SUBDIVISION APPRAISERS NEED TO ADJUST ABSORPTION IMMEDIATELY

LAST UPDATED – JULY 29, 2022

JULY 17, 2022 – REMINDER TO CHECK BACK AS I WILL UPDATE THIS WITH NEW INFORMATION AS I RECEIVED SUCH.

There are times when the data available to us real estate appraisers suddenly become (almost) useless. For example, after Hurricane Katrina almost all real estate data in New Orleans prior to the hurricane was all but worthless. Manhattan had 9/11. The entire country had the lockdown in Spring 2020.
Today the entire nation is facing this in regard to residential real estate. Basically, the data thru Spring 2022 is no longer reflective of current market conditions. Nor future market conditions.
It is time for subdivision appraisers to look almost solely through the windshield and no longer the rear-view mirror. There is no excuse for using absorption rates over the past year to forecast absorption over the next year or two.
We have the training to forecast future supply and demand. It is critical we do such now. For those familiar with the Appraisal Institute’s books on Market Analysis, you know that it is time to perform Level C analyses. Look forward, not backward.
I will add items to this post as they come out. For starters, the following items are support for reducing absorption rates significantly. I am sure you will come across similar items in your research.

ADDED JULY 29th – Taking the unexpected in turn, June new home sales fell 8.1% to a 590,000 seasonally adjusted annual rate; each of the prior three months were revised downward. Chalk up revisions to cancellations. Nonetheless, the -50.5% annualized decline in the six months ended June has so few precedents, you can count them on one hand: 1966 near recession, 1980 recession, 1981-82 recession, 2007-09 recession and 2010 payback from home buyer tax credit. 
 
Pending total home sales collapsed 8.6% in June to the levels consistent with the last three recessions. The near-40% annualized plunge in the six months ended June was rivaled by the 2007 housing bust, 2010’s homebuyer tax credit hangover, and the COVID-19 flash recession. (Quill Intelligence)

((One of the best services I subscribe to is Quill Intelligence by Danielle DiMartino Booth. They analyze data in unique ways. Homepage – Quill Intelligence They have a Daily Feather sub that I think is $500/year. I guaranty it will be the best $500 you spend on a subscription!))

From Joel Kan, a Mortgage Bankers Association economist. ‘After reaching a record $460,000 in March 2022, the average purchase loan size was $415,000 last week, pulled lower by the potential moderation of home-price growth and weaker purchase activity at the upper end of the market.’

“Americans are canceling deals to buy homes at the highest rate since the start of the Covid pandemic. The share of sale agreements on existing homes canceled in June was just under 15% of all homes that went under contract, according to… Redfin. That is the highest share since early 2020, when homebuying paused immediately, albeit briefly. Cancelations were at about 11% one year ago. Higher mortgage rates and surging inflation are causing many potential homebuyers to reconsider their purchases.” CNBC (Diana Olick)

((I will add that a local Realtor told me that in the past 7 years she had six purchasers walk away from their contract. In the past 2 weeks, she had 16 (!) purchasers walk away.))

On Tuesday, Zumper’s National Index for two-bedroom apartments falling 2.9% in May was all the rage in chatrooms (link above for full skinny). After the close, Black Knight dropped this bomb: “The annual home price growth rate fell by more than a full percentage point in May, the largest monthly decline at the national level since 2006.” We would remind you that May is the strongest seasonal time of the year for rent and home price gains. Both have begun to stumble. (Quill Intelligence)

All in all, about half (53) of the metros in this analysis saw more than 25% of home sellers drop their asking price in May. More than 10% of home sellers dropped their price in all 108 metros, driving the national share of price drops to a record high.  The uptick in price drops is symbolic of the slowdown in the housing market. Many buyers are backing off amid skyrocketing home prices, surging mortgage rates, high inflation and a faltering stock market.  (Redfin)

June 27 – Bloomberg (Alex Tanzi): “US cities that saw some of the biggest jumps in home prices during the pandemic now have the largest shares of price cuts, according to… Zillow… Overall, the proportion of active real estate listings with lower prices has increased in all 50 of the largest US metropolitan markets tracked by Zillow. In these cities, 11.5% of homes saw a price cut in May, on average, up from 8.2% a year earlier. The share of lower listing prices rose the fastest in real estate hotspots like Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Sacramento, California… Among the 50 metros in Zillow’s data, 32 had more than 10% of listings with a price decline.”

June 30 – Bloomberg (Prashant Gopal): “The housing slowdown is helping to solve one of the US real estate market’s most intractable problems: tight inventory. With fewer buyers competing, the number of active US listings jumped 18.7% in June from a year earlier, the largest annual increase in data going back to 2017, Realtor.com said… And new sellers entered the market at an even faster rate than before the pandemic housing rally began… Active listings more than doubled from a year earlier in metro areas including Austin, Texas; Phoenix; and Raleigh, North Carolina, the data show. They climbed 86% in Nashville, Tennessee, and 72% in the Riverside, California, region.”

June 29 – New York Times (Conor Dougherty): “For the past two years, anyone who had a home to sell could get practically any asking price. Good shape or bad, in cities and in exurbs, seemingly everything on the market had a line of eager buyers. Now, in the span of a few weeks, real estate agents have gone from managing bidding wars to watching properties sit without offers, and once-hot markets like Austin, Texas, and Boise, Idaho, are poised for big declines.”

“Despite the small gain in pending sales from the prior month, the housing market is clearly undergoing a transition,” says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Contract signings are down sizably from a year ago because of much higher mortgage rates.” Pending home sales have fallen 13.6% from a year ago. Economists have pointed to rapidly rising mortgage rates to explain buyers growing more cautious. The monthly payment on a median-priced single-family home, assuming a 10% down payment, has risen by about $800 since the beginning of the year due to the increase in mortgage rates. Rates have jumped by 2.5 percentage points since January.

Home buying conditions for the top third match the lowest on record. If you’re curious, that top tier is responsible for 58.7% of home sales. By extension, they account for 56.5% of furniture sales. In a weekend chat with Ivy Zelman, she said she expects home inventories to be up by 70% YoY by the time we ring in the New Year. Redfin’s latest data corroborate the downside building — the brokerage’s proprietary gauge of pending home sales fell 10% YoY to the lowest since May 2020 while requests to tour homes sunk 16% YoY, the biggest decline since April 2020 when the pandemic slammed the sector. (Quill Intelligence)

On the heels of the release, Zelman & Associates warned, “In the months ahead we expect homebuilders to respond to softening demand with increased incentives and even price cuts in an effort to stimulate activity.”
 
Excerpts from Monday’s NAHB corroborate Zelman’s concerns: 
 “Production bottlenecks, rising home building costs and high inflation are causing many builders to halt construction because the cost of land, construction and financing exceeds the market value of the home.”

“In another sign of a softening market, 13% of builders…reported reducing home prices in the past month to bolster sales and/or limit cancellations.”

“Affordability is the greatest challenge facing the housing market. Significant segments of the home buying population are priced out of the market.”

Rather than move, a growing number of investors are making their way for the exits. As reported yesterday by Bloomberg, KKR, Blackstone and Amherst are among housing investors who have “cut buying activity by more than 50%.” At least they’re not joining Starwood Capital in jettisoning portfolios of single-family rental portfolios…yet. Yes, this will leave a nasty bruise on a market overly dependent on leveraged, deep-pocketed, price-agnostic buyers. (Quill Intelligence)

((I will finish by adding this thought. With interest rates up at least 250bp since the beginning of the year, I believe it would be prudent for appraisers to look at the past sales rate for houses that were priced about 50% higher than your subject’s houses will be. My logic follows.

Your subject expects to sell houses at $400,000. Assuming a 30-year mortgage with a 5.5% interest rate, the monthly payment will be $2,271. I just assumed a 100% LTV to make the analysis shorter. We all know that people buy a monthly payment, not a price. Last year, the same $2,271 monthly payment at a 3.0% interest rate could buy a $540,000 (Rounded). Therefore, I think it would be better to look at the past absorption rate for houses in the $550,000 price range instead of the $400,000 range.

That said, we still need to look to the future. All past absorption rates still need to be adjusted downward SIGNIFICANTLY. I don’t know by how much. Personally, I would apply a 50% drop to begin with. In a few months the data may well suggest a 75%+ drop. And I wouldn’t project any rebound for at least 2+ years. My two cents.))

Shalom,

The Mann