Low Housing Inventory Continues in Charlottesville and Albemarle

If you look solely at the numbers, it looks like housing inventory is up. Not so.

I’ve been thinking for months that we’d be seeing more housing inventory on the market by now. It’s not yet here.

Comparing the first 9 days of February of this year versus last – 116 new listings came on last 1-9 February versus 50 this 1-9 February.

For the MSA (Charlottesville, Albemarle, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Nelson) – 84 this 1-9 February and 210 last 1-9 February.

I’m confused. I know this: I have buyers who are looking for homes to to, and we can’t find them. I get emails frequently from buyers’ agents who are looking for homes for their buyers, and they can’t find them.

If you’re interested, here’s a bit more data:

- The Sales and Inventory report for Charlottesville and Albemarle

- The Sales and Inventory report for the Charlottesville MSA

Update 18 February 2014: this is not merely a Charlottesville – Albemarle MSA trend. Redfin’s post today is outstanding.

Redfin agents say the downturn in demand is uneven. “The picture-perfect homes are selling just as fast as last year, often drawing a dozen or more offers,” according to Redfin Washington, D.C. agent Philip Gvinter. “But now the undesirable properties that would have sold in a few months last year aren’t selling at all. The biggest change is in between, with the sort-of-desirable homes. Last year, these homes got multiple offers and sold quickly. Now, they are getting only one offer during the first week, sometimes having to reduce their price, and the home is taking three to six weeks to sell.”

Cash & FHA Transactions in Charlottesville MSA – Local Analysis Matters

Cash-and-FHA-Closings-in-Charlottesville-MSA.png

The headline at Zero Hedge is a stunner. A Stunning 60% Of All Home Purchases Are “Cash Only” – A 200% Jump In Five Years

Naturally, I wondered what the numbers might look like for the Charlottesville area. Being curious, I thought I’d look at the numbers for FHA transactions – frequently used by first time homebuyers as the program requires only 3.5% downpayment. The FHA numbers were more interesting than the cash numbers.

Keep in mind that these numbers are for the extended Charlottesville MSA – Charlottesville, Albemarle, Greene, Fluvanna, Nelson plus Louisa. Data comes courtesy of the Charlottesville MLS. Timelines in the chart and data are from 1 January to 1 August for each year.

Short story:

- Cash transactions in the Charlottesville MSA are nowhere near the 60% in the numbers cited in the above story. 20% cash transactions seems high, too.
– FHA transactions fell and rose with the market. As the mortgage market became more restrictive and buyers had less cash, more turned to FHA loans. Now, as the market seems to maybe be recovering and FHA is less attractive. Think about it. 2006 – 2.3% of transactions in the Charlottesville MSA were FHA, increasing to a peak of 18.61% in 2009 and moving to 8.66% so far this year.

Cash and FHA Closings in Charlottesville MSA

The drop of FHA in 2007 shocked me, so I looked at 2006 … similar numbers … which tracked with what I had perceived in the market. Money was free, then it was harder to get, now FHA is less of a viable option. I asked Matt Hodges with Presidential for a deeper explanation about the FHA aspect.

A history of loan program availability as well as the mortgage meltdown starting in the 2007 range, lends explanation to seemingly odd data.  Locally, FHA historically has comprised a very small percentage of business – in fact many brokers chose not to do FHA loans due to the oversight, quality control costs, paperwork and most importantly, availability of lower cost options for borrowers.  That change, to now considering FHA as an appropriate loan product occurred when 100% and 97% loan-to-value (LTV) loan programs, many with no mortgage insurance, started to disappear. 

About the same time, banks stopped offering 95% combined LTV loans, due to the massive defaults – 2nd lien holders often lost everything in foreclosure.  So, FHA became popular and competitive and they allow lower credit score minimums.  Their popularity grew until… FHA started increasing the up-front mortgage insurance premiums (UFMIP) as well as the annual mortgage insurance premiums (MIP).  In October, 2010, while the UFMIP was lowered, the more important MIP increased by 64%!  In April, 2011, the MIP jumped 28% over the October revision and more than doubled the first nine months of 2009’s rate. 
 
Flash forward to today.  We now can offer our buyers an UFMIP 75% higher and MIP 136% higher than 2010.  FHA has clearly shown us that they do not want quality loans in their portfolio.  If at all possible, FHA wants you, the borrower, to get a Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac loan.  But, US taxpayers, if you want to know how this affect you- well, FHA now only wants those deals that Fannie/Freddie won’t touch – you know credit dinged, minimal down payment, borrowed funds, more recently discharged from bankruptcy.  This isn’t a judgment, its merely fact of how FHA has positioned themselves.  FHA has their place in the mortgage world, but it’s a shrinking marketplace.

Click through to see the raw data, embedded below.

April 2012 Charlottesville Real Estate Market Report

Highlights:

- Days on Market (an inherently flawed data point) are down in Charlottesville, Albemarle and Fluvanna.

- Average Sales prices are down (not surprising)

- Total sales across the MSA are down (not surprising)

Thoughts/initial conclusions:

- More buyers are looking to be closer in/closer to stuff

- Good properties are selling and selling quickly

- Interest rates remain low – a good thing for buyers.

- I think we may have pulled the spring market forward a bit; the early spring may have pulled transactions into the earlier months of the year.

Dead simple Takeaways:

- Buyers: do your due diligence, don’t let emotion enter the equation and make sound, rationale decisions with the intent of holding the property for at least five to seven years

- Sellers: do your due diligence and realize that buyers most often don’t have to buy, but want to buy – it’s your job to make them want to buy your house. This means: price, presentation, perfection … and a great location and setting.

Vacant Homes in Charlottesville MSA – 2012 Update

I’ve tracked the housing vacancy rate for homes actively on the market in the Charlottesville MSA irregularly over the past several years; it’s an indicator as to the health of the housing market. More occupied homes = a healthier market. The last time I checked, the percent of homes on the market in the Charlottesville […]