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Latest Unemployment Report: Great News…for the Most Part

From Keeping Current Matters
Monday July 6th, 2020 For Buyers, For Sellers, Housing Market Updates
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released their latest Employment Situation Summary last Thursday, and it again beat analysts’ expectations in a big way. The consensus was for 3,074,000 jobs to be added in June. The report revealed that 4,800,000 jobs were added. The unemployment rate fell to 11.1% from 13.3% last month. Again, excellent news as the unemployment rate fell for the second consecutive month. However, there’s still a long way to go before the economy fully recovers as 17.8 million Americans remain unemployed.

Here are two interesting insights on the report:

What about a supposed misclassification?
The BLS addressed this at length in a blog post last week, and concluded by saying:

“Regardless of the assumptions we might make about misclassification, the trend in the unemployment rate over the period in question is the same; the rate increased in March & April and eased in May.”

They specifically noted the issue in the latest report by explaining that if they adjusted the rate for the potential miscalculation, it would increase from 11.1% to 12.1% (which is lower than the adjusted rate of 16.4% last month). They went on to say:

“However, this represents the upper bound of our estimate of misclassification and probably overstates the size of the misclassification error.”

Does the shutdown of parts of the economy skew the unemployment numbers?
Because the uniqueness of 2020 impacts the employment situation in so many ways, each jobs report is now examined with a microscope to make sure the headlines generated by the report accurately convey what’s happening in the job market.

One such analysis is done by Jed Kolko, Chief Economist at Indeed. He believes the extraordinary number of people in the “temporary” unemployed category confuses the broader issue of how many people have permanently lost their job. He adjusts for this when calculating his “core unemployment rate” (which subtracts temporary layoffs and adds unemployed who didn’t search for a job recently).

The bad news is that his analysis reveals that the number of permanently unemployed is still rising (from 4.6% in April to 5.9% last month). The good news, however, is when you use his methodology to look back at the Great Recession, today’s “core unemployment rate” is significantly lower (5.9% versus 10.5% in April 2010).

Bottom Line
Last week’s jobs report was much better than most expected. However, we should remain cautious in our optimism. As the Wall Street Journal explained in their analysis of the jobs report:

“U.S. job growth surged last month, underscoring the economy’s capacity for a quick rebound if businesses continue to reopen and consumers regain confidence. A recent coronavirus spike, however, could undermine trends captured in the latest jobs report.”

Homes Sold By Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Should We Be Looking at Unemployment Numbers Differently?

Should We Be Looking at Unemployment Numbers Differently?

The New York Times recently ran an article regarding unemployment titled: Don’t Cheer Too Soon. Keep an Eye on the Core Jobless Rate. The piece suggests we should look at unemployment numbers somewhat differently. The author of the article, Jed Kolko, is a well-respected economist who is currently the Chief Economist at Indeed, the world’s largest online jobs site. Previously, he was Chief Economist and VP of Analytics at Trulia, the online real estate site.

Kolko suggests “the coronavirus pandemic has broken most economic charts and models, and all the numbers we regularly watch need a closer look.” He goes on to explain that the decline in the unemployment number reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) earlier this month was driven by a drop in temporary layoffs. If we strip those out, we’re left with what Kolko calls the core unemployment rate. Many economists have struggled with how to deal with the vast number of temporary layoffs, as a complete shutdown of the economy has never happened before. As the article states, in the last unemployment report:

“73 percent of all unemployed people said they were temporarily unemployed, which means they had a return-to-work date or they expected to return to work in six months. Before the pandemic, temporary unemployment was never more than one-quarter of total unemployment.”

The core unemployment rate handles this issue and also deals with another concern economists have discussed for years: the exclusion of the marginally attached. These are people who are available and want to work, but count as out of the labor force rather than unemployed because they haven’t searched for work in the past four weeks.

Kolko’s core rate does three things:

  1. Takes out temporary unemployment
  2. Retains the rest of the standard unemployment definition: permanent job losers, job leavers, and people returning to or entering the labor force
  3. Adds in the marginally attached

Removing the temporarily unemployed makes sense according to the article:

“Initial pandemic relief efforts focused on money for people to manage a temporary loss of income and funds to keep businesses afloat until they could bring their workers back. The hope and the goal is for the temporarily unemployed to return to their old jobs, rather than have them lose their jobs and have to search for new ones when jobs have become scarcer.”

The Bad News and the Good News

Clearly, the adjustments Kolko makes dramatically impact the way we look at unemployment. The bad news is, using his core rate, there was an increase in unemployment from April to May. The conventional rate reported by the BLS showed a decrease in unemployment.

The good news is that the core rate compares more favorably to the last recession in 2008. Here’s the breakdown:Should We Be Looking at Unemployment Numbers Differently? | MyKCM

Bottom Line

The unemployment rate is a key indicator of how the economy is doing. Heading into a highly contested election this November, the BLS report releasing next week will be scrutinized like no other by members on both sides of the aisle. Mr. Kolko’s take is just one additional way to evaluate how unemployment is impacting American families.

Homes Sold By Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Thinking of Selling Your Home?

Selling a home can be a process, even in a hot seller’s market.

Homes Sold By Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center
By prepping your home a few months in advance, you can reduce your stress and increase the odds of finding a buyer quickly after listing. Take a look at this handy checklist I’ve created to ensure you know all the important steps that go into selling your home.

If at any time, you’d like to discuss the home selling process, don’t hesitate to reach out! My specialty is getting homeowners the best possible price for their home.

Download Your copy of The checklist

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Top Reasons to Own Your Home

Top Reasons to Own Your Home [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM
Homes Sold by Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Some Highlights

June is National Homeownership Month, and it’s a great time to consider the benefits of owning your own home.
If you’re in a position to buy, homeownership might help you find the stability, community, and comfort you’ve been searching for this year.
Let’s connect today to determine if homeownership is the right next step for you and your family.

Homes Sold by Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Housing Market Positioned to Bring Back the Economy

 All eyes are on the American economy. As it goes, so does the world economy. With states beginning to reopen, the question becomes: which sectors of the economy will drive its recovery? There seems to be a growing consensus that the housing market is positioned to be that driving force, the tailwind that is necessary.

Some may question that assertion as they look back on the last recession in 2008 when housing was the anchor to the economy – holding it back from sailing forward. But even then, the overall economy did not begin to recover until the real estate market started to regain its strength. This time, the housing market was in great shape when the virus hit.

As Mark Fleming, Chief Economist of First Americanrecently explained:

“Many still bear scars from the Great Recession and may expect the housing market to follow a similar trajectory in response to the coronavirus outbreak. But, there are distinct differences that indicate the housing market may follow a much different path. While housing led the recession in 2008-2009, this time it may be poised to bring us out of it.”

Fleming is not the only economist who believes this. Last week, Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist for CoreLogic, (@DrFrankNothaft) tweeted:

“For the first 6 decades after WWII, the housing sector led the rest of the economy out of each recession. Expect it to do so this time as well.”

And, Robert Dietz, Chief Economist for the National Association of Home Builders, in an economic update last week explained:

“As the economy begins a recovery later in 2020, we expect housing to play a leading role. Housing enters this recession underbuilt, not overbuilt…Based on demographics and current vacancy rates, the U.S. may have a housing deficit of up to one million units.”

Bottom Line

Every time a home is sold it has a tremendous financial impact on local economies. As the real estate market continues its recovery, it will act as a strong tailwind to the overall national economy.

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Homes Sold By Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020?

With the housing market staggered to some degree by the health crisis the country is currently facing, some potential purchasers are questioning whether home values will be impacted. The price of any item is determined by supply as well as the market’s demand for that item.

Each month the National Association of Realtors (NAR) surveys “over 50,000 real estate practitioners about their expectations for home sales, prices and market conditions” for the REALTORS Confidence Index.

Their latest edition sheds some light on the relationship between seller traffic (supply) and buyer traffic (demand) during this pandemic.

Buyer Demand

The map below was created after asking the question: “How would you rate buyer traffic in your area?”Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020? | MyKCMThe darker the blue, the stronger the demand for homes is in that area. The survey shows that in 34 of the 50 U.S. states, buyer demand is now ‘strong’ and 16 of the 50 states have a ‘stable’ demand.

Seller Supply

The index also asks: “How would you rate seller traffic in your area?”Will Home Values Appreciate or Depreciate in 2020? | MyKCMAs the map above indicates, 46 states and Washington, D.C. reported ‘weak’ seller traffic, 3 states reported ‘stable’ seller traffic, and 1 state reported ‘strong’ seller traffic. This means there are far fewer homes on the market than what is needed to satisfy the needs of buyers looking for homes right now.

With demand still stronger than supply, home values should not depreciate.

What are the experts saying?

Here are the thoughts of three industry experts on the subject:

Ivy Zelman:

“We note that inventory as a percent of households sits at the lowest level ever, something we believe will limit the overall degree of home price pressure through the year.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American:

“Housing supply remains at historically low levels, so house price growth is likely to slow, but it’s not likely to go negative.”

Freddie Mac:

“Two forces prevent a collapse in house prices. First, as we indicated in our earlier research report, U.S. housing markets face a large supply deficit. Second, population growth and pent up household formations provide a tailwind to housing demand.”

Bottom Line

Looking at these maps and listening to the experts, it seems that prices will remain stable throughout 2020. If you’re thinking about listing your home, let’s connect to discuss how you can capitalize on the somewhat surprising demand in the market now.

Homes Sold by Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Why Home Equity Is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market

Given how we have seen more unemployment claims than ever before over the past several weeks, fear is spreading widely. Some good news, however, shows that more than 4 million initial unemployment filers have likely already found a new job, especially as industries such as health care, food and grocery stores, retail, delivery, and more increase their employment opportunities. Breaking down what unemployment means for homeownership, and understanding the significant equity Americans hold today, are important parts of seeing the picture clearly when sorting through this uncertainty.

One of the biggest questions right now is whether this historic unemployment rate will initiate a new surge of foreclosures in the market. It’s a very real fear. Despite the staggering number of claims, there are actually many reasons why we won’t see a significant number of foreclosures like we did during the housing crash twelve years ago. The amount of equity homeowners have today is a leading differentiator in the current market.

Today, according to John Burns Consulting58.7% of homes in the U.S. have at least 60% equity. That number is drastically different than it was in 2008 when the housing bubble burst. The last recession was painful, and when prices dipped, many found themselves owing more on their mortgage than what their homes were worth. Homeowners simply walked away at that point. Now, 42.1% of all homes in this country are mortgage-free, meaning they’re owned free and clear. Those homes are not at risk for foreclosure (see graph below):Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | Simplifying The MarketIn addition, CoreLogic notes the average equity mortgaged homes have today is $177,000. That’s a significant amount that homeowners won’t be stepping away from, even in today’s economy (see chart below):Why Home Equity is a Bright Spark in the Housing Market | Simplifying The MarketIn essence, the amount of equity homeowners have today positions them to be in a much better place than they were in 2008.

Bottom Line 

The fear and uncertainty we feel right now are very real, and this is not going to be easy. We can, however, see strength in our current market through homeowner equity that was not been there in the past. That may be a bright spark to help us make it through.

 Keeping Current Matters – 5/6/2020
Homes Sold by Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

Virtual Home Buying

BY KEITH ROBINSON | APRIL 24, 2020

How in the heck am I supposed to buy a house while I am sheltering in place?? I hardly know what day it is without checking right now. Is it actually possible for me to find a house, evaluate it, write an offer, get it accepted, and close on it? Not to mention moving… is that even legal right now?

Trust me, we hear you. It is always complicated, stressful, and a little emotional buying a house. Maybe even a little more so in this “new normal” (nothing normal about this) of COVID-19. To start with, the answer to all of the above questions is “it depends.” Super helpful, right? The thing is, every state (heck, every county) is approaching this differently. In some states it’s kind of business as nearly normal – just add in vats of hand sanitizer, masks, and 6-feet-away hellos. Others are in lockdown but real estate is deemed essential so you can still transact. And in a few, it’s been deemed non-essential and it’s literally not even possible to close on a home, not to mention see one. So… it depends.

If you are in one of the states (counties) with the first two options, there are some real opportunities out there for buyers right now. We’ve had an inventory shortage in this country for a while now and that is only going to continue with builders slowing down building and more and more millennials entering “household formation” years (a fancy way of saying they can now afford to buy a house). For the buyer with a little creativity and willingness to take action – and the right real estate professional – this could be the time. That being said, it is stressful and a person deciding to hold off to let the dust settle could make sense. The rest of this is for the creative and willing buyer.

Step 1: virtual buyer consultation.  It could be over Facetime, a Zoom meeting, or some other virtual conference room software. We’ve been doing things remote at NextHome since we started our company over five years ago. It’s not quite as good as meeting face-to-face but it’s really close to the same thing. I mean, if virtual happy hours are popping up around the U.S., then we can set up a virtual buyer consultation to have all your questions answered.

Step 2: virtual property search. Now you’ve already been digging through Zillow like a detective looking for the one clue to make your case. Now you’ve got someone to send them to so you can get more information. And you’ve got a partner in detective work who will be doing some digging with you and sending you properties that fit your criteria. Think of it as your virtual property concierge who is there to assist, and sometimes lead, the property finding process. Thank the technology gods that more and more have been developed to help you know a lot about a house before you see it. I know, I know, you’re already wondering what happens when you find your dream house online for that, it’s step 3.

Step 3: video home tours. We’ve all got a camera in our pocket (along with a calculator, take that my 6th-grade math teacher who said I wouldn’t always have one handy)and it’s as easy as ever to “see” a property at a distance. Your agent can get access to the property, fire up that Facetime, Facebook video chat, Google Duo, etc. and walk you through every inch of your future home.

Step 4: electronically sign things. Ok, we like it, no, we love it. Now what? It’s offer writing time. The ability to sign documents at distance has been around for years on the real estate side (come on mortgage side, step your game up, because not everything can be signed digitally there). We have all the real estate contracts, addendums, forms, and such available digitally and can email them to you. Then you would need to lean forward towards the computer screen to read the small print and smush a few mouse clicks –  you’re now in offer, counteroffer, negations, and starting the closing process. You will probably have to go somewhere to sign loan documents (see above about mortgage) but in most areas, they have changed their process to allow for safe signing. Some even have a mobile notary and closing specialist who can come to you to sign everything. Easy peasy lemon squeezy (it’s actually hard hard lemon hard but our trained real estate professionals are there to help you every step of the way).

Step 5: inspections. Buying a house is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll ever make. There are lots and lots of inspections you can have done. And each of them can be completed, then the reports sent to you via email. We can even set up a virtual conference room to review the report with the inspector and the agent so you can get all your questions answered.

Step 6: transfer funds by wire. Yup, that’s right. You can move money around like a high-powered hedge fund manager. You feel pretty dang cool when you tell the closing facilitator, “I’ll have my people wire the money over.” Trust me. You do.

Step 7: keys, please! As an agent, this was always my favorite part of closing with a buyer.  Giving them their keys. As a real estate agent, there isn’t much more rewarding than seeing the people you’ve helped get the keys to “their home.”  It’s amazing. Now we just do it over a screen instead of in person. There are key delivery services that can have the keys brought right to you. You’ll just have to Facetime when you do it because I know your agent is going to want to see your smiling face when you get them.

Do I write this with the thoughts that someone will buy a house without ever seeing it. No, of course not. What’s important right now is we all stay safe and we can limit the contact as much as we need to for everyone to feel safe. And we’re fully set up to take care of as much of the process virtually as we can. For some buyers, this is the right time to get bold, take action, and go find their house. And for others, they might want to hold off a few months. For both sets of buyers, we’re here to help you whenever you’re ready.

Homes Sold by Jessica Harless | NextHome Realty Center

What If I Need to Sell My Home Now? What Can I Do?

Every day that passes, people have a need to buy and sell homes. That doesn’t stop during the current pandemic. If you’ve had a major life change recently, whether with your job or your family situation, you may be in a position where you need to sell your home – and fast. While you probably feel like timing with the current pandemic isn’t on your side, making a move is still possible. Rest assured, with technology at your side and fewer sellers on the market in most areas, you can list your house and make it happen safely and effectively, especially when following the current COVID-19 guidelines set forth by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

You may have a new baby, a new employment situation, a parent who moved in with you, you just built a home that’s finally ready to move into, or some other major part of your life that has changed in recent weeks. Buyers have those needs too, so rest assured that someone is likely looking for a home just like yours.

According to the NAR Flash Survey: Economic Pulse taken April 5 – 6, real estate agents indicate, not surprisingly, that there’s a noticeable decline in current homebuyer interest. That said, 10% of agents said in the same survey that they saw no change or even an increase in buyer activity. So, while buyer interest is low compared to normal spring markets, there are still buyers in the market. Don’t forget, you only need one buyer – the right one for your home.

Here’s the other thing – people are spending a lot of time on the Internet right now, given the stay-at-home orders implemented across the country. Buyers are actively looking at homes for sale online. Some of them are reaching out to real estate professionals for virtual tours and getting ready to make offers too. Homes are being sold in many markets.

There Is Less Competition Right Now

The same survey indicates that 56% of NAR members said sellers are removing their homes from the market right now. This can definitely work in your favor. If other sellers are removing their listings, your home has a better chance of rising to the top of a buyer’s search list and being seen. Keep in mind, listings will pick up again soon, as 57% of the respondents note that sellers are only planning to delay the process by a couple of months. If you need to sell right now, don’t wait for the competition to get back into the market again.

This year, delayed listings from the typically busy spring season will push into the summer months, so more competition will be coming to the market as the pandemic passes. Getting ahead of that wave now might be your biggest opportunity.

Your Trusted Real Estate Advisor Can Help

Real estate agents are working hard every single day under untraditional circumstances, utilizing technology to help both buyers and sellers who need to continue with their plans. We’re using virtual tours to show homes currently on the market, staying connected with the buyers and sellers through video chats, and leveraging resources to complete transactions electronically. We’re making sure the families we support remain safe and can keep their real estate needs on track, especially as life is changing so rapidly.

Bottom Line

Homes are still being bought and sold in the midst of this pandemic. If you need to sell your house and would like to know the current status in our local market, let’s work together to create a safe and effective plan that works for you and your family.