Today is all about the AZ market. Yesterday, Lawyers Title hosted a presentation with Tina Tamboer with the Cromford Report. She always shares pertinent and timely information. Below I have combined a lot of her information from her presentation, along with additional information from my research.
Supply & Demand:
Supply is all of the properties; demand is all of the humans.
The relationship between supply and demand dictates pricing in all sectors. There are influences that solely impact supply or demand, but those influences do not directly change sales prices. Mortgage interest rates influence demand and buyer behavior, but it does not impact supply.
The wild card currently impacting pricing comes from the corporate investors and iBuyers who are paying well over market value for many properties.
When affordability declines demand usually declines. Greater Phoenix’s affordability is down in Q2 2021, yet demand is increasing.
For nearly 2.5 months the median sales price has been right around $400,000. As you can see below, monthly payments did not increase much as prices increased because of the declining interest rates. It wasn’t until this spring that we saw a spike in monthly payments. The monthly mortgage payment for the median house is $1,859. Up nearly 23% from November 2020 when it was $1,518.
There is even less relief for renters. To rent the same median property, renters are now spending $2,195 a month.
As many suspected, affordability declined in Q2 2021 and the US as a whole and Greater Phoenix fell below the ideal affordable range of 60-75 for the first time since late 2018. Through Q2 2021 in Greater Phoenix a household earning the median income ($79,000 annually), can afford 56.4% of what is for sale. A year ago, it was 70%.
The low interest rates have worked in our favor for a long time. When rates increased up to 5% at the end of 2018, we dipped below the ideal affordability range and demand declined. When affordability drops below 60, we begin to see demand resistance.
The affordability trends will impact corporate investors and iBuyers. Demand declines when things are not affordable, and it can shift quickly. In 2005 affordability went from 75 to 27. If not enough people can afford what is on the market, properties will sit for longer, and price reductions increase.
iBuyer acquisitions are up 573%, their inventory is up 544%, and their sales are up 93% year over year. Both Opendoor and Zillow had their largest acquisition month ever in July. Offerpad is not as aggressive as the others (which could be why Offerpad was profitable for the first time ever in Q2 2021 and both Opendoor and Zillow Homes lost money).
iBuyer offers are excessively high, sometimes bidding against their own offers. According to a recent report from Mike DelPrete, Opendoor paid 7.7% above market value on its acquisitions in Q2 2021 nationally. Tina mentioned instances of offers over $75,000 above market value. Other people’s money is very easy to spend.
A year ago, owner-occupants drove the housing market. People were buying houses to live in. Today much of the demand is led by iBuyers and investors, both large and small. Since June 23% of Opendoor’s sales, 19% of Zillow’s sales, and 11% of Offerpad’s sales have gone to corporate investors.
Overinflating values and creating false demand is extremely unhealthy for a market. This is not what the market is supposed to do. The iBuyers will either have to wait for the market to catch up or sell for a loss. The 3.1% monthly appreciation rate from the spring has slowed and is expected to slow further, likely down to 0.5% or 1% a month by the end of the year.
Forbearance numbers are only available on a national level and continue to improve. As of Monday, there are about 1.6 million borrowers in a forbearance plan, a huge decline from the over 8 million in a plan last May.
The majority of borrowers exiting forbearance are staying in their home, with no flood of foreclosures coming. Estimates could go as high as about 20% of borrowers will need to sell at the end of their forbearance plan. 20% of 1.6 million is 320,000. If we divide that by the 50 states, then each state (if divided evenly) would see about 6,400 foreclosures.
For a deeper dive into forbearance, foreclosures, and delinquencies check out my latest Forbearance Update here.
Shelter is a basic human need. Over the past 10 years our population grew by 20% and total inventory grew by 11%. We have more demand than we have houses.
Single family permits are up 39.7%. And builders are struggling to keep up with the demand due to supply chain shortages and labor shortages. It is now taking 10-14 months to build a house.
Supply stopped dropping in February. It is up 61% since February and up 44.3% since May. There was an initial shift in February and then a bigger shift in May as prices continued rising.
Supply Increases by Price:
- $300K – $400K up 62.4% since February and up 47.6% since May
- $400K – $500K up 187% since February and up 99.7% since May
- $500K – $600K up 171% since March and up 76.9% since May
- $600K – $800K up 149% since February and up 64.5% since May
- $800K – $1M up 100% since February and up 38.5% since June
- $1M – $1.5M up 50.9% since February
- $2M – $3M down 5.3% since March
- $3M+ is up 2.1% since March
With the increase in supply, we are seeing an increase in price reductions. We often hear about sellers upset that they had to drop their price when their friend received multiple offers over asking only a few months ago. It was a different market in March and today’s sellers cannot expect the same.
May 9 was the turning point and appreciation began moderating. In a normal market, you can expect to see about 400-500 reductions per week. In 2018 we hit 600. Now we are hitting about 200, still low but increasing. Not unusual, just unusual for the past year. Sellers can no longer push the market.
A price drop of $5,000 used to be the norm. Two weeks ago it was $15,000 per reduction, a week ago it was $14,000, and now it is down to $10,000.
In April the median days on market was 6. We are now up to 8 days.
We have been hanging around normal demand for the past few months. Then last week demand increased. Where did that come from? Investors? iBuyers? The increased demand will keep us in a seller’s market longer. Increased supply decreases the strength of the seller’s market and increased demand increases the strength of a seller’s market.
ibuyers have no effect on supply since they buy and sell. They impact demand. Show an extra transaction that can inflate demand metrics because they never have an occupant in the property.
2019 had slightly above normal demand. Today there are 6.2% more listings under contract than in 2019 but 12.9% lower than in at this time last year.
Typically demand decreases in Q3 and Q4. We should see inventory gains and fewer buyers. Many listings will likely be over-priced, and buyers will not pay over asking when they have a lot of options.
We are still having a record year for luxury, amazingly high demand remains, usually this late in the year, luxury slows down as owners pull their unsold properties off the market by about June.
Cromford Market Index (CMI):
The best tool for predicting future price appreciation trends and is available on the main page of the Cromford Report: https://cromfordreport.com/ (without a subscription)
- 100 is balanced and prices rise at the rate of inflation (currently 5.4%), below 100 is a buyer’s market, above 100 is a seller’s market, prices drop below 90, prices rise at 110. 2014 was a balanced market.
- On 3/20/2020 we were at 241
- On 5/15/2020 we were at 145.2
- Yesterday we were at 349.7
- We peaked on 3/14/2021 at 514.9
- Prior to this run, the previous peak was 312.9 in the spring of 2005.
- CMI is the predictor, it moves first and then appreciation follows. Cannot predict the CMI. It tells us where we are.
When the CMI weakens we see other weakening follow, like sales prices, appreciation, over asking, etc. We are now averaging a decline of 29.3 points over 30 days. Previously it was dropping 50 points over 30 days. It is slowing due to the increased demand.
While the CMI will probably not move in a straight line, we are moving towards a weaker seller’s market. Tina expects we may level out around 200-240. It will feel like a buyer’s market but it won’t be. Likely will get to the 2019 numbers.
As the seller’s market weakens, people will get very nervous about a market crash and declining property values. Remember demand needs to be lower than supply for prices to drop. With supply 69% below normal and demand nearly 9% above normal, it will take a long time for demand to be lower than supply. Before the 2008 crash there were 57,000 active listings. Today there are fewer than 7,100 active listings.
Using 4 week averages and tons of past data, we can draw a trendline from the CMI, illustrating when we might reach a balanced market. No reason to believe that this will stay in a basic trendline. It will adjust and probably stay in the 200-240 range. It is only what we know today. Since each city is so different, it is best to check each one weekly. To show the variation between cities, these are the timelines in which they could reach balance:
- Phoenix 7.3 months
- Chandler 3.6 months
- Glendale 3.8 months
- Mesa 5.8 months
- Gilbert 5.6 months
CMI moves first and then appreciation follows, usually about 3-6 months later. In a seller’s market, the rate of appreciation is higher than the rate of inflation. The luxury market is pushing appreciation rates up even higher.
Appreciation rates are slowing. It has gone from a year over year increase of 39.3% in May to 28.4% in August.
For over a year we had a monthly appreciation rate of 3.1% but in the past few months, it has slowed considerably. Today it is at a 1.4% increase and will likely continue to slow throughout the rest of the year.
The contract ratio compares how many listings are on the market to how many are in escrow. Has it cooled off? Yes. Cold? No. In April it reached 332.5 and today it is 161.2. We are in a hot seller’s market but not an extreme seller’s market. In 2019 was 76. 75-80 is normal for August.
Before the pandemic, the market was in a frenzy. We didn’t have enough supply and still don’t. In March we had 10 levels of insanity illustrating the seller’s market. Today we have 5. It is cooling but is not cold. We have been in a weakening seller’s market since March. It is only now getting noticed.
54% of listings are selling for over asking. Two months ago the median amount over asking was $25,000 it has since dropped to $15,000. Now sales are averaging about 1% over asking versus the 1.8% it reached in the spring. Expect this to come down throughout the rest of the year.
Overall, the market is still very busy. We are on the cusp of weaker seller’s market. We are seeing fewer purchases from regular owners and more from investors and ibuyers. It is still a good time to buy. BUT we need to watch the affordability levels. It is not about whether the buyer can afford it now but about how many future buyers can afford to buy it from today’s buyer?
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.