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While many areas of the economy have contracted, the housing market has stayed remarkably strong. But can the good news last?

When COVID-related shutdowns began in March, real estate brokers and clients scrambled to respond to the shift. Record-low interest rates caused some lenders to call a halt to new underwriting, and homeowners debated whether or not to put their houses on the market. However, those first days of uncertainty ushered in a period of unprecedented demand in the U.S. real estate market, which ended the year with increasing average home prices (up 13.4% from the previous year) and shrinking days on market (13 fewer than in 2019).1

Now, as the spring market approaches, you may be wondering whether the good times can continue to roll on. If you’re a homeowner, should you take advantage of this opportunity? If you’re a buyer, should you jump in and risk paying too much? Below we answer some of your most pressing questions.

How is today’s market different from the one that caused the 2008 meltdown?

At the beginning of the pandemic, fears of an economic recession and an ensuing mortgage meltdown were top of mind for homeowners all across the country. For many buyers and sellers, the two seemed to go hand in hand, just as they did in the 2008 economic crisis.

In reality, however, the conditions that led to 2008’s recession were very different from those that triggered the current downturn—and this time, the housing market is the source of much of the good news.2 This is in line with historical patterns, as housing prices traditionally hold steady in the face of recession, with homeowners staying put and investors putting their money into bricks and mortar to ride out uncertainty in the stock market.

This time around, because of lessons learned in 2008, banks are better funded, homeowners are holding more accrued equity, and, crucially, much of the economic activity is focused on financial factors outside the housing market. As many industries quickly pivoted to work-from-home, early fears of widespread job loss-related foreclosures have failed to materialize. Federal stimulus payments and the Paycheck Protection Program also helped to offset some of the worst early effects of the shutdown.

Are we facing a real estate bubble?

A real estate bubble can occur when there is a rapid and unjustified increase in housing prices, often triggered by speculation from investors. Because the bubble is (in a sense) filled with “hot air,” it pops—and a swift drop in value occurs. This leads to reduced equity or, in some cases, negative equity conditions.

By contrast, the current rise in home prices is based on the predictable results of historically low interest rates and widespread low inventory. Basically, the principle of supply and demand is working just as it’s supposed to do. In addition, experts predict a strong seller’s market throughout 2021 along with increases in new construction.3 This should allow supply to gradually rise and fulfill demand, slowing the rate of inflation for home values and offering a gentle correction where needed.

Effects of low interest rates

According to Freddie Mac, rates are projected to continue at their current low levels throughout 2021.4 This contributes to home affordability even in markets where homes might otherwise be considered overpriced. These low interest rates should keep the market lively and moving forward for the foreseeable future.

Effects of low inventory

Continuing low inventory is another reason for higher-than-average home prices in many markets.5 This should gradually ease as an aggressive vaccination rollout and continuing buyer demand drive more homeowners to move forward with long-delayed sales plans and as new home construction increases to meet demand.6

Aren’t some markets and sectors looking particularly weak?

One of the big stories of 2020 was a mass exodus from attached home communities and high-priced urban areas as both young professionals and families fled to the larger square footage and wide-open spaces of suburban and rural markets. This trend was reinforced by work-from-home policies that became permanent at some of the country’s biggest companies.

Speculation then turned to the death of cities and the end of the condo market. However, it appears that rumors of the demise of these two residential sectors have been greatly exaggerated.

With the first vaccine rollouts, renters have begun returning to major urban centers, attracted by the sudden rise in available inventory and newly discounted rental rates.7 In addition, buyers who were previously laser-focused on a single-family home responded to tight inventory by taking a second look at condos.8 While nationwide condo prices continue to lag behind those of detached homes, they’ve still seen significant price increases and days on market reductions year over year.

In addition to these improvements, the 2020 migration has spread the economic wealth to distant suburban and rural enclaves that normally don’t benefit from increases in home values or an influx of new investment. As many of these new residents set up housekeeping in their rural retreats, they’ll revitalize the economies of their adopted communities for years to come.

How has COVID affected the “seasonal” real estate market?

Frequently, the real estate market is seen as a seasonal phenomenon. However, the widespread shutdowns in March 2020, coming right at the beginning of the market’s growth cycle in many areas, has led to a protracted, seemingly endless “hot spring market.”

While Fannie Mae’s chief economist Douglas Duncan predicts slower growth from 2020’s historic numbers, the outlook overall is positive as we embark on the 2021 spring selling cycle.9 Duncan anticipates an additional lift in the second half of 2021 as buyers return to business as usual and look to put some of their pandemic savings to work for a down payment. Thus we could be looking at another longer-than-usual, white-hot real estate market.

How will a Biden administration affect the real estate market?

Projected policy around housing promises to be a boost to the real estate market in many cases.10 While some real estate investors bemoan proposed changes to 1031 Exchanges, the Biden plan for a $15,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit aims to increase affordability and bring eager new home buyers into the market. In addition, Biden-proposed policy pinpoints low inventory as a primary driver of unsustainable home values and is geared toward more affordability through investments in construction and refurbishment.

Overall, according to most indicators, the real estate news looks overwhelmingly positive throughout the rest of 2021 and possibly beyond. Pent-up demand and consumer-driven policies, along with a continued low-interest-rate environment and rising inventory, should help homeowners hold on to their increased equity without throwing the market out of balance. In addition, the increase in long-term work-from-home policies promises to give a boost to a wide variety of markets, both now and in the years to come. 

STILL HAVE QUESTIONS? WE HAVE ANSWERS

While economic indicators and trends are national, real estate is local. We’re here to answer your questions and help you understand what’s happening in your neighborhood. Reach out to learn how these larger movements affect our local market and your home’s value.

Sources:

  1. Realtor.com –
    https://www.realtor.com/research/december-2020-data/
  2. New York Magazine –
    https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/why-this-economic-crisis-wont-be-as-bad-as-2008.html
  3. Washington Post –
    https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/01/11/2021-housing-market-predictions/
  4. Freddie Mac –
    http://www.freddiemac.com/research/forecast/20210114_quarterly_economic_forecast.page?
  5. Wall Street Journal –
    https://www.wsj.com/articles/housing-market-stays-tight-as-homeowners-stay-put-11611226802?mod=re_lead_pos1
  6. Marketwatch –
    https://www.marketwatch.com/story/new-home-construction-activity-soars-to-highest-level-in-over-a-decade-as-builders-rush-to-produce-single-family-homes-2021-01-21
  7. Forbes –
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/noahkirsch/2021/01/14/signs-of-a-rebound-new-york-city-rent-prices-are-climbing-back
  8. Washington Post –https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2021/01/07/condo-sales-rebound-amid-dwindling-inventory-houses/
  9. Mortgage Professional America –https://www.mpamag.com/news/fannie-mae-chief-economists-forecast-for-us-economy-housing-market-in-2021-244045.aspx
  10. Inman –
    https://www.inman.com/2020/11/09/what-a-joe-biden-presidency-means-for-real-estate-and-housing/

Follow Along on Instagram

There are a few different scenarios for homeowners that are struggling to make their mortgage payments or are “underwater” on their homes (and owe more than what it’s worth)—including short sales and foreclosures. While we don’t see many of either in Mammoth Lakes, this may be helpful for those outside the area.

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Here are a few reasons buyers should finally be feeling more optimistic. 🌟

Wondering if it’s the right time for you to buy a home? We’d be happy to talk through the specifics of your situation. Send us a DM today! 📲

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Happy Thanksgiving From Beautiful Mammoth Lakes CA!

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Have you watched homes on your street sell for sky-high prices in the past few years?

It’s tempting to aim high when it comes time to sell your home—but proceed with caution.

The market is adapting to rising mortgage rates, and homes simply aren’t selling as fast. Unfortunately, the longer a home is listed, the more buyers’ concerns begin to grow.

Of course, you also don’t want to sell your home for less than it’s worth.

That’s why it’s important to work with a local market expert. We know the ins and outs of the local real estate market and what buyers are willing to pay today.

The good news? If you’ve been in your home for several years, you are likely to have a sizable amount of equity. That means you stand to make a tidy profit. 🤑

Get in touch for a free home value assessment to find out what your home could sell for in today’s market!

📲 760.914.4664
📧 [email protected]

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Exciting news. Mammoth Lakes has been nominated for Best Ski Town in America in the USA Today 2022 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards. But also, Clocktower Cellar has been nominated for Best Ski Bar!

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November Market Update!

Link in Bio...

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While I am often accused of being an eternal optimist, there are some valid reasons for having a positive outlook on the current real estate market.

When you’re hearing news about home prices remaining high, and mortgage rates skyrocketing, you might wonder how a real estate agent can possibly claim it’s a great time to buy. Or, on the other hand, you read that sales prices are coming down and it’s taking longer to sell because rates have gone up, it may make you question how agents can claim that it’s a great time to sell.

You might feel like agents always seem to be constantly putting a positive spin on the current real estate market, and think they’re doing it out of self-interest. After all, they only make money if and when someone buys or sells a house, so of course they’d want people to feel like it’s always a great time to buy or sell real estate.

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"Sonja was so professional and wonderful to deal with. She stepped in when our original realtor bowed out after we drove 5 hours to look at real estate. She stepped in without a single hiccup and then stood by us as we negotiated the purchase price and was with us helping us get the mortgage. She was a full service realtor even doing things not normally done by a realtor. Highly recommend her."

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Sonja is super excited to help her clients sell their St. Anton condo -- they are doing a 1031 exchange and will be buying in another state. The good news is they still own in Mammoth Lakes and will be around for years to come. A local full time resident is the new owner and will call this place home....just in time for the holidays! Thanks to Lauren Tracey and Sierra Escrow.

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How can you get the most money for your home in today’s market? 💰

The real estate market is cooling. But it’s still possible to score a great offer if you follow these tips:

🛠️ Make strategic repairs and improvements
🧹 Declutter and depersonalize
🛋️ Stage your home for success
🧽 Prep for each showing
💸 Price your home correctly from the start

Searching for more home seller strategies to maximize your sale price? Check out our blog post!

🔗 LINK IN BIO

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Morrison's is a great dinner option for the whole family. A fan favorite is the Barrumundi.

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OPEN HOUSE!
895 Canyon Blvd #34
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546

Stop by and check out this condo right next door to Canyon Lodge!
Saturday, November 19
2 PM - 5:30 PM
Hosted by Destination Real Estate REALTOR® Danielle Bauman

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Save your empty toilet paper rolls and dryer lint for DIY fire starters. Just stuff the tubes with the lint and you've got free kindling for your grill, campfire, or fireplace.

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Check out my latest newsletter for all the Mammoth Lakes real estate updates and information!

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