The Latest Unemployment Rate Fell to 8.4%

Last Friday, the Bureau for Labor Statistics released their Employment Report for August 2020. The big surprise was that the unemployment rate fell to 8.4%, a full percent lower than what many analysts had forecasted earlier in the week. Though it is tough to look at this as great news when millions of Americans are still without work, the number of unemployed is currently much lower than most experts had projected it would be just a few months ago.

Not Like the Great Depression or Even the Great Recession

Jason Furman, Professor of Practice at Harvard explained:

“An unemployment rate of 8.4% is much lower than most anyone would have thought it a few months ago. It is still a bad recession but not a historically unprecedented event or one we need to go back to the Great Depression for comparison.”

During the Great Depression, the unemployment rate was over 20% for four consecutive years (1932 – 1935). This April, the rate jumped to 14.7%, but has fallen each month since.

During and after the Great Recession (2007-2009), the unemployment rate was at 9% or greater for thirty consecutive months (April 2009 – October 2011). Most economists believe the current rate will continue to fall monthly as the economy regains its strength.

What Happens Going Forward?

The outcome will be determined by how quickly we can contain the virus. In their last Economic Forecasting Survey, the Wall Street Journal reported the economists surveyed believe the annual unemployment rates will be 6.6% in 2021 and 5.5% in 2022. Though that will still be greater than the 3.5% rate that we saw earlier this year, it is lower than the annual rate reported in 2011 (8.5%), 2012 (7.9%), and 2013 (6.7%).

Bottom Line

There are still millions of Americans struggling through this economic downturn. There is, however, light at the end of the tunnel. The unemployment situation did not get as bad as many had predicted, and the recovery is taking place faster than most thought would happen.


Posted on September 9, 2020 at 10:47 am
Brian Jang | Posted in Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) |

Three Ways to Win in a Bidding War

With so few houses for sale today and low mortgage rates driving buyer activity, bidding wars are becoming more common. Multiple-offer scenarios are heating up, so it’s important to get pre-approved before you start your search. This way, you can put your best foot forward – quickly and efficiently – if you’re planning to buy a home this season.

Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research at realtor.com, explains:

“COVID-19 has accelerated earlier trends, bringing even more buyers than the market can handle. In many markets, fierce competition, bidding wars, and multiple offer scenarios may be the common theme in the weeks to come.”

Here are three things you can do to make your offer a competitive one when you’re ready to make your move.

1. Be Ready

A recent survey shows that only 52% of active homebuyers obtained a pre-approval letter before they began their home search. That means about half of active buyers missed out on this key part of the process.

Buyers who are pre-approved are definitely a step ahead when it’s time to make an offer. Having a pre-approval letter indicating you’re a qualified buyer shows sellers you’re serious. It’s often a deciding factor that can tip the scale in your direction if there’s more than one offer on a home. It’s best to contact a mortgage professional to start your pre-approval process early, so you’re in the best position right from the start of your home search.

2. Present Your Best Offer

In a highly competitive market, it’s common for sellers to pick a date and time to review all offers on a house at one time. If this is the case, you may not have an opportunity to negotiate back and forth with the sellers. As a matter of fact, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) notes:

“Not only are properties selling quickly, but they are also getting more offers. On average, REALTORS® reported nearly three offers per sold property in July 2020.”

Make sure the offer you’re presenting is the best one the sellers receive. A real estate professional can help you make sure your offer is a fair and highly competitive one.

3. Act Fast

With existing homes going like hotcakes, there’s no time to waste in the process. NAR reports how the speed of home sales is ramping up:

“Properties typically remained on the market for 22 days in July, seasonally down from 24 days in June and from 29 days in July 2019. Sixty-eight percent of homes sold in July 2020 were on the market for less than a month.”

In addition, NAR notes:

Total existing-home salesjumped 24.7% from June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.86 million in July. The previous record monthly increase in sales was 20.7% in June of this year. Sales as a whole rose year-over-year, up 8.7% from a year ago (5.39 million in July 2019).”

As you can see, the market is gaining steam. For two consecutive months houses have sold very quickly. Essentially, you may not have time to sleep on it or shop around when you find a home you love. Chances are, someone else loves it too. If you take your time, it may not be available when you’re ready to commit.

Bottom Line

The housing market is very strong right now, and buyers are scooping up available homes faster than they’re coming to market. If you’re planning to purchase a home this year, let’s connect to discuss the trends in our current area, so you’re ready to compete – and win.


Posted on August 31, 2020 at 9:35 am
Brian Jang | Posted in Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) |

Why Is It so Important to Be Pre-Approved in the Homebuying Process?

You may have heard that pre-approval is a great first step in the homebuying process. But why is it so important? When looking for a home, the temptation to fall in love with a house that’s outside your budget is very real. So, before you start shopping around, it’s helpful to know your price range, what you’re comfortable within a monthly mortgage payment, and ultimately how much money you can borrow for your loan. Pre-approval from a lender is the only way to do this.

According to a recent survey from realtor.com, many buyers are making the mistake of skipping the pre-approval step in the homebuying process:

“Of over 2,000 active home shoppers who plan to purchase a home in the next 12 months, only 52% obtained a pre-approval letter before beginning their home search, which means nearly half of home buyers are missing this crucial piece of paperwork.

This paperwork (the pre-approval letter) shows sellers you’re a qualified buyer, something that can really help you stand out from the crowd in the current ultra-competitive market.

How competitive is today’s market? Extremely – especially among buyers.

With limited inventory, there are many more buyers than sellers right now, and that’s fueling the competition. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), homes are receiving an average of 2.9 offers for sellers to negotiate, so bidding wars are heating up.

Pre-approval shows homeowners you’re a serious buyer. It helps you stand out from the crowd if you get into a multiple-offer scenario, and these days, it’s likely. When a seller knows you’re qualified to buy the home, you’re in a better position to potentially win the bidding war and land the home of your dreams.

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for realtor.com notes:

“For ‘a buyer in a competitive market, it’s typically essential to have pre-approval done in order to submit an offer, so getting it done before you even look at homes is a smart move that will enable a buyer to move fast to put an offer in on the right home.’”

In addition, today’s housing market is also changing from moment to moment. Interest rates are low, prices are going up, and lending institutions are regularly updating their standards. You’re going to need guidance to navigate these waters, so it’s important to have a team of professionals (a loan officer and a real estate agent) making sure you take the right steps along the way and can show your qualifications as a buyer at the time you find a home to purchase.

Bottom Line

In a competitive market with low inventory, a pre-approval letter is a game-changing piece of the homebuying process. If you’re ready to buy this year, let’s connect before you start searching for a home.


Posted on August 27, 2020 at 9:01 am
Brian Jang | Posted in Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) |

Should You Buy an Existing Home or New Construction?

Finding the right home to purchase today is one of the biggest challenges for potential buyers. With so few homes for sale and construction of newly built homes ramping up, you may be wondering if you should consider new construction in your search process. It’s a great question to ask, and one to look at from the pros and cons of what it means to buy a new home versus an existing one. Here are a few things to consider when making the best decision for your family.

New Construction  

When buying a new home, you can often choose more energy-efficient options. New appliances, new windows, a new roof, etc. These can all help lower your energy costs, which can add up to significant savings over time. With programs like ENERGY STAR, your home also helps protect the environment and reduces your carbon footprint.

Lower maintenance that comes with a newer home is another great benefit. When you have a new home, you likely won’t have as many little repairs to tackle, like leaky faucets, shutters to paint, and other odd jobs around the house. With new construction, you’ll also have warranty options that may cover portions of your investment for the first few years.

Another solid benefit to new construction is customization. Do you want a mudroom, stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, hardwood floors, an office, or a multipurpose room to homeschool your children? These items can be customized to your specific needs during the design phase. With an existing home, you’re buying something that’s already completed, so if you want to make changes, you may need to hire a contractor to help get your home ready for your family.

Existing Home

When buying an existing home, you can negotiate with the current homeowner on price, which is something you generally don’t get to do with a builder. Builders know their material and construction costs, and they have a price set for the model you’re buying. So, if you want to negotiate, then maybe an existing home will be best.

For many families, having an established neighborhood is also important. Some buyers like to know the neighbors, if it’s family-friendly, and traffic patterns before making a commitment. When you buy new construction, you won’t have a full view of some of those details until the lots around you are sold.

Finally, timing comes into play. With an existing home, you can move in based on the timeline you agree to with the sellers. With new construction, you need to wait for the house to be built. Depending on the time of the year you’re buying and the region you’re in, the weather can also be a factor in the timeframe. This is something really important to keep in mind, especially if you need to move sooner rather than later. Over the past few months with COVID-19 and social distancing regulations, some areas for new construction have been delayed.

Bottom Line

Whether you want to buy a newly built home or one that’s already established, both are great options. They each have their pros and cons, and every family will have different circumstances driving their decision. If you have questions and want to know more about the options in our area, let’s connect today so you can feel confident making a decision about your next home.


Posted on August 26, 2020 at 9:18 am
Brian Jang | Posted in Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) |

The Top Reasons People Are Moving This Year

Today, Americans are moving for a variety of different reasons. The current health crisis has truly re-shaped our lifestyles and our needs. Spending extra time where we currently live is enabling many families to re-evaluate what homeownership means and what they find most important in a home.

According to Zillow:

“In 2020, homes went from the place people returned to after work, school, hitting the gym or vacationing, to the place where families do all of the above. For those who now spend the majority of their hours at home, there’s a growing wish list of what they’d change about their homes, if possible.” 

With a new perspective on homeownership, here are some of the top reasons people are reconsidering where they live and making moves this year.

1. Working from Home

Remote work is becoming the new norm in 2020, and it’s continuing on longer than most initially expected. Many in the workforce today are discovering they don’t need to live close to the office anymore, and they can get more for their money if they move a little further outside the city limits. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist for the National Association of Realtors (NAR) notes:

“With the sizable shift in remote work, current homeowners are looking for larger homes and this will lead to a secondary level of demand even into 2021.”

If you’ve tried to convert your guest room or your dining room into a home office with minimal success, it may be time to find a larger home. The reality is, your current house may not be optimally designed for this kind of space, making remote work and continued productivity very challenging.

2. Virtual Schooling

With school about to restart this fall, many districts are beginning the new academic year online. Education Week is tracking the reopening plans of schools across the country, and as of August 21, 21 of the 25 largest school districts are choosing remote learning as their back-to-school instructional model, affecting over 4.5 million students.

With a need for a dedicated learning space, it may be time to find a larger home to provide your children with the same kind of quiet room to focus on their schoolwork, just like you likely need for your office work.

3. A Home Gym

Staying healthy and active is a top priority for many Americans. With various levels of concern around the safety of returning to health clubs across the country, dreams of space for a home gym are growing stronger. The Home Builders Association of Greater New Orleans explains:

“For many in quarantine, a significant decrease in activity is more than a vanity issue – it’s a mental health issue.”

Having room to maintain a healthy lifestyle at home – mentally and physically – may prompt you to consider a new place to live that includes space for at-home workouts.

4. Outdoor Space

Especially for those living in an apartment or a small townhouse, this is a new priority for many as well. Zillow also notes the benefits of being able to use yard space throughout the year:

“People want more space in their next home, and one way to get it is by turning part of the backyard into a functional room, ‘an outdoor space for play as well as entertaining or cooking.’”

You may, however, not have the extra square footage today to have these designated areas – indoor or out.

Moving May Be Your Best Option

If you’re clamoring for extra space to accommodate your family’s changing needs, making a move may be your best bet, especially while you can take advantage of today’s low mortgage rates. Low rates are making homes more affordable than they have been in years. According to Black Knight:

“Buying power for those shopping for a home is up 10% year over year, with home buyers able to afford nearly $32,000 more home than they could have 1 year ago while keeping their monthly payment the same.”

It’s a great time to get more home for your money, just when you need the extra space.

Bottom Line

People are moving for a variety of different reasons today, and many families’ needs have changed throughout the year. If you’ve been trying to decide if now is the time to buy a new home, let’s connect to discuss your needs.


Posted on August 24, 2020 at 9:41 am
Brian Jang | Posted in Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) |

Sellers Are Returning to the Housing Market

In today’s housing market, it can be a big challenge for buyers to find homes to purchase, as the number of houses for sale is far below the current demand. Now, however, we’re seeing sellers slowly starting to come back into the market, a bright spark for potential buyers. Javier Vivas, Director of Economic Research at realtor.comexplains:

“Seller confidence has been improving gradually after reaching its bottom in mid-April, and now it appears to have reached an important recovery milestone…After five long months, sellers are back in the housing market; while encouraging, the improvement to new listings is only the first step in the long road to solving low inventory issues keeping many buyers at bay.”

Even with the number of homes coming into the market, the available inventory is well below where it needs to be to satisfy buyer interest. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports:

“Total housing inventory at the end of June totaled 1.57 million units, up 1.3% from May, but still down 18.2% from one year ago (1.92 million). Unsold inventory sits at a 4.0-month supply at the current sales pace, down from both 4.8 months in May and from the 4.3-month figure recorded in June 2019.”

Houses today are selling faster than they’re coming to market. That’s why we only have inventory for 4 months at the current sales pace when in reality we need inventory for 6 months to keep up. But, as mentioned above, sellers are starting to return to the game. Realtor.com explains:

“The ‘housing supply’ component – which tracks growth of new listings – reached 101.7, up 4.9 points over the prior week, finally reaching the January growth baseline. The big milestone in new listings growth comes as seller sentiment continues to build momentum…After constant gradual improvements since mid-April, seller confidence appears to be reaching an important milestone. The temporary boost in new listings comes as the summer season replaces the typical spring homebuying season. More homes are entering the market than typical for this time of the year.

Why is this good for sellers?

A good time to enter the housing market is when the competition in your area is low, meaning there are fewer sellers than interested buyers. You don’t want to wait for all of the other homeowners to list their houses before you do, providing more options for buyers to choose from. With sellers starting to get back into the market after five months of waiting, if you want to sell your house for the best possible price, now is a great time to do so.

Why is this good for buyers?

It can be challenging to find a home in today’s low-inventory environment. If more sellers are starting to put their houses up for sale, there will be more homes for you to choose from, providing a better opportunity to find the home of your dreams while taking advantage of the affordability that comes with historically low mortgage rates.

Bottom Line

While we still have a long way to go to catch up with the current demand, inventory is slowly starting to return to the market. If you’re thinking of moving this year, let’s connect today so you’re ready to make your move when the home of your dreams comes up for sale.


Posted on August 18, 2020 at 9:53 am
Brian Jang | Posted in Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) |

How Is Remote Work Changing Homebuyer Needs?

With more companies figuring out how to efficiently and effectively enable their employees to work remotely (and for longer than most of us initially expected), homeowners throughout the country are re-evaluating their needs. Do I still need to live close to my company’s office building? Do I need a larger home with more office space? Would making a move to the suburbs make more sense for my family? All of these questions are on the table for many Americans as we ride the wave of the current health crisis and consider evolving homeownership needs.

According to George RatiuSenior Economist for realtor.com:

“The ability to work remotely is expanding home shoppers’ geographic options and driving their motivation to buy, even if it means a longer commute, at least in the short term…Although it’s too early to tell what long-term impact the COVID-era of remote work will have on housing, it’s clear that the pandemic is shaping how people live and work under the same roof.” 

Working remotely is definitely changing how Americans spend their time at home, and also how they use their available square footage. Homeowners aren’t just looking for a room for a home office, either. The desire to have a home gym, an updated kitchen, and more space in general – indoor and outdoor – are all key factors motivating some buyers to change their home search parameters.

A recent realtor.com-HarrisX survey indicates:

“In a June poll of 2,000 potential home shoppers who indicated plans to make a purchase in the next year, 63% of those currently working from home stated their potential purchase was a result of their ability to work remotely, while nearly 40% [of] that number expected to purchase a home within four to six months and 13% said changes related to pandemic fueled their interest in buying a new home.

Clearly, Americans are thinking differently about homeownership today, and through a new lens. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) notes:

“New single-family home sales jumped in June, as housing demand was supported by low interest rates, a renewed consumer focus on the importance of housing, and rising demand in lower-density markets like suburbs and exurbs.”

Through these challenging times, you may have found your home becoming your office, your children’s classroom, your workout facility, and your family’s safe haven. This has quickly shifted what home truly means to many American families. More than ever, having a place to focus on professional productivity while many competing priorities (and distractions!) are knocking on your door is challenging homeowners to get creative, use space wisely, and ultimately find a place where all of these essential needs can realistically be met. In many cases, a new home is the best option.

In today’s real estate market, making a move while mortgage rates are hovering at historic lows may enable you to purchase more home for your money, just when you and your family need it most.

Bottom Line

If your personal and professional needs have changed and you’re ready to accommodate all of your family’s competing priorities, let’s connect today. Making a move into a larger home may be exactly what you need to set your family up for optimal long-term success.


Posted on August 6, 2020 at 10:14 am
Brian Jang | Posted in Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) |

Why Homeowners Have Great Selling Power Today

We’re sitting in an optimal moment in time for homeowners who are ready to sell their houses and make a move this year. Today’s homeowners are, on average, staying in their homes longer than they used to, and this is one factor driving increased homeowner equity. When equity grows, selling a house becomes increasingly desirable. Here’s a breakdown of why it’s a great time to capitalize on equity gain in today’s market.

As average homeowner tenure lengthens and home prices rise, equity, a form of forced savings, can be applied forward to the purchase of a new home. CoreLogic explains:

“Over the past 10 years, the equity position of homeowners has positively changed as a result of more than eight years of rising home prices. As the economy climbed out of the recession in the first quarter of 2010, 25.9% or 12.1 million homes were still underwater, compared to the first quarter of 2020 when the negative equity share was at 3.4%, or 1.8 million properties. Borrowers have seen an aggregate increase of $6.2 trillion in home equity since the first quarter of 2010 and the average homeowner has gained about $106,100 in equity.”

Increasing equity is enabling many homeowners who are ready to sell their current houses today to sell for an increased profit, and then reinvest their earnings in a new home. According to the Q2 2020 U.S. Home Sales Report from ATTOM Data Solutions, in the second quarter of 2020:

Home sellers nationwide realized a gain of $75,971 on the typical sale, up from the $66,500 in the first quarter of 2020 and from $65,250 in the second quarter of last year. The latest figure, based on median purchase and resale prices, marked yet another peak level of raw profits in the United States since the housing market began recovering from the Great Recession in 2012.”

If you’ve been taking a closer look at your house recently and are thinking it might be time for you to make a move, determining your equity position is a great place to start. Understanding how much equity you’ve earned over time can be a key factor in helping you realize the potential profits in your real estate investment and move toward your next homeownership goal.

Bottom Line

With average home sale profits growing, it’s a great time to leverage your equity and make a move, especially while the inventory of houses for sale and mortgage rates are historically low. If you’re considering selling your house, let’s connect today so you can better understand your home equity position and take one step closer to the home of your dreams.


Posted on August 5, 2020 at 2:00 pm
Brian Jang | Posted in Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) |

Experts Weigh-In on the Remarkable Strength of the Housing Market

America has faced its share of challenges in 2020. A once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, a financial crisis leaving millions still unemployed, and an upcoming presidential election that may prove to be one of the most contentious in our nation’s history all continue to test this country in unimaginable ways.

Even with all of that uncertainty, the residential real estate market continues to show great resilience. Here’s a look at what the experts have said about the housing market over the past few weeks.

Ivy Zelman, CEO of Zelman & Associates:

“Whether in terms of pending contract activity or our proprietary buyer demand ratings, the various measures of demand captured in this month’s survey can only be described as shockingly strong, in spite of the resurgence in COVID-19 cases.”

Logan Mohtashami, Lead Housing Analyst at HousingWire:

“Existing home sales are still down year over year by 11.3%, but as crazy as this might sound, we have a shot at getting positive year-over-year growth…We may see an existing home sales print of 5,510,000 in 2020.”

Matthew Speakman, Zillow Economist:

“In a remarkable show of resilience, the housing market has stared the pandemic right in the eye and hasn’t blinked.”

Todd Teta, Chief Product Officer for ATTOM Data Solutions:

“The housing market across the United States pulled something of a high-wire act in the second quarter, surging forward despite the encroaching economic headwinds resulting from the Coronavirus pandemic.”

Ali Wolf, Chief Economist of Meyers Research:

“The housing recovery has been nothing short of remarkable. The expectation was that housing would be crushed. It was—for about two months—and then it came roaring back.”

Clare Trapasso, Senior News Editor of realtor.com:

“Despite the crippling and ongoing coronavirus pandemic, millions out of work, a recession, a national reckoning over systemic racism, and a highly contentious presidential election just around the corner, the residential real estate market is staging an astonishing rebound.”

Bill Banfield, EVP of Capital Markets at Quicken Loans:

“The pandemic has not stopped the consistent home price growth we have witnessed in recent years.”

Economic & Strategic Research Group at Fannie Mae:

Recent home purchase measures have continued to show remarkable strength, leading us to revise upward our home sales forecast, particularly over the third quarter. Similarly, we bumped up our expectations for home price growth and purchase mortgage originations.”

Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American:

“It seems hard to deny that when one looks at many of the housing market statistics, a “V” shape is quite apparent.”

Bottom Line

The experts seem to agree that residential real estate is doing remarkably well. If you’re thinking of jumping into the housing market (whether buying or selling), this may be the perfect time.


Posted on August 3, 2020 at 10:05 am
Brian Jang | Posted in Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) |

Three of the Latest Reports Show Housing Market Is Strong

The residential real estate market is remaining resilient as the country still struggles to beat the COVID-19 pandemic. Three separate reports recently revealed how the housing market is still showing growth. Here’s a look at each one.

1. Ivy Zelman’s Real Estate Broker Survey

The survey explains that purchaser demand remains strong:

“This month’s overall homebuyer demand rating…was easily the strongest sequential gain in our survey history…Strength continues to be led by the entry-level…While high-end demand is less robust in an absolute sense, there has also been relative improvement, with contacts attributing incremental improvement to the stock market’s rebound, record low mortgage rates and luxury customers trading out of high-priced cities.”

2. The National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index

The index reveals that builder confidence has returned to levels last seen prior to the pandemic:

“In a strong signal that the housing market is ready to lead a post-COVID economic recovery, builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes jumped 14 points to 72 in July, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). The HMI now stands at the solid pre-pandemic reading in March before the outbreak affected much of the nation.”

3. The realtor.com Housing Market Recovery Index

This index leverages a weighted average of four key components of the housing industry, tracking each of the following:

1.     Housing Demand – Growth in online search activity

2.     Home Price – Growth in asking prices

3.     Housing Supply – Growth of new listings

4.     Pace of Sales – Difference in time-on-market

It then compares the current status “to the last week of January 2020 market trend, as a baseline for pre-COVID market growth. The overall index is set to 100 in this baseline period. The higher a market’s index value, the higher its recovery and vice versa.”

The latest results came in at 101, with realtor.com explaining:

“The U.S. Housing Market has recovered from the immediate disruption caused by the COVID pandemic and returned to January 2020 growth levels.”

Bottom Line

Real estate brokers, home builders, and industry data all agree that the housing market has surged back to pre-COVID levels, showing growth, strength, and incredible resilience.


Posted on July 27, 2020 at 9:42 am
Brian Jang | Posted in Real Estate Market Updates (source: KCM) |