The Supply & Demand Problem Plaguing New Construction

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Many real estate economists have called on new home builders to ramp up production to help relieve the shortage of inventory of homes for sale throughout the United States. The added inventory would no doubt aid buyers in their search to secure their dream home, while also helping to ease price increases throughout the country.

Unfortunately for builders, there are many forces that are making it difficult for them to do just that!

Last week at the National Association of Real Estate Editors 51st Annual Conference, CoreLogic’s Chief Economist Frank Nothaft broke down the 4 ‘L’s of New Home Construction: Lots, Labor, Lumber, and Lending.

The concept of supply and demand is ripe in the new home construction industry. The four ‘L’s of new home construction are each suffering a supply problem, and with that comes added costs. Let’s break it down!

Lots – There is a shortage of land near metros at an affordable price, causing builders to move farther and farther away from cities to keep costs down. This isn’t always an attractive option for those who want to stay close to work.

Labor – The Great Recession forced many skilled construction and trade workers to find other sources of income once their jobs were lost at the time of the crash. Even though the overall housing market has recovered, these workers have not returned. Those who remain are starting to age out and retire, causing even more of a shortage and additional costs.

Lumber – The cost to build a new home is directly tied to the cost of the lot and the cost of the supplies needed to build the home. Lumber costs continue to escalate due to policies restricting the importation of Canadian lumber, making larger luxury homes an attractive option to recoup costs when selling, rather than building smaller single-family homes and making less profit.

Below is a graph showing the increase in cost of 1,000 board feet of framing lumber.

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Year-over-year, lumber costs are up 13% after reaching a high of $433 in the second week of April.

Lending – During the Great Recession, many small community banks were forced to close their doors. These banks were a great source of capital and lending for builders looking to borrow money at a low interest rate in the community in which they were building. Tougher lending standards have made borrowing funds more expensive and more difficult for builders.

Bottom Line

Additional costs across all 4 ‘L’s have made building luxury properties more attractive to builders as they are able to make a larger margin with the higher sales price. The move to scale down to starter and trade up homes to help with supply will mean any additional costs are absorbed by the builders unless the supply of the 4 ‘L’s can increase!

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Can Your Real Estate Agent Answer These Important Questions?

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Whether you are selling or buying a home, the real estate agent you hire is critical to guaranteeing your family makes the right decision. Most agents can walk you through the process and explain the industry ‘lingo,’ but you should expect so much more than that.

The housing crisis made everyone aware that truly understanding the real estate market is more complicated than it seems. Today, there are many questions your real estate agent must be able to answer to ensure your family is making the right decision. Here are just a few:

  • What impact does the movement in mortgage interest rates have on buyer demand? 
  • With home prices increasing rapidly, are we headed toward another housing bubble?
  • Do you need a 20% down payment to purchase a home?
  • Why can’t we list at a higher price and drop it later if necessary?

When you are interviewing an agent to represent your family in your next real estate transaction, make sure they can intelligently answer all your questions, while simply and effectively explaining what is happening in the current housing market.

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5 Reasons to Hire a Real Estate Professional When Buying or Selling!

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Whether you are buying or selling a home it can be quite an adventurous journey, which is why you need an experienced real estate professional to guide you on the path to your ultimate goal. In this world of instant gratification and internet searches, many sellers think that they can For Sale by Owner or FSBO.

The 5 reasons you NEED a real estate professional in your corner haven’t changed, but have rather been strengthened by the projections of higher mortgage interest rates & home prices as the market continues to pick up steam.

1. What do you do with all this paperwork?

Each state has different regulations regarding the contracts required for a successful sale, and these regulations are constantly changing. A true real estate professional is an expert in his or her market and can guide you through the stacks of paperwork necessary to make your dream a reality.

2. Ok, so you found your dream house, now what?

There are over 180 possible steps that need to take place during every successful real estate transaction. Don’t you want someone who has been there before, someone who knows what these actions are, to make sure that you achieve your dream?

3. Are you a good negotiator?

So maybe you’re not convinced that you need an agent to sell your home. After looking at the list of parties that you will need to be prepared to negotiate with, you’ll soon realize the value in selecting a real estate professional. From the buyer (who wants the best deal possible), to the home inspection companies, to the appraiser, there are at least 11 different people who you will need to be knowledgeable of, and answer to, during the process.

4. What is the home you’re buying/selling really worth?

It is important for your home to be priced correctly from the start to attract the right buyers and shorten the amount of time that it’s on the market. You need someone who is not emotionally connected to your home to give you the truth as to your home’s value. According to the National Association of REALTORS, “the typical FSBO home sold for $185,000 compared to $245,000 among agent-assisted home sales.”

Get the most out of your transaction by hiring a professional.

5. Do you know what’s really going on in the market?

There is so much information out there on the news and the internet about home sales, prices, and mortgage rates; how do you know what’s going on specifically in your area? Who do you turn to in order to competitively, and correctly, price your home at the beginning of the selling process? How do you know what to offer on your dream home without paying too much, or offending the seller with a lowball offer?

Dave Ramsey, the financial guru, advises:

“When getting help with money, whether it’s insurance, real estate or investments, you should always look for someone with the heart of a teacher, not the heart of a salesman.”

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#1 Answer to the Housing Shortage: New Construction

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The biggest challenge to today’s housing market is the shortage of housing inventory for sale. A normal market would see a six-month supply of homes for sale. Currently, that number is below four months. This is the major reason home prices have continued to appreciate at higher levels than historic averages.

The good news is that builders are now starting to build more homes in lower price ranges.

Builder Confidence is Up

The Housing Market Index from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)reveals that builder confidence increased last month. HousingWire quoted NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz about the reason for the increase in confidence amongst builders.

“The HMI measure of future sales conditions reached its highest level since June 2005, a sign of growing consumer confidence in the new home market. Especially as existing home inventory remains tight, we can expect increased demand for new construction moving forward.”

Builders are Meeting the Needs of Today’s Purchaser

Builders are not only jumping into the market – they are doing a better job of matching current demand. The Wall Street Journal recently reported:

“In a shift, new households are overwhelmingly choosing to buy rather than rent. Some 854,000 new-owner households were formed during the first three months of the year, more than double the 365,000 new-renter households formed during the period, according to Census Bureau data.”

The WSJ article went on to say:

“Home builders are beginning to shift their focus away from luxury homes and toward homes at lower price points to cater to this burgeoning millennial clientele.”

The graph below compares 2016 to 2017 new construction sales by price point. As we can see, builders are slowly beginning to shift to prices more favorable to the first-time and non-luxury buyer.

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Bottom Line

There is a drastic need for a larger supply of home inventory to meet the skyrocketing demand. Builders are finally doing their part to help rectify this situation.

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Gallup: Real Estate is Best Long-Term Investment 4 Years Running

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Every year, Gallup surveys Americans to determine their choice for the best long-term investment. Respondents are given a choice between real estate, stocks/mutual funds, gold, savings accounts/CDs, or bonds.

For the fourth year in a row, Real Estate has come out on top as the best long-term investment! This year’s results showed that 34% of Americans chose real estate, followed by stocks at 26%. The full results are shown in the chart below.

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The study makes it a point to draw attention to the contrast of the sentiment over the last four years compared to that of 2011-2012, when gold took the top slot with 34% of the votes. Real estate and stocks took second and third place, respectively, while still in recovery from the Great Recession.

Bottom Line

As the real estate market has recovered, so has the belief of the American people in the stability of housing as a long-term investment.

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Inventory Shortages Are Slowing Down the Market

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The real estate market is moving more and more into a complete recovery. Home values are up. Home sales are up. Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales) have fallen dramatically. It seems that 2017 will be the year that the housing market races forward again.

However, there is one thing that may cause the industry to tap the brakes: a lack of housing inventory. While buyer demand looks like it will remain strong throughout the summer, supply is not keeping up.

Here are the thoughts of a few industry experts on the subject:

Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR:

“Sellers are in the driver’s seat this spring as the intense competition for the few homes for sale is forcing many buyers to be aggressive in their offers. Buyers are showing resiliency given the challenging conditions. However, at some point — and the sooner the better — price growth must ease to a healthier rate. Otherwise sales could slow if affordability conditions worsen.”

Tom O’Grady, Pro Teck CEO

“The lack of inventory is very real and could have a severe impact on home sales in the months to come. Traditionally, a balanced market would have an MRI (Months Remaining Inventory) between six and 10 months.

This month, only eight metros we track have MRIs over 10, compared to 27 last year and 48 two years ago—illustrating that this lack of inventory is not being driven by traditionally ‘hot’ markets, but is rather a broad-based, national phenomenon.”

Ralph McLaughlin, Chief Economist at Trulia

“Nationally, housing inventory dropped to its lowest level on record in 2017 Q1. The number of homes on the market dropped for the eighth consecutive quarter, falling 5.1% over the past year.”

Freddie Mac

“Tight housing inventory has been an important feature of the housing market at least since 2016. For-sale housing inventory, especially of starter homes, is currently at its lowest level in over ten years. If inventory continues to remain tight, home sales will likely decline from their 2016 levels. …all eyes are on housing inventory and whether or not it will meet the high demand.”

Bottom Line

If you are thinking of selling, now may be the time. Demand for your house will be strongest at a time when there is very little competition. That could lead to a quick sale for a really good price.

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