Tuesday, August 23, 2016

REALTOR® Wins Big at the Olympics

A REALTOR® won an Olympic medal in the Rio Games this week. Gymnast Alex Naddour not only won a bronze medal, his win netted the U.S. its first medal in the pommel horse in 30-plus years.
In addition to his gymnastics success, Naddour also works as a real estate professional for Arizona Elite Properties and is a member of the National Association of REALTORS®. He currently has at least one active listing on his website.
Naddour’s medal this week in gymnastics was also the first for a U.S. male gymnast in an event final since 2008, when Jonathan Horton won a silver medal on the horizontal bar.
“I keep thinking, ‘Wake up.’ I feel like I’m dreaming,” Naddour told USA Today after earning the medal. “This is exactly what I wanted since I was a young kid, to go out and hit a great routine, score the highest I’ve ever scored in my life out of country. And at the Olympic Games. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
Most Olympic athletes don’t have the lucrative endorsement deals heading into the games as, say, a Michael Phelps or Simone Biles. Training can be expensive. As such, many athletes must search for a job that offers a way to pay for training and living expenses that also offers plenty of flexibility, MONEY magazine notes.

Yun: Home Ownership Still Matters

The home ownership rate may now be at a 50-year low, but that doesn’t mean the dream of home ownership is dying, says Lawrence Yun, NAR's chief economist, in his latest column for Forbes.
In the second quarter of 2016, the home ownership rate dropped to 63.1 percent, but Yun notes it’s clear that home ownership still matters to Americans and to the economy.
According to Yun, the drop in the home ownership rate does not mean that Americans aren't interested in buying a house. Indeed, plenty of recent surveys show overwhelmingly that Americans have a strong desire for home ownership. NAR’s Housing Opportunity and Market Experience survey, for example, revealed that 87 percent of consumers believe home ownership is part of their American Dream. In a recent Ipsos survey, 86 percent of consumers said home ownership is their dream.
Many Americans say they would like to own, but the timing isn’t right yet. They may not have enough saved for a down payment or some say they can’t qualify for the current tight underwriting standards that is preventing them from getting a loan to buy.
Over the long-haul, home ownership tends to provide wealth accumulation for owners. A typical home owner’s net worth was $195,400 in 2013 compared to a renter’s net worth of $5,400, according to the Federal Reserve’s Survey of Consumer Finances. Since 2013, home prices have risen by 17 percent too, giving home owners more wealth.
What’s more, home ownership is good for the economy, says Yun. Most home owners typically sell their home and move on to a new home in a 7- to 10-year cycle. That cycle can contribute to economic growth and job creation because each home sale tends to have a multiplier effect in boosting home remodeling, furniture businesses, mortgage origination, moving companies, even restaurants, etc. According to NAR calculations, one new job is supported from every two home sales.
“There are multiple positive benefits of ownership to individuals and society,” Yun writes. “However, it has to be sustainable. Home owners must understand the responsibility of ownership and take on a mortgage that is manageable and not overstretch their budget. At the same time, there should not be any unnecessary barriers to ownership. Widen mortgage access to those home owners who are willing to stay within budget. Assure an adequate supply of homes at all price points to assure the future possibility of steadily moving up in society.”
Source: “Why Homeownership Matters,” Forbes.com (Aug. 12, 2016)

Mortgage Rates Move Even Lower This Week

Fixed-rate mortgages dropped slightly this week compared to the previous week, and continue to hover near all-time lows.
"The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell 2 basis points to 3.43 percent this week, erasing last week's uptick,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “For eight consecutive weeks mortgage rates have ranged between 3.41 and 3.48 percent. Inflation is not adding any upward pressure on interest rates as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the Consumer Price Index was unchanged in July."
Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Aug. 18:
  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.43 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.45 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.93 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.74 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 2.76 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.15 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.76 percent, with an average 0.4 point, rising from last week’s 2.74 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.94 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

How Much Would The White House Be Worth?

The White House will soon be getting a new resident. So what if this iconic home at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. ever went up for sale? How much would it fetch?
After all, consider the specs: Housed on 18 acres of prime real estate in Washington, D.C.; 55,000 square feet of space; 132 rooms; 28 fireplaces; and more than 750 historic artifacts.
While it can be difficult to put an exact price tag on such a symbolic structure, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors of London along with L.A. real estate consultant Ann Gray and International Art Advisors president Barden Prisant decided to determine the price.
They’re estimated cost for the White House today: About $90 million.
So how’d they reach that number? Gray says they factored in several elements, including how much it would cost to build the White House today (original construction in 1792 cost $232,000, but the cost today would come at about $100 million). They also factored in how much comparable properties would sell (Donald Trump’s dubbed “White House of the South” in Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Fla., is about the same size and has similar amenities is valued at nearly $100 million).
Now if the White House came fully furnished, Prisant says that would increase the list price to $250 million.
Some real estate professionals say $90 million for an unfurnished White House, however, seems too low.
“I think $90 million seems on the low side,” Cara Ameer, a real estate professional in Florida who researched her own comps to come to this conclusion, told realtor.com®. “If you look at several significant properties that have been on the market across the country, you can get an idea of value that is north of $100 million.”
For example, the Playboy mansion made headlines this week for selling for $100 million, and it sat on just 5 acres and was 20,000 square feet, which is less than half the size of the White House.
Ameer says her analysis of the comps would prompt her to list in the $150 to $250 million range, depending on what was all included.
Source: “How Much Is the White House Worth? Hold On to Your Hats,” realtor.com® (Aug. 18, 2016

Monday, August 22, 2016

Lane County housing market cools off in July after record-setting June

Lane County housing market cools off in July after record-setting June: After reaching historic highs in June, Lane County’s housing market came back to earth in July, with fewer closed sales and lower sale prices, according to the latest figures from the Regional Multiple Listing Service. The 418 closed sales in July was down from 524 in June. July’s average sale price of $261,400 was lower than June’s $279,800 average price — the highest ever in Lane County, according to RMLS.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Mortgage Rates Hold Steady This Week

Average fixed-rate mortgages remained near historic lows this week, keeping financing costs lower for home shoppers and home owners looking to refinance.
Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Aug. 11:
  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.45 percent, with an average 0.5 point, rising from last week’s 3.43 percent average. Last year at this time, 30-year rates averaged 3.94 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 2.76 percent, with an average 0.5 point, increasing from last week’s 2.74 percent average. A year ago, 15-year rates averaged 3.17 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.74 percent, with an average 0.5 point, increasing from last week’s 2.73 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.93 percent.
Source: Freddie Mac

Housing Crisis Still Lingers for Many

The housing market has made huge strides after facing one of its worst downfalls in history. But a large segment of the middle class is still struggling when it comes to home ownership.
“The lopsided recovery has shut out millions of aspiring home owners who have been forced to rent because of damaged credit, swelling student loans, tough credit standards, and a dearth of affordable homes,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
About 200,000 to 300,000 fewer U.S. households are buying a new home each year, Ken Rosen, chairman of Fisher Center of Real Estate and Urban Economics at the University of California at Berkeley, told The Wall Street Journal.
“I don’t think we are in a normal housing market,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of REALTORS®. “The losers are clearly the rising rental population that isn’t able to participate in this housing equity appreciation. They are missing out on [a big] source of middle-class wealth.”
Many economists have been predicting that the home ownership rate will start to increase this year. The rate had plunged to a five-decade low of 62.9 percent in the second quarter. Not everyone sees the rate rising in the future, though. In fact, some economists say the rate could fall to 58 percent – or even lower – by 2050, according to Arthur Acolin of University of Southern California, Laurie Goodman of the Urban Institute, and Susan Wachter of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Long-term declines could erase gains made by middle-class Americans since World War II,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “Owning a home provides protection against rising rents and has been a key component of retirement saving and wealth creation.”
Indeed, “the default savings mechanism for American households has been home ownership,” Wachter says. “Today we have historic lows for young households in terms of ownership so they’re not getting on this path.”
Source: “Lopsided Housing Rebound Leaves Millions of People Out in the Cold,” The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 11, 2016)

Housing Crisis Still Lingers for Many

The housing market has made huge strides after facing one of its worst downfalls in history. But a large segment of the middle class is still struggling when it comes to home ownership.
“The lopsided recovery has shut out millions of aspiring home owners who have been forced to rent because of damaged credit, swelling student loans, tough credit standards, and a dearth of affordable homes,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
About 200,000 to 300,000 fewer U.S. households are buying a new home each year, Ken Rosen, chairman of Fisher Center of Real Estate and Urban Economics at the University of California at Berkeley, told The Wall Street Journal.
“I don’t think we are in a normal housing market,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of REALTORS®. “The losers are clearly the rising rental population that isn’t able to participate in this housing equity appreciation. They are missing out on [a big] source of middle-class wealth.”
Many economists have been predicting that the home ownership rate will start to increase this year. The rate had plunged to a five-decade low of 62.9 percent in the second quarter. Not everyone sees the rate rising in the future, though. In fact, some economists say the rate could fall to 58 percent – or even lower – by 2050, according to Arthur Acolin of University of Southern California, Laurie Goodman of the Urban Institute, and Susan Wachter of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Long-term declines could erase gains made by middle-class Americans since World War II,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “Owning a home provides protection against rising rents and has been a key component of retirement saving and wealth creation.”
Indeed, “the default savings mechanism for American households has been home ownership,” Wachter says. “Today we have historic lows for young households in terms of ownership so they’re not getting on this path.”
Source: “Lopsided Housing Rebound Leaves Millions of People Out in the Cold,” The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 11, 2016)

Housing Crisis Still Lingers for Many

The housing market has made huge strides after facing one of its worst downfalls in history. But a large segment of the middle class is still struggling when it comes to home ownership.
“The lopsided recovery has shut out millions of aspiring home owners who have been forced to rent because of damaged credit, swelling student loans, tough credit standards, and a dearth of affordable homes,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
About 200,000 to 300,000 fewer U.S. households are buying a new home each year, Ken Rosen, chairman of Fisher Center of Real Estate and Urban Economics at the University of California at Berkeley, told The Wall Street Journal.
“I don’t think we are in a normal housing market,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of REALTORS®. “The losers are clearly the rising rental population that isn’t able to participate in this housing equity appreciation. They are missing out on [a big] source of middle-class wealth.”
Many economists have been predicting that the home ownership rate will start to increase this year. The rate had plunged to a five-decade low of 62.9 percent in the second quarter. Not everyone sees the rate rising in the future, though. In fact, some economists say the rate could fall to 58 percent – or even lower – by 2050, according to Arthur Acolin of University of Southern California, Laurie Goodman of the Urban Institute, and Susan Wachter of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
“Long-term declines could erase gains made by middle-class Americans since World War II,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “Owning a home provides protection against rising rents and has been a key component of retirement saving and wealth creation.”
Indeed, “the default savings mechanism for American households has been home ownership,” Wachter says. “Today we have historic lows for young households in terms of ownership so they’re not getting on this path.”
Source: “Lopsided Housing Rebound Leaves Millions of People Out in the Cold,” The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 11, 2016)

Builders Raise the Roof: Ceiling Heights Rise

Developers are finding that buyers have a passion for higher ceilings, and they're taking them beyond the standard eight-feet in luxury residences. More builders are now promoting ceiling heights of 11, 12, and even 20 feet. They’re finding that buyers are willing to pay a premium for the extra height too.
Just how much? Realtor.com®’s research team found that raising ceiling height to 10 or 11 feet from the standard height of eight to nine feet led to an average 50 percent jump in average listing price per square foot. The highest premium was for ceilings between 12 and 15 feet, which saw an average 76 percent boost per square foot than units with standard heights. On the other hand, taller ceilings – higher than 15 feet – saw the smallest premium at 28 percent higher than standard ceilings.
Realtor.com®’s research team analyzed more than 2,300 condos priced at $750,000 or more in New York, Illinois, Southern California, Massachusetts, and South Florida. Researchers found that New York City condos saw the largest premiums from 12-feet-but-below-15-feet ceilings. The average premium was $3,700 a square foot – or 150 percent higher than those with standard ceilings. (But note: Condos with 12-foot ceilings also tend to be in newer towers that feature greater amenities too.) 
“The smaller the apartment, the [smaller] the impact of tall ceilings,” says Jonathan Miller, an appraiser in New York. But too tall can make apartments feel claustrophobic, he adds.
Source: “For Ceilings, What a Difference a Foot Makes,” The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 11, 2016)

Owners Say They’re Sick of Dated Bathrooms

More home owners say they're sick and tired of their dated bathrooms. And they’re tackling renovation projects to modernize the bathroom area with high-tech features. The master bathroom is stealing most of their attention, according to the 2016 U.S. Houzz Bathroom Trends Survey.
Home owners say the top trigger for starting a bathroom renovation is they simply can't stand their dated bathroom anymore. Small size and outdated finishes are the most cited old bathroom gripes, according to the Houzz survey.
Four in five renovating home owners say they’re replacing major bathroom features such as flooring, countertops, sinks, and showers.
For their bathroom renovations, more home owners are adding high-tech features. For example, 20 percent of home owners say they are updating the toilets, 12 percent are updating tubs, and nine percent are updating showers all with high-tech features.
Upgraded high-tech features for toilet upgrades included self-cleaning functions, motion-activated seats, and built-in nightlights. The most popular high-tech bathtub upgrades included built-in lighting, heated backrests, and scented mist dispensers. The most popular high-tech shower upgrades included adding mood lighting, digital controls, and built-in sound

9 Cities with the Most Underwater Owners

More home owners across the country are regaining equity, but that isn’t stretching to every place. Nationwide, 11.9 percent of homes are seriously underwater, which means the loan amount for the home was at least 25 percent higher than the property’s estimated market value. The number of seriously underwater home owners across the country is steadily improving.
In general, “the storyline is one of recovery,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate research firm. “But there are definitely still markets that are not following that standard storyline.”
In nine U.S. cities, more than one in five home owners are considered seriously underwater. The national average is only about one in 10 as comparison.
“Those are markets that have been left behind,” Blomquist says.
The following nine housing markets are most plagued by the highest percentage of underwater mortgages:
Cleveland
  • Percentage seriously underwater: 27.5%
  • Percentage of equity rich: 11.8%
Las Vegas
  • Percentage seriously underwater: 25.7%
  • Percentage of equity rich: 14%
Akron
  • Percentage seriously underwater: 24.9%
  • Percentage of equity rich: 12.6%
Dayton
  • Percentage seriously underwater: 24.1%
  • Percentage of equity rich: 10.9%
Toledo
  • Percentage seriously underwater: 23.6%
  • Percentage of equity rich: 13.1%
Chicago
  • Percentage seriously underwater: 22.5%
  • Percentage of equity rich: 13.2%
Lakeland, Fla.
  • Percentage seriously underwater: 21.6%
  • Percentage of equity rich: 15.9%
Detroit
  • Percentage seriously underwater: 21.3%
  • Percentage of equity rich: 17.6%
Kansas City
  • Percentage seriously underwater: 21.2%
  • Percentage of equity rich: 10.9%
Source: RealtyTrac and “9 Cities That Can’t Seem to Recover From the Housing Crisis,” MarketWatch (Aug. 11, 2016)

Freddie Mac Lowers Mortgage Rate Predictions

Freddie Mac economists expect that home buyers and home owners will be able to take advantage of low mortgage rates for longer than they originally predicted.
The United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union – dubbed the Brexit vote – sent U.S. mortgage rates plummeting and muted the outlook of a rapid global recovery. The shockwave is expected to have a long-lasting effect. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.44 percent in July, the lowest monthly average since January 2013.
For the second consecutive month, Freddie economists have lowered their interest rate estimates for the rest of the year and 2017. In July, economists cut both their 2016 and 2017 estimates by 40 basis points; this month they cut projections for 2016 another 10 basis points and decreased their 2017 projection another 30 basis points.
What’s that translate for rates? Economists predict the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage for this year to average 3.6 percent. For 2017, they are predicting the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage to average 3.7 percent.
With continued job market growth, a slight improvement in wages, and low interest rates, economists are predicting a strong second half of this year for the housing market. Mortgage originations are expected to top $2 trillion this year, the highest volume since 2012. The Mortgage Bankers Association Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey says refinance applications are up over 50 percent from a year ago.
“At the current pace, we’re likely to see the mortgage market top $2 trillion in originations for the first time since 2012,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “And unlike in 2012, when the market was driven largely by refinances, today’s market is more balanced between home refinances and purchases; nearly 50-50. This is good news for home sales as we’re likely to see the best year in home sales in a decade. This is a good sign for the housing market as it continues to be an even brighter spot in the economy. However, the housing market still has challenges, which is reflected in our housing starts forecast. Low levels of inventory across many markets will continue to put upward pressure on housing prices for the foreseeable future.”
According to Freddie Mac’s Economic and Housing Research Outlook, home prices rose an average of 6.2 percent in June. While the pace of appreciation is moderating somewhat, home price increases are still above income growth, which is up 2 to 3 percent for comparison. Increasing inventory challenges from a limited number of homes for sale could moderate price growth. Also, if interest rates did rise higher, home price increases also could drop quickly, economists note.

The Idea of an Empty Nest Is Fading

So-called empty nesters are finding their homes aren’t so empty anymore. While the kids may have gone off to college, they’re coming back. Also, aging parents are moving in. It’s a full nest as multigenerational households soar.
About 19 percent of all Americans – or about 60.6 million – lived in a multigenerational household in 2014, according to a newly released Pew Research Center report. Multigenerational households may be comprised of parents, adult children, and grandchildren.
“We’re getting back to the way human beings have always lived in – extended families,” says John Graham, co-author of “Together Again: A Creative Guide to Successful Multigenerational Living.”
Part of the surge behind multigenerational households is an increase in ethnic minorities, who are more likely to have more generations sharing a roof. About 28 percent of Asians and 25 percent of both Hispanics and blacks shared a household with extended families in 2014 compared to just 15 percent of whites, according to the Pew report.
“As the face of America is changing, so are family structures,” says Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United, an advocacy group for intergenerational programs and housing. “It shouldn’t be a taboo or looked down upon if grown children are living with their families or older adults are living with their grown children.”
Builders are paying close attention to the shift. More builders are putting a suite on the first floor, which sometimes also has a separate entrance and kitchenette. They’re also finding more clients asking for a detached suite with a separate walkway that connects to the main house.
Source: “Bye-Bye, Empty Nests: Multigenerational Living Is on the Rise,” realtor.com® (Aug. 15, 2016)

10 States Offering a Richer Life

In some states, residents may be able to have it all – high income, job security, safe neighborhoods, affordable child care, and a good education.
GOBankingRates set out to find the places where families can get the most out of life, measuring 12 factors in 50 states and the District of Columbia. Researchers factored in jobs and income; housing (median home listing price and effective state property tax); safety; healthcare (the average family health insurance premium); and more.
“There really is no ‘one size fits all’ formula for those trying to decide the best place to raise their families today,” says Kristen Bonner, lead researcher on the GOBankingRates study. “Our study examined some of the main concerns families have during this process and found that it is possible to live in states where the cost of living won’t drain your bank account and your children can still attend good schools in a safe environment.”
Here are the 10 states that GOBankingRates says offer families the best chance to live a richer life:
  1. New Hampshire
  2. North Dakota
  3. Delaware
  4. Montana
  5. Wyoming
  6. South Dakota
  7. Virginia
  8. Arkansas
  9. Idaho
  10. Colorado
Source: GOBankingRates

Access Property Data Right From the Lockbox

You can now access time sensitive and detailed property information right from the lockbox on your smartphone, under a new agreement announced this week between the REALTORS Property Resource® and SentriLock. REALTORS® will have direct access to RPR data through their SentriLock’s SentriSmart app.
“This integration will allow REALTORS® to present their clients with on-the-spot RPR data and reports about specific properties and neighborhoods,” says Tom Salomone, president of the National Association of REALTORS®. “REALTORS® are the most trusted resource for local market real estate information and with this new integration they will also be the fastest source for property information.”
The REALTORS Property Resource®, a wholly owned subsidiary of NAR, is the largest online real estate database containing information on residential and commercial properties and vacant land across the country. SentriLock, also a wholly owned subsidiary of NAR, has nearly 1 million lockboxes in use.
“REALTORS® using SentriSmart and RPR can now instantly download and view real time property data via SentriSmart through the RPR integration,” says Scott Richardwon, SentriLock chief operating officer. “We feel this tool will give REALTORS® the advanced technology and data that they need during property showings, all at their fingertips.”
RPR’s new partnership with SentriLock follows recent partnership announcements with zipLogixTM and DocuSign, which now offers REALTORS® auto-formatting features on the two platforms.
By REALTOR® Magazine

Best Places to Raise the Next Olympian

Where you grow up may have some influence over whether you could become the next world-class athletic superstar. So which cities hold the best chances for raising the next Olympian?
Trulia’s research team analyzed athletic resources per 10,000 households – from trampoline parks to swim clubs – among cities across the U.S. to come up with a list of where to raising a budding gymnast, swimmer, and track and field star.
The seven best places to raise gymnasts in training:
  1. Ventura County, Calif.
  2. Orange County, Calif.
  3. San Francisco, Calif.
  4. Fairfield County, Conn.
  5. Austin, Texas
  6. San Jose, Calif.
  7. Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, Mass.
The seven best cities to raise swimmers in training:
  1. Ventura County, Calif.
  2. Seattle, Wash.
  3. Honolulu, Hawaii
  4. Austin, Texas
  5. Sacramento, Calif.
  6. Orange County, Calif.
  7. San Francisco, Calif.
The seven best cities for running and jumping:
  1. San Diego, Calif.
  2. Orange County, Calif.
  3. San Francisco, Calif.
  4. Ventura County, Calif.
  5. San Jose, Calif.
  6. Oakland, Calif.
  7. Los Angeles, Calif.
Source: “Best Places to Raise a World-Class Athlete,” Forbes.com (Aug. 9, 2016)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Housing Trends eNewsletter- LaTasha Fox

Housing Trends eNewsletter- LaTasha Fox

Portland Market Action- Median Asking Price - $519,000 - Average Days on Market - 59 - Want to know more - LET ME KNOW!


Tigard Market Action - Median Asking Price $475,900 - Average Days on Market - 58 - Want to know more - Call me !


Consumers Love Looking for Homes Online

Americans spend an average of 55 minutes per online visit with real estate apps on their phones, according to new research unveiled by Google.
Basically, “customers roll over in the morning and start looking at real estate listings [on their phone],” John Thornton, a partner in Google’s real estate business, said about the study’s findings.
Sixty-nine percent of respondents Google surveyed call “shopping for real estate fun” from their phone and online. In fact, Americans are so addicted to home shopping online that 64 percent say they keep checking out houses and home values even after they purchase a home.
The Google study also finds that people start hunting on real estate sites three years before they buy on average. Also, one in five of the people checking out homes on real estate apps and websites are actually in the current market to purchase a home, the study found.
Source: “Phoning Homes: Google Says We’re Wild About Real Estate Apps,” The Republic/AZcentral.com (Aug. 7, 2016)

Good Schools Give 77% Boost to Home Values

Home values can get a big increase from having a highly rated school nearby. According to the new ATTOM Data Solutions 2016 Schools and Housing Report, homes in ZIP codes with at least one good elementary school have values about 77 percent higher than in ZIP codes without highly ranked schools close by.
Researchers looked at home values and price appreciation against 2015 average test scores in nearly 19,000 elementary schools across 4,435 ZIP codes. They considered a “good school” to be one that had an overall test score that was at least one-third above the state average.
The research team found that out of 1,661 ZIP codes with at least one good school, the average estimated home value was $427,402 – 77 percent more than the home value of $241,096 in 2,774 ZIP codes without any “good schools.”
“While good schools are one of the top items on most homebuyer checklists because of the quality-of-life benefit they provide, this report shows that high-performing schools also come with a financial benefit for home owners in most markets – at least over the long term,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. “Meanwhile, home prices in ZIP codes without any good schools tend to be more volatile, which might work to a home owner’s financial benefit in the short term but not over the long term of at least 10 years.”
Home owners living near at least one good school have gained, on average, $74,716 in value since purchase — an average return on investment of 32 percent, the study found. On the other hand, home owners in ZIP codes without any good schools have gained, on average, $23,311 in value since their purchase, an average return on investment of 27.5 percent.
The following metro areas had home values in ZIP codes with at least one good school that were at least 95 percent higher than home values in ZIP codes without any good schools: Birmingham, Ala. (169% higher); Flint, Mich. (129% higher); St. Louis (99% higher); Detroit (97% higher); and Baltimore (95% higher).

One vs. Two-Story Homes: Which Dominates?

Most people prefer a single-story home, one study reports. But home shoppers may have a more difficult time finding a one-story home in some regions of the country.
The greatest shares of single-family homes with two or more stories are in the Northeast, Pacific, and Western regions of the U.S., according to a new analysis of Census Bureau data by the National Association of Home Builders.
Overall, a greater number of two or more story homes are completed than one-story homes – 58 percent compared to 42 percent.
The Northeast has the largest number of completed two or more two story homes in the nation, which may be due to pricier lot values there, NAHB notes.
“Median lot values in the New England and Middle Atlantic divisions far surpass lot values elsewhere in the country,” the NAHB notes on its Eye on Housing blog. “At the same time, higher density and land constraints may also have contributed to a higher proportion of two or more story homes across coastal divisions.”
The Midwest was the only region of the country where the majority of single-family homes completed were one-story homes, the NAHB notes.
Most home owners prefer a single-story home, A recent NAHB report found that 64 percent of all buyers surveyed said they preferred a single-story home. But researchers note the study’s survey pool was skewed mostly older. Older adults tend to prefer single-story homes, a separate study found. NAHB’s Housing Preferences of Boomer Generation study found that 75 percent of baby boomers and 88 percent of seniors say they want a single story, one-floor living home. However, fewer than half of millennials – 35 percent – and Generation X — 49 percent — say they prefer a one-story home.
Source: “The Number of Stories in Single-Family Homes Varies Across the Country,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing Blog (Aug. 5, 2016)

Builders Want to Bring Back Small Town Living

Builders are creating housing developments that offer a small town feel — which they believe many buyers are seeking in a community nowadays.
A growing number of traditional neighborhood developments are looking to recreate village life, offering up old-style communities with “leafy streets of historic-looking homes with porches and sidewalks, shared green spaces and shops,” The Wall Street Journal reports. This marks a shift away from posh, gated golf-course communities.
Instead, builders say they want to give home owners a stronger sense of home and a community that fosters greater mingling with neighbors and community, with neighborhood coffee shops and the town dentist all within walking distance of residences. As the WSJ reports, “Picture Andy Griffith’s Mayberry with high-speed Internet.”
One such development is Old Town, a $45 million mixed development in Columbus, Ga., which is modeled after a historic textile mill town with 19th and 20th century architectural styles. Its town hall – located over its town green — is designed like a white-clapboard chapel with antique longleaf pine floorboards, WSJ reports. The residential lots that surround it are being sold for between $125,000 to $150,000.
“We’re trying to bring back the DNA of towns and small cities that has been lost – in some ways, it’s storytelling,” Andrew Cogar, president of the Historical Concepts architectural firm, which designed Old Town, told WSJ.
Source: “America’s New Small Towns: Housing Developments That Recreate Village Life,” The Wall Street Journal (Aug. 5, 2016)

Glowing Jobs Report May Lift Luxury Housing

Big employment gains in July could offer some relief in the luxury housing market, which has been hampered lately by stock market volatility.
The Latest in Luxury
The luxury market is particularly affected by stock market uncertainty, since higher net worth buyers tend to have more invested in equities than the general population. Prices recovered slightly in the second quarter, but rose only modestly by 0.8 percent annually.
“For the most part, the housing market can stomach large swings in the stock market,” says Nela Richardson, Redfin’s chief economist. “But there are markets, like Silicon Valley, that become queasy when the equity market is this volatile. In these areas, homebuyers’ wealth and down payments are more closely tied to stocks. In addition, foreign buyers who normally flock to these cities are also highly sensitive to global volatility.”
In San Francisco, luxury home prices have dropped 11 percent, while they dropped by 4 percent in Bellevue, Wash. Also, in the Hamptons, N.Y., luxury prices dropped 2.3 percent in the second quarter annually, according to Jonathan Miller of Miller Samuels.
Economists say the better-than-expected employment report released this past Friday could provide more fuel to a recovery in luxury home prices.
"Luxury buyers aren't motivated by mortgage rates,” Richardson says. “As evidence, luxury home prices were sluggish in the second quarter even though rates were near rock bottom levels. Even if Friday's jobs report makes a Fed rate hike more likely, it won't move the needle for high-end buyers. What matters to luxury buyers is a solid investment opportunity that pays off down the road. If the jobs numbers are a harbinger of a healthy economy in Q3, we could see a pickup in the luxury market that rates alone couldn't pull off by themselves."
Source: “The Big Jobs Number Is a Win for Luxury Housing,” CNBC (Aug. 5, 2016)

The Supersized Closet Is Hitting the Market

Some of the priciest condos in the nation are touting a new must-have: Spacious master-suite closets.
Developers in the luxury market are going beyond 24-inch-deep walk-in closets to create lavish, spacious havens where home owners can spend more time in.
“The new closets of choice are full-fledged dressing rooms the size of stand-alone bedrooms, arrangements with two separate walk-ins for couples, and windowed rooms with precious natural light and views that were once reserved for the main living areas,” The New York Times reports.
For example, in a condo project at 10 Sullivan in SoHo in New York City, the master suite closet measures 9 by 16 feet. Also, in the Walker Tower, another condo building in New York City, the Property Markets Group has created closets that are “probably three times what you would consider a reasonable walk-in closet.”
“We’ve reduced the size of the bedrooms and pushed that space into the closets because the luxury buyer is looking for that large closet space,” Kevin Maloney, the founder of the Property Markets Group, told The New York Times. “They want the big walk-in, with a shoe counter in the middle and all the bells and whistles.”
Master bedroom walk-in closets in new luxury apartments are about 30 percent larger than they were in the last development cycle, estimates Jonathan J. Miller, president of Miller Samuel, an appraisal firm. The overall size of new apartments, however, have only grown by about 10 percent, he notes.
Also, new developments aren’t the only ones jumping on the supersized closet trend.
“We see people who will bunk their kids, and then make the second kid bedroom a dressing room,” Melanie Charlton, chief executive and founder of Clos-ette, a custom closet company, told The New York Times. “They’re giving themselves that master suite they always wanted.” And some luxury buyers are willing to pay a hefty price to have the most ultra-luxurious closet too. Charlton says she had a client who spent about $200,000 having Clos-ette and an interior designer convert a former bedroom into a dressing room.
Source: “Closets As Big as Some Apartments,” The New York Times (Aug. 5, 2016)

Your Need to Know Guide to Buying a New Home

If you’ve been following along, you know that last time around we covered a lot of the important things you should be thinking about when b...