January 10, 2017

Cost-Conscious Buyers Understand There’s A Bit Of A Glut

A report from TV New Zealand. The number of houses sold in Auckland fell 24 per cent to 721 and the median sale price slipped 1.2 per cent to $840,000 in December, Barfoot said. The slowdown came as Barfoot, the city’s biggest estate agency, had 3,270 properties on its books at the end of the month, up 35 per cent from a year earlier, and the biggest available stock at the end of the year for four years.”

“ASB Bank economist Kim Mundy said those rising inventory levels appear ‘to be taking some of the heat out of Auckland house price growth,’ though they’re still near historical lows which should keep a floor on prices.”

“New Zealand’s housing market has posed problems for policy makers with rapid price gains seen as crowding out first home buyers who are also stifled in their ability to obtain credit by Reserve Bank-imposed restrictions on highly-leveraged mortgages.”

From News.com.au in Australia. “Apartments are out, unrenovated houses are in. That’s the verdict of real estate experts who’ve predicted the sales trends for 2017. Robert Elezovic, Director of Raine & Horne Brunswick said that the size and ’sheer amount’ of new apartment developments cropping up have put the apartment market into oversupply, especially in his hometown of Melbourne, further exacerbating this supply and demand imbalance.”

“Mr Elezovic said apartments weren’t even attracting cost-conscious buyers, who were instead opting for townhouses. ‘We know they are struggling to find a house but our research tells us that they don’t really want apartments. They understand there is a bit of a glut in the apartment market.’”

From Property Investor Today on Hong Kong. “In recent years, wealthy international property investors, particularly from mainland China, have invested in Hong Kong’s ultra-luxury housing market as part of a diversified asset-safeguard strategy, despite low rental yields of around just 2%, helping to cement the city’s place as the world’s most expensive housing market. But with thousands of new build homes set to come on to the market over the next couple of months, housebuilders in Hong Kong have begun competing for homebuyers by offering steep price discounts on new property releases, raising the prospect of intensifying price competition as new projects come onto the market.”

“‘Developers will accelerate their flat sales this year. They had deferred the marketing of new project launches after the government suddenly raised the stamp duty in November last year,’ said Derek Chan, head of research at Ricacorp Properties. ‘Developers are certainly facing pressure on their pricing strategies, especially in areas with various new projects ready for sale,’ he added.”

The Bangkok Post on Thailand. “SET-listed developer Lalin Property Plc plans to launch 8-10 housing projects worth a combined 4 billion baht in 2017, aiming to secure 15% growth in revenue to 3.1 billion baht by year-end. Chief executive Chaiyan Chakarakul said all the new projects will be single-house and townhouse developments, as the low-rise segment consists of real demand, whereas condos have seen oversupply in many locations.”

“‘This year will be another sluggish year like 2016, as the recovery of key economies like Europe and Japan will be weak,’ he said. ‘It will be good if the government uses property incentives once again, but not only to stimulate sales. The government should also urge mortgage lending release,’ Mr Chaiyan said.”

“He suggested a reduction of the blacklist period for people who defaulted on credit card debt from three years to one year, similar to how the blacklist period for bankruptcy was reduced from 10 years to three years. He said mortgage rejections were a key obstruction to housing transfers last year.”

The Daily Herald Tribune in Canada. “Grande Prairie’s housing market dropped by more than 500 homes in 2016, but its expected to pick-up in the next two years. The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation attributes the decline to a loss of jobs in the region that resulted in a 7.2% unemployment rate, which moderated housing demand. The housing market for 2016 largely favoured the buyer with house prices ranging between $299,000 and $306,000; a dip from $318,798 in 2015.”

“Tim Gensey, CMHC market analyst, couldn’t say whether the highly-paid medical staff moving into the area will affect house prices as it’s currently a buyers market with an abundance of single family dwellings and new builds. ‘There is a lot of supply relative to demand and we expect that to remain and that’s why we only projected slow house price growth over the next few years. We can really see that in the new home market…we think they’re going to stay quite low for some time. We’re projecting it’ll take about two years for this over supply to be corrected,’ he said.”

“In terms of rental units, in October CMHC reported a vacancy rate of 19.8% which is expected to gradually improve over the next couple of years. Gensey said sellers should hang tight as prices are not expected to fall drastically but remain relatively stable.”

Exorbitant Prices And Ultra-Competitive Market Will Fade Away

A report from the Madison Park Times in Washington. “All real estate is local, goes the saying. Then this last presidential election happens, and that rule goes out the window. However you feel about the election of Donald Trump, it’s immediately affected the Seattle real estate market. Sales fell off, fast. A lot more dramatically than November and December of the previous year. I’m working with a seller who has what, in any other time in the last few years, would be the perfect home for this market. Asking $899,000, it’s a trophy listing that has everything going for it. Property in the same price range in similar condition were under contract within a matter of days, with few or no contingencies, and achieving the asking price or above mere months ago.”

“We had more than 50 showings in 70 days of market time without an offer, but also without a complaint about the price. In fact, several brokers told me the price was spot-on and they were shocked it was still an active listing. This same experience is playing out across the market — good houses that would have moved quickly in the previous months of the year aren’t getting offers. After talking with my sellers, the decision was made to pull that $899,000 sweet-spot property off the market and re-strategize in early spring of next year. Meanwhile we’ll see what market does, analyze the data, and be ready when buyers regain their confidence, take themselves off the bench, and get back in the game.”

The San Mateo Daily Journal in California. “Following months of sluggish growth and expected interest rate hikes on the horizon, local real estate professionals believe the new year may bring a calmer home sales market to the Peninsula. Realtor Chuck Gillooley said he believes the slow growth trend will extend into 2017, as the exorbitant listing prices and ultra-competitive buying market will fade away. ‘I think we’ll return to a more back-to-basics approach to selling and sellers will be more realistic so these far-fetched prices will come back to Earth a bit,’ said Gillooley, who specializes in selling San Carlos and Redwood City properties for Dwell Realtors.”

“The result of a market losing momentum is some properties potentially languishing longer on the sales block, presenting those purchasing a chance to seek lower prices. ‘The more days on a market, that means more opportunity for negotiation,’ said Peter Aiello, a broker associate with Coldwell Banker in Burlingame.”

“To that end, Aiello said he believes it will become increasingly important for sellers to list properties at a price closer to the neighborhood median value should they hope to find a buyer in short order. Aiello said the diminished purchasing power of those who rely on loans could make it harder for cheaper homes to sell and noted a reduction in the amount of all-cash purchases and foreign investment as a counterforce pushing down the top of the market. ‘For people that want to sell properties, pricing is really critical,’ he said.”

“Should the housing market begin to take a more significant slide though, Aiello said he does not anticipate property owners acting erratically to sell their homes because the local real estate market will likely regain its value in short order. ‘If the market declines, they’ll just wait for the real estate cycle,’ he said. ‘If you hold on long enough, look how quickly property values rebounded last time. They’ll just leave it there and wait until the economy turns.’”

The Sierra Sun in Nevada. “To understand the future of the housing market, we need to understand the housing data through the end of November 2016. In the last six months, the median price has gone from $310,000 to $318,000, and is now back to $310,000. The number of days that houses are actively marketed before they are sold has gone from 79 days to 97 days in the same six months.”

“For northern Nevada, houses priced $300,000 and below equal 55.4 percent of all sales in November (some very limited Lake Tahoe numbers are included). That percentage has been consistently high all year long. The $300,000-$600,000 range equals 39 percent. Adding those two price ranges together make up over 94 percent of our entire market. Currently, we have more than a 45-month supply of homes in the $1.5MM and above price range. I believe prices may come down based on the absorption rate in this price range but also by the changes in buyers’ tastes and lifestyles by the end of 2017.”

The Amarillo Globe-News in Texas. “The city’s newly built houses were valued at an average of $18,057.62 less this year than those constructed in 2015, according to City of Amarillo permits. By no small coincidence, there were also more houses built in 2016 than in any year since 2012. Amarillo is currently stuffed with houses valued at $500,000 or more, which Keller Williams realtor Carol Whittenburg said usually receive little interest.”

“Nineteen homes registered through Multiple Listing Service organizations were sold for $500,000 or more in Amarillo and Canyon between June and November, including six for $700,000 or more. Selling the remaining $700,000 homes on the market would take 82 months at the current rate. ‘People who are buying bigger homes were holding onto their money to see what the economy would do, what would happens politically,’ Whittenburg said. ‘We have really seen that the larger homes have not been showing.’”

The Real Deal on Florida. “The former publisher of a defunct Spanish-language newspaper in Miami and three other South Florida residents were charged in a $10 million mortgage fraud scheme. Marco Laureti, former publisher of ‘El Popular’ and CEO/broker of Network Real Estate Advisors, Felix Mostelac, Michelle Cabrera and Pedro Melian were allegedly involved in the scheme tied to a Fort Lauderdale condo complex and other properties, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida.”

“The U.S. Attorney’s office also said that Laureti and Mostelac allegedly used the same fraud process for home purchases in Miami Beach. More recently, a group of multimillion-dollar properties in South Florida was tied to a massive fraud ring in Mexico.”

The New Jersey Law Journal. “A mortgage holder has filed suit against a number of real estate appraisers in the District of New Jersey, claiming they provided inflated property valuations. Christiana Trust, a division of Wilmington Savings Fund Society, filed nine suits against appraisers Friday in its capacity as trustee for Stanwich Mortgage Loan Trust. The suits concern appraisals performed more than five years ago, most on homes in Newark and nearby communities, that fell into foreclosure and saw their mortgages acquired by Stanwich.”

“The suit includes one naming Liberty Appraisal Services of Metuchen, citing an appraisal that company performed on a four-bedroom Cape Cod-style house in Roselle in 2007, estimating its value at $330,000. But the plaintiffs say the actual value at the time of the appraisal was much less. The house was foreclosed on, and sold to pay off the mortgage balance, but the funds received from the sale left a deficiency balance of $218,175, for which the plaintiff seeks judgment in full.”

“Vivian Garzone, the principal of Liberty Appraisal Services, said the suit appears to blame the appraiser for mistakes made by mortgage lenders, like issuing mortgages for 120 percent of the appraisal. ‘It’s almost like they are holding us accountable for the economy falling down,’ Garzone said.”