‘How Can We Catch Up?’ Mortgage Denials Stack the Deck Against Black and Hispanic Buyers

The American dream of homeownership is not an equal opportunity ambition.

Black and Hispanic home buyers are more frequently denied mortgages than white buyers—even when their financial pictures are similar, according to a realtor.com® analysis of 2019 mortgage data. When they are able to secure mortgages, Black and Hispanic borrowers are more likely to pay higher fees and interest rates on their loans than white and Asian borrowers.

“What we call it in my community is the ‘Black tax,'” says Donnell Williams. He is president of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, an organization for Black real estate professionals, and a broker with Destiny Realty in Morristown, NJ.

“Even if we have a college degree, we’re still getting the same treatment as a white high-school dropout,” he says.

Black buyers were twice as likely to be refused mortgages than whites, according to the realtor.com analysis of 7.2 million loan applications in 2019. Only about 5.5% of whites had their loan applications rejected, compared with 6.8% of Asians, 9.3% of Hispanics, 11.7% of Blacks, and 10.8% of multi-minority race individuals hoping to be approved. These denials were only for applicants where all the data was available for fully completed applications that weren’t withdrawn.

Decades of discrimination against people of color have resulted in lower homeownership rates among minorities than among whites in America. And that has a deep, long-term impact on wide swaths of America, since homeownership is traditionally how generations have catapulted themselves into the middle class, as their properties appreciate in value over time.

Nearly three-quarters of whites, 74.5%, owned their homes in the last quarter of 2020, according to a quarterly report from the U.S. Census Bureau. However, just 44.1% of Blacks, 49.1% of Hispanics, and 59.5% of Asians were homeowners in the last three months of the year.

“There are a lot of obstacles that are working against buyers of color,” says Brett Theodos, a senior fellow at Urban Institute, a nonpartisan research group based in Washington, DC.

On top of racial discrimination, “they’re less likely to get help with the down payment from the bank of Mom and Dad,” says Theodos. “They’ve also [often] entered adulthood with higher student loan debt, less inheritance, and are on average in professions that earn lower wages.”

Many of these problems took root generations ago. Whites who served in World War II were offered low-cost mortgages for single-family homes in newly built suburbs when they returned. Blacks and other minorities were often denied access to these loans. In many cases, Blacks, in particular, were explicitly barred from living in white communities through a toxic combination of racial covenants written in deeds and government-supported redlining.

Black Americans, like these Tuskegee Airmen, served their country in World War II but returned home to face discrimination.
Black Americans, like these Tuskegee Airmen, served their country in World War II but returned home to face discrimination.

Bettmann/Getty Images

So Blacks who wanted to become homeowners often had to buy homes at inflated prices in less desirable areas. If they were able to get mortgages at all, they typically paid more for them. And homes in these areas haven’t appreciated nearly as much as homes in white areas, except in the places that have seen significant gentrification. As homeownership is used to catapult folks into the middle class and build wealth, that’s left many minorities with less money to pass down to future generations in the form of college tuition assistance or a down payment.

“How can we catch up? How can we be on par? We didn’t have that head start of generational wealth,” laments the National Association of Real Estate Brokers’ Williams. “You want a piece of the American dream, and it’s hard. You feel like your efforts are in vain.”

Realtor.com took a hard look at which races are most likely to be denied mortgages and the reasons provided for those rejections as well as who is paying the most for those loans. To do so, we analyzed 2019 mortgage application data available through the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. The act, passed in 1975, requires most larger lenders to collect mortgage data and make it public. We looked at only first-lien mortgages on purchases of one- to four-family homes built on site, so manufactured homes wouldn’t be included.

When possible, we compared borrowers with similar financial profiles to see who was getting loans—and who wasn’t. However, our analysis doesn’t take into account certain discrepancies like credit scores.

Blacks most likely to be denied mortgages—even with good-sized down payments

According to our analysis, even aspiring home buyers of color with sizable down payments are more likely to be denied mortgages.

Black borrowers with 10% to 20% to put down were more than twice as likely to be denied than whites offering the same down payments. Lenders rejected 6% of whites and 9% of Asians—compared with 11% of Hispanics and multi-minority race borrowers and 13% of Blacks.

These higher denial rates may be due to minority borrowers having lower credit scores, more debt, or some other financial black mark. But lending experts believe that racial discrimination also plays a part.

For example, a loan officer might tell white borrowers to improve their credit before submitting an application, be more understanding of alternative forms of income, such as a family member contributing or a side gig, or wait until mortgage rates fall a little so their monthly payment is lower. The latter would increase such borrowers’ shot at getting a loan. But a loan officer may not do the same for customers of color.

“Some of it is decisions being made by the lending officers,” says sociology professor Lincoln Quillian of Northwestern University in Evanston, IL. “They have powerful stereotypes of who is likely to repay loans.”

Black and Hispanic borrowers often pay more for their mortgages

Black and Hispanic borrowers were more likely to receive higher mortgage interest rates on their loans—which can add up to big money over time.

About 59% of white borrowers and 52% of Asian borrowers received rates within 1 percentage point of the best (i.e., lowest) possible rate. However, only 51% of multi-minority race borrowers, 47% of Hispanics, and 44% of Blacks fared as well. (It’s unknown whether some of these borrowers pre-paid or bought down their interest rates during the closing process.)

Even the smallest differences in rates can really add up. A single percentage point difference can lead to a larger monthly mortgage payment and tens of thousands of dollars more paid out over the life of a 30-year fixed-rate loan. (The exact difference depends on the purchase price of the home, the exact mortgage rates, and the size of the down payment.)

A recent study found that wealthier Blacks were given higher mortgage rates than low-income whites.

Black households making between $75,000 and $100,000 a year were saddled with a median 4.215% mortgage interest rate in 2019, according to a report from the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. However white households earning $30,000 or less had a lower median mortgage rate of 4.16%. The study looked at 2019 U.S. Census Bureau data.

Even Black households raking in $100,000 a year or more paid slightly higher interest rates, 4.169%, than low-income whites. Whites with six-figure incomes had median 3.946% rates—about 22 basis points less than Blacks who were also earning $100,000 or more.

“We have some deep problems in the mortgage market,” Raheem Hanifa, a research analyst at the center who wrote the study.

“Some of the differences in mortgage [costs] is due to differences in who the lenders are. There’s evidence that Black and Hispanic buyers are more likely to be marketed to by lenders who are higher-cost,” says sociology professor Quillian. “White and Asian borrowers are more likely to go to traditional banks.”

Predatory lending and the proliferation of subprime mortgages doled out to communities of color led to the last housing crash, and plunged the world into a financial crisis more than a decade ago. But at least some of today’s pricier lenders may simply be smaller operations that need to charge more since they’re not dealing with the economies of scale of the bigger banks.

People of color more likely to be denied loans due to debt

Minorities are more likely to be denied mortgages due to their debt. Before deciding whether to grant loans, lenders look closely at potential borrowers’ debt loads. Their goal is to make sure borrowers can afford to pay back their credit card, student loan, car, and other payments—on top of a mortgage.

Only 1.6% of potential whites borrowers had their applications rejected because of their debt loads—compared with 2.5% of Asians, 3.1% of Hispanics, and 3.8% of Blacks. About 3.7% of multi-minority race applicants were also rejected.

While that does not sound like that much of a difference, it means that 1 in 64 white applicants is denied versus 1 in 26 Blacks.

Some minority borrowers may simply carry more debt than white borrowers. Many face discrimination in the workplace that can manifest in lower salaries and fewer promotions. Also, they may not receive the same level of financial help from their families when they get into a tough financial spot.

Black households were more than twice as likely to have student loan debt than white households, according to a recent report from the National Association of Realtors®. About 43% of Black households had student debt, at a median $40,000, compared with 21% of whites, at a median $30,000 in student debt. (The report was based on a survey of more than 8,200 home buyers who purchased a primary home from July 2019 to June 2020.)

Employment and credit histories also led to higher mortgage denial rates for minorities

Blacks and Hispanics were also more likely to be denied a loan due to their employment history. One in 568 white applicants was rejected due to their work history, compared with 1 in 282 Blacks.

“People of color, notably Native Americans, Blacks, and Hispanics, face higher rates of discrimination in hiring,” says the Urban Institute’s Theodos. “It can be more difficult to be promoted or advanced.”

That plays a big part in how much they’re earning. In 2019, Asian households had the highest median incomes of $98,174, followed by non-Hispanic white households at $76,057, according to U.S. Census Bureau data. Hispanic households had a median income of $56,113, while Black households brought in the least, at $45,438.

Blacks and Hispanics are also more likely to lose out on a loan due to their credit scores. About 0.6% of Asians and 1% of whites were denied due to their credit histories compared with 1.6% of Hispanics, 2.9% of Blacks, and 2.4% of multi-minority races.

Typically, people build good credit by paying off their student loans, car loans, and credit card bills on time each month. However, many lower-income Americans are less likely to have graduated from college or have credit cards. And what folks do pay every month—their rent, utility, and cellphone payments—often aren’t counted toward credit profiles.

“It’s not just discrimination today that is why we see denials at higher rates for Blacks and Hispanics. It’s the byproduct of generations of systemic racism,” says Theodos. “We have a long way to go in overcoming the deep, historical divide of opportunity for people of color in this country.”

Source: realtor.com

Miami-Dade Total Home Sales Continue Surging in January 2021

Miami-Dade County total home sales posted a double-digit increase for the fifth consecutive month in January 2021 as pent-up demand and record-low mortgage rates continue fueling transactions, according to the MIAMI Association of Realtors (MIAMI) and the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) system.

Miami-Dade County total home sales jumped 19.1% year-over-year in January 2021, from 1,857 to 2,211. Miami single-family home sales rose 9.1% year-over-year, from 887 to 968. Miami existing condo transactions increased 28.1% year-over-year, from 970 to 1,243.

“Double-digit home sale increases for five consecutive months speaks to the resiliency of the Miami real estate market, the global pent-up demand for South Florida properties, record-low mortgage rates, purchases from home buyers in tax-burdened states, the importance of the home as a hub in our daily lives and increased interest from international buyers,” MIAMI Chairman of the Board Jennifer Wollmann said.

Miami real estate accounted for 12,918 total home sales in the five-month stretch from September 2020 to January 2021. That is a 18.4% increase in the number of total transactions compared to the five-month stretch from September 2019 to January 2020.

Lack of inventory in certain price points is impacting sales, particularly for single-family homes. Increased housing starts and more sellers listing properties in 2021 should help alleviate the lack of supply.

Miami Luxury Condo Sales Surge 130.6% in January 2021
Miami single-family luxury ($1-million-and-up) transactions jumped 114.1% year-over-year to 167 sales in January 2021. Miami existing condo luxury ($1-million-and-up) sales increased 130.6% year-over-year to 113 transactions.

Luxury months of supply continues to trend downward for all property types, month-over-month, and year-over-year.

Miami single-family homes priced between $400K to $600K surged 51.5% year-over-year to 294 transactions in January 2021. Miami existing condo sales priced between $400K to $600K increased 64.5% to 153 transactions.

Record-low interest rates; a robust S&P 500; the appeal of stable assets in a volatile economy; homebuyers leaving tax-burdened Northeastern states to purchase in Florida (no state income tax); and work-from-home and remote-learning policies have all combined to create a robust market for luxury single-family properties.

110 Consecutive Months of Price Appreciation in Miami
Strong demand coupled with limited supply continue to drive price appreciation in Miami-Dade.

Miami-Dade County single-family home prices increased 25.2% year-over-year in January 2021, increasing from $375,000 to $469,500. Miami single-family home prices have risen for 110 consecutive months, a streak of more than 9 years. Existing condo prices increased 14.3% year-over-year, from $245,000 to $280,000. Condo prices have increased or stayed even in 112 of the last 116 months.

Miami, where the median price is still comparable to 2007 figures, remains a bargain compared to other global cities. In Miami, $1 million can net homebuyers 93 square meters of prime property, according to Knight Frank’s 2019 The Wealth Report. Monaco (16 square meters), Hong Kong (22), New York (31), Los Angeles (36) and others offer significantly less prime land for $1 million.

Single-Family Home and Condo Dollar Volume Increases
Single-family home dollar volume increased 86.4% year-over-year, from $471.7 million to $879.2 million. Condo dollar volume increased 69.4% year-over-year, from $393.9 million to $667.1 million.

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage was 2.74% in January, up from 2.68% in December. The average commitment rate across all of 2020 was 3.11%.

Lack of access to mortgage loans continues to inhibit further growth of the existing condominium market. Of the 9,307 condominium buildings in Miami-Dade and Broward counties, only 13 are approved for Federal Housing Administration loans, down from 29 last year, according to Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation and FHA.

A better condo approval process is expected to increase sales. The guidance, which went into effect in October 2019, extends certifications from two years to three, allows for single-unit mortgage approvals, provides more flexibility with owner/occupancy ratios, and increases the allowable number of FHA loans in a single project. The changes, many of which MIAMI and NAR have championed, are expected to generate increased homeownership opportunities.

Miami Distressed Sales Stay Low, Reflecting Healthy Market
Only 1.8% of all closed residential sales in Miami were distressed last month, including REO (bank-owned properties) and short sales, compared to 5.9% in January 2020. In 2009, distressed sales comprised 70% of Miami sales.

Total Miami distressed sales decreased 64.5%, from 110 to 39.

Short sales and REOs accounted for 0.7% and 1.1% year-over-year, respectively, of total Miami sales in January 2021. Short sale transactions decreased 37.5% year-over-year while REOs decreased 72.1%.

Nationally, distressed sales represented less than 1% of sales in January 2021, down from 2% in January 2020.

Miami Real Estate Selling Close to List Price
The median percent of original list price received for single-family homes was 96.8% in January 2021, up 1.3% from 95.6% last year. The median percent of original list price received for existing condominiums was 94.3%, up 1% from 93.4% last year.

The median number of days between listing and contract dates for Miami single-family home sales was 28 days, a 44% decrease from 50 days last year. The median number of days between the listing date and closing date for condos was 63 days, down 23.2% from 82 days.

The median time to sale for single-family homes was 80 days, a 18.4% decrease from 98 days last year. The median number of days to sale for condos was 111 days, a 9.8% decrease from 123 days.

National and State Statistics
Nationally, total existing-home sales transactions completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 0.6% from December to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.69 million in January. Sales in total climbed year-over-year, up 23.7% from a year ago (5.41 million in January 2020).

In January, closed sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 21,587, up 18% year-over-year, while existing condo-townhouse sales totaled 9,608, up 24.6% over January 2020. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

Nationally, the median existing-home price for all housing types in January was $303,900, up 14.1% from January 2020 ($266,300), as prices increased in every region. January’s national price jump marks 107 straight months of year-over-year gains.

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes was $305,000, up 15.1% from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Research Department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Last month’s statewide median price for condo-townhouse units was $230,000, up 15% over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

Miami’s Cash Buyers Top National Figure
Miami cash transactions comprised 33.1% of January 2021 total closed sales, compared to 33.8% last year. The national figure for cash buyers is 19%.

Miami’s high percentage of cash sales reflects South Florida’s ability to attract a diverse number of international homebuyers, who tend to purchase properties in all cash.

Condominiums comprise a large portion of Miami’s cash purchases as 43% of condo closings were made in cash in January 2021 compared to 20.4% of single-family home sales.

Seller’s Market for Single-Family Homes, Buyer’s Market for Condos
Inventory of single-family homes decreased 45.8% in January 2021 from 6,277 active listings last year to 3,401 last month. Condominium inventory decreased 15.4% to 12,608 from 14,902 listings during the same period in 2020.

Inventory of active listings has decreased the last 17 months for single-family homes.

Months supply of inventory for single-family homes decreased 44.6% to 3.1 months, which indicates a seller’s market. Inventory for existing condominiums decreased 9.6% to 11.3 months, which indicates a buyer’s market. A balanced market between buyers and sellers offers between six- and nine-months supply.

Months supply of inventory is down since July 2019 for single-family, reflecting strong demand.

Total active listings at the end of January 2021 decreased 24.4% year-over-year, from 21,179 to 16,009. Active listings remain about 60% below 2008 levels when sales bottomed.

New listings of Miami single-family homes decreased 13.7% to 1,541 from 1,785. New listings of condominiums increased 1.3%, from 2,468 to 2,500.

Nationally, total housing inventory at the end of January amounted to 1.04 million units, down 1.9% from December and down 25.7% from one year ago (1.40 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 1.9-month supply at the current sales pace, equal to December’s supply and down from the 3.1-month amount recorded in January 2020. NAR first began tracking the single-family home supply in 1982.

To access January 2021 Miami-Dade Statistical Reports, visit http://www.SFMarketIntel.com

Source: realtybiznews.com

Existing Home Sales Hit 14-Year High in 2020

Sales of existing homes totaled 5.64 million units last year, the highest since 2006. So reports CNBC.

According to the National Association of Realtors, December existing home sales rose 0.7% from the prior month to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 6.76 million units.

Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said in a press release, “What’s even better is that this momentum is likely to carry into the new year, with more buyers expected to enter the market.”

Read the full article from CNBC. 

Source: themortgageleader.com

Existing Home Sales Rise, But Inventories Hamper Results

Existing home sales started the 2021 with a small increase
from the December sale levels, the second consecutive monthly gain. The
National Association of Realtors® (NAR) said transactions that include pre-owned
single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, increased 0.6 percent
in January to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.69 million units compared
to 6.76 million in December. The month’s results are up 23.7 percent from the
annual rate
of 5.41 million sales in January 2020.

Existing home sales have increased in seven of the last
eight months, even though pending sales, generally considered a leading
indicator for the following one or two existing sales reports, have posted four
straight monthly losses.

Analysts surveyed by Econoday had expected a slight
pull-back in January’s sales. Their consensus was for annualized sales of 6.60
million units.

Sales of single-family homes were at a seasonally adjusted
annual rate of 5.93 million, a 0.2 percent gain from 5.92 million the previous
month and a 23.0 percent year-over-year increase. Condominium and co-op sales rose
4.1 percent from December to a rate of 760,000 units, 28.8 percent annual
growth.

Home sales continue to ascend in
the first month of the year
, as buyers quickly snatched up virtually every new
listing coming on the market,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Sales
easily could have been even 20 percent higher if there had been more inventory
and more choices.”

The median existing-home price for
all housing types in January was $303,900, up 14.1 percent from a year ago when
the median was $266,300. It was the 107th straight month of annual gains.  The median existing single-family home price
was $308,300, 14.8 percent annual growth, and condos appreciated by 8.6 percent
to a median of $269,600.

Whereas much of the economy has
suffered due to COVID-19, the housing sector has been one of the few bright
spots
, according to Yun. “Home sales are continuing to play a part in propping
up the economy,” he said. “With additional stimulus likely to pass and several
vaccines now available, the housing outlook looks solid for this year.”

Yun says he expects more jobs to
return, which will spur homebuying in the coming months and predicts
existing-home sales will reach at least 6.5 million in 2021. This will be despite
an increase in mortgage interest rates due to the rising budget deficit and
higher inflation.

25.7 percent from the 1.40 million listings in January 2020. The unsold
inventory is estimated to be a 1.9-month supply at the current sales pace,
unchanged from December, but down from the 3.1-month supply a year earlier. Properties
typically remained on the market for 21 days, seasonally even with December,
but down from an estimated 43 days in January 2020. Seventy-one percent
of the homes sold in January 2021 were on the market for less than a month.

First-time buyers accounted
for one-third of January sales and individual
investors or second-home buyers purchased 15 percent of the homes sold during
the month. Nineteen percent of sales were all-cash.
Fewer than 1 percent of sales were distressed, that is foreclosure or short
sales.

Sales results for January were mixed
across the four major regions
, but all posted double-digit increases in both annual
sales and appreciation. Existing-home sales fell 2.2 percent in the Northeast
to an annual rate of 870,000 units, 24.3 more than a year ago. The median price
rose 15.8 percent to $361,400.

The Midwest saw sales inch up 1.9
percent to an annual rate of 1,570,000 in January, a 22.7 percent jump from a
year prior. The median price grew 14.7 percent to $227,800.

The month-over-month increase in
sales in the South was 3.2 percent to an annual rate of 2,940,000, up 25.1
percent on an annual basis. The median price increased 14.6 percent to $263,300.

Existing-home sales in the West fell
4.4 percent from December but increased 21.3 percent from a year earlier to a rate
of 1,310,000 units. The median price was $461,800, up 16.1 percent from January
2020.

Source: mortgagenewsdaily.com

U.S. Existing Home Sales Rise in January as Buyers ‘Snatch Up’ Any New Listings

The numbers: U.S. existing home sales inched up 0.6% to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.69 million, the National Association of Realtors said Friday. Compared with a year ago, home sales were up 23.7%.

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast that existing home sales would fall to a median rate of 6.66 million.

What happened: The median existing-home price rose to $303,900 in January, up 14.1% from a year ago.

The inventory of homes for sale fell to a record low 1.04 million units by the end of January. That’s a 25.7% decline year-over-year. The market had a 1.9-month supply of homes for sales. A 6-month supply is considered a sign of a balanced market.

The South and the Midwest showed an increase in sales in January.

Big picture: Sales have been moving sideways since setting a cycle high in October. Economists think that low mortgage rates will continue to boost housing demand in coming months. Buyers are also looking for more room and more remote locations in the wake of the pandemic.

What the NAR said: “Home sales continue to ascend in the first month of the year, as buyers quickly snatched up virtually every new listing coming on the market. Sales easily could have been even 20% higher if there had been more inventory and more choices,” said said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

What economists are saying? “In general, record low mortgage rates and families fleeing more crowded living situations are fueling demand for single family homes in spite of ongoing turmoil in the labor market and higher home prices. Indeed, this is one sector which is coming out of the crisis stronger than it went into it,” said Josh Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc.

Market reaction: U.S. stocks opened higher Friday with the S&P 500 index up 12.48 points in mid-day trading after declining in the past three trading sessions.

Source: realtor.com

Existing home sales are still too hot

The National Association of Realtors reported that existing home sales for January were at 6,669,000, which beat estimates. The year-over-year growth was an impressive 23.7%. The median sales price also jumped 14.1% year over year, which I warned could happen during the years 2020-2024. On a recent HousingWire podcast, I discussed the need for higher mortgage rates to cool down this growth rate.

Currently, the 10-year yield is 1.35%, which is now above a critical level that I have talked about for some time. We should all be jumping for joy as the bond market shows the American bears that America is back. Mortgage rates should also creep higher. When the 10-year yield gets into the range of  1.33%-1.60%, we will have achieved our goal for the “America is Back”  economic model that I proposed last year, which I believe could only happen in 2021.

With the yield in that range, we can expect the mortgage rate to move up toward 3.375%. We still have a lot of work to do to earn the right to create this range in the bond market; the first would be hitting 1.60%, which we haven’t yet. The chart below shows the 10-year yield as of the close of Thursday. Today, bonds are selling off and yields are higher.

Mortgage rates are still meager, historically speaking, but 3.375% or higher may be enough to slow the home price growth rate – which, right now, is simply too hot. The days on the market went from 43 days last year to 21 days currently.

So far this year, the MBA purchase application data is running stronger than even I thought. This metric is a predictor trend of demand 30-90 days out. I believed the peak rate of growth in purchase applications would be around  11% year over year up until March 18th. It is trending at 13.1% this year, so we are off to a good start for 2021.

New home sales, existing home sales, and the builder’s confidence index that went parabolic towards the end of 2020 have stopped going up and started to fall.  The last report on new home sales shows that housing data moderates and moves back to the trend.

The monthly sales prints for existing home sales show that this metric has stopped its parabolic move higher, but it still has not moderated enough. We still have not  completely made up for the lost sales in 2020 due to COVID-19.  We should have ended 2020 with 5,710,000 -5,840,000 in existing home sales but only realized 5,640,000.  This number is only 130,000 higher than what we had in 2017, so this isn’t the booming speculative buying we saw during the height of the housing bubble years.

Once this makeup demand is exhausted, existing-home sales should moderate toward 6.2 million or even lower to get back to the trend. If existing home sales stay above 6.2 million on the monthly sales print for the entire year, we can consider the demand to be even better than expected.

For the rest of the year, the single most important and healthy event for the housing market would be higher mortgage rates to cool down home prices’ growth rate. We will see if mortgage rates rise high enough to cool demand and reduce the multiple bid situation we currently have in many markets.

Nobody wins when the housing market is too hot – not even sellers because they will need to find somewhere else to live. We have enough supply to grow sales to pre-cycle highs, but when choices are limited, the willingness to sell and move becomes less attractive.

Source: housingwire.com

Will the Great Urban Flight Last?

As COVID-19 has ravaged across the country, millions of people have faced lockdowns and home quarantines. Homes have become classrooms, offices, recreational spaces, and countless other identities. Especially in urban areas, walls have increasingly felt like cages, leaving residents craving open spaces, more square footage, and greenery. What has since transpired is nothing short of a phenomenon we’re calling “The Great Urban Flight.”

A Coast-to-Coast Urban Flight Snapshot

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Manhattan alone has seen a 15-20% exodus from its population. The same is true for larger cities on the West Coast; according to a recent study by U-Haul, “Departures accounted for 58% of all one-way U-Haul traffic from March through June” for San Francisco. Since the pandemic began, almost 9 million people have relocated across the US, and it’s estimated nearly 20% of all jobs will be remote after the pandemic subsides.

(RELATED: 2021 Housing Inventories: Will They Run Out?)

What Has Caused The Urban Flight?

Simply put, people don’t want to be near other people during a pandemic. Densely populated areas, compact community living, and tiny residences aren’t conducive to social distancing, but they also hinder learn-from-home, work-from-home, and entertain-at-home life. Where else is there to move but outside the city?

Aside from wanting more space, remote working and virtual learning make it possible for millions of people to move just about anywhere—and they’ve seized the opportunity. For many working professionals, the need for proximity to the office often hindered the “dream home” idea of a large yard and spacious dwellings. Now, as remote work is becoming a more normalized option, these dreams are being realized now more than ever. A recent Homes.com survey found that almost half of real estate agents are working with clients seeking to move to less populated areas. That same survey found that 40% of consumers either did, or plan to, move at least 100 miles away from their pre-pandemic residence.

Where Did Everybody Go?

Many professionals no longer need proximity to urban high-rise offices, and the allure of city life has somewhat faded during the pandemic. As urban flight has continued, movers have searched for places that make remote working and learning easier. Sales in suburban and rural areas have soared as homebuyers have sought homes with more square footage and green space.  Specifically, the areas that saw significant growth during the pandemic were:

(RELATED: Pandemic Reshapes Homebuying & Rental Decisions: Homes.com Survey)

What’s The Allure Of Rural and Suburban Life?

While 800-square-feet urban lofts might have worked in pre-pandemic life, they don’t meet the needs of individuals and families during a pandemic. If lockdowns and quarantines are the new way of life, even short-term, people still want a yard to go outside, have separate rooms for office and virtual school, and they don’t want to share community features like laundry and gyms.

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Of course, rural and suburban areas aren’t immune to COVID-19, but pandemic life has left just about everyone craving normalcy. At the end of a long day staring at screens, having space to walk around and unwind, parks to workout, scenery to enjoy—it’s all possible in suburban and rural living.

Couple those amenities with lower home and rent prices, and it’s no wonder urban flight has been such a strong presence in the real estate market.

Will the Urban Flight Last?

It remains to be seen if the overall draw of urban life has permanently lost its luster. Many experts predict that younger adults will gravitate back to city life as prices have made urban living a bit more affordable. The two most obvious factors in determining whether urban flight is here to stay is if remote learning and work-from-anywhere become standard in the post-pandemic way of life.

Homes.com’s survey found that 73% of people who moved last year, or are planning to move this year don’t plan on moving back to their pre-pandemic locations. This begs even more questions…for the ones who do, will they keep their rural house as a vacation home? Will this disrupt large-scale urban developments catering to millennials and young professionals? Only time will tell.


Jennifer is an accidental house flipper turned Realtor and real estate investor. She is the voice behind the blog, Bachelorette Pad Flip. Over five years, Jennifer paid off $70,000 in student loan debt through real estate investing. She’s passionate about the power of real estate. She’s also passionate about southern cooking, good architecture, and thrift store treasure hunting. She calls Northwest Arkansas home with her cat Smokey, but she has a deep love affair with South Florida.

Source: homes.com