Mortgage Rates Fall To 16-Month Low

October 16, 2014

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Mortgage interest rates took a dive to a 16-month low during a quiet week that included the Columbus Day bank holiday on Monday. The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 4.01 percent from 4.18 percent last week, according to the Bankrate.com national survey of large lenders. The last time it was lower was May 29, 2013, at 3.99 percent. One year ago, that rate was 4.42 percent. Four weeks ago, it was 4.33 percent. Whether lenders might have room to drop rates a bit further is an open question. Rates might remain range-bound for the remainder of the year, barring a major shift in the U.S. economy or global political situation, says Kirk Chivas, chief operating officer at First Commerce Financial. Consumers were slightly more optimistic about housing in September compared with August, according to the results of Fannie Mae’s latest monthly telephone poll of 1,000 U.S. homeowners and renters. The percentage of respondents who said now was a good time to buy a home hit 68 percent in September, a 4-point rise from August. [Read this article]

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5 Housing Trends For Fall 2014

October 10, 2014

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It’s not a bad time to be a homebuyer. Just don’t think the odds will be on your side indefinitely. Mortgage standards, such as credit score requirements, have started to loosen, and mortgage rates remain low. If you are planning to buy, act quickly. The housing market is expected to heat up in coming months and rates will eventually rise – believe it or not. And this may be your last chance to lock a rate while mortgage rates are at the bottom. The Mortgage Bankers Association expects the 30-year fixed rate to climb to 4.5 percent by the fourth quarter of the year, according to the association’s latest forecast. That’s still an attractive rate, but if the MBA is right, the fixed rate will climb gradually, reaching 5 percent by mid-2015. If you are still looking for a home and are not ready to lock yet, you probably have a bit of time. But if you are trying to time the market or are hoping for rates to drop further, you have very little chances of succeeding with your bet, mortgage analysts say. [Read this article]

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America’s Newest Hipster Hot Spot: The Suburbs?

October 10, 2014

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It’s an idea echoed everywhere from “Friends” to “Girls”Young people want to live in cities. And, we’re told, a lot of them (at least the cool ones) do. It’s a common assumption. But it’s also wrong. Between 2010 and 2013, the number of 20- to 29-year-olds in America grew by 4 percent. But the number living in the nation’s core cities grew 3.2 percent. In other words, the share of 20-somethings living in urban areas actually declined slightly. This trend has occurred in supposedly hot cities like San Fransisco, Boston, New York and D.C., notes demographer Wendell Cox. Chicago and Portland, Ore., both widely hailed as youth boom-towns, saw their numbers of 20-somethings decline, too. According to the most recent generational survey research done by Magid and Associates, 43 percent of millennials describe the suburbs as their “ideal place to live,” compared to 31 percent of older generations. Only 17 percent of Millennials identify the urban core as where they want to settle permanently. [Read this article]

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A Rebound In Housing Demand Heading Into Fall

October 10, 2014

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September was a turnaround month for buyer demand. The latest Redfin data on broker activity shows that demand rebounded last month after a market-wide drop in homes for sale and new listings put a damper on home searches in August. The number of customers requesting tours with Redfin agents increased 2.2 percent in September versus four weeks earlier. Though the September uptick in tour requests was not as strong as last year, this late season pickup suggests that housing activity will hold steady through November before the seasonal slowdown in home searches over the holidays. “Buyers have a much better chance of getting a home, and more leverage to get a better deal”, says Mia Simon, a Redfin agent in Palo Alto, California. After a rough start to the year, lower competition and continued low mortgage rates encouraged homebuyers to restart their search after Labor Day and boosted late-season demand. [Read this article]

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Lennar, Denver’s 2nd Biggest Homebuilder, Launching Its Solar 20/20 Plan In Colorado

October 9, 2014

in Green Living,Lennar,News

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Lennar, having put solar power systems on thousands of homes in about 100 California communities, is launching its Solar 20/20 Plan in Colorado. The Miami-based company will expand the California program to Colorado on Thursday at a ribbon cutting ceremony in Arvada. The program aims to bring renewable power to the masses by including solar power panels on every home it builds in selected communities, said David Kaiserman, the CEO of SunStreet Energy Group, Lennar’s subsidiary that’s overseeing the program. While solar power has been popular in Colorado and elsewhere, Lennar believes its Solar 20/20 Plan makes it easier for homeowners to access renewable energy, Kaiserman said. Under Lennar’s program, the solar power systems are included in the home and the homebuilder retains ownership of the systems. Homeowners sign a purchase-power agreement with SunStreet to buy the power produced by the systems at a 20 percent discount to the “prevailing utility rate.” There is no upfront cost to put the solar on the home, Kaiserman said. The homeowners also get a credit on their utility bill for power that’s produced by the system but doesn’t get used by the home, such as if the homeowner is away. [Read this article]

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The Fading Distinction Between City And Suburb

October 7, 2014

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Most of us who are sometimes labeled “urbanists” believe the new age of the city is squarely upon us. Cities and urban neighborhoods once counted for dead are adding people, in some cases faster than the suburbs; at the same time, we’re seeing shortages of affordable housing in some of America’s largest and most vibrant cities. This is what Alan Eherenhalt dubs “the Great Inversion” – a reversal of fortunes in which cities grow as suburbs decline. But a recent study indicates that the traditional suburban lifestyle continues to be widespread. The study, by Markus Moos of the University of Waterloo and Pablo Mendez of Carleton University, found that key features of suburban life not only remain commonplace in the suburbs but are often continued by high-income people evenafter they move to cities. Richer people, the researchers found, tend to own single-family homes and drive cars even when they live in highly urbanized neighborhoods. [Read this article]

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The Smart Home Goes Mainstream

October 3, 2014

in Green Living,Lennar,News

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The affluent have enjoyed the technologies that make their homes smarter, more convenient, more efficient, more secure and more entertaining for some time. Today, the masses are demanding these technologies – causing a fundamental shift in the way homebuilders envision the standard home. Homebuilders are now thinking beyond granite countertops to smart home automation systems that set their homes apart, and looking to offer technologies such as solar, home automation, and ultra-high-speed Internet connectivity as standard. Lennar Homes, Taylor Morrison and regional builders like Frankel Building Group in Houston, Texas, Copperleaf Homes in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Landmark Homes USA in Scottsdale, Ariz., offer home automation systems as standard. Lennar’s Landmark development in South Florida will feature boomerang baby suites and Savant Systems’ Smart Series home systems that cater to the younger generation’s interests in technology. [Read this article]

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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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