Kentucky REALTOR® News
While the federal eviction moratorium is ending June 30, Kentucky’s Healthy at Home Eviction Relief Fund (HHERF) is open until Sept. 30, 2022, and has about $200 million left to assist Kentuckians with up to 15 months of rent and utilities. To date, more than 5,500 rent and utility payments totaling more than $20.3 million in assistance have been made
Last week, the Kentucky Housing Corporation, an important partner in administering the HHERF, paid out more than $2 million from the fund to Kentuckians in need, which is up 15% from the week before.
She received her real estate license in 1975 and her broker license in 1978 and was, in many ways, a pioneer in Kentucky real estate over the past 46 years. Ann McDonald was the broker of four real estate offices located in Lexington, Winchester, Georgetown, and Richmond for Coldwell Banker McMahan Co.
Until recently, Ann served on the board of directors for Kentucky REALTORS® and in 2009 was honored as KYR’s REALTOR® of the Year. In 2012, she served as Kentucky REALTORS® President. On the local level, she was a member of the Lexington-Bluegrass Association of REALTORS® (LBAR). McDonald served as its president in 2005, was awarded LBAR REALTOR® of the Year in 2007, and has served on the Board of Directors. She was also active with the REALTOR® Community Housing Foundation at LBAR.
On the national front, McDonald was involved with many National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) committees, such as governmental affairs, finance, strategic planning, legal affairs and RPAC (REALTOR® Political Action Committee). She served as state RPAC Trustee and was Chair of the Trustees in 2016. McDonald was also honored with induction into the national RPAC Hall of Fame in 2016. Her pinnacle achievement was serving as 2017 Vice President for Region 4 of the National Association of REALTORS® comprised of the REALTORS® from the states of Kentucky, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee.
For many years, she attended national REALTOR® meetings in Washington gathering with Senators and Representatives as an advocate for important issues affecting the real estate industry. McDonald served her community as a member of the Lexington, Winchester, Georgetown, and Richmond Chambers of Commerce. In addition, she attended past Commerce Lexington trips to other cities and also participated in “fly-ins” to Washington, DC.
“After almost a half-century of involvement, Ann McDonald made tremendous contributions to this association and the entire real estate industry”, said Kentucky REALTORS® President Charles Hinckley. “Up until just a few months ago, she was still giving of her time and talents as a member of the leadership of RPAC. Her leadership will be missed, but her legacy will remain through her daughter who is active and involved in both KYR and RPAC”, said Hinckley.
“I was always impressed by how strongly Ann believed in the importance of our association being the voice of real estate”, said KYR CEO Steve Stevens. “Many folks across our state are involved in advocacy and political action as a result of her encouragement.”
The aggregate volume in pending home sales contracts for the state of Kentucky reached a record high last month. $2.2 billion in transactions were under contract in April 2021. This is up 47% over the $1.5 billion in pending sales volume for both April 2020 and 2019. Home sales numbers continue to be up year-over-year, but the meteoric rise in volume is largely due to the higher prices that the current housing market is commanding.
As expected, closed sales are up once again. In April, 4,738 homes sold. This is up 25% from 3,793 in April of 2020. The pending sales count was also up 25%, reaching 8,413 for the month.
Nationally, existing-home sales waned in April, marking three straight months of declines, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All but one of the four major U.S. regions witnessed month-over-month drops in home sales, but each registered double-digit year-over-year gains for April. The Southern region accounted for 44% of all existing home sales across the nation.
"Home sales were down again in April from the prior month, as housing supply continues to fall short of demand," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "We'll see more inventory come to the market later this year as further COVID-19 vaccinations are administered and potential home sellers become more comfortable listing and showing their homes. The falling number of homeowners in mortgage forbearance will also bring about more inventory.
The median sale price of homes in Kentucky for April was up about ten percent, to $205,000. Year-to-date, Kentucky’s median sale price is up almost twelve percent at $198,000.
“Across the Commonwealth, and the entire nation, housing inventory continues to be the main factor in both rising prices and the speed at which homes are going under contract”, said Charles Hinckley, President of Kentucky REALTORS®. “We encourage anyone considering listing a home for sale to consult with a REALTOR® to learn about all options available and how the market will react to their particular property.”
Kentucky REALTORS® C.E.O. Steve Stevens says that although this market pace is not sustainable for the long term, experts are not anticipating a crash. “Most economists agree that rising mortgage rates, more homes being added to the market, and slightly waning buyer demand will eventually lead to a market correction”, he said. “This should moderate prices and bring home ownership back into reach for those who might have been priced out of the market in recent months.”
Citing widespread vaccinations and an early reopening, a second major rating agency has published a positive economic outlook for Kentucky. The Moody’s Analytics report is the latest in a string of positive economic news highlighting that the commonwealth is poised to prosper as the state emerges from the pandemic.
The report notes “mass vaccinations will be the driving force behind a sustained recovery in consumer services,” “the state’s recovery has benefited from earlier reopening efforts and increased demand for manufactured goods over services,” that Kentucky’s “manufacturing industry has outperformed the nation’s” since an initial downturn nationally last year and “payroll employment surged in the first quarter and is now 4.9% below its pre-pandemic level, which is slightly better than the national average.”
“Consumer industries are ripe for a rebound as mass vaccinations pave the way for increased local spending in the second half of 2021,” according to Moody’s analysis.
Gov. Beshear, in response to the latest positive economic news for Kentucky, said “Two major rating agencies, the U.S. Treasury Department, Site Selection magazine and our own sales tax receipts show while our economy is prepared to boom, this is just the beginning. Our economy is open, and we are announcing new, good-paying jobs every week. We must seize this moment to create a better commonwealth with more opportunities for our people in every corner of Kentucky.”
From the Moody’s report:
“Kentucky’s economy will improve after a modest pullback late last year. Mass vaccinations will be the driving force behind a sustained recovery in consumer services, while manufacturing will fare well once it gets past some near-term supply disruptions.”
“Kentucky’s economy lagged the U.S. prior to the pandemic, but the state’s recovery has benefited from earlier reopening efforts and increased demand for manufactured goods over services. Payroll employment surged in the first quarter and is now 4.9% below its pre-pandemic level, which is slightly better than the national average.”
“Manufacturing was one of the hardest-hit industries during the initial downturn last year, with employment contracting as much as 18% compared with 11% nationally. Since then, KY’s manufacturing industry has outperformed the nation’s, with more than 80% of lost manufacturing jobs being recouped.”
The Moody’s report is just the latest positive economic news for Kentucky.
The Governor announced that year-to-date, businesses have announced the planned and ongoing creation of nearly 2,750 full-time, Kentucky-resident jobs. That figure nearly doubles the 1,430 jobs announced throughout the same span in 2020. Businesses announced plans for 33 projects in Kentucky comprising nearly $1.5 billion in planned investment in addition to the more than 2,700 jobs.
Earlier this month, Fitch Ratings improved the state’s financial outlook to stable, reflecting the commonwealth’s solid economic recovery. The state’s April sales tax receipts set an all-time monthly record at $486.5 million, as did vehicle usage tax receipts at over $64 million.
In March, Site Selection magazine’s annual Governor’s Cup rankings for 2020 positioned Kentucky atop the South Central region, and third nationally, for qualifying projects per capita. The commonwealth also placed seventh overall in total projects, the highest of any state with a population under 5 million.
While most Kentucky businesses have been fully open for months, the economy should be further ready to thrive when all businesses are able to fully reopen on June 11.
On May 28, all indoor and outdoor events of any size and businesses of any capacity can increase to 75% capacity. Just two weeks later, the state’s emerging economy is set for liftoff as final capacity restrictions related to COVID-19 end Friday, June 11. On the same day, the state will also eliminate the mask mandate for all Kentuckians with the exception of places where people are the most vulnerable. The Governor said he was keeping some capacity limits and the mask mandate in place until June 11 in order to give 12- to 15-year-old Kentuckians enough time to receive both doses of the vaccine before all restrictions are lifted.
With the Moody’s report evidence of the importance of vaccinations allowing Kentucky to safely and sustainably reopen its economy, Gov. Beshear encouraged all of those eligible to get their vaccine. As of May 18, 1,932,189 Kentuckians have received at least one dose.
The year-over-year sales number increase marathon continues. The only factor currently lurking that might threaten continued growth is the lack of homes hitting the market. The month of March saw 4,711 closings in Kentucky, up over nine percent from one year ago. (4,306).
Existing-home sales fell in March, marking two consecutive months of declines, according to the National Association of Realtors®. The month of March saw record-high home prices and gains. Total existing-home sales, completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, decreased 3.7% from February to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.01 million in March. Sales overall climbed year-over-year, up 12.3% from a year ago (5.35 million in March 2020).
"Consumers are facing much higher home prices, rising mortgage rates, and falling affordability, however, buyers are still actively in the market," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "The sales for March would have been measurably higher, had there been more inventory," he added. "Days-on-market are swift, multiple offers are prevalent, and buyer confidence is rising."
The median sale price of homes in Kentucky for March was up once again. At $199,000, the median closing price was up about 11% over March of 2020 ($179,000). The statewide average home price in Kentucky jumped to $235,653. This is an increase of just under 12% over March of 2020 and about $7k over the average price in February of this year. Sales volume numbers are still swelling. March saw that figure rise to $1.11b statewide. This is up 22% from March of last year, and over 30% from March 2019.
Pending sales are up 21% over last March indicating a strong spring selling season. “Inventory remains the key factor in how the market will perform into the summer”, said Charles Hinckley, President of Kentucky REALTORS®. “We’re hopeful that an influx of new sellers, as well as some new home construction, will give Kentuckians more homes to choose from as they relocate.”
Just 13 homes sold as distressed in March, matching the figure from February. This number continues to hover at record-low levels due to the various recourse offered to homeowners behind on payments due to the pandemic.
The low inventory in Kentucky’s housing market, along with slowly rising mortgage interest rates, is finally influencing the sales boom we have experienced since May of 2020. February closings topped out at 3,484, up just below 2% from February of 2020 (3,424).
Nationally, pending home sales dipped for a second straight month in February, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Each of the four major U.S. regions witnessed month-over-month declines in February, while results were mixed in the four regions year-over-year. The Pending Home Sales Index dropped 10.6% to 110.3 in February. Year-over-year, contract signings fell 0.5%. An index of 100 is equal to the level of contract activity in 2001.
"The demand for a home purchase is widespread, multiple offers are prevalent, and days-on-market are swift, but contracts are not clicking due to record-low inventory," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "Only the upper-end market is experiencing more activity because of reasonable supply," he continued. "Demand, interestingly, does not yet appear to be impacted by recent modest rises in mortgage rates."
The median sale price of homes in Kentucky for February was up once again. The figure of $195,000 was a 15.4% increase over the $169,000 we saw in February of 2020. The statewide average home price in Kentucky has now been above $200k for twelve consecutive months. It rose almost 16% over last February topping out at $228,961. Sales volume numbers are still posting large gains as February saw that figure surge again to just under $800 million, up 18% from $667 million last February.
“While buyers are keeping an eye on rising mortgage rates, there is still a huge demand for properties out there”, said Steve Stevens, CEO of Kentucky REALTORS®. “We’re hopeful that the spring thaw will bring some new sellers into the market.”
“Folks may have been waiting for the best time to sell to get the most equity out of the property they have cared for so far”, said Charles Hinckley, President of Kentucky REALTORS®. “A housing market like this one offers Kentuckians, who may have been on the fence about whether to sell, the opportunity to get creative about their future. Cashing in on the wealth-building that homeownership provides is helping to start writing new chapters for some sellers.”
Just 13 homes sold as distressed in February. Consumers facing the prospect of foreclosure may now have would have more time before facing foreclosure under rules proposed this week by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The set of proposed rules, which the regulator will seek public comment on, is intended to give both servicers and borrowers the “tools and time” needed to prevent a deluge of foreclosures.
Steve Stevens, C.E.O. of Kentucky REALTORS®, is being honored by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® with the REALTOR® association Certified Executive (RCE) designation, which recognizes exceptional efforts made by REALTOR® association executives.
Stevens is one of over 500 REALTOR® association executives who have achieved this mark of excellence. Local and state association executives who hold the RCE designation represent REALTORS® in 49 states/territories.
“This is truly an honor, and I am very proud to be receiving this designation. It is a high point in my career as an association executive,” Stevens said.
Prior to becoming a candidate for the RCE designation, applicants must document their association management and academic experiences. Once they have completed this first step, eligible candidates must successfully complete a multiple-choice exam, which is based on a comprehensive understanding of association operations and management practices. Candidates must demonstrate knowledge of areas critical to REALTOR® association management, including association law, governance, and issues related to member services. To retain the designation, RCEs must be recertified every four years.
Stevens has served as C.E.O. of Kentucky REALTORS® since 2016.
Known for giving back to the communities in which they work and live, REALTORS® care about their neighbors. In this spirit, Kentucky REALTORS® has made over $17,000 available to Kentuckians who have been displaced by recent flooding in the bluegrass
Following the flooding that occurred in late February/early March of this year, a total of 71 cities or counties in Kentucky made local disaster declarations in addition to the state declaration. The hardest-hit counties were in eastern Kentucky - Estill, Lee, Owsley, Breathitt, Powell, Jackson, Clay, and Johnson. However, any Kentucky resident affected by the flooding in late February and early March of 2021 can fill out an application for assistance from Kentucky REALTORS® and will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. To ensure that the maximum number of Kentuckians receive aid, the maximum amount available per application is $1000. Those interested in applying should visit kyrealtors.com/flood for more details and download an application.
KYR President Charles Hinckley said that a priority of this program is to make the funds available immediately. “Kentucky REALTORS® knows how harrowing a situation like a displacement can be”, he said. “We hope to make a difference in what is bound to be a very difficult time in the lives of our neighbors.”
This is the second year in a row that Kentucky REALTORS® has made funds available to residents of the Commonwealth. In spring 2020, as the coronavirus pandemic began to grip the nation, Kentucky REALTORS® assisted families in southeastern Kentucky who were affected by rising waters.
Last January, the market was off to a great start with home sales topping out 19% higher than January of 2019. One year (and a pandemic) later, the Kentucky housing market has duplicated that feat. January 2021 home sales were up 19% once again, reaching 3,512.
Nationally, total existing-home sales, completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, increased 0.6% from December to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 6.69 million in January. Sales in total climbed year-over-year, up 23.7% from a year ago (5.41 million in January 2020).
"Home sales continue to ascend in the first month of the year, as buyers quickly snatched up virtually every new listing coming on the market," said Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist. "Sales easily could have been even 20% higher if there had been more inventory and more choices."
The median sale price of homes in Kentucky for January rose almost 14% percent from last year’s mark to $190,000. The statewide average home price jumped 17% over last December surging to $230,245. The big story continues to be sales volume. An already booming market had home prices up about 18% year-over-year in January of 2020. After six months of a scorching hot post-pandemic affected market, which saw inventory plummet to record lows, January 2021 saw sales volume surge another 31% to $808.6 million. This is up from $511 million just 2 years ago.
2021 began with record low inventory levels. Economists declare that a healthy housing market contains 6 months of inventory. January saw that figure hover at just below 2 months. “With low inventory and the speed with which homes are being sold, it is more important than ever to partner with your local REALTOR®”, said Charles Hinckley, President of Kentucky REALTORS®. “They possess local market knowledge and can help Kentuckians achieve their real estate goals.”
The market is showing signs of slowing down as pending sales were down for the first time since April. This is most likely due to a combination of decreased foot traffic due to cold weather, and a simple lack of properties to consider. Pending sales for January 2021 were 3,212 which was down 4.5% from 3,365 in January of 2020. “REALTORS® are partnering with sellers to give their homes the best position in the market”, said Hinckley. “This is important, especially for those who are relocating.”
Just 11 units sold as distressed, which is down 85% from January of 2020. More property owners are remaining in their homes due to government programs continuing to assist those with hardships.
One year ago, the seriousness of the COVID-19 pandemic was only just beginning to be understood. Just one month later, business shutdowns would start to cast doubt on the health of Kentucky’s (and the nation’s) economy as housing sales numbers plummeted. Like everyone else, REALTORS® wondered how long it would take their sector to recover. Those fears, however, were short-lived. It only took until June for the numbers to roar back and surpass anything experienced to date. December 2019 home sales came in at 3,902. December 2020 saw that mark bested by nearly 25% at 4,846. This pushed the year-to-date total sales for 2020 to 56,218. Only once before (last year) had that figure surpassed the 50k mark. The bigger story may be the total sales volume figures. Total home sales volume for 2019 was $10.4 billion. 2020 saw that number swell by an incredible 19% to $12.3 billion.
Every metro area tracked by the National Association of REALTORS® through the fourth quarter of 2020 witnessed home prices grow from a year ago, according to NAR's latest quarterly report. Eighty-eight percent of the metros followed (161 areas) saw double-digit price increases. For comparison, only 115 metro areas saw such growth in the third quarter.
"The fourth quarter of 2020 presented circumstances ripe for home price increases," said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "Mortgage rates reached record lows, thereby driving up the demand," he continued. "At the same time, inventory levels also reached record lows, leading to grim inventory conditions of insufficient supply in the fourth quarter."
The median sale price of homes in Kentucky for December rose ten percent from last year’s mark to $192,500. The statewide average home price also rose ten percent over last December reaching $227k.
Housing inventory continues to stagnate at a critically low level. For December, it would take only 1.68 months to sell all of the homes listed. Economists feel that 6 months of inventory is the hallmark of a balanced market. “REALTORS® have been hopeful that record low interest rates have mitigated the rising home prices somewhat”, said Charles Hinckley, President of Kentucky REALTORS®. “However, we look to new construction and investment in communities to help bump up the available number of properties hitting the market in 2021.”
Just 21 units sold as distressed, which is down seventy percent from December 2019, suggesting government programs designed to keep homeowners from losing their properties continue to be effective.