Home Builders Venture Into Urban Areas

July 30, 2014

in Lennar,News

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A top executive of Lennar Corp. recently joined with officials from Weehawken, N.J., to celebrate the completion of the home builder’s newest condominium complex, a luxury building across the Hudson River from New York City. The 74-unit building – which will feature hotel-like amenities, including concierge services, a lobby lounge with a fireplace, gyms and yoga rooms, gathering areas and catering kitchen – is the first of a five-building, 660-unit master-planned community in Weehawken called the Avenue Collection. Condos at the first building range in price from $1.1 million to $2 million. Construction of a second tower with 103 luxury condo units is under way. The nation’s second-largest home builder by revenue may be better known for $300,000 single-family homes. But in 2011, the company branched out into the rental market and has since increased its investments. The Miami-based company’s multifamily division has spent about $1 billion to develop 18 apartment communities nationwide, 13 of which are still under construction. What’s more, according to a July report by Zacks Investment Research, Lennar is planning to spend $3 billion to build 12,000 apartments over the next four years. [Read this article]

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10 Best Cities For Millennials To Buy A Home

July 29, 2014

in Markets

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Typically, first-time buyers account for roughly 40% of all home sales; today they account for 28%, according to Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. Yun thinks it will be about three years before the share of first-time buyers returns to normal. But in some markets over others, the oldest millennials (those between the ages of 25 and 34) may have a better chance of becoming homeowners in the near future. Using data including the local population of people this age, job market conditions, housing affordability and inventory, NAR analyzed 100 metropolitan areas to find the best markets for those older millennials interested in becoming homeowners. Among the top ten markets: Austin, Dallas, Denver, Minneapolis and Seattle. [Read this article]

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Consumer Confidence In U.S. Jumps To Highest Since 2007

July 29, 2014

in News

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Confidence among consumers soared in July to an almost seven-year high as increased employment opportunities led to brighter views of the U.S. economy. The Conference Board’s index advanced to 90.9, the highest since October 2007, from 86.4 in June. The gauge exceeded the most optimistic projection in a Bloomberg survey of 75 economists. “Employment conditions improved, gas prices are lower, equity markets remain robust, and that’s pretty much it,” said Neil Dutta, head of U.S. economics at Renaissance Macro Research LLC in New York. “The fact that confidence is rising at a fairly steady rate implies that employment growth is going to continue at a fairly healthy rate.” More Americans than at any time in the past six years viewed jobs as abundant and a greater share anticipated their incomes will increase, laying the groundwork for a pickup in consumer spending. [Read this article]

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Is It Really That Hard to Get A Mortgage?

July 25, 2014

in News,Tips

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It has become a common refrain: “It’s too hard to get a mortgage.” But is it true? If it’s possible to get a mortgage with a 3.5% down payment and a credit score in the mid-600s, how could anyone say that credit is still tight? Wage earners who have decent credit, stable and easy-to-verify incomes and who are seeking loans on simple single-family dwellings can qualify for FHA-backed loans with the minimum 3.5% down payment. Getting a mortgage for this group of buyers might be easier than is commonly believed, although FHA mortgage insurance has become more expensive. When people talk about “tight credit,” they may instead be referring to people who may have irregular or harder-to-document incomes: A salesman who earns a lot of his income in commission; a consultant who had meager income two years ago; or a small business owner who took lots of tax deductions to lower her taxable income. And it could include retirees who have meager incomes despite having lots of assets. [Read this article]

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CoreLogic: Student Loans Not Depressing Home Ownership

July 25, 2014

in News

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One of the pet reasons for explaining the lack of demand for houses among millennials is the presence of ever-escalating student loan debts. The thinking goes that college graduates are so mired in debt that they either cannot afford to buy or are too afraid to run up more debt, and so they stay living with their parents or find cheap places to rent. However, Mark Fleming, chief economist atCoreLogic, draws the conclusion that while student loan debt undoubtedly affects financial decisions for those post-college, there is zero empirical evidence to back up the claim that these debts are keeping young people from buying their first homes. For one thing, Fleming says, the monthly payback amount anyone has to spend on a student loan is based on a percentage of income. This percentage has remained virtually unchanged since the mid-1990s, but then, so have earnings – and members of Generation X didn’t shy away from buying houses just because of these obligations. “Going to college still increases one’s earning potential,” Fleming said. “For those who had to finance college with loans, the burden of repayment relative to income remains the same today as in the 1990s.” [Read this article]

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Selling Your Home? Always Highlight These 7 Perks

July 25, 2014

in Tips

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Looking to sell your place? When dealing with prospective buyers, think beyond the obvious – what you take for granted about your home may seal the deal for them. USA Today highlighted 7 features you shouldn’t skip when marketing your property. For example, many first-time homebuyers will be comparing your house to smaller rental properties that they’ve lived in. Even what you consider standard may appear luxurious to your buyers. If you have built-in storage, a separate kitchen pantry, or extra closets, be sure to highlight these features. Also, your built-in bookshelves and garage storage system are attractive to buyers with clutter-free dreams. And just because you’re familiar with your neighborhood doesn’t mean everybody is. A buyer may not know to research your zip code, and therefore may not know about the local perks, like nearby dining and shopping centers, or convenience factors, like proximity to multiple highways or major employers. [Read this article]

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The Porch Is Making A Comeback

July 25, 2014

in News

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Decades after it began disappearing from the American architectural landscape – felled by the advent of cars, air conditioning, and the backyard barbecue – the porch is back. In June, the Census Bureau reported that 63% of new single-family homes completed in 2013 had porches – up from 42% in 1993. “The wealthier we feel, and the more feature-rich we desire our homes to be, the more likely they are to have a porch,” said Ed Hudson, marketing research director of Home Innovation Research Labs, a subsidiary of the National Association of Home Builders. More than an exercise in nostalgia, the return of the porch signals a deep need for social connection, according to Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture and a pioneer of new urbanism. “The porch friendlies up the house,” said Mr. Stern, who describes it as “a place between the privacy of the house and the public world of the street.” [Read this article]

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Healthy Housing Today: A View From The National Healthy Homes Conference

July 25, 2014

in News

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The modern American healthy housing movement has its origins in late 19th century New York City, when reformers worked to improve the unsafe and unsanitary living conditions in tenement buildings, particularly for immigrants living on the city’s Lower East Side. Since that time, knowledge of indoor air quality has expanded exponentially. But we still have a lot to learn and accomplish, and we are now also focused on newer issues, such as the effects of climate change on our homes, pest management, asthma prevention, and recent technologies to save energy and manage pollutants. Lead paint, banned in 1978 but still present in older homes, is a “classic” healthy-housing problem that has been the focus of government attention for decades and remains a pressing issue affecting Americans at all income levels. [Read this article]

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By 2060, The American South Could Be Three Times As Urbanized

July 25, 2014

in Markets,News

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Southern city planners and conservationists, look alive: New predictions map the future spread of urban sprawl in Dixie, and it is immense. Basing their model on past growth patterns and locations of existing road networks, researchers at North Carolina State University projected the region’s expansion decades into the future. According to their forecast, the Southern urban footprint is expected to grow 101% to 192%. The South’s explosive population growth over the past 60 years can only be expected to continue, the researchers report. And more likely than not, so will its typical development pattern of sprawling, automobile-dependent suburbs. Planners and city leaders should start acting now to managing infrastructure and natural resources in the area. [Read this article]

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6 Ways To Beat The Heat Without Making Your Wallet Sweat

July 25, 2014

in Green Living,Tips

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Now that the high temperatures have really kicked in, it’s only natural to want to stay as cool as possible. Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the money to spend blasting the air conditioning all summer long. You can quickly cool off – and stay refreshed all day and night - without spending a bundle, or even anything at all. Although appliances help you run your household, they also warm it up fast.Run clothes dryers and dishwashers at night to avoid peak energy rates and the humid heat they generate. Prolonged baking or stovetop cooking also makes the AC work overtime. Take advantage of summer weather, and cook outdoors when possible. Try unplugging small appliances whenever you can, and especially before you leave on vacation or for extended periods of time. Computers, cellphone chargers and other electronics often continue to use power - and radiate heat - even when turned off. With a little bit of planning, you can easily reduce energy consumption and save money at the same time. It’s a win-win for you and the environment. [Read this article]

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