U.S. Home Seller Profits At 12-Year High

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As reported by ATTOM Data Solutions This Week in Real Estate the average homeowner who sold their home in 2018 realized an average home price gain since purchase of $61,000, a 12-year high. Below are a few highlights from the last week of January that influence our business:

Strong Job Growth Continues in January.The U.S. economy entered 2019 with a strong gain in payroll employment. Total employment increased by 304,000 in January, while the unemployment rate edged up to 4.0%, reflecting the impact of the partial government shutdown. Residential construction employment increased by 23,900 at the beginning of 2019, the largest gain since February 2018. The total construction industry (both residential and nonresidential) added 52,000 jobs in January. Residential construction employment now stands at 2.9 million in January, broken down as 835,000 builders and 2.1 million residential specialty trade contractors. The 6-month moving average of job gains for residential construction is 11,133 a month. Over the last 12 months, home builders and remodelers added 130,700 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 916,600 positions. In January, the unemployment rate for construction workers rose to 4.7% on a seasonally adjusted basis, from 4.6% in December. The unemployment rate for the construction sector has been trending downwards since February 2010 and remains historically low.

Average U.S. Home Seller Profits at 12-Year High. According to ATTOM Data Solutions 2018 U.S. Home Sales Report, home sellers in 2018 realized an average home price gain since purchase of $61,000, up from $50,000 last year and up from $39,500 two years ago in 2016 to the highest level since 2006 – a 12-year high. That $61,000 average home seller profit represented an average 32.6 percent return on investment compared to the original purchase price, up from 27.0 percent last year and up from 21.9 percent in 2016 to the highest average home seller ROI since 2006. “While 2018 was the most profitable time to sell a home in more than 12 years, those along the coasts, reaped the most gains.” Among 217 metropolitan statistical areas with a population greater than 200,000 and sufficient historical data, the highest returns on investment were almost exclusively in western states, with concentrations along areas of the west coast. Those with the highest average home seller ROI were San Jose, California (108.8 percent); San Francisco, California (78.6 percent); Seattle, Washington (70.7 percent); Merced, California (66.4 percent); and Santa Rosa, California (66.1 percent). Homeowners who sold in the fourth quarter of 2018 had owned their homes an average of 8.30 years, up from 8.13 years in the previous quarter and up from 7.95 years in Q4 2017 to the longest average home seller tenure as far back as data is available, Q1 2000.

Fed Pursues Patience. As expected, the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy body, the Federal Open Market Committee, unanimously agreed to hold steady the federal funds top rate at 2.5%. The Fed’s January statement was consistent with recent policymakers comments suggesting a more flexible stance toward monetary policy at the end of last year and the start of 2019. In particular, the statement indicated that the Fed will “be patient as it determines what future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate may be appropriate to support these outcomes.” This is a decidedly more dovish stance for the Fed relative to commentary from the Fall of 2018, reflecting anchored inflation expectations and economic softness in some sectors, including housing. These changes to the Fed’s monetary policy stance are more favorable for housing market conditions in 2019, which are currently challenged by growing concerns over housing affordability and sluggish growth for home building.

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