In November, Amazon announced it’s locations for HQ2, wildfires blazed through California, and midterm elections brought out the most voters in decades.
1. Bezos Money Moves
+ There’s no doubt that the recent announcement of Amazon’s HQ2 locations (Long Island City, NY, and Arlington, VA) has sparked interest and concern for the housing market in these areas. In Long Island City alone, real estate agents saw a 794% increase in online views of homes for sale in November.
+ From Housing Wire: Amazon announces HQ2 locations in New York and Virginia. "'Today’s announcement of HQ2 will likely have a quick impact on home prices and rents in Arlington, Virginia, and New York City. That’s because Amazon’s HQ2 is like nothing we’ve ever seen before,' Hale said. Not only is it one of the largest company headquarters openings, but the amount of attention it’s received is unparalleled. There’s no doubt that investors and landlords in these areas have been following the news trying to get ahead of the Amazon housing boom.
+ NY Times reports: Amazon’s HQ2 Will Benefit From New York City. But What Does New York Get? “‘What are they going to do for the community? Are they going to guarantee us employment opportunities?’ said April Simpson, the president of Queensbridge Tenants Association. 'I’m worried about, when they come, they’re not going to have opportunities for people. Not just people from Queensbridge—but other lower- and middle-income people in this area.'”
+ The Verge: For Queens residents, Amazon’s HQ2 isn’t arriving without a fight. "Between 2010 and 2016, LIC has seen a population growth of about 11 percent, which is more than double the rate of all of New York City, according to the American Community Survey. (The waterfront strip along Vernon Boulevard alone has nearly doubled its population from roughly 3,400 residents to 6,700.) A study last year found that LIC has outpaced the rest of the United States for new housing developments, and a local neighborhood development organization found that the area is on pace to grow from 80,000 residents to over 100,000 in the next three years."
2. A Country Divided By Real Estate
+ Now, we can’t ignore the red elephant in the room—it’s been an intense rat race for both sides this past couple of months leading up to the midterm elections. The country is split, left and right, in its values and, consequently, voting. Real estate data can reveal what you believe in and predict how you vote.
+ Realtor.com: Red vs. Blue America: How the nation's real estate divide shaped the midterm elections “We found stark differences between America's red and blue real estate—everything from the cost of homes, the number of places being built, even the credit scores it takes to buy a home. ‘Not only are people living in different political realities, but they're contending with very different housing realities and paying different amounts for it,’ says Mark Muro, senior fellow in the metropolitan policy program at the Brookings Institution, a think tank based in Washington, D.C.
‘You're seeing the Democrats become more and more of an urban party and the Republicans become more of a rural or exurban party,’ says Kyle Kondik, managing editor of Sabato's Crystal Ball, a newsletter from the University of Virginia Center for Politics. 'As you get farther out from the city, it gets more Republican.'"
+ Then, what does it look like for the real estate market with our newly elected congress? What does this look like for home buyers and sellers? FromInman.com: What the new Congress means for real estate. “For one the housing market, unlike the stock market, does not make sudden moves based on events like elections. Buyers will still purchase homes and sellers will still list their houses.
However, longer-term public policy can play an important role, as we have learned with actions by the Federal Reserve, starting three years ago when it began raising interest rates. Plus, tax reform has played a role — good and bad — with the real estate scene.”
3. Camp Fire to Thousand Oaks
+ Camp Fire tops the list for most destructive wildfires in California. Though it’s now 100% contained, the wildfires left a trail of flattened towns and destroyed homes (unless you hired private firefighters like the Kardashian-Wests).
+ HomeLight: Firestorms in Northern California Cause Unchartered Territory in the Real Estate Market. HomeLight analyzed the effects of the 2017 wildfires in Sonoma and Santa Rosa, CA— “According to HomeLight data, the real estate market in Sonoma county took a steep dip at the start of the fires, but in days after the containment began, sales crawled back up.
In fact, sales are creeping back to the level they were at this time last year, despite fire cleanup and aftermath. Instead of overpriced homes sitting on the market, they’re selling right away. As soon as a listing hits, buyers come in with their best offer.”
+ Business Insider: Wildfires in California have destroyed thousands of homes, and the devastating pattern is making fire insurance more expensive and complicated than ever “Thanks to heightened wildfire activity across the state, it's becoming harder than ever for California homeowners to obtain and keep fire insurance, reported the Associated Press.
'As California wildfires grow larger and more intense, an increasing number of insurance companies are not renewing policies for customers who live in areas they deem too risky to cover,’ wrote Laura Newberry of the Los Angeles Times."
After detrimental events, such as a wildfire, we have found that property owners will either 'dive, survive or thrive.' Wildfires can be an opportunity to paint a fresh picture and thrive. While it is never easy to deal with life-altering devastation, being aware of what is going on around you will help promote a positive rebuilding process.” Forbes.com: The Impact of Wildfires on The Future of California Real Estate.
+ NBCNews: How to help victims of the California Wildfires “FEMA, a government entity, does not accept donations, but they are working closely with non-profits that are relying on donations. Hart urges people who want to donate to make sure that whichever charity you choose has been approved by National Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD).
Here’s a list of some organizations working closely with survivors:
Right now best thing is to go on the Red Cross site and sign up to volunteer,' says Tornetta. 'Whatever time you can commit, whether it’s a week or eight hours — we will welcome your support. Please sign up and call first, as we can’t necessarily stop in the middle of an operation if you just show up.'"
4. DIY a Christmas Gift, Not Your Home Sale
+ Realtor Magazine: FSBO Transactions Hit New Record Low "The number of For Sale by Owner transactions fell to a record low of 7 percent of all home sales in 2018, down from 8 percent last year, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2018 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers. FSBOs—homeowners who try to sell their properties themselves without a real estate agent—have decreased dramatically since 1981, when they accounted for 15 percent of all home sales.”
+ What does this mean for home buyers and sellers? Chances are, you can’t compete with the chops of top real estate agents who have been in the business for years—they know the right people and the practices to get you the most for your money.
+ So, as we head into the holiday seasons and you’re thinking about selling or buying a home, take into account these five trends for the 2019 housing market.
+ From Caroline Feeney, Forbes: Real Estate Markets Cooling Across The Country, And It's Not Just The Winter Effect
1. Mortgage rates will continue to rise and hit 5.5% in 2019.
2. Homebuyers will have more negotiating power, and sellers will need to make more compromises.
3. As price gains slow, home values will still appreciate at a 2-3% clip.
4. Markets will cool faster or slower depending on local conditions and tax burdens. 5. Upper-tier markets will soften while demand for entry-level housing remains high.
+ Work with the top real estate agent in your area to navigate the rest of the year and 2019.
5. The Wells Fargo wagon is not coming to town
+ “Wells Fargo acknowledged Tuesday that, because of a calculation error, it had improperly foreclosed on 545 distressed homeowners after they asked for help with their mortgages. Overall, 870 homeowners were denied help for which they qualified — with more than half losing their homes afterward, Wells Fargo said.”Washington Post: Wells Fargo admits it incorrectly foreclosed on 545 homeowners it should have helped
+ 'Wells Fargo initially disclosed the problem in August and said it would set aside $8 million, or about $12,800 per customer, to address the problem. But on Tuesday it increased the number of people it believes were affected after conducting an expanded review. A ‘substantial majority’ of the borrowers have already been contacted and will be offered “remediation,' the bank said.
+ 'This effort to identify other instances in which customers may have experienced harm is ongoing, and it is possible that we may identify other areas of potential concern,' the bank said in its SEC filing."
+ One word: Yikes. Calculation errors… isn’t their job to do, well, calculations? Some owners decided to take action against their wrongful disclosure. Market Watch: Longtime Sacramento Restaurant Owner Files Wrongful Foreclosure Lawsuit Against Wells Fargo.
+ CBS News: How to fight a wrongful foreclosure.