September Newsletter

September Newsletter

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The housing market is finally becoming more buyer-friendly — as sellers cut prices and make repairs
Last Updated: Sept. 3, 2022 at 11:40 a.m. By Aarthi Swaminathan

More good news for home buyers: A new survey from Realtor.com found that sellers are offering more concessions to lure buyers into signing contracts. The survey, which dubbed that ‘bargaining power is back’, looked at 3,001 responses, including 449 from those who sold their home within the last 12 months. It found found that recent sellers were facing more pressure from buyers in the market than those who sold last year.

(Realtor.com is owned by the same parent company as MarketWatch.) The report tracks with an earlier study from Redfin, which also found that buyers were gaining negotiating power in the market. According to Realtor.com, 92% of home sellers who sold within the last year had accepted some buyer-friendly terms. 41% had accepted some contingencies in the contract.

Houston ranks among the top 20 cities in the United States for Gen Z, according to a new report by CommercialCafe. With remote work options more plentiful than ever, Gen Zers entering the workforce now have more choices when it comes to choosing where to settle down. CommercialCafe, which based the report on data released by the U.S. Census Bureau, ranked the top cities in the U.S. for Gen Z workers based on criteria like affordability, internet speed, commuting options, and overall percent of Gen Zers in the population. Houston ranked 11th overall on this list, with a Gen Z-friendly score of 49.23. Atlanta ranked first on the list with a score of 66.9 points.

September Residential Market Review: Courtesy of Har.com. Please click on the logo to learn more.

HOUSTON — (September 14, 2022) —

The Houston housing market continued easing its way to pre-pandemic levels with an August that marked the fifth consecutive month of declining sales and rising inventory. However, a surge in single-family leases demonstrates that consumers didn’t just suspend purchases due to rising prices and interest rates, but they pivoted to the rental market. These factors have enabled housing inventory to grow to its highest level in two years. According to the Houston Association of Realtors’ (HAR) August 2022 Market Update, single-family home sales fell 16.9 percent, with 8,241 units sold compared to 9,918 in August 2021. That is the lowest one-month sales volume since February 2022. On a year-to-date basis, the market now trails 2021’s record-setting volume by 3.7 percent. As in July, all housing segments experienced negative sales in August except the $500,000 to $1 million segment, which rose 10.0 percent. The smallest decline in sales was recorded among homes priced between $250,000 and $500,000, which fell 10.6 percent. With few homes available for sale at or below $250,000, many consumers have postponed purchase plans or shifted their focus to rental properties. [HAR’s Monthly Rental Home Update for August will be released next Wednesday, September 21]. “We are easing our way back to the housing market that existed prior to the pandemic,” said HAR Chair Jennifer Wauhob with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene. “For the past two years, Houston housing has been like a runaway train, and what we’ve been seeing most recently is an engineer, finally at the throttle, applying the brakes so the train can pull safely into the next station. It’s important to note that transactions are still happening, just not at a whirlwind pace or record pricing levels, and that is perfectly healthy.” The average price of a single-family home rose 8.7 percent in August to $411,671 –below the record high of $438,591 reached in May 2022. The median price jumped 10.8 percent to $341,950, which is also below the highest median of all time, $354,440, reached in June 2022. The average price for a single-family home in Houston first shattered the $400,000 mark in March of this year. The median price has held above $300,000 since May of 2021. After surpassing the 100-percent mark from April through June of this year, the ‘Close to Original List Price Ratio’ for single-family homes has remained below 100 percent for the past two months, meaning that fewer buyers are paying above list price for homes on the market.

August Monthly Market Comparison
Homebuyers continued to take a break from the market in August amid the pressures of record home prices and rising interest rates, keeping home sales in negative territory for a fifth straight month. Year-over-year single-family home sales fell 16.9 percent. On a year-to-date basis, sales are lagging just 3.7 percent behind last year’s record pace. Market indicators yielded mixed readings in August. In addition to the drop in single-family home sales, total property sales and total dollar volume of sales experienced declines and pending sales slid 11.0 percent. Active listings (the total number of available properties) jumped 31.1 percent. Months of inventory grew again in August, reaching a 2.5-months supply. That is the highest level since August of 2020 when it was 2.6 months. Housing inventory nationally stands at a 3.3-months supply, according to the latest report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). A 6.0-months supply is generally considered make up a “balanced market,” in which neither the buyer nor the seller has an advantage.

September Commercial Real Estate Highlights: Courtesy of BISNOW. Please click on the logo to learn more.

Third Terminal Could Be On The Way At Port Houston As Supply Chain Reshuffle Sends Growth Soaring

August 23, 2022 –

Much of Houston’s newfound appeal as a destination port comes at the expense of West Coast ports, Trammell Crow Senior Vice President George Farish said at Bisnow’s Aug. 18 event.  Farish pointed to stacked-up containers, particularly at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, rail issues that just last month delayed $1.5B in goods from moving for days, and labor issues compounded by California’s Assembly Bill 5, which targeted the trucking industry’s use of independent contractor owner-operator drivers and has led to protests that have paralyzed ports. “I don’t want to browbeat California. I know Texans love to do that. But I think this past year or so has continued the theme of California’s pain is Texas’ gain,” Farish said. “You really have this perfect storm of multiple modes of transportation in crisis all at the same time. And Houston and Texas in general has been the net beneficiary because we don’t have really any of those issues.” And Houston offers land, at least in comparison to California’s Inland Empire where industrial vacancy sits at an all-time low of 0.2%, per CBRE. Meanwhile, at least four cities in that region have banned new warehouse projects and eight have enacted a moratorium on new projects in the last two years, citing the impacts of dense industrial use on residents.

That has opened up major opportunities for Houston, which offers relatively fewer land constraints, an easier entitlement process and what looks like a luxurious 2% to 4% vacancy rate in the submarkets surrounding the port. While land near the port is getting scarcer, new gateway markets are opening, such as Generation Park and TGS Cedar Port in Baytown. Contact Lane Gillespie at lane.gillespie@bisnow.com.

September Mortgage News & Education: Courtesy of Nerd Wallet. Please click on the logo to learn more.

Mortgage Rates in September: A Smooth Ride, Then Turbulence

Interest rates on fixed-rate mortgages are likely to remain fairly stable in the first three weeks of September, followed by volatility. Holden Lewis

Sep 6, 2022

September mortgage rates forecast

Interest rates on fixed-rate mortgages are likely to remain fairly stable in the first three weeks of September. The forecast gets murkier at the end of the month.

That’s because the Federal Reserve will update its interest rate policy Sept. 21. Rates often stabilize in the two or three weeks prior to Fed meetings. If that pattern holds in September, the rate on the 30-year mortgage will hang out in a range between about 5.75% and 6% until the Fed announcement.

The aftermath of the announcement could be another matter, with up-and-down swings in mortgage rates. But borrowers should brace themselves: Mortgage rates could ratchet upward, like someone climbing a ladder two rungs up and one rung down. Such a path would be consistent with this year’s upward trend for mortgage rates.

Fed fixes messaging problem

The Fed strives to be understood, but investors don’t always catch the central bank’s meaning. When investors hear what they want to hear, the chairman may have to set them straight, as he did in August.

The latest misunderstanding began when the central bank increased the federal funds rate by an aggressive 0.75 percentage point in its July 27 meeting. In the opening statement at his news conference immediately after that meeting, Chair Jerome Powell noted that growth in consumer spending had softened, and that the housing market had weakened. Mortgage rates dropped in the following days, apparently because investors and pundits believed that the Fed was preparing to slow the pace of its rate increases.

But the central bank expects to keep raising short-term interest rates in bigger-than-usual increments. Powell reiterated this point in an Aug. 26 speech, in which he said “another unusually large increase could be appropriate at our next meeting.”

Affordability declined and sales slowed

The rate on the 30-year fixed went up almost three-quarters of a percentage point from the end of July to the end of August. The increase eroded borrowers’ buying capacity.

Take the hypothetical example of a borrower who can afford to pay $2,000 a month in principal and interest (excluding taxes and insurance). On a 30-year loan with a 5.125% interest rate, the buyer could afford to borrow $367,300. But with a 5.875% interest rate, the buyer could afford to borrow $338,100. That’s $29,200 less that the buyer could pay for a house.

As interest rates and home prices have risen this year, home sales have slowed. In turn, sellers are more accommodating. According to a Realtor.com survey of recent home sellers, almost all sellers nowadays are making upgrades and repairs before they list their homes. And 69% of sellers in August sold their homes at or above the asking price, compared to 82% in February through April.

What happened to rates in August

After dipping in the first week of August, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage climbed each week thereafter. It rose above 5.8% at the end of August, up from below 5.2% at the end of July.

In my August forecast, I predicted that mortgage rates would rise “as the Federal Reserve continues to yank interest rates higher.” That’s what happened in the run-up to Powell’s Aug. 26 speech, when investors speculated (correctly) that he would reinforce a message that the Fed will continue to confront inflation.

About the author: Holden Lewis is NerdWallet’s authority on mortgages and real estate. He has reported on mortgages since 2001, winning multiple awards. Read more

Additional Resources: Here are a few references that we have found helpful in understanding our markets and economy… 

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