Millennials aren’t buying, they’re investing in real estate

While many millennials find themselves priced out of the real estate market, many are investing in real estate in other parts of the country. Using online platforms such as Roofstock, they are able to pick properties on risk factors and various returns.

Generally smaller cities offer the best opportunities for consistent monthly returns. In some markets, appreciation of the real estate asset outpaces the monthly cash flow.

According to CoreLogic, 11 percent of single-family homes sold in 2018 were bought by investors, the highest percentage on record.

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Bay Area Apartment Construction Increasing

The good news is that major metropolitan areas in the Bay Area – San Jose, Oakland, and San Francisco – are seeing a significant increase in multi-family/apartment construction. For example, the San Jose metro area is seeing an increase of 283 percent – 1,579 units last year to 6,044 this year. Oakland is adding 1850 units and San Francisco, 1204.

The not-so-good news is that other cities such as Seattle and Miami are adding twice the number of units. The Dallas-Fort Worth area is adding 22,000 this year alone!

Although there is still much to be done, experts agreed that the Bay Area is heading in the right direction and noted that building in California is more difficult – and expensive – due to the state’s environmental regulations and the high cost of construction materials.

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Yes, your commute is getting worse

If you commute to work in the Bay Area you don’t need to be told that your commute is getting worse. According to a recent analysis, the number of “super commuters” – those whose commute is 90 minutes or longer – increased by 102 percent in Contra Costa County from 2009 to 2017. Cities such as Antioch are literally full of super commuters with the average commute taking 92.2 minutes each way, up from 73 minutes in 2008.

According to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, traffic congestion – freeway driving at 35 miles per hour or slower – increased by 80 percent from 2010 to 2017. Nearly one-third of all workers cross at least one county line to get to their jobs.

One possible way to ease the travel time would be a regional express bus network that could travel in toll lanes.

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Bay Area Housing Still Competitive

Although the housing market in the Bay Area has cooled a bit since last year it is still one of the most competitive areas in the country. According to Redfin, Contra Costa Centre (a transit community near Walnut Creek), San Lorenzo, Alameda, San Leandro, Pleasant Hill, and Albany ranked at least 92 out of 100 in the “Competitive Index.”

Analysts say that employment in the nine-county Bay Area remains very strong with over 5,000 new jobs being added in July alone.

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No new homes?

In the nine-county Bay Area – over 7 million people – only 266 new homes, townhomes, and condos were sold in January of this year. This is the lowest total in at least 20 years according to CoreLogic.

And the trend continues: new home sales were down in July by 9 percent over 2018.

While prices are high, demand remains strong but the outlook for new housing is not good. Permits for new construction are down nearly 50 percent in San Mateo County, 30 percent in Alameda County, nearly 10 percent in Santa Clara County and 7 percent in Contra Costa County.

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Housing inventories to remain low

Realtor.com is estimating that current low levels of housing inventory will go even lower in 2020. New listings increased in January 2019 by 6.4 percent but have been declining every month since, with June seeing a decline of 2.3 percent compared to June 2018.

Analysts say there are several reasons for the low number of new listings: many baby boomers are choosing to “age in place” rather than downsizing; “rate lock”. which are homeowners who purchased their home at lower rates than are available today. Finally, there are growing concerns about the overall health of the economy.th

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When buying an older home

Older homes often have a lot of character and can certainly increase a buyer’s options. However, age can have its detrimental side and there are a number of factors that should be looked into before deciding to purchase.

  • Structural and Foundation: Unevenness and cracks in the foundation can mean trouble down the line and its best to have the building inspected by a licensed structural engineer.
  • Hazardous Materials: The older the home is, the more likely it is to have some hazardous materials. Lead can be found in paint used before 1978 and plumbing before 1985. Asbestos can be found in roofing and insulation installed before 1980.
  • Plumbing and Electrical: Old plumbing and electrical systems can be a safety hazard and may be very costly to replace.
  • Heating and Cooling Systems: Poor efficiency often mars older heating and cooling systems.
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Bay Area housing: competitive but fewer bidding wars

While Bay Area housing remains very competitive, bidding wars have declined sharply. July, 2019 saw 13.3 percent of housing sales in the San Jose area with multiple bis compared to 80 percent a year earlier. In the san Francisco area (including Oakland and Hayward) 35 percent of offers had bidding wards compared to 72.4 percent the previous year. Nationally, bidding wars accounted for 11 percent of sales, the lowest rate since 2011.

Analysts believe that uncertainty in the stock market along with a fear of overpaying is reducing the sense of urgency to make an offer.

San Francisco remains the most competitive market in the country and bidding wars still occur, particularly if the property is reasonably priced to begin with.

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Home buyers being patient

As the median price nationwide for a single-family house increased 4.3 percent to $279,600 in the second quarter, according to the National Association of Realtors, prices in many of the country’s most expensive markets – including San Jose and San Francisco actually declined.

Analysts report that buyers are more cautious and not rushing to buy as in years past, perhaps hoping for further declines. Lower-end properties remained out of reach of most first-time buyers.

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Bay Area housing in perspective

According to a new study by Clever Real Estate, home prices have increased four times as fast as incomes since 1960. This ever-widening gap between housing costs and wage growth means the typical family in San Jose and San Francisco spends at least nine times their annual household income to buy a home. This is the highest ratio in the country.

While housing prices have leveled off this year after hitting a peak of $928,000 in May 2018 – according to real estate data firm CoreLogic – home sales have also declined even though more units have come on the market.

An often unseen consequence of the high real estate prices is that many service providers – restaurants, barbers, dry cleaners, and others – have to raise their prices as rents go up.

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