5 Reasons New Homes Are Still Getting Bigger

October 2, 2014

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Combined with America’s aging, “empty nester” population, increasing environmental concerns and smaller household sizes, you might think the U.S. would want to build smaller houses. We haven’t. As of the last Census, the median house was 2,384 square feet – in between the sizes of a single and a doubles tennis courts. That’s up from 1,525 square feet in 1970, with a rise punctuated only by a brief stall during the recession. Over the last decade the median house size has increased on average about 25 square feet per year, and the share of new homes with 4+ bedrooms and 3+ full baths is going up. Why are new houses still getting bigger? According to data from both the NAHB and Trulia, Americans usually want bigger houses – 17% more space than they have. “As incomes go up, people are able to consume more housing, more entertainment, more tech and everything else,” according to Jed Kolko, Trulia’s chief economist. [Read this article]

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Public Transit Drives Americans’ Home Buying Decisions

September 30, 2014

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A first-of-its-kind study about attitudes toward public transportation reveals the growing importance of mixed-use, transit-oriented residential development. Who’s on Board: The 2014 Mobility Attitudes Survey from Transit Center is the first to compare rider and non-rider attitudes by age, income, education, family status and ethnicity, and to examine both cities and suburban areas across various regions of the U.S. The study found that although there is a high demand for quality public transportation nationwide, there is a high unmet demand for transit-friendly neighborhoods with a mix of housing, retail, and commercial space. Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents said their ideal neighborhood contained “a mix of houses, shops, and businesses,” but only 39 percent currently live in that type of neighborhood. [Read this article]

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Increase In Doubled-Up Homes Isn’t Just Young Adults Moving In With Their Parents

September 29, 2014

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With the economy growing in fits and starts, an increase in “doubled-up” homes isn’t just young adults moving into their parents’ basements, according to a recent economic research note. The number of in-laws and nonrelatives added to family households picked up last year, housing economist Thomas Lawler wrote. Lawler found that in 2013, the population of family households (homes that contain families and may include other individuals) added 577,000 householders, spouses and children – down 49% from an average annual increase of 1.1 million between 2010 and 2012. Meanwhile, the number of in-laws and other relatives added to family homes hit 663,000 in 2013, double the recent average, and non-relatives rose more than 700% to 372,000. [Read this article]

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Why Everybody Is Moving To Texas

September 29, 2014

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More Americans moved to Texas in recent years than any other state: A net gain of more than 387,000 in the latest Census for 2013. And Austin was the fastest growing major city. Jobs is the No. 1 reason for population moves, with affordable housing a close second.”It take two things to draw people inland in big numbers: jobs and housing affordability,” said Nela Richardson, chief economist for the real estate broker Redfin.Texas and other heartland states have two advantages that translate into affordable housing: Plenty of cheap land around cities and easy regulations that enable developers to build quickly.Five Texas cities – Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Dallas and Fort Worth – were among the top 20 fastest growing large metro areas.Jobs was the main driver in Austin, where population rose by 2.6% between 2012 and 2013. That’s nearly four times faster growth than the United States as a whole. [Read this article]

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When Mortgage Rates Rise

September 26, 2014

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Mortgage rates have remained relatively low this year, and little changed, despite previous predictions of an inevitable rise. Borrowers, though, may be wondering how much longer this environment can last. Economists such as Stan Humphries, the chief economist for Zillow, are now predicting that the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will hit 5 percent by the middle of next year, partly as a result of the Federal Reserve’s planned withdrawal from buying mortgage-backed securities. Last week, the 30-year national average was 4.28 percent. While 5 percent is still low by historical standards, an increase of that size can reduce buying power more than borrowers may think. According to Zillow, a 1 percent rise in interest rates could raise monthly mortgage payments on a typical home next year by more than $700 in pricier parts of the country. While a rise in rates of even 50 basis points can have a substantial effect on demand, Mr. Humphries noted that for the country as a whole, homes are still relatively affordable. [Read this article]

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U.S. New-Home Sales Surge 18% In August: Highest Level Since 2008

September 24, 2014

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Sales of newly built homes surged in August to the highest level since 2008, an early sign of higher consumer demand that could boost the broader housing market. New-home sales climbed 18% in August from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 504,000, the Commerce Department said Wednesday. That marked the biggest one-month jump since 1992 and the highest level of sales since May 2008, when the U.S. was in recession. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had forecast new-home sales to rise 3.4% in August to a rate of 426,000. Compared with a year ago, new-home sales were up 33% in August. But prior to the last recession, new-home sales typically reached 1 million a year last decade. Wednesday’s report showed the number of homes on the market fell sharply, a development that could bode well for the economy. If demand continues to pick up, builders would need to ramp up construction, which creates jobs, helps suppliers and pumps up the overall economy. [Read this article]

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The Goal Of Homeownership Still An Important Part Of The American Dream For Millennials

September 24, 2014

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A recent survey of younger Americans illustrates that the goal of homeownership remains an important part of the American Dream. The study from the Demand Institute surveyed 1,000 18 to 29 year olds about current conditions and market preferences. The findings indicate that homeownership remains an important long-term goal. Among the findings for Millennials, over the next 5 years, 8.3 million new Millennial households will form, with 74% planning to move over the next five years, and the top reason being a need for better housing. Seventy-five percent believe homeownership is an important long-term goal, and 73% believe ownership is an excellent investment. Twenty-four percent currently own a home and another 60% plan to purchase. [Read this article]

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Consumers Still Expect Rising Home Prices

September 23, 2014

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More than half of the respondents in a national poll accompanying Bankrate’s monthly Financial Security Index say they think home prices will go up in the next 12 months. This positive outlook mirrors what industry experts expect, even as the pace of home sales and home price appreciation have slowed compared with last year. “This may not be a great market, but it’s a good market,” says Jed Smith, managing director of quantitative research at the National Association of Realtors. “Prices are still increasing. The market is just stabilizing.” Smith says the majority of NAR’s Realtor members also expect home prices to rise over the next year, though not as much as they did after the recession. “The median expected price increase for the next 12 months is 3.4 percent,” he says. “The expectation of continued home-price increases underscores an expectation for continued improvement in the job market, household finances and the overall economy,” said Greg McBride, CFA, Bankrate’s chief financial analyst. [Read this article]

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Builder Confidence Hits Highest Level Since November Of 2005

September 19, 2014

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Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes rose for a fourth consecutive month in September to a level of 59 on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This latest four-point gain brings the index to its highest reading since November of 2005. “Since early summer, builders in many markets across the nation have been reporting that buyer interest and traffic have picked up, which is a positive sign that the housing market is moving in the right direction,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly. All three HMI components posted gains in September. The indices gauging current sales conditions and traffic of prospective buyers each rose five points to 63 and 47, respectively. The index gauging expectations for future sales increased two points to 67. Builder confidence also rose across every region of the country in September. [Read this article]

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What Makes Us The Happiest About The Places We Live

September 19, 2014

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We know a lot about what makes Americans satisfied with their personal lives, jobs and careers, but much less about what make them satisfied with the places where they live. So what are the key factors that really shape how happy we are with the places we live? CityLab used the Atlantic Media/Siemens State of the City Poll to look closely at a wide variety of community satisfaction measures, discovering that suburbanites are happier with where they live than city dwellers and that the young and poor are the most likely to move, among other conclusions. Several factors turned out to be relatively more important to how residents rated their communities. Topping the list was personal safety, followed by the availability of high quality parks and recreation, the availability of good-paying jobs, air quality, and the availability of high-quality arts, culture and nightlife. [Read this article]

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