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Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Buyer Demand Didn’t Drop – It’s Hoping for a Crash
By Amber Randall
Frustrated home buyers remember the last housing crisis and think it’s going to happen again as prices keep going higher and higher – but they’ll likely be disappointed.
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – People who have spent months trying to find an acceptable, affordable home in South Florida are starting to think they’ll wait until the market collapses and they can snatch up a house at a bargain.
They’re probably going to be disappointed.
Economists and housing experts don’t expect another crash like the one in 2008, when hordes of people got homes at rock-bottom prices and then made out when the values recovered. The world is different now, economists say. The housing bubble from 15 years ago was driven largely by risky lending practices and a frenzy that drove a boom in new construction – the type of factors that lead to a recession.
Today, prices are skyrocketing as before, but the fever is the result of different forces, including low interest rates and years of underbuilding, partly because of difficulty getting supplies.
In short, we had too many homes last time; we don’t have enough now.
“The market in 2008 was very different from the market we have now,” said Zillow Economic Data Analyst Nicole Bachaud. “What we have right now is a market based on scarcity. There is not enough supply.”
One of the biggest differences is where the demand for housing is coming from, according to real estate agents. People from all walks of life looking to buy a home today: people wanting to relocate; millennials trying to buy their first home; people looking to upgrade for more space as remote work takes over.
“Not only do we have strong demand locally, we also have strong demand from people coming in from the Northeast,” said Bonnie Heatzig, executive director of luxury sales at Douglas Elliman in Boca Raton. “The demand is linked to the number of buyers who are out there circling neighborhoods looking for a home,”
The real estate market in the 2000s was mainly driven by the ability to get quick and easy credit, regardless of a buyer’s ability to actually afford the house, said Christina Pappas, vice president at The Keyes Company in Brickell.
“Everybody was able to purchase a home without the clear ability to pay. There was demand because the credit was available,” Pappas said. “This demand we have now is fueled by families looking to move to the suburbs.”
Stricter lending practices
Today’s lending practices are more stringent, with homebuyers now expected to come up with a bigger down payment when they go to buy a home.
“The typical person coming in today understands they have to have cash when they come to talk to us, ‘I know I have to have some money down. I’ve got to have 10% to 15% down,’” said David Druey, Centennial Bank’s Florida regional president. “During the Great Recession, we had mortgage companies and banks financing 100% of the purchase price and closing costs. We created our own crisis.”
Homebuyers are seeing this play out in the market when they go to buy a home, said Robert Esposito, a real estate associate for RelatedISG. “It’s very lengthy to get anyone approved. They re-check their income and credit to make sure nothing has changed since they went into the final process,” Esposito said.
For today’s real estate market, lower mortgage rates are contributing to the intensity in the market. Rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage stood at 3.03%, while the rates for a fixed 15 years are 2.30% as of Sept.1, according to Bankrate.com.
Sixty percent of homebuyers who financed with a mortgage said the low rates played a role in their decision to get a home, according to research from Zillow, an online real estate marketplace company.
“What really matters is the monthly payment on the home. With these interest rates, they can afford the houses because the interest rates will stay lower,” Pappas said.
Shortage of homes
The lack of homes on the market also is a turnaround from the early 2000s, when oversupply played a role in the market’s downturn, according to Tim Costello, chairman & chief executive at Builder Homesite Inc.
Today, the number of homes on the market has decreased dramatically. In Palm Beach County, listings for homes have plunged 61% compared to four years ago, while homes listed in Broward County decreased 46%. Miami Dade was similar at 39%.
“Crashes occur when there is an extreme imbalance between supply and demand. Currently, we have the opposite. It would take an extreme movement in the market to transition from where we are today to a market on the verge of a crash, “ Costello said.
More recently, Palm Beach County totaled 1.5 months of supply in the market for single-family homes, a 55% decrease from the year before. Single-family homes in Broward County dropped 51% to 1.5 months worth of supply, according to data from the Broward, Palm Beach, and St. Lucie Realtors.
“So markets where there are increasing numbers of credit-worthy shoppers competing for a diminished inventory of supply create strong markets,” Costello said.
Rising home prices
While home prices in 2021 are significantly higher than in previous years, they haven’t reached the height of prices during the 2008 crash, according to an analysis from researchers at Florida Atlantic University. During that period, homes were overvalued by almost 60%. Homes in South Florida are currently overvalued by about 13%.
“The shortage of homes for sale, continued low-interest rates and an influx of new Florida residents over the next decade should keep the state from sustaining a housing crash similar to the one of 2007 and 2008,” Ken H. Johnson, an economist in FAU’s College of Business, said in a study last month.