Houston Issues As Many Single-Family Housing Permits As All Of California

October 16, 2014

in Markets

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Houston is the only major U.S. city without a formal zoning code. But say this for Houston: It’s booming. In August, the most recent month for which figures are available from the U.S. Census Bureau, metro Houston (including Sugar Land and the Woodlands) issued more permits for construction of single-family homes than did the entire state of California, which has six times the population. And that was no fluke. Houston and California have been running neck and neck in permit issuance since 2000, with California running just about 3,000 permits ahead in that time. That’s a remarkable statement about both demand (people really want to live in Houston) and supply (the city is happy to accommodate them). [Read this article]

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5 Reasons Your Credit Score Is More Important Than Your GPA

October 14, 2014

in Tips

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If you’re a college student, you’re probably working hard to keep your grade-point average looking sharp. After all, your GPA could be your ticket to graduate school, a competitive internship or maybe even your dream job. But if you’re hitting the books so hard that you’re ignoring another important number – your credit score – you could be making a huge mistake. It might be hard to believe, but your three-digit credit score is actually more important than your GPA. It’s true that your GPA could determine certain aspects of your future, but your credit score is guaranteed to influence one thing – the cost of the big purchases you’re going to make after graduation. A high GPA might open the door to academic opportunities, but a high credit scorewill keep more cash in your wallet. This is much more important once you’ve left school behind. [Read this article]

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Should You Rent Or Buy? 7 Questions To Help You Decide

October 11, 2014

in Tips

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For many people, moving time means decision time: Do we buy a home or find a place to rent? This dilemma doesn’t just face young people starting out, but it also stumps established professionals relocating for a job and empty nesters who have sold the big family home. Trulia does a semiannual analysis on the cost of buying vs. the cost of renting. Its latest report found that, on average, buying was 38 percent cheaper than renting nationwide. But looking at the 100 largest metro areas, the differential ranged from just 5 percent cheaper in Honolulu to 66 percent in Detroit. Here are seven questions to ask yourself when determining whether buying or renting is best for you. For example: How long do you expect to be in the home? The longer you plan to stay, the better off you are buying. That’s because buying and selling cost money – and require a significant amount of time and effort. [Read this article]

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5 Housing Trends For Fall 2014

October 10, 2014

in News,Tips

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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

in News

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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

in News

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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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5 Uncommon Ways To Raise Your Credit Score

October 7, 2014

in Tips

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When it comes to cultivating a credit score, you’ve probably got the good citizen routine down cold. You pay on time, try to wipe out the entire balance every month and never close too many accounts at once. Beyond the basics, though, many consumers are still in the dark about what makes their credit scores go up and down. Consumers understand that the credit utilization ratio – the total amount of revolving credit someone uses in a month, compared with the amount of available credit they have – is a major factor in calculating a score. But did you know that it’s calculated from the total on the statement date, not the due date? So even if you pay balances in full every month, a card issuer may report a balance. And that can hurt your credit score. Here are five ways you can use that bit of knowledge, along with some other expert know-how, to boost your credit rating. [Read this article]

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The Fading Distinction Between City And Suburb

October 7, 2014

in News

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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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Watch Out For These Credit Score Scams

October 5, 2014

in Tips

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With more people getting their free credit scores online from legitimate companies such as CreditKarma.com, CreditSesame.com and Mint.com, credit score phishing emails are also becoming more prevalent. These fraudulent emails masquerade as legitimate ones, and lead you to a website that asks for your personal information. As soon as you enter it, the fraudster behind the scam has your information and can use it to steal your identity or money. Here are some ways to make sure you don’t get caught up in a phishing scam. For example, always check the domain name by making sure any emails that you receive that claim to be from specific companies are actually coming from the domain name they claim to be. Also, the Better Business Bureau recommends a general attitude of skepticism toward unsolicited emails, especially ones that ask you for any information. [Read this article]

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