Real estate is comprised of land and any holdings within a particular property. Real estate can include homes, which would be residential real estate, building and offices, which would be considered commercial real estate, and any natural resources contained on the property. Real estate is a large and integral part of any economy. There are many jobs both directly and indirectly associated with the real estate market. The price of real estate is essentially determined through two measures: income and interest rates.
Home prices are heating up, as the flow of new homes and permits continue to steadily increase and the attraction of historically low mortgage rates motivates buyers.
The buyers that are driving up the housing market are not only the buyers of principal homes, but also the investors who are attracted to the relatively lower home prices and cheap financing.
What is interesting is that we are seeing major buying from not only the smaller investor who may dabble in an investment property, but also the large institutions and hedge funds that are getting into the swing of things, gobbling up hundreds and thousands of properties at lower prices.
The S&P/Case-Shiller index, comprising the 20 largest U.S. metropolitan cites, increased a better-than-expected 9.3% in February, representing the 13th straight up month for prices.
While the housing market is far better than it was a few years ago, when the sub-prime mortgage crisis crushed the housing market and left a trail of destruction, my view is that there may be a bubble building as much of the current surge in prices is due to the cheap money.
Just consider the S&P/Case-Shiller index and notice the major jump in home prices in the housing market. For example, home buyers in the Phoenix housing market saw home prices surge 23% year-over-year, while those living in San Francisco reported an 18.9% surge in home prices.
My problem is that much of the buying in the housing market is being triggered by low-financing costs that can inevitably get homeowners in trouble once interest rates begin to ratchet higher—and they will go higher. For instance, carrying … Read More
The housing market has clearly reached a bottom and is turning higher. After years of dismal sales, increasing foreclosures and short sales, and declining home prices, there’s strong optimism, which has resulted in sizzling demand for homebuilder stocks.
Yet the recovery in the housing market has been helped in a great part by heavy buying by both retail real estate investors and major institutions. According to the National Association of Realtors, cash buyers and large investors account for about 32% of home purchases across the country. (Source: Timiraos, N., “Investors Pile Into Housing, This Time as Landlords,” Wall Street Journal March 25, 2013.)
Institutional buying in the housing market has been significant. One of the major buyers has been the The Blackstone Group L.P. (NYSE/BX), which has $57.0 billion in real estate holdings and another $11.0 billion available to invest. (Source: The Blackstone Group L.P. web site, last accessed March 26, 2013.) The company started a unit called “Invitation Homes” to acquire distressed single-family homes and eventually lease them.
What is happening is that, with the major contraction in home prices being driven by foreclosures, short sales, and cheap financing rates, we are seeing a heavy flow of investors headed into the housing market, taking advantage of the homeowners who were squeezed out by the subprime credit crisis, losing their homes.
While the overall housing market has strengthened, if not for the inflow of investment money, I wonder if the housing market would have recovered at the same pace.
The housing market, especially in warm climate regions such as Florida and Arizona, has also been triggered by the inflow of … Read More
Recently in these pages, I talked about how the government, the Treasury, and the Federal Reserve were creating an artificial economy that was supported by cheap money and low interest rates.
One of the major benefactors of this cheap money was the housing sector, which is now sizzling hot. The median price of an existing home in the U.S. was $173,600 in January, up 12.3% from an average of $154,600 a year earlier. (Source: United States Census Bureau web site, last accessed February 27, 2013.)
Driving the renewed buying in the housing sector has been the environment of near-zero interest rates. The Federal Reserve has been injecting additional liquidity into the economy and mortgage market via its $85.0 billion in monthly bond purchases. The problem is that the low interest rates and easy money have driven the excess buying of homes and investment properties, as speculators jump into the housing sector, looking for deals and driving up home prices.
My concern is that the buying may be creating another potential bubble in the housing sector. You may not believe it, but I view this as a possibility. Housing starts in January showed some stalling. And now, with the sequestration budgetary cut set to take effect tomorrow, the automatic $85.0 billion in annual budget cuts (the planned sequester will total $1.2 trillion over the next decade) could have a widespread impact on the country and the economy, including program cuts, job losses, and economic chaos. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has warned that the U.S. economy could contract by 1.3% in the first half of this year if the sequester is … Read More
China is beginning to show renewed growth. The country is driving stimulus spending and easy monetary policy to get its economy back on track and drive consumers to spend.
And while there has been talk of an asset bubble in China’s housing market, my view is that the short-term risk is high, but there’s also excellent long-term growth potential in the Chinese housing market.
Investment in the country’s housing market surged 61.7% from January to November, according to the National Bureau of Statistics in China.
The conditions bode well for the country’s housing market. Consider that there are over 300 million middle-class consumers in China, and as a group, they are hungry for a lifestyle like we have in the West. Real estate investments are a key goal for the Chinese.
Standard & Poor’s analysts believe the housing market in China is stabilizing with buyers returning while home prices are stabilizing.
Moreover, in an ironic twist at a time when California’s housing market is struggling, the state’s California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPers), a pension fund, announced it would be investing about $530 million in two new China real estate funds managed by ARA Asset Management, which is positive longer-term.
To play China’s housing market, you can take the more conservative approach and buy the Guggenheim China Real Estate (NYSEArca/TAO) exchange-traded fund (ETF) with a year-to-date return of 58.8% as of December 30, 2012. The fund holds mainly large value-oriented Chinese real state stocks.
Chart courtesy of www.StockCharts.com
To take a more speculative and potentially higher return opportunity, an emerging small-cap Chinese real estate company that I like longer-term is … Read More
We have all heard the recent news that the housing market recovery is well on its way off the bottom. With home prices continuing to move up, many are questioning the long-term strength of the housing market. While there is no question that home prices have hit the lowest point and won’t return to those levels again, many are worried that they missed the housing market recovery, as prices have already risen significantly. I think there’s a few more years left for price appreciation in the housing market.
It’s been another month, and there’s more news that home prices continue to move upward substantially. CoreLogic, Inc. (NYSE/CLGX), a research and analytics firm, reported that. in October 2012, home prices jumped up 6.3% nationwide, including distressed sales. This is the largest increase for home prices since June of 2006. Another sign that shows the strength of the housing market is that this is the eighth consecutive month of year-over-year nationwide increases in home prices. (Source: “CoreLogic Home Price Index Marks Eighth Consecutive Month of Year-Over-Year Gains,” CoreLogic, Inc., December 4, 2012.)
Not only was October a good month for the housing market—the eighth month in a row of strength in home prices—but also CoreLogic is indicating that, for November, home prices including distressed sales will be up by 7.1% year-over-year. Excluding distressed sales, the firm expects November home prices nationwide will jump 7.4%.
The president and CEO of CoreLogic, Anand Nallathambi, stated, “We are seeing an ongoing strengthening of the residential housing market. Reduced inventories and improving buyer demand are contributing to stability and growth in home prices which is essential … Read More