Everyone is so focused on the American economy at the moment. As it goes, so does the world economy. With states beginning to reopen, the question becomes: which sectors of the economy will drive its recovery? There seems to be a growing agreement that the housing market is positioned to be that driving force toward the necessary improvement.
Some may question that statement as they look back on the last recession in 2008 when housing was the anchor to the economy – holding it back from sailing forward. But even then, the overall economy did not begin to recover until the real estate market started to regain its strength. This time, the housing market was in great shape when the virus hit.
According to Mark Fleming, Chief Economist of First American, many still live with the effect of the Great Recession. People may be expecting the housing market to follow the same path in response to the coronavirus outbreak. But, distinct differences are showing that the housing market may follow a much different path. The housing market may have led the recession in 2008-2009, it may also manage to bring us out of it this time.
Every piece of sold property has an impressive financial impact on local economies. As the real estate market continues to recover, it will act as a strong tailwind to the overall national economy.
Homebuyers seem to be taking full advantage now that social distancing orders are being less tight across the country. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, applications from homebuyers increased last week by 11%, marking the third consecutive week of increases.
The homebuying activity is still down 10% over the year, but that year-over-year gap is thinning out every week. The number of home buying loan applications in April was down 35% annually.
According to Joel Kan, MBA’s Associate Vice President of Economic and Industry forecasting, we can expect the wave of improvement to keep on spreading.
Refinance applications have been declining in recent weeks despite record-low mortgage rates. The average rate on a 30-year, the fixed-rate loan came in at 3.43%, but refinancing activity dropped 3% this week and 2% the week prior. This is probably due to a combination of factors, including stricter lending standards, increasing unemployment, and more time-strapped lenders.
If rates continue to drop, demand for refinances may see an even bigger spike. According to a report from Bloomberg, mortgage rates could drop below 3% in the coming weeks—well below the lowest point on record. This could add serious incentives for homeowners to refinance.
According to the recent Mortgage Monitor report from real estate analytics firm Black Knight, if rates drop to just 3%, more than 19 million homeowners could shave at least 0.75% off their mortgage rate.
This could mean a difference of around $80 per month and nearly $1,000 per year on a $250,000 home.
Almost everyone has been complying with the stay-at-home orders from our state and local governments for nearly two months now. This unexpected situation has put our daily lives on pause making us find comfort in spending time at home and feel secured from having a much-needed safe place to live.
According to the Housing Vacancy Survey (HVS), Americans place great value in homeownership and it is continuing to grow in the United States. The results provided by the U.S Census Bureau show that the homeownership rate rose to 65.3% for the first quarter of 2020. This is a number that has been rising since 2016 and is the highest rate obtained in eight years.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) explained that a strong owner household formation with around 2.7 million homeowners added in the first quarter has made the increase of the homeownership rate, especially under the decreasing mortgage interest rates and strong new home sales and existing home sales in the first two months before coronavirus hit the economy.
The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) also highlighted that the homeownership rates among all age groups increased in the first quarter of 2020.
Households under 35, who are mostly first-time homebuyers, have registered as the largest gains, with the homeownership rate increased by 1.9% from a year ago.
Households with ages between 35-44 have increased by 1.2%.
Households with ages between 55-64 have increased by 0.9%.
Households with ages between 45-54 have increased by 0.8%.
Households with ages over 65 have increased by 0.2%.
Homeownership has always been a great financial investment and an important part of the American Dream. The current situation makes many people feel more thankful for the home they get to share with their families. Coronavirus may be slowing our lives down, but it is showing us the emotional value of homeownership too.
Stacey Decker, with Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty, earned the nationally recognized Seniors Real Estate Specialist® designation from the Seniors Real Estate Specialist Council of the National Association of Realtors® in January 2020. Stacey is a licensed broker in the states of Oregon & Washington.
Stacey joins over 15,000 North American real estate professionals who have earned the SRES® designation. Requirements to receive the designation include completing a comprehensive course in understanding the needs, considerations, and goals of real estate buyers and sellers aged 55 and older.
Stacey understands that older segments of the population have a very different set of needs when it comes to real estate transactions. “As a Realtor, a large part of my job is to act as a problem solver for my clients,” says Stacey, “I solve problems my clients are trying to resolve, and also the problems I can forecast and alleviate for them based on my experience”.
Some of these challenges may include remodeling a home to allow for intergenerational living or clients who are looking for a lifestyle change and need guidance on community features that fit their lifestyle.
Stacey explains that “some clients are interested in downsizing the family home they have lived in for 40 years, and need an agent like me to help the entire family through this emotional process. I have the experience to do all of this, and now I have additional training to provide unparalleled service to all of these clients’ needs.”
SRES® designees have unparalleled training and experience in seniors real estate, including:
Helping you manage the financial and emotional challenges of selling a long-held family home
Creating a customized plan to market and sell your property
Understanding your unique needs and creating a customized plan to ensure your home meets those needs now and in the future
Utilizing specialized knowledge in reverse mortgages, 401(k) accounts, and IRAs for your real estate transaction
Connecting you with their vast network of movers, attorneys, home inspectors, and other experts to help you through the process
Americans feel cynical about stock market investing due to the economic shock caused by coronavirus. 21% of Americans who think stocks or mutual funds are the best long-term investment is down by six points from 2019 and the lowest percentage recorded by Gallup since 2012. Real estate ranked first, followed by gold and savings accounts.
Since 2013, 35% of Americans say real estate is the most recommended long-term investment. And since 2016, over one-third of Americans have named real estate as the top investment.
Stocks and mutual funds remain the second most preferred long-term investment, despite the dip. Savings accounts or CDs (17%) and gold (16%) followed. Bonds lagged at roughly 8%.
Stockowners have also lost interest in stocks or mutual funds — with the percentage naming stocks dropping from 37% in 2019 to 30% now.
The results came from Gallup’s annual Economy and Finance survey that was conducted from April 1–14 among 1,017 U.S. adults.
High-income Americans believe stocks and mutual funds as the best long-term investment. However, the drop occurred among both high-income and low-income Americans, with a decline of nine points each from last year’s survey, while the percentage of middle-income respondents who chose stocks or mutual funds did not change.
The survey shows that the ownership of stocks is stable at 55% of Americans. But confidence among stock owners fell, with only 30% picking stocks and mutual funds as the best investment — down from 37% in 2019. And even after a decade of economic expansion and record stock market gains, the percentage of Americans that own stocks have not reached its 63% peak from before the Great Recession. A low was reached by 52% in 2013.
65% of high-income households said investing $1,000 in the stock market is a good idea, but 47% of middle-income households and 39% of low-income households agreed. Over half of stock owners believe the investment to be valuable, while the sentiment among non-investors hovered closer to a third.
Stocks appeal’ may have faded after the longest-running bull market in the U.S. history ended, they still ranked as the second most valued investment. However, the economic fallout from coronavirus could scramble Americans’ preferences as the stock market is at risk and the real estate market’s future is uncertain.
From dairy farmers with nowhere to send their milk and cattle ranchers reeling from plummeting beef prices, the impact of the coronavirus is rippling through farm country. Corn, cotton and soybean futures have tumbled, ethanol plants have been idled, and some fruit and vegetable farmers are finding their best option is leaving produce in the field.
Price forecasts for most agricultural products are bleak. In the past month, dairy prices have dropped 26-36%, corn futures have dropped by 14%, soybean futures are down 8% and cotton futures have plummeted 31%. Hog futures are down by 31%. A surge in demand for beef emptied grocery store meat aisles, but there is no lack of supply. Despite a rise in retail prices in some areas, the prices paid to cattle ranchers have fallen 25%.
Dairy producers were optimistic at the start of 2020 that it would be a turnaround year, with milk prices on the rise and feed costs holding steady. But hopes were dashed when the coronavirus quickly and dramatically impacted demand, disrupted supply chains and led to the 26-36% drop in prices. Schools, restaurants and universities that were among the main purchasers of milk and milk products were suddenly shuttered, leaving dairy farmers with far more milk than plants are capable of processing. The sometimes-empty supermarket milk coolers reflect supply chain adaptation challenges, not lack of supply. Experts do not expect retail demand for dairy to make up for lost food service and restaurant demand.
“Farmers and ranchers are determined to deliver on their commitment to provide a safe and abundant food supply, but make no mistake, they are facing make-or-break struggles, like many Americans,” said American Farm Bureau Federation President Zippy Duvall. “After years of a down farm economy and damaging severe weather, the COVID-19 ripple effects are forcing farmers and ranchers to face heartbreaking financial realities. Without question, the disaster aid provided in the CARES Act is a lifeline that will help many farmers hold on. We don’t know how many for how long, but we’re grateful.”
The CARES Act provides $9.5 billion to the Agriculture Secretary for financial support to farmers and ranchers impacted by the coronavirus and $14 billion for the Commodity Credit Corporation. Direct food- and agriculture-related provisions in the CARES Act, including the support for USDA and the CCC and additional funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, account for only .02% of the total aid provided in the bill.
USDA has not yet announced how it will distribute the aid. Meanwhile farmers reliant on direct consumer sales, such as farmers’ markets and u-pick farms, are also facing dramatic losses. Often highly perishable, a loss of market at peak harvest has led some to cut their losses by leaving fruits and vegetables in the fields.
Abiding by travel restrictions, people are driving far less, pushing down demand for both oil and ethanol made from corn. A 35% drop in ethanol prices caused some plants to stop production, further depressing corn prices. The sudden change also cut off the supply of dried distillers grains — a byproduct of ethanol production and source of high-protein feed — for livestock producers, who are left scrambling to find a replacement.
While the impact to agriculture has been acute and immediate on many fronts, there is more to come if farmers and ranchers are forced to downsize or stop farming and ranching altogether.
“There are millions of people involved in producing America’s food supply. Fewer farms mean fewer farm workers, truck drivers, processors and manufacturers and potentially higher food prices – not today, maybe not even this year, but farmers won’t be the only ones affected by the long-term agricultural impacts of the coronavirus pandemic if prices continue to drop and markets aren’t restored,” Duvall explained. “We’re all in this together. No one is more mindful of that than farmers and ranchers who keep planting, harvesting and finding new and creative ways to ensure their products reach America’s dinner tables.”
In light of recent developments
surrounding the spread of COVID-19, it has become clear that the world is
facing an unprecedented event. We understand our clients will continue to have
housing needs, but the health and wellbeing of our agents, clients, friends,
tenants, families, and community will remain our top priority.
We are implementing the following precautions to address the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus:
• Adhering to the Center for
Disease Control (CDC) protocols and guidelines, at a minimum.
• We are balancing the needs of our
clients who have housing needs while limiting open houses, avoiding large
gatherings, and encouraging creative, efficient ways of exposing or showing
homes during this crisis.
• We are maintaining a high level
of cleanliness practices in all of our offices. While we assess the safety of
doing so, we will continue to keep open.
For those attending open houses:
We are encouraging our agents to
show homes virtually or by appointment only, but we are allowing individual
agents and sellers to make that decision for now. We recommend the use of
booties, soap, wipes, and hand sanitizers in common areas.
For our clients:
We are prepared to move our
business online, from virtual meetings, video tours, FaceTime/Skype showings,
hands-free open house registration, electronic payments, digital signatures,
and online transaction management system. We are working hard to protect our
clients, agents, staff, tenants and landlords to prevent the spread of disease,
while doing our best to continue helping you buy or sell homes.
At this time, our offices are open
but may close as needed. We encourage the use of phone, text, and email when
communicating with our agents. We will move all scheduled events, trainings and
seminars online. We will support our agents and help them effectively service
your needs while ensuring their comfort and yours with how best to deal with
this challenging situation. You are encouraged to call-in to speak with an
agent and to set up appointments in advance.
Please visit our website for office
and broker contact information.
The Federal Reserve swept into action on Sunday in an effort to save the U.S. economy from the fallout of the coronavirus, slashing its benchmark interest rate by a full percentage point to near zero and promising to boost its bond holdings by at least $700 billion.
Underlining the sense of urgency amid mounting recession fears, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell told a hastily assembled press briefing by telephone that the virus’s disruption to lives and businesses meant second quarter growth would probably be weak and it was hard to know how long the pain would last. That left him advocating a clear role for fiscal policy to help cushion the blow.
“The thing that fiscal policy, and really only fiscal policy can do, is reach out directly to affected industries, affected workers,” Powell said. “We do know that the virus will run its course and that the U.S. economy will resume a normal level of activity. In the meantime, the Fed will continue to use our tools to support the flow of credit.”
The Fed pulled out some of the biggest weapons in its arsenal. It’s key rate is now zero to 0.25%, matching the record low level it hit during the 2008 financial crisis and where it was held until December 2015.
The central bank also announced several other actions, including letting banks borrow from the discount window for as long as 90 days and reducing reserve requirement ratios to zero percent.
In addition, it united with five other central banks to ensure dollars are available around the world via swap lines. Powell said that he did not think negative rates, which have been used in Europe and Japan, would be appropriate policy in the U.S.
President Donald Trump, who as recently as Saturday attacked the Fed for not lowering rates faster and further, quickly expressed support for the move
“It makes me very happy and I want to congratulate the Federal Reserve,” he said. “That’s a big step and I’m very happy they did it.”
Treasuries surged and U.S. equity futures tumbled at the start of another volatile week as investors responded to the rapidly escalating economic impact from the coronavirus and bet it will overwhelm the policy response. The Bank of Japan said it was bringing forward to Monday a meeting scheduled for later this week.
The Fed’s emergency action came as more and more evidence emerged that the U.S. economy is being hit hard by the virus. On Sunday alone, Ohio ordered all bars and restaurants closed indefinitely, Nike shuttered all its stores at least through March 27 and airlines announced drastic cuts to their international flight schedules.
Businesses are instructing staff to work from home, and travel and entertainment are being particularly affected as people take steps to observe social distancing to avoid infection.
As the fallout spreads across the economy, the risk of a recession is mounting. Goldman Sachs slashed its GDP forecasts on Sunday. It’s now predicting zero growth in the first quarter and a 5% contraction in the second.
Powell, who said he planned to do some telecommuting himself to set a good work-from-home example, told reporters on the call that the rate decision Sunday is in lieu of the Fed’s regularly scheduled meeting this week, planned for Tuesday and Wednesday.
He also said that the quarterly forecasts that would have been released at that meeting had been scrapped in light of the current uncertainty caused by the virus and would probably next be updated in June.
With Sunday’s announcement, the Fed is firing some of the biggest guns in its arsenal, but economists say without a similar, forceful response from the government, the country’s record 11 year expansion could end in recession. Stocks have already tumbled into a bear market.
“The Fed had to make this move, and waiting would have been a grave mistake,” said Michael Darda, market strategist at MKM Partners. “The problem is there is a tsunami coming and the Fed is likely to be overwhelmed by it, and the markets know that.”
The Fed said it will keep interest rates near zero “until it is confident that the economy has weathered recent events and is on track to achieve its maximum employment and price stability goals.”
The central bank acted as leaders from the Group of Seven nations, including Trump, are set to discuss their virus response on a teleconference on Monday. Central bankers and investors have pressed governments to do more to support their economies given monetary ammunition is running low and because fiscal policy can be targeted at corners of an economy that need it most.
“The Federal Reserve is prepared to use its full range of tools to support the flow of credit to households and businesses and thereby promote its maximum employment and price stability goals,” it said.
To support smooth functioning in the Treasury and mortgage backed securities market, the Fed said it would lift its holdings of Treasury securities by at least $500 billion and of MBS by at least $200 billion.
Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester cast a lone dissent, preferring rates were instead cut to a 0.5%-0.75% range.
The Fed’s actions followed the Trump administration and Congress’s first comprehensive steps Friday to assure the public that it has a coordinated public health and fiscal policy response.
Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty participated Bend’s First Friday event on March 6th at our Downtown Real Estate Gallery where hundreds of people toured the downtown shops and restaurants. Hosted by brokers Corinne Clarke and Chris DeJon, live music was provided by guitarist Justin Lavik and artwork from local artist Julie Winter was on display. A representative from Northwestern Home Loans was available to discuss today’s record low interest rates.
Julie Winter of Bend, Oregon is a printmaker, educator and graduate student in Visual Studies at Pacific Northwest College of Art (MFA August 2018). Julie has served in many roles at Atelier 6000/Bend Art Center including volunteer, core instructor, Studio & Gallery Director, Interim Executive Director and artist member. Her recent work is exploring non-toxic electro-etching techniques and combining them with woodcuts and monotypes as she continues to incorporate the Central Oregon landscape into the symbolism of place and self.
I explore perceptions of place and how these are represented in landscapes, specifically how cultures walk upon and are a physical presence on the surface of the earth and the traces we leave and pick up. I investigate the intersections of the internal and external landscapes and how these become transitional spaces for connection, relationship, translation, and transformation. I set up systems of observation and collection as ways to inventory the traces and then translate the information into orchestrated landscapes. I use the process of printmaking as a translation device for this information. My goal is to invite the viewer into a conversation about their relationship to place and with others.