Our team is committed to continuing to serve all your real estate needs while incorporating safety protocol to protect all of our loved ones.
In addition, as your local real estate experts, we feel it’s our duty to give you, our valued client, all the information you need to better understand our local real estate market. Whether you’re buying or selling, we want to make sure you have the best, most pertinent information, so we’ve put together this monthly analysis breaking down specifics about the market.
As we all navigate this together, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns. We’re here to support you.
– Vivian Yoon & Dennis Hsii, DRE #01925833 / 01919746
Welcome to our May newsletter, where we dive into national and local residential real estate trends. This month, we examine how the housing undersupply is increasing home prices and paving the way toward a more balanced market. We also discuss the sharp decrease in mortgage rates and the state of employment, which is historically one of the leading indicators of home valuations.
Currently, the housing supply is so low that demand far outpaces the number of homes on the market. Freddie Mac estimates that the United States is about 4 million homes short of meeting buyer demand. The housing shortage compounds when potential home sellers decide to stay out of the market because they feel they won’t be able to find a home to buy after they sell. Home builders, who have been slow to ramp up production after the 2008 crash, are drastically increasing new construction because they want to capitalize on the sustained demand for housing.
We expect relative housing demand to remain high over the next 12 months at the very least. New homes take time to build and will not come to market at the rate necessary to balance it. In March 2021, U.S. home builders started constructing homes at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.74 million, up 37% compared to March 2020. New construction will eventually alleviate some of the shortage, but housing will remain undersupplied for months, if not years, to come.
As we navigate this period of high buyer demand and low supply, we remain committed to providing you with the most current market information so you feel supported and informed in your buying and selling decisions.
In this month’s newsletter, we cover the following:
- Key Topics and Trends in May: Low home supply will continue for the foreseeable future, increasing bidding wars and driving up prices. The average U.S. mortgage rate decreased 23 basis points in two weeks.
- May Housing Market Updates for selected Los Angeles areas: Single-family home prices have appreciated across the North Beach, West Side, and South Bay markets. The median West Side home price rose to its highest level in the last two years.
Key Topics and Trends in May
Last year, many individuals and families experienced feast or famine. Those lucky enough to stay financially unaffected by the pandemic were likely saving or investing more than expected, accruing more and more capital. At the same time, interest rates plummeted to hyperlow levels as millennials, the largest living adult generation, grew to prime homeownership age. With these factors combined, we saw the demand for homes skyrocket in 2020. The near-universal ability to work remotely changed motivations for moving. Relocating for a job or to be closer to the office was no longer necessary. However, due to the unique requirements of working from home, people began wanting more space. As a result, single-family home demand rose steeply, while condo demand lagged. As sellers listed condos, they bought single-family homes, driving single-family home inventory down. As the supply of homes declined, fewer new listings came to market—in part, because of the difficulty of finding a new home after selling.
One reason for the housing shortage has been the understandable hesitancy of builders to construct new properties since the 2006–2008 housing crash; however, this lack of new construction means that there aren’t enough homes on the market to meet the unexpectedly high demand. Over the last six months, new construction has ramped up considerably to an annualized 1.74 million new homes. The largest gains in new-home construction occurred in the Midwest, where housing starts more than doubled on a monthly basis. The Northeast and the South also saw faster rates of new-home construction, while home-building activity slowed in the West. Additionally, established metro areas lack land upon which to build, so adding meaningfully to supply through new construction can be challenging or fully unattainable.
As you can see from the chart below, new construction is now in the pre-housing bubble levels as home builders react to the surge in home prices and demand.
Mortgage rates rose significantly, slightly over 50 basis points, from January 2021 to mid-April 2021, but dropped sharply back below 3% in the second half of April. Although interest rates are still expected to rise to 3.7% over the course of the year, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association, the mortgage rate drop shows the non-linear path that rates will likely take. Because the mortgage rate affects affordability, the current low rate will only increase demand in the short term.
High unemployment is one of the strongest predictors of falling home prices over a two-year period. The chart below illustrates the employment cost of a recession. Total employment tends to grow at a fairly consistent rate during economic expansions. The green line illustrates the expected level of employment had the pandemic never happened. As that green line shows, we are nearly 11 million jobs below where employment was expected to be after the first quarter of 2021. Twice as many workers are currently unemployed than in February 2020. The initial pain of unemployment has been dampened by government relief. Mortgages in forbearance and foreclosures are low, as are delinquencies in credit card debt. However, we will continue to monitor unemployment in order to gauge future market conditions.
Although we don’t expect the same level of buying in 2021 that we saw in 2020, the environment is right for demand to outpace supply in 2021. In the short term, we may even see a demand spike as potential buyers try to purchase before rates rise higher. As a result, we anticipate a competitive landscape for buyers over the course of this year.
While the market remains competitive for buyers, conditions are making it an exceptional time for homeowners to sell. Low inventory means multiple offers and fewer concessions. Because sellers are often selling one home and buying another, it is essential that sellers work with the right agent to ensure the transition goes smoothly.
May Housing Market Updates for selected
Los Angeles areas
In this newsletter, we break down three luxury areas in Los Angeles as follows:
- North Beach: includes the Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, and Venice
- West Side: includes Beverly Hills, Brentwood, West Hollywood, and Westwood
- South Bay: includes Hermosa, Manhattan Beach, and Redondo
During April 2021, the median single-family home price rose in the three selected areas month-over-month. The West Side median home price rose to its highest level in two years. Year-over-year, single-family home prices increased across markets as well.
Single-family home inventory grew much higher for North Beach and the West Side in 2020 relative to 2019, while South Bay trended similarly to 2019 (a “normal” year) in 2020. The unusual spike in inventory was short-lived due to demand in the area. In the selected markets, inventory retracted as quickly as it increased and is now below last year’s levels in the West Side and the South Bay, while the North Bay is at last year’s levels. Since the start of 2021, more new listings have been coming to market, but these were met with increased sales. Demand in the area is significantly higher than last year and will likely absorb many of the new listings that come to market this spring. Ultimately, inventory is still low, and the sustained low inventory will likely cause prices to appreciate throughout 2021.
Single-family homes in the North Beach and West Side areas spent more time on the market in April 2021 than they did last year. However, homes are still selling relatively quickly for luxury markets.
We can use MSI as a metric to judge whether the market favors buyers or sellers. The average MSI is three months in California (far lower than the national average of six months), which indicates a balanced market. An MSI lower than three means that there are more buyers than sellers on the market (that is, it is a sellers’ market), while a higher MSI means there are more sellers than buyers (that is, it is a buyers’ market). In April 2021, the MSI remained below three in the South Bay, highlighting the demand in the area. North Beach is balanced with 3.4 months of supply, and West Side MSI favors buyers with 4.1 months of supply.
In summary, the high demand and relatively low supply present in selected Los Angeles areas have driven home price appreciation. Inventory will likely remain low this year with fewer sellers coming to market, potentially lifting prices higher. Overall, the housing market has shown its resilience through the pandemic and remains one of the most valuable asset classes. The data show that housing has remained consistently strong throughout this period.
We anticipate new listings to accelerate into the summer months. The current market conditions could withstand a high number of new listings coming to market, and more sellers could enter the market to capitalize on the high buyer demand. As we enter the spring season, we expect the high demand to continue, and new houses on the market to be sold quickly.
As always, we remain committed to helping our clients achieve their current and future real estate goals. Our team of experienced professionals are happy to discuss the information we’ve shared in this newsletter. We welcome you to contact us with any questions about the current market or to request an evaluation of your home.