It’s earnings season so the headlines are dominated by big business quarterly revenue numbers. Wall Street and residential real estate have a bumpy history.
In late 2008 when the Greater Phoenix real estate market’s heart stopped beating and everything went eerily quiet, I didn’t understand what happened. Like many, I wondered, how could everything stop seemingly overnight? I asked, “where did all of the money go?” And I was told, “it never existed in the first place.” I learned that money did not just evaporate on Wall Street and that housing could take down Wall Street, or was it the other way around?
In 2011 the market bottomed with a median sales price of $107,000 in greater Phoenix. Since 2014 we have been in a seller’s market and the recovery was slow. For a time, real estate felt local again. But was it?
Venture Capital Funding:
In 2015, young company, Opendoor, entered its first market, Phoenix. The company pioneered the iBuying concept and was backed by Softbank’s Vision Fund, one of the biggest funds in the world, allowing Opendoor to remain after continued losses. Seven years later the company still has not turned a profit but has billions more to keep trying, especially since going public last year. Big venture capital money continues its quest to disrupt real estate. Opendoor’s situation is not unique, the industry is ripe with unprofitable giants backed by big money. The chart below illustrates the magnitude of venture capital money in real estate, not limited to Opendoor.
Establishing valuations is complicated and the businesses with the highest valuation does not mean that they are the most profitable. Click here for more info on establishing valuations. Earnings alone only tell most of the story. As accurate pricing is established by both supply and demand, profitability is established by dollars brought in and dollars spent. The only way to be profitable is for a company to spend less than it makes.
For example, eXp’s year over year Q2 2021 $1 billion in revenue led to an earnings increase of a whopping 183%. That combined with an 87% increase in agent count illustrates future growth potential and explains why eXp’s valuation has skyrocketed. eXp’s profit was $37 million or 3.7%.
Meanwhile, RE/MAX’s revenue grew by 48%, bringing in $76.05 million for a profit of $5.2 million or 6.8%. RE/MAX has consistently been profitable for years, yet its valuation has remained stable.
Q2 2021 year over year earnings look extremely impressive given that the post lockdown real estate recovery started in May 2020.
- Realogy posted an 81% year over year revenue increase.
- Keller Williams had a 35% increase in transactions year over year.
- Fannie Mae’s net income increased by 44% and Freddie Mac’s net income increased by 107% year over year.
- Redfin’s revenue grew 121% year over year while its net losses increased from $6.6 million last year to $27.9 million this year.
- Zillow’s net income was $10 million compared to last year’s net loss of $85 million. Despite the increases, the company’s iBuyer segment posted a $59 million loss.
- Despite Opendoor’s $1.2 billion in Q2 21 revenue giving the company an increase of 46% year over year and 59% from Q1 21, Opendoor lost $144 million, cutting its quarterly losses nearly in half from Q1.
- Lawyers Title parent company Fidelity National Financial (FNF) total revenue increased from $2.4 million in Q2 2020 to $3.9 million in Q2 2021.
The AZ Market:
Join us next Thursday 8/19 as Tina Tamboer with the Cromford Report does a 1 hour deep dive into the greater Phoenix housing market. For details and registration click here.
Q2 2021 was one of the biggest multifamily construction quarters on record, there were 623,500 units under construction in the 150 largest apartment markets nationwide. In greater Phoenix there were 28,600 multifamily units under construction, increasing our multifamily base by 7.6%.
These numbers are high but warranted. Nationwide apartment rents are up 8.3% year over year and occupancy is at a record high at 96.9%. Greater Phoenix continues to top the charts in year over year rents growth at 21.6%.
The CDC extended the eviction ban through October 3 with slightly different criteria, covering about 90% of renters. In May, the Supreme Court ruled that the only way to extend eviction protections is with Congress’ approval. President Biden officially made that request to Congress while it is in recess, the only way for it pass is through a unanimous call-in vote. Furthermore, when the Supreme Court made its ruling it stated that it agreed with the plaintiffs in that the Supreme Court did not believe that the CDC had the authority to extend the ban in the first place. Of the $46 billion allocated for emergency rental relief, only $3 billion has been disbursed.
On July 31, the foreclosure moratorium expired. The CFPB implemented specific rules in which lenders must abide by when foreclosing which will further delay most foreclosures. Abandoned properties will be foreclosed on first. There will be some foreclosures but not a flood. For greater detail on this and forbearance, please check out my AZ Forbearance Update from Wednesday, here. One major factor at play is the historic levels of equity most homeowners have.
Rocket Homes, a subsidiary of Rocket Companies which owns Rocket Mortgage, the country’s largest lender, is hiring employee real estate agents and is planning a “soon to be released iBuyer program” that will be managed through a third-party partner company.
Rocket Homes, a licensed brokerage, which is already licensed in all 50 states (has been licensed in AZ since 2018) said that beginning in the fourth quarter of 2021, employee agents working from downtown Detroit will provide services to sellers at a discounted commission rate of 1.5% (the co-broke offered is unclear). The remote employee agents will advise on listing price, handle photos, enter listings in the local MLS, negotiate offers, and handle paperwork. Sellers who would prefer to work with an agent in their market will be referred to the Rocket Homes Verified Partner Agent Network. Sellers who don’t want to work with an agent at all can use Rocket’s ForSaleByOwner.com platform for free.
Real Estate News:
- A recent study found that homes listed on the MLS sell for 17% more and in less time.
- In Q2 2021, investor purchases were up 15% from Q1 2021. 74% paid cash. Commercial investors are shifting away from office markets to single family, multifamily, and industrial investments.
- A new Connecticut law is now regulating what Realtor teams may call themselves. They can use “team” but not “group” or “LLC” and also requires a $565 initial registration with an annual fee of $375. This is an awfully complicated way to increase state revenue. Will it catch on?
- Nearly a third of home sellers in a recent survey said they have used hidden cameras during showings. In some cases, it’s to spy on their own agents.
- Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase, and other banks are offering a new high risk, high reward bond product and investors want in. While they are a very small part of the market, banks are selling riskier products that packages mortgages, car loans, and corporate debt. Investors are responsible for the losses when borrowers default on the loans packaged in the bonds.
- Redfin, along with RealScout and Ojo Labs, added ClimateCheck risk data to its site.
Long before residential real estate pulled us out of the shortest recession in history, Wall Street and Silicon Valley were plotting ways to infiltrate housing. While big money and new technology provide powerful incentives, it is very difficult to replace a well-informed, well-connected, local real estate professional.
Copyright 2021 Sarah Perkins
Sarah has been in title & escrow sales since 2004. As an award-winning sales executive and now the Director of Strategic Accounts, Sarah’s role is to bring real estate transactions to Clear 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.