The Cromford Report – Daily Observations November 2017

    November 30 – The S&P / Case-Shiller® Home Price Index® report that was released on Tuesday covers sales between July and September. The month to month movement in the HPI was as follows:

    1. Las Vegas 0.97%
    2. New York 0.89%
    3. Tampa 0.88%
    4. Cleveland 0.68%
    5. Phoenix 0.59%
    6. Miami 0.59%
    7. San Francisco 0.51%
    8. San Diego 0.46%
    9. Los Angeles 0.42%
    10. Boston 0.42%
    11. Dallas 0.39%
    12. Charlotte 0.28%
    13. Denver 0.24%
    14. Portland 0.17%
    15. Atlanta 0.16%
    16. Chicago 0.05%
    17. Minneapolis 0.01%
    18. Detroit -0.13%
    19. Washington -0.21%
    20. Seattle 0.28%

    Phoenix was well ahead of the national average of 0.35% and now appears in the top 5 of the 20 major cities reported by Case-Shiller.

    The longer term trends, represented by the annual change in the index, was as follows:

    1. Seattle 12.9%
    2. Las Vegas 9.0%
    3. San Diego 8.2%
    4. Portland 7.3%
    5. Tampa 7.2%
    6. Boston 7.2%
    7. Dallas 7.2%
    8. Denver 7.2%
    9. San Francisco 7.0%
    10. Detroit 6.9%
    11. Charlotte 6.2%
    12. Los Angeles 6.2%
    13. Phoenix 6.1%
    14. Cleveland 5.4%
    15. Minneapolis 5.4%
    16. Atlanta 5.4%
    17. New York 5.2%
    18. Miami 5.0%
    19. Chicago 3.9%
    20. Washington 3.1%

    In this table we are only 13th out of 20 and roughly in line with the national average.

    Las Vegas stands out as being at number 1 and 2 in these tables while Seattle jumps out for being top of the long term but bottom of the short term table.

    November 29 – Yesterday we looked at Opendoor over the past 12 months and today we will do the same for OfferPad.

    • first purchase was in November 2015
    • first sale was in January 2016
    • there were 891 purchases during the last 12 months (Nov 2016 – Oct 2017)
    • annual average purchase price was $213,192
    • annual median purchase price was $198,900
    • there were 621 sales during the last 12 month
    • annual average sales price was $232,590
    • annual median sales price was $215,000
    • median gross margin was $24,900 for homes sold in the last 12 months
    • average gross margin was $28,576
    • average time from purchase to sale = 111 days

    It is immediately striking that although OfferPad took almost a week longer to turnaround their purchases into closed sales, they have been achieving much higher gross margins than Opendoor. In fact more than twice as much. This could be because they are doing more extensive refurbishment and upgrade, or it could be because they are just negotiating better prices on one or both ends of the flip.

    OfferPad`s top line revenue for a typical home is looking like $18,000 in fees and $25,000 in gross margin , making $43,000 in all, some 36% higher than Opendoor.

    November 28 – There is considerable interest in the so-called iBuyers of homes. Opendoor and OfferPad are the main operators in Greater Phoenix. With the data gathered from public records we provide Tableau charts about Opendoor and OfferPad purchases and sales within the Cromford Public section of our web-site.

    Here is a summary of what we know about Opendoor`s Greater Phoenix operations so far.

    • first purchase was in August 2014
    • first sale was in November 2014
    • there were 1,602 purchases during the last 12 months (Nov 2016 – Oct 2017)
    • annual average purchase price was $213,636
    • annual median purchase price was $204,550
    • there were 1,512 sales during the last 12 month
    • annual average sales price was $223,119
    • annual median sales price was $214,000
    • median gross margin was $13,000 for homes sold in the last 12 months
    • average gross margin was $11,779
    • average time from purchase to sale = 105 days

    Typically an iBuyer will charge the seller 9% of the agreed purchase price. This percentage can vary however, based on the iBuyer`s business objectives. The fee is not disclosed in public records since the price stated on the affidavit of value is the gross figure prior to the fees. The seller will receive the gross figure less the fees and less any other close of escrow costs.

    Thus the iBuyer typically receives 9% of the purchase price plus the gross margin on sale as top line revenue. From this they will have to cover refurbishment costs, selling costs and two sets of closing costs, including the commission for the buyer`s agent, if there there is one.

    For a typical home this looks like $31,500 in top line revenue, consisting of $18,500 in fees and $13,000 in gross margin.

    Opendoor’s operation grew quickly in 2015 and 2016 but the acceleration has slowed down in 2017 as they face more competition from OfferPad. They are also operating very much at the low end of the market, which is rapidly contracting in size due to diminishing supply. Annual purchases grew by 15% between October 2016 and October 2017.

    During the last 12 months, 1,512 sales represents 1.1% of the market in Maricopa and Pinal Counties. The total transaction count over that time was 133,476. Of course you could argue that Opendoor was involved in 2 transactions for every home they sold, the first as buyer and the second as seller. However every one of the 133,476 transactions we monitored had both a buyer and a seller, so there were 266,952 transactions sides of which Opendoor represented 1.2%.

    Annual sales were running at $337 million at the beginning of November. Opendoor has never paid more than $550,000 for a home. Because of this focus on the low end, Opendoor has a smaller share of the dollar value, just over 0.87%.

    November 27 – Although we saw on Friday that the average location within Greater Phoenix had increased the contract ratio by 10%, there are some areas where the market is cooler than last year. For buyers the lower competition will be welcome in the following locations:

    1. Avondale – down from 97.9 to 57.3
    2. Morristown – down from 27.3 to 17.6
    3. Waddell – down from 52.7 to 38.6
    4. Wickenburg – down from 20.7 to 16.3
    5. Tolleson – down from 77.8 to 62.9
    6. Goodyear – down from 62.2 to 51.3
    7. Fountain Hills – down from 29.1 to 25.2
    8. Anthem – down from 52.5 to 46.6
    9. Laveen – down from 84.6 to 80.6
    10. El Mirage – down from 177.5 to 170.0

    El Mirage makes this list by dropping 4% but still remains the hottest location in the whole valley. At 170 its contract ratio is very high with 68 listings under contract and only 40 active.

    November 24 – We like to use the Contract Ratio when determining how hot or cold the market is within a certain segment. Comparing Thanksgiving 2017 with Thanksgiving 2016, the following locations have show the biggest increase in temperature:

    1. Carefree – from 11.4 to 28.7
    2. Arizona City – from 23.2 to 45.9
    3. Litchfield Park – from 31.6 to 59.3
    4. New River – from 24.4 to 42.6
    5. Gold Canyon – from 17.5 to 30.1
    6. Sun Lakes – from 40.6 to 67.3
    7. Surprise – from 43.1 to 67.0
    8. Tonopah – from 31.9 to 48.6
    9. Wittmann – from 29.4 to 43.3
    10. Tempe – from 51.4 to 68.9

    Many of these locations have been cold or cool for some time but are showing signs of warming up. Carefree, for example has 29 homes under contract compared with only 16 last year, while active listings without a contract are down from 140 to 101. Although it is low by most locations standards, 28.7 is a high reading for Carefree.

    The numbers above include all dwelling types and price ranges.

    The contract ratio for Greater Phoenix as a whole has increased 10% from 49.2 to 54.1.

    November 23 – Another of our regular looks at the Cromford® Market Index for single-family markets in the 17 largest cities shows us this:

    Only a handful of big moves here, but they are backwards with

    • Paradise Valley down 15%
    • Avondale down 10%
    • Fountain Hills down 7%

    The outlook is for an improvement in this table over the next few weeks (at least for sellers) with falling supply and a small uptick in demand.

    The dominance of the Southeast Valley is striking with all of the top 3 places and 4 out of the top 6.

    November 22 – Looking at sales year to date compared with this time last year, we see an overall increase of 6.4%. This is down from 9.0% at the mid-point of the year and sales during the second half of 2017 are are up only 3.1% compared to this time last year.

    It is also noticeable that single-family detached homes are behind the curve. They are up 5.8% year to date while attached homes are up 10.0% and mobile homes are up 8.1%.

    Geographically there has been the highest growth in the tiny part of Yavapai County that falls within the ARMLS Greater Phoenix area – up 15.7%. Pinal County comes next with an 11.2% increase while Maricopa County lags at 5.9%.

    The greatest growth in price ranges is for homes over $2 million – these are up 27.3%. Next comes $500,000 to $1 million where sales are up 22.1%. Between $1 million and $2 million sales are up 18.6% and the dominant range between $200,000 and $500,000 is up 18.0%. The big loser is the price range below $200,000 where sales are down 11.5%. Sales below $200,000 still account for 33% of all sales but this is down from 40% in 2016. The lack of volume growth below $200,000 is driving median sales prices higher at a faster rate than average price per square foot.

    November 21 – We are looking at the active listing counts compared with the same point in 2016 and excluding UCB listings we are down 11.7%. UCB listings are down also but only by 4.1%. Attached homes are down slightly more (12.1%) than single-family detached homes (down 11.8%). Mobile home listings are only down by 8.4%.

    In Maricopa County active listings excluding UCB are down by 10.8% while Pinal has dropped much harder – down 18.4%.

    Most of the missing listings are below $200,000 where the count has dropped 31.6% since last year. We also see fewer listings between $500,000 and $1 million (down 8.9%) and between $200,000 and $500,000 (down 6.8%). However supply is up over $1 million. Between $1 million and $2 million we have 8.2% more active listings while over $2 million the increase is a more modest 3.8%.

    November 20 – The daily Cromford® Market Index chart shows us that the index has halted its recent swoon and is little changed over the past week. Demand has started to show a little growth over the past 2 weeks and the usual increase in supply that we see between September and November has proven to be nothing special in 2017. This means we will probably see a recovery in the index during December when supply always falls hard.

    The conclusion is that most sellers remain in a strong position and there is little relief on the horizon for buyers. Only in the higher echelons over $1.5 million do sellers hold a weak hand. This due to the prolonged over-supply of expensive homes, something that Phoenix has in common with many other parts of the USA.

    November 17 – Each month we publish the ranking table showing 41 cities in Maricopa and Pinal County ordered by average sales price per square foot.

    There are still some cities that are appreciating at rates over 10%:

    1. Coolidge
    2. Wickenburg
    3. El Mirage
    4. Arizona City
    5. Eloy

    Only one of these (El Mirage) is wholly within Maricopa County. Wickenburg is split between Maricopa and Yavapai while the remaining 3 are in Pinal County. Although it is at the bottom of the table, Coolidge has been catching up with the other 40 for quite some time.

    There are 2 cities with negative appreciation over the past year.

    1. Tonopah
    2. Carefree

    Carefree has also suffered the loss of its traditional second place to Scottsdale.

    November 16 – Today we take another look at the Cromford Market Index for the single-family markets in the largest cities:

    The bad news for sellers is that there are 12 cities where conditions deteriorated from a seller’s perspective. The good news is that all 17 cities are still in a seller’s market and both the top and bottom entries moved upwards.

    Buckeye is the only city that improved significantly while Avondale, Fountain Hills, Paradise Valley, Peoria and Surprise all deteriorated by 5% or more over the past month.

    November 15 – Over the last 3 years the average home in Maricopa County has turned over at an annual rate of 1 in 14. This means only 1 out of every 14 homes has been sold during the prior 12 months. In other words it takes 14 years for the average home to come up for sale. This excludes new homes sales which cannot be said to “turn over”. This is quite a bit less than homes turned over ten or fifteen years ago and this lower mobility is a phenomenon that has occurred across the whole of the USA and in many other countries too.

    The areas with the lowest annual turnover are as follows:

    1. Gila Bend 85337 – 1 in 35.8 homes per year
    2. Phoenix 85034 – 1 in 23.3
    3. Aguila 85320 – 1 in 21.7
    4. Fort McDowell 85264 – 1 in 19.0
    5. Tempe 85284 – 1 in 18.0
    6. Tempe 85283 – 1 in 17.3
    7. Mesa 85210 – 1 in 17.2
    8. Phoenix 85035 – 1 in 17.2
    9. Chandler 85226 – 1 in 17.0
    10. Surprise 85387 – 1 in 16.8

    Now what real estate agents usually want to know is where the highest turnover rates are because high turnover implies plenty of business for agents.

    Here are the top spots in Maricopa County:

    1. Surprise 85388 – 1 in 11.1
    2. Gilbert 85297 – 1 in 11.5
    3. Sun City 85351 – 1 in 11.6
    4. Sun City West 85375 – 1 in 11.6
    5. Anthem 85086 – 1 in 11.7
    6. Surprise 85379 – 1 in 11.7
    7. Phoenix 85006 – 1 in 11.7
    8. Sun City 85373 – 1 in 11.8
    9. Phoenix 85007 – 1 in 12.2
    10. Phoenix 85018 – 1 in 12.3

    November 14 – The market in the Northeast Valley is seeing very different conditions from those we examined yesterday in the Southeast Valley. Active listings jumped 9% during October giving buyers plenty of new homes to consider but supply is not arriving in the price ranges that most need it. Relative to demand we are short of homes under $500,000 but have plenty of homes over $1 million and a surplus over $2 million. This means our balanced market breaks down into a seller’s market under $500,000 and a buyer’s market over $2 million, with balance only applying somewhere in between those extremes. Comparing the average price per square foot over the past 3 months with the same period in 2016, we find strong appreciation of 6% or more in several less expensive areas such as 85257, 85254 and 85331. However, the price movement was negative for the big ZIP codes 85255 and 85262 which were down 7% and 4% respectively. The ample supply of high-end homes means transaction rates are well up from last year, but sellers are finding their pricing power is very limited.

    November 13 – In the last year, supply has fallen further in the Southeast Valley than any other part of Greater Phoenix. Although October is usually when we see an increase, days of inventory have dropped from 65 to 64 which is 21% lower than last November. The low supply is starting to slow sales. There were only 2 more closed listings during October 2017 than during October 2016 and given that we had 2 more working days in October 2017 the effective sales rate per day is 10% lower than last year. The annual sales rate is 4% higher than this time last year but has been in decline since June. If we exclude active listings with an accepted offer, months of supply has dropped from 2.1 to 1.7 over the last 12 months. For homes under $250,000 supply has dropped from 1.1 to 0.8 months. Buyers under $250,000 are certainly having a hard time. Even buyers over $500,000 have less choice than normal with less than 5 months of supply compared with over 7 months this time last year.

    The top ZIP codes for appreciation, comparing quarterly $/SF for August through October with the same 3 months in 2016, are as follows:

    1. Mesa 85206 – 12.2%
    2. Mesa 85203 – 10.2%
    3. Mesa 85212 – 10.2%
    4. Mesa 85204 – 9.8%
    5. Chandler 85224 – 9.7%
    6. Tempe 85281 – 9.5%
    7. Queen Creek 85142 – 8.8%
    8. Sun Lakes 85248 – 8.8%
    9. Mesa 85208 – 8.3%
    10. Mesa 85202 – 7.9%

    November 10 – The average sales price per square foot for all areas & types just hit a new high point of $152.01 today. This is the first time we have exceeded $152 since March 2008 almost 10 years ago, although we came pretty close on June 21. The third quarter dip is now well behind us and pricing has regained the sort of momentum we expected for the fourth quarter. Closed sales are no longer running well ahead of last year, but are still slightly higher than this time last year. Year to date we are up almost 8%. New supply over the last month is down 1% compared with the same period in 2016, so a slight weakening in sales momentum seems to be counter-balanced by a slight weakening in new supply. The market is healthy for sellers but the lack of volume growth is slightly concerning for agents, given that we have 6% more agents active than this time last year. Dollar volume is up 15% for annual sales but only 3% up for the most recent monthly period. To preserve or increase revenues per agent we need the dollar volume growth to exceed the growth in agent numbers. That goal was easily exceeded in the first half of this year but is looking less certain for the second half.

    November 9 – Let us have another look at the Cromford® Market Index for the single-family markets in our 17 largest cities.

    All 17 are in the seller’s market zone over 110, but only one out the 17 (Buckeye) saw any significant improvement in market conditions for sellers over the past month. Three other cities improved but by less than 1% (Chandler, Cave Creek and Tempe).

    We see significant deterioration for sellers in Fountain Hills, Avondale, Surprise and Peoria.

    Generally the Southeast Valley is doing better than the rest of the Greater Phoenix area because supply is more limited. We have never seen Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert hold the top 3 spots like they do today. However, even Mesa and Gilbert have weakened since last month.

    November 8 – The last 3 months make an interesting comparison with the same period last year for the high end market. The good news for sellers is that sales increased 37% for single-family homes over $2 million, from 46 to 63. This was a much higher percentage increase than for luxury homes as a whole. These were up 15%.

    The bad news, unsurprisingly, is that many prices had to be cut to achieve these sales. The average price per square foot during August to October 2016 was $471.37, but during the same period in 2017 the average was $398.03, a drop of almost 16%. Now this does not mean the average value of a high-end home dropped that much, because sample sizes of 46 and 63 are not large enough to eliminate variations due to changing mix, but the trend is still clear. The high end of the market remains under pressure from over supply and those who are in a hurry to sell are having to drop prices. This effect is most noticeable in the far Northeast in ZIP codes like 85262, 85255 and 85268.

    Between $500,000 and $1,500,000 the situation is better for sellers as the inventory of homes for sale is more limited relative to demand. Between $500,000 and $1,000,000 we see average $/SF is up 1.2% from this time last year while between $1,000,000 and $2,000,000 a rise of 0.5% can be reported.

    November 7 – Most ZIP codes are still quite some way below the peak pricing that we saw during the housing bubble of 2004-2007. Just a few are edging above that mark however.

    The most realistic way to measure this is to use the annual average price per square foot. Any measure shorter than a year will have occasional spikes that make a comparison difficult for an area as small as a ZIP code. The median sales price could also be used but this is an easier benchmark to breach. Here are the ZIP codes where single-family homes that have made the real breakthrough:

    1. Eloy 85131
    2. Scottsdale 85257
    3. Scottsdale 85251

    South Scottsdale and Old Town Scottsdale are in great shape, but things get a lot less rosy when we venture into the far north. Scottsdale 85262 is only at 70% of the peak while 85266 and Carefree are at 72%.

    November 6 – The Mortgage Interest Deduction is not as important as many in the housing industry believe. It only comes into play for taxpayers who itemize their deductions and for many people the standard deduction is already larger than the total of their itemized deductions. With the proposed tax changes under review in 2017, the standard deduction will increase while many other deductions will be reduced. This will mean the Mortgage Interest Deduction will become irrelevant except to a very small percentage of home owners in Arizona. Only filers with incomes well over $200,000 are likely to find it worthwhile to itemize their deductions. Needless to say, this is a lot higher than the typical income level to be found across Greater Phoenix.

    The limit on the size of the mortgage for which mortgage interest can be deducted is proposed to fall from $1,000,000 to $500,000 and property tax deductions will be limited to $10,000. In California these limits may look rather low, but in Arizona there are few people who will be affected. This because our property taxes are much lower than California and our average mortgage is much smaller too.

    The net effect of the proposed tax changes will be to lessen the tax advantages of home ownership versus home rental. This could divert some demand away from homes for sale towards homes for rent. Neither type of home is easy to find in affordable form in the Phoenix area right now, though expensive homes are easy to find for both rent and purchase. It also means the tax proposals will be unpopular with real estate agents, who much prefer people to buy rather than rent. This is confirmed by the strong opposition to the tax reforms voiced by the National Association of REALTORS®

    Another thing that agents will dislike is the new incentive created for high end homeowners not to sell their home. Existing mortgages will have their interest deductibility preserved but any new mortgage will be under the new rules. The national mobility is rather low at the moment so this tax change will probably reduce mobility further, especially at the high end. On the other hand, people involved in re-modelling and renovating will be pleased about the changes, as owners decide to stay with their existing mortgage and update their home instead. Perhaps this effect will reduce the over-supply of high end homes coming onto the market.

    From a builder’s perspective, they too prefer incentives to buy rather than rent, so most are in opposition to the tax proposals. However it will be high end builders like Toll Brothers and those with a greater exposure to expensive markets on the coast who will be most negatively affected. The Arizona market will feel very minor effects in comparison and the low and mid-range demand for new homes is likely to remain intact..

    Those involved in rentals will love the changes because rental demand will get a boost. Doubling the standard deduction will give most filers the tax benefit of owning a home without the bother of having to actually purchase one. The likely increase to their take-home pay will probably make it easier for tenants to pay their rent on time and agree to the rent increases that landlords love to impose. The tax changes are therefore friendly to landlords and real estate investors.

    November 4 – In contrast to yesterday’s observation, here are the 20 ZIP codes with the highest average days on market. Plenty of patience is required from sellers in these areas:

    1. Crown King 86343 – 389 days
    2. Aguila 85320 – 357 days
    3. Carefree 85377 – 213 days
    4. Scottsdale 85262 – 201 days
    5. Congress 85332 – 201 days
    6. Stanfield 85172 – 190 days
    7. Kirkland 86332 – 186 days
    8. Wickenburg 85390 – 180 days
    9. Rio Verde 85263 – 178 days
    10. Paradise Valley 85253 – 163 days
    11. Fort McDowell 85264 – 161 days
    12. Casa Grande 85194 – 145 days
    13. Superior 85173 – 142 days
    14. Scottsdale 85266 – 141 days
    15. Morristown 85342 – 138 days
    16. Phoenix 85004 – 136 days
    17. Phoenix 85003 – 134 days
    18. Scottsdale 85255 – 130 days
    19. Gold Canyon 85118 – 128 days
    20. Eloy 85131 – 121 days

    November 3 – Here are the top 20 ZIP codes based on the lowest average days on market for closed listings. Homes here sell faster than anywhere else in Greater Phoenix:

    1. El Mirage 85335 – 37 days
    2. Mesa 85210 – 42 days
    3. Peoria 85345 – 42 days
    4. Mesa 85202 – 43 days
    5. Phoenix 85027 – 44 days
    6. Mesa 85204 – 44 days
    7. Glendale 85307 – 44 days
    8. Phoenix 85037 – 44 days
    9. Phoenix 85031 – 45 days
    10. Chandler 85224 – 45 days
    11. Mesa 85201 – 45 days
    12. Phoenix 85040 – 45 days
    13. Youngtown 85363 – 46 days
    14. Phoenix 85043 – 46 days
    15. Phoenix 85051 – 47 days
    16. Chandler 85225 – 47 days
    17. Glendale 85306 – 48 days
    18. Glendale 85302 – 48 days
    19. Gilbert 85296 – 49 days
    20. Tempe 85282 – 49 days

    The measurement was taken from November 2016 through October 2017 for all dwelling types.

    November 2 – Our weekly look at the Cromford® Market Index for the single-family markets in the 17 largest cities gives us a table like this:

    All 17 cities are in the seller’s market zone over 110. However the situation deteriorated for sellers over the last month in 12 of the 17 cities, particularly in Fountain Hills, Surprise, Avondale and Peoria.

    Once again Paradise Valley and Buckeye were the only 2 cities to improve for sellers by more than 1%. Queen Creek, Tempe and Chandler managed small improvements which shows relative strength at this time of year.


    © 2017 Cromford Associates LLC

    The data used to create the Cromford® Report is obtained from public records and obtained under license from the Arizona Regional Multiple Listing Service, Inc (ARMLS). Cromford Associates LLC and ARMLS expressly disclaim and make no representations or warranties of any kind, whether express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy of the data used or the merchantability or fitness for any particular purpose.


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