Here’s The Latest Housing Market News From Realtor.com


Realtor.com recently released the latest numbers on the country’s housing market. Economists crunched the numbers from August. Despite a 10 % year-over-year increase in the national median listing price to $350,000, the market is hotter and more competitive than ever. This current listing price growth is the highest in three years.

“The biggest surprise I saw was that home prices are growing at a faster pace than we have seen in years,” notes realtor.com’s chief economist Danielle Hale. “Despite the economic environment the historically low mortgage rates have brought buyers into the market in a frenzy,” she adds.

The August Monthly Housing Trends Report found homes selling at their fastest pace in 15 months. According to the report, one of the drivers is a significant decline in inventory — at the end of August, there were nearly 500,000 fewer homes available for sale compared to a year ago. While the number of homes listed for sale in the top 50 largest metros showed a year-over-year 38.1% decline. That is even higher than July’s 34.8 %. This national number from realtor.com tells the story. Buyers in competitive Southern California markets including Los Angeles and San Diego can tell you trying to buy a home today is beyond stressful.

That key August listing price number jumped an average of 8.9% in the country’s 50 largest metros. Compare that to 7.8 % in July. Leading in year-over-year price gains is the Northeast region. Listing prices rose 19% in Philadelphia, 14.7% in Boston; and 12.2% in Providence-Warwick. The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach market was the only metro to experience a decline in listing prices.

Let’s take a deep dive into the top markets. The Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md metro performed the best. The median listing price there rose 18.6 % to $343,000. Homes sold 15 days faster than last August. The active inventory count was down 45 %. The already pricey Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H. metro saw the median listing price increase to $678,500. That was a 14.7 % increase.

Midwest metros including Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Kansas City also saw sharp price increases. The Cincinnati metro had a 17.8 % year-over-year median listing price gain. That put the median listing price at $327,300. Moving across the country to the San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. metro the median listing price there increased 12.3% to $1,029,100. Hard to believe these stats as the pandemic continues.

Realtor.com’s Hale provides some takeaways moving forward. “We are seeing this buyer urgency because there was no spring buying season. Buyers are playing catch-up. We keep looking for signs of the market slowing and are just not seeing them right now.” That’s good news for sellers and real estate brokers.



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Here’s The Latest News On New York City’s Real Estate Market


Here’s the latest news on New York City’s real estate market from brokers with “boots on the ground.” After more than three months in lockdown when New York’s brokers and agents were not allowed to show properties, the market is up and running again—kind of.

Lisa Chajet an associate broker with Warburg Realty since 2003 sums up the current market. “I think the best way to look at is we were not allowed to work for almost three months.  Then around mid-June, we could start showings again with restrictions. We immediately saw a pent-up demand. I sold three apartments very quickly,” Chajet said. “Our Spring market got shuffled into June and now it’s August and its fairly quiet,” she continued.

According to UrbanDigs the real-time listing/residential analytics platform’s July report “contract signed activity up but still depressed, +93% month-over-month, and -39% year-over-year.” On the seller side, UrbanDigs reports, an “uptick in listings taken off the market suggests fewer real sellers than feared.” Chajet confirms this, “I had a few listings on the market which I advised my sellers if you are not desperate then take them off for now.” Some sellers who want an income and may have another residence are renting out their homes.

Is this a good time to buy for those committed to living in the city? According to UrbanDigs, “discount for post-COVID negotiated deals averaging 10-12%.”  Chajet points to buyers “who live in the suburbs of Westchester, Long Island, and Connecticut with grown kids who see this as their opportunity to move into the city.” Conversely, families who were considering leaving the city saw COVID push them out the door.

Michael J. Franco associate broker and attorney with Compass works around the city in all price ranges. “The buyers that are out there think they will get a good deal. At the same time, I’m having the conversation with many sellers about doing long-term rentals,” Franco explains. “I’m telling my clients don’t sell unless you have to.”

Those moving out of the city according to Franco are “families who are going to places like Rye and Greenwich.” The majority of buyers he’s working with in the city are interested in the under $1 to $2 million range. “I’m seeing singles or couples looking at studios or one-bedrooms. With properties going below listing prices and low-interest rates some can get into the market now where they could not before,” he observes. In a higher price range, Franco recently put two deals into contract in the $4 million price point that was around 11 percent off the listing prices.

Allison Chairmonte out of Warburg’s Madison Avenue office reports much of her current business is downtown. “I think people who are buying now see their future in New York no matter what.” Chairmonte is seeing a pivot in what buyers want. “Some are moving away from larger buildings in favor of smaller boutique buildings with personal outdoor space and fewer shared amenities.”

As we head into the fall market and the unknown sellers and buyers sitting on the sidelines will be watching the numbers closely. “I grew up and have lived in New York all my life. I can say we will get through this,” exclaims Chajet. Words to live by.



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Multiple Offers And Bidding Wars Return To California’s Luxury Market


Multiple offers and bidding wars return to California’s luxury market. Despite a severe economic downturn in many sectors, California’s luxury real estate market is on a high. Listen to Valery Neuman, founding partner of Compass Greater Palm Springs. “In 29 years selling full-time in the desert, I have never been so busy. Buyers are very serious right now. Even though we can’t hold open houses properties are selling as soon as they are listed with multiple offers,” explains Neuman one of the Desert’s top producing agents with over $100 million in total sales volume. “Our inventory is running low on the upper end or we would be seeing even more sales, she adds.

Mark McLaughlin, president of Compass California understands all the nuances of the luxury market. “The March 15th California SIP order created a phenomenon we are now calling the COVID housing surge. People are somewhat fleeing urban density and pursuing space, both internal and external. Home offices, extra bedrooms, open space/pools are commanding premiums,” observes McLaughlin who in 2018 led the merger of San Francisco-based Pacific Union with Compass California, a leader in market share in California.

Edward Lynch, Compass’ vice president Marin County is experiencing exactly what McLaughlin is referring to. “Marin County and several Northbay counties experienced record volume in June and July, after a steep drop in volume in April and May,” Lynch said. “Many properties are receiving multiple offers, and in some cases, we are seeing the sale price 20-25% higher than the original list price. If the property checks the boxes and meets the buyer’s needs it will sell very quickly and many times it will sell off-market. with multiple offers,” Lynch confirms.

Fueling this luxury market boom are people leaving those urban areas for traditional resort markets. Sally Gardner a broker associate at Compass’ Tahoe City office describes the local market dynamics. “Saying the Lake Tahoe Truckee market is competitive would be an understatement.  Clients are choosing Tahoe because they can work from home and leave the fear of living in a city/major urban area behind. I’m spending a lot of time educating new buyers to Tahoe, explaining what it’s like to live in snow country,” Gardner notes.

Here’s Tahoe by the numbers. “July shows a clear picture of a post COVID opening with 328 properties listed and 326 of those sold which represents percentage sold at 99.39% of asking ” Gardner explains. 

Heading to Southern California brokers there report a hotter than hot market. James Harris and David Parnes of The Agency in Beverly Hills recently sold a “Martha’s Vineyard in the heart of Sherman Oaks” property in four days with multiple offers for $150,000 above the $2,850,000 asking price. “Everyone is so bored with summer vacations canceled and lifestyles changing that this is now a highflying market,” explains Harris.  “We did 30 showings in three days and had four offers on the Sherman Oaks property,” said Harris who with Parnes star on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles. “I originally told the seller it would go for $2.7 million and he wanted to ask $2,850,000. I was very happy to be wrong on this,” Harris laughs. Harris and Parnes currently have 14 deals under contract.

In Westlake Village, California located about 40 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles multiple offers are the norm on prime properties. “In the million to $2.1 million range both in Westlake Village and Malibu there is lots of demand and very little inventory,” reports Carl Torres, co-owner/executive vice president of Pinnacle Estates Properties an affiliate of Luxury Portfolio International. “On Westlake Island, I had a property where we received six offers in 72 hours. It was listed for $2,099,000 and sold at $2,115,000.” Torres’ message to sellers, “A superior property when priced correctly has a high probability of selling quickly and above asking.”

The San Diego area is seeing the same action. In the coastal community of Cardiff by the Sea Sean Caddell, an agent with Willis Allen Real Estate a Luxury Portfolio International affiliate recently had six offers for a 1,800 square foot home two blocks from the ocean with a $1.4 million asking price. “The inventory here is the lowest in a decade. All the offers I got on the Cardiff house were higher than asking with escalation clauses. They averaged $1.8 to 2 million.” Caddell said.

A home with celebrity cache even if only an exterior often generates buzz while increasing the sale price. In Brentwood on Los Angeles’ westside a Mid-Century Modern home, the exterior for the Miami home of the long-time hit television show, The Golden Girls recently had over 30 offers. It will close well above that with basically zero contingencies. “The best-performing markets right now are west of the 405 priced at $4 million and below,” confirms Nick Segal, estates director at Compass in Beverly Hills.

It’s clear during this pandemic, serious buyers are making fast decisions on move-in ready properties. The result—a seller’s market, for right now that is.



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LendingTree Crunches The Numbers Across The U.S.


Wondering if you should rent or own a home? LendingTree’s latest report digs into the data, looking at the median monthly cost to rent versus owning a home, with and without a mortgage, across the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S.

Lendingtree.com vice president and chief economist Tendayi Kapfidze crunched the numbers. “The first thing people should consider when doing the renting versus owning calculations are lifestyle choices. Then think about how those fit into your financial goals,” said Kapfidze.

For those still paying a mortgage, LendingTree found across 50 of the country’s largest metros renting on average is $607 cheaper than owning. Of course, with renting you have no equity and no potential return on investment.

When does it make sense to rent rather than own? According to Kapfidz “if you’re only in an area for just a few years renting may make more sense.”  

In the high-priced cities of New York, San Francisco, and San Jose the difference between renting versus owning with a mortgage is considerable. In all three metros, you will spend about $1,200 a month less to rent rather than own if you have a mortgage. The narrowest difference between renting and owning with a mortgage is in Orlando, Tampa, and Indianapolis. In those cities renting only pencils out to an average of a $336 monthly savings.

Here are the top two cities with the widest differences between renting and owning. Looking at the New York calculations, LendingTree took median monthly gross rent of $1,391 (keep in mind that is a median number) and compared that to median monthly housing costs with a mortgage. The difference there is $1,340 with the renter coming out better.

Heading to San Francisco, LendingTree calculated a median monthly gross rent of $1,790. Those with a mortgage had median monthly housing costs of $2,953. Looks like it’s actually better to rent in San Francisco with a difference of $1,163 savings to the renter.

Conversely, if you don’t have a mortgage in high-priced rental markets, including San Jose, San Francisco, and San Diego, owners do better than renters. They save monthly on average $1,146.

Providence, Milwaukee, and Buffalo, where rental prices are more affordable, owners without a mortgage save an average of $250 a month. Those metros have the narrowest spread between renting and owning. “Depending on where you live in the country it’s important to do that renting versus buying calculation,” Kapfidze advises.

Some homeowners think once the mortgage is paid off, they are home free. That’s not true. You still have significant costs including heating, insurance, taxes, and maintenance.  If you own a condominium, add in those monthly HOA costs and high-ticket special assessments. And remember that renting versus owning is a lifestyle choice above all else.



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Industry Experts Discuss California Real Estate Market


Industry experts discuss today’s California real estate market. Compass California President Mark McLaughlin and CoreLogic’s Deputy Chief Economist Selma Hepp answer key questions on the market.

In 2018, McLaughlin led the merger of San-Francisco-based Pacific Union International with Compass establishing Compass California, a leader in market share in California. McLaughlin acquired Pacific Union International in 2009, growing it to a luxury boutique residential real brokerage firm with 2.2 billion in sales volume in 2009 to $14 billion in sales volume in 2019.

Selma Hepp is executive, research & insights and deputy chief economist for CoreLogic. Before joining CoreLogic Hepp was chief economist and vice president of Business Intelligence for Pacific Union International, Inc.

The Bay Area and Los Angeles markets seem to be moving targets, how, would you currently characterize them? 

McLaughlin:  The whole USA economy and real estate markets are moving targets. A recent survey, we did across the Bay Area and Southern California is the voice of 700 professionals in California. In Northern and Southern California 78% of the agents believe there will be the same or more sellers post stay-in-place. Those numbers go to 73% and 69% of agents who believe there will be the same or fewer buyers.

Selma Hepp: It is a moving target that has come to a standstill. There is very little going on by looking at new listings on the MLS. The closings that were previously scheduled have probably closed. That’s why when you look at year-over-year for March there isn’t a significant decline in sales for that period.  

With years of deep industry experience, what are your thoughts on where we will be in two months from now as an industry? 

Mark McLaughlin: The question should be two months from the relaxing of stay in place. The conventional Spring market [highest season of the year May – July for new contracts] will come back aggressively post relaxing stay-in-place.

Selma Hepp: The Bay Area has many people already working from home who were not laid off. This allows the market to bounce back quicker than Southern California where you have the entire film and television industry which is at a standstill. I think the California market will be a gradual but steady upward recovery.

What advice do you have for sellers who must sell now? 

Mark McLaughlin: Be prepared to a dramatic shift from a sellers’ market to a motivated buyers’ market. The survey results show for properties between $500,000 to $2.9 million that 63% of Northern California Compass agents and 55% of Southern California agents think post stay-in-place pricing will be down 5% to 10%. For properties over $3 million, that number may be down by more than 10 %.

Selma Hepp: Everyone is asking of course what’s going to happen to prices? Once we see updated numbers sellers who need to sell will most likely have to reduce the asking price.

Advice for buyers who must be in the market now?

Mark McLaughlin: Get pre-approved from a very stable lender, might be the best buying opportunity in five years.

Selma Hepp: This is a good opportunity for buyers to come in with not as strong offers as they might have earlier in the year.

As the country’s real estate market continues to deal with the impact of COVID-19, I will be speaking with industry professionals for the latest insights and updates.



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