed for $569,000 and accepted an offer from Zillow at $562,000 with 5.5% in concessions and $1,500 in repair credit.  Netted $535,000 for their home or 94% of retail value. 


Seller #3 - Approx value = $275,000 - Never listed, accepted $260,000 with 6% concessions and $1,500 repair credit.  Netted $242,900 for the home, or 88% of retail value.


Seller #4 - Approx value = $330,000 - Never listed, original offer of $315,000 from Offerpad. After inspection, Offerpad reduced offer to $297,000 due to “exterior paint (which would have realistically cost $4,000!), Net offer reduced to $280,000 after 6% concession or 85% of retail value. 


On average between these 4 case studies, the seller received 89% of retail value for their home.   Only 1 of the 4 cases essentially received a near-asking price offer compared to what they would could have received using a local agent.   If you are considering selling your home, it is important to look at all aspects of the sales process including average retail price, offer price, commissions and concessions.  All of these could greatly effect your net price, and will allow you determine if the convenience fee is of value to you.   



Sept. 17, 2019

4 Tips for Painting Your Home’s Exterior


Most homeowners turn to professional painters when updating their home’s exterior. However, with the right know-how and proper equipment, painting your home is easy and, let’s face it, more affordable. 

Homeowners who want to ‘DIY’ the job should consider these tips.

Behr paint
When you’re painting a home, not just any paint will do. Check the label — in this case, a paint and primer combination won’t work because it’s formulated only for interior surfaces.

1. Consider the Type of Paint 

Painting your home requires paint that’s thick and durable. So, you should choose between the two types of paint used for exterior surfaces: latex and oil-based paint. 

These paints are water-resistant, long-lasting, and are a great way to guarantee the house’s exterior stays fresh for years to come. 

Expect latex paint to dry quickly, be applied easily, and resist direct sunlight and age. Acrylic latex is higher-quality latex paint. 

Each paint product’s instructions vary, so check the label for information on application and special considerations. 

Watch and Learn:

When Is the Best Time to Paint Outside

Tape Measure
Before you can purchase paint, you need to measure your home’s square footage.

2. Measure the Square Footage 

Painting the outside of a home requires far more paint than is needed to cover the walls of a single room in the house. 

For this reason, you need to measure the house before buying the paint. You can determine the home’s square footage by multiplying its width, in feet, by its height. Measurements of the doors and windows won’t need to be subtracted as this will leave room for leftover paint. 

Watch and Learn:

Leftover paint can be used to cover the railing, steps, porches and similar elements that aren’t included in the initial calculations. 

It can also be useful to hang onto the extra paint for touch-ups after the painting job is done.

Paint house
Check with your homeowners association, if you belong to one, to verify that you can paint your home. Row houses, like this one, often are governed by HOA rules. (DepositPhotos)

3. Choose Your Colors

Most homeowners have free reign when it comes to choosing their paint colors. However, those who belong to a homeowners association must double-check the rules to determine if there are specific colors they have to use when painting the home. 

If this isn’t the case, consider using a fresh coat of your home’s current color or choose something different and new. While neutral colors are generally recommended, a primary color with a deeper greyscale value can match any home while giving a certain flair.

Painting a house
If you have a one-story home, you don’t need much equipment to paint a house. Just a sprayer and something to stand on!

4. Pick the Right Equipment

While choosing the right equipment for the job can seem intimidating, just consider the home’s size and take it from there. 

For small, one-story homes, you may just need a paint sprayer to cut back painting time.

For larger homes, you may need to rent an aerial lift. Boom lifts make it easier to reach every nook and cranny of the house.

Your home doesn’t need the expertise of a professional paint crew for it to look like it was professionally painted. 

Give your house an expert paint job with these four tips.

Sept. 16, 2019

Opendoor, online house-flipper, buys title company OS National in bid to own more of residential real estate market

With competition increasing among internet-based real estate firms for control of the homebuying and -selling market, companies including Opendoor, Redfin and Zillow are seeking ways to design an end-to-end experience when consumers buy, sell or trade a home online.

On Thursday, Opendoor — which makes instant online offers to buy homes — announced it was acquiring national title and escrow company OS National. The purchase allows Opendoor to integrate title, escrow and closings into its online buying and selling experience.

“Title and escrow has always been a major pain point in the homebuying and -selling process,” an Opendoor spokeswoman told CNBC. “This acquisition will enable us to start mitigating that pain point with deeper integration with OSN.”

The acquisition is Opendoor’s second after last September’s purchase of Open Listings, but the more significant one in terms of company size. Open Listings has 50-plus employees, OS National about 500.

Duluth, Georgia-based OS National has worked with Opendoor since 2016 and will become a wholly owned subsidiary. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Consumers are confused about the status of the close and timeline, overwhelmed by hundreds of documents to understand and sign, and frustrated by the delays due to multiple parties coordinating,” said Eric Wu, co-founder and CEO of Opendoor, in a statement announcing the deal.

Opendoor ranked No. 35 on the 2019 CNBC Disruptor 50 list and has been valued at close to $4 billion after raising more than $1 billion in capital from investors, including publicly traded national homebuilding company Lennar.

This San Francisco-based start-up helps homeowners sell their house more quickly by offering to buy it from them. Sellers pay an average fee of 7.7% of the selling price to Opendoor and can schedule a closing in as little as 10 days, compared with 50 days for a traditional home sale closing. There are no showings, and any repair work can be handled by Opendoor and the costs deducted from the proceeds.

The company uses market data and software tools like machine learning to figure out how much it can make by buying, fixing, listing and then selling the home to another buyer. The houses are those typically priced between $100,000 and $500,000 and built after 1960.

Online real estate companies, including Opendoor, Redfin and Zillow — as well as more established residential real estate brokers, like Keller Williams — are vying to take control of the one-stop, internet-based real estate market, sometimes referred to as iBuying.

Opendoor recently launched a home-loan business in Texas and Arizona allowing homebuyers in those states to get a mortgage directly from the Opendoor app. The company — which says its all-cash offers to homeowners has reached $4 billion in deals annually — operates in 20 markets, including Atlanta; San Antonio, Houston, Austin and Dallas–Fort Worth, Texas; Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte, North Carolina; Denver; Las Vegas; Los Angeles and Sacramento, California; Minneapolis-St.Paul; Nashville; Phoenix; Portland, Oregon; Orlando and Tampa, Florida; and Tucson. The company is expanding into Boise, Idaho; Salt Lake City and St. Louis next year.

Zillow, which began as an advertising-based online real estate information company, expanded last year into online homebuying and -selling, a program called Zillow Offers. Zillow reported in its recent August earnings that its Homes segment had grown to roughly half of its revenue, $248.9 million of a total $599.6 million in revenue last quarter.

But the profitability of these online home transaction models remains uncertain. Owning real estate services like the title and mortgage process could give these companies a way to generate greater margins from home transactions.

Redfin has been in the mortgage and title business for several years. Redfin’s Title Forward launched in 2012, and Redfin Mortgage started in January 2017. Revenue for both businesses is reported in its “other” segment. In Q2 2019 the “other” segment contributed revenue of $5.3 million, an increase of 89% annually. Its CEO, Glenn Kelman, said after its recent August earnings reportthat mortgage and title services were in “a more aggressive phase of market expansion” and will “contribute meaningful gross profits three to five years from now.”

Sept. 13, 2019

Here’s why millions of millennials are not homeowners


Homeownership eludes millions of millennials.

There is a whole host of reasons, including personal preferences and economic disadvantages, that explain why the homeownership rate for the largest generation in U.S. history is lower than that of their parents and grandparents.

“In my generation — I’m a baby boomer — you bought a home as quickly as you could,” said Laurie Goodman of the Urban Institute. “You didn’t take a vacation for years to save for the down payment on your first home.”

Millennials are in less of a rush to get their hands on house keys, Goodman said.

Delayed marriage has one of the biggest impacts on their low homeownership rate, the Urban Institute found. Marriage increases one’s likelihood of owning a home by 18 percentage points.

Yet millennials are wedding later — and less. In 1960, the average age at which women and men first married was in their early 20s. Today, the median age for a first marriage is closer to 30. And millennials are three times as likely to have never married as members of the silent generation — those in their 70s and 80s — when they were young.

“Homeownership represents a stable place to live for the rest of my life,” Goodman said. “And a lot of single people think this isn’t the rest of my life — I’m going to find a mate and we’re going to put roots down together.”

More from Personal Finance:

To be sure, even without saying, “I do,” many young people still want to become homeowners. Unmarried couples accounted for 16% of first-time homebuyers in 2017, the highest share on record, according to the National Association of Realtors. Single men and women accounted for a quarter of first-time homebuyers. Today, just 57% of first-time homebuyers are married, compared with 75% in 1985.

Young people are also in no rush to have kids. The share of married households with children, aged 18 to 34, dropped to 25% in 2015, from 37% in 1990. And having a child increases a person’s chance of owning a house by 6 percentage points, the researchers at the Urban Institute calculated.

Millennials are also a far more diverse generation than previous ones, and homeownership rates are lower among Hispanic, black and Asian Americans compared with white Americans. While almost 39% of white millennials, aged 18 to 34, own a house, just 14.5% of those black Americans do, according to the Urban Institute.

“The homeownership rate for blacks is falling more than it is for other groups,” Goodman said.

The unprecedented student debt millennials take on also reduces their chances of landing in a home of their own. Researchers at giant mortgage company Freddie Mac recently found that more than half of workers employed in the “essential workforce,” including in fields such as health care, education and law enforcement, have made their housing decisions based on their student debt.

If a person’s education debt went from $50,000 to $100,000, their chance of homeownership declined by 15 percentage points, the Urban Institute found.

Millennials are also renting for longer in locations that tend to be pricey, making it harder for them to save up for an eventual down payment. Nearly half of households headed by people ages 18 to 34 are rent-burdened, meaning that more than 30% of their paycheck goes to their landlord.

Goodman said she was surprised to learn just how much one’s chances of homeownership increases — by more than 10 percentage points, if their parents were homeowners. She said these people have learned the value of a home.

“They think homeownership represents stability,” she said. “It represents I’ve arrived.”

Although Goodman expects the homeownership rate for millennials to pick up as they get older, the fact that they’re buying homes later than previous generations means, “they’re building wealth much, much more slowly.”

Sept. 12, 2019

Here are the best and worst US cities for retirement


Just under a quarter of Americans are “very confident” they’ll have enough money to retire comfortably. And many expect to delay retirement at least until age 65, according to recent studies.

So what’s a person who’s ready to call it quits at the office to do? Relocating to more affordable climes is one option.

Personal finance website WalletHub has ranked 182 U.S. cities by retiree-friendliness as part of its 2019′s Best & Worst Places to Retire report. The study compared the cities across 46 key metrics, ranging from cost of living and quality of local health care to retired taxpayer-friendliness, crime rates and availability of recreational activities.

Roughly speaking, the top cities for retirees tended to be located in Southeastern or Mountain states, while those ranking last seemed to be clustered in California and the Northeast. The latter regions tend to have higher housing costs and taxes, which can impact seniors living on fixed incomes more severely.

Some key findings about the cities surveyed included:

  • Most seniors: Pearl City, Hawaii, boasts the highest share of the population age 65 and older, 23.3% — 3.2 times higher than Fontana, California, the city with the lowest such share at 7.2%.
  • Lowest cost of living: Laredo, Texas, has the lowest adjusted cost-of-living index for retirees, 76.28, which is 2.6 times lower than San Francisco, the highest at 195.49.
  • Older workers: Juneau, Alaska, has the highest share of workers aged 65-plus, 28.08% — 2.8 times higher than bottom-ranked Detroit, with 10.11%.
  • Home health care: St. Louis has the most home health-care facilities per 100,000 residents, at 49.54, which is 25.7 times more than Fontana, at 1.93.
Sept. 10, 2019

New Listings Up 10% from July to August Supply is Down 73% in this Area and Price Range

New Listings Up 10% from July to August
Supply is Down 73% in this Area and Price Range

For Buyers:
A faint glimmer of good news for buyers, supply finally stopped declining and actually rose a tiny bit in the last week.  While active listings are still 16% lower than they were this time last year, they’re 1% higher than 4 weeks ago.  This rise can be attributed to a 10% increase in new listings from July to August, which is not uncommon as July is typically a low point in the year for new listings.  However this August was 3% below last August in comparison and the lowest August since 2016.  One price range that is still declining in supply is $200K-$250K, which has plummeted 51% since February.  The Southeast Valley on the Maricopa County side has seen the largest decline of 73% in this price range for single family homes.  Gilbert is especially low with only 5 listings in the entire city under $250K as of September 9th, all of them townhomes with an average size of 1,116 square feet. 

For Sellers:
For some sellers the idea of listing their home is stressful, even if it’s in great condition. The pressure of keeping their home clean for showings and open houses, enduring negative feedback, and the unknowns of the inspection report can send homeowners right into the arms of flip investors who will happily buy their home “as is” with significant fees attached.  While there is nothing wrong with doing that (there is value in ease and certainty) sellers should understand that if their home lands within a frenzy price range for their area, where there are literally more homes under contract than there are for sale, they may be pleasantly surprised at how little they have to do to sell it on the MLS.  Negotiable listing costs, multiple contracts and buyers willing to buy “as is” make this the perfect market for sellers who know their home is not so perfect.  To find out if your property lands in a frenzy zone, feel free to reach out to us via email or phone call!