Real Estate in Brief: Best days to close, new renter data and more

by Andrew Morrell

The holiday season is all about finding the best deals on gifts for friends and family, but it may also be one of the best times to find a bargain on the biggest purchase most of us will ever make. According to research from Attom Data Solutions, which analyzed 18 million home transaction records between 2013 and 2017, home purchases closed on Dec. 26 fetched an average discount of around 1.3 percent, or $2,500 below market value. For comparison, the average home sale analyzed by Attom on any day between 2013 and 2017 sold for 3.8 percent more than market value, or $7,000.

Most other dates with higher-than-average discounts fell in November or December. Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at Attom Data Solutions, said that the biggest discounts tended to cluster around unpopular times of the year to buy or sell a home.

“People closing on a home purchase December 26 were submitting offers around Thanksgiving and starting their home search around Halloween — likely not a common path to home purchase for most buyers and exactly why it’s the best time to buy,” Blomquist said. “Buyers and investors willing to start their home search right about when stores are setting up Christmas decorations will face less competition and likely be dealing with more motivated sellers, giving them the upper hand in price negotiations.”

In other real estate news:

  • The latest reading of homebuilder sentiment fell to three-year lows in December. The Housing Market Index, compiled by the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo, fell to 56 from 60 in November, its lowest reading since May 2015. The HMI measures confidence in the housing sector from the perspective of builders surveyed each month, and ranges from zero to 100. The NAHB found the HMI recorded sharper drops in more expensive areas, attributing the phenomenon to continuing concerns over housing affordability in large cities.
  • New data shows that the number of renter households declined in 2017 for the first time in at least 10 years, while more existing households transitioned from renting to owning their home compared to two years prior. That’s based on analysis of Census data by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, which tracked new household formation and the behavior of existing households (one or more people living in the same housing unit, whether or not they are officially related). The JCHS explained this could be due to two probable scenarios — either fewer young adults are forming new households, or more first-time homebuyers are entering the market after years of renting.
  • A new report from Oxford Economics ranks the fastest growing cities according to estimated GDP growth between 2019 and 2035. West Coast tech hubs like San Jose, Portland and Seattle lead the list in terms of cities with the highest average GDP growth per year during the forecast period, with San Jose on top at an estimated 3 percent annual growth rate. The list also ranked the top 25 U.S. cities by overall GDP, with New York City remaining in first place from now until at least 2035.
  • In its year-end report on rent prices throughout the U.S., RentCafe found the national average monthly rent up 3.1 percent year-over-year, rising to $1,419. However, many small and mid-size cities saw much faster percentage growth of rent, with Las Vegas leading the pack. Rents in Las Vegas grew by nearly 8 percent this year to hit an average of $1,044 per month. Phoenix was close behind with a 7.7 percent increase. Florida metros like Jacksonville, Orlando and Tampa also saw higher-than-average rent hikes as well, between 5 and 6 percent.