This Week in (Greater Phoenix) Real Estate 9/28/2020

Every Monday I spend 15 minutes discussing what happened this week in real estate, lending, and the economy.

Today’s Takeaways:

  • In August resale home sales increased 10.5% year over year with the most sales since 2006. It was the 102nd straight month of annual gains. (NAR)
  • New homes crossed the one million sales threshold in August, the first time since 2006. (US Census Bureau)
  • Lumber shortages due to mill closures and massive wildfires have driven up prices 170%, adding, on average, $16,000 to the cost of a single-family new build. (NAHB)
  • Given the unexpected, continued demand, despite high unemployment rates, major real estate companies adjusted their future price projections significantly. Zillow initially predicted a 3% decrease in home prices and now is predicting a 3.6% increase. Corelogic the outlier from the start went from a 6.6% decrease to a 0.6% increase. (must have missed the 16% appreciation in greater Phoenix!)

Supply: Inventory has actually increased by 11%, but it is easy to miss since it is absorbed so quickly.  As of yesterday, our inventory is 64.0% below normal!!! Active listings excluding under contract accepting backups (UCB) remain around 8,100 (we should have 25,000) down 42% year over year and down over 2.5% month over month. This is the time of year when we typically see inventory increases.

New build permits were up 25.3% in August, year over year and up 11.9% year to date. (RL Brown)

Demand: Pending sales up 23% year over year, huge despite our low inventory and time of year. Our demand is over 25% above normal. After demand increases began to slow, it has started increasing a little faster again.

Zillow:

Zillow announced on Wednesday that it is changing the structure of its iBuyer, Zillow Offers. Soon its iBuyer purchases and sales will be handled by a licensed, salaried, Zillow employee.

This change will take effect January 2021 in Atlanta, Phoenix, and Tucson with other markets to follow. All properties for sale will be listed on the local MLS which means that Zillow Homes, the brokerage, and its agents are members of NAR. Zillow Offers currently operates in 25 markets nationwide.

Combined with Zillow’s mortgage company, Zillow Home Loans, and title company, Zillow Closing Services, Zillow can now offer a complete end to end transaction.

Zillow maintains its stance that it does not want to represent buyers and sellers outside of properties it does not own or purchase directly. Although many believe this is Zillow’s soft launch into traditional real estate.

Unlike Opendoor and Offerpad who both now offer listing services, Zillow will continue working with its partner Realtors, non Zillow agent-employees, in referring the sellers of properties not purchased by the iBuyer. Zillow Offers currently purchases about 2% of all seller inquiries.

Given Zillow Homes’ local MLS membership, Zillow will be adjusting its previous data feeds, which currently come from around 10,000 agreements, to come through a direct IDX feed. This will allow it complete access of current listing information and roughly 600 data feeds to manage. This is a game changer for Zillow. Not only does this reduce data costs, it will improve accuracy, timeliness, and provides the ability for far more detailed data aggregation. It will have the ability to have the accuracy of Redfin for its 200 million monthly unique visitors.  Web traffic and effective data aggregation are what built giants like Facebook, Amazon, and Google.

The IDX feed may impact the brokerages who currently do not syndicate to Zillow.

The appearance of listings on Zillow will be subject to the local MLS regulations. Buyer’s agents contact information will now be shown separately from the listing agent’s information. Premier Agents will see some changes in customer-facing advertising but not in lead flow.

Zillow and Trulia will be discontinuing their “featured listings” option.

Deutsche Bank, one of the world’s leading financial services providers and international investment bank, for the second month in a row upgraded Zillow’s stock price, this time due to Opendoor’s recent announcement of going public. The bank believes that Opendoor’s movement will draw further attention to iBuying thus driving more business to Opendoor and its biggest competitor in the iBuying space, Zillow Offers, meaning more business for Zillow Homes and its agents.  As they say, “a rising tide lifts all boats.”

The research analysts said, “We see Zillow’s conversion to a more formal brokerage model as it relates to sales of Zillow Offers (ZO) homes in several markets as a natural evolution to improve unit economics in ZO and vertically integrate to better control the user experience and cross sell other Zillow products.”

The bank sees this as a positive financial move for Zillow, furthering the separation from being a media company to becoming a portal with significantly greater earning potential.

Mortgage & Forbearance:

  • Mortgage applications increased last week by 6.8% from the previous week. 64.3% of those applications were for refinances, up from 62.8% last week. (MBA)
  • Total loans in forbearance dropped to 6.93%, down from 7.01% last week, continuing the 5-month decline. Roughly 3.5 million loans are in forbearance programs. (MBA)
  • Roughly 680,000 homeowners are late on their mortgage and are eligible for a forbearance plan but are not in a forbearance plan. A recent survey shows the lack of participation is due to confusion, fear, and lack of awareness of such options. (Wall Street Journal)
  • The CFPB, FHFA, HUD, VA, and USDA created a joint effort mortgage and rental assistance platform, for more information visit https://www.consumerfinance.gov/coronavirus/mortgage-and-housing-assistance/

Final Thoughts:

Big money keeps getting bigger with sky-high valuations and it is coming after real estate, that isn’t new, but the volume of capital is. I expect demand to continue to be strong, as long as rates stay low. At some point, likely in the not too distant future, more homeowners will realize how much equity they are sitting on and will be inspired to list bringing up inventory levels and providing buyers more options.

Published by Sarah Perkins

Sarah has been with Lawyers Title of Arizona since 2004. As an award-winning sales executive, Sarah's role is to bring transactions to Lawyers Title. To do this, she focuses on supporting her clients and helping them navigate the ever-changing real estate space through thorough research and understanding of current trends impacting today's home buyers and sellers.

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