Buying a home without seeing a property in person is like marrying a person by only viewing their Tinder profile. But house horny people are ready to hump away their savings and lock into a 30-year mortgage matrimony. It is a bit surprising but not all that shocking that nearly one in five home buyers are making offers on homes without even viewing a property, according to new research. When bidding wars ensue and rental Armageddon is all the rage, buying a crap shack may seem like the most reasonable decision. And the psychology behind this is interesting. People will spend hours debating what restaurant to go to on Yelp but are itching to buy a home without even seeing it? This is the manic market we are living in. And in the Bay Area, things continue to get nuttier. The Full House home recently sold for a nice amount of money. Given the occupations of the fictional inhabitants, they would likely live in tents behind a tech incubator instead of that place.
If you want to see what baby boomers are buying, just watch the commercials on 60 Minutes. Between Viagra and Prostate commercials, you will also get ads on remote destination cruises. This is a much older audience that isn’t buying new homes. Many already own homes. Yet they bought during a time when the housing market was much more stable and less prone to the machinations of Wall Street. Now we are in the midst of a renter revolution and are witnessing the lowest homeownership rate in a generation. The baby boomer cohort is 77 million strong but the Millennial generation is 92 million strong. You would think that there would be plenty of fresh bodies to replace the Taco Tuesday baby boomers but it simply hasn’t materialized. Can Millennials save the housing market?
Last week I was driving throughout the Inland Empire and one thing becomes rather apparent. There is a ton of building out in the Inland Empire – this applies to work on freeways, new housing communities, and new commercial development. Also, traffic is a nightmare. Westside traffic is also horrendous. There are many people that make the commuting odyssey each day from the Inland Empire into L.A. or O.C. and that commute is only going to get worse from what I was seeing. I was also in the Bay Area recently and prices there defy gravity. In the Inland Empire you can get a McMansion while in the Bay Area you will get a crap shack for one million dollars if you are lucky. It really boils down to a lack of housing inventory and uncertainty that has made builders anxious since the housing bubble is fresh in their collective memories. But alas, the public is drawn to housing like moths to the light. Being stuck in mind crushing traffic for a brief period only highlights that people are willing to sacrifice quality of life for a piece of the American Dream.
The housing recovery has really been an odd one. It has been driven by low inventory, anxious builders, and an army of investors. In the end what has occurred is that the homeownership rate is near a generational low, we have 10 million new renter households over the last decade, and home prices are up on relatively low sales volume. How can there be big sales volume when inventory is so constrained? It is a good question to ask. In any market you will have periods of capitulation, where people simply give in. You see it happening in this market where people purchase crap shacks as if taking their medicine when they were a child. The place physically sucks and is overpriced but hey, you need to do it because mommy told you it was the right thing to do. We’ve been in a holding pattern for a couple of years yet last month, sales did take a rather big drop. It was the biggest drop since April 2011. Is this simply an anomaly or are people priced out?
Los Angeles County is massive. It is also a renting majority county. L.A. County is the least affordable county based on price-to-income ratios. And when things get out of control, all of a sudden every area is gentrifying and every property is one step away from being a Taj Mahal. This summer the housing hounds have been released and all of a sudden real estate is the greatest deal in town. Housing can do no wrong and for those priced out, you must dig deep in those wallets and make that bet! You only live once! Carpe diem. No one ever regretted buying California real estate aside from all those that regretted buying California real estate. Today we’ll take a trip to Huntington Park. According to the real estate gods, gentrification should be happening in every niche of L.A. County.