Saturday, March 28, 2020

Five Takeaways - COVID-19 and the Los Angeles Real Estate and Mortgage Market

COVID 19 and Real Estate 2020

What Do We Know So Far About the Real Estate Market and Mortgages in 2020

We are all taught that history should be our guide as we head fearlessly into the future. Unfortunately, in 2020 there is precious little that we can look to for guidance, as so many things are clearly happening for the first time:
  • A World-wide pandemic, but in an era of advanced medicine and fast computers. If this were really the Spanish Flu, we could predict 200,000,000 dead and plan around that. But our technology will probably keep that number to 200,000 world wide. Just another bad flu season.
  • A shut down of economies around the world with no clear starting date for reopening. 
  • Real estate in LA at all time highs after running up for over 10 years. But interest rates are at historical lows, and inventory is almost non-existent. This set of data has been true for several years, but the statistics are even more extreme this year than in the past 10 years. 
  • Almost no new listings, no open houses, no shoppers, and deals collapsing. 
Some pundits are looking to 2008 as the comparison, but that was an economic collapse specifically associated with a housing bubble.

More realistic would be to look at the 911 terror attack and the related panic. The stock market recovered within two months. Because this crisis has a longer time of uncertainty and has a more direct impact on more people, the stock market is likely to remain depressed until the US is getting back to work. However, it wouldn't be shocking to see the Dow back to 30,000 by the end of 2020.

Housing is likely to follow a similar trend. Once the US starts back to work and folks relax about their future, shoppers will likely head to open houses again, and sellers will call agents to get their listings started. Timing? President Trump says Easter. Bill gates says end of May. Take your pick, but it seems likely that the country will be moving towards recovery during that period.

What to do now?

  1. If you are a seller, and you need to sell, put it on the market. But you are likely to get a lower price today than you will in June. If you don't need to sell today, wait until May to list. 
  2. If you are a buyer, there are probably some great deals out there. Interest rates are at historic lows, and this might be a great time to go bargain hunting. 
  3. You might want to refinance at this point. Four reasons to do so: Drop the interest rate on your current mortgage and lower your payments; take cash out to pay off higher interest loans, help your business, or remodel; Get rid of FHA or PMI which might save you $1000 or more per year; Change to a 15-year mortgage with very low rates.
  4. If you are going to sell right now, take your time to find a great realtor. You will want someone very aggressive who is using state-of-the-art methods like virtual tours. 
  5. If you need a mortgage for refinance or for a purchase, you'll need an outstanding lender at this time. The banks are overwhelmed with applications for refinance. Call Bill Rayman at 310-453-4016. He will take the time to walk you carefully through your choices and make sure you get the perfect loan for your needs in these unusual times. 
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310-453-4016
Bill@rate.com
https://MortgageHelpLosAngeles.com

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Saturday, January 11, 2020

Lower End of Los Angeles Housing Market, $750,000 to $1.5 Million, Is Active Early in 2020

Prices Are High, but Everyone Needs Housing. Renting in LA Is Popular, but Very Likely a Poor Financial Choice

newly weds in their new house

After writing and reporting about the housing market for over a decade (and commonly getting it right except for interest rates), predicting 2020 is childsplay. We know that there are eight major factors at work that tend to set prices: Inventories, affordability, interest rates, population trends, projected new housing, current pricing, the economy, and the rent vs buy equation. Another factor has also played a part at times - investors, including foreign buyers.

If you need a mortgage, call Bill Rayman right now at (323) 682-0385.

If you take a quick look at each of those, seven of the eight would bode very well for continued increases in prices and flat-to-increasing sales as inventory allows:

  • Inventory is still very low
  • The economy is still red hot
  • The population is bursting with new families
  • New housing starts in the pipeline are generally insufficient to meet overall demand
  • Interest rates are low, and likely to continue low through 2020 into 2021.
  • Increasing housing prices in LA are now about even with increases in wages
  • Investors are back, looking to capitalize on excellent rental markets
  • Foreign investment is the only questionable issue. Chinese investment slowed in 2019, and isn't likely to return unless trade agreements are signed.

A huge factor doesn’t really fit with the above. This would be the rent vs buy equation. Generally, as rents rise, tenants consider buying. Of course, as rents rise, investors are willing to pay more for rental properties, and builder are attracted to build more. Lots of moving parts there. The reality is that very, very few markets have anywhere close to enough affordable housing when you combine owned and rented units, and there isn’t enough being built to catch up with population.

Overall, there is still a huge squeeze on tenants to afford apartments, and many are doubling up who don’t prefer that arrangement. Thus, this 9th issue would point towards more demand for purchased housing.

If these were the only factors at work, you might expect a slight uptick, and that seems to be what we have right now. But, a fantastic article in the NY Times in 2018 provided a few nuances. Moreover, in a shocking development, the letters to the editor provided significant insights, too. Here are some fascinating elements to consider. Each, on their own, would not have much effect on the market, but taken together they might give hints as to future trends.

  1. Grandma still isn’t selling – This is huge and is reducing inventory. But if she sells, she still needs to live somewhere and there is no rental property available at reasonable prices.
  2. Millennials are still living at home – Most reporting after this article suggest that millennials are starting to buy, with the national figures showing 30% of home purchases to mellenials.
  3. Student debt a huge problem – For some professionals this debt is six figures and hurts their ability to borrow or pay. For some middle-class young people, the debt is less substantial, but still cuts into what they can afford.
  4. Very little affordable housing being built – You will hear that new home sales are down, and that homebuilders are despondent. The reality is that they are not building the homes that new families want. This is partly due to the reality that building a smaller home isn’t as profitable, given all the regulations and the cost of land. Affordable housing predicted to go from 20% of new builds to 30%.
  5. Earnings are just starting to improve. Through the first nine years of the recovery, earnings have been very flat. With unemployment so low, it would be odd to see earnings not respond, and now they are. This will improve affordability.
  6. Immigration will increase – legal and illegal. Every nation with low birth rates must increase immigration or their economy will stagnate. One way or the other the US will see more immigrants moving here due to our huge demand for labor. This will increase demand.
  7. Doubling and tripling-up – Singles are commonly living with roommates who would rather not be. This is, of course, due to the cost of rentals. As these individuals find a better job, they will be adding to demand.
  8. End of mortgage deduction - The changes in the tax law that increased the amount of the standard deduction, eliminated a major advantage to ownership. This is a factor right now, but will play itself out. 
  9. Massive housing wealth – Those who owned their home 10 years ago are now sitting on massive amounts of home equity. If these individuals choose to move, they have substantial down payments, whether they are moving up or downsizing. 
  10. The millennials and Z gen are not that different than the boomers or X gen that went before. Their folks and other relatives are likely to be needed for down payment help. The good news is that the older generation has massive equity, and may have also created additional wealth through the soaring stock market.
  11. Concentrations in major urban areas – In the major tech cities, prices are high due to lack of new places to build. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, NYC, and other such cities can only build up. While these areas may see some relaxation in rental pricing over the next two or three years, it will only be a pause.   
  12. Lower expenses in other home budget areas beside housing – This is a huge factor in the last 25 years. We are spending less and less AS A PERCENT OF TOTAL INCOME on food, cars, clothes, entertainment, travel, children, and almost every other category of expense. This frees up dollars to be spent on housing. The result is that the average individual or family has more money to compete in the market.
For instance, if a family used to spend on average 70% of their $50,000 a year income on everything but housing, they would have $15,000 a year to spend on housing. If their cost for everything else dropped to 50%, then they have $25,000 to spend on housing. This provides more buying power, and therefore more competition for scarce resources. Put another way, we aren’t spending 50% on housing because we have to. We are spending 50% because we can.

2020 Housing Forecast


Where does all this leave us? What might 2019 bring in sales and prices in 2019?

  • Location, location, location – Real estate will still be about location in 2020. Crazy high rents and prices for luxury apartments and condos in some major cities are likely to soften. The same can’t be said for middle and affordable housing. This will likely be steady to up. There is some indication of softening in the very high-end luxury market.
  • In Los Angeles, January activity in 2020 is already looking like March with multiple offers.
  • Areas with lots of building, such as the Inland Empire in Southern California, may see slackening demand for resales, but the demand is great due to outward migration from the urban and suburban areas where prices are much higher. Therefore, don’t expect much downward pressure on pricing, and rents will continue up.
  • Suburbs that are fully built out will likely see continued increases if the business climate holds.
  • Sales will follow established patterns. Activity will bounce up in March with excellent sales in the Spring. However, by Spring their might be the lowest inventory levels ever.
  • The Fed is unlikely to move up or down on interest rates. Once the reality of historically normal interest rates has sunk in, some buyers will move off the sidelines.
  • Days on market will decrease to historic lows.

Maybe you have a very different opinion. Please leave your comments below.

If you need a mortgage, call Bill Rayman right now at (323) 682-0385.  Bill specializes in tailoring a mortgage to fit your needs. When you work with someone like Bill, you will realize that there are many, many products on the market, and one size does not fit everyone. Call (323) 682-0385

Friday, July 5, 2019

I’m house shopping. What do I need to know about mortgages?

street signs (mortgage)


Now that’s a big, big question with 100’s of variations on the answer.

Let’s hit some big ones:

1     The standard mortgage is a 30-year fixed, meaning the interest rate is fixed and can’t go up or down in the future. Commonly, homeowners will provide a 20% cash down payment if the home is to be used as a residence. 25% is common if to be used as a rental. However, it is possible to pay more or less down. If you pay less than 20%, you may need to buy insurance to protect the lender from default. 

      You might buy the insurance from the FHA or from a private insurer.

   You can get a loan for other lengths of time. 20-year and 15-year are standard, but 40-year and 10-year are available. The longer the term, the higher the interest rate.

3     You can acquire an adjustable rate loan. These loans start out with a fixed interest rate for 5-10 years that is under market for fixed loans, thereby reducing your monthly payment in the first few years. At the end of the fixed period, the interest rate is set based on an index, and your payments are higher. The interest rate and the payment is generally reset every six months or year.

4     You will need to prove your ability to repay the loan. The decision maker is called an underwriter, and he/she will look to your income, credit outstanding, credit rating, and other factors to determine if you would be a good customer for them. 

You might want to talk to Bill Rayman about your plans. He has tons of experience working with folks just like you that are weighing their options and trying to decide which is the smartest way to manage buying a home that makes sense.


Call Bill today at (424) 354-5325  

Check out his website at MortageHelpLosAngeles.com 
or see his reviews at 
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Should I refinance my mortgage to get cash out for home improvements, travel, or investments?



Eiffel tower and fireworks


Many of us have lots of our net worth tied up in our homes. Sometimes we wish it was easier to access that equity for something fun: travel, room addition, starting a business, invest somewhere with higher rate of return or more liquidity. 

You could borrow on a credit card or take a HELOC, but these have higher, even much higher interest rates.

Since the only way you can borrow money at 3.75% interest or less (as of rates when this was written) is through a mortgage, there are plenty of great ways to manage your finances through a new loan. However, there is a cost to taking out a new loan, so the cost of the loan should be considered along with the better interest rate.

You also want to consider that a student loan, car loan, or even credit card can be paid off in a very short time, thereby reducing the overall interest paid compared to paying for something over a 30-year time span. 

You might want to talk to Bill Rayman about your plans. He has tons of experience working with folks just like you that are weighing their options and trying to decide which is the smartest way to manage finances and still have the money to do fun things. 

Call Bill today at (424) 354-5325  

Check out his website at MortageHelpLosAngeles.com or see his reviews at 

https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&channel=cus&q=bill+rayman#lrd=0x80c2bb44de982149:0x1b6d38585f35e6cb,1,,,

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Friday, June 14, 2019

Five Fantastic Opportunities for You Now that 30-year Fixed Mortgage Interest Rates Are Under 4% Again


 
Mortgage rates 2019

Mortgage Rates Down 1% in 2019. Fed Is Signalling Even Lower Rates Ahead

No one, not a single pundit, predicted in 2018 that we would have falling interest rates this year. But truth is often stranger than fiction. Today we have rates that are, on average, one point lower than they were just seven months ago at 3.85 vs 5.05. To make matters even more interesting, the market currently believes that the Federal Reserve is going to cut rates once or twice before the end of 2019 or early 2020. We could be on our way to 3.5%, 30-year fixed rates.

How might this effect you and your plans:

1.     If you are planning to buy a home, this may be a really good time. We have just found out how inexact the science can be when it comes to predicting future rates. Many are now predicting that rates will stay low for quite some time, but it doesn’t take much to turn that corner again.
2.     If you are planning to sell your home or other residential property, the buyers have more buying power, by a lot. You are much more likely to have more traffic, and your traffic will qualify for more home than they would have six months ago. This means you are likely to get more for your home.
3.     If you bought a home between January of 2018 and March of 2019, you may be able to refinance that purchase and save. Generally, if you can shave even ½%, you can benefit from refinancing your loan.
4.     If you have current debt from credit cards, cars, student loans, Hero loans, or other debt with an interest rate above 7%, it may be to your benefit to consolidate your debt in a refinance of your entire loan, rather than using a HELOC. This will be especially true if your current mortgage interest rate is above 4.25 and you have outstanding debts of $25,000 or more.
5.     If you are over 62, you may want to consider a reverse mortgage on your current residence and eliminate future mortgage payments. You might also consider a reverse mortgage for the purchase of a smaller retirement home, also with no future mortgage payments. 

If you are planning to buy a home, now is the time to pick up the phone and get a fully underwritten loan approval before you even start shopping. Bill Rayman can help you with that. Just call (424) 354-5325

If you are planning to refinance your home so that you can get a lower interest rate, add on or remodel, consolidate other debt, or start a business, Bill Rayman can help you get that process started and have the money to you fast!  Call Bill at (424) 354-5325


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Friday, May 3, 2019

2020 Update - Buy vs Rent in Los Angeles Residential Real Estate Market - A Seven Year Study

mortgage rates 2020

With Los Angeles Mortgage Rates Still under 4.00% (March 2020), and Home Prices Still Increasing, Buying Is Still Better


2013
In 2013, we started following a typical Westside home worth $650,000. We now have data through 2017 and while every situation is not the same, the results are pretty clear in this analysis. Buying is better!

 According to Zillow.com the rental value of that home was $3150 a month in 2013.  The estimated mortgage was $2441 based on 20% down and 3.75% 30 year fixed mortgage.  Property taxes and insurance would add another $730.  Maintenance might be $500.  So total out of pocket was around $3700 in 2013.

 
2019

The solid real estate market in Los Angeles continues. And over the past two years the home we have been following did very well. Zillow now says the home is worth $1.2 million. This means the home is generating $125,000 in wealth each year for the past two years. In six years the appreciation has been $550,000 or almost $100,000 per year on an original investment of $130,000 - $150,000. We could stop right there and say the buy story beats the rent story by a country mile. But let's continue with the rest of the data. 

We are only a few weeks in to the COVID-19 pandemic and the accompanying financial upheaval, so it may be too soon to tell. However, lets just do a quick analysis and possibly do another check in June or July. 

In today's market, you will want to go shopping for a home with a completely underwritten pre-approved loan. Bill Rayman can help you get this done. Then once you negotiate a price, all you need to do is get an appraisal and home inspection and the loan is just about ready to close. 



The tax advantage in the 25% tax bracket would come in at around $800 month, so the net advantage to buying was around $250 a month that year. If the house was purchased in 2013, there would have been at least $6000 in closing costs. We’ll spread those over 3 years. That would result in another $166 per month.
Rent vs buy in 2013.  About even.
2014
Zillow says the house is now worth $795,000, for a gain of $145,000. Last year the interest was 3.75%.  Today interest would be 4.5%. Total monthly mortgage would be estimated at $3129 now vs $2441 a year ago. All of these estimates are from Zillow.com, and we can't totally rely on their numbers.  In fact, the rent number seems suspect, as it has dropped from $3150 to $3125.  Government statistics for cost of living specifically associated with rental of a primary residence showed a 2.7% increase in the LA area.  Even so, that would only boost the rent by $90.  My gut tells me that rents are up and that the 2.7% number might be more in line with reality.   If this was a new purchase, there would be a slight bias to the renter of around $300 a month. However, if the home was purchased in 2013, the owner just made $145,000. The renter could have put the 20% down payment in an investment and made 6% on the $130,000 or $7,800.
Rent vs buy in 2014. Cash flow benefit to the renter.  Wealth increase huge win for the buyer
2015
Zillow now says the house is worth $840,000. And increase of $190,000 over the last two years. The rent is up from $3150 to $4000 per month. Markets don’t always act like this, but the tenant would likely be subject to these increases and would now be paying $4000 for rent vs the $2700 they would still be paying for mortgage, property tax, insurance, and repairs if they had purchased in 2013. They would also have a $190,000 capital gain on their $130,000 down payment. The purchase in 2013 would have been a huge success. Of course this capital gain would be offset by costs of purchase and costs of sale if the increase was to be realized rather than just on paper. If we used 10% or $83,000 for that number, we are still $50,000 ahead by the end of year two. In other years this could have gone the other way.

The current mortgage based on a 20% down payment and 4% interest rate would be $3208 with another $900 for property taxes and insurance. Add in $500 for repairs and the total is approximately $4700. Tax savings would be $1000 using the same criteria as above. So the net cash cost per month is $3700 vs rent of $4000.
Of course, every house in every neighborhood will have different results, but Zillow has done an analysis by neighborhood that predicts how long it will take to break even on a purchase vs a rental. Their system is not very sophisticated and does not take into consideration appreciation.
2017

We skipped a year, but how is that same house doing in 2017. Zillow says that the house is now worth $970,000 and the rent is likely to be $4000.
For the owner who purchased in 2013, his out of pocket is now $2900. He has a capital gain of $320,000 which would be reduced by about $50,000 for real estate fees were he to sell. The gain would still be at least $270,000.
The renter who put his $130,000 into an investment returning 6% compounded would have made $34,122.
Owner out of pocket $2900 vs renter out of pocket $4000
Owner ROI $270,000 vs renter ROI $34,122
So, what about buying that home today? Is it still a good deal? With 20% of $194,000 down and a 4.15% mortgage, the monthly payment including taxes and insurance, would be $4700. Add in the $500 for maintenance and subtract the tax IRS advantage of $1200 per month and you have $4000 per month out of pocket, just about equal to the rental amount. The closing costs of $10,000 would result in a the buyer paying about $300 per month more than the renter in the first year. But by year three it is likely that the monthly rent would be up another few hundred dollars, and in year four the amortization of those closing costs would be over (based on our idea to amortize them over 3 years.)
After four years of running this experiment, and even with a supposedly overheated seller’s market in Los Angeles, it seems that buying just makes way more sense than renting. We can imagine scenarios where this would not be the case. The housing market is subject to downturns just like any market. It is possible to imagine this home dropping by $300,000 if there were a typical drop in market values like 1999 or 2008.
Even then, these markets correct, and over time the likelihood is that the home will continue its upward valuation curve. On the other hand the market may continue strong and deliver another $100,000 or so in appreciation over the next three years.
A major issue in the 2017 market was whether you could even get a mortgage in Los Angeles


For the owner who purchased in 2013, his out of pocket is now $3000 per month. He has a capital gain of $550,000 which would be reduced by about $60,000 for real estate fees were he to sell. The gain would still be at least $490,000.
The renter who put his $130,000 into an investment returning 6% compounded would have made $54,407.
Owner out of pocket $3000 vs renter out of pocket $4950 per month
Owner ROI $490,000 vs renter ROI $54,407.

What about making this purchase today?

Rent today would be $4950 and mortgage payments (4.0% on 30-year fixed) based on a purchase today would be $4600 + $1150 in taxes and insurance (estimates). Even with the new tax law, the current out of pocket on this home if purchased today would be less on a monthly basis than renting the same home. (Of course the $240,000 down is not included in that analysis)

Some say that the LA market has cooled this year. But this home has seen an increase of $100,000 since January of 2019. Zillow predicts no increase the rest of 2019. 

Let's consider a possible worst case scenario based on over 100 years of California real estate history. If there is a housing bust, this home will likely drop about $300 - $400,000. But within five or so years that amount would be made up, and would go to new highs. 

If you are currently renting and wondering about the rent vs buy decision, the above analysis would suggest that buying has been the right answer for many years. 

 2020 - The Year of COVID 19

According to Zillow, the property is now worth $1,304,000. This would mean that in the last 12 months, the home has appreciated another $100,000. This is in keeping with the average since we began the analysis. 

The rent continues to be $4950 per month. Buying continues to beat renting. 


Refinancing Mortgages – Now May Be the Time
Mortgage interest rates


Call Bill today at  424-453-4016

Bill Rayman Home Mortgage


12121 Wilshire Blvd Suite 350

LA CA 90025

424-453-4016

bill@rate.com

Monday, November 19, 2018

21 Housing Market Factors That Will Affect Pricing and Sales in 2020


two people are confused about direction of the housing market. Cartoon bubble above their head shows graphs going all directions.


After writing and reporting about the housing market for over a decade (and commonly getting it right except for interest rates), I have been perplexed about the direction of housing prices and sales as we look through and past the COVID 19 crisis. Most of my prior reporting has focused on eight major factors: Inventories, affordability, interest rates, population trends, projected new housing, current pricing, the economy, and the rent vs buy equation. Another factor has also played a part at times - investors, including foreign buyers.

If you need a mortgage, call Bill Rayman right now at (310) 453-4016. 

If you take a quick look at each of those, five of the eight would bode very well for continued increases in prices and flat-to-increasing sales as inventory allows:

  1. Inventory is still very low - People are not listing
  2. The underlying economy was still red hot prior to COVID 19
  3. The population is bursting with new families
  4. New housing starts in the pipeline are generally insufficient to meet overall demand
  5.   Interest rates are at historic lows, and likely to continue at these levels

       The other three are either soft or negative
  1. Increasing housing prices have outstripped increasing income in the middle class
  2. The wealthy overseas buyer is not as active in the US right now
  3. Investors are no longer scooping up bargains, as bargains are harder to find

A huge factor doesn’t really fit with the above. This would be the rent vs buy equation. Generally, as rents rise, tenants consider buying. Of course, as rents rise, investors are willing to pay more for rental properties, and builder are attracted to build more. Lots of moving parts there. The reality is that very, very few markets have anywhere close to enough affordable housing when you combine owned and rented units, and there isn’t enough being built to catch up with population.

Overall, there is still a huge squeeze on tenants to afford apartments, and many are doubling up who don’t prefer that arrangement. Thus, this 9th issue would point towards more demand for purchased housing.

If these were the only factors at work, you might expect a flat market, and that seems to be what we have right now. But, a fantastic article in the NY Times provided a few nuances. Moreover, in a shocking development, the letters to the editor provided significant insights that the author didn’t uncover. Here are some fascinating elements to consider. Each, on their own, would not have much effect on the market, but taken together they might give hints as to future trends.

  1. Grandma still isn’t selling – This is huge and is reducing inventory. But if she sells, she still needs to live somewhere and there is no rental property available at reasonable prices.
  2. Millennials are still living at home – This is reducing demand, but will these kids still live at home at 35 or 40? This could be a huge demand component that is lurking.
  3. Student debt a huge problem – For some professionals this debt is six figures and hurts their ability to borrow or pay. For some middle-class young people, the debt is less substantial, but still cuts into what they can afford.
  4. Very little affordable housing being built – You will hear that new home sales are down, and that homebuilders are despondent. The reality is that they are not building the homes that new families want. This is partly due to the reality that building a smaller home isn’t as profitable, given all the regulations and the cost of land. Affordable housing predicted to go from 20% of new builds to 30%.
  5. Earnings are just starting to improve. Through the first eight years of the recovery, earnings have been very flat. With unemployment so low, it would be odd to see earnings not respond, and now they are. This will improve affordability.
  6. Immigration will increase – legal and illegal. Every nation with low birth rates must increase immigration or their economy will stagnate. One way or the other the US will see more immigrants moving here due to our huge demand for labor. This will increase demand.
  7. Doubling and tripling-up – Singles are commonly living with roommates who would rather not be. This is, of course, due to the cost of rentals. As these individuals find a better job, they will be adding to demand.
  8. End of mortgage deduction - The changes in the tax law that increased the amount of the standard deduction, eliminated a major advantage to ownership. This is a factor right now, but will play itself out. 
  9. Massive housing wealth – Those who owned their home 10 years ago are now sitting on massive amounts of home equity. If these individuals choose to move, they have substantial down payments, whether they are moving up or downsizing. 
  10. The millennials and Z gen are not that different than the boomers or X gen that went before. Their folks and other relatives are likely to be needed for down payment help. The good news is that the older generation has massive equity, and may have also created additional wealth through the soaring stock market.
  11. Concentrations in major urban areas – In the major tech cities, prices are high due to lack of new places to build. Los Angeles, San Francisco, Boston, NYC, and other such cities can only build up. While these areas may see some relaxation in rental pricing over the next two or three years, it will only be a pause.   
  12. Lower expenses in other home budget areas beside housing – This is a huge factor in the last 25 years. We are spending less and less AS A PERCENT OF TOTAL INCOME on food, cars, clothes, entertainment, travel, children, and almost every other category of expense. This frees up dollars to be spent on housing. The result is that the average individual or family has more money to compete in the market.

For instance, if a family used to spend on average 70% of their $50,000 a year income on everything but housing, they would have $15,000 a year to spend on housing. If their cost for everything else dropped to 50%, then they have $25,000 to spend on housing. This provides more buying power, and therefore more competition for scarce resources. Put another way, we aren’t spending 50% on housing because we have to. We are spending 50% because we can.

2020 Housing Forecast


Where does all this leave us? What might 2020 bring in sales and prices? 

Most economists believe that the economy will perk right back up after the social distancing is lifted. If you use the panic around the 911 as a good example, then housing did fine after the panic was over. So here is the prediction starting in June. 

  • Location, location, location – Real estate will still be about location in 2019. Crazy high rents and prices for luxury apartments and condos in major cities are likely to soften. The same can’t be said for middle and affordable housing. This will likely be steady to up. There is some indication of significant softening in the very high-end luxury market.
  • Areas with lots of building, such as the Inland Empire in Southern California, may see slackening demand for resales, but the demand is great due to outward migration from the urban and suburban areas where prices are much higher. Therefore, don’t expect much downward pressure on pricing, and rents will continue up.
  • Suburbs that are fully built out will likely see continued increases if the business climate holds.
  • Sales will follow established patterns. Activity will bounce up in March with excellent sales in the Spring.
  • The Fed might pause on interest rates. They are probably as low as they are going to get in late March.
  • Days on market will increase, but still not reach traditional norms.
  • What might seem like dropping prices will be temporary bargain hunting during the crisis.

Maybe you have a very different opinion. Please leave your comments below.

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