Mike Simonsen is the founder and president of real estate analytics firm Altos Research, which has provided national and local real estate data to financial institutions, real estate professionals, and investors across the country for more than 15 years. An expert trendspotter, Mike uses Altos data to identify market shifts months before they hit the headlines.
So a month ago, just one month ago, when we did this webinar, the story at the time was we had an abrupt slowdown in demand and we could see supply building across the country, inventory rising in all markets, across the country, especially the hottest markets.
And we'll talk a lot of today about places like Boise, Idaho, and Austin, Texas, and Phoenix. So just one month ago we saw demand slowing and supply increasing. What's really fascinating is in that one month, suddenly we are no longer seeing inventory rise. So demand is definitely cooled off, but half of that supply/demand equation has now stopped. It slowed down. I used in our weekly video this week the phrase soft landing and like, do we have a soft landing for the real estate market?
And really the context I was thinking about there is that we have big adjustments in all kinds of financial markets around the world. The stock market had been way down, the interest rates spiking very quickly. And so the fear, my fear in particular was does the real estate market in the US have a real hard adjustment coming, a big crash or a deep cut? With that fear in mind I was watching demand slow down, supply climb up, and that fear has started to build now a month later.
Though, all of a sudden supply isn't climbing. Or it's not climbing very much so all of a sudden, so the interpretation I have changes. And so all of a sudden, I go from a fear of a big crash to not so fearful.
Using the phrase soft landing is very triggering for a lot of people because it brings back shades of 2006 and 2007. When a lot of people were sitting in my chair here talking about the housing market, saying there's a soft landing coming. And so it turns out using that phrase was very triggering for people. But the context I'm interested in, the context that we have here at Altos Research in particular is what's happening with the real estate market right now, what's happening with the data that we can see.
I'm not skillful at forecasting recessions or interest rates, or all, any other kind of macro global financial markets; it's way above my pay grade. So what we're looking at is the active real estate market that we can see right now. And we can tell what that tells us about the future.
So with that in mind, it's a fast changing real estate market. And it is entirely likely that the buyers and sellers, the investors, the people that you're working with right now do not know the latest changes. And that's what we're going to talk about today.
Altos Research as you know, tracks every home for sale in the country. We track all the pricing, all the supply and demand, all the changes in that data. And we make it available to you before you see it in the traditional channels.
And what is that data telling us right now?
Well, inventory growth has slowed. It's slowed pretty abruptly in July, and it looks like that's continuing in August and I'll show you what that means and what that means for our projections, for the rest of the year, how it sets up 2023.
Demand though is still way down. And we know that demand is down. We know though that mortgage rates are way off their peak. So that may help with demand. We also know that their buyers are buying. The ones that are in a position where they need to buy a home, it's time to buy a home. The life event type people are buying.
There are a lot of economic fears out there, and those fears are causing, especially people like investors to sit on the sidelines and wait. And so you can see that demand down.
So what we don't have is supply up and demand down. What we really have is supply is now flattening, even though demand is down. So it's a different equation than we had even one month ago. We're going to talk about all the leading indicators and ones we can see we're going to spend some time in the local markets, because there are some of those local markets that are acting very differently.
And then and of course all through the conversation, we want to be able to help buyers and sellers make their decisions right now, everybody's afraid. And they're likely now using the headlines from May, June and July, which were much more scary about the real estate data than the data actually looks right now. So it's a really fascinating opportunity and the market's changing super fast. So first let's dive into some data.
Mortgage rates. As of last week, it was back under 5%, still significantly higher than it was a year ago, and buyers know it, but they may not know that it's off of the peak of just a month ago. It's unclear to me yet how much the difference between 6% and 5% actually stimulates demand.
People are afraid of coming recession. They're afraid of inflation. So there's a really bearish view of the economy and the expectations of the economy. And so, as a result, people are hesitant they're hesitant to make a big transaction like buying real estate. The what's fascinating is that the data is in the economy is actually pretty good. So the gross domestic product has actually fallen two quarters in a row a little bit but everybody's employed.
We have record employment levels and we have the inflation numbers for July reported, no increase in inflation in July. So like there are signals that inflation has peaked yet everybody's still really bearish. So what that says to us is that the buyers who are willing to look at the data may actually have better opportunities than those who are afraid to take the track, the opportunity right now.
So rates are down as I've said before, I don't have any ability to predict where rates go from here. They are way off their peak and they are reflective of the market's view of future economic strength. And so you could imagine that hanging around in this 5% range is significantly easier than hanging around in the 6% range for buyers.
By the way, in recent Top of Mind podcasts, I've talked with Len Kiefer from Freddie Mac, and Len is amazing as an economist and as a person who helps us visualize the data. And we talk about how he does his visualizations as well as Freddie Mac's forecast for the economy and the housing and the mortgage markets in the coming years. So that's a new, out a couple of weeks ago, that forecast report from Freddy Mac Len.
I had a great conversation with Kevin Oakley last week. And Kevin Oakley runs a new construction marketing platform and new home marketing platform. And what Kevin is pointing out is what they can see about demand for new construction. We talk about how that translates into the Altos data and what you can see here. So if you haven't yet listened to the Top of Mind podcast, it's where you get all your podcasts. It's also on our YouTube channel. So go check out those two. They're really, really great. And we got more upcoming Top of Minds coming up soon, too. Let's get into some more data.
This week there are 544,000 single family homes available unsold on the market. If you look at this chart over the last seven or eight years a couple of big trends stick out. One is we know that inventory has generally been falling over the past several past decades. As Americans have owned more homes as investment properties and resell them less frequently.
So inventory has kept falling dramatically during the pandemic. And this spring, inventory climbed very rapidly. And a month ago was the story. It was wow, is inventory going to get back to a million homes very quickly? Was supply going to climb at the same time as demand was falling. It looked so even just a month ago.
The growth in inventory has actually turned the corner. April, May, June steep up uptick, then July and August now has turned sideways. And so that's what normally happens in August. But normal in August is now surprising because it was rising very rapidly. So in April, May, June inventory was rising 6% to 8% per week by July. That was 3% to 4% per week. Now in August, it's less than 1% per week. And this coming week looks like it's going to be another flat, barely uptick in inventory.
Rates rose very quickly, inventory rose very quickly. This model still allows for a pretty big inventory increase in August, but we're not seeing them. So right now we forecast about 535,000 single family homes available on the market to start the next year. That'd be more than we'd had in a couple of years, but still way fewer than normal pre-pandemic. What the data's starting to show us now is that we're probably going to have to revise this in this forecast.
Because the forecast peaks of the next few weeks, aren't materializing. And so that's going to probably bring that down. and it's funny because even a few weeks ago, I shared this forecast. I shared it out on YouTube and Twitter, and I had a lot of really smart people say to me, Mike, I'll take the over. You're too low. And I got nervous. I said, we've shared 535K and it's too low, but all of a sudden 535K feels too high.
It's really fascinating. So this is one of the indicators it's showing us that inventory is not climbing as rapidly. So why is that?
It is my interpretation that what's happening is we have homeowners and no homeowners in the country are in bad shape. Everybody has super cheap mortgages that they locked in at 3%. And so if I'm that seller and I'm afraid of a cooling housing market, or if I'm that owner and I'm afraid of a cooling housing market, or I am afraid of a recession in the future, I am holding back. I don't feel compelled to sell.
One of the things that would create a surge in new inventory would be sellers who are panicking. I'm not going to be able to make my mortgage payment, or I already can't, I've lost my job and I can't make my mortgage payment. None of those things are true. So we don't have panic selling. So we only have sellers who are in those life events who are saying it's time to sell. We, I think in June, in particular, we had some sellers who were thinking of selling this year and decided to list earlier.
So it pulled inventory forward and it made the inventory rise faster in June, because if you were thinking, you're like, I want to get out before it gets worse. And now those are gone. Our inventory's not climbing that much. And it's really fascinating what this means when you're talking with buyers, well, buyers and sellers, but especially buyers right now is there may be a lot of buyers who've been in the, I can wait, I'm going to have more selection. I can wait because we know that the market's cooling, I have cash, but everybody else is going to be worried. and so I'm going to have more selection. What this shows us is that buyers, as we finished the year and we start next year, we'll have more selection than they did during our crazy pandemic frenzy.
But there's no signal yet that they're going to have a lot of selection. The signal is they will have more, but it's not spiking. And so if you have buyers who are saying, well, I can wait because the longer I wait, the better it's going to be.
That's not necessarily true anymore. The data is showing us that inventory is climbing, but it's not going to be that big. And when I talked about that soft landing, this is what I was talking about. Inventory is not spiking, and it's not going to get back up to the previous years up at the top of this chart here, it's going to curve back down now.
What if we go into a big recession, if we hit a recession, lots of big job losses people worried about their jobs, extended unemployment times. That's when people have to start selling their home and that condition maybe comes in 2023.
Maybe it comes at the end of 2022 that a lot of people expect recession to happen. But right now everybody has their jobs. So if a big recession happens the impact on inventory happens like this. The big losing the job experience happens, then I'm out of work for maybe a few months, and now I can't make my mortgage payment anymore. And so then as another, at least 90 days of me not making or being afraid to so before I start a foreclosure process or a for sale process with the bank, so there's at least six months, but it's probably more like a year before inventory climbs as a result of a big job loss recession. And so what that says is that if the job losses start happening soon, let's say before the end of the year it's at least it's probably at least late next year or into 2024, before we see any inventory results of a big job loss recession.
And that's why we can have this forecast of 535K is probably high to start the next year. And so for buyers, that's the message, right? Inventory climbed a bit, but it is no longer climbing. And so if you find a home that you like that you can afford buy the home, it doesn't make sense. The data doesn't make sense that to wait longer for some kind of better deal, maybe you're going to time the market. That's my guidance there.
Immediate Sales Tracker
We can see the listing volume in our immediate sales tracker. The immediate sales tracker watches all the homes that get listed each week. And some of those homes go into contract immediately like hours or days. And that's still actually happening a little bit for the best properties that are well priced.
Earlier in the year, there are a lot of immediate sales and that lightweight portion has now shrunk down to fewer sales, 16,000 this week, immediate sales. But we can also see that after the 4th of July the whole volume of new listings went way, way back, and it hasn't spiked back up.
And then this, these are the sellers who are deciding I don't have to sell on a bad market. I don't have to sell if I'm worried about the future, I don't have to sell if the demand isn't there anymore.
And so that's really, you can see that pretty abrupt change in our listing inventory there as a percentage. One of the things I've been tracking is, you know, the immediate sales were the defining characteristic of our pandemic frenzy. We had like a third of homes getting going into contract immediately after listing and all of a sudden we're down to about 17% of homes going into contract. I expected expected that would fall down 10% or something even fewer later this year. It seems to have leveled off in the last few weeks, percentage wise last fall, the percentage actually increased which was interesting as demand picked up last fall. It'll be fascinating to see where this goes, but it's probably healthier to have fewer immediate sales.
Because some homes are really nice. They're priced really well. They're really rare and boom, they get offers really quickly and that's going to be in any market. So we'll watch this tracker over time.
And that brings us to the medium price of single family homes in the US is just under $450,000 this week and down just a fraction from the last week, but it's been hovering at this $450,000 range for the last month or so. And you know, each summer we tend to have a plateau of homes get priced right around that threshold. There are some place, some of those local markets, which we'll look at in a minute to show where some of those where prices have started to adjust down and will likely need to come back down to get into more equilibrium.
Each week, new homes get listed. And as a group, they tell us the future because sellers know where the demand is. They know where the other houses were bought. They know which ones weren't bought. And so when the sellers and listing agents list their new home, they price that really close to where they need to. So when the price of the new listings drops, then that is a signal that buyers are backing off.
The first and second quarter, that was the frenzy time. That's because you go listing and I'm going to list it higher because we had 50 offers on the last house. And so you could see how the sellers respond to that. So now that new listings prices backed off, but percentage wise it hasn't backed off very significantly. It's not a scary amount each year.
It's very common for this time of year for the new listings, because it's late summer. If I list now, I'm going to list it a little discount to make sure it doesn't sit around the market. School's starting, we have all of those timing things. So it's very common to have that drop back.
I've been watching the price of the new listings to make sure it doesn't drop extraordinarily. Like that would be a signal of really, really weak demand. But my suspicion is we have as our inventory tops out then sellers are going to realize there's not that many options for buyers.
And so I can price precisely where I need to. So that's what the prices are telling us right now. I have talked about in this webinar previously, because we have year over year inventory growth that typically implies flat pricing for another year in the future. So based on the fact that we now have 30% more homes on the market right now than we did last year at this time. And that tells us that by next summer, there really isn't a lot of room for prices to go up past 450. I think this'll probably be our peak maybe for two years.
Likely to be nationally either zero in home price appreciation or a little bit up, or a little bit below, a little bit, depending on your market, but that's likely the scenario we're seeing. Probably going to peak here for two years.
I talk in these videos and the webinars a lot about all the different Altos data and how to interpret it with clients, I try to help help everyone understand the best way that buyers and sellers can take advantage of it. We have written an ebook. If you haven't already downloaded the ebook, it's a free ebook. The ebook talks about how to use market data in your business scripts strategies. So go ahead and go download that. If you haven't already.
Let's do some more demand indicators. The percentage of homes on the market that have taken a price reduction is now at 37% of the whole market has taken a price reduction from their original list price. It climbed very rapidly this spring and it still has room to climb. There's still lots more price reductions. You know, there almost it was like 95% of the homes on the market have been listed for less than a less than six months.
Six months ago, people were buying everything. So it's really, you know, the longest homes on the market have only been on the market for a couple of months. So there's still more price reductions to be had. But what we're watching here is the slope of this.
Reductions always climb in August. And the thing we're going to be keeping our eye on is can we see it start to peak so that it can reset for the fall? And I think we will. If you have sellers right now, the message that the price reductions data gives us is that we want to be in front of this curve, not behind this curve. We want to price the home properly when we list it. We don't want to be sitting around for four months and then do our price cut because we're going to be in a worse situation there. So 38% next week, 40%, 39, 40% by into September, probably a little over 40%.
40% of the homes on the market are going to take a price cut, be a significant number, be a lot. It won't be panicky. I'm going to show you the local markets where it is a lot right now, I have a stack rank of the Metro markets with the greatest price reductions.
Currently right at the top is Boise. And Boise was one of the hottest markets that had big inbound migration, had a lot of like Californians buying site unseen overbidding. Earlier this year, only 13% of the Boise market had a price reduction. And then all of a sudden 59% of the homes on the market in Boise have had a price reduction that is significantly slower.
That is an indicator of the change in demand and in a forecast that home prices in Boise are going to adjust down and they have already started. And we'll see where they get to, we're going to see how high this peaks, but that's a significant slowdown.
Phoenix, similar thing, you know, we had 19% of the homes with price reductions. A year ago was only 15%. And now it's 56% of the homes on the market in Phoenix have had price reductions. So for sellers, you know, to get in front of this for buyers, this is our opportunity. We know that the demand has slowed. It's the first time we've had buyer opportunity in two years in Phoenix, like that is really significant.
We see it in Austin. We see it in the Utah markets because Salt Lake City had the big immigration. Denver, and then the Florida markets, there's nothing surprising here. Like these were all of the same, big pandemic boost markets. This is the change in demand in those markets at that time. What's fascinating though.
Salt Lake may be the biggest change of the year, in February only 8% of the homes in Salt Lake had taken a price cut and now 48%. I'll show you in a minute, when we go back for some more local market data, the inventory in these markets looks like it's topped out just like it has nationwide. So the supply side does not appear to be growing any time significantly in these markets.
If you have buyers on the sidelines with cash, especially investor buyers, that's probably a different narrative than they have in their head right now. They probably think inventory is climbing and demand has fallen off a cliff. And so you might have the opportunity to point out that, you know, if you're a buyer, it's definitely better than it was, but it doesn't look like it's going to get significantly better from here in the foreseeable future.
Okay. Let's switch back. Let's do a few more data points were then do some more deep dives into the local markets. One of the things I've been watching for is, in a market where has demand really tanked, the percent of the homes that have been re-listed. These are ones that go into contract and fall out, or that maybe didn't have a second backup offer. And for a while in June, we could see it had started to climb climb higher than it had been in several years.
By the way, there's a lot of re-lists around the holidays because listings expire, they pull it off over the holidays and then they re-list in January. So you see some spikes at the beginning of the year, but if they started climbing now that'd be a real signal of weakening demand and a real bear signal for future transaction prices. We haven't seen re-lists climbing very much. It climbed a little bit, but not very much. And so that's another thing that is a signal for my soft landing comment earlier this week. And so that's an important thing to keep our eye on.
Pending vs Active
And if that starts climbing, you know, that will be a new view for the future on the pending versus active view. And it's been wild because we've been in this period for a few years of more homes under contract than were on the active market. That's nuts and doesn't ever happen. So we're now in this space where inventory is more, pendings are fewer. And you can see that total number of sales will be less than last year. We have fewer in contract than last year.
And so if you're interested in things like the total sales volume, like we can see that ticking down. But as inventory peaks as well, that's also going to make it harder for more of those pendings to happen.
On the leading indicator side, the percentage of homes with price increases is about as low as we've seen it in many, many years. These are homes where investors are buying the home, maybe put a little bit of money in fix and flip, put it back on the market at a higher price.
Sometimes this is a marketing decision. And at the beginning of this year, we had, you know, a bunch of people who are still selling into that significant demand that we had in the first quarter. And that's all gone.
This is really a signal of investors backing out of the market. They're afraid they don't want to do that transaction. It doesn't make sense to re-list homes at higher prices. Price increases is starting to hold steady at about 1.9%. If you bought a home and you fixed it up and you put it back on the market, that is a real transaction and that's an opportunity. So if that falls closer to zero, that's going to be a leading indicator of future transaction prices.
So right now it's down, the slope isn't continuing to be down. So again, this is where it's looking like a significantly cooler, but not hard landing.
Days on Market
Market time is climbing. Market time, days on market is climbing. We're over a month median days for every home in the market, in every home in the country right now. It's the first time since the early part of the year. Over a month.
Days on market always climbs this time of year. It takes longer to sell in the late summer and in the fall. But it has been so remarkably low that this transition feels really scary for a lot of sellers. It's certainly climbing. It is climbing, at the higher price ranges, faster than it is for the more affordable ranges. And we can see it here in our market segments, our price range quartiles.
At Altos we do every market in four price range segments. The high end of the market may be behaving very differently from the low end. In the middle of the market demand has been in this 300 to 600 range, 500, right in the middle of the market had the fewest days on market. The lowest stuff, the stuff under 200,000 or in the Northeast those are under a hundred thousand dollars. Those are the older homes and in poor condition. And those typically take longer to sell.
But what's happening right now is the stuff over a million bucks you can see days on market has climbed. It's now higher in the second quartile. And so we can really see the demand shifting lower in the lower price points, more affordable price points, you know, and it's really probably a function of higher interest rates. We shift the affordability point down as the cost of money climbs. And we can look at, at the quartiles in some of the local charts too.
Altos Research Market Action Index
The market action index is an at-a-glance measure of "how's the market?" across the US. The market action has been so high because inventory has been so low. It has been at record levels for two years. And now it's ticking down month by month, and it's a really significant change.
What's fascinating is that the market action index in most of the Altos reports still says seller's market conditions. It still says seller's market conditions primarily because inventory is still, in most of those places, significantly lower than the average level of the last 10 years. And we still have fewer homes for sale in most of those markets.
So two things you can point to with clients when you use the market action index.
- One is that we can see this month is lower than last month. It's ticking down.
- That means inventory is climbing demand is weakening.
So while we have your house listed, we're going to watch this market action index every week. It's still technically seller's condition, because it's actually not that many homes for sale. But it's falling and it's falling because that's the market telling us that demand is actually ticking down each week. And therefore we need to price your house properly. We need to price your house right. So we don't get behind this curve. We want to be in front of this curve. But while we have your house listed, I want you to, I'm going to put this report in your inbox every Monday. I want you to look at this one number because that's going to be the market telling us exactly what's going on.
Local Real Estate Data
All right, let's switch over to some local data to wrap it up this week. I've been talking a lot about supply and how supply has been climbing, but is now starting to turn the corner. So I have a stack rank here of available inventory of homes for sale across the country.
Most homes in Texas, you could see every one of these markets climbing quickly, here's Arizona with a really steep climb. Florida now has more homes for sale than California because that's been climbing, but even for the Florida markets it has ticked over and is not climbing a ton each week.
We can go down and I talked about the change in Utah, in Salt Lake City. So Salt Lake City, you can see has probably the steepest climb here Utah of all these charts. But even in Utah, probably that inventory growth is slowing.
Boise Real Estate Data
Here's Boise. We talked about Boise. Boise was one of the hottest markets of the last several years. And the first thing we can do is we can see the market action index, just slight sellers advantage and falling rapidly. In Boise we have we can see the median price here. This little pip here is from last year, at this time. And we're just basically back to where we were last year at this time. So this part of the first quarter frenzy is gone.
We talked a little bit earlier about if a recession hits. If a recession hits ,the people that are at risk are the people that bought in these hottest markets in this quarter if they then go on to lose their job. And there's a pretty narrow set of people who are in a risky place there and especially those that maybe finance with FHA mortgages, who tend to have slightly riskier credit profiles and less down payment. But really the only the people that are at risk people who bought back here. We have a long way to go to adjust back down price wise for the folks in Boise, because it climbs so high, but prices are adjusting down.
Here is the percentage of homes on the market with price decreases. And I talked about this as a leading indicator for future transactions. So normally 40%, 45% in Boise. Last fall, we had some price reductions and then it got hot again. So we're now at 59% of the homes on the market in Boise with price reductions. And that shows yes, we have significantly more buying opportunity because there's significantly less competition. But if we look the latest inventory numbers, you'd see inventory here in June was rising really rapidly, a little bit in July. And now it's just slowing down a little bit. So you know that this is the message nationwide.
Tampa Real Estate Data
Let's look at Tampa. Tampa's another place where, you know, we can see prices coming off their peak starting to adjust back down as demand cools. You can see the seller's market in Tampa taking way down. Your buyers in Tampa they feel this, they know, and your sellers, they know. This is ticking down. This is the market action index. They know inventory is climbing and demand is falling. They know it.
What they maybe don't know is the last few weeks, this has kind of gone sideways, which means that supply demand ratio is leveling out. It fell really rapidly in the first and second quarter, but it doesn't look like it's tanking right now. It looks like from July up, down, up down. And so it's a significant change. It like turns the corner. And so buyers and sellers in Tampa and a lot of these markets probably don't recognize this change yet. They're still feeling this big decline. And we can keep our eye on is this the weekly data.
Ohio Real Estate Data
Let's look at Ohio real quick. So Ohio being sort of the opposite of Boise and Tampa and Phoenix. Less on the upside and less on the downside. So we have here's prices in Ohio, see prices in Ohio are still at their peak. They haven't backed off yet. We can look at price reductions in Ohio: climbing, but climbing into the thirties, a very normal range from the high twenties, but not climbing into the fifties. We can see inventory climbing.
But let's look at Ohio inventory over time. And so now we look at Ohio inventory over time and still have way fewer homes available. So this is true, not just Ohio, but a lot of the Midwest and Northeast markets are in a significantly different position than the big pandemic boom markets.
So as a result buyers in Ohio, if they're looking at headlines that are talking about Salt Lake City and Phoenix and thinking the market's crashing, it's a very different, very different message to give in a place like Ohio.
Austin Real Estate Data
The market action index for Austin is falling. It's falling rapidly here from last month to this month slight seller's advantage because frankly, while inventory's climbing, it's still not that much compared to history. The market action index was as high as we can measure it several times last year. That's a hundred on our scale. And then, and it dropped really rapidly. And now it's moving sideways and does not appear to be crashing further from here.
And so that's a signal, like I said, that your buyers and sellers probably don't know. We're going to have this report in your inbox every Monday and I want you to watch. So if you are sitting on the sidelines and you're a buyer and you think you're going to get more opportunity, keep your eye on this, because this will be telling you if your opportunity is climbing or starting to settle out. If we find the home, maybe it's time to take action.
Okay, let's wrap up there.
We talk a ton about the data here. I can only hit a few of the local markets, but at Altos, we track real estate data for every zip code in the country. And if you are working with buyers and sellers right now in your neighborhood, you really need to get them the data. The message even from one month ago is different.
You can go to AltosResearch.com. You can get started right now. We can have data in your hands today, in your customer's hands today. If you have people who've been waiting, if you have investors who are on the sidelines. All of these kinds of conversations is really what they need to hear right now. So go to AltosResearch.com and start up right now. If you want to have time and investigate local markets, you can book a free consultation with our team.
That's all the data we have time for today. We'll see you next week on the YouTube channel. Keep your eyes open for the Top of Mind podcast and we'll do another webinar next month. So we'll see you all then.
All right, everybody. Thank you so much.