A Second Wave Of Outbreak The Housing Market

Dated: 06/30/2020

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A second wave of outbreak & the housing market

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What will happen to the housing market if we have a second wave of outbreak? Quite a few states are seeing an uptick in COVID-19 cases right now, so this is an important question to ask. This isn’t about politics or fear, but having conversation.

From V to W? The market has seen a “V” shape so far where we had a decline when the pandemic began and then we rebounded. Today I interview economist Ralph McLaughlin to talk about his concept of a Flying W. It sort of takes the “V” that we’ve already seen and talks about why we might see another “V”.

Market update: Here’s my latest market update where I unpack glowing stats from this past week and some things to keep in mind if we do see another outbreak. Watch below (or here).

Ryan:What is The Flying W?   Ralph:The “Flying W” is generally the shape of the housing market recovery that we’re forecasting atHaus, which essentially is a wavy one. You can think of it as really two “Vs” next to each other, where the initial drop in activity due to the pandemic is sharp and severe, followed by a rebound to near pre-pandemic levels, and then the process repeats itself until we’ve recovered sometime next year. We’re thinking the process will repeat itself for a second time for three reasons. First, we think the initial rebound is simply due to pent-up demand for home buying that would have otherwise occurred in March, April, and May but will simply be pushed to June, July, and August. But after that, we’re not expecting new demand to replace it at comparable levels, which will lead to another drop in activity. Second, and I think we’re seeing this already, is thatthe virus will make a comeback, which will lead to less demand for homebuying in the fall. Third, there’s a possibility that we’ll see a broader impact on housing demand (including rentals) if the federal unemployment insurance bonus runs out at the end of July.   Ryan:What sort of stats would you recommend following to know if a “W” shape was beginning to happen?   Ralph:The important thing to note here is that some indicators are likely to follow a W, while others might follow an additional path. We’re expecting employment growth, home sales, price growth, and housing starts to follow a “W’ pattern, whereas we’re forecasting refinance activity to be more waterfall shaped. Other indicators are likely to buck the trend. For example, if renters are hit harder than homeowners, then we could actually see an uptick in the homeownership rate.   Ryan:Do you have any advice for buyers and sellers as they consider a possible second wave of coronavirus?   Ralph:Sellers shouldn’t be too worried at this point. It appears in the aggregate, sellers freaked out more than buyers during the pandemic. We saw large decreases in inventory across the country. And though demand certainly fell, it didn’t fall as far as supply. So the result has been a surprisingly robust market in many markets across the country. I recently sold my home in Virginia and was pleasantly surprised to have multiple offers, so buyers shouldn’t be expecting to get massive, if any, discounts like they could 10 years ago.   Ryan:Any tips for the real estate community?   Ralph:Utilize technology. We’ve come a very long way over the past decade in how people search for, tour, finance, and close on homes. Those who can utilize technology will have a competitive advantage during a downturn and thus will be more resilient. Buyers are becoming savvier with narrowing down their search list using online search portals, agents are becoming more savvy with how they use tools to virtually show homes and hold open houses, lenders are findings ways to streamline document sharing and signing, and title companies utilize platforms that make closing more transparent and efficient. The more the real estate community can utilize these technologies, the more resilient it will be.   Ryan:Thanks Ralph. I appreciate your time today.

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