The Federal Housing Finance Agency announced Tuesday that conforming loan limits for mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will jump in most of the country to $647,200, an increase of $98,950 from 2021’s limit of $548,250. The higher levels are in response to rising home prices over the past year.
The FHFA’s House Price Index shows that home prices rose 18.05%, on average, between the third quarters of 2020 and 2021. The 2022 conforming loan limits are increasing by the same percentage, the FHFA reports.
However, in areas where the local median home value exceeds the baseline conforming loan limit, the limits will be much higher, the FHFA says. In higher-priced locations such as San Francisco and New York, the conforming loan limits for 2022 will increase to $970,800. In 2021, that baseline was $822,375.
Where buyers go shopping for a home shifted during the onset of the coronavirus pandemic given the rise of remote work as well as affordability concerns. For many Americans, the change could have lasting implications.
As employers firm up future work plans to include flexibility and give many Americans confidence in buying a home farther from the office, a new Realtor.com report shows suburban housing demand is heating up.
The number of suburban home shoppers has surged 42.1% since the onset of the pandemic and took a 24% bigger share of September Realtor.com views than listings in urban areas. While suburban housing is still relatively affordable compared to expensive urban areas, buyer demand is shrinking the home price gap down to just 7% from 10% in 2019.
Danielle Hale, Realtor.com’s chief economist, explained that the suburbs have always attracted buyers looking for more house for their money, but recent data reflects just how much suburban competition has intensified.
“With the rise in long-term remote work options and downtown rents making a rapid comeback, suburban versus urban housing dynamics are shifting,” she said, adding: “From inventory to time on market, recent data shows suburban buyer activity has accelerated at a faster pace than in urban areas.
“Notably, the price premium is shrinking between notoriously expensive urban housing and suburban for-sale homes, typically known for more bargains. Buyers can still get more bang for their buck in the suburbs, but affordability is increasingly a consideration in many markets. As the Covid recovery continues and home prices remain near record-highs, whether the suburban versus urban gap in housing costs keeps closing will be an important factor to watch.”
Hale noted that it’s crucial to remember that the right place to live is going to be different for everyone.
“Even though trends are pushing more and more home shoppers to consider the suburbs for the value, space and peace and quiet that they offer, some shoppers—accounting for 38% of recent home listing views—still prefer to live in urban areas,” she said.
Hale added, “Whether it’s a preference for being close to the office or enjoying the restaurants, nightlife and other culture that is found in urban areas, some will continue to opt for smaller space at home. For those who prefer the urban lifestyle, homes are still pricier on a per-square-foot basis, but the size of the premium is decreasing. In other words, it still costs more per square foot to live in the city, but the gap is shrinking.”
New home listings in the U.S. have increased for the last two weeks, but buyers are snapping properties up almost as quickly.
New listings rose 1% annually in the week ending Nov. 13, according to a report Thursday from Realtor.com. At the same time, homes spent an average of 10 days fewer on the market than they did in the same time period in 2020.
“Last week’s housing data suggests that strong demand continues to fuel home sales activity even as we near the end-of-year holidays, when we typically see fewer buyers and sellers,” George Ratiu, manager of economic research for Realtor.com, said in the report. “While new sellers are bringing more homes to market, marking an unseasonably solid start to November, inventory is still limited and homes are moving faster than in prior years.”
Indeed, active inventory is down 25% year over year, the data showed. The pace at which buyers are snapping up properties is keeping inventory low, even with the uptick in new listings. In addition, the median price of residence was up 8.7% year over year, a growth rate that remained steady for 13 of the past 15 weeks, the report found.
“With the economy growing and real estate prices remaining high, homeowners are ready to move forward with Covid-delayed plans to take advantage of the current market,” Mr. Ratiu continued. “If new sellers continue to enter the market as planned, we’ll likely see a brisk, but relatively healthy, pace of home sales activity in the tail end of 2021.”
About a quarter of 1,300 respondents to a Realtor.com survey said they planned to sell their home in the next year, up from 10% in the spring, according to the results of the survey, released last week.
Meanwhile, Redfin’s Homebuyer Demand Index hit a new record for the week ending Nov. 14, according to a separate report released Thursday by the property portal. The index was up 23% year over year, according to the data, which Redfin has tracked since 2017 and measures the number of tours and other requests made of Redfin agents.
“The economy is recovering strongly and mortgage rates are still near all-time lows. Those two forces combined have caused homebuying demand to hit a record high,” Daryl Fairweather, Redfin’s chief economist, said in the report.
Home buyers are still snatching up homes at a quick pace. Homes sold more quickly in October than in any October in recent history, according to realtor.com®’s Monthly Housing Report.
The typical home spent just 45 days on the market in October, reaching an eight-month streak of homes selling faster than in any month before 2021, realtor.com® says.
“The year may be winding down, but 2021’s feverish pace of home sales continues to hit new records,” says Danielle Hale, realtor.com®’s chief economist. “Despite returns to more typical pre-COVID seasonality which means a slower fall versus summer season, October housing data suggests that demand is still unseasonably high.”
Buyers are persisting in their housing search due to low mortgage rates and surging rental prices, Hale says. “Looking at the bigger picture of the pandemic, increased adoption of technology could be playing a key role in helping buyers move further along in the process virtually,” she continues. “With these ‘serious searchers’—some of whom have been planning to buy since before the pandemic—better prepared to jump on new listings quickly and keeping inventory tight, mismatched supply and demand will continue to challenge buyers eager to move on to the next phase of life.”
Home buyers must be ready to make quick decisions as competition remains high. Eighty-six percent of homes sold in less than a month in September, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.
The South is seeing some of the fastest sales. The five fastest-selling metros compared to last year are Miami (–31 days compared to last year); Raleigh, N.C. (–30 days); Jacksonville, Fla. (–17 days); Orlando, Fla. (–17 days); and Memphis, Tenn. (–16 days), according to realtor.com®.
Table 2: October 2021 Housing Metrics – 50 Largest U.S. Metros
With mortgage rates climbing above 3% for the first time in months, serious buyers are more motivated than ever to find a home before the end of the year. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), puts it best, saying: “Housing demand remains strong as buyers likely want to secure a home before mortgage rates increase even further next year.”
But the sense of urgency they feel is complicated by the lack of homes for sale in today’s market. According to the latest Existing Home Sales Report from NAR: “From one year ago, the inventory of unsold homes decreased 13%. . . .”
What Does This Mean for Sellers Today?
With buyers eager to purchase but so few homes available, sellers who list their houses this fall have a tremendous advantage – also known as leverage – when negotiating with buyers. That’s because, in today’s market, buyers want three things:
To be the winning bid on their dream home.
To buy before rates rise
To buy before prices go even higher.
Your Leverage Can Help You Negotiate Your Best Terms
These three buyer needs to give homeowners a leg up when selling their house. You might already realize this leverage enables you to sell at a good price, but it also means you can negotiate the best terms to suit your needs.
And since buyer demand is still high, there’s a good chance you’ll get offers from multiple buyers who are willing to compete for your house. When you do, look closely at the terms of each offer to find out which one has the best perks for you.
If you have questions about what’s best for your situation, your trusted real estate advisor can help. They have the expertise and are skilled negotiators in all stages of the sales process.
Mortgage rates are no longer at ultra-low rates below 3% as they were this summer, but housing analysts are reminding house hunters that borrowing costs remain relatively cheap. Freddie Mac reported that the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.14% this week.
“The yield on the 10-year Treasury note has been trending up due to the decline in new COVID cases, increasing consumer optimism, as well as broadening inflation and persistent shortages,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Mortgage rates are also rising, but purchase demand remains firm, showing that latent purchase demand exists among consumers.”
Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Oct. 28:
• 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.14%, with an average 0.7 point, rising from last week’s 3.09% average. A year ago, 30-year rates averaged 2.81%.
• 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.37%, with an average 0.7 point, increasing from last week’s 2.33% average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 2.32%.
• 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.56%, with an average 0.3 point, up from last week’s 2.54% average. Last year at this time, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.88%.
Freddie Mac reports average commitment rates along with points to better reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage.
Portland broker Alicia Selliken and SW Washington broker Marci Caputo have rejoined Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty. The firm has attracted an additional 55 brokers so far this year.
Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty is a full-service brokerage that offers a high level of marketing and sales support. This model is ideal for brokers who wish to focus on serving their clients rather than spending time on administrative and marketing tasks. It is for brokers who seek more balance in their work and life.
Alicia Selliken, based out of the NE Portland office, is proud to be part of a brokerage that has a growth mindset and values community. “CSIR is hitting their stride with the expansion of their incredible agent services and marketing team. Their renewed efforts to create a stronger community both inside CSIR and beyond is refreshing.”
A woman-owned firm, Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty has seen continued growth over the years. Backed by a highly experienced and agile local leadership team, the firm provides unmatched broker support fueled by powerful marketing initiatives.
Portland’s Regional Marketing Director, Amanda Knutsen, describes the firm’s collaborative culture. “Our brokers appreciate the power of a global brand, paired with a local family feel. We help each other succeed and thoughtfully give back to the communities in which we work and live.”
Brokers at Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty are part of a global referral network that generated over $2.9B in 2020. In September of 2021, The Portland Business Journal ranked Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty the fastest-growing real estate company and the third fastest-growing company across all sectors in Portland.
Marci Caputo, based out of the Vancouver, WA office is happy to be back. “I have owned my own brokerage in the past which helps me truly understand the great value in all that Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty offers for support, marketing, global networking, community engagement and so much more.”
Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty has 400 brokers and 17 offices serving Oregon and SW Washington. In addition to being ranked the fastest-growing real estate firm in Portland, the firm has achieved top market share in Central Oregon. The firm is also expanding in Southern Oregon, with the grand opening of its Ashland office scheduled for November 5th, 2021.
While today’s supply of homes for sale is still low, the number of newly built homes is increasing. If you’re ready to sell but have held off because you weren’t sure you’d be able to find a home to move into, newly built homes and those under construction can provide the options you’ve been waiting for.
The latest Census data shows the inventory of new homes is increasing this year (see graph below):
With more new homes coming to the market, this means you’ll have more options to choose from if you’re ready to buy. Of course, if you do consider a newly built home, you’ll want to keep timing in mind. The supply shown in the graph above includes homes at various stages of the construction process – some are near completion while others may be months away.
According to Robert Dietz, Chief Economist and Senior VP for Economics and Housing Policy for the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), “28% of new home inventory consists of homes that have not started construction, compared to 21% a year ago.”
Buying a home near completion is great if you’re ready to move. Alternatively, a home that has yet to break ground might benefit you if you’re ready to sell and you aren’t on a strict timeline. You’ll have an even greater opportunity to design your future home to suit your needs. No matter what, your trusted real estate advisor can help you find a home that works for you.
One-third of homes that went under contract had an accepted offer within one week of hitting the market, a new report from Redfin found. This is up from 30% during the same period a year prior and 2.2 points from a month earlier.
The report is based on data from the four-week period ending October 10.
In addition, the number of homes that went under contract within two weeks of listing rose to 46% from 42% during the same period in 2020. While the median number of days a home is on the market rose to 22 days, which is a full week longer than the all-time low of 15 days in June and July, it is still 10 days less than a year earlier.
This increase in the share of homes selling this quickly is unexpected for this time of year when we typically see a seasonal slowdown.
“Most sellers who are on the market now are very motivated to move: landlords with vacant homes, families who already upgraded and need to sell their previous homes, couples splitting up,” David Palmer, a Redfin listing agent, said in a statement. “As home-buying demand declines into the fall, I’m only encouraging people who have urgency to sell now. Otherwise, I’m advising them to wait until the new year.”
Another sign of continued strong demand is the 4% year-over-year increase in pending home sales. This also represents a 46% increase compared to the same time period in 2019, according to Redfin.
While demand has remained high, inventory continues to drop with new listings of homes down 8% from a year prior and the total number of active listings down 21% from 2020.
As a result of this high demand and low inventory, the median home-sale price rose 13% from a year prior to $355,600. Asking prices of newly listed homes also rose, reaching a median of $362,047, marking a 12% increase from a year ago. However, this is 0.7% lower than the all-time high set during the previous four-week period ending Oct. 3. Decreases like this are typical for this time of year, according to the report.
Even with high asking prices, due to the highly competitive nature of the market, 46% of homes still sold for above list price, which is up from 34% during the same time period in 2020, but also the smallest share since April 2021. Additionally, the average sale-to-list price ratio fell to 100.7%, also the lowest level since April.
Although there are numerous indicators of a still red-hot market, one indicator of a possible seasonal cooling off is the percentage of homes for sale each week undergoing a price drop rising to 5.1%, the highest level it has been since the four-week period ending October 13, 2019.
September delivered a high number of homes on the market at least by this year’s standards, handing buyers a few more options
Early autumn typically signals the best time to buy a home in the U.S., and despite the frenzied conditions still encompassing the market, this year it’s still looking optimal, according to a report from Realtor.com.
“This week marks the best week to buy a home nationwide,” wrote Danielle Hale, Realtor.com’s chief economist, in Thursday’s report. “In September, inventory hit a record high (for 2021), and while this week’s data shows a continued slowdown in new listings, the fall season still holds promise for potential home buyers.”
Though September delivered a relatively high number of homes on the market for this year, inventory remains scarce by historic standards.
In the week ending Oct. 2, the number of new listings was down 8% from the same time last year, and new listing totals have declined in four of the last five weeks after increasing more often than not in the previous five months, the report said.
Overall inventory is down, too, slumping 22% from the same time in 2020.
Though the dearth of home supply persists, price gains have yet to pick up pace, according to Ms. Hale.
“We are continuing to see a gradual seasonal slowing of both indicators,” she said.
The median listing price rose 8.6% last week when compared to the same time last year, with the high “single-digit territory” showing “sticking power,” the report said.
Though homes typically sold eight days faster last week than they did at this time in 2020, a slowdown appears to be on the horizon, leaving home buyers with more time to act now than they did earlier this year.