Sunday, March 15, 2020

Q1 2020 Real Estate Review - Coronavirus and Real Estate

At first glance, the Coronavirus and Real Estate have very little in common. The coronavirus is an un-precedented global health pandemic with the situation seemingly escalating by the week locally and globally. First and foremost, please keep you and your families safe. In the long run, we as a society will overcome this, however in the short run this will not only disrupt our lives, but the situation will also have a major impact to all parts or our local, domestic and global economies. Of the most concern, is how quickly things have changed literally in the last 2 weeks. The stock market has lost over 20%, throwing our bull market into a bear market. Workplaces have mostly asked employees to work from home, schools have been canceled anywhere from 2 to 4 weeks, mass gatherings have been almost eliminated and we are on the brink of a lock down.

The Market Prior to March 2020

Prior to March of 2020, the real estate market told a different tale. Closing out 2019, the Federal Reserve cut interests rates for the 3rd time. This rate adjustment got Buyers who were in discount mode, out in droves as they fought for seasonally low winter inventory. This momentum carried into the spring of 2020 as Sellers once again had multiple offers and some areas were close to wiping out their losses during the real estate market correction of 2018 to 2019. Inventory continued to be low and bidding wars continued for the months of January and February.

The March Avalanche

In the first week of March, the first indications of the coronavirus began to appear with many cases in Santa Clara County. The stock market dropped on the uncertainty and the federal reserve acted quickly by dropping rates by a half point. By the second week, the World Health Organization declared this as a pandemic and the stock markets continued to fall and more drops could be coming.

Real Estate Going Forward

In the short run, there should be enough momentum from this prior group of Buyers for a short period of time. Many in this last group have already liquidated their assets and have been bidding and ready to buy. However, given the uncertainty, unknown impact, duration and magnitude of this pandemic, Buyers are quickly getting nervous on multiple fronts. With the volatility of the stock market down from 18% to over 20% at this moment, remember that tech stocks are the key sources of Buyer down payments in the Silicon Valley. This sudden drop will affect Buyers especially here in the Valley in a major way. We are seeing drop-offs of Buyers during our offer reviews on our listings due to the current crisis. Much will depend on how much worse the situation becomes.

The first scenario is that the situation trends in a positive direction, then the momentum from earlier in the year would lead us into a recovery. Interest rates are at record lows once again and it is very likely that rates could go down further which would be attractive to homebuyers. The second scenario is if we go into lock down; similar to China, Italy and Spain. No rate cut of any kind will help if we end up requiring staying in our homes. If that scenario arises, then the real estate market will come to a screeching halt as with every other part of our economy.

Buyer/Seller Advice

As a Seller, if the situation improves then we most likely haven’t lost too much momentum from earlier in the year. If we end up trending towards the worst-case scenario, there is possibly a small window to get your home sold, but that window is closing very quickly in the short run.

As a Buyer at this very moment in time you will likely have fewer competitors than the last 4 months. If you do get into contract, just be cautious that there might be disruptions in the real estate supply chain such as with lenders, appraisals, inspectors, title companies, etc. I would prefer to take advantage of the market to buy if things do get worse, however if the entire supply chain cannot perform their jobs, then it would be very difficult to close a transaction. Cash would be the least dependent scenario, where most everything could be done virtually with very little interaction needed. If there is a Seller that must sell, and you could buy the home virtually, it is possible that a deal could be had.

Some argue similar to the dot com bust that people flooded to real estate for safety. That is possible, assuming the transaction could be completed virtually which would be difficult in the short run.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

My Next Play – Owning a Real Estate Brokerage

It has been six years since I led LinkedIn’s market entry and product launch into China. I was frequently challenged by complex business problems that required sophisticated technical solutions. I enjoyed working with and managing extremely talented, cutting-edge teams paired with complex technical solutions in order to deliver projects and programs under tight timelines. Leaving the Technology sector was a big decision for me after 13 years, but I was in search of more challenges.

Real Estate Industry

Real Estate was an industry that I was already working in for over 11 years at the time. I saw an opportunity for innovation in an industry often leveraging legacy processes; not just in technology, but in the area of Agent quality and the overall customer experience. I wake up each and every day driven by the desire to help as many of our customers as I can, and to provide them with a real estate journey filled with trust and integrity, much needed real estate education, strategic planning and a smooth and wonderful customer experience. The last 6 years have been an amazing journey of growth and discovery, both personally and for the business as a whole. I am excited to announce my next play is to continue to build out more high-quality Agents to further define and lead our industry into the next century!

Keller Williams Santa Clara Valley

I am pleased to announce that I will be launching a new Keller Williams Brokerage as Founder and Operating Principle, named Keller Williams Santa Clara Valley. Before this area was known as the Silicon Valley, the South Bay was called Santa Clara Valley, which pairs nicely as our headquarters is based in Santa Clara as well. We are also exploring future expansion into surrounding areas. Located in the heart of the Silicon Valley, we believe that we provide the optimal location for our Agents to more effectively serve their customers. This new venture will allow us as Agents to further establish high quality Agents in the industry.

Why Keller Williams?

I have explored many brokerages and Keller Williams is still the company that was built by Agents for Agents. This opportunity is a prime example of a company that gives their Agents opportunities that I have not seen with any other firm. We don’t brand the company; rather, we allow you as the Agent to brand yourself, subject to the rules of the Department of Real Estate. Their systems and models are pushing the envelope and they have researched and defined not only how to create successful Real Estate Agents, but also to ensure that these agents are financially sound and running profitable businesses. Last but not least, their latest investment in technology is focused upon empowering us as Agents to perform less backend work, and to streamline our processes so that we can do what we do best: Educate, strategize and service our customers. I am proud to be a part of an organization that not only sees the value that each and every one of us brings to our industry but is also working hard to continue pushing us into the future.

Agents - We Are Hiring!

If you or someone you know would like to join us in our newest venture, we are looking to speak with you! Send me a direct message or contact me at (408)313-4352 or e-mail at alan@alanwangrealty.com

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Monday, January 6, 2020

2019 Silicon Valley Real Estate Year in Review


We wish you and your families health and prosperity in the new year! This is a time for us to reflect on 2019 and look forward towards 2020 and what real estate adventures await us in the new year.


Q1 2019 – Uncertain Buyers, Uncertain Market

2019 started off with major concerns over the health of the real estate market. The latter half of 2018 was the toughest real estate market in a decade-long bull market since the sub-prime meltdown. In the first quarter, that same Buyer sentiment continued as there were few homes being transacted. Buyers had concerns over affordability, the trade war with China and the volatility of the stock market, which took a major hit in December of 2018. Homes were sitting longer on the market with very little showings. Sellers were shocked by this, yet many held onto 2018 price points and many homes sat on the market and were eventually taken off the market.

Q2 2019 – Stimulus Generates a Positive Reaction

In the second quarter, real estate activity started to show signs of life led by an interest rate drop by the Federal Reserve. The two key requirements for Buyers were locations closer to work, paired with areas with excellent school districts, which we define as “Prime Locations.” Prices saw slight drops but held steady in these areas; Buyers had fewer competitors if any at all. Areas that did not fit this template had longer days on market - anywhere from 30 to 45 days or more depending on the Seller’s resolve on the final sale price. If Sellers held onto a price that the market would not pay, they would either continue to sit on the market or take their homes off the market altogether.

The Condominium and Townhome sector has been majorly impacted if the homes are not located in a prime location. There have also been multiple new home construction complexes all around the Bay Area that have flooded the market with inventory. At times they have lowered prices to where it simply made more sense to buy brand new verses a re-sale home on the market. We have been able to negotiate heavily with these new home builders.

Q3 2019 – Momentum Continues with Yet More Stimulus

In the third quarter, the Federal Reserve dropped interest rates once again. This stimulus helped to kick off a flurry of refinances as well as lower rates for home purchases. This stimulus helped to get more Buyers out and about, however other than markets in prime locations, these Buyers were looking for deals and many were to be had in the market. Nonetheless there were certainly more Buyers making offers and getting into contract.

Q4 2019 – Even More Stimulus in a Low Inventory market

In the fourth quarter, the Federal Reserve dropped rates yet again, kicking off frenzies in certain markets due to the seasonal low inventory in this time in the market. With price reductions and low rates, Buyers continued to buy homes until the holidays came into effect.

Buyer and Seller Advice

As a Buyer, much will depend on which market and what category of home you are purchasing. Homes of any category in a prime location will likely come with multiple offers or sell in a short period of time. Single Family Homes outside of a prime location are still desired, and deals could be had depending on the location. It is yet to be seen if Condominiums and Townhomes will see a recovery in 2020. These are prime for a deal for Buyers looking for one.

As a Seller the inverse is true from the Buyers perspective. Pricing is key. If you over price your home, your home will sit with very little showings. The market dictates price and Sellers that continue to hold onto 2018 peak pricing must realize that the peak has passed. This is a reality that Sellers must accept before even considering going on the market. The latest data must be taken into account in your pricing decision. These will vary by home type and location. Homes will sell but not for more than what the market is willing to pay.

2020 Outlook and Beyond

The concerns about the China Trade War seem to have subsided as the stock market continues to trend upward. The expectation is that there will be a resolution closer to the election. This concern is now replaced by the uncertainty with Iran and what their next move maybe after the incident in Iraq. For our Silicon Valley economy, the health of the job market continues to be strong, the interest rate stimulus and momentum from 2019 will likely carry forward into 2020. We have yet to see the impact of the Tech IPO’s as some have had mixed results. The major uncertainty will be what happens post-election and will depend on who wins the election. For now, if the majority of factors remain the same, we should have enough momentum to have a stronger market but still a market in equilibrium overall.

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