Each month Tom Ruff of The Information Market gives his stellar commentary on the housing market. Tom is armed with Pending data, which others do not have access. His insights are below.Read the full issue of STAT for the accompanying graphs.
As we expected, there were no surprises this month. Sales volume in September came in as expected while prices remained flat. Sales volume for this year had been running 14% lower than 2013, but the sales volume this month was only 1% lower than September 2013. There were 6,252 sales this September compared to 6,314 sales for September 2013. Keep in mind there were 21 working days this September compared to 20 working days in September 2013. Discounting the number of working days, the year-over-year sales volumes were very similar.
With year-over-year sales volumes being in lockstep, we are afforded a clear picture of the year-over-year changes as to the composition of sales. Normal/traditional sales are up, distressed/investor sales are down. With September defined as more of the same, I thought it would be a perfect time to do some additional number crunching based on a question I saw on Facebook.
The Facebook question went something like this: “What’s the difference in sales prices between using a Realtor and selling a home via FSBO?” The question started a chain of calculations where we went from exploring off-market sales (see: Using a Subscriber vs. Not) to where we ended up calculating the added value of using an ARMLS Subscriber (see: The Value of a Subscriber).
First, taking the question at face value, it’s a series of calculations and simple enough. But diving deeper it’s a question spawned by the constant threat REALTORS perceive when a disruptive real estate venture moves into the market. Predictions of the demise of the real estate industry rain down whenever a new real estate venture, new business model or syndication du jour launches. Lay on the couch, everything is going to be okay. The REALTOR® / MLS model isn’t going anywhere. The numbers have your back.
Using a Subscriber vs. Not
Second, we can do the calculation we were asked as The Information Market compiles public records data and then matches it to MLS data, giving us a unique database. We looked at single-family sales this year from January to September for Maricopa and Pinal counties. We removed new construction as our comparison will be of the resale market. Here are the findings:
• 83.76% of all resale homes sold using an ARMLS Subscriber and the MLS
• 90% of all resale homes that sold over the median price used an ARMLS Subscriber and the MLS
• Single men are slightly less likely to use a Subscriber and the MLS but did 82.53% of the time
• Single women fit the norm using a Subscriber and the MLS 84% of the time
• Married couples are more likely to use a Subscriber and the MLS at 86.08% of the time
Fix & flip investors used an ARMLS® Subscriber 84.34% of the time. These investors clearly know how to value property and their price points as their livelihood depends on buying low and selling high. They don’t need an agent to tell them property values but they need a Subscriber to ensure arms-length transactions. This should be a shock to you! The perception of many is that they don’t use REALTORS®.
The Value of a Subscriber
Subscribers were used in 84% of transactions – but did they add value? It would be easy but flawed to look at the median and average sales prices of MLS vs. Non-MLS sales like the Facebook question above suggests. To show why, we did the calculation for August with new construction and distressed properties removed:
|Median Sales Price||$161,000||$218,000||+ 35%|
|Average Sales Price||$210,537||$271,716||+ 29%|
|Price per SqFt:||$107.15||$126.26||+ 17.8%|
The numbers above are flawed because it is more common for owners at lower price points to attempt a FBSO while it is less common for FSBOs to be attempted at higher price points. This is a natural bias we must account for.
There is a fair solution to remove the bias, by using the Full Cash Value Ratio (FCVR), where we compare the sold price versus the county tax assessor’s value. A property that was valued at $100,000 by the assessor and sold for $100,000 would have a FCVR of 100%. In our calculation, the FCVR acts like an index, giving a more accurate picture when we make our comparison. Looking at the same August sales for single-family homes and removing new construction and distressed properties we feel confident in saying using an ARMLS Subscriber increases value for the seller by 9.6%.
|SOLD BY||AVG SOLD PRICE||AVG FCV||AVG FCV Ratio|
The Pending Price Index
The PPI projected the median sales price in September to be $190,000 with the actual median price coming in at $194,000. Home prices can best be described as stable and flat. Our sales volume projection for September came within 1.6%. We projected 6,150 sales and the actual sales for the month landed at 6,252. Our projections have been trending slightly more pessimistic than the actual reported results.
Looking ahead, the ARMLS Pending Price Index is projecting declines in both the median sales price as well as the average sales price. Anticipated declines in October can be attributed to modest downward pricing pressure as well as seasonable patterns. We’re projecting a median sales price of $191,000 with sales volume of 5,850.