What Can We Expect From The 2018 Housing Market?

2018 Housing Market Forecast

Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist of Windermere Real Estate has recently published a forecast for 2018 housing market. Here are his expectations in 2018.

“It’s the time of the year when I look deep into my crystal ball to see what’s on the horizon for the upcoming year. As we are all aware, 2017 has been a stellar year for housing across the country, but can we expect that to continue in 2018?

 

 

Here are my thoughts:

 

Millennial Home Buyers

Last year, I predicted that the big story for 2017 would be millennial home buyers and it appears I was a little too bullish. To date, first-time buyers have made up 34% of all home purchases this year – still below the 40% that is expected in a normalized market.  Although they are buying, it is not across all regions of the country, but rather in less expensive markets such as North Dakota, Ohio, and Maryland.

For the coming year, I believe the number of millennial buyers will expand further and be one of the biggest influencers in the U.S. housing market. I also believe that they will begin buying in more expensive markets. That’s because millennials are getting older and further into their careers, enabling them to save more money and raise their credit profiles.

 

Existing Home Sales

As far as existing home sales are concerned, in 2018 we should expect a reasonable increase of 3.7% – or 5.62 million housing units. In many areas, demand will continue to exceed supply, but a slight increase in inventory will help take some heat off the market. Because of this, home prices are likely to rise but by a more modest 4.4%.

 

New Home Sales

New home sales in 2018 should rise by around 8% to 655,000 units, with prices increasing by 4.1%. While housing starts – and therefore sales – will rise next year, they will still remain well below the long-term average due to escalating land, labor, materials, and regulatory costs. I do hold out hope that home builders will be able to help meet the high demand we’re expecting from first-time buyers, but in many markets it’s very difficult for them to do so due to rising construction costs.

 

Interest Rates

Interest rates continue to baffle forecasters. The anticipated rise that many of us have been predicting for several years has yet to materialize. As it stands right now, my forecast for 2018 is for interest rates to rise modestly to an average of 4.4% for a conventional 30-year fixed-rate mortgage – still remarkably low when compared to historic averages.

 

Tax Reform

Something that has the potential to have a major impact on housing are the current proposals relative to tax reform. As I write this, we know that both the House and Senate propose doubling the standard deduction, and the House plans to lower the mortgage interest deduction from $1,000,000 to $500,000. If passed, the mortgage deduction would no longer have value for home owners who would likely opt to take the standard deduction.

If either of the current proposals is adopted into law, the potential reduction in mortgage-related tax savings means the after-tax cost of home ownership will increase for most home owners. Additionally, both the House and Senate bills also end tax benefits for interest on second homes, and this could have a devastating effect in areas with higher concentrations of second homes.

The capping of the deduction for state and local property taxes (SALT) at $10,000 will also negatively impact states with high property taxes, such as California, Connecticut, and New York. Furthermore, proposed changes to the capital gains exemption on profits from the sale of a home (requiring five years of continuous residence as compared to the current two) could impact approximately 750,000 home sellers a year and slow the growth of home ownership.

Something else to consider is that all of the aforementioned changes will only affect new home purchases, which I fear might become a deterrent for current home owners to sell. Given the severe shortage of homes for sale in a number of markets across the country, this could serve to exacerbate an already-persistent problem.

 

Housing Bubble

I continue to be concerned about housing affordability. Home prices have been rising across much of the country at unsustainable rates, and although I still contend that we are not in “bubble” territory, it does represent a substantial impediment to the long-term health of the housing market. But if home price growth begins to taper, as I predict it will in 2018, that should provide some relief in many markets where there are concerns about a housing bubble.

In summary, along with slowing home price growth, there should be a modest improvement in the number of homes for sale in 2018, and the total home sales will be higher than 2017. First-time buyers will continue to play a substantial role in the nation’s housing market, but their influence may be limited depending on where the government lands on tax reform.”

Posted on December 14, 2017 at 3:12 pm
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Greater Seattle Area Real Estate Market – 3rd Quarter 2017

The Gardner Report – Third Quarter 2017

 

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW

The Washington State economy added 79,600 new jobs over the past 12 months—an impressive growth rate of 2.4%, and well above the national growth rate of 1.2%. However, as we anticipated in last quarter’s report, we continue to see a modest slowdown in the growth rate as the state grows closer to full employment. Growth has been broad-based, with expansion in all major job sectors other than Aerospace (a function of a slowdown at Boeing). Given the current rate of expansion, I am raising my employment forecast and now predict that Washington will add 81,000 new jobs in 2017.

Given the robust job market, it is unsurprising that the state unemployment rate continues to fall. The current unemployment rate in Washington State is 4.6% and we are essentially at full employment. Additionally, all counties contained within this report reported either a drop or stability in their unemployment rate from a year ago. I maintain my belief that the Washington State economy will continue to outperform the U.S. as a whole. Given such a strong expansion, we should also expect solid income growth across Western Washington.

 

HOME SALES ACTIVITY

  • There were 25,312 home sales during the third quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 3.6% over the same period in 2016.
  • Clallam County maintains its number one position for sales growth over the past 12 months. Only four other counties saw double-digit gains in sales. This demonstrates continuing issues with the low supply of listings. There were modest declines in sales activity in six counties.
  • The market remains remarkably tight with listing inventory down by 14.2% when compared to the third quarter of 2016. But inventory is up a significant 32% compared to the second quarter of this year. Pending sales rose by 5.2% over the same quarter a year ago, which suggests that closings in Q4 will still be robust.
  • The key takeaway from this data is that inventory is still very low, and the situation is unlikely to improve through the balance of the year.

 

 

HOME PRICES

  • Given tight supply levels, it is unsurprising to see very solid price growth across the Western Washington counties. Year-over-year, average prices rose 12.3% to $474,184. This is 0.9% higher than seen in the second quarter of this year.
  • With demand far exceeding supply, price growth in Western Washington continues to trend well above the longterm average. As I do not expect to see the new home market expand at any significant pace, there will be continued pressure on the resale market, which will cause home prices to continue to rise at above-average rates.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in Grays Harbor County where sale prices were 20.1% higher than the third quarter of 2016. Nine additional counties experienced double-digit price growth.
  • Mortgage rates in the quarter continue to test the lows of 2017, and this is unlikely to change in the near-term. This will allow home prices to escalate further but I expect we will see rates start to rise fairly modestly in 2018, which could slow price growth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

DAYS ON MARKET

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the quarter dropped by eight days when compared to the same quarter of 2016.
  • King County continues to be the tightest market, with homes taking an average of 17 days to sell. Every county except San Juan saw the days on market drop from the same period a year ago.
  • This quarter, it took an average of 43 days to sell a home. This is down from the 51 days it took in the second quarter of 2016 and down by 8 days from the second quarter of this year.
  • At some point, inventory will start to grow and this will lead to an increase in the average time it takes to sell a house. However, I do not expect that to happen at any time soon. So we remain in a seller’s market.

 

CONCLUSIONS

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the third quarter of 2017, I have left the needle at the same point as the second quarter. Though price growth remains robust, sales activity has slowed very slightly and listings jumped relative to the second quarter. That said, the market is very strong and buyers will continue to find significant competition for accurately priced and well-located homes.

 

 

 

 

ABOUT MATTHEW GARDNER

Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has more than 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

 

 

 

Posted on November 2, 2017 at 4:06 pm
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King & Snohomish County Market Stats – August 2017

 

What’s Happening in the Market

Eastside (based on Residential Homes):

Low Inventory

The Real Estate market in August 2017 showed signs of slowing down, but it was interesting to see as home inventory fell, homes under $1.5M on the eastside were still selling at a fast pace while the upper end Buyers were being much pickier.

 

Less Sail-Fails

Another interesting thing to note was that Sale fails were continuing to drop which is a credit to more qualified Buyers and tighter contracts that are required when competing in a multiple offer situations.  It also was because of the pre-inspections being done before writing offers instead of requiring Buyers to find deficiencies and then renegotiate the terms of the contract.

Posted on September 14, 2017 at 12:00 pm
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King & Snohomish County Market Stats – July 2017

Eastside (based on Residential Homes):

Eastside (based on Condominium Homes):

 

Posted on August 8, 2017 at 12:14 pm
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King & Snohomish County Market Stats – June 2017

What’s Happening in the Market

Eastside (based on Residential Homes):

  • Market times fall (Down 12-13% Year over year)
  • Demand is still at a somewhat frenzied pace.

The summer swoon may be upon us as June numbers show that listings outpaced the pending’s for the first time in quite a while, but don’t count on it lasting long.  The predictors don’t favor this trend as home prices are still on the rise to the tune of 16% Year over Year and homes that are turn key are generating a great deal of excitement/ Multiple offers. It has also become crystal clear over the last 12 Months that overpricing a home in this market is the kiss of death for a Seller getting the most for their home & the best qualified Buyers.  It is clear that offer prices and terms are solely being made by Buyers based on the Days on Market and the interest that others have in the property.

Posted on July 26, 2017 at 12:39 pm
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King & Snohomish County Market Stats – May 2017

What’s Happening in the Market

Eastside (based on Residential and Condominium report):

  • Closed median price at an all-time high of $748,944, up 20% from a year ago

 

  • Price appreciation is being driven by low supply and high demand.  Eastside months’ supply of inventory is less than three weeks, the lowest ever!

 

  • 748 active listings as of 4/30/17.  Down 33% from the year before and 48% from two years before.

 

  • Scarcity has buyers paying above list price on 65% of the sales that closed in April.

 

  • What was the cost of waiting on year (April 2016 vs April 2017) to buy?  $123,944 in median price.  $9,026 per year in payment.

Posted on May 24, 2017 at 4:03 pm
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The Gardner Report – First Quarter 2017

The Gardner Report – First Quarter 2017

Economic Overview

I’m happy to report that Washington State continues to add jobs at a steady rate. While the rate of growth is tapering, this is because many markets are getting close to “full employment”, during which time growth naturally slows. That said, I believe that the state will add around 70,000 jobs in 2017. Washington State, as well as the markets that make up Western Washington, continues to see unemployment fall and I anticipate that we will see this rate drop further as we move through the year. In all, the economy continues to perform at or above average levels and 2017 will be another growth year.

Home Sales

  • There were 15,652 home sales during the first quarter of 2017. This is an increase of 9.5% from the same period in 2016, but 20.7% below the total number of sales in the final quarter of 2016.
  • With an increase of 45.5%, sales in Clallam County grew at the fastest rate over the past 12 months. There were double-digit gains seen in an additional 10 counties, suggesting that demand remains very robust. The only modest decline in sales was seen in Grays Harbor County.
  • The number of homes for sale showed no improvement at all, with an average of just 6,893 homes for sale in the quarter, a decline of 33% from the previous quarter and 25% from the first quarter of 2016. Pending sales rose by 2% relative to the same quarter a year ago.
  • The key takeaway from this data is that 2017 will offer little relief to would-be home buyers as the housing supply remains severely constrained.

Home Prices

  • With demand continuing to exceed supply, home prices continued to rise at above-average rates. Year-over-year, average prices rose by 9.5% but were 1.1% lower than in the final quarter of 2016. The region’s average sales price is now $409,351.
  • Price growth in Western Washington is unlikely to taper dramatically in 2017 and many counties will continue to see prices appreciate well above their long-term averages.
  • When compared to the same period a year ago, price growth was most pronounced in Kittitas County, which rose by 19.6%. Double-digit price growth was seen in an additional 10 counties. The only market where the average price fell was in the ever-volatile San Juan County.
  • It is clear that rising interest rates have not taken much of a sheen off the market.

Days on Market

  • The average number of days it took to sell a home in the first quarter dropped by 16 days when compared to the first quarter of 2016.
  • King County remained the tightest market, with the average time to sell a home at just 31 days. Island County was the only area where it took longer to sell a home than seen a year ago; however, the increase was just one day.
  • In the first quarter of the year, it took an average of 70 days to sell a home. This is down from the 86 days it took in the first quarter of 2016, but up from the 64 days it took in the final quarter of last year.
  • Given woefully low levels of inventory in all Western Washington markets, I do not expect to see the length of time that it takes to sell a home rising in 2017. In fact, it is likely that it will continue to drop.

Conclusions

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s housing market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors. For the first quarter of 2017, I moved the needle a little more in favor of sellers. The rapid increase in mortgage rates during the fourth quarter of 2016 has slowed and buyers are clearly out in force.

This article originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.

Posted on May 18, 2017 at 8:35 am
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King & Snohomish County Market Stats – March 2017

What’s Happening in the Market

  • Closed median price at an all-time high of $736,500, up 20% from a year ago.

 

  • Price appreciation is being driven by low supply and high demand.  Eastside month’s supply of inventory is less than three weeks (0.7 months), the lowest ever.

 

  • 737 active listings as of 3/31/17.  Down 21% from last year and 42% from the year before.

 

  • Scarcity has buyers paying above list price on 61% of the sales that closed in March.

 

  • What was the cost of waiting on year (March 2016 vs March 2017) to buy?  $120,400 more in median price. Interest rates up .51%.  $769 a month more for the same home.

Posted on April 12, 2017 at 9:18 am
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Are You 1 of the 59 Million Planning to Buy a Home This Year?

59 Million Americans Are Planning to Buy This Year.

Are You 1 of the 59 Million Planning to Buy This Year? | MyKCM

According to a survey conducted by Bankrate.com, one in four Americans are considering buying a home this year. If this statistic proves to be true, that means that 59 million people will be looking to enter the housing market in 2017.

The survey also revealed 3 key takeaways:

  1. Those most likely to buy are ‘Older Millennials’ (ages 27-36) or ‘Generation X’ (ages 37-52)
  2. Minorities, particularly African-Americans, were twice as likely to respond that they were considering purchasing a home this year than white respondents.
  3. Many potential buyers believe they need to put 20% down and need to have perfect credit to own and are unaware of programs that would allow them to buy now.

Holden Lewis, a mortgage analyst for Bankrate.com, pointed to one big reason why many Americans are starting to consider homeownership:

“Having kids and raising a family is a primary reason why Americans take the leap into homeownership—many consider it a key component of the American dream.”

Posted on March 15, 2017 at 10:16 am
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King & Snohomish County Market Stats – February 2017

What’s Happening in the Market

Home sales continue to be slightly above last year’s totals in the areas tracked in this report.  We are continuing to see double digit price increases spread out from the core of Bellevue and Seattle due to the somewhat exorbitant prices now demanded from the metro area Sellers.

Low Inventory

Inventory hit an all-time low in February which at last count was 3 weeks of inventory if nothing new came on the market.  (That’s weeks, not months!) We do expect to see an increase in listings in March and April, but Sellers are still wary of putting their home on the market with nowhere to go. Buyers and Buyers agents are having to be creative with their offers as we are seeing at least 50% of the sales occurring are done in multiple offer situations. We don’t expect this to change anytime soon!

Posted on March 9, 2017 at 10:39 am
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