Is Zillow's Collapse A Warning Sign? - Part 2

In part one of this article, we discussed how the recent decline in Zillow, Redfin, and Opendoor share prices could reflect a concern that the risks involved in holding large home inventories while attempting to "flip houses" could present for these Real Estate firms. The recent 50% price drop in the share price levels should send a fairly strong warning to investors that these "flipping" processes contain a moderate degree of underlying risk and extended costs in a super-heated and potentially peaking Real Estate trend.

It has been reported that Zillow increased the purchase of homes for their Ibuyer program, from 86 homes in Q2:2020 to 808 homes in Q3:2020, to 3805 homes in Q2:2021. We’ll learn more about their Q3:2021 home buying efforts when Zillow announced earnings.

It has also been reported that Zillow sold more than $1 billion in bonds to investors to fund this operation that includes using their Zestimate algorithm to buy homes quickly, renovate/flip them, and put them back on the market. The super-heated Real Estate market has driven these firms into speculative trading of houses in an open and often hostile market environment. Taking a bigger leap is Opendoor, which purchased 8,494 homes in Q2:2021. This is a massive inventory of homes that may require many months or years to renovate/sell.

Zillow Collapse

Is this trend a buying opportunity for Zillow, Redfin, and Opendoor – or a warning? Continue reading "Is Zillow's Collapse A Warning Sign? - Part 2"

Is Zillow's Collapse A Warning Sign?

Watching Zillow (ZG) move from over $200 per share to recent levels below $90, reflecting a more than 55% collapse in price, while the housing market continues to rally may be an indication that traders/investors have already discounted the future peak in the U.S. capital markets and Real Estate assets related to the current market environment. Zillow is not the only symbol experiencing this broad price decline. Redfin (RDFN) has also declined more than 54% over the past 7+ months.

Is the peak in real estate flippers prices sending a strong warning for traders/investors?

The peak in these stocks happened near February 16-22, 2021. This date, interestingly enough, aligns with a peak in global capital markets using my proprietary Smart Cash Index and a very clear peak in the Chinese Hang Seng Index.

Recent news that Zillow halted the purchases of homes using its "Zestimate" and Ibuyer programs, which act as a purchase, renovate, flip-type of market service allowing home sellers to get an almost instant purchase offer from Zillow has raised questions in my mind related to the potential risks involved in owning large quantities of real estate assets in a shifting market.

This news article suggests Zillow has over 2800 US homes available for sale. We are not aware of how many homes have been purchased and are waiting for completed repairs/inspections before they go on the market. Continue reading "Is Zillow's Collapse A Warning Sign?"

Want To Invest In Real Estate?

As an asset class, real estate should be a part of every balanced investment portfolio. That’s because real estate investments generally have a low correlation to stocks, can offer lower risk, and provide greater diversification.

Today about 65% of Americans own a home, but that means that tens of millions of Americans have no exposure to real estate. Making matters worse, becoming a homeowner today is harder than in previous generations, with 1 in 5 millennials believing they will never be able to afford a home. Is there a way to get exposure to the real estate market for as little as $100?

Residential Real Estate Market Trend

From the chart below, we can see that the residential real estate market continues to climb, and the median price of houses sold in the US is near recent all-time highs of $347,500. Even though mortgage rates remain near all-time lows, the appreciation of prices in certain pockets of the country are making many cities and areas simply unaffordable for most. Things look much the same for industrial, commercial, agricultural, and most other specialized real estate subsectors.

Real Estate

How Can You Invest In Real Estate Through The Stock Market

The stock markets offer three different ways you can invest in real estate, and today we will be looking at three of them: REITs, ETNs, and ETFs. Continue reading "Want To Invest In Real Estate?"

Is There A Housing Bubble 2.0?

If you're looking at the stock market to sniff out a potential asset bubble, you may be looking in the wrong place. It may be right in front of your face.

When the millennial generation came of age, we heard all about their preference for renting – not out of any love for renting necessarily but because many of them were priced out of the housing market – and their supposed desire to live in urban areas with all the cultural offerings they provide.

Along comes the Covid-19 pandemic, and suddenly nobody wants to live in cities anymore. Instead, everyone it seems is moving to the suburbs, enabled by low-interest rates and the necessity of working from home. That has driven up the price of homes just about everywhere. Indeed, the National Association of Realtors announced last week that in the third quarter, every single one of the 181 metro areas it tracks showed a year-over-year price increase, something that's never happened before. Moreover, 65% of them – or 117 – rose by double-digit percentages, led by a 27.3% jump in Bridgeport, CT, the county seat of Fairfield County, which includes Greenwich, CosCob, Darien, and other New York City bedroom communities.

Needless to say, the runup in home prices nationally increases the income needed to afford a home. The median price of an existing single-family home nationally jumped 12% on a year-over-year basis, to $313,500, the NAR reports. At the same time, the monthly mortgage payment on a typical single-family home rose Continue reading "Is There A Housing Bubble 2.0?"

A New Lease On Life

“Buy land, they’re not making it anymore,” Mark Twain once said. That investment advice doesn’t look too smart lately, but then again, Twain wasn’t known for his financial acumen.

Commercial real estate used to be a great investment. You didn’t hit any home runs, but you got a dependable income stream and fair price appreciation that almost never lost money. Real estate and REITs didn’t correlate with stocks or bonds, so you also got a good diversification.

How does that look today?

Last week the Federal Reserve warned in its May 2020 Financial Stability Report that “asset prices remain vulnerable to significant price declines should the pandemic take an unexpected course, the economic fallout prove more adverse, or financial system strains reemerge.” It highlighted commercial real estate as one asset that was particularly vulnerable.

“Prices of commercial properties and farmland were highly elevated relative to their income streams on the eve of the pandemic, suggesting that their prices could fall notably,” the Fed said.
That warning shouldn’t come as a major surprise for those who have been paying attention for the past three months. Most shopping malls are closed. Other than supermarkets, Walmart, Target, and dollar stores, most retailers are closed. JC Penney, Neiman Marcus, and J Crew have already filed for bankruptcy, and likely more will follow them. Restaurants are closed except for takeout. Many of these establishments may never reopen. Millions of people are working from home, but likely a high percentage of them will never go back to the office. Continue reading "A New Lease On Life"