Monthly Archives: April 2022

Strongest U.S. Job Market in Decades Worries Fed

WASHINGTON (AP) – Chair Jerome Powell isn’t as pleased with the robust U.S. job market as you might think he’d be, and he and the Federal Reserve plan to do something about it: Take it down a notch.

On Thursday, Powell described the job market as “extremely, historically” tight and “unsustainably hot.” Available jobs are near record highs. Wages are rising at their fastest pace in decades. The unemployment rate is flirting with a half-century low, and layoffs are sparse.

Yet Powell doesn’t see all of this as purely a cause for celebration. With the highest inflation in four decades hurting households and businesses, the Fed chair regards the job market’s strength as a key driver of spiking prices.

But Powell is also betting that that very strength will give the Fed an unusual opportunity to cool the economy and fight inflation without derailing the job market or causing a recession. The Fed hopes to reduce the huge number of job openings, rather than spur layoffs. Fewer available jobs, in turn, would slow wage increases and help tame inflation.

On Thursday, in a panel discussion held by the International Monetary Fund, Powell said the Fed’s goal is to get the job market to “a better place.”

What’s better than really hot? And what would it mean to get there?

Start with the huge number of open jobs – 11.3 million at last count. That’s clearly a boon to anyone seeking a better job. For employers, though, all those openings are a source of continuing frustration because a worker shortage has made them hard to fill.

As Powell and the Fed see it, the surge in job postings forces employers to boost wages to attract and keep workers. Those higher labor costs are then passed to customers in the form of higher prices, thereby helping fuel inflation.

But this time, with so many open jobs, the Powell Fed is figuring that most employers will respond by cutting back on job postings, rather than laying off people. Fewer openings would reduce their need to raise pay and would ease inflationary pressures.

If it works – a big if – this would help Powell achieve the elusive “soft landing” that Fed chairs seek when the economy is growing too fast but that they rarely achieve when inflation is as high as it is now.

Economists are generally skeptical that the Fed can successfully thread that needle. But given the job market’s strength, they also say it’s a possibility.

“We have enough space to cool off, but not go cold,” said Claudia Sahm, senior fellow at the Jain Family Institute and a former Fed economist.

In his remarks Thursday, Powell pointed to a key figure underlying the Fed’s approach: There are about 5 million more jobs – including both filled and unfilled – than there are unemployed people to fill them. That gap is the largest it’s been since World War II, according to economists at Goldman Sachs.

“We’ve got a demand-supply imbalance in the labor market,” Powell said. “It’s our job to get to a better place where supply and demand are closer together.”

The Fed’s rate hikes are intended to achieve that balance. Last month, the central bank raised its benchmark short-term rate for the first time in more than three years, by a modest quarter-point, to a range of 0.25% to 0.5%. Economists expect the Fed to raise rates by a more aggressive half-point at each of its next three meetings. That would amount to the fastest tightening of credit since 1994.

The Fed’s moves have already contributed to higher borrowing costs for home mortgages, auto loans and credit cards. Those higher costs could slow consumer spending and, the Fed hopes, convince businesses that they don’t need to hire so many people.

“The key to a soft landing is to generate a slowdown large enough to persuade firms to shelve some of their expansion plans, but not large enough to trigger sharp cuts in current output and employment,” economists at Goldman Sachs wrote this week.

At a news conference last month, Powell suggested that the job market had strengthened “to an unhealthy level” and noted that there were about 1.8 jobs available for every unemployed person. If the ratio of openings to the unemployed evened out to something closer to 1 to 1, he said, “you would have less upward pressure on wages.”

For now, average hourly wages are rising at about a 5.5% annual pace, the sharpest pace in four decades. Economists estimate that if the gains slowed to 3% or 4%, it would reduce inflation by roughly 2 percentage points.

The Fed’s preferred measure of inflation is at 6.4%, partly because of supply shocks that have sharply raised the cost of gas, food, autos and many other goods and components. Those increases won’t be affected much by the Fed’s actions. Still, many economists expect an easing of supply chain snarls to help reduce inflation this year.

With workers switching jobs in record numbers, Sahm said some companies are likely posting extra openings to build “an inventory of workers” to ensure that they can meet customer demand. That might not be necessary if spending slows, she said, making the Fed’s approach feasible.

And many employers may be more reluctant to lay off workers after having had trouble rehiring people after the pandemic recession. The number of laid-off workers receiving unemployment aid has reached its lowest level since 1970.

“Businesses are holding onto workers harder than ever,” said Sarah House, an economist at Wells Fargo. “Labor shortages have become a more persistent issue.”

Goldman Sachs has calculated that the gap between total jobs, including openings, and workers, would need to fall by half – or 2.5 million – to slow wage increases and inflation. Some of that reduction could occur as Americans who had dropped out of the workforce during the pandemic return and take jobs.

Yet a drop of that magnitude has never happened outside a recession, Goldman said, or without large increases in unemployment.

Still, Goldman’s economists put the odds of a recession only at about one-third over the next two years.

Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody’s Analytics, said that with businesses and households in solid financial shape, with more savings and less overall debt than before the 2008-2009 Great Recession, any economic slump would likely be brief.

“If the Fed pushes the economy into recession, it’s probably going to be a mild one,” Sweet said.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press, Christopher Rugaber, AP economics writer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.


Housing Affordability Stressing Out Buyers

With inflation up – about $500 higher monthly expenses year-to-year – and living space a top cost, many households are now laser-focused on the price of housing.

WASHINGTON – High home prices and mortgage rates are serving as a wake-up call to potential homebuyers this spring that their budgets just aren’t going to go as far as they would have a year ago. In the first quarter of this year, 81% percent of consumers said they could afford less than half the homes for sale in their markets. That marks the highest share since before the pandemic, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports.

Mortgage rates that have risen above 5% alone are pressing on more budgets. Since the beginning of the year, mortgage rates have jumped by 1.8 percentage points, which has added about $400 to the average monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home, according to National Association of Realtors® (NAR) data.

What’s more, with inflation at a 40-year high, the average consumer is spending $500 more a month on living expenses than a year ago.

House hunters would be smart to search for a home that is about $40,000 cheaper than they would have a year ago as a result of the rising costs, according to a new analysis by NAR.

Home prices continue to rise across the country so that’s not easy to do. NAR reported in its latest existing-home sales report that the median home price was $375,300 in March, up 15% compared to a year ago.

Housing affordability expectations have been dropping since the final quarter of 2020 across the country, according to NAHB’s data. The share of buyers who are only able to afford less than half the homes for sale in their markets increased in the Northeast (51% to 77%); Midwest (74% to 83%); South (68% to 79%); and West (61% to 78%).

Home searches are getting tougher, and consumers are realizing that. Only 17% of buyers say they expect their home search to get easier in the months ahead, the lowest level since 2018, according to NAHB.

“Buyers’ worsening perceptions of housing availability reflect the record-levels of housing inventory available in the market,” Rose Quint, NAHB’s assistant vice president for survey research, writes for NAHB’s Eye on Housing blog.

Source: National Association of REALTORS® Existing-Home Sales; “Buyers Feeling Grim About Housing Affordability,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (April 21, 2022); “Buyers’ Perceptions of Housing Availability Fall Back to 2018 Levels,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (April 21, 2022)

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Andy Gonzalez Named New VP of Public Policy

As Florida Realtors’ new vice president of public policy, he will oversee the government affairs efforts of the state association and its 225,000 members.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida Realtors®, the state’s largest professional trade association with more than 225,000 members, has named Andy Gonzalez as its new vice president of public policy.

“Andy is not only an exceptional leader, he’s also a phenomenal person. We knew we had something special with him right from the start and it’s been incredible to watch him put his talents to work on behalf of our members,” says Margy Grant, CEO of Florida Realtors. “Elevating him into the vice president role was an easy decision and we are beyond excited to see what he can accomplish in the years ahead.”

2022 Florida Realtors President Christina Pappas says, “Andy truly understands our members, the issues that are important to them and how to harness their collective passion and turn it into a powerful voice for the profession and industry. From his considerable legislative experience to the vast relationships he has with decision-makers, Andy was a natural choice to lead our public policy efforts.”

“No one has been a greater advocate for our members in Tallahassee than Andy,” adds Mike McGraw, president-elect of Florida Realtors. “He has proven himself to be an invaluable part of our public policy efforts by helping to deliver a multitude of key legislative victories since joining the team. Our advocacy agenda could not be in better or more capable hands.” 

As the vice president of public policy, Andy will oversee the government affairs efforts of the association. In addition to managing the public policy office, he is also responsible for all initiatives relating to the legislative agenda of Florida Realtors and the coordination of member involvement in all public policy-related matters for the organization.

For the past five years, Andy has served as a public policy representative for Florida Realtors, representing the interests of members before the legislative and executive branches of Florida’s government. In this capacity, Andy was responsible for recognition and analysis of all legislative activities, political issues and trends that impact the real estate industry. Additionally, he assisted in overseeing all aspects of the Florida Realtors Political Action Committee including strategy, financial management, candidate selection and campaign activities.

Prior to joining Florida Realtors, Andy served as the director of political development at the Florida Chamber of Commerce and as legislative & political affairs manager for the League of Southeastern Credit Unions.

Andy was born and raised in Miami, Fla. He graduated from Florida State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a master’s degree in applied American politics and policy. He resides in Tallahassee with his wife Dori, daughter Addison and their dog Campbell. 

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


Foreclosure Activity: New High Since Start of COVID

Filings up 39% in 1Q 2022 over 1Q 2021. Fla. is one of 5 states with highest foreclosure starts in 1Q. But activity still remains below historical levels.

IRVINE, Calif. – Foreclosure starts and bank repossessions are at their highest numbers in the last two years. Most pandemic-initiated moratoriums have lifted by now and lenders are starting to resume foreclosures. Still, foreclosure activity remains well below historical levels.

The number of properties with a foreclosure filing during the first quarter of 2022 climbed 39% compared to the previous quarter. Foreclosure filings are up much higher –132% – compared to a year ago, according to ATTOM Data Solutions’ Q1 2022 U.S. Foreclosure Market Report.

“Foreclosure activity has continued to gradually return to normal levels since the expiration of the government’s moratorium, and the CFPB [Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s] enhanced mortgage servicing guidelines,” says Rick Sharga, executive vice president of market intelligence for ATTOM. “But even with the large year-over-year increase in foreclosure starts and bank repossessions, foreclosure activity is still only running at about 57% of where it was in Q1 2020, the last quarter before the government enacted consumer protection programs due to the pandemic.”

Foreclosure starts increased in all 50 states. The states with the largest number of foreclosure starts in the first quarter included California, Florida, Texas, Illinois, and Ohio. Broken out by metro level, the greatest number of foreclosure starts last quarter were in Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Philadelphia.

Nationwide, Sharga says it’s likely that foreclosure activity will continue to see significant month-over-month and year-over-year gains through the second quarter of 2022.

“But [we] still won’t reach historically normal levels of foreclosures until the end of the year at the earliest, unless the U.S. economy takes a significant turn for the worse,” he notes.

Source: “U.S. Foreclosure Activity Sets Post Pandemic Highs in First Quarter of 2022,” ATTOM Data Solutions (April 20, 2022)

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Fannie Mae Predicts ‘Moderate Recession’

New 2023 forecast: Expect a modest economic contraction in 2023’s second half, but the housing market should help cushion that even if its pace slows a bit.

WASHINGTON – The housing market may save the economy from the severity of another Great Recession, according to a new report from Fannie Mae economists. But a recession is still likely on the horizon.

With inflation running at a 40-year high and uncertainties growing in the economy, economists are revising their outlooks for 2022 and 2023. Mortgage financing giant Fannie Mae says that expectations of aggressive monetary policy tightening through 2023 by the Federal Reserve will “likely further soften economic output already weighed down by decades-high inflation and the ongoing effects stemming from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

Fannie Mae’s Economic and Strategic Research Group outlined the latest predictions in its April 2022 commentary.

The group’s forecast downgrades real GDP growth and includes an expectation of a period of modest economic contraction in the second half of 2023. But economists are quick to note that the projected downturn will not likely resemble the severity or duration of the Great Recession in 2008.

They say the downturn will likely be less severe because of the housing market, stronger mortgage credit quality, a far less-leveraged residential real estate and mortgage financing system, and ongoing housing supply constraints compared to demographic demand.

“We continue to see multiple drivers of economic growth through 2022, but the need to rein in inflation combined with other economic indicators, such as the recent inversion of the Treasury yield curve, led us to meaningfully downgrade our expectations for economic growth in 2023,” says Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist. “The tight labor market and continued demand for workers, the need for firms to rebuild inventories, and the slowing of some transitory inflation impulses all suggest to us that 2022 will grow a bit faster than long-run trend growth.

“However, as the remaining fiscal policy stimuli fade and the predicted tightening of monetary policy works its way through the economy, we expect the impact of these factors to diminish.”

Fannie Mae’s updated 2023 forecast includes a “modest recession.”

But while the housing market is expected to help cushion a lot of that, economists also note that the housing market will likely slow in the coming months as well. Higher mortgage rates are pricing out more would-be homebuyers.

The National Association of Realtors® predicts a 10% decrease in home sales for 2022.

“The housing market is starting to feel the impact of sharply rising mortgage rates and higher inflation taking a hit on purchasing power,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said in response to NAR’s latest existing-home sales report which showed a contraction in home purchases.

Home sales remain quick and prices are still rising, but “sellers should not expect the easy-profit gains and should look for multiple offers to fade as demand continues to subside,” Yun added.

Source: “Inflation Rate Signals Tighter Monetary Policy and Threatens ‘Soft Landing,’” Fannie Mae (April 19, 2022)

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Your Sphere: Key Approach to Earn Business

Agents face challenges, but focusing on their sphere regardless of market conditions can boost business. Make personal calls and send cards to stay in touch.

NORWALK, Conn. – Key hurdles faced by real estate professionals include the rising number of new agents and reduced inventory. As of March, there were 1.5 million members in the National Association of Realtors (NAR), an increase of nearly 100,000 from March 2021.

Trisha Vierzba, a broker and team leader based in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and a Workman Success Systems certified coach, advises agents to focus on their sphere, regardless of market conditions. She says staying in touch is agents’ single most important factor when working with their sphere.

A NAR study conducted in 2020 found that 67% of sellers who used real estate agents found them via a referral by friends or family, or they used the agent they previously worked with.

Vierzba says on her team, agents make sure they send out birthday cards to everyone in their sphere and make a personal phone call every quarter. Developing and nurturing a true relationship with people in their sphere will yield recommendations.

Other ways agents can interact with their sphere and generate excitement include hosting gift pick-up events, car shows, Pie Day giveaways or other events.

Agents also should go through their sphere and call people who own a home to offer them a no-obligation “equity check-up.” After obtaining their agreement, agents can inform them they will be sending comprehensive market analysis (CMAs) reports yearly – and follow up with a phone call to see what they thought and if they have any questions.

Source: RISMedia (04/19/22) Vierzba, Trisha

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Builders Bypass Individual Buyer for Big Investors

Study: Over 25% of houses bought by professional rental investors in 4Q 2021 were new-construction properties. In 3Q 2019, they bought 3% of newly built homes.

NEW YORK – A study by John Burns Real Estate Consulting and the National Rental Home Council found over 25% of houses purchased by professional rental investors in the fourth quarter of 2021 were for new-construction properties.

By contrast, such parties bought only 3% of brand-new homes in the third quarter of 2019.

Home builders often sell in bulk to investors in order to turn a profit on new homes more quickly, since investors have more capital and can close on a large number of homes in one go.

There were 799,000 single-family homes under construction across the nation as of February, up 28% year-to-year.

The number of individual homebuyers who can afford new homes is shrinking due to climbing mortgage rates, and National Association of Home Builders chief economist Robert Dietz said this makes rental investors even more appealing to builders, especially those who typically sell to entry-level clients.

“Those potential buyers still want more space,” he explained. “And so single-family rental is likely to continue to show some strength.”

Moreover, investors offer a reliable sale even if interest rates increase, since many already have cash on hand. Many of the new homes that investors now purchase were originally designed to be rentals, but most are homes builders later opt to sell to rental companies.

Source: Wall Street Journal (04/11/22) Parker, Will

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Single Women’s Buying Power Is Shrinking

PropertyShark study: Women can afford to buy alone in only 17 of the 51 largest cities in the U.S. – and one of those cities is Jacksonville.

NEW YORK – Rising home prices may be shutting out more single women, according to a new study by PropertyShark. It that found that women can afford to buy alone in only 17 of the nation’s 51 largest cities. One of these more affordable cities is Jacksonville, Fla.

Single women would have to spend 49% of the median national income to cover monthly mortgage payments for a starter home, compared to 32% of the income for single men, PropertyShark found.

The study compared the median income of single men and women to the median sales price of a starter home, defined as studios and homes or condos with one bedroom.

Singles in general find it more challenging to afford homeownership. Single buyers have been priced out of 22 of the largest urban centers, which is eight more than five years ago, according to PropertyShark.

It found that Miami is eighth among the 10 least affordable cities for single female buyers. Single women in that city had to allocate 66% of median national income for monthly mortgage payments, compared to 47% for men.

In 2021, however, about 19% of the homebuying market comprised single women, compared to 9% for single men, according to data from the National Association of Realtors®, which found that single women outnumbered men by about a 2-to-1 ratio. 

Source: Realtor Magazine (04/13/22) 

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Tips for Better Social Media Engagement

Optimize your profile, include your real estate specialties and the areas you cover, use appropriate hashtags for shared content and offer fun polls to take.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Social media enables real estate professionals to stay connected with past, present and future clients long after deals close. It also enables professionals to build new connections in their local networks or with those looking to relocate.

To improve social media engagement, agents should ensure their profile is polished like their resume, with the areas they cover and their specialties.

Once they optimize their profile, they should use appropriate hashtags for the shared content, such as #livingin(yourcity), #movingto(yourcity), or #(yourcity)realestate. Tools like Hashtagify, Tagsfinder and Kicksta can help target the proper hashtags.

Polls are another way to engage followers, such as asking them to choose between two different kitchens or outdoor spaces.

Real estate professionals should also rely more on video and tag people they’re with. Scroll-stopping photos can ensure that people check out their posts; these include pictures of them and their family or landmark destinations. They should always tag their location, tell a story, share family photos, and document their day.

These actions provide potential clients with a sense of their authenticity. Other tips include highlighting local businesses and sharing personal likes and hobbies to ensure clients know who they are.

Source: Inman (04/15/22) Burgess, Jimmy

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Owners Leery of Giving Up Low Mortgage Rates?

This “lock-in effect” may impact listings moving forward. Higher rates have added about $400 to the average monthly payment on a median-priced home.

SEATTLE – About half of homeowners with a mortgage have a rate under 4% – significantly below today’s rates of 5%.

Such enticing rates could incentivize homeowners to stay put in their homes longer. They may not want to give up an ultra-low rate – many of whom snatched up a rate below 3% over recent years

A recent analysis by Redfin calls out this “lock-in effect” as one factor that may contribute to a decline in home listings moving forward.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5% last week, the highest rate in more than a decade, according to Freddie Mac. Since the beginning of the year, mortgage rates jumped by 1.8 percentage points and added about $400 to the average monthly mortgage payment for a median-priced home, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

“Higher mortgage rates may already be putting a damper on home listings, but they’re also curbing the insatiable homebuyer demand for these listings,” says Taylor Marr, Redfin’s deputy chief economist. “That slowdown in demand may cause homes to stay on the market longer, in effect giving buyers more options to choose from. Overall, that could mean housing inventory actually gets better, not worse.”

Some early signs of a housing market slowdown are already starting to appear. For example, more home sellers are reducing their list prices. While the percentage remains low, the pace is rising.

Also, mortgage purchase applications fell 6% year -over-year during the week ending April 8. Indexes that reflect home touring activity also have showed a decline.

“Rising rates are always a shock at first, but people still have to move,” says Heather Mahmood-Corley, a Redfin real estate professional in Phoenix. “Some sellers will have to adjust their expectations and understand they may not be able to afford the same house they could have two years ago.”

Source: “Nearly One-Third of Homeowners Have a Mortgage Rate Far Below Today’s Level, Prompting Some to Stay Put,” Redfin (April 19, 2022)

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Tech Helpline Expands to 725K in U.S., Canada

Florida Realtors technical support service added 4 Realtor groups with nearly 12K new users. In 2021, the Helpline provided tech support for over 113K cases.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida Realtors®Tech Helpline continues its expansion with the recent addition of four Realtor organizations and 11,900-plus members in just 98 days. The No. 1 tech support service for the real estate industry, the 725,000 members across the U.S. and Canada now access the Tech Helpline.

The additions include the CCIM Institute (7,923 members), Northeast Tennessee Association of Realtors (1,654), Heartland Realtor Organization (1,371 members) and Three Rivers Association of Realtors (962 members), both in Illinois. These Realtor organizations’ members will receive free, unlimited access to all tech support services the Tech Helpline offers.

“Tech Helpline is a member benefit, and because every agent’s workflow today is dependent on technology, it’s often the favorite benefit offered to Realtor members,” says Florida Realtors CEO Margy Grant.

Last month, the Tech Helpline debuted its new mobile app that allows agents to connect quickly to a tech advisor while on the go. Available for iPhones and iPads in the Apple App store, the new app also is available for Android devices via Google Play.

Tech Helpline’s experts have more than 350-plus years of combined IT experience. Last year, they provided tech support for more than 113,000 cases. Tech Helpline also supports Form Simplicity, which also is owned and operated by Florida Realtors. Serving more than 350,000 Realtors nationwide, Form Simplicity customers managed almost 2 million transaction sides in 2021.

The Tech Helpline offers bilingual support in English and Spanish. In addition, the service delivers solutions for a range of software and hardware issues that agents encounter daily, from resolving email and Wi-Fi problems to connecting a wireless printer or Bluetooth headphones. Tech Helpline experts also provide advanced file recovery services, remove viruses and adware from devices, help members recover from computer and mobile phone crashes, and more.

The Tech Helpline offers phone, chat and email support. Agents can make an unlimited number of calls and there is no limit on the number of questions they may ask a Tech Helpline expert.

“Tech Helpline makes every agent feel welcomed,” Grant says. “Because Tech Helpline experts work closely with agents and brokers every day, they understand the business and deadline pressure. Tech Helpline experts excel in taking the fear out of calling tech support because they are the best team in the business.”

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


Higher Mortgage Rates Set Stage for Sales Slowdown

This week’s 30-year mortgage rate averaged 5.11%. Owners with locked-in lower rates have less financial incentive to sell; would-be buyers face higher loan costs.

LOS ANGELES (AP) – Low mortgage rates have helped juice the housing market over the past decade, easing the way for borrowers to finance ever-higher home prices.

A run-up in rates in recent weeks is threatening to undo that dynamic, setting the stage for a slowdown in home sales this year as the increased borrowing costs reduce would-be buyers’ purchasing power.

The average weekly rate on the benchmark 30-year mortgage has risen swiftly since the first week of this year, when it stood at 3.2%. Last week it climbed to 5% for the first time in more than a decade. This week it rose to 5.11%, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac. A year ago, it was 2.97%.

Mortgage rates’ rise follows a sharp move up in 10-year Treasury yields, reflecting expectations of higher interest rates overall as the Federal Reserve starts hiking short-term rates in order to combat surging inflation.

While higher rates could translate into less frenzied competition for homes, most homeowners with a mortgage have locked in ultra-low rates over the years and will have less financial incentive to sell, which could lead to fewer homes up for sale, economists say.

Consider, out of the roughly 62% of U.S. homes that have a mortgage, some 92% of them have home loan rates at or below 5%, according to CoreLogic. And 57% of those homes have mortgages with rates at or below 3.5%.

“We’re already in record-low inventory,” said Molly Boesel, principal economist at Corelogic. “So that could make the crunch even bigger.”

Mortgage rates been declining for decades, from 18% in the early 1980s to below 3% last year. That trend added a financial incentive for homeowners, who after a few years could refinance their mortgage or sell their home and lock in a lower rate.

But the low rates over the past decade have given homeowners a financial incentive to hang on to their homes longer as rates rise.

“That was a tailwind in the housing market that generally drove turnover,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist at First American. “That tailwind now turns into a headwind.”

Looking at past periods when mortgage rates increased, Boesel estimates that higher rates could lead to 125,000 fewer homes sold this year.

Sales of previously occupied U.S. homes slowed last month to the lowest pace in nearly two years, the National Association of Realtors® said Wednesday. Lawrence Yun, the NAR’s chief economist, said sales could easily fall 10% this year.

Copyright © Associated Press, Alex Veiga, AP business writer.


Early Retirees Rejoin Workforce

McLEAN, Va. – Greg Nahm, a researcher for the oil and gas industry, decided to retire early last year after projects dwindled to almost nothing during the industry’s COVID-19-induced downturn.

He had no qualms about the move. “You don’t have to wake up anymore to make a deadline,” says Nahm, 65, who lives in Kiowa, Colorado. “You can stay around the house and have coffee (for hours) … It’s great.” Plus, he says, “we just have so many other interests.”

But as they continued to draw from savings to pay the bills, Nahm and his wife, Deb, felt a financial pinch that has been compounded by skyrocketing inflation. So when he recently got an offer for a two-year contract to research rights of way for a planned power line, he didn’t think twice.

Good money in a roaring market

“I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to make good money,” Nahm says. And if another project follows, he says, “that would be fantastic.”

Nahm is among a small but growing number of Americans who retired earlier than they had planned during the pandemic but are now returning to a roaring labor market with lots of job openings and rising wages.

“The demand for workers is really strong,” says Nick Bunker, economic research director for Indeed, the leading job site. Many retirees are saying, “‘There are so many opportunities for me.’”

In March, 3.1% of workers who were retired a year earlier said they were now working, a figure that matches the pre-pandemic level and has steadily edged higher after hovering at 2.2% a year before, according to Bunker’s analysis of Census Bureau data.

Further stoking the trend are a waning health crisis and inflation that has been hitting new 40-year highs each month, squeezing retirees’ fixed incomes. A shift to remote work – at least some of the time – for many white-collar workers has made the transition back to the daily grind more palatable.

While his retired clients “still liked the work, the commute and office politics … were huge factors in them agreeing to part ways earlier than they originally planned,” says Jack Phelps, president of the Relaxing Retirement Coach, a consulting and financial planning firm in Wellesley, Massachusetts. “Without the need to be in an office, we’ve seen (returning retirees) spend time working from destinations” such as Florida.

Easing the worker shortage?

Their comebacks could help relieve a nationwide labor shortage that has driven wages and inflation higher while curtailing economic output and leaving consumers frustrated by long restaurant waits and limited hotel housekeeping service, among other impacts.

Of course, many prime-age workers (25 to 54) left the labor force during COVID-19, citing health concerns, child care duties, unemployment benefits, career changes or other reasons.

But older workers comprised the single biggest group of Americans who stopped working or looking for jobs. With their planned retirements just a few years away, many decided to move up the timetable as they faced increased health risks, burnout and 401(k) plans swollen by a booming stock market. A large number were laid off or took buyouts.

About 1.5 million of the 3.5 million baby boomers who retired during the pandemic did so sooner than intended, according to Pew Research. The Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis puts the figure at 2.4 million.

That means early retirees will account for the lion’s share of the nation’s longer-term labor shortage after most prime-age workers who are still outside the labor force trickle back this year. By year’s end, the workforce will still be 1.7 million Americans shy of where it would have been if the pandemic hadn’t occurred, estimates Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics.

Nahm is doing his part to close that gap. As a contract researcher for oil and gas companies, he enjoyed tracing properties back to the 19th century to determine who owned the mineral rights and handing homeowners big checks that changed their lives.

But when oil prices crashed and Colorado passed new rules that restricted drilling, his work vanished. At the same time, Deb’s freelance graphic design work dried up.

Rather than hunt for another job, “I found my wife and I had so many other hobbies and pursuits that were more fulfilling,” he says.

They included volunteer work with low-income residents, raising hundreds of lavender and other plants (some for sale to local shops) on their 8-acre ranch, hiking, biking, swimming, skiing, playing the piano, playing with his grandkids and hanging out in their greenhouse, which includes a pool.

Then there was “the freedom to change my mind every day about what I’m going to do or not having to do anything,” Nahm says. “It’s kind of addictive.”

But while their retirement nest egg was “decent … we weren’t prepared to stop working,” he says.

They were forced to scale back their donations to local charities. Instead of dining out three times a week, they downshifted to three times a month and scrapped vacations to places like Hawaii, Mexico and Florida.

Meanwhile, the surge in gasoline prices has made 60-mile trips to Denver to visit his son far less manageable.

“This runaway inflation of everything now can definitely be a buzzkill,” Nahm says.

The financial pressures, along with an abating pandemic, prodded him to take the offer for the power line project, noting that his job requires frequent meetings with clients and landowners.

“Things are definitely better,” he says of COVID-19. “I’m not going to be ruled by fear anymore.”

Other retirees feel the financial squeeze. A growing number have taken out reverse mortgages to tap the equity in their homes and tide them over until Social Security kicks in, says Christian Mills, head of financial adviser relations for Reverse Mortgage Funding.

“They’re saying, ‘How can I get out and maintain my standard of living?’” he says.

Can baby boomers like Nahm make up the shortfall in the workforce?

The share of 55- to 64-year-olds working or looking for jobs climbed to 65.5% in March from 64.4% a year earlier, reaching its pre-pandemic mark and indicating that many of the returning workers were early retirees, says Moody’s economist Sophia Koropeckyj. By contrast, the labor force participation rate for those 65 or older was 19.1%, more than a percentage point below its level before the pandemic.

A separate study of Census data by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College found that over time, 5.8% to 7.8% of people who were retired in a given year worked at some point the following year. The rate rises predictably as job openings increase.

Because openings as a share of total employment is near a record high of 7% – more than double its two-decade average – the retirement research center expects nearly 2% more retirees than normal to come back to work during the economic recovery, or about 300,000 of the 15 million retirees ages 55 to 70.

“It will help ease the labor shortage, but it won’t come close to (resolving) it,” says Geoffrey Sanzenbacher, a author of the study and an economics professor at Boston College.

The vast majority of early retirees are content and unlikely to go back to work.

‘It becomes your life’

Ed DeBerry, who was a senior producer for NBC News, took a buyout in October. DeBerry, who lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, had to work in the office part of the time through much of the pandemic, and he and his wife, Carolyn, contracted COVID-19 early last year.

After that, working “was just exhausting,” says DeBerry, 64. “There was a high level of anxiety.”

He planned to work until he could receive full Social Security benefits at age 67. DeBerry says he monitored news developments seven days a week. “It becomes your life,” he says.

But his COVID-19 bout “helped put in perspective what’s important in life,” he says. “I was surprised how little I missed it.”

Although Carolyn, a school counselor, has retired as well, their financial planner told the couple they could live comfortably on their Social Security and pensions after DeBerry’s buyout payments end in October. For DeBerry, they amount to about half his former salary.

They’ll continue to dine out three times a week and take two big vacations a year, along with a few weekend trips, he says. “You don’t have to drive to work or buy clothes for work,” he says. “Our lifestyles are pretty modest.

“A lot of times we work for things we probably don’t need.”

He fills his time with yardwork, spending time with family and preaching at his church. He also devotes 20 to 30 hours a week producing videos for a church-related nonprofit, volunteer work that’s similar to his old job but “a lot more gratifying.”

Earlier this year, NBC contacted him about working on the Winter Olympics for a month. Twenty percent of retirees surveyed by Resume Builder last year said former employers asked them to come back because of the labor shortage.

“It was a little thrilling,” he says, but he figured one project would have led to another. “I didn’t want to get on the treadmill again.”

Copyright © 2022, USATODAY.com, USA TODAY


Single-Family Starts, Permits Decline in March

Rising rates and supply chain issues impacted single-family starts (-1.7%) and permits (-4.8%). But multifamily starts rose 4.6% and permits were up 10%.

WASHINGTON – The single-family housing market continued to show signs of softening in March as permits and starts declined due to rising mortgage interest rates and ongoing supply chain bottlenecks that continue to delay construction projects and raise home building costs.

Florida Realtors: Fla.’s single-family median price up 21.3% to $396.5K. Condo median price up 27.3% to $308K. Rising rates, prices and tight supply impact sales.

Due to strong multifamily production, overall housing starts increased 0.3% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.79 million units, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Census Bureau.

The March reading of 1.79 million starts is the number of housing units builders would begin if development kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts decreased 1.7% to a 1.20 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. The multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, increased 4.6% to an annualized 593,000 pace.

“Higher mortgage interest rates and rising construction costs are pricing buyers out of the market, and these higher costs are particularly hurting entry-level and first-time buyers,” said Jerry Konter, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). “Policymakers must address building supply chain disruptions to help builders bring down construction costs and increase production to meet market demand.”

“The shift in affordability can be seen in the March data with strength for multifamily construction and some weakness for single-family permits,” said NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz. “Our builder surveys show that confidence levels in the single-family market have declined for four straight months as affordability conditions continue to worsen, and this is a sign that single-family production will face challenges moving forward.”

On a regional and year-to-date basis, combined single-family and multifamily starts are 17.3% higher in the Northeast, 6.6% higher in the Midwest, 11.2% higher in the South and 7.5% higher in the West.

Overall permits increased 0.4% to a 1.87-million-unit annualized rate in March. Single-family permits decreased 4.8% to a 1.15-million-unit rate. Multifamily permits increased 10.0% to an annualized 726,000 pace.

Looking at regional permit data on a year-to-date basis, permits are 5.5% higher in the Northeast, 4.0% higher in the Midwest, 7.5% higher in the South and 4.9% higher in the West.

Single-family permits authorized but not started increased 7.6% in March to 127,000 and are up 30.9% year-over-year as higher construction costs and material delays slow previously permitted projects.

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


NAR: March Existing Home Sales Slip 2.7%

WASHINGTON – Existing-home sales decreased in March, marking two consecutive months of declines, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Month-over-month, sales in March waned in three of the four major U.S. regions while holding steady in the West. Sales were down across each region year-over-year.

Total existing-home sales completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, dipped 2.7% from February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.77 million in March. Year-over-year, sales fell 4.5% (6.04 million in March 2021).

Access our powerful database of real estate market research NOW!

“The housing market is starting to feel the impact of sharply rising mortgage rates and higher inflation taking a hit on purchasing power,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Still, homes are selling rapidly, and home price gains remain in the double-digits.”

With mortgage rates expected to rise further, Yun predicts transactions to contract by 10% this year, for home prices to readjust, and for gains to grow around 5%.

Total housing inventory at the end of March totaled 950,000 units, up 11.8% from February and down 9.5% from one year ago (1.05 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 2.0-month supply at the present sales pace, up from 1.7 months in February and down from 2.1 months in March 2021.

The median existing-home price for all housing types in March was $375,300, up 15.0% from March 2021 ($326,300), as prices rose in each region. This marks 121 consecutive months of year-over-year increases, the longest-running streak on record.

“Home prices have consistently moved upward as supply remains tight,” Yun said. “However, sellers should not expect the easy-profit gains and should look for multiple offers to fade as demand continues to subside.”

Properties typically remained on the market for 17 days in March, down from 18 days in February and 18 days in March 2021. Eighty-seven percent of homes sold in March 2022 were on the market for less than a month.

First-time buyers were responsible for 30% of sales in March, up from 29% in February and down from 32% in March 2021. NAR’s 2021 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, released in late 2021, reported that the annual share of first-time buyers was 34%.

“It appears first-time homebuyers are still looking to lock in at current mortgage rates before they inevitably increase,” Yun said.

Individual investors or second-home buyers, who make up many cash sales, purchased 18% of homes in March, down from 19% in February but up from 15% in March 2021. All-cash sales accounted for 28% of transactions in March, up from both the 25% recorded in February and from 23% in March 2021.

“With rising mortgage rates, cash sales made up a larger fraction of transactions, climbing to the highest share since 2014,” Yun said.

Distressed sales – foreclosures and short sales – represented less than 1% of sales in March, equal to the percentage seen in both February 2022 and March 2021.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 4.17% in March, up from 3.76% in February. The average commitment rate across all of 2021 was 2.96%.

Realtor.com®’s Market Trends Report in March shows that the greatest year-over-year median list price growth occurred in Miami (+37.0%), Las Vegas (+35.2%), and Tampa (+32.0%). Austin posted the highest growth in the share of homes which had their prices reduced compared to last year (+2.9 percentage points), followed by Sacramento and Memphis (+2.3 percentage points).

Learn how to use data only available to Florida Realtors members in your day-to-day business to win the confidence of your clients, including basic statistical concepts in the context of residential real estate and how to draw conclusions about the market. Plus: Make your own custom charts and infographics to share. When: 9:30 a.m. EST, Thursday, April 28, 2022 

Single-family and condo/co-op sales

Single-family home sales decreased to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.13 million in March, down 2.7% from 5.27 million in February and down 3.8% from one year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $382,000 in March, up 15.2% from March 2021.

Existing condominium and co-op sales were recorded at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 640,000 units in March, down 3.0% from 660,000 in February and down 9.9% from one year ago. The median existing condo price was $322,000 in March, an annual increase of 11.9%.

“Finding the right home in this market – from making an offer to eventually buying – is an intense process,” said NAR President Leslie Rouda Smith, a Realtor® from Plano, Texas, and a broker associate at Dave Perry-Miller Real Estate in Dallas. “The current state of housing is indeed one of the most competitive markets that I have witnessed, but with patience and the assistance of a trusted Realtor®, the outcome can be very rewarding.”  

Regional breakdown

Existing-home sales in the Northeast slid 2.9% in March, recording an annual rate of 670,000, an 11.8% fall from March 2021. The median price in the Northeast was $390,200, up 6.8% from one year ago.

Existing-home sales in the Midwest declined 4.5% from the prior month to an annual rate of 1,270,000 in March, a 3.1% drop from March 2021. The median price in the Midwest was $271,000, a 10.4% jump from March 2021.

Existing-home sales in the South dipped 3.0% in March from the prior month, registering an annual rate of 2,620,000, a decrease of 3.0% from one year ago. The median price in the South was $339,000, a 21.2% surge from one year prior. For the seventh straight month, the South experienced the highest pace of price appreciation in comparison to the other three regions.

Existing-home sales in the West held steady compared to the previous month, posting an annual rate of 1,210,000 in March, down 4.7% from one year ago. The median price in the West was $519,900, up 5.4% from March 2021.

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


Fla.’s March Median Prices Up, Supply Tight

Florida Realtors: Fla.’s single-family median price up 21.3% to $396.5K. Condo median price up 27.3% to $308K. Rising rates, prices and tight supply impact sales.

It’s Florida’s busiest season for home sales, and a handful of factors, from mortgage rates to inventory, are making year-over-year comparisons difficult. Take a look to hear how things played out in March.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida’s housing market in March and 1Q 2022 showed the impact of rising mortgage rates, increased home prices and a shortfall of for-sale supply, with fewer closed sales compared to a year ago, according to Florida Realtors®’ latest housing data.

“Buyers and sellers in Florida in March continued to see rising mortgage rates, a very limited supply of for-sale homes and rising prices,” said 2022 Florida Realtors President Christina Pappas, vice president of the Keyes Family of Companies in Miami. “Housing affordability remains a challenge, and higher mortgage rates may mean some buyers who had previously qualified under a lower rate are forced to rethink their plans. The continued limited supply means that homes are selling at a fast pace. The median time to contract statewide for single-family existing homes in March was nine days compared to 15 days during the same month a year ago. And the median time to contract for existing condo-townhouse units was 11 days compared to 32 in March 2021.

“Now more than ever, consumers can benefit from the expertise of a local Realtor, who can guide them through current market conditions.”

Last month, closed sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 30,793, down 6.2% year-over-year, while existing condo-townhouse sales totaled 14,631, down 11.4% over March 2021. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

Higher mortgage rates and less pandemic-driven buyer demand helped drive the drop in closed sales, according to Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor. He pointed out several factors that make it difficult to make exact comparisons between last year’s spring homebuying season and this year’s, now underway with the March data.

“First, last year could really be considered our first spring buying season in two years, with the 2020 season having been snuffed out by the onset of the pandemic,” he said.

Access our powerful database of real estate market research NOW!

“So there was an excess of pent-up demand there. Second, the pandemic was still quite severe a year ago and was spurring relocations and second home purchases in Florida from out-of-state buyers. That’s still happening now, but not to the same extent. Third, while our single-family inventory was severely depleted by the beginning of 2021, there was still some slack in our condo and townhouse inventory at the time. That inventory cushion allowed for last year’s massive statewide boom in condo and townhouse sales. And last, but certainly not least, mortgage rates were still near record lows last spring. It simply can’t be understated how much these low rates helped fuel housing demand during the pandemic.”

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in March was $396,558, up 21.3% from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Research Department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Last month’s statewide median price for condo-townhouse units was $308,000, up 27.3% over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

Dr. O’Connor said, “With the rising prices we’re seeing, despite fewer sales so far this year, the dollar volume of closed sales remains high. Single-family dollar volume in the first quarter of 2022 came in at $42.1 billion, an 11.5% increase over the same quarter last year, while condo-townhouse dollar volume was up 16.3%, to $16.1 billion.

“The big question over the next few months will be how much the recent elevation in mortgage rates will slow price growth.”

On the supply side of the market, inventory (active listings) remained tightly constrained in March as well as for all of Q1 2022: Single-family existing homes were at a restricted 1-months’ supply while condo-townhouse inventory was at a 1.2-months’ supply.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.17% in March 2021, significantly higher than the 3.08% averaged during the same month a year earlier.

1Q 2022 housing reports

March 2022 housing reports

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


Homeowner Groups Try to Block Investor Buying

Arguing investors are keeping families from being able to buy, some HOAs are trying to cap the number of homes that can be rented out, among other steps.

NEW YORK – Homeowner associations across the country are rewriting rules to try to prevent investors from purchasing housing in their neighborhoods, The Wall Street Journal reports.

CoreLogic: Investor activity slowed in 4Q 2021 and more investors appear to be holding on to properties longer. Analysts say summer is the time to watch.

Some homeowner association groups are concerned that an uptick in homes purchased by investors could lead to a decline in property maintenance and make their neighborhoods less desirable. They also argue that investors are preventing more families from being able to buy houses.

Homeowner associations believe they have the power to stop them. As such, some housing groups are attempting to cap the number of homes that can be rented out in a neighborhood. They may require rental tenants to be approved by the association’s board.

One such move was taken in Walkertown, N.C., where the Whitehall Village Master Homeowner Association is trying to amend its rules to require that new buyers live in a home or they must leave it vacant for six months before they can rent it out. That would prevent investors from purchasing any more homes in the neighborhood.

“They’re coming in and they’re basically bullying people out with cash offers,” Chase Berrier, the association’s president, told The Wall Street Journal about the movement.

In Fishers, Ind., a town of about 100,000, more than 900 homes were purchased by non-owner occupants between 2016 to 2021. About one-third of the home purchases were from out-of-state investors, The Wall Street Journal reports. The mayor of the town says it’s “denying an entire group of individuals an opportunity to build equity” in the town by being shut out by investors.

Trying to capture the hot housing market, investors have increased their buying activity. Single-family rentals have become a huge growth area, too. More than one in five home sales in December 2021 were investor purchases, according to CoreLogic housing data.

As more homeowner associations take steps to try to ban renters, investors aren’t happy. The homeowner associations’ actions also are attracting lawmakers’ attention in many states as they debate how much power homeowner associations should have in limiting renters in their neighborhoods.

“The only real purpose of restricting rentals in a given community is to keep renters out, actions which in our view are both harmful and dangerous,” David Howard, executive director of the National Rental Home Council, told The Wall Street Journal.

Source: “Homeowner Groups Seek to Stop Investors from Buying Houses to Rent,” The Wall Street Journal (April 18, 2022; login required)

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Not All Baby Boomers Are Downsizing

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Despite conventional wisdom saying that downsizing should happen later in life after the kids have left the house, some South Florida baby boomers are deciding to stay put in their homes.

Data from Zillow that profiled baby boomers and their selling habits found that of the 2% of baby boomers who moved in 2021, 46% reported downsizing to a smaller home.

The inventory for homes smaller than 1,400-square feet has hit a 50-year low – and it’s the same record-low inventory eyed by many first-time buyers.

But that’s not necessarily the case with all baby boomers, experts said. Some of them are planning to stay in the homes where they raised their children, and areas where they put down roots.

“With older Americans, we have seen that people just want to age in place. They have the doctors they like, their social circles.” Karan Kaul, principal research associate in the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C.

Dennis Berger, a 74-year-old resident of Coral Springs, has been living in the same three-bedroom, two-bathroom house since he and his family moved down to South Florida from New York in 1988.

He and his wife paid about $125,000 for the 1,800-square-foot home and raised two kids there, who now live nearby. Today, the house is paid off, and he believes he could get between $450,000-$500,000 for it, based on recent estimates he’s received from Zillow.

Despite the handsome profit, and their ability to downsize now that the kids are gone, he and his wife don’t plan on leaving. They’ve talked about it, but the math – and quality of life issues – just don’t add up. They live 20 minutes away from their son and daughter, and their grandchildren live in Fort Myers. The proximity to family is something that can’t be replaced, they say.

Yes, they could move to a condo in the area, but many are priced too high in this hot market, and a retirement community would also be too expensive.

“We have a private swimming pool here, which my wife has been using for her physical therapy. And at our age, when you are packing up a house that you have been in for 34 years, what do you keep and what do you let go of?” he said.

A seller’s market but nowhere to go

There’s no question that this is a seller’s market, with homeowners like the Bergers able to get the maximum amount of money from buyers. The latest data from the Broward, Palm Beaches and St. Lucie Realtors shows that sellers got 100% of their asking price, up about 3% from the year before. And with many buyers willing to waive appraisal and inspections, it’s a good time for sellers take advantage of the market.

“Especially for sellers who are a little bit older, particularly baby boomers, they often have little to no mortgage if they spent 20-30 years in their homes,” Patty Da Silva, broker with Green Realty Properties in Cooper City said. “They are sitting on a pile of cash, but where do you go, and do they even want to do it to begin with? It can all feel a bit overwhelming.”

Many sellers in general are wary of selling because not only do they feel that they have nowhere else to move, since inventory is so low in South Florida, they are also concerned about spending more money to get a home, according to Dee Emmanuel from The Keyes Company’s Hollywood office.

“Some sellers want to sell at the top and buy at a better price, but the truth is that we don’t see values going down anytime soon because there is low inventory,” he said.

Some empty nesters are even upsizing. Sam Gray, 58, and her husband purchased their home in the Cypress Run neighborhood in 2016 (he passed away in 2020). Their previous home in Davie was a three-bedroom, two-bathroom around 1,800 square feet and the current home is around 2,500 square feet, with an outdoor patio, four bedrooms and two bathrooms. It also has a pool, which she always wanted. She says she’s not going anywhere.

“I want this house,” Gray said. “I don’t have a reason to move, and frankly, I hate living in apartments and condos.”

The pandemic continues to influence demand for outdoor amenities, bigger homes and the suburbs. But all ages still like laundry rooms and walk-in pantries.

She lived in a condo when she and her husband first married, but didn’t like the close proximity to other people, the noise and feeling that everyone was on top of each other.

She’s redone her kitchen to her liking, and the amount of space she has is perfect for her two large dogs. Most importantly, she’s centrally located to her sister, father and nephew, who live close by.

“I don’t have a reason to sell and I don’t anticipate having a reason to,” she said.

If baby boomers downsize, will it free up inventory?

Baby boomer own the largest share of real estate wealth in the U.S since 2001, according to a data analysis from the New York Times.

“Baby boomers are living longer and are healthier than previous generations and it’s enabling them to stay longer in their homes, which is a good thing,” said Danielle Hale, economist with realtor.com.

Even if baby boomers downsized, it wouldn’t have much of an effect in helping cool down soaring prices in the real estate market, experts said.

“The issue is that we haven’t kept pace with population growth,” Kaul added. “At the end of the day, everyone needs a place to live. You don’t solve the problem unless you make more additional housing units, which is the core of the problem.”

Inventory levels in South Florida have plummeted, with about only a month’s worth of supply of homes in the tri-county area. A healthy market normally has about six months of supply, according to experts. And a Zillow report found that after decades of underbuilding, South Florida has a shortage of 142,650 homes if builders had kept up with the rate of population growth between 1985 and 2000.

Those factors play a part in both non-boomers scrambling to find homes, and baby boomers staying in the homes they currently own.

Copyright © 2022 South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC


Inflation Top Concern Among Real Estate Investors

Survey: 65% worry about inflation, 63% rising interest rates and 58% access to capital concerns. Still, investors continue moving forward on projects.

SAN FRANCISCO – Inflation is a leading concern among real estate investors, but it’s not preventing them from moving forward on projects, according to a new survey from Kiavi, a provider of financing to real estate investors. Kiavi surveyed 503 real estate investors who were not the company’s customers.

When investors were asked what their top concerns for 2022 are, they said the following:

Inflation: 65%

Rising interest rates: 63%

Access to capital: 58%

“It’s no surprise that inflation is top of mind with real estate investors as I think that’s the case for most Americans today,” says Michael Bourque, CEO of Kiavi. “Even still, we’re seeing our customers continue to identify smart investments and make good decisions. With over two-thirds of U.S. homes 30 years old or more, real estate investors will continue to play an important role as they revitalize aged homes and make them move-in ready for millions of families across the country.”

Pain points in a transaction

Investors surveyed said that besides inflation, supply chain bottlenecks, and rising interest rates, they are also facing several pain points in their search for investment properties. For example, 45% said they are facing too many hoops to jump through to purchase a property; 44% said there are too many different parties to coordinate with when purchasing a property; 38% said they didn’t have enough data about the property to determine its return on investment; and 31% said they did not have enough information about the process and weren’t sure how to begin.

“I am not surprised to see some of the pain points that REIs face today,” Bourque says. “The real estate industry is ripe for disruption. Oftentimes the processes are opaque and paper heavy.”

Many respondents reported long waits to receive financing as well. While 43% said it takes one to two weeks to receive financing for a project, other respondents said it took longer. Twenty-seven percent said it takes between two to four weeks, the survey shows. Ten percent said it takes one to two months, and 6% said it took three to six months.

Source: Kiavi

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


FORMS UPDATE: Revisions to Nonlawyer Disclosure

Florida Supreme Court has approved a Florida Bar rule change that alters the Nonlawyer disclosure; this impacts 8 landlord-tenant forms found in Form Simplicity.

ORLANDO, Fla. – Florida Supreme Court forms related to landlord/tenant matters found on Form Simplicity have been updated. Note only the Nonlawyer Disclosure language was slightly modified and it will not impact the manner in which you complete the form. The Nonlawyer Disclosure simply explains the person (i.e. the licensee) assisting with the completion of the form is not an attorney or a paralegal. There were no substantive updates outside of these.

For more information on the updates, click on the notification link below. The former Nonlawyer Disclosure ND-2 has been replaced by ND-3. All other revisions consist of replacing only page 1 of the form with the new ND-3 version.

Notification announcements

The following forms are affected by this change:

Nonlawyer Disclosure ND-3

Landlord/tenant forms

Notice of Intention to Impose Claim on Security Deposit_CSD-5x

Notice from Landlord to Tenant for Failure to Pay Rent_FPR-4

Notice from Landlord to Tenant – for Non-Compliance Other than Failure to Pay Rent_TNC-4x

Notice from Tenant to Landlord – Termination for Failure of Landlord to Maintain Premises _TFMP-4

Notice from Tenant to Landlord – Withholding Rent for Failure of Landlord to Maintain Premises_WFMP-5

Residential Lease for Apt. or Unit in Multi-Family Rental Housing (other than a Duplex)_RLAUCC-1x

Residential Lease for Single Family Home and Duplex_RLHD-3x

© 2022 Florida Realtors®


Home Builder Sentiment Drops for Fourth Month

NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index: Builder confidence in the new single-family home market fell 2 points to 77 in April; a year ago, it was at 83.

WASHINGTON – According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, builder confidence in the market for new single-family homes fell 2 points to 77 in April.

The reading marks the fourth straight month of declines for the index, which stood at 83 in April 2021.

Of the index’s three components, current sales conditions fell 2 points to 85. Buyer traffic dropped 6 points to 60, and sales expectations in the next six months increased 3 points to 73 following a 10-point drop in March.

NAHB Chairman Jerry Konter said, “Despite low existing inventory, builders report sales traffic and current sales conditions have declined to their lowest points since last summer as a sharp jump in mortgage rates and persistent supply chain disruptions continue to unsettle the housing market.”

Regionally, on a three-month moving average, builder sentiment rose 1 point to 72 in the Northeast, and fell 3 points to 69 in the Midwest, 2 points to 82 in the South, and 1 point to 89 in the West. 

Source: CNBC (04/18/22) Olick, Diana

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Redfin: Home Sales Fell 4% in March

Rising prices and mortgage rates sidelined buyers, even though homes sold at their fastest pace and for more above list price than any other March on record.

SEATTLE – It was the hottest March ever for the housing market, with homes selling at their fastest pace and for more above list price than any other March on record, according to a new report from Redfin, the technology-powered real estate brokerage. The median home-sale price rose 6.2% in March, the fastest month-over-month gain at this time of year since 2013, to an all-time high of $412,700.

Seasonally adjusted home sales fell 4% as soaring mortgage rates and prices sidelined more buyers, whose options were severely limited due to a decline in homes being listed.

Although pricey coastal markets began showing early signs of a slowdown in late March, nationwide sales data for the full month reflects the hottest March market on record, since homes that sold last month mostly went under contract in February, said Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather.

“We expect the combination of surging mortgage rates and record-high home prices to cause more homebuyers to drop out of the market,” he said. “Unfortunately, homeowners are turning their back on the market too. Instead of being motivated to list before prices weaken, potential home sellers may be choosing to wait-out the impending market cooldown.”

Seasonally adjusted home sales in March were down 4% from a month earlier and down 8% from a year earlier. Home sales fell from the prior year in 79 of the 88 largest metro areas Redfin tracks.

The biggest sales declines were in North Port, FL (-30%)West Palm Beach, FL (-24%) and Lake County, IL (-21%). The largest gains were in Fresno, CA (+6%), Philadelphia (+6%) and Oxnard, CA (+3%).

Seasonally adjusted active listings, the count of all homes that were for sale at any time during the month, fell 13% year over year to an all-time low in March.

Of the 88 largest metros tracked by Redfin, 82 posted year-over-year decreases in the number of seasonally adjusted active listings of homes for sale.

The biggest year-over-year declines in active housing supply in March were in Allentown, PA (-47%), Greensboro, NC (-41%) and Fort Lauderdale, FL (-37%). The only metro areas where the number of homes for sale increased were Elgin, IL (+29%), Chicago, IL (+13%), Detroit, MI (+13%) and Lake County, IL (+5%).

New listings fell from a year ago in 69 of the 88 largest metro areas. The largest declines were in Allentown, PA (-56%), Greensboro, NC (-39%) and Honolulu (-25%). New listings rose the most in McAllen, TX (+17%), Rochester, NY (+7%) and Detroit, MI (+7%).

Home sales that closed in March (which mostly went under contract in February) spent less time on the market and sold for further above list price than a year ago. The typical home that sold in March went under contract in 20 days six days faster than a year earlier – and the shortest time on market ever for March.

Fifty-four percent of homes sold above list price, up 12 percentage points from a year earlier, and the highest March level on record. The average sale-to-list price ratio in March was 102.4%, up from 100.6% a year earlier, another record-high for this time of year.

Copyright © 2022 Euclid Infotech Pvt. Ltd. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc


Equity Motivates More Sellers

HomeLight survey: A rapid rise in equity is encouraging sellers to list their homes and they expect to make a profit; 87% say they expect more than 1 offer.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – More homeowners say they are being motivated by the rapid increase in equity in their homes to list their property for sale, adding they have high expectations for a profitable sale. About half of home sellers recently surveyed said they expected to retain 30% or more of the sale price of their homes, according to the 2022 Buyer and Seller Insights Report released by HomeLight, a real estate referral company.

Eighty-seven percent of sellers surveyed also expected to receive more than one offer on their home. Fifty-two percent expect to receive four or more offers.

Homeowners cited the following motivations for reasons to sell, according to the HomeLight survey:

Found a better home: 30%

Rising home prices in the area: 24%

Retirement/downsizing: 20%

Prefer a different neighborhood or area: 18%

Needed more square footage: 15%

To be closer to friends or family: 14%

Moving for a new job: 12%

Desire for more outdoor space: 12%

Homeowners in housing markets that are seeing rapid price appreciation may feel even more motivation to sell. For example, in Phoenix, Denver, and Sacramento, Calif., more than 40% of sellers said rising home prices motivated them to sell.

Some homeowners are making a quick decision to sell, too. One-third of sellers said they considered selling their homes for three months or less prior to listing them on the market, the HomeLight survey shows. About a quarter of sellers nationwide said they listed their homes sooner than expected due to the competitive real estate market.

“Not only did sellers decide to sell quickly, they moved on from homes after living in them for relatively short periods of time,” the study says. “Fifty percent of sellers in the past year sold their home after living in it for five years or less, and nearly 30% moved within the first three years of owning their previous home.”

Many home sellers know where they plan to live next before listing their home on the market. Thirty-six percent said they already purchased their next home before listing their home. Only 10% had no idea where they were moving to next when listing, the survey shows.

Source: “2022 Buyer and Seller Insights Report,” HomeLight (2022)

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Gov. DeSantis Calling Insurance Special Session

Dates have yet to be set for the special session, which will have as its “main focus the reform of the property insurance market,” the governor said.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Ron DeSantis said Monday he will call a May special legislative session to address problems in the property-insurance system that have led to homeowners losing coverage and getting hit with large rate increases.

DeSantis made the announcement during an appearance in Jacksonville but did not immediately specify the dates for the session. The announcement came a day before lawmakers gather for a special session to redraw congressional districts.

DeSantis indicated the insurance session would try to “bring some sanity and stabilize and have a functioning market.”

“I’m confident that we’re going to be able to get that done,” DeSantis said while announcing money for a new trauma center at UF Health Jacksonville. “I am not confident we’d be able to punch it through this week. But what I will be signing this week is a proclamation to set the dates for a special session in May. We’re going to work with the legislative leaders on those dates, and it will have as the main focus the reform of the property-insurance market.”

DeSantis said the special session could address other issues that did not get resolved during the regular legislative session, which ended March 14. Among the high-profile issues that did not pass were a plan to put additional requirements on condominium buildings after the deadly collapse last year of the Champlain Towers South building in Surfside.

The House and Senate were at odds during the regular session about how to address the property-insurance problems, with the Senate trying to be more aggressive in bolstering private insurers.

As an example, the Senate proposed allowing new deductibles of up to 2% on roof-damage claims – an outgrowth of complaints by insurers that questionable, if not fraudulent, roof claims are driving up costs. But the House rejected the idea, which would have led to increased out-of-pocket costs for homeowners who need to replace damaged roofs.

House Speaker Chris Sprowls, R-Palm Harbor, also said lawmakers should give more time for property-insurance changes made in 2021 to fully take hold.

But troubles have continued in the insurance market, with companies shedding policies and seeking hefty rate increases because of what industry officials say are large financial losses. Two insurers, St. Johns Insurance Co., and Avatar Property & Casualty Insurance Co., have recently been placed in state receivership because of insolvencies.

Part of the fallout also has led to thousands of homeowners a week obtaining coverage from the state-backed Citizens Property Insurance Corp., which was created as an insurer of last resort. Citizens had 817,926 policies as of March 31 and is expected to top 1 million by the end of the year.

State leaders have long sought to shift policies out of Citizens into the private market, at least in part because of concerns about financial risks if the state is hammered by a major hurricane or multiple hurricanes.

Source: The News Service of Florida


Sellers May Need to Consider Price Drops

Higher mortgage rates may soften demand this spring. NAR has forecast home sales to slip 10% in 2022, mostly due to rising rates pricing out would-be buyers.

SEATTLE – Higher mortgage rates may soften demand this spring as worsening affordability prices more buyers out of the market. With mortgage applications down 6% from a year ago, sellers may need to be more realistic about how much they can ask for their property. An increasing number of listings are experiencing price reductions, climbing at the fastest pace since at least 2015, according to a new Redfin survey. Still, only 3.2% of homes on the market are seeing price drops.

“There really is a limit to homebuyer demand, even though the market over the past few years has made it seem endless,” says Daryl Fairweather, Redfin’s chief economist. “The sharp increase in mortgage rates is pushing more home buyers out of the market, but it also appears to be discouraging some homeowners from selling. With demand and supply both slipping, the market isn’t likely to flip from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market any time soon.”

The National Association of Realtors® has forecast home sales to slip 10% in 2022, mostly due to rising mortgage rates that are pricing out more would-be buyers. However, NAR still predicts home prices to rise by 5% this year.

For first-time home buyers, the cost of buying the same home this year compared to just one year ago has jumped by 40% – a combined impact of higher home prices and mortgage rates.

“There will be an inevitable slowdown in home sales,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said recently. “Keep an eye on days-on-market and a decrease in multiple offers. Home sellers should not expect big, easy profit gains.”

Even with some early signs of cooling, the housing market remains elevated. Homes are selling at some of the fastest speeds ever, and price escalations on asking prices are still common, Redfin reports. Forty-five percent of homes that went under contract found a buyer within a week. Also, the average home sold for 2.4% above its asking price, Redfin notes.

Source: “Housing Market Update: Demand Slips, Pushing More Sellers to Drop Asking Prices,” Redfin (April 14, 2022) and “Instant Reactions: Jobs, April l, 2022,” National Association of Realtors Economists’ Outlook blog

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Numerous Challenges for Homebuyers This Spring

For-sale inventory is low, the imbalance of supply and demand is pushing up home prices, “home appraisal gaps” are common and mortgage rates are rising.

WASHINGTON – While demand for homes has remained red hot, market conditions have slowed the pace of sales nationally compared with a year ago. Below are some facts and figures that show what prospective homebuyers are up against.

•Just 870,000 homes were on the market as of the end of February, just above the record low set a month earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors. That amounts to a 1.7 months’ supply.

•Despite the softer sales, the imbalance between supply and demand has pushed up prices. The median U.S. home price jumped 15% in February from a year earlier to $357,300, according to the National Association of Realtors.

•Buyers are expected to not only come up with a sizable down payment, say 5% to 10% at least, but also money to cover a “home appraisal gap.” This has become more common as bidding wars push up the sale price on a home above its appraised value.

•An average of 16% of homes sold in January and February for more than their appraised value, according to CoreLogic. The average for all of last year was 15%, up from 9.5% in 2020. The historical norm is 7%.

•The average rate on a 30-year home loan has climbed to around 4.7% from just above 3% a year ago, according to mortgage buyer Freddie Mac.

Besides raising costs for homebuyers, higher home loan rates can also dissuade some homeowners from selling, especially if they’ve bought or refinanced their home when mortgage rates fell to new lows early last year.

Copyright © 2022 Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Tips to Elevate Your Social Media

First, you need to connect with your audience and build long-term relationships. Post on platforms where your clients are and use content you already have.

BOSTON – Like most relationships, social media requires work, persistence, and a lot of heart, says Ricardo Rodriguez, principal of Ricardo Rodriguez and Associates at Coldwell Banker Realty in Boston, Massachusetts.

The first step in a successful social media strategy in real estate is to understand that you need to genuinely connect with your audience and build long-term relationships. He reminds real estate professionals that social media is an efficient and cost-effective way to communicate about brand identity and available listings.

“In my experience, the more you articulate what you do and how you do it, the more opportunities you create for your audience to fall in love with you and your business,” he says. “It is about who your audience is and how you allow them to connect to your business.”

Rodriguez adds that it is important to cultivate a deeply engaged audience, rather than just cultivate hundreds of inactive followers. He also recommends only posting where your clients are, not on every social media platform.

“For instance, my team has tried a variety of platforms, but about three to four years ago, I started to see better responses through Instagram and LinkedIn. I discovered that’s where my audience is most responsive and where they spend most of their time, so that’s where I put most of my efforts,” says Rodriguez.

Finally, he advises using the content you already have, like photos from listings, on multiple platforms and use that content in multiple ways, while at the same time ensuring you have a regular newsletter or website where potential clients can find you and generate leads.

Source: Inman (04/14/22) Rodriguez, Ricardo

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Bankers Lower Mortgage Demand Outlook for 2022

MBA: Overall mortgage originations will fall 35.5% from 2021 to $2.58T this year but higher home prices will help fuel a smaller 4% annual growth in volume.

WASHINGTON – With swiftly rising mortgage rates making homeownership more expensive to achieve, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) forecasts that overall mortgage originations will fall 35.5% from 2021 to $2.58 trillion this year.

MBA’s previous forecast was for $2.61 trillion. MBA reports that refinance applications fell 5% last week from the previous week and 62% year-over-year. The refinance share of mortgage activity dropped to 37.1% of total applications from 38.8% the prior week. MBA expects refinances to decline 64% for 2022.

Meanwhile, the group expects purchase originations to rise to a record $1.72 trillion this year, down from its previous forecast of $1.77 trillion.

“Even though existing sales volume will be slightly lower than last year, the continued growth in new home sales and the rapid rise in home prices should deliver a smaller, but solid, 4% annual growth in purchase origination volume,” said MBA chief economist Michael Fratantoni.

Purchase applications edged up just 1% last week from the previous week but were down 6% from the same week a year ago. Adjustable-rate mortgages, which carry lower rates, accounted for 7.4% of applications last week, the highest level since June 2019.

MBA economist Joel Kan said, “In a promising sign of strong purchase demand amidst affordability challenges, both conventional and government purchase applications increased.” 

Source: CNBC (04/13/22) Olick, Diana

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Survey: First-Time Buyers Still Want a Bathtub

NAHB: Remodeling trends tend to remove the tub and supersize the shower, but 42% of first-time buyers want a shower-tub combo; 30% say it’s essential.

WASHINGTON – Bathroom remodeling trends in recent years have focused on removing the bathtub and supersizing the shower. But that could actually hurt a property’s resale value, depending on the buyers you’re trying to attract.

First-time home buyers say they want a shower-tub combo, ranking it highest among 18 bathroom features, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ What Home Buyers Really Want, 2021 edition. The study asked first-time buyers to rate key home features, from “essential” to “do not want.”

Forty-two percent of first-time buyers surveyed call a home with both a shower stall and bathtub in the primary bath desirable; 30% called it essential and a must-have, according to the survey. They also ranked linen closets and a private toilet compartment in the primary bath to be important in their home search.

In addition, a whirlpool tub in the primary bath was considered desirable by 37% and essential by 22%; while a double vanity in the primary bath was desirable by 43% and a must-have by 25% of those surveyed.

Source: “In the Bath, First-Time Buyers Really Want Botha Shower & Tub,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (March 30, 2022)

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688


Building Materials Rise, But Lumber Prices Ease

NAHB: Prices of goods used in residential construction are up 8% since 2022 began and up 20.4% year-over-year; but lumber prices are down over 6% to lowest of year.

WASHINGTON – New-home costs likely will continue to increase as rising building material costs squeeze construction budgets. The prices of goods used in residential construction rose again in March and are up 8% since the start of 2022, the National Association of Home Builders reports citing Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

Year-over-year, building material prices have increased 20.4% and have risen 33% since the beginning of the pandemic, the NAHB reports.

The rising costs have prompted escalating new-home prices, which have increased 31% in three years. The average sales price of a new home was $511,000 in February.

The record high and the rising costs of lumber have made headlines recently, but signs of improvement offer some hope to homebuilders.

Lumber prices dropped more than 6% to $829 per 1,000 board feet this week, the lowest of the year, Insider reports. Higher mortgage rates and a slowdown in DIY home renovations are easing demand for lumber, according to the publication.

Also, improvements are occurring in the supply chain that had bottlenecked the lumber market over recent months. Lumber prices fell 39% from their March high and are 52% below their May 2021 peak of $1,733 per thousand board feet, reports Insider.

Source: “Building Material Prices Rise Further,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (April 13, 2022) and “Lumber Falls to Fresh 2022 Lows as Spike in Mortgage Rates Cools Housing Demand …” Insider (April 12, 2022)

© Copyright 2022 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688