First Time Buyers, Millennials, and What to Expect in 2017



By Matthew Gardner, Chief Economist at Windermere Real Estate

I believe that the big story for the coming year will be first-time home buyers. Since they don’t need to sell before purchasing, their reemergence into the market ensures that sales will continue to increase, even while inventory is limited. Thirty-one percent of buyers currently in the real estate market are first-time buyers, but it would be more ideal if that figure was closer to 40 percent.

Why don’t we have enough first-time buyers in the market? With Baby Boomers working and living longer, we aren’t making much room for Millennials to start their careers. Plus, the major debt that the younger generation owes on student loans ($1.3 trillion today) hugely impacts the housing market. But the bigger issue is lack of down payments. Before the recession, many Millennials could look to their parents for help with down payments; however, these days that is not as much the case.

I would also contend that the notion of Millennials being a “renter generation” is nonsense. In a National Association of Realtors survey, 75 percent of them said that buying a home would be the most astute financial decision they’d ever make; however, 80 percent said they don’t think they could qualify for a mortgage. I do believe that Millennials will eventually buy, but they’re delaying their purchasing decisions by about three years when compared to previous generations, which is about the same amount of time they’re waiting to start families as well.

Mortgage rates have risen rapidly since the election, and unfortunately, I do not see a turnaround in this trend. That said, they will remain cheap when compared to historic averages.  Expect to see the yield on 30-year mortgages rise to around 4.7% by the end of 2017. For those who have grown accustomed to interest rates being at historic lows, this might seem high, but it’s all relative.

If I were to gaze all the way into 2018, my crystal ball takes me to the dreaded “R” word. Like taxes and death, recessions are another one of those unwanted realities that inevitably comes to visit every so often. Irrespective of who was voted into the White House, my view remains the same: prepare to see a business cycle recession by the end of 2018, but, rest assured, it will not be driven by real estate, nor will it resemble the Great Recession in any way.

This article originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.

Perspectives: 2017 Forecast

Well, it’s December; the time of year when we look to our crystal ball and offer our housing market predictions for the coming year. And by crystal ball we mean Windermere’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, who has been travelling up and down the West Coast giving his annual forecast to a variety of real estate and financial organizations. Last month’s surprising election results have created some unknowns, but based on what we do know today, here are some thoughts on the current market and what you can expect to see in 2017.

HOUSING SUPPLY: In 2016 the laws of supply and demand were turned upside down in a majority of markets along the West Coast. Home sales and prices rose while listings remained anemic. In the coming year, there should be a modest increase in the number of homes for sale in most major West Coast markets, which should relieve some of the pressure.

FIRST-TIME BUYERS: We’re calling 2017 the year of the return of the first-time buyer. These buyers are crucial to achieving a more balanced housing market. While rising home prices and competition will act as a headwind to some first timers, the aforementioned modest uptick in housing inventory should help alleviate some of those challenges.

INTEREST RATES: Although interest rates remain remarkably low, they will likely rise as we move through 2017. Matthew Gardner tells us that he expects the 30-year fixed rate to increase to about 4.5 percent by year’s end. Yes, this is well above where interest rates are currently, but it’s still very low.

HOUSING AFFORDABILITY: This remains one of the biggest concerns for many West Coast cities. Some markets continue to see home prices escalating well above income growth. This is unsustainable over the long term, so we’re happy to report that the rate of home price appreciation will soften in some areas. This doesn’t mean prices will drop, but rather, the rate of growth will begin to slow.

Last but not least, we continue to hear concerns about an impending housing bubble. We sincerely believe these fears to be unfounded. While we expect price growth to slow in certain areas, anyone waiting for the floor to fall on housing prices is in for a long wait. Everything we’re seeing points towards a modest shift towards a more balanced market in the year ahead.

This article originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.

2017 Housing Forecast: Local Market No. 4 in US

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According to Veros Real Estate Solutions, the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue market is projected to be the fourth hottest real estate market in the U.S. in 2017. The company projects home prices to appreciate 10.2 percent in our region next year, far outpacing the rest of the country.

If you’re thinking about selling, the timing couldn’t be better. With inventory at historic lows, prices at or near record highs, and multiple offers the norm, it’s an exceptional time to get top dollar for your home.

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Are you ready to sell your home?

Get in touch with a Windermere Real Estate agent to receive a valuation of your home based on current market conditions, walk you through the process, and answer any questions you may have.

We’ve Got You Covered Winter Drive for YouthCare – Wrap Up

As part of Windermere’s #tacklehomelessness campaign with the Seattle Seahawks, 38 Windermere offices* in King and Snohomish Counties collected new hats, scarves, gloves/mittens, and warm socks for Windermere’s “We’ve Got You Covered” winter drive. The recipient of these donations was YouthCare, a non-profit that provides support and services to homeless youth throughout the Puget Sound area.

An estimated 3,500 items were collected during the four-week drive. We are thankful for the generosity and enthusiasm shown by the participating offices—there was even some competition among them to collect the most items. Taking that title for the most donations was the Windermere Shoreline office which alone collected 665 items! Some of the donations were even hand-made by members of the community, like the 10 sets of hats/scarves knitted and donated to Windermere’s Mercer Island office, and the homemade Seahawks scarves and hats that were donated to the Property Management – South office. These generous donations will go a long way towards helping to keep many homeless youth warmer this winter season.

Jody Waits, Development and Communications Officer at YouthCare, was overwhelmed with excitement by all of the winter gear that was collected: “This is AMAZING! We received a truck – a literal truck – full of donations,” she said, adding, “Windermere’s amazing donations provide homeless youth with cold-weather items they would not be able to afford to purchase on their own. Helping a young person feel warm, dry, and safe, frees them up to focus on achieving other goals, and connecting to their future potential. We are very grateful for Windermere’s partnership with YouthCare.”

We are also incredibly grateful to Gentle Giant Moving Company, who partnered with us for this drive, and generously donated their time and trucks to pick up all of the donated items from our offices and deliver them to YouthCare.

 

Thank you to our participating offices, and all those who donated, for making our winter drive a success!

 

*Participating Windermere offices

Auburn-Lakeland Hills, Bellevue, Bellevue Commons, Bellevue South, Bellevue West, Burien, Enumclaw, Issaquah, Kirkland Central, Kirkland Yarrow Bay, Kirkland-Northeast, Lynnwood, Mercer Island, Mill Creek, Property Management – South, Redmond, Renton, Seattle-Ballard, Seattle-Capitol Hill, Seattle-Eastlake, Seattle-Green Lake, Seattle-Greenwood, Seattle-Lakeview, Seattle-Madison Park, Seattle-Magnolia, Seattle-Mount Baker, Seattle-Northlake, Seattle-Northgate, Seattle-Northwest, Seattle-Queen Anne, Seattle-Sand Point, Seattle-Wall Street, Seattle-Wedgwood, Seattle-West Seattle, Services-Marketing, Shoreline, Snohomish, Woodinville

This blog post originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.

The Trump effect. How will it impact the US economy and housing?

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The American people have spoken and they have elected Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States. Change was clearly demanded, and change is what we will have.

The election was a shock for many, especially on the West Coast where we have not been overly affected by the long-term loss in US manufacturing or stagnant wage growth of the past decade. But the votes are in and a new era is ahead of us. So, what does this mean for the housing market?

First and foremost I would say that we should all take a deep breath. In a similar fashion to the UK’s “Brexit”, there will be a “whiplash” effect, as was seen in overnight trading across the globe. However, at least in the US, equity markets have calmed as they start to take a closer look at what a Trump presidency will mean.

On a macro level, I would start by stating that political rhetoric and hyperbole do not necessarily translate into policy. That is the most important message that I want to get across. I consider it highly unlikely that many of the statements regarding trade protectionism will actually go into effect. It will be very important for President Trump to tone down his platform on renegotiating trade agreements and imposing tariffs on China. I also deem it highly unlikely that a 1,000-mile wall will actually get built.

It is crucial that some of the more inflammatory statements that President-Elect Trump has made be toned down or markets will react negatively. However, what is of greater concern to me is that neither candidate really approached questions regarding housing with any granularity. There was little-to-no-discussion regarding housing finance reform, so I will be watching this topic very closely over the coming months.

As far as the housing market is concerned, it is really too early to make any definitive comment. That said, Trump ran on a platform of deregulation and this could actually bode well for real estate. It might allow banks the freedom to lend more, which in turn, could further energize the market as more buyers may qualify for home loans.

Concerns over rising interest rates may also be overstated. As history tells us, during times of uncertainty we tend to put more money into bonds. If this holds true, then we may see a longer-than-expected period of below-average rates. Today’s uptick in bond yields is likely just temporary.

Proposed infrastructure spending could boost employment and wages, which again, would be a positive for housing markets. Furthermore, easing land use regulations has the potential to begin addressing the problem of housing affordability across many of our nation’s housing markets – specifically on the West Coast.

Economies do not like uncertainty. In the near-term we may see a temporary lull in the US economy, as well as the housing market, as we analyze what a Trump presidency really means. But at the present time, I do not see any substantive cause for panic in the housing sector.

We are a resilient nation, and as long as we continue to have checks-and balances, I have confidence that we will endure any period of uncertainty and come out stronger.

Matthew Gardner is the Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, specializing in residential market analysis, commercial/industrial market analysis, financial analysis, and land use and regional economics. He is the former Principal of Gardner Economics, and has over 25 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

This article originally appeared on the Windermere.com blog.