Could decline in median new-home size herald return of entry-level buyers?

November 21, 2014

in News

Post image for Could decline in median new-home size herald return of entry-level buyers?

Newly built, single-family homes in the U.S. finally are getting smaller, a sign that a long-awaited shift of builders to slightly smaller, more affordable homes likely has started. Commerce Department data shows the median size of a single-family home built in the third quarter was 2,414 square feet, down 2.3% from the second quarter measure of 2,472. The third-quarter figure is the lowest since 2012’s fourth quarter, and it is the second consecutive quarterly decline following a 0.2% drop in this year’s second quarter. And early signs are emerging that entry-level buyers are coming back. Construction starts for single-family homes increased by 4.2% from a year earlier. The most likely source for that greater volume of starts is entry-level buyers. The median new-home size now stands 3% below its recent high of 2,491 square feet in the third quarter of 2013. [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }

Gradual U.S. housing recovery on track as single-family starts rise

November 19, 2014

in News

Post image for Gradual U.S. housing recovery on track as single-family starts rise

Starts for U.S. single-family homes rose for a second straight month in October and building permits neared a 6-1/2-year high, suggesting the housing market was still on a recovery path. The Commerce Department said on Wednesday groundbreaking for single-family homes, which account for more than two-thirds of the market, increased 4.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted 696,000-unit annual pace, the highest since last November. At the same time, permits for single- and multi-family housing jumped 4.8 percent to a 1.08 million-unit pace, the highest since June 2008. It also was the second straight monthly gain. A separate report from the Mortgage Bankers Association showed applications for loans to purchase homes surged last week as low rates lured potential buyers. [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }

Expanding a kid’s ideas about ‘home’

November 18, 2014

in News

Post image for Expanding a kid’s ideas about ‘home’

A classic theory of cognitive development says that as a kid grows up, her sense of membership in the world grows outward. A new app from Tinybop Inc encourages that growing worldview. Recommended for ages four and up, “Homes” invites open-ended exploration of how kids “live, sleep, eat, and play in unique households around the world”: A Brooklyn brownstone, a Guatemalan adobe house, a Mongolian yurt, and a Yemeni tower house, each cozy and inviting in their own way. In Homes’ interiors and exteriors, users can click, drag, and interact with domestic objects, some familiar to Western hands (checkers, books, and dolls are common appearances) and some less so: Firewood to load into a cookstove, as in the adobe; shears to clip sheep fur as at the yurt. “Homes” invites users young and old to imagine ourselves at home somewhere distant yet cozy, foreign yet not – an expanded sense of what it means to be a member of the world. [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }

Housing markets inch toward full recovery

November 12, 2014

in News

Post image for Housing markets inch toward full recovery

Markets in 59 of the approximately 350 metro areas nationwide returned to or exceeded their last normal levels of economic and housing activity in the third quarter of 2014, according to the National Association of Home Builders/First American Leading Markets Index. This represents a year-over-year net gain of seven markets. The index’s nationwide score moved up slightly from .89 in the second quarter to .90, meaning that based on current permit, price and employment data, the nationwide average is running at 90 percent of normal economic and housing activity. Meanwhile, 66 percent of markets have shown an improvement year-over-year. “The markets are recovering at a slow, gradual pace,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly. “Continued job creation, economic growth and increasing consumer confidence should help spur pent-up demand for housing.” [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }

The Silver Economy: downsizers transform US housing landscape

November 3, 2014

in Lennar,News

Post image for The Silver Economy: downsizers transform US housing landscape

This new story from The Financial Times highlights how homebuilders are designing new homes especially for retirees. The article highlights Lennar’s Next Gen home, designed for multigenerational living situations. According to Lennar Regional President Jeff Roos, by far the biggest buyers of the 2,000 Next Gen homes sold to date have been families with grandparents who are still active but want to be closer together, with approximately 40% of buyers choosing Next Gen on the sites where it’s offered as an option. “It really makes sense for people who are either doubling up their households [with their children] or haven’t yet retired,” he says. “The grandparents can downsize and have a much closer relationship with their grandchildren.” [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }

Half-point drop in interest rates boosts homebuyers’ budgets

October 28, 2014

in News

Post image for Half-point drop in interest rates boosts homebuyers’ budgets

Interest rates have fallen below 4 percent, meaning buyers can get a more expensive home for the same monthly payment. Since the beginning of the year, the 30-year fixed mortgage rate on Zillow has fallen by more than a half point, from 4.3 percent to 3.8 percent. A half point may not seem like a lot, but it can translate into significant savings on a monthly basis and over the life of a loan. For example, mortgage rates have dropped off so much this year that a buyer who started shopping at the beginning of the year for a $375,000 house could buy a $400,000 house now for the same monthly payment - an extra $25,000 of spending power. [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }

These real-estate agents walked into real-life houses of horror

October 28, 2014

in News,Tips

Post image for These real-estate agents walked into real-life houses of horror

It doesn’t have to be Halloween for real-estate agents to stumble into some truly creepy houses. In some cases, sellers haven’t taken the care to stage their home properly before listing. Foreclosures also often yield some rather odd showings. Here are some of their stories. In Colorado Springs, real-estate agent Willi Ellis, with ERA Shields, showed a pre-foreclosure home where most of the flooring was ripped out, exposing the plywood subflooring. A beat-up refrigerator was in the dining room, and clothes were piled in a bathtub. Her clients bought it anyway, seeing it as a diamond in the rough, but the problems continued – asbestos remediation was required and radon levels were well over the EPA’s limit. [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }

Consumer Confidence in U.S. increases to a seven-year high

October 28, 2014

in News

Post image for Consumer Confidence in U.S. increases to a seven-year high

Consumer confidence advanced in October as Americans enjoyed further price drops at the gas pump and the job market continued to improve. The Conference Board’s index climbed to 94.5 this month, the highest since October 2007, from a September reading of 89 that was stronger than initially estimated. The gauge exceeded the most optimistic projection in a Bloomberg survey of economists. More job security, declining gasoline prices, and a strengthening labor market are setting the stage for a stronger expansion. Bigger wage increases and a reduction in long-term unemployment would help keep sentiment improving and lay the groundwork for gains in spending, which makes up almost 70 percent of the economy. “The consumer really has the wind at their backs,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ Ltd. in New York, said before the report. “The consumer at this point seems to have the wherewithal to power the economy forward.” [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }

Why do people move: jobs or housing?

October 28, 2014

in News

Post image for Why do people move: jobs or housing?

It’s often assumed that people move to get better jobs. But Census data show the main people reason move is to gain access to better housing. The issue is sometimes posed as a chicken-and-egg question: What comes first, people or jobs? A new study published in the journal Urban Studies takes a close look at the connection between these two types of moves – moving for jobs versus moving for housing. The study, by University of California, Irvine, social ecologist Jae Hong Kim, covers 342 metropolitan areas and span two periods, before the Great Recession (2005-2007) and during (2008-2010), to deal with the effects of the economic crisis on mobility. Kim ran a series of statistical analyses to sort out the relationships between job and residential mobility. The upshot: the two are more closely related than we might think. Moving for a job is associated with moving to find new housing, though the reverse is less common. [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }

Pending Home Sales Inch Up In September As Housing Market Normalizes

October 27, 2014

in News

Post image for Pending Home Sales Inch Up In September As Housing Market Normalizes

The number of contracts signed to buy previously-owned homes inched up slightly in September, reaching its second-highest level since August 2013. The numbers are another indicator that the housing market is past the rapid recovery phase and is beginning to normalize. The Pending Home Sales Index, which tracks contract signings (as opposed to closed sales), rose 0.3% in September to 105.0, the National Association of Realtors said Monday. September also marked the first time in 11 months that contract signings were higher – by 1% – than their level one year earlier. Contracts for previously-owned homes have been down on a year-over-year basis since September 2013, when rising prices seemed to slow the pace at which Americans were purchasing homes. Now, with price gains slowing and inventory levels easing, buyers appear to be more confident about the market. [Read this article]

{ 0 comments }