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November 27, 2021

 

It was a quiet holiday week in the markets with relatively little data released last week. However, the data we received was generally encouraging and supportive of a robust housing market being maintained into the new year. Although rates have generally been trending up and competition haws eased slightly as a result, mortgage applications and closed sales, particularly in California’s core economies, have remained robust.

November Home Sales Look Promising: Although the housing market in California continues to normalize back down from the nearly 510,000-unit pace we began 2021 with, all indications from our weekly analytics of closed sales suggests that the market is holding up relatively well. Through the weekend, existing single-family home sales were tracking roughly 14% below November 2020 levels, but last year California reached more than 508,000 units on an annualized basis. Therefore, sales are likely to remain in excess of the 400,000 benchmark this month, putting the annual figure right in line with our current projection of 430,000-440,000 units for the year.

Unemployment Claims Dip Below Pre-Crisis Levels: After exceeding more than 100,000 new unemployment claims per week consecutively for nearly a full year, initial unemployment insurance claims in California have now dipped below where they were for the week of March 14, 2020. Last week, just over 52,000 UI claims were filed, which was down more than 7,000 from the previous week. After an initial surge of more than 1 million claims at the end of March 2020, claims peaked at nearly 300,000 in a single week during July 2020 before gradually beginning to come down. This continues a healthy downtrend that began in earnest this February.

Bay Area Housing Market Outperforming Rest of State: The San Francisco Bay Area continues to punch above its weight helping to bolster not just the statewide growth figures, but an impressive level of home sales as well. Based upon our monthly market data for October, the Bay Area posted the smallest decline from 2020 levels, but it was also the region whose current sales were farthest ahead of pre-crisis levels. Using February 2020 as the index month, Bay Area home sales were 51% higher in October compared with 8% above in the Far North, 22% in Southern California and the Central Valley, and 26% on the Central Coast. As a testament to its current strength, the Bay Area is the only region in the state that could boast more home sales in October 2021 than they had during the summer of 2019 before the crisis ever began.

Mortgage Applications Hold Steady Above Pre-Crisis Levels: The decline in new mortgage applications that began in May continues to decelerate and there are reasons for optimism under the hood of the yearly growth figures. First, compared to last year, mortgage applications last week were only down 4% versus the double-digit declines that persisted between June and October. In addition, mortgage applications have been either stable or increasing on a weekly basis in 4 of the past 7 weeks. Furthermore, the level of mortgage applications, rather than the growth rates compared with 2020, remains relatively robust. Not only are applications beginning to re-converge with 2020’s elevated levels, but the current index also remains roughly 15% ahead of 2018 and 2019 levels. This means that buyer demand remains alive and well despite higher rates, even if not at the record levels we saw last summer.

Market Competition Ebbs Slightly as Normalization Continues: Although buyer demand is solid, the decline from 15-year highs has given buyers a few more opportunities than they have had in a while—particularly while rates remain relatively low by pre-crisis standards. According to our weekly sales analysis, the percentage of closed transactions that sold for more than the listing price has been below 60% for the past 5 weeks in a row. This has become a consistent trend since July when more than 70% of homes were selling above asking price. However, those figures are beginning to stabilize around current levels and there hasn’t been a noticeable drop off in over a month after cooling slightly this fall. Taken together with sales that remain relatively robust and a renewed uptick in mortgage applications, it supports the notion of a fairly stable market for home sales in the coming months.

Infographic Note: The MLS data in the infographic is reflective of the week 11/21-11/27 and the Survey data is reflective of the week 11/14-11/20.

Weekly Data for WE 2021-11-27

 


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