NJ UE Record Low

From NBC:

New Jersey Unemployment Drops to Record Low of 3.2 Percent

New Jersey’s jobless rate has fallen to a record low of 3.2 percent.

That’s according to the figures released Thursday by the state Labor and Workforce Development Department. It’s the lowest monthly rate since state-level records began in 1976.

The August unemployment rate fell from 3.3 percent the previous month, and the state added 1,100 jobs.

But the department says private sector jobs declined more than they increased, and the net increase was reached because of the addition of 2,300 public sector jobs.

Besides public sector jobs, growth also happened in health, education and other service jobs. The declines occurred in the leisure and hospitality, manufacturing, information, transportation and construction industries.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Employment, New Jersey Real Estate | 3 Comments

Fewer options for rent controlled areas

From HousingWire:

Trump’s housing-finance plan aims to curb GSE lending in areas with rent control

Buckle your seatbelts, California. You may be in for another showdown with the Trump administration. You too, New York and Oregon.

When Treasury released its housing finance reform plan a week ago, there was one proposal buried in the middle that didn’t get much attention: curbing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac multifamily lending in areas that adopt rent control. It was marked “administrative,” meaning Treasury believes it can be done without input from Congress.

hen the plan was released, New York had recently expanded its rent control law and Oregon had adopted statewide rent control. This week, lawmakers in California, the most populous U.S. state, joined Oregon in passing a statewide bill to control rents, and Gov. Gavin Newsom has already said he’s going to sign it.

“This is the Trump administration against the blue states,” Ed Mills, a public policy analyst with Raymond James in Washington, said in an interview with HousingWire. “This matches their philosophy, but it has the added benefit of Trump, using administrative actions, being able to influence policies in states run with Democratic majorities.”

But, perhaps that one suggestion, buried in the middle of a 53-page report, will never see the light of day?

“This is absolutely going to happen,” Mills said. “It’s just a matter of the scale and timing. The lesson I’ve had through observing the Trump administration is: They tell you in advance what they are going to do and they more often than not follow through.”

The plan cites rent control as interfering “with the functioning of local housing markets, tending to decrease the supply and quality of the available housing.” 

While lots of economists would agree with that, they wouldn’t all agree that the solution is to further restrict housing stock by limiting government-back multifamily lending. 

According to the housing finance plan that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said had been approved by President Donald Trump, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, the independent regulator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, should make multifamily lending tougher to secure in rent-controlled areas.

“Treasury recommends: FHFA should revisit the GSEs’ underwriting criteria for acquisitions of multifamily loans secured by properties in jurisdictions that adopt rent-control laws or other undue impediments to housing development,” the plan stated.

Posted in Economics, Mortgages, National Real Estate, Politics, Unrest | 84 Comments

Leading Indicator?

From Forbes:

The California Real Estate Boom Is Over. What Now?

If you had invested in a property in San Francisco five years ago and cashed out in 2019, you would have made a 50% profit, never mind the rental income. But if you had bought a year ago and sold today you would have made exactly zero.

The California boom is over and investors need to switch to Plan B, which is the answer to the Jeopardy question: How do you deal with a market that at best will be moving sideways, but could also drop 20%?

The end of the boom in California also poses troubling questions for investments elsewhere in the country. Will other tech economies follow suit? What are the prospects for booming markets in Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Texas and Florida? And will panic selling drive down prices everywhere, as it did in 2008, pushing an already weakened national economy into recession?

Posted in Economics, Housing Bubble, National Real Estate | 150 Comments

Sorry JC, not good enough.

From JerseyDigs:

Study Finds Jersey City Will Add as Many Apartments as Manhattan in 2019

Posted in Gold Coast, National Real Estate, New Development, New Jersey Real Estate | 122 Comments

Why NJ is f*cked

From the Star Ledger:

N.J. is facing a $1.2B public-worker pension time bomb

In the waning days of his administration, Gov. Chris Christie left his successor Phil Murphy a parting gift, of sorts.

For years, New Jersey had assumed its public pension fund would make more money on its investments than it could realistically expect. So, Christie went ahead and changed it.

Without notice, the outgoing governor cut how much the pension system should expect to earn on investments from 7.65 percent to 7 percent a year.

Doesn’t seem like much, right?

But Christie’s sudden move — and Murphy’s reaction to it — set into motion a complex and controversial budget quagmire that will soon become a ticking $1.2 billion time bomb for New Jersey.

When it will explode: 2022 (the year after the next gubernatorial election).

At stake: Benefits to nearly 800,000 active and retired state and local workers.

A likely result: Your state taxes could go up.

And how the state will manage to pay the bill when it comes due remains to be seen.

The change was praised by the pension fund actuaries, who say expecting a 7 percent return on investments is closer to what other large funds can reasonably figure they’ll get over the long term.

But there’s an impact to all of this, which means the decision sent ripples through the pension system.

When you assume you’ll reap more from investments, it makes the pension funds look healthier than they really are, even if it isn’t realistic. When you expect less, the system looks less healthy.

That all figures into the calculations that determine how much money state and local governments will need to pay for benefits to nearly 800,000 active and retired workers. In short, expecting less in investments means governments would have to pay more to keep the pension system afloat.

Christie’s move would have cost local governments, which by law have to pay the full contribution recommended by actuaries, an additional $422.5 million in Murphy’s first year, according to an NJ Advance Media analysis.

Posted in Economics, Politics, Property Taxes, Unrest | 85 Comments

Millennials want homes?

From CNBC:

Older millennials are driving home prices higher again

They may have waited longer than previous generations, but millennials are now showing a strong desire to become homeowners, especially older millennials. That is strengthening overall demand for the limited supply of homes for sale, and consequently reigniting the fire under home prices.

Home price gains had been shrinking over the last year, but the increases turned higher again this summer. Home prices were up 3.6% in July compared with July 2018, according to CoreLogic. That is stronger than the 3.4% gain in June. CoreLogic is now predicting an even larger 5.4% annual gain by July 2020.

“Sales of new and existing homes this July were up from a year ago, supported by low mortgage rates and rising family income,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic. “With the for-sale inventory remaining low in many markets, the pick-up in buying has nudged price growth up. If low interest rates and rising income continue, then we expect home-price growth will strengthen over the coming year.”

More than a quarter of the nation’s largest generation said they were interested in buying a home in the next 12 months, according to a survey conducted by CoreLogic with RTi Research during the first half of this year. The problem is there is still precious little for sale, and supplies are falling once again. At the end of July, the inventory of homes for sale was nearly 2% lower compared with a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors. There was just a 4.2-month supply of homes for sale. A six-month supply is considered a balanced market between buyers and sellers.

“A growing number of millennials are expressing an interest in buying homes, reinforcing the theory that this cohort is continuing to engage within the housing market,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “But, with so few homes available for sale, the imbalance has created an affordability crisis that is getting worse every day. Demand exceeds supply and we’re unsure of when the two will balance out.”

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Employment, National Real Estate | 58 Comments

Millennials – Still no home for you

From Curbed:

Sorry, millennials: A recession won’t help you buy a house

The 2008 financial crisis brought the global economy to its knees and sent American home prices into freefall. For anyone who managed to hang on to their job, savings, and credit score, the aftermath of the crisis was a prime opportunity to buy a house at a bargain price.

The Great Recession is the only economic downturn millennials have lived through as adults, so, naturally, they might think that the next recession—which more and more economists believe will hit by 2021—will present a chance for many millennials to finally join the ranks of homeownership.

It doesn’t bring me joy to report that this is unlikely to be the case.

The last recession was an anomaly in more ways than one, and its effect on the housing market is the biggest outlier relative to other recessions. The 2008 recession didn’t cause the housing market to go into freefall. The housing market going into freefall caused the recession.

In the years leading up to that collapse, mortgage lenders were issuing mortgages that were destined to fail. Those mortgages were bundled into bonds and distributed across the global financial system. When people started defaulting on those mortgages, the financial system collapsed, and millions of homes went into foreclosure. Prices dropped.

In contrast, the next recession—should it hit—will signal the natural end of a long economic expansion since 2008. Another forcing mechanism is the trade war between the United States and China, as new tariffs lead businesses to scale back on investing and hiring, causing the economy to slow down.

In other words, it would be a fairly standard recession that has nothing to do with mortgages or the housing market, and its severity is not expected to rival the one in 2008. An upcoming recession would also encounter a housing market that’s almost the inverse of what it was in 2008: tight mortgage credit instead of loose mortgage credit, housing supply shortage instead of a housing surplus.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Foreclosures, National Real Estate | 84 Comments

June Case Shiller

From Inman:

Home price gains continue to slow down in June: Case-Shiller

Annual home price gains continued to slow in June, according to the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, released Tuesday. Home prices, on average, achieved an annual 3.1 percent gain in June, down from 3.3 percent the previous month.

“Home price gains continue to trend down, but may be leveling off to a sustainable level,” Philip Murphy, managing director and global head of index governance at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in a statement.

The overall average price gain slowed, Murphy said, but one less city experienced lower year-over-year price gains than in May.

“The Southwest – Phoenix and Las Vegas – remains the regional leader in home price gains, followed by the southeast – Tampa and Charlotte,” Murphy said. “With three of the bottom five cities – Seattle, San Francisco, and San Diego – much of the West Coast is challenged to sustain year-over-year gains.”

Posted in Economics, Housing Bubble, Housing Recovery, National Real Estate | 58 Comments

Married – House – Kids – No More

From HousingWire:

Harvard: First-time homebuyers are changing

The profile of first-time homebuyers in the U.S. is changing, according to researchers at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.

In a paper titled “The Shifting Profile of First-Time Homebuyers: 1997-2017,” researchers found that in the past 20 years, there has been a significant shift from married households to never-married households among first-time homebuyers. To examine trends in this group of homebuyers, researchers used the 1997-2017 American Housing Surveys

The 2017 AHS suggests that first-time homebuyers purchased approximately 1.8 million housing units in 2016, making up approximately 1.5% of U.S. households that year. 

“While discussions of first-time home buying often tie homeownership entry to life-stage changes like marriage and the birth of a first child, a growing share of first-time homebuyers do not fit this profile,” the paper stated. 

According to AHS, 35% of first-time homebuyers in 2017 had never been married, compared to 23% twenty years prior. Married homebuyers made up 61% of the first-time homebuyers in 1997 and declined to 46% in 2013. But, that percentage increased over the next three years, hitting 52% in 2017. 

“These trends suggest that there may be a fundamental shift in the way that young households are approaching first-time home purchases, such as an increased willingness to purchase homes individually or with unmarried partners,” the paper explained. 

“Because the trends in marital status are not mirrored by similarly-large shifts in the age distribution of first-time homebuyers, it is unlikely that they are driven by demographic shifts like decisions to delay marriage and childbirth until later ages,” the paper continued. 

Posted in Demographics, Economics, National Real Estate | 120 Comments

Insanity

From HousingWire:

Appraisals may soon not be required on certain home sales of $400,000 and under

Certain home sales of $400,000 and under may soon not need an appraisal, as federal regulators are close to approving a proposal to increase the threshold at which residential home sales require an appraisal for the first time since 1994.

In November, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve released a proposal that would increase the appraisal requirement from $250,000 to $400,000, meaning that certain home sales of $400,000 and below would no longer require an appraisal.

Now, the proposal is just one step away from being finalized and adopted as proposed.

Earlier this week, the FDIC published the final rule on the matter, stating that the rule is approved as proposed.

Now, it’s important to note that the new rules do not apply to loans wholly or partially insured or guaranteed by, or eligible for sale to, a government agency or government-sponsored agency.

That means that loans sold to or guaranteed by the Federal Housing AdministrationDepartment of Housing and Urban DevelopmentDepartment of Veterans AffairsFannie Mae, or Freddie Mac would still require an appraisal, per each agency’s rules.

But despite that fact, the change would have a sizable impact on the real estate market, as according to the OCC, the new rules would apply to approximately 40% of home sales.

As one might expect, financial institutions, financial institution trade associations, and state banking regulators “generally supported” the proposal. Meanwhile, appraisers, appraiser trade organizations, individuals, and consumer advocate groups “generally opposed” the proposal.

Other commenters noted that the rule could have an outsized impact on certain consumer groups, such as low-income individuals, members of certain minority groups, or first-time homebuyers, because those borrowers are more likely buy homes in the lower price range, and would therefore be more likely to buy a home without an appraisal.

Posted in Economics, Foreclosures, Housing Bubble, Mortgages, National Real Estate | 44 Comments

Look at the bright side America, you can afford to live in Detroit

From HousingWire:

These are the nation’s most affordable housing markets for middle-class families

The era of unusually affordable housing has ended, meaning America’s housing affordability has returned to average historical levels.

While this means homes are no longer cheap on a national basis, Redfin’s affordability report suggests the market is still relatively affordable for America’s middle-class families. 

According to Redfin’s data, in 68 of the 88 most populous American housing markets, a median-priced home is still affordable to families earning the area’s median household income. 

This is especially so for middle-class families living in Detroit, where it takes only $26,690 per year to purchase a home at the area’s median price point.

Detroit’s price point is less than half of the area’s $56,339 median income, making it the nation’s most affordable metro for middle-class families, according to Redfin.

Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather said people who live in places like Detroit, Pittsburgh and Cleveland tend to earn lower salaries than people in expensive coastal areas, but in many ways the Midwesterners’ quality of life is better.

“Even though they may make less money, it’s easier to purchase a home and build equity while providing for a family,” Fairweather said. “It’s no secret there’s an affordability crisis in high-priced places like the Bay Area, where modest homes can sell for well over $1 million. But in most of the country, homes are still affordable on the typical local inco

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Employment, National Real Estate | 147 Comments

Good Times in NJ?

From the APP:

What recession worries? NJ jobless rate at record low, employers scrounge

New Jersey’s job market was flat in July, but even if employers were in hiring mode, they’d have a tough time finding workers to fill the jobs.

That’s because the state’s unemployment rate dipped to 3.3% in July from 3.5% in June, the state’s Department of Labor and Workforce Development reported last week, setting a new record low. 

“We’re in the recreational business, and the economy is strong,” said Kevin Carlin, a spokesman for Micro-Air Inc., an Allentown-based company that makes electronic circuit boards and is trying to hire two employees.

The monthly unemployment report last week was mixed. It showed New Jersey lost 500 jobs with losses in leisure and hospitality and gains in fields like professional services and manufacturing.

New Jersey has been trying to climb out of an economic hole for the better part of two decades, making the transition to the digital age while navigating obstacles from the end of Atlantic City’s monopoly on gambling to the devastation of superstorm Sandy.

Recent economic data offers both glimmers of hope and echoes of the same old story.

Good news? Wages and salaries in the metropolitan New York area, which includes northern New Jersey, rose 3.9% during the past year, faster than the U.S. average and the strongest performance since the Bureau of Labor Statistics started tracking it in 2006.

Bad news? The state’s personal income, which includes not just wages and salaries, but also government benefits such as Social Security, has grown 1.1 percent during the past year, ranking 42nd nationwide, an analysis by Pew Charitable Trusts found. 

The jobs report for New Jersey offered little clarity. Over the year, the state has added 48,300 jobs for a growth rate that ranks 26th nationwide, according to an analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“That suggests that … job growth would be higher if there were more people to fill open slots,” Rutgers University economist James W. Hughes said.

Posted in Economics, Employment, New Jersey Real Estate | 106 Comments

Will Murphy own this?

From InsiderNJ:

GSI Analysis: NJ’s Workforce and Revenue Results Are True Indicators of the State of Our Economy

“While a declining unemployment rate is good news, our workforce remaining below 2008 levels is one sign there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to New Jersey’s economy,” said GSI’s president Regina M. Egea. “Our weak GDP rate shows an economy that’s stagnant while others are booming and we have looming questions regarding our revenue sources in the event of an economic slowdown.”

A leading indicator of the lagging state of New Jersey’s economy was the July release of Q1 2019 Gross Domestic Product data from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. While the national economy reported a strong 3.1% rate, New Jersey reported a rate of 1.8%, trailing far behind other states in the region; including Delaware (3.9%), New York (3.8%),and  Pennsylvania (2.9%).

The civilian labor force remains 60 thousand below the 2008 average workforce size of 4,504,400 (vs. today’s 4,445,800.)  Employment increased by 11,000 and unemployment declining by 9,400, as the workforce size increased by 2,400.

Job losses were recorded in five out of nine major private industry sectors. The Leisure and Hospitality sector led sectors with losses, declining by 2,200 jobs during the month. The Trade, Transportation, and Utilities sector led gains with 1,600 new positions. An ongoing cause for concern remains the Financial Activities sector which lost 200 jobs for a total of 5,800 year to date. New Jersey has led the nation in job losses in that sector year over year.

Yesterday’s release of the monthly Treasury revenue report also illustrated some warning signs ahead for New Jersey’s economy and taxpayers.

The report noted strong overall revenues, including the Corporate Business Tax (CBT) totaling $177.8 million for the month of July, up $43.8 million, or 32.6% percent, over last July. Of concern, the Treasurer noted that the state is now “more than halfway through the second year of a temporary, two-year 2.5% surtax in the CBT on income above $1 million. Beginning in January, the temporary surtax will decrease to 1.5% for two more years before phasing out.” The surcharge made New Jersey’s corporate tax the second highest in the nation and to-date neither Governor Murphy nor legislative leaders have articulated a plan to replace the revenue in future years leaving the state exposed in the event of an economic slowdown.

Also of concern is a 2.2% decline year over year, or approximately $11 million, in the collection of the tax on gasoline. In August 2018, the Treasurer announced that due to a 4.4%, or $22 million, year over year decline in gas tax revenues, the state would be increasing the tax on motor fuels by 4.3 cents per gallon. The Treasurer has yet to announce whether this year’s decline will result in another increase.

Posted in Economics, Employment, New Jersey Real Estate, Politics | 42 Comments

Don’t Fear The Reaper (or maybe you should)

From CNBC:

More signs point to a softer housing market, even as mortgage rates fall

Homebuilders and buyers alike are pulling back, even as mortgage rates fall to multiyear lows. The housing market is simply too pricey, and consumers are starting to worry about the economy and their personal finances.

Just 12% of adults said they plan to buy a home in the next year, according to a survey done in the second quarter of this year by the National Association of Home Builders. That is down from 14% in 2018.

“The drop marks the third consecutive year-over-year decline in the share of adults thinking about buying a home, providing further evidence of a slowdown in the housing market, as potential buyers are held back by the lowest levels of affordability in a decade,” wrote Rose Quint, NAHB’s assistant vice president for survey research.

The price squeeze is showing up also in who is planning to buy. Among prospective homebuyers, 58% were first-timers this year, compared with 63% last year. First-time buyers usually have less wiggle room in their wallets, and home prices are rising fastest on the lower end of the market.

Homebuilders are also not helping. The supply of newly built homes for sale fell 1% in the second quarter, the first annual drop in six years, according to Redfin, a real estate brokerage. Prices for newly built homes have moderated, after 7 straight years of increases, but sales are up less than 1% annually.

Lower mortgage rates could help on the margins, but the reason behind those lower rates, namely growing fear of a recession in the U.S. economy, outweighs the benefit on a consumer’s balance sheet. Buying a home is an incredibly emotional experience, and potential buyers will often pull back when they have the slightest fear of losing their jobs or losing any income.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Housing Bubble, National Real Estate | 39 Comments

Snap back to reality

From Mortgage Professional America:

Homeowners are getting really good at valuing their homes

The gap between the value homeowners put on their refinance mortgage applications and the value assessed by professional appraisers has narrowed for the third straight month.

The gap was 0.63% in July according to the Quicken Loans’ National Home Price Perceptions Index (HPPI). The analysis of 27 metros found that the gap between the two valuations was less than 1% in 20 metros, and only 2 saw a gap of larger than 1.5%.

“As expected, with mortgage rates at three-year lows and the refinance share of mortgage activity continuing to hover above 50%, homeowners are increasingly aware of the true value of their home, said Bill Banfield, Quicken Loans Executive Vice President of Capital Markets. “Prices continue to increase in most areas but the rapid growth of years past has moderated giving homeowners a better sense of their home’s market value.”

Posted in Economics, Mortgages, National Real Estate | 38 Comments