In a grim sign for the housing market's busiest season, pending home sales, which measure signed contracts on existing homes, fell 4.1% in February compared with January, according to the National Association of Realtors. Sales were down 5.4% compared with February 2021. Analysts were expecting a slight gain. This is the fourth straight month of declines in pending sales, which are an indicator of future closings, one to two months out. Since this count is based on signed contracts in February, when mortgage rates really started to take off, it is a strong indicator of how the market is reacting to the new rate environment, especially as it is entering the crucial spring season.
After a year of record-breaking construction, North Texas homebuilders are starting 2022 with a backlog of sales and not enough supply. Dallas-Fort Worth builders sold almost 46,000 single-family homes in 2021. Even though local builders started more homes than in any market in the country, they can't keep up with demand for new housing units in North Texas. Don't look for the supply-demand imbalance to end this year, housing analysts warn. "2021 turned out to be one of the most extraordinary years in D-FW housing history," said Ted Wilson, principal with Dallas-based housing analyst Residential Strategies. "Builders were enveloped by an unprecedented swell of housing demand that prompted the industry to rev up its production pace. "Unfortunately, as builders rushed to sell houses to the wave of buyers, the resulting surge in starts was quickly met by the reality that there were limitations to the North Texas construction capacity." A lack of labor, materials shortages and other constraints have driven up costs and stretched out average building timelines, Wilson said Thursday in his firm's quarterly market update. Unlike in previous housing cycles, North Texas builders can't meet the appetite of consumers. "There appears to be ample demand to sell houses at healthy margins but the reality is that no one is able to get houses constructed and completed as quickly as they would like," Wilson said. North Texas housing demand is being driven by a combination of demographics and relocations to the state. D-FW led the country in single family new home starts last year.
Phil Crone, executive director of the Dallas Builders Association, said most of the area's builders are focused on overcoming the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic-impacted industry. And with the prospect of both higher mortgage rates and construction costs this year, affordability issues will continue to plague D-FW builders. "We can't just have a market where only Californians can afford it."
Inflation Concerns Are Sweeping the Nation
Once the most expensive listing in the US, the Bel Air mega-mansion was incorrectly listed as sold multiple times. The seller of one of the nation's most expensive real estate listings is suing real estate giant Zillow Group for $60 million in damages, alleging the company was negligent when it allowed a "troll" to falsely claim they were the homeowner of the listing on Zillow and then posted inaccurate information about the property.
The listing, 924 Bel Air Road in Los Angeles, was first listed for $250 million in 2017 and cut to $188 million last year before coming back on the market at a $150 million price in January.
In a lawsuit filed on Feb. 24, the plaintiff, a company owned by Makowsky, alleged Zillow published false information about the property that was uploaded by someone claiming to be the listing's owner. This included claims that the home had sold on Feb. 9, 2019 for $110 million, that there was an open house for the property on Feb. 8, 2019 from 1-4 p.m., that the property sold on Feb. 9, 2019 for $90.54 million, and that the property sold on Feb. 9, 2019 for $93.4 million.
"Zillow is disseminating misleading, false, and inaccurate information that has a large prominence because of Zillow's market power," attorneys for the plaintiff wrote in the complaint.The plaintiff's attorneys alleged that it took Zillow more than a week to take down the false information and false claims of ownership, despite Zillow acknowledging it was "aware of the issue."
Homebuilders are starting off 2019 with hopes of another increase in U.S. sales, especially newly built houses. But the building industry also sees an upcoming drop nationally in purchases of preowned homes because of rising affordability issues. "2019 looks like a year of solid, if not spectacular, growth," said Robert Dietz, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders. "I think new-home sales will be up a tad and existing home sales down." The building industry forecasts a 2 percent rise in nationwide home starts in 2019, making it the best year since the Great Recession. That's the most positive sign in this year's outlook. "We actually have existing home sales declining year-over-year in 2019," Dietz said at the industry's annual meeting this week in Las Vegas. The drop in existing home sales is likely to be between 2 percent and 4 percent this year, according to the latest industry outlook. Preowned home sales in Dallas-Fort Worth fell slightly in 2018 after several years of increases. The decline continued into the new year. Higher mortgage rates and record prices are blamed for the slowdown.
In Dallas County, home sales by real estate agents fell more than 12 percent in January from the same month in 2018. Sales were down almost 13 percent in Denton County and down 10.5 percent year-over-year in Collin County. The smallest sales decline was in Tarrant County — 8.5 percent — where a larger inventory of more affordable houses on the market has made purchase activity stronger. Real estate agents are scrambling to adjust to the downshift in the local home market. "We are being realistic with our sellers, telling them you need to price your house at what it will sell for," said Cathy Mitchell, 2019 president of the MetroTex Association of Realtors. "I think this market correction is good for us." There was about a four-month supply of houses on the market in North Texas at the end of January.
Dallas Morning News, October 18, 2018
Dallas-Fort Worth was the only major Texas market that saw a decline in third quarter home sales. D-FW preowned homes sales fell 2.3 percent from third quarter 2017, according to a new report by the Texas Association of Realtors. Statewide sales were 4.4 percent higher than in the previous year. Among the big metro areas, the largest sales increase was in Houston were real estate agents sold 11.6 percent more houses than they did in third quarter 2017.
"Our market remains extremely strong but is still slowly moving toward normalization," Dr. James Gaines, chief economist with the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University, said in the report. "Median home prices and home sales are up, but the rate of increase statewide is beginning to slow compared to prior years."
Even with the year-over-year sales decline, D-FW had the largest number of preowned property sales in the state with 27,660 properties changing hands, according to the Realtors association. The Houston-area was second with 24,028 home sales. Median home sales prices rose 4.4 percent in the third quarter from the previous year to $235,000. In D-FW, prices were up 3.9 percent to a median of $265,034.
Residential appreciation in North Texas has slowed this year after median home values grew by more than 40 percent during the last five years. D-FW had the largest inventory increase of any of the major metros - up 14.5 percent from third quarter 2017. "At the current rate that home sales and active listings are increasing, we are trending towards another record-breaking year in Texas real estate," Kaki Lybbert, chairman of the Texas Association of Realtors, said.
Homebuyers are getting a double whammy. "Home prices are up and mortgage rates are up," said Frank Nothaft, chief economist with CoreLogic. Nationwide home prices are almost 7 percent higher than a year ago. And the average long-term mortgage cost has risen by seven tenths of a percentage point interest compared with this time in 2017, according to CoreLogic. "That translates into a 16 percent increase in the monthly principal and interest payments to buy the same house," Nothaft said. For the first-time homebuyer there is a 19 percent increase from one year ago. "Average wages around the country are up only 2.5 percent to 3 percent from a year ago. Each passing month as prices rise and mortgage rates rise, it's increasingly challenging for home buyers, especially entry-level homebuyers," he said. "The pinch it takes out of their monthly budget starts to affect more and more buyers across the country." Dallas-Fort Worth is one of the markets with record-high home costs. While overall median home prices in North Texas are up about 5 percent so far in 2018, prices for the most affordable houses — under $200,000 — are rising at almost twice that rate. CoreLogic is forecasting further increases in home prices and interest rates in the year ahead.
by Seth Fowler
(This article appeared in Candy's Dirt. It is specific to the Ft Worth side of the Metroplex, but the facts are the same for all of North Texas.)
Some will agree, and some won't, but data doesn't lie — we are heading into a real estate slowdown.
First of all…R-E-L-A-X. No, we are not heading toward a recession. No, the housing market isn't crumbling. No, it's not time to sell your home, stock up on canned beans, ammo, and get off the grid. But the real estate market is changing … dare we call it a slowdown?
How Can You Say It's a Slowdown?
How can I say this? We are in the midst of an historical real estate boom like we've never seen before and everything we hear and read says the market is hot, hotter, hottest! Please hear me: the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex is still by far the absolute best place in the world to live, work, play, and own real estate. The daily, weekly, monthly growth that is happening to this part of the state is still out of this world.
But the market is experiencing a slowdown. Interest rates are rising . Municipalities are getting more and more greedy with property taxes. Home values are increasing at a rapid pace. New home construction is increasingly expensive and not meeting demand. Wages aren't increasing as quickly as prices and that's causing a slowdown in the real estate market.
In Part One we will look at those factors and how they combine to cause this slowdown. In Part Two next week, we will discuss whether or not an actual slowdown in the real estate market is a good thing, a precursor to doom-and-gloom (again, R-E-L-A-X), and what it means for buyers and sellers in this brave new world.
Just The Facts Ma'am
According to the Fort Worth Housing Report distributed by the Greater Fort Worth Association of Realtors, the median sales price of homes is going up, up, and up. Up 9.7 percent from February 2017 to 2018 at $214,000. Up 9.3 percent from March 2017 to 2018 at $219,750. Up 7.3 percent from April 2017 to 2018 at $220,000. We see that the overall price continues to increase, but the percentage from year-to-year is falling a little bit. Across the country home prices increased 8.7 percent over the past year according to a recent Zillow report. Increases like this simply are not sustainable in the long run for a stable economy. While sellers enjoy their large return on their investment, fewer and fewer buyers are able or willing to pay these steep increases.
Active Listings And Days on Market
From same reports active listings were up 3.4 percent from February 2017 to 2018 at 1,668 homes. Up 6.4 percent from March 2017 to 2018 at 1,851. Up 17.1 percent from April 2017 to 2018 at 2,105. The more listings the better right? Well, yes and no is the answer. Yes more listings on the market the better for buyers. But that's only if they are good listings that are priced correctly. Days on market has also increased. Homes sat for one day longer in February 2018 than 2017 at 43 days. Seven days longer in March 2018 than 2017 at 44 days. Seven days longer in April 2018 than 2017 at 37 days.
No — not time to panic — but numbers don't lie. Buyers are gaining some control.
Word on The Street
While considering this article over the past month or more, I have talked to many agents, lenders, and title company officers in the D/FW area and 100 percent of them have mentioned how it appears that the buyers are finally pushing back at the skyrocketing prices. Sellers have been in control for a number of years when it comes to asking price. Depending on the range, sellers have tended toward higher asking prices and buyers have very little recourse. If a buyer wants a house then they'll meet asking price … or go higher. As inventory increases (albeit slightly) we are seeing buyers be a little pickier and price conscious. It's not as if buyers are offering 50 cents on the dollar, but more than ever in the past year we are seeing lower offers as homes sit longer on the market. Of course there are variables like price range and location and condition of homes — I know that — so these stats might not apply for all homes universally.
We have been living in the longest real estate boom in the history of ever. It's not going away, it's just not booming like it was, and I contest that it will not boom like that again. A slowdown is happening and will continue to happen. While this might cause panic for some, it could also be just what our overall economy needs — balance. Come back next week and see what else I have to say. If you disagree with this article — or if you agree — hit me up, let me know, I'd love to hear YOUR perspective.
Well that's all from Tarrant County this week Dirty Readers. Thanks for reading and following and sharing! As always, if you have questions, comments or great ideas for a blog … hit me up!
Seth Fowler is a licensed Real Estate Sales Professional for Williams Trew Real Estate in Fort Worth, TX. Statements and opinions are his and his alone. Seth has been involved with the home sales and real estate industry in the Fort Worth area since 2004. He and his family have lived in the area for over 15 years. Seth also loves bowties! You can reach Seth at: 817.980.6636 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A new look at the prices sellers are asking for their homes is another sign of a shift in the North Texas housing market. Dallas-Fort Worth made it onto a list of 10 major cities that are seeing declines or just tiny increases in the asking prices for houses up for sale.
Researchers at property market firm Trulia compared major home market to see where list prices for homes were rising and where they were falling. All four of Texas' major home markets made the ranks of places where home value increases are stalling. That's obviously nowhere near the double-digit percentage annual home price gains North Texas recently saw. Trulia estimates that the median price of homes up for sale in D-FW was $356,999 in March. In March, homes listed for sale in North Texas traded for 98 percent of what they were listed for, according to local real estate data. Trulia's report that D-FW sellers aren't jacking up their asking prices as quickly this year is another indication that the home market dynamic is changing in the area.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area led the state in first-quarter home sales. Local real estate agents sold more than 20,000 homes in the area, according to a new report by the Texas Association of Realtors. It was more than a fourth of the total 70,292 Texas homes sold in the first three months of 2018. The Houston area was a close second with 17,652 sales. While D-FW hung onto its lead in Texas sales, the number of home purchases increased from first-quarter 2017 by less than 1 percent. D-FW's housing market shows signs of cooling from several years of rapid increases. D-FW median home sales prices in the first quarter were at an all-time high of just under $260,000, according to the Texas Association of Realtors.