What to watch for in Real Estate in 2017

What should we expect in real estate in 2017 across the Chicagoland area? Will 2017 prove to be a year full of growth in Chicago or will rising interest rates temper growth? Will rent prices decrease due to excess multi-family building or will demand rise and keep up with supply? We all have our own thoughts and opinions; I’m sure you know I have mine. However, regardless of your opinions of the future of the economy, Chicago real estate or the real estate market as a whole, here are a few things to keep an eye on in 2017 in Chicago real estate.

1) Interest Rates

The Fed raised rates in the last quarter of 2016 and is expected to do so two to three more times in 2017. Sub 4% interest rates for a 30yr fixed is no longer in our vocabulary, but how high will interest rates go? Keep an eye out for how consumers react to rising rates. While the economy appears to be very robust and we are at what is considered full economic employment, it will be interesting to see how rising interest rates affects home buyer sentiment. In order to get a feel for the market talk to Realtors and talk to mortgage brokers to see how rising rates are influencing their clients decision making process.

2) Increased programs for low down-payment buyers

In the recent year we’ve seen several new programs come out that are what I call, FHA alternatives. They’re essentially low down-payment programs or programs that give rebates or closing cost credits that allow you to purchase a place with as little as 3% down. As these programs gain more momentum and awareness it will be interesting to see a couple things

a) How long will these programs last

b) How these programs are influencing demand in certain price ranges and areas

3) Keep an eye on how rental supply will influence both the rental and sales market

Increased supply on the rental market can greatly affect both the rental market and the sales market. Rent prices have increased drastically in the past 5 years in Chicago but they’re currently peaking and vacancy rates have increased in multi-family. New buildings are offering concessions as high as 2 months free. With more than 4500 units coming to the market in 2017, will people put off buying in favor of taking advantage of rent concessions? What happens if not only concessions increase but rent prices decrease as well? This coupled with rising interest rates could have first time home buyers thinking twice.

4) Supply….

Depending on the price range you’re looking in, supply is still low relative to the amount of buyers in the market place. We’re seeing increased supply of new construction in areas such as Ukrainian Village and increased high end supply in the Near North area but besides this supply has remained low which has help prices increase over recent years. Keep an eye on two things

a) New construction has been selling at a huge premium. Watch it’s market time in 2017

b) Will we see more existing construction come on the market to compete with new construction in 2017? Existing construction has been selling much cheaper than brand new construction. With rising interest rates existing construction may be more appealing given its lower price point.

5) Everything is wonderful…keep an eye on everything wonderful

Unemployment is at all time lows. Interest rates are still at all time lows despite recent rises. Property values in prime neighborhoods are at 2006 levels. The equities markets are booming. Startups are everywhere. Getting VC funding for new companies is like taking candy from a baby. Everything is going well. Keep an eye on leading indicators in all sectors of the economy that may signal a slow down. In real estate I am specifically watching the following in Chicago

A. Market Time of both existing and new construction

B. Absorption rate (How long does it take to sell all properties on the market if no new ones come on the market).

C. Price to rent versus the price to buy the same property. Currently it makes sense to buy given the increased rental prices. If rent prices decrease this could become a slippery slope.

 

The above is not meant to be a negative outlook or a “debbie-downer” of the real estate market. Personally, I think there are some areas that are a bit over valued but others that are very much under valued. I think the Chicago real estate market is strong, however, I do believe we’re now in a normalization of the market where prices will increase minimally to moderately each year and I think we will see rent prices decrease in the coming years.

Does this mean I shouldn’t buy? No, it doesn’t mean that. In some situations some people maybe should not buy. In others they definitely should. Each persons situation is different and that is why working with a Realtor that is completely transparent and honest with you is always the best policy. Anyone who tells you that buying is always the best option is nothing more than a salesman.

 

Paul Blackburn is a licensed Real Estate Broker and Realtor with @properties in Chicago. Paul has been selling real estate since 2007 and is part of the Skowron Group which has sold in excess of $100 million in 2016 alone. For further information or questions please feel free to contact Paul directly at Paul@pblackburn.com

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