With the strength of the current housing market growing every day and more Americans returning to work, a faster-than-expected recovery in the housing sector is already well underway. Regardless, many are still asking the question: will we see a wave of foreclosures as a result of the current crisis?
Thankfully, research shows the number of foreclosures is expected to be much lower than what this country experienced during the last recession.
The number of those in active forbearance has been leveling-off over the past month. Of the original 4,208,000 families granted forbearance, only 2,588,000 of these homeowners got an extension. Many homeowners have once again started to pay their mortgages, paid off their homes, or never went delinquent on their payments in the first place. They may have applied for forbearance out of precaution, but never fully acted on it.
The housing market, and homeowners, therefore, are in a much better position than many may think. Much of that has to do with the fact that today’s homeowners have more equity than most realize.
Equity is growing, jobs are returning, and the economy is slowly recovering, so the perfect storm for a wave of foreclosures is not realistically in the housing market forecast.
While our hearts are with anyone who may end up in foreclosure as a result of this crisis, we do know that today’s homeowners have more options than they did 10 years ago. For some, it may mean selling their house and downsizing with that equity, which is a far better outcome than foreclosure.
Homeowners today have many options to avoid foreclosure, and equity is surely helping to keep many afloat. Even if today’s rate of foreclosures doubles, it will still only hit a mark that is more in line with a historically normalized range, a very good sign for homeowners and the housing market.
Three of the Latest Reports Show Housing Market Is Strong
The residential real estate market is remaining resilient as the country still struggles to beat the COVID-19 pandemic. Three separate reports recently revealed how the housing market is still showing growth. Here’s a look at each one.
- Ivy Zelman’s Real Estate Broker Survey
The survey explains that purchaser demand remains strong:
“This month’s overall homebuyer demand rating…was easily the strongest sequential gain in our survey history…Strength continues to be led by the entry-level…While high-end demand is less robust in an absolute sense, there has also been relative improvement, with contacts attributing incremental improvement to the stock market’s rebound, record low mortgage rates and luxury customers trading out of high-priced cities.”
- The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index
The index reveals that builder confidence has returned to levels last seen prior to the pandemic:
“In a strong signal that the housing market is ready to lead a post-COVID economic recovery, builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes jumped 14 points to 72 in July, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). The HMI now stands at the solid pre-pandemic reading in March before the outbreak affected much of the nation.”
- The realtor.com Housing Market Recovery Index
This index leverages a weighted average of four key components of the housing industry, tracking each of the following:
Housing Demand – Growth in online search activity
Home Price – Growth in asking prices
Housing Supply – Growth of new listings
Pace of Sales – Difference in time-on-market
It then compares the current status “to the last week of January 2020 market trend, as a baseline for pre-COVID market growth. The overall index is set to 100 in this baseline period. The higher a market’s index value, the higher its recovery and vice versa.”
The latest results came in at 101, with realtor.com explaining: “The U.S. Housing Market has recovered from the immediate disruption caused by the COVID pandemic and returned to January 2020 growth levels.”
Real estate brokers, home builders, and industry data all agree that the housing market has surged back to pre-COVID levels, showing growth, strength, and incredible resilience.
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Over the past several weeks, Freddie Mac has reported the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate dropping to record lows, all the way down to 3.03%. Last week’s reported rate reached the lowest point in the history of the survey, which dates back to 1971.
What does this mean for buyers?
This is huge for homebuyers. Those currently taking advantage of the increasing affordability that comes with historically low interest rates are winning big. According to Sam Khater, Chief Economist at Freddie Mac:
“The summer is heating up as record low mortgage rates continue to spur homebuyer demand.”
In addition, move.com notes:
“Summer home buying season is off to a roaring start. As buyers flooded into the market, realtor.com® monthly traffic hit an all-time high of 86 million unique users in June 2020, breaking May’s record of 85 million unique users. Realtor.com® daily traffic also hit its highest level ever of 7 million unique users on June 25, signaling that despite the global pandemic buyers are ready to make a purchase.”
Clearly, buyers are capitalizing on today’s low rates. As shown in the chart below, the average monthly mortgage payment decreases significantly when rates are as low as they are today.
A lower monthly payment means savings that can add up significantly over the life of a home loan. It also means that qualified buyers may be able to purchase more home for their money. Maybe that’s a bigger home than what they’d be able to afford at a higher rate, an increasingly desirable option considering the amount of time families are now spending at home given today’s health crisis.
If you’re in a position to buy a home this year, it’s a great time to reach out to a local real estate professional to initiate the process while mortgage rates are historically low.
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