A Rosy Report, St. Cloud Homes, and a Prediction Draught

Dated: May 11 2020

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Last Thursday was the regular release date for ATTOM Data Solution’s quarterly Home Equity report. This year, ongoing events created the need for some additional commentary.

As the “curator of the nation’s premier property database,” ATTOM’s figures can be relied upon to gauge the nation’s residential real estate equity levels—St. Cloud homes included. This latest report covered 2020’s first quarter. It takes a while to collect and verify all the data—but last week, for optimists, the wait was worthwhile: the report card was a “rosy” one.

But, needless to say, a lot has changed since the end of March—hence the additional commentary.

The report showed that about one in four homes in the U.S. qualified as “equity rich,” defined as a property with outstanding home loans totaling less than half of their estimated market value. When compared with the meager 6.6% of homes considered “seriously underwater” (those with loans totaling at least 25% more than their market value), the overall health of homeowners’ balance sheets looked strong.

But spokesman Todd Teta had to admit the obvious: this “rosy” first-quarter report needed “to be taken in the context of the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.” In other words, at least in the immediate near term, the share of equity-rich homes could be expected to suffer—at least until business activity (and paychecks) return to more normal levels. That’s something not expected to happen until at least the end of the third quarter.

All in all, looking for precise guidance on future conditions is even less fruitful than usual. As Norada commentator Marco Santarelli put it, “housing market predictions run the gamut from optimistic to pessimistic.” St. Cloud home sellers may continue to gain leverage due to low mortgage rates and tight inventories (both are expected to continue)—but with national economic factors in flux, housing market predictions are necessarily unreliable. For a concrete reading on the latest local St. Cloud real estate activity, call me!

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Noel Johnson

Passion for investing in real estate brought me to create Premier Real Estate Services in 2002. Years of purchasing, developing, and managing several rental properties, while assisting friends & cli....

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