DANGER Report not a mea culpa – but forecasts issues affecting housing market

real estateNews about the D.A.N.G.E.R. Report is making the media rounds, but maybe the excitement is more hyperbole than news. And contrary to the recent hype, the D.A.N.G.E.R. Report is not a mea culpa by the National Association of Realtors®.

D.A.N.G.E.R. is an acronym for “Definitive Analysis of Negative Game changers Emerging in Real estate.” The Report was commissioned by the National Association of REALTORS® as that is part of the NAR Strategic Thinking Advisory Committee’s attempt to identify issues affecting the future of the industry; the Swanepoel | T3 Group researched and authored the Report, which identifies trends and offers the residential real estate industry an impact assessment.

Described as a “…mix of yesterday, today and tomorrow…” the Report is intended to assist those in the industry to “…anticipate the forces taking shape that we can’t yet see;” by pointing out possible challenges, threats, and opportunities. Although the result is meant to “inspire” discourse, the reception has so far been mixed. NAR CEO Dale Stinton was quoted to say, “The D.A.N.G.E.R. Report is like 50 things that could keep you up at night. It isn’t a strategic plan. It isn’t telling you to do anything. It’s 50 potential black swans. It’s for your strategic planning processes. Digest it and cuss and fuss and decide whether it’s right or wrong…” (Anrea V. Brambila; ‘Danger’ report alerts industry to 50 biggest threats; inman.com; May 15, 2015).

One issue highlighted in the Report that has attracted the media attention is agent competency and ethics. The use of Report quotes such as, “the real estate industry is saddled with a large number of part-time, untrained, unethical, and/or incompetent agents…” is as if some in the media are saying “we told you so.” But the truth is that competency does not guarantee ethical behavior, and vice versa; the answers, like the issues, are more complex than you might expect – and do not assure advancement.

Like many of the issues reported in D.A.N.G.E.R., concern about agent competency and ethics is not new. The National Association of Realtors® has for years tried to influence public opinion of Realtors® and the industry by publicly promoting the high ethical standards by which Realtors® are held. Many are unaware that a code of ethics was adopted in 1913 by the association, and has since strived to instill and maintain a high level of integrity in the field. And yet with such emphasis on ethics, you might expect that public opinion would be much higher, but the limited research on consumer perception of ethics is mixed at best. And according to one study, consumers consider price, quality, and value more important than ethical criteria in purchase behavior (The myth of the ethical consumer – do ethics matter in purchase behaviour? The Journal of Consumer Marketing. 2001;18(7),560-577).

The D.A.N.G.E.R. Report may have missed the mark by not acknowledging that the industry’s transformation over many decades has been mainly influenced and driven by market forces, regulation, and technology. Discussing “black swans” with regard to these three areas may have been more valuable and practical to professionals and consumers.

However, as much as we try to identify unforeseen events; they are just that – unexpected and unanticipated. Take for instance the extreme changes that have occurred over the last ten years in the real estate industry – much of which were due to market forces, regulation, and technology.

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Real estate professionals reputation

real estate professionals
Hire a Realtor (inforgraphic from keepingcurrentmatters.com)

Gallup (gallup.com) conducts a regular poll of ethics and honesty of various professions. Although the survey is not inclusive of all professions, many are covered in alternating years. Results from the 2013 survey ranked the top five professions as (along with their corresponding “Very High/High” rating) nurses (82%), pharmacists (70%), grade school teachers (70%), medical doctors (69%), and military officers (69%). At the bottom of the list we can find lobbyists (6%), members of congress (8%), car salespeople (9%), state office holders and advertising practitioners were tied at 14%, and lawyers and TV reporters were tied at 20%. Where do real estate professionals rank?

Real estate agents were included in the 2011 Gallup Ethics and Honesty survey, where they were rated with a 20% Very High/High rating; which would be toward the bottom of the list. The 20% rating is actually an improvement from the 17% rating given in 2008. Believe it or not, the 20% rating seems to be the highest rating achieved by real estate agents since the first time they appeared in the poll in 1977; and 2011 was the second time for such a rating (2005 was the first). Historically, the rating ranged from 13% to 19%; not surprisingly, the lowest ratings seem to coincide with housing market slowdowns.

The “Very High/High” rating used to compare consumer opinion of professions may be a little misleading. The 20% “Very High/High” rating in ethics and honesty could lead one to believe that agents are generally viewed negatively. However, in 2011 the “Low/Very Low” rating was 22%; while the 57% “Average” rating may be more indicative of consumers’ opinion of real estate professionals ethics – which is indifference.

The National Association of Realtors® has for years tried to influence public opinion of Realtors® and the industry (not all real estate agents are Realtors®; Realtors® are members of the NAR), by publicly promoting the high ethical standards by which Realtors® are held. Many are unaware that a code of ethics was adopted in 1913 by the association (which was then called the National Association of Real Estate Boards), and has since strived to instill and maintain a high level of integrity in the field.

With such emphasis on ethics, you might expect that public opinion would be much higher. Unfortunately, the limited research on consumer perception of ethics is mixed at best. And according to one study, consumers consider price, quality, and value more important than ethical criteria in purchase behavior (The myth of the ethical consumer – do ethics matter in purchase behaviour? The Journal of Consumer Marketing. 2001;18(7),560-577.)

The reality may be that consumers are not necessarily concerned about ethical behavior or honesty when hiring real estate professionals; which may be why the NAR has decided to add a compulsory dimension of “value” for practitioners so as to increase public opinion of the industry. In an effort to increase professionalism standards, the NAR recently approved an “aspirational” Code of Excellence. A report on the November 10th NAR Board of Directors meeting stated (realtor.org):

“The goal is to raise the practice of real estate measurably through increased training in the competencies that consumers value. These competencies include the stewardship of property listing data, privacy and security of consumer information, advocacy of property rights, community involvement, and technology.”

NAR President Steve Brown was quoted to say, “This is the first step in a process for the continuing improvement of our profession…”

Original located at: https://dankrell.com/blog/2014/12/18/changing-the-publics-opinion-of-real-estate-professionals/

© Dan Krell
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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Real estate changed by internet

real estate changed

The National Association of Realtors® annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers is characterized as being a survey of home buyers and sellers that reveals “demographics, housing characteristics and the experience of consumers in the housing market, including the role that real estate professionals play in home sales transactions (nar.realtor). The release of the Highlights of the 2014 Profile of Home buyers and Sellers on November 3rd by NAR provides insight into home buyer and seller behavior. I compare a small sample of data from three Profiles that demonstrates how real estate changed. Some things have changed, and some things have stayed the same.

The recent lack of first time home buyer participation is one of the issues that experts point to as holding back a full housing recovery, and has been highlighted by the 2014 Profile of Home buyers and Sellers. Only thirty-three percent of home buyers surveyed in 2014 were first time buyers, which the NAR points out as being below the “historical norm of forty percent among primary residence buyers.” Compared to 2003, NAR reported that forty percent of home buyers were first time home buyers. However, fifty percent of home buyers reported being first time buyers during 2010, which is most likely due to the first time home buyer tax credit that was offered at the time to stimulate home sales.

The 2014 survey revealed that home buyers searched on average for 10 weeks and viewed 10 homes; which is reduced from the 12 week average search indicated the year prior. The 2010 report also indicated a 12 week average search, looking at an average of 12 homes. But these home search stats are a far cry from the 8 week average search time viewing 10 homes reported in 2003.

As you might have expected, home buyer use of the internet has grown. In the 2014 survey, ninety-two percent of buyers reported using the internet in some way in the process. The first step for forty-three percent of home buyers was to look at properties online; while only twelve percent of home buyers initially used the internet for information about the home buying process. The use of mobile applications has significantly increased as technology allowed; fifty percent of buyers reported using mobile websites or applications. Compare this to 2010, when about ninety percent of home buyers reported using the internet; and in 2003 when only forty-two percent of home buyers reported searching for homes online.

Rather than eliminating real estate agents, the internet has changed the relationship between agents, buyers and sellers. Ninety-eight percent of buyers in 2014, who used an agent, viewed them as being a useful source of information. Eighty eight percent of surveyed buyers indicated they used an agent to purchase their home, compared to eighty-one percent in 2010, and eighty-six in 2003.

Ninety-one percent of surveyed sellers in 2014 reported their homes were listed on the MLS, but eighty-eight percent had assistance from real estate agents. Only nine percent of surveyed sellers sold “by-owner.” The 2010 seller stats are consistent with the 2014 Profile; while the 2003 survey indicated eighty-three percent of home sellers used an agent’s assistance to sell their home.

There are differences between buyers and sellers also.  Among the differences in how they choose their agent: the 2014 survey indicated that forty-four percent of home buyers, compared to thirty-eight percent of home sellers, found their agent by a referral through a friend or family.

Original located at https://dankrell.com/blog/2014/11/06/how-home-buyer-and-sellers-have-changed-and-remained-the-same/

By Dan Krell
© 2014

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Will home prices depreciate second half of 2014?

house for sale

It’s no secret that the pace of home sales has slowed during 2014. So what’s ahead for real estate and the housing market? If you really want to know, Irwin Kellner, Chief Economist for MarketWatch, has some advice. In his August 19th MarketWatch.com piece (Opinion: Don’t count on U.S. consumer to save economy) he eloquently and succinctly stated, “If you are trying to discern where the economy is heading, look at the consumer.” And this applies directly to real estate too.

July housing figures from the National Association of Realtors® are due to be released this week (July housing press release August 21st); and although good news may be suggested, the numbers may be revealing of where the market is heading – and it may not be good. The NAR July 22nd (realtor.org) press release indicated that June’s existing home sales increased (compared to May 2014), however it stated that existing home sales were down 2.3% compared to the same time last year. In the area where I list and sell homes, Montgomery County single family home closings (sales), reported by the Greater Capital Area Association of Realtor® (gcaar.com) also dropped off in June (decreased 1.5%); and particularly telling is July’s decrease of 16.2% compared to the same time last year, as well as the 7.4% decrease year to date (compared to last year)!

The silver lining is that NAR reported that median home prices have increased in 71% of the “measured markets.” However, 27% of the measured markets showed a decline in median home prices from last year. Montgomery County median home sale prices are moderating (according to GCAAR stats): increases were about 3% during June and about 2% during July compared to the same periods last year.

Taking Irwin Kellner’s suggestion of “looking to the consumer,” let’s look at home buyer behavior trends; which may be understood through home absorption rate (the number of homes sold compared to the number of available listings during a given time period). It should be no surprise that the home absorption rate decreases compared to recent years due to the steady growth of home inventories and the reduced number of closings. Surprising is the rate of decrease in the absorption rate (calculated from MLS data) during June and July compared to the same periods last year (a decrease of 15% and 39% respectively).

Like the average consumer, it seems that home buyers may have become a bit skittish. Kellner points out that contrary to economist’s expectations, the August report of the Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan survey of consumer sentiment has dropped to a 10 month low. Additionally, he reported that although there has been some good news about employment, he argues that wages are not keeping up with inflation due to the nature of many newly created jobs, which are temp or part-time. Furthermore, he states that consumer savings are either low or “depleted.” Rounded out by the usual concern about job security, geopolitics, and the general economy: Kellner gives us a glimpse of today’s consumer.

As for real estate, the statistics suggest that the housing market may be at another crossroads. Homes sales have already dropped off during the busiest time of year, and it may be reasonable to expect that sales for the remaining year may also be subdued. The mediating factor will be home prices; which may eventually decline as home sellers try to be competitive with other listings, as well as entice home buyers to buy their homes.

By Dan Krell
© 2014

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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Predicting 2013 home sales through housing statistics

by Dan Krell
DanKrell.com
© 2013
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home sale statsMuch like a soap opera cliff hanger, 2012 home sales ended on an upward swing leaving people wanting more good news. There’s a lot expected from this year’s real estate market, so what are some of the experts saying about 2013?

The latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices (www.standardandpoors.com/indices) press release dated January 29th reported home prices rose during 2012 through November rose in 19 of 20 cities. The 10-city composite revealed an annual home price increase of 4.5% and the 20-city composite revealed a home price increase of 5.5%. And although the release described that the seasonally adjusted home prices may be an indication of a week winter housing market, there was a clear pronouncement that “…housing is clearly recovering…” and pointed out that nationwide existing home sale volume outpaced recent years’ volumes. The cities that made the most gains were the cities that experienced the most declines in home values and the highest foreclosure rates. The home price indices of the 10-city and 20-city composites are reportedly back to 2003 levels.

The National Association of Realtors® (realtor.org) reported in a February 11th press release that the national median existing single family home price increased 10% in the fourth quarter 2012 over the same period in 2011. And the Housing Affordability Index indicates that the homebuyer’s buying power is at a point where they could “comfortably” afford to purchase a home.

Fourth quarter 2012 home sales volume was reported by NAR to be the highest since the fourth quarter 2009; 23% of home sales during the quarter were from distressed home sales (short sales and foreclosures). Additionally, home sale inventory was down about 21.6% for the quarter, which is the lowest since 2001.

NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun was reported as saying that home sales are being energized by “pent up demand” and low inventories. He stated, “…all the conditions for strong price growth are at play.”… “Home sales are on a sustained uptrend, mortgage interest rates are hovering near record lows and unsold inventory is at the lowest level in 12 years…” Yun believes that “…supply and demand dynamics are very much at play.”

Given recent reports from various sources, it looks as if there is momentum in the real estate market. And NAR’s Dr. Yun lays out an argument for home sales that hasn’t been since 2006. But chances are that 2013 home sales will be about many factors, not just “pent up demand” or “supply and demand.” For example, it is doubtful that hedge funds will continue the bulk foreclosure buying that pushed home sales figures to almost record levels.

By themselves, housing indices are broad based measures that typically measure one aspect of the housing market; describing the variables responsible for the measures and indices is more difficult and usually a guess at what’s happening in the marketplace. In an effort to provide a more meaningful measure of the housing market, I devised a measure called the “Krell List-to-Sold Ratio;” which is the ratio of total number of listings to the total number of homes sold in any given area during any time period. The January 2013 Krell List-to-Sold Ratio for Montgomery County reveals that activity continues to be elevated; which is interpreted to mean that the year has started stronger than recent years, but not as strong as 2012.

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of February 11, 2013. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2012 Dan Krell.