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MortgagePoint September 2023

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Page 95 of 99

MortgagePoint » Your Trusted Source for Mortgage Banking and Servicing News 94 J O U R N A L September 2023 HOW HOME INVESTOR TRENDS ARE WEATHERING HIGH RATES A ccording to a new report from Redfin, investor home purchases fell 45% year over year during the second quarter of 2023, which outpaced the general 31% drop in overall home sales during the same period. This represents the biggest decline in investor activity since 2008, with the excep- tion of the first quarter of 2023 when investor activity fell 48%. The decline comes as this year's relatively cool housing and rental mar- kets makes investing in homes less attractive than it was during the pandemic-driven homebuying frenzy of 2021 and early 2022. According to Redfin, the drop in purchas- es has brought the total number of homes to pre-pandemic levels; investors bought about 50,000 homes during the second quarter, the fewest of any second quarter in seven years which tracks this metric across the top-39 metropolitan areas. Furthermore, this marks a retreat from a boom in investor activity during the pandem- ic, which was driven by record-low mortgage rates and huge homebuying and rental demand, creating opportunities for investors to make a lot of money, quickly. "Offers from hedge funds have dried up; I haven't received an offer from one in a long time, except unrealistically low offers," Las Vegas Redfin Premier agent Shay Stein said. "From mid-2020 until early 2022 when interest rates started going up, hedge funds bought up a ton of properties and immedi- ately turned them into rentals, pricing out local buyers. Now a big portion of our homes are owned by investors, but they're not add- ing to their portfolios." Redfin also reported that slide in investor activity in dollars is just as big as their activ- ity: investors bought a total of $36.4 billion worth of homes in the second quarter, down 42% from a year earlier. That's still above pre-pandemic levels, but dropping closer to it: Investors bought a total of $34 billion in the second quarter of 2018, and a total of $31.9 billion in the second quarter of 2019. In terms of market share, investors bought 15.6% of homes that were sold in the United States during the second quarter, down from 19.7% a year earlier and a record high of 20.4% in the beginning of 2022. FANNIE MAE EXAMINES REMOTE WORK AND AFFORDABILITY A ccording to a new Fannie Mae Perspectives Blog post, authored by Mark Palim, Fannie Mae's VP and Deputy Chief Economist, and Rachel Zimmerman, Fannie Mae's Market Research Advisor and National Housing Survey Lead, the rise in home prices that occurred during the pandemic buying frenzy—along with the move to remote work—still matter today, as the opportunities for expanded remote work opportunities could help with the current affordability of homes. According to an updated survey National Housing Survey (NHS) conducted by Fannie Mae, which now asks respondents questions about working and living preferences to track changing attitudes, overall found that the willingness to move farther away from the workplace has increased (22% in the first quarter of 2023, up from 14% during the third quarter of 2021) due to the fact that remote work seems to be here to stay as they also revealed that the percentage of fully remote and hybrid workers has remained surprising- ly constant in the post-pandemic era (35% in the first quarter of 2023, down from 36% in the third quarter of 2021). The affordability crisis currently affecting a large swatch of Americans is affecting renters the most and their concerns about affordability have risen so much that it has become the top consideration for their next move (46% during the first quarter of 2023, up from 21% during the fourth quarter of 2014). In addition, for owners, affordability is a greater concern, too, (30% during the first quarter of 2023, up from 19% in the fourth quarter of 2014) and is their second-most important consideration for their next move after neighborhood considerations. The suburbs have consolidated its lead as the preferred location to buy a home for both renters (38% during the first quarter of 2023, up from 35% in the third quarter of 2010) and owners (44% in the first quarter of 2023, up from 37% in the third quarter of 2010). According to the NHS, the mix between in-office, hybrid, and fully remote workers has only marginally changed since 2021, as 14% report they work fully remotely and 21% work a hybrid schedule, compared to 13% and 23%, respectively, in 2021. "The consistency of the percentage of people working remotely indicates to us that, despite headline-grabbing news of compa- nies demanding that workers return to the office, so far, remote and hybrid work may be here to stay," Fannie Mae said. "This is likely due in part to the benefit for employees of having access to a wider range of housing markets (enabling commuting and other cost savings, along with greater variety of ameni- ties to select from). It also grants employers access to a larger pool of job candidates." This notion of remote work would expand the locations where workers could choose housing, not due to their proximity to work, but based on what they can afford and where they would like to live. In 2023, 22% of remote and hybrid workers indicated they may be willing to relocate to a different region or increase their commute by more than 20 minutes, whereas only 14% of remote and hybrid workers were willing to do so in 2021. Generally, 29% of workers are more apt to move farther away from work—this number includes a sev- en-percentage point increase by homeown- ers, even though they have traditionally been less apt to move than renters are. "We believe this greater willingness to live farther from the actual or nominal workplace may be an indication that some workers are feeling more secure about their remote work situation and/or their ability to find another job if their current employer were to change its policies," Fannie Mae concluded. "The de- coupling of local labor markets from housing markets has the potential to both reduce la- bor market rigidities nationally and housing market vulnerability more locally. Overall, we consider this is a positive development for workers, employers, and the ability of house- holds to pay their rent or mortgage."

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