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Will we start 2022 with all-time lows in housing inventory?

Housing inventory has collapsed to all-time lows this year. Lack of inventory continues to be one of the biggest risks to the housing market.
The post Will we start 2022 with all-time lows in housing inventory? appeared first on HousingWire.

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My biggest concern for housing in the years 2020-2024 was that if the demographic push in demand picks up and total home sales get over 6.2 million, we could be at risk of housing inventory falling to such low levels that I would have to categorize this housing market as unhealthy. 2020 and 2021 easily each have over 6.2 million new and existing home sales combined.

This type of sales growth — which couldn’t happen from 2008-2019, as I have often stated — is coming with a hefty price tag. We can see that inventory falling to such low levels has created unhealthy home-price growth in both 2020 and 2021. While the rate of growth of home prices is cooling off (the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index typically lags), it’s still at a very unhealthy level for me. This is all about housing inventory collapsing to all-time lows in 2020-2021.

While I didn’t believe we could start 2022 at a new all-time low for housing inventory, this can’t be ruled out any longer. I honestly believed this would not be the case in 2022, but I am getting nervous. A few months ago, I wrote that falling inventory was one of the biggest risks to the housing market.

The seasonality of inventory has always been very evident, especially after 2014. Inventory fades in the fall and winter and picks up in summer and spring. Since 2014, inventory levels have fallen while purchase application data has risen. Not even 5% mortgage rates in 2018 budged this data line too much. Going into 2021, it didn’t look great for the inventory levels, and we paid the price with highly unhealthy home-price growth as demand was simply too strong.

As I have recently noted in a previous article, while everyone focused on iBuyers, who don’t even make up 1% of total home sales, the MBA purchase application data has had a nice run for the last 13 weeks. The year-over-year data has shown double-digit better trends while still being negative year over year. This explains the better existing and pending home sales data as this data line looks out 30-90 days.

A lot of housing bears didn’t make COVID-19 adjustments to the purchase application data and truly believed housing was crashing because of the negative year-over-year data trends. This was a terrible rookie mistake and if you know anyone who was pushing this, my best advice is to run away from that hot mess.

In the midst of seasonality factors and as demand has picked up, I can say that 2021 has outperformed my expectations. Now we must consider the possibility that total housing inventory levels might start from a fresh all-time low going into spring of 2022. The next few existing home sales reports will be critical as we are in the period when inventory really falls due to seasonality. I had been hoping that this wouldn’t be the case, that inventory couldn’t break to new all-time lows. While we have solid and stable demand, we aren’t experiencing the credit boom action from 2002-2005. However, it is good enough to drive inventory lower again, and we need to rethink this problem. So, let’s bring some reality into this discussion.

Forbearance hasn’t supplied the market with a vast amount of inventory.

One thing has been very evident in 2021: The premise that forbearance was going to crash the housing market has been just as flawed as the people that assumed COVID-19 was going to hit housing in 2020. Those of you who have followed my work on HousingWire know that I created the term forbearance crash bros in 2020 because the professional grifting of doomsday housing calls went into overdrive that year. Once they realized their dream of housing was not collapsing, they moved the goal post to 2021. They have moved the goal post so much over the last 10 years that it’s not even in the stadium anymore, which is why I call this idea “the lost decade.”

Getting ahead of this flawed premise, I wrote a series of articles that point out that this isn’t the credit bubble of 2002-2005, and the loans post-2010 were good. So, naturally, when the jobs came, people would get off forbearance independently.

We have gone from near 5 million loans in forbearance to finally breaking under 1 million recently. In one of the most significant economic victories against the radical bearish American crew, this was just beautiful to watch the people of this country come out on top.

From Black Knight

Now, this doesn’t mean everyone gets off the forbearance program. We have had people on forbearance already sell their homes and move onto the next stage of their life in a new home. However, the fears of 10 million to 15 million homes going into forbearance and the concerns of an economic depression due to COVID-19 were wildly overblown in March and April 2020. America came back strong, and we left this crew in the dust.

Still, I believe we will see more inventory come onto the market as we are winding down the last 994,000 loans in forbearance. Will it be enough to prevent housing inventory from getting to new all-time lows? Only time will tell over the next few months. I am still in the camp that we won’t break to all-time lows, but my premise is being challenged with the recent pick-up in demand

Higher mortgage rates haven’t materialized as expected

Back in the summer of 2020, I believed that if mortgage rates could get over 3.75%, the days on the market would grow, which I think even to this day would be the most welcome healthy event for housing. For this unique five-year period in housing, I believed as long as the cumulative price growth was just 23% on a nominal basis, we would be OK, and housing affordability wouldn’t get hit too hard since wages are constantly growing each year.

Well, If home prices end 2021 with 13% total growth, this means my five-year growth model has been reached in just two years. My concern for 2021 was very noticeable in many interviews early in the year because my 10-year yield forecast peaks at 1.94%, which means mortgage rates at best can only reach 3.375% – 3.625%. Higher rates would create more days on the market, which I would love to see. However, it’s not happening.

Even with the hottest economic and inflation rate of growth in decades, the 10-year yield hasn’t been close to even testing my high-level range, and I am not in the camp that rates are a sure lock to go higher in 2022. Can you feel the stress? I am now thinking about lower rates and starting 2022 with all-time lows in housing inventory.

Panic selling Is a marketing gimmick

As I have said many times, the housing crash bears are simply very good professional grifters: the amount of bull they have produced for 10 years is worthy of legendary status. Recently, I have noticed a few people bring up the notion of panic selling.

This idea is that American citizens who are financially sound, have great cash flow, a vast amount of nested equity built-in, and live in a nice home will all of a sudden sell their homes at a major discount to the market bid in an attempt to get out at any cost. Really? I mean if they didn’t do that during the first two months of COVID-19, you think in a booming economy with rates under 4% that this is a possibility?

Part of the major problem with housing is that American households who own homes are in great financial shape. They have a fixed low debt cost and their wages have been rising for many years.

Their cash flow is so great that their FICO score is off the charts. Remember that housing tenure from 1985-2007 was running at five years and then from 2008-2021 it’s well over 10 years. So the American homeowner is in much better shape than anyone gives them credit for. You can clearly see why I am worried about housing inventory levels during the years 2020-2024 as demand has picked up so much.

Recently, I wrote an article saying Americans’ mortgage debt is great again. This is also a downside to the housing inventory story as forced selling or the notion that these Americans are panic stock traders getting a margin call at 12:05 PM so they need to sell at any price is just silly. Panic selling is different than distress selling when you’re in a foreclosure or short sale. Knowing the difference is the key.

As you can see below, foreclosures and bankruptcy were rising into the 2008 recession from 2005-2008, then the great financial recession occurred.

With only a few months left before the spring selling season, it’s critical to keep an eye out on total inventory levels. The seasonality impact is currently in full force, but we can only hope it doesn’t break to all-time lows before the reversal of seasonality happens in 2022 and inventory increases again. 

I am hoping and rooting for inventory levels to break above 1.52 million at some point — that has been my target level for some time to break away from this unhealthy housing market and create more balance. Historically speaking, that is a low total housing inventory level, however, total inventory between 1.52 million and 1.93 million will make this a B&B housing market: boring and balanced. However, as you can see, it’s not looking great currently and the clock is ticking for spring 2022.

The post Will we start 2022 with all-time lows in housing inventory? appeared first on HousingWire.

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A dog has caught monkeypox from one of its owners, highlighting risk of the virus infecting pets and wild animals

The monkeypox virus can easily spread between humans and animals. A veterinary virologist explains how the virus could go from people to wild animals in…

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A dog in Paris has become the first case of a pet contracting monkeypox from its owners. Cavan Images via Getty Images

A dog in Paris has caught monkeypox from one of its owners, both of whom were infected with the virus, according to a scientific paper published on Aug. 10, 2022. This is the first case of a dog contracting the monkeypox virus through direct contact with skin lesions on a human.

I am a veterinary pathologist and virologist who has been working with poxviruses for over 20 years. I study how these viruses evade the immune system and am working on modifying poxviruses to prevent infection as well as treat other diseases, including cancer.

With monkeypox spreading in humans throughout the world, my colleagues and I have begun to worry about the increased risk of monkeypox spreading from humans to animals. If monkeypox spreads to wildlife species in the U.S. and Europe, the virus could become endemic in these places – where it has historically been absent – resulting in more frequent outbreaks. The report of the infected dog shows that there is a decent chance these fears could become a reality.

A microscope image of a bunch blue circles in a brown-colored cell.
The monkeypox virus – the blue circles in this image of an infected cell – is a poxvirus similar to smallpox and cowpox and can easily infect many different species. NIAID/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY

A species-jumping virus

Monkeypox is a poxvirus in the same family as variola – the virus that causes smallpox – and cowpox viruses and likely evolved in animals before jumping to humans. Monkeypox causes painful lesions in both humans and animals and, in rare cases, can be deadly. Researchers have found the monkeypox virus in several species of wild rodents, squirrels and primates in Africa, where the virus is endemic. Monkeypox does not need to mutate or evolve at all to be able to infect many different species. It can easily spread from animals to people and back again.

Though there is a fair bit of research on monkeypox, a lot more work has been done on cowpox, a similar zoonotic poxvirus that is endemic in Europe. Over the years, there have been several reports of cowpox infection spreading from animals to humans in Europe.

From people to animals

Until recently, most monkeypox infections occurred in specific areas of Africa where some wildlife species act as reservoirs for the virus. These outbreaks are usually contained quickly through isolation of infected individuals and vaccinating people around the infected individual. The current situation is very different though.

With nearly 40,000 cases globally as of Aug. 17, 2022 – and more than 12,500 cases in the U.S. alone – monkeypox is now widespread within the human population. The risk of any one person transmitting the virus to an animal – particularly a wild one – is small, but the more people are infected, the greater the chances. It’s a numbers game.

There are a number of ways viruses can transfer from animals to people – called spillover – and from people back to animals – called spillback. Since monkeypox is most easily spread through direct skin-to-skin contact, it is a bit more difficult to transmit between species than COVID-19, but certainly possible.

The case of the dog in Paris provides a clear example of how cuddling or being close to a pet can spread the virus. Previous studies on poxviruses like monkeypox have shown that they can stay active in fecal matter. This means that there is a risk of wild animals, likely rodents, catching it from human waste.

A grey rat.
There are a number of species that host monkeypox in Africa – like this gambian rat. Monkeypox can spread from humans to many other animals, including dogs and likely cats and other species of rodents. Louisvarley/Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA

The monkeypox virus is also present in saliva. While more research needs to be done, it is potentially possible that an infected person could discard food that would then be eaten by a rodent.

The chances of any one of these events happening is extremely low. But I and other virologists worry that with more people becoming infected, there is a greater risk that rodents or other animals will come into contact with urine, feces or saliva that is contaminated with the virus.

Finally, there is the risk of people giving monkeypox to a pet, which then passes it on to other animals. One case study in Germany described an outbreak of cowpox that was caused when someone took an infected cat to a veterinary clinic and four other cats were subsequently infected. It is feasible that an infected household pet could spread the virus to wild animals somehow.

How to help

One of the key reasons that the World Health Organization was able to eradicate smallpox is that it only infects people, so there were no animal reservoirs that could re-introduce the virus to human populations.

Monkeypox is zoonotic and already has several animal reservoirs, though these are currently limited to Africa. But if monkeypox escapes into wild animal populations in the U.S., Europe or other locations, there will be always be potential for animals to spread it back to humans. With this in mind, there are a number of things people can do to reduce the risks with regard to animals.

As with any infectious disease, be informed about the signs and symptoms of monkeypox and how it is transmitted. If you suspect you have the virus, contact a doctor and isolate from other people.

As a veterinarian, I strongly encourage anyone with monkeypox to protect your pets. The case in Paris shows that dogs can get infected from contact with their owners, and it is likely that many other species, including cats, are susceptible, too. If you have monkeypox, try to have other people take care of your animals for as long as lesions are present. And if you think your pet has a monkeypox infection, be sure to contact a veterinarian so they can test the lesion and provide care when needed.

Even though monkeypox has been declared a public health emergency, it is unlikely to directly affect most people. Taking precautionary steps can protect you and your pets and will hopefully prevent monkeypox from getting into wildlife in the U.S., too.

Amy Macneill does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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UBC researchers discover ‘weak spot’ across major COVID-19 variants

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered a key vulnerability across all major variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the…

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Researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered a key vulnerability across all major variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the recently emerged BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron subvariants.

Credit: Dr. Sriram Subramaniam, UBC

Researchers at the University of British Columbia have discovered a key vulnerability across all major variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the recently emerged BA.1 and BA.2 Omicron subvariants.

The weakness can be targeted by neutralizing antibodies, potentially paving the way for treatments that would be universally effective across variants.

The findings, published today in Nature Communications, use cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) to reveal the atomic-level structure of the vulnerable spot on the virus’ spike protein, known as an epitope. The paper further describes an antibody fragment called VH Ab6 that is able to attach to this site and neutralize each major variant. 

“This is a highly adaptable virus that has evolved to evade most existing antibody treatments, as well as much of the immunity conferred by vaccines and natural infection,” says Dr. Sriram Subramaniam (he/him), a professor at UBC’s faculty of medicine and the study’s senior author. “This study reveals a weak spot that is largely unchanged across variants and can be neutralized by an antibody fragment. It sets the stage for the design of pan-variant treatments that could potentially help a lot of vulnerable people.”

Identifying COVID-19 master keys

Antibodies are naturally produced by our bodies to fight infection, but can also be made in a laboratory and administered to patients as a treatment. While several antibody treatments have been developed for COVID-19, their effectiveness has waned in the face of highly-mutated variants like Omicron.

“Antibodies attach to a virus in a very specific manner, like a key going into a lock. But when the virus mutates, the key no longer fits,” says Dr. Subramaniam. “We’ve been looking for master keys — antibodies that continue to neutralize the virus even after extensive mutations.”

The ‘master key’ identified in this new paper is the antibody fragment VH Ab6, which was shown to be effective against the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Kappa, Epsilon and Omicron variants. The fragment neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 by attaching to the epitope on the spike protein and blocking the virus from entering human cells.

The discovery is the latest from a longstanding and productive collaboration between Dr. Subramaniam’s team at UBC and colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh, led by Drs. Mitko Dimitrov and Wei Li. The team in Pittsburgh has been screening large antibody libraries and testing their effectiveness against COVID-19, while the UBC team has been using cryo-EM to study the molecular structure and characteristics of the spike protein.

Focusing in on COVID-19’s weak points

The UBC team is world-renowned for its expertise in using cryo-EM to visualize protein-protein and protein-antibody interactions at an atomic resolution. In another paper published earlier this year in Science, they were the first to report the structure of the contact zone between the Omicron spike protein and the human cell receptor ACE2, providing a molecular explanation for Omicron’s enhanced viral fitness.

By mapping the molecular structure of each spike protein, the team has been searching for areas of vulnerability that could inform new treatments.

“The epitope we describe in this paper is mostly removed from the hot spots for mutations, which is why it’s capabilities are preserved across variants,” says Dr. Subramaniam. “Now that we’ve described the structure of this site in detail, it unlocks a whole new realm of treatment possibilities.”

Dr. Subramaniam says this key vulnerability can now be exploited by drug makers, and because the site is relatively mutation-free, the resulting treatments could be effective against existing—and even future—variants.

“We now have a very clear picture of this vulnerable spot on the virus. We know every interaction the spike protein makes with the antibody at this site. We can work backwards from this, using intelligent design, to develop a slew of antibody treatments,” says Dr. Subramaniam. “Having broadly effective, variant-resistant treatments would be a game changer in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.”


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German Official Trashes Cost Of Living Protesters As “Enemies Of The State”

German Official Trashes Cost Of Living Protesters As "Enemies Of The State"

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

A top German…

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German Official Trashes Cost Of Living Protesters As "Enemies Of The State"

Authored by Paul Joseph Watson via Summit News,

A top German official has trashed people who may be planning to protest against energy blackouts as “enemies of the state” and “extremists” who want to overthrow the government.

The interior minister of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Herbert Reul (CDU), says that anti-mandatory vaxx and anti-lockdown demonstrators have found a new cause – the energy crisis.

In an interview with German news outlet NT, Reul revealed that German security services were keeping an eye on “extremists” who plan to infiltrate the protests and stage violence, with the unrest being planned via the Telegram messenger app, which German authorities have previously tried to ban.

“You can already tell from those who are out there,” said Reul. “The protesters no longer talk about coronavirus or vaccination. But they are now misusing people’s worries and fears in other fields. (…) It’s almost something like new enemies of the state that are establishing themselves.”

Despite the very real threat of potential blackouts, power grid failures and gas shortages, Reul claimed such issues were feeding “conspiracy theory narratives.”

However, it’s no “conspiracy theory” that Germans across the country have been panic buying stoves, firewood and electric heaters as the government tells them thermostats will be limited to 19C in public buildings and that sports arenas and exhibition halls will be used as ‘warm up spaces’ this winter to help freezing citizens who are unable to afford skyrocketing energy bills.

As Remix News reports, blaming right-wing conspiracy theorists for a crisis caused by Germany’s sanctions on Russia and is suicidal dependence on green energy is pretty rich.

“Reul, like the country’s federal interior minister, Nancy Faeser, is attempting to tie right-wing ideology and protests against Covid-19 policies to any potential protests in the winter.”

“While some on the right, such as the Alternative for Germany (AfD), have stressed that the government’s sanctions against Russia are the primary factor driving the current energy crisis, they have not advocated an “overthrow” of the government. Instead, they have stressed the need to restart the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, end energy sanctions against Russia, and push for a peaceful solution to end the war.”

Indeed, energy shortages and the cost of living crisis are issues that are of major concern to everyone, no matter where they are on the political spectrum.

To claim that people worried about heating their homes and putting food on the table this winter are all “enemies of the state” is an utter outrage.

As we highlighted last week, the president of the Thuringian Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Stephan Kramer, said energy crisis riots would make anti-lockdown unrest look like a “children’s birthday party.”

“Mass protests and riots are just as conceivable as concrete acts of violence against things and people, as well as classic terrorism to overthrow it,” Kramer told ZDF.

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Tyler Durden Thu, 08/18/2022 - 03:30

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