Friday, March 16, 2018
Your clients may be able to decrease utility costs with just a few energy upgrades and tweaks. “There are so many small changes people can make to improve the energy efficiency of their homes, and it all adds up to significantly lower energy bills and a smaller environmental footprint,” says Christina Kielich of the U.S. Department of Energy. Kielich and home energy auditor Erlend Kimmich offered the following tips on Curbed.com about how to cut energy costs in a home, including:
Replace lightbulbs. The typical American household spends 5 to 10 percent of its energy budget on lighting alone, according to the DOE. Replace incandescent lightbulbs with LEDs, which on average are 85 percent more energy-efficient. You can shave $100 a year on your energy costs by making the switch.
Unplug. Leaving cellphones, TVs, computers, and other electronic devices plugged in can continue to pull power from the grid. That can add up over time. Unplug devices or plug your electronics into power strips that you can easily turn off whenever they’re not being used.
Use an automatic thermostat. Save up to 10 percent on your annual heating and cooling costs by just dropping the thermostat 7 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit from its normal setting for eight hours a day. An automatic thermostat, which can be purchased for just $18, can help to more easily adjust the thermostat during the day and cut energy use, too.
Seal your attic and basement. For a more substantial investment, seal and insulate the attic and basement—basically the top and bottom of your home, says Kimmich. “Especially if the house was built before World War II, that’s where you tend to find the most leakage,” Kimmich adds. “Think of your home’s air sealing and insulation like a windbreaker worn over a sweater. If there’s a rip or you leave the windbreaker unbuttoned, it can’t really help. So we fix the sweater by making the insulation more substantial and we improve that air seal anywhere the indoor space is connected to the outdoor space.”
Get more tips from Curbed.com and view the DOE’s instructions for DIY jobs like sealing air leaks with caulk, which could potentially offer energy savings of 10 percent to 20 percent.
Source: “How to Make Your Home Energy Efficient,” Curbed.com (Feb. 23, 2018)
4 Tax Deductions for Sellers
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | THURSDAY, MARCH 15, 2018
Some tax deductions for home sellers may amount to potentially big savings. As such, homeowners who are selling their home soon or sold it last year will want to educate themselves on the tax deductions available. Realtor.com® recently highlighted some, including:
Selling costs: “You can deduct any costs associated with selling the home—including legal fees, escrow fees, advertising costs, and real estate agent commissions,” says Joshua Zimmelman, president of Westwood Tax and Consulting in Rockville Center, NY.
Home improvements and repairs: Some renovations done to make a home more marketable for resale may be eligible for a tax break. “If you needed to make home improvements in order to sell your home, you can deduct those expenses as selling costs as long as they were made within 90 days of the closing,” says Zimmelman.
Property taxes: You can deduct the amount you paid in property taxes for the time you owned the home. This has been capped at $10,000 in total deductions, starting in 2018, however.
Mortgage interest: You can deduct the interest on your mortgage for the amount of time you owned the home. Starting in 2018, new homeowners and sellers can deduct the interest on up to $750,000 of mortgage debt. Homeowners who had a mortgage prior to Dec. 15, 2017, can continue to deduct up to $1 million under the old law, Zimmelman says.
And don’t forget a tax exclusion still available to home sellers on capital gains. Capital gains are your profits from selling a home. Those profits are taxed as income, but you can exclude up to $250,000 of the capital gains from the sale if you’re single and up to $500,000 if filing as a married couple. To be eligible, you must have lived in your home at least two of the past five years.
Source: “5 Sweet Tax Deductions When Selling a Home: Did You Take Them All?” realtor.com® (March 8, 2018)
Monday, March 12, 2018
Getting Ready to Sell that Home Sweet Home
When You Can’t Get It All Done
Most Markets Near Peak; No Signs of Bubble
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | MONDAY, MARCH 12, 2018
Home prices in most U.S. housing markets are reaching their peak, but there’s no need to fear a repeat housing bust, according to a new joint analysis by Florida Atlantic University and Florida International University. Throughout the majority of the country, home prices have been rising steadily since 2012, and there are signs the runup may be starting to slow.
“Housing markets are slowing, suggesting that we are nearing a peak in housing markets around the U.S.,” says Ken Johnson, a real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University. “But this is good news, as we are pulling back from the brink, unlike we did in 2007.”
Researchers at the universities created the Beracha, Hardin & Johnson Buy vs. Rent Index, which shows that out of 23 metros areas studied, 13 are slightly to moderately in “buy” territory. That means owning a home is more favorable than renting for the majority of residents in that area. On the other hand, 10 metro areas were slightly to moderately in “rent” territory.
“Our data indicates that prices are above their 40-year trend but not significantly so, as they were in 2007,” says Eli Beracha, co-creator of the index and associate professor in the Hollo School of Real Estate at FIU. “Rather than a crash, I anticipate slower growth in prices accompanied by longer marketing times for sellers and increasing inventories, which should bring prices back in conjunction with their 40-year trend.”
3 Smart Strategies for Investors
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | MONDAY, MARCH 12, 2018
Investors can see big returns on real estate, but the most successful tend to have a strong understanding of how to evaluate their options before purchasing. Forbes.com recently highlighted some winning strategies for profitable real estate investing:
- Focus on potential income, not personal like and dislikes. Purchasing an investment property is different than buying residential real estate. Investments need to center on the numbers—the combination of the purchase price, estimated renovation costs, expected rental income, and market conditions that can support a purchase decision.
- Don’t buy on future appreciation. You can’t trust that rents and home values in your area will always increase over time. Buy based on current returns, not what you think the future may hold, according to Forbes.com. The best deals are those that can make you money from day one—and where long-term appreciation just happens to be an added bonus.
- Set aside extra funds. Several smaller ongoing operating expenses will be inevitable. Investors will want to budget for those, as well as possible bigger items, such as a new roof or HVAC unit. These projects can cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars. Set money aside on a regular basis to cover these expenses as they arise. Also, investors will want to put aside extra money in case there are any vacancies in their rentals.
Source: “Seven Secrets to Successful Single-Family Rental Real Estate Investing,” Forbes.com (Feb. 26, 2018)
The Skanner News - New Law Makes It Easier to Remove Racist Restrictions From Property Deeds: The Skanner News is an award-winning media organization consisting of a printed newspaper and a web site featuring more than 25,000 news stories. We publish original journalism and commentary covering Portland, Seattle, and the Pacific Northwest, as well as news stories from the Associated Press. The Skanner News has served the public with timely information in the Portland, Oregon edition since October 1975 and the Seattle edition since 1990. The publisher is a past two-term president of the West Coast Black Publishers Association as well as a member of the National Newspapers Publishers Association.
Sunday, March 11, 2018
Friday, March 9, 2018
Household Net Worth Reaches Record High
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | FRIDAY, MARCH 09, 2018
Americans are feeling richer. Household net worth neared $100 trillion in the final quarter of last year, falling into record territory, according to new data released by the Federal Reserve on Thursday. Rising stock markets and property prices were attributed to the jolt in the fourth quarter. (Household net worth is the value of all of a consumer’s assets, like stocks and real estate, minus any liabilities like mortgage and credit card debt.)
Household net worth increased more than $2 trillion last quarter to a record $98.7 trillion in the final three months of last year, according to the report. Households in the U.S. saw their net worth increase to nearly seven times their disposable personal income in 2017.
The impact real estate has had on that increase can’t be understated, economists say. The value of households’ real estate rose $511.2 billion, which reflects recent run-ups in home prices.
But the rate at which consumers are saving is concerning, JPMorgan Chase Economist Michael Feroli told The Wall Street Journal. The saving rate was 3.74 percent in 2017, down from 7.19 percent in 2015.
Source: “U.S. Household Net Worth Pushes Further Into Record Territory,” The Wall Street Journal (March 8, 2018) [Log-in required.] and “Stock Market Lifts U.S. Household Wealth to $98.7 Trillion,” The Associated Press/USA Today (March 8, 2018)
Thursday, March 8, 2018
Good Timing for a Spike in Foreclosures?
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | THURSDAY, MARCH 08, 2018
Foreclosures are surging in some locales, and some housing experts view that as a good thing for the housing market this spring. Foreclosures tend to be priced lower, and many markets are starved for inventory in the lower end of the market.
Bank repossessions across the U.S. may have plunged to an 11-year low in 2017, but that hasn’t been the case in every market. New Jersey saw the opposite, with bank repossession hitting an 11-year high in 2017.
New Jersey leads the nation in overall foreclosure activity. About 1.61 percent of the state’s homes were in foreclosure last year, according to ATTOM Data Solutions, a real estate data firm.
The surge in foreclosures is drawing investors who are looking to buy homes and convert them to rentals.
Christian Schlueter, president of the New Jersey REALTORS®, told The Wall Street Journal that a recent waterfront, bank-owned home attracted eight offers in three days and was under contract for more than the asking price.
“There’s a lot of experienced investors who are buying [bank-owned homes] and some new people are buying them believing they are going to be investors,” he says.
New Jersey, New York, and other states that follow a “judicial foreclosure” system, in which foreclosures wind their way through the court system, often face lengthier times to process and backlogs of foreclosures. Other states that have a nonjudicial system, like Michigan and Texas, have been able to work through their backlog of foreclosures much quicker.
According to ATTOM Data Solutions, the states with the highest foreclosure rates in 2017 were New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Illinois, and Connecticut.
Source: “Why New Jersey’s Soaring Foreclosures Are Good for the Housing Market,” The Wall Street Journal (March 3, 2018) [Log-in required.]
Home Flipping Flies to 11-Year High
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | THURSDAY, MARCH 08, 2018
Higher home prices don’t seem to be spooking investors from buying up properties to flip. About 207,088 U.S. single-family homes and condos were flipped in 2017, the highest level since 2006, ATTOM Data Solutions reports in its U.S. Home Flipping Report. That compromises nearly 6 percent of all single-family home and condo sales during last year. ATTOM Data Solutions defines a “home flip” as a transaction for a single-family home or condo that occurred within the year of a previous sale of the same property.
“The surge in home flipping in the last three years is built on a more fundamentally sound foundation than the flipping frenzy that we witnessed a little more than a decade ago,” says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions. “Flippers are behaving more rationally, as evidenced by average gross flipping returns of 50 percent over the last three years compared to average gross flipping returns of just 31 percent between 2004 and 2006—the last time we saw more than 200,000 home flips in consecutive years.”
Further, financing for home flippers has become more readily available in recent years, Blomquist notes, but 65 percent of flippers still used cash to buy homes flipped in 2017. That is nearly the reverse of 2004 to 2006, when 63 percent of flippers were leveraging financing to buy, he notes.
ATTOM Data Solutions’ report shows that completed home flips in 2017 yielded an average gross profit of $68,143. (That represents the difference between the median purchase price and median flipped sales price.)
Of 52 metros analyzed with populations of at least 1 million, ATTOM Data Solutions researchers found that the highest home flipping rates in 2017 were in:
- Memphis, Tenn.: 12.8%
- Las Vegas: 9.1%
- Tampa-St. Petersburg, Fla.: 9%
- Birmingham, Ala.: 8.6%
- Phoenix: 8.5%
Other major markets rounding out the top 10 for highest home flipping rates in 2017 were Baltimore; Virginia Beach, Va.; St. Louis; Miami; and Orlando, Fla.
The metro areas seeing the biggest growth in home flipping in 2017 were Buffalo, N.Y. (up 34%); New York-Northern New Jersey (up 29%); Dallas-Fort Worth (up 23%); Louisville, Ky. (up 22%); and Birmingham, Ala. (up 17 percent), according to the report.
Tuesday, March 6, 2018
Housing Markets Need Landlords to Sell
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | TUESDAY, MARCH 06, 2018
Landlords own thousands of single-family homes across the U.S. With housing shortages abounding, some are calling on landlords to start selling. A slowdown in rent growth may convince more to finally unload their inventories.
“As new multifamily supply catches up with demand and slows rents, some large investors may begin putting their holdings of affordable single-family homes up for sale, which would be great news, particularly for first-time buyers,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS®.
Last week, NAR reported that contracts to buy previously owned homes dropped to their lowest level in more than three years in January. They cited low inventories of homes for sale to blame.
A jump in apartment construction has slowed rent growth for many multifamily buildings across the country, but single-family landlords are still mostly reaping profits. Invitation Homes Inc., the nation’s largest single-family landlord, owns more than 80,000 properties. It is forecasting its revenue growth to be about 4 percent to 5 percent in 2018, which far outpaces rent-growth projections for apartments, according to Green Street Advisors LLC, a research firm.
“Single-family rental top-line growth should continue to fare much better than that of apartments due to steady demand and limited impact from competitive new supply,” Green Street Advisors note in a recent report.
Source: “In Supply-Starved Home Market, Can Wall Street Landlords Help?” Bloomberg (February 28, 2018)
Home Features First-Time Buyers Choose
DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | TUESDAY, MARCH 06, 2018
A living room is considered essential for first-time home buyers, according to a poll of home shoppers conducted by the National Association of Home Builders. Sixty-one percent called the living room a must-have in the home they plan to buy. A laundry room and dining room also ranked high on the must-have list for first-time buyers.
The following are home features that first-time buyers call essential, ranked in order of what they deemed as most important:
- Living room
- Laundry room
- Dining room
- Garage storage
- Walk-in closet in master bedroom
- Shower stall/tub in master bath
- Front porch
- Great room
- 2-car garage
- Kitchen double sink
Source: “Home Features Buyers Consider Essential,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (March 5, 2018)
Monday, March 5, 2018
Spend Some Time Soul-Searching Before You Pre-Qualify
Reality Check: Are You Really Ready?
Speaking of the Experts…
CoreLogic: Housing market nearly recovered from recession: CoreLogic released a report outlining the real estate economy from 2006 to 2017, showing that the housing market has nearly completely recovered from the recent recession. During the recession, home prices fell 33% nationwide, hitting their lowest in March 2011. Since then, home prices have risen once again by 51%. But some states are still struggling to return to their pre-recession price levels.
Thursday, March 1, 2018
Insurance for Your House and Your Stuff: Homeowner’s Policies 101
Flood Insurance: What’s That All About?
The Seller Provided a Home Warranty, How Does This Figure In?
Wrap Your Home in a Warm Layer of Insurance Bubble Wrap
Monday, February 26, 2018
Lease to own: A new program for first time home buyers in Portland: In Portland's booming real estate market, bidding wars and cash buyers can make it tough for first time home buyers to compete. But, a new program is now trying to help.
Monday, February 19, 2018
Reopening Your Outdoor Kitchen: Step By Step
The Waiting is the Hardest Part
How to Lower Utility Costs for Any Home DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | FRIDAY, MARCH 16, 2018 Your clients may be able to decrease utility...
- A A 4 Reasons December Is Favorable for Buyers DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | FRIDAY, DECEMBER 08, 2017 Many home s...
- A A + A How to Know a Fixer-Upper Isn’t a Money Pit DAILY REAL ESTATE NEWS | THURSDAY, DECEMBER 07, 2017 Wi...