News

Aging in Place? Prepare to Pay—or Change Your Mind

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Tue, 02/21/2017 - 16:30

Forty-three million homeowners plan to stay put in their current home as they age, but lack the accessibility features to make it practical. A recent Insight from Freddie Mac reveals that adding those features—levered handles, widened doorways and hallways—could be costly, or impossible.

According to Freddie Mac, half of Americans age 55 and older and three-quarters of Americans age 75 and older have one or more “physical functional limitations” that necessitate accessible features at home. Approximately 1.5 million existing homes require some retrofitting to make them accessible—and 2 million will require retrofitting by 2030. Retrofitting includes relocating living space to a single floor and replacing stairs with ramps.

Simple retrofits, according to the Insight, such as grab bars and pull-out cabinets, can cost on average $100-$270. Complex retrofits, however—a bathroom remodel, for instance—can cost between $5,600 and $13,000.

Some homes, as well, are unable to be retrofitted at all. Fifty-seven percent of homes in the Northeast—which tend to be older than homes in other regions—can accommodate single floor living, compared to 73 percent in the Midwest and 80 percent in the Southwest and West.

“Nearly a quarter of all baby boomers are going to be faced with the financial realities of aging in place, which can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac chief economist. “Of course, the cost depends on the type and condition of the home. Many older homes, such as many of the Colonial-style homes common in the Northeast and Midwest, may not be good candidates for retrofitting. For some of them, aging in place until the bitter end may not even be a possibility. Like Bette Davis said: ‘Old age is not for sissies.'”

According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) at Harvard University, only 3.5 percent of homes today have accessible features.

Source: Freddie Mac

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Categories: Realty News

On the House: A Crowdfunded Alternative to House-Flip Financing

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Sat, 02/18/2017 - 00:00

(TNS)—Back when house-flipping was the major fad of the mid-2000s, Matt and Elizabeth Faircloth were not like most. As tens of thousands of people across the nation were securing mortgages they never should have received to fund flips, the New Jersey couple were tapping into money for projects in any way they could find: personal savings, money from friends and their inner circle.

They were the outliers: Only 30 percent of flippers were paying with cash, the majority instead borrowing from banks and other lenders to get a lot of money fast.

For years, the system worked. Until it didn’t.

At the peak of the flipping boom in second-quarter 2005, when 95,000 people across the country flipped single-family homes or condos, many flippers were holding two, three or four mortgages, experts say—partially driven by investors who lied on their applications, saying the homes would be their primary residences so they could get cheaper interest rates. Lenders who severely loosened their borrowing standards were also part of the problem.

When the housing bubble burst and values plummeted, flippers with multiple mortgages suddenly couldn’t sell their properties and couldn’t pay their loans. The rest is history.

Now, flipping—buying second-rate homes, rehabbing them quickly, and selling them for a profit—is back. In 2016’s second quarter, more than 51,000 U.S. homes were flipped, the most since 2010.

Can we ensure what happened in the mid-2000s doesn’t happen again? Industry experts say there’s something that can help: the internet and the crowd.

Thanks to websites such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe, we live in an era in which the public can fund almost anything. (Years ago, a man made headlines for receiving more than $55,000 on a project to make potato salad.)

It was only a matter of time before flippers got money the same way. But crowdfunding a flip is a bit more complicated.

The concept in theory is still the same: Potential flippers who can’t get mortgages from banks and lending institutions solicit internet and crowdfunding sources for loans.

At some of these, loans are created using funds from individual investors—some of whom pay as little as $5,000 to get in on the deal. The smaller loans are packaged together. In return, the investors receive 10 percent to 15 percent interest back on the loan they provided. Terms may differ by lender.

Founded in 2012, Fund That Flip, based in New York, is one such company, created to fill what founder Matt Rodak saw as a void in the industry.

“I was doing some house-flipping on the side…and found the (funding) process to be very frustrating, filling out lots of applications and dealing with a sometimes opaque process,” Rodak says.

He touts a more simplistic process: Borrowers have less paperwork and fewer hidden fees. And in most cases, he promised, interest rates are not as high as with loans from hard-money lenders, in which the loans are secured by the properties.

In return, investors make safer bets, Rodak says. Instead of writing large checks for one borrower, Fund That Flip investors can “take that same $200,000 and spread it over 20 or 40 deals and diversify their risk.”

It’s something the Faircloths have explored, and with the right opportunity they would try to team with Fund That Flip, Matt Faircloth says.

“People are getting sick and tired of Wall Street as the only place they can go to invest hard-earned money and to build long-term wealth,” Faircloth says. “Crowdfunding allows you to invest in something that’s down the street from your house.

“I’d like to be a part of that space as it becomes more popular— we need another choice for building wealth.”

©2017 The Philadelphia Inquirer
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Categories: Realty News

Pets Have Pull for Homebuyers and Renters

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Wed, 02/15/2017 - 16:00

Three bathrooms? Check.

Garage? Check.

Doggy door? Check.

Pets are family—and homes have to accommodate family. According to a recently released report by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), 81 percent of Americans say their pets play a role in their housing situation—so much so that 89 percent say they would not give up their pet due to a housing restriction. What’s more: Nineteen percent of Americans say they would consider moving for their pet, while 12 percent have moved for their pet.

Moving is not the only option for pet owners, however. More than half (52 percent) of Americans in the report completed a renovation for their pet, such as adding a dog door, building a fence around the yard or installing laminate flooring.

Pets also have pull when it comes to buying or renting a home, according to the report. One-third of pet owners will not make an offer on a home that does not meet the needs of their pet, while 61 percent have a hard time finding a pet-friendly homeowners association or rental.

“In 2016, 61 percent of U.S. households either had a pet or planned to get one in the future, so it is important to understand the unique needs and wants of animal owners when it comes to homeownership,” says NAR President Bill Brown. “REALTORS® understand that when someone buys a home, they are buying it with the needs of their whole family in mind; ask pet owners, and they will enthusiastically agree that their animals are part of their family.”

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

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Categories: Realty News

Looking for Love? 20 Singled-Out Cities

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Mon, 02/13/2017 - 16:53

Love is all around…but if you relocate to one of Trulia’s “Dating Destinations”—cities with scores of educated, employed singles ready to mingle—your chances of finding the one shoot up like a stray Cupid’s arrow.

According to Trulia, the top 10 cities where there are more single men than women are:

  1. Bakersfield, Calif.
  2. Salt Lake City, Utah
  3. San Francisco, Calif.
  4. Las Vegas, Nev.
  5. San Jose, Calif.
  6. Honolulu, Hawaii
  7. San Diego, Calif.
  8. Seattle, Wash.
  9. Colorado Springs, Colo.
  10. Austin, Texas

The top 10 cities where there are more single women than men are:

  1. North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.
  2. Birmingham, Ala.
  3. Winston-Salem, N.C.
  4. Silver Spring-Frederick-Rockville, Md.
  5. Greensboro, N.C.
  6. El Paso, Texas
  7. Dayton, Ohio
  8. Philadelphia, Pa.
  9. New York, N.Y.-N.J.
  10. Baltimore, Md.

It’s clear—after taking the love blinders off—that the highest concentrations of single men are on the West Coast, with most bachelors located in the Bay Area. The highest concentrations of single women, however, are spread out on the East Coast. The takeaway? Compromise is key to any relationship—so if you’re looking for love this Valentine’s Day, try meeting in the middle…of the country.

Source: Trulia

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Categories: Realty News

7 New or Improved Tax Breaks for 2017

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Sun, 02/12/2017 - 13:06

(TNS)—Have you done your taxes yet? Your W-2s or 1099s probably have started to trickle in with the mail over the past few weeks. You might also be in the process of gathering the right receipts and pertinent statements.

Before you sign an IRS tax return and send it off, though, make sure you know about these new or improved tax breaks for this year’s tax season. By taking advantage of these tax breaks, you can reduce your total tax debt.

  1. IRA Rollover Self-Certification

Take heart if you missed the 60-day time limit for transferring distributed funds from your IRA or workplace retirement fund to another qualifying fund. Thanks to a new rule, you might qualify for a waiver that will prevent you from having to pay early distribution taxes.

Prior to Aug. 24, 2016, those who missed the deadline had to write a letter to the IRS requesting a waiver. Now, a new IRS self-certification process lets you receive a waiver for 11 specific reasons if you missed the 60-day deadline. Some examples of these 11 reasons are:

  • Serious illness or death in your family
  • Financial institution mistakes
  • A lost and uncashed check
  • Severe damage to your home
  • Postal errors

To make things easy on the taxpayer, the IRS website has a sample letter that you can fill in and print to explain which of the 11 reasons applies to you. Look for Revenue Procedure 2016-47.

  1. Gift Tax Exclusion for ABLE Accounts

An ABLE account—achieving a better life experience—offers tax-advantaged opportunities for disabled people and their families. It helps them save for and pay for expenses related to the disability. Although the legislation was passed in 2014, the specialized accounts only became available on a general basis in 2016.

Anyone—including a family member or friend of a disabled person—can contribute up to $14,000 to an ABLE account without having to pay a gift tax. Earnings and distributions are tax-free when used to pay for qualified disability expenses such as:

  • Housing
  • Education
  • Transportation
  • Health
  • Prevention and wellness
  • Employment training and support
  • Assistive technology
  • Personal support services

These accounts offer both state and federal tax advantages. In addition, the first $100,000 in an ABLE account does not count as income or assets when disabled individuals try to qualify for public assistance programs.

Although only nine states currently have ABLE programs, you can open an account—or contribute to one—in a state other than your own.

  1. Higher Tax Thresholds

The positive effect of getting a cost-of-living increase or raise at your job can be a mixed blessing if it lifts you into a higher tax bracket. Fortunately, the IRS raised the tax thresholds for 2016, meaning you’re less likely to have to pay a greater percentage of your wages toward taxes if you earned more last year than you did in 2015.

Married couples filing jointly slid up from a 15 percent tax bracket to 25 percent once they earned more than $74,900 in household income in 2015. In 2016, such filers had to earn more than $75,300 before moving into the 25 percent bracket.

  1. Increase of Standard Deduction for Head of Household

Those filing as head of household in 2016 will enjoy a $50 increase in their standard deduction, from $9,250 in 2015 to $9,300 in 2016.

The standard deduction didn’t increase for other filers. Singles still receive a $6,300 standard deduction and married couples filing jointly receive a $12,600 standard deduction.

You can get a larger standard deduction if you are blind, age 65 or older, or both. Depending on your circumstances, the increase can be as much as $1,550.

Enter your standard deduction on line 40 of Form 1040. Instructions in the left-hand column of your tax return help you figure out how much you can claim.

  1. Increase of Personal Exemption

Line 42 of Form 1040 lets you claim personal exemptions, which are amounts you can deduct from your adjusted gross income for yourself and your dependents. Such exemptions are in addition to your itemized deductions or standard deduction.

In 2016, the per-person exemption rose $50 to $4,050 per person. Note that a person can only be claimed as an exemption on one tax return. So, let any of your working dependents know that they cannot take themselves as an exemption even if they earn enough money to file their own tax return.

The exemption phases out once you reach certain income levels. Your exemptions decrease by 2 percent for each $2,500 above these income levels.

  1. Increased Earned Income Credit

If you have low or moderate income, you might qualify for the federal earned income credit. The income-based credit is for single, head of household, married filing jointly or widowed taxpayers with or without children.

The maximum credit for 2016 is $6,269 for filers with three or more qualifying children. The amount reflects a $27 increase from 2015’s figure of $6,242.

Low-income people without children receive the lowest credit. Single, head of household or widowed taxpayers receive a maximum credit of $506 if they make less than $14,880. Those who are married filing jointly receive the same amount provided their income is less than $20,430. The credit amount reflects a $3 increase from the 2015 credit of $503. Income limits have increased $60 for singles and $100 for those in the married filing jointly category.

Take advantage of the earned income credit by filling out Schedule EIC and attaching it to your tax return if you have a qualifying child and meet the income requirement. Then, enter the amount of your credit on line 66a of Form 1040. If you don’t have a qualifying child but meet the income requirements, simply enter your credit amount on line 66a.

  1. Foreign Earned Income Exclusion

If you live and work overseas, you can exclude a portion of your income and foreign housing expenses from gross income on your U.S. tax return. To claim the exclusion to income you earned in a foreign country, you must meet one of the following:

  • You have been physically out of the U.S. for at least 330 full days during any 12-month period.
  • You have been “a bona fide resident of a foreign country or countries for an uninterrupted period that includes an entire tax year,” according to the IRS.
  • You have been a U.S. resident alien who is a “citizen or national of a country with which the United States has an income tax treaty in effect,” according to the IRS. In addition, you must meet the second requirement above.

If you qualify for the exclusion, you can exclude up to $101,300 of income earned in a foreign country, $500 more income than 2015’s $100,800 tax exclusion.

To claim the exclusion, you must file a U.S. income tax return even if the money you made was less than the $101,300 exclusion. Fill out Form 2555 or 2555-EZ.

©2017 GOBankingRates.com, a ConsumerTrack web property

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Categories: Realty News

Moving? Chances Are You’re Headed to Atlanta

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Fri, 02/10/2017 - 16:00

More Americans migrated to Atlanta than any other city in 2016, according to Penske’s annual Top Moving Destinations ranking, which is based on one-way rental truck reservation data. A-Town has taken the top spot every year since the list’s inception in 2011. One look at its housing costs, and it’s not hard to see why.

The full top 10:

  1. Atlanta, Ga.

Median Home Value: $198,100

Median Rental Price: $1,574/month

  1. Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas

Median Home Value: $117,100

Median Rental Price: $1,148/month

  1. Phoenix, Ariz.

Median Home Value: $200,900

Median Rental Price: $1,055/month

  1. Denver, Colo.

Median Home Value: $363,500

Median Rental Price: $1,577/month

  1. Tampa/Sarasota, Fla.

Median Home Value: $216,350

Median Rental Price: $1,264/month

  1. Orlando, Fla.

Median Home Value: $158,200

Median Rental Price: $1,322/month

  1. Seattle, Wash.

Median Home Value: $611,509

Median Rental Price: $2,133/month

  1. Las Vegas, Nev.

Median Home Value: $205,100

Median Rental Price: $950/month

  1. Houston, Texas

Median Home Value: $310,000

Median Rental Price: $1,392/month

  1. Charlotte, N.C.

Median Home Value: $178,200

Median Rental Price: $1,169/month

The majority of the top 10 cities in the ranking are in the South, and none of them are in the Northeast. Seattle continues to draw residents in droves, despite having the highest housing costs, both for owners and renters, of the top 10—and at a time when most markets are plagued by too-high rents, Las Vegas remains relatively affordable. Still, when it comes to desirable features and overall quality of living, Atlanta’s seven-peat can’t be beat.

Source: Penske

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Categories: Realty News

Feast on ‘Santa Clarita Diet,’ a Comedy about Real Estate (and Zombies)

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Thu, 02/09/2017 - 16:26

A lot of things can go wrong when showing clients around a property. Nerves can get the best of you—especially when your boss has already told you you’ll be fired if you lose this listing. That being said, never in a million years would you expect to puke your guts out—literally—in front of your clients. And while I wish I could say this hasn’t happened, that’s not the case for Drew Barrymore in her new Netflix show “Santa Clarita Diet.”

In the newly released horror/comedy, Sheila (Drew Barrymore) and Joel (Timothy Olyphant) Hammond are a pair of run-of-the-mill real estate agents. They live in between two cops whose constant bickering make the Hammonds look even more sane and ordinary. That is until they’re halfway through one of their listing tours. After complimenting the laundry chute accessible to the master bedroom, Sheila proceeds to projectile vomit all over the carpet.

Joel tries his best to continue the tour since their jobs are on the line—yet while he’s pointing out the fancy framing, the spacious room and the great lighting, all you can hear is Sheila’s incessant and incredibly violent moaning. The clients obviously end up bolting and Joel runs upstairs to check up on his wife.

Joel finds Sheila dead on the floor. The show allows him to cry for a couple of seconds before bringing the undead Sheila back to life. Soon enough, the family finds out (thanks to the neighbor’s odd kid) that Sheila is now a zombie.

Will the Hammonds be able to recover the lost listing? Will Drew Barrymore get to dazzle as a real estate agent? Or are the Hammonds moving to other kinds of real estate (read: like eating people!)? You’ll have to watch “Santa Clarita Diet” to find out!

(P.S.: If you get an offer from Coby Real Estate, maybe don’t take it.)

Stream season 1 of “Santa Clarita Diet” now on Netflix!

Gabrielle van Welie is RISMedia’s editorial intern. Email her your real estate news ideas at gvanwelie@rismedia.com.

This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter.

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Categories: Realty News

‘She Sheds’: Space for Fun, Creativity, Relaxation and Escape

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Thu, 02/09/2017 - 16:21

(TNS)—Sometimes, you just want to get away. You crave a little personal space—a place you can relax, work, get creative and make a mess without guilt.

The best refuge might be waiting in your backyard. That special room may be a she shed.

A distinctly female counterpoint to macho man caves, she sheds are springing up worldwide.

“There are many in California, but I also found them in Australia, the United Kingdom, all over,” says author Erica Kotit e, a home and lifestyle expert.

Kotite spent almost a year studying the phenomenon—as well as building a she shed for her sister—for her new book She Sheds: A Room of Your Own.

“Women see them and…you can almost see the mental calculations they’re making as they imagine where they could put one in their yard,” Kotite says.

Part of the appeal is cost. She sheds allow for expanding living space without adding an actual room. That makes them particularly attractive in California, where housing prices are high and space often scarce.

“It’s almost like a grown-up playhouse,” Kotite says. “It’s your space, and you can do whatever you want with it. It’s a combination of privacy and permission. You can set boundaries.”

Kotite featured more than 35 examples in She Sheds. “My favorite was in San Luis Obispo on a crest overlooking Central California,” she says. “It was simple, but it had everything; a really pretty chandelier, a day bed and that view. All (the creator) really uses it for is to rest and look at photos of her grandchildren. But it gives her a place to relax, her own personal retreat, and it’s just glorious.”

What makes a she shed?

“By definition, it’s some sort of outbuilding, not attached to the house,” Kotite explains. “Normally, it would have been utilitarian storage space for tools or garden supplies, that sort of thing, that’s transformed into a woman’s space.”

Instead of storage, sheds become dedicated to something of particular interest to the woman of the house, she says. For example, Sonoma jewelry and clothing maker Anne Freund needed space to work on her jewelry and sew. By adding electricity and lighting, she turned a small wooden tool shed into her private studio.

“She lived in a small house and wanted a studio,” says Kotite. “She created her own boho she shed with a lot of repurposed finds including a wonderful chandelier and a lot of lace. She used old printer drawers to store beads and brooches. The overall result was very pretty, very Northern California and very cool.”

A she shed can give creative women room to work, Kotite notes.

“Painting, sewing, crafts; it involves a lot of stuff,” she says. “A she shed gives you the freedom to make a mess and leave stuff out, instead of constantly pulling stuff out and putting it away.”

The most popular use: gardening room.

“What I find interesting: Smart companies are helping people build these things,” Kotite says. “They’re capitalizing on a great niche.”

Charlotte Owendyk of Roseville created her “Tulip House” from a pre-fab kit, bought online from Summerwood of Canada.

“It is a special hideaway for me,” says Owendyk, a retired state worker and lifelong gardener. “It is even better than I had anticipated. I store all my garden tools in the shed, but I also have a desk where I can work. I will sit at my desk with my computer or garden journal. It is one of my favorite places to work. I am surrounded by the garden, and I love listening to the birds sing.”

Her gardening friends adore the Tulip House, she says. She kept it fairly simple. She has a Wi-Fi connection from her house, but no electricity or heat. “It faces south, so the space heats up nicely during the day.”

Owendyk advises taking time to “determine what you want. It is yours to enjoy so it should reflect your personality and needs.”

Katrina Sullivan of Rancho Cordova, author of the popular blog “Chic Little House,” found her extra space for an office and studio in a tricked-out Tuff Shed.

“I didn’t even know what they were called when I started mine,” says Sullivan, a mother of two. “We have a small house and I needed a little office. I got that in a 10- by 12-foot shed. I love it! It’s my little creative hideaway from the kids.”

Sullivan and her husband, Hasani, tackled the she shed as DIYers, equipping it with electricity, Wi-Fi, heat and air-conditioning. They installed insulation, dry wall, vinyl flooring and other finishing touches.

Her she shed makes for less mess in the house. “My husband appreciates it. My creative space used to be the dining room table. It was always messy and overflow. I had to push things aside to eat dinner. Now my mess stays in my she shed. When friends come over, I don’t have to rush around to clean up.

Before hauling the tools out of the backyard shed, there are some things Kotite says to consider:

  • Most pre-fab sheds often are short and dark, with six-foot ceilings and without windows.
  • Sheds can be cold and drafty, needing insulation to keep them comfortable year-round.
  • Other creature comforts—electricity, lighting, Wi-Fi access—make the shed more usable, but also more expensive. Such upgrades may also need building permits or other approvals.

The least common upgrade, Kotite finds, is indoor plumbing. “Then, it starts to become a mini-house,” she says.

She sheds become a creative outlet in themselves.

“What’s really fun is finding stuff to furnish and decorate the shed,” Kotite says. “That’s what gives it personality.”

Owendyk agrees. “I had so much fun decorating it,” she says of her Tulip House. “It is exactly like I wanted. Most everything are found items I had around the house or that people gave me. It is full of memories of good times and wonderful friends.”

©2017 The Sacramento Bee
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Categories: Realty News

CoreLogic: Home Prices to Moderate in Year Ahead

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Wed, 02/08/2017 - 16:09

Home prices grew at an annual rate of 7.2 percent in December 2016, rising month-over-month from November by 0.8 percent, according to CoreLogic’s recently released Home Price Index (HPI) Forecast. The Forecast projects a moderating price growth rate in the year ahead, at 4.7 percent from December 2016 to December 2017.

“As of the end of 2016, the CoreLogic national index was 3.9 percent below the peak reached in April 2006,” says Dr. Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “We expect our national index to rise 4.7 percent during 2017, which would put homes prices at a new nominal peak before the end of this year.”

“Last year ended with a bang with home prices up over 7 percent nationally, led largely by major metro areas,” says Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “We expect prices to continue to rise just under 5 percent in 2017, buoyed by lack of supply and continued high demand.”

Source: CoreLogic

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Categories: Realty News

Then Comes Marriage…or a House

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Wed, 02/08/2017 - 16:07

More young homebuyers today are unmarried couples—in fact, according to a recent analysis by Zillow, 15 percent of homebuyers aged 24-35 are unmarried couples, up 4 percent from 2005. The trend, says Zillow Chief Economist Dr. Svenja Gudell, is taking off due to limited affordability, compounded by out-of-reach home values.

“Buying a home is a big part of the American Dream—equally shared by millennials and baby boomers alike—but it’s becoming extremely difficult to make it work on a single income,” Gudell says.

Seventy-five percent of all homebuyers are in a relationship or married, according to Zillow, and the majority hunted for a house with a significant other.

Other studies have indicated similar shifts away from conventional milestones related to homeownership. One report reveals 25 percent of married millennial couples purchased their home together before their wedding day.

Where are unmarried couples taking the plunge? Las Vegas—coincidentally—had the highest share of unmarried homebuyers in 2015, at 23.8 percent, followed by Philadelphia at 23.4 percent and St. Louis at 19.9 percent. Portland, Ore., where home values appreciated the most in 2016 at 13.8 percent, also saw a considerable amount of unmarried homebuyers take to the market: 19.4 percent.

As more unmarried couples become homeowners, however, less singles do the same. Twenty-five percent of homebuyers aged 23-25 are single, compared to 28 percent in 2005, according to the analysis.

“Many singles looking to purchase a home on their own may not make enough money to afford or qualify for a mortgage on their dream home,” says Gudell. “That makes buying a home with a significant other even more appealing, even if marriage isn’t quite part of the picture. Simply put, buying a home is much easier with two incomes. Assuming home value growth continues to outpace income growth, I imagine this trend will continue.”

For more information, please visit www.zillow.com.

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Categories: Realty News

Under Pressure: Affordability Concerns Magnified Two Times for Boomers

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Wed, 02/08/2017 - 13:00

Baby boomers are doubly worried about housing affordability—for themselves, and the next generation of homeowners and renters.

A new report by The NHP Foundation reveals 30 percent of those aged 55-plus feel “anxiety” about affording housing in their area at least once per month, and 64 percent also feel concern about their adult children affording housing. Affordability recently fell to its lowest level since 2008, and a recent analysis reveals the average homebuyer needs to spend more than two-thirds of their annual income to afford a 20 percent down payment.

“The anxiety is now multi-generational,” says Richard Burns, CEO of The NHP Foundation.

The majority of those surveyed in the report have “great” or “substantial” anxiety about housing affordability as a result of the new administration—eased only if policies deliver benefits like protections from mortgage and/or rent increases, secure employment and “stable” property taxes. Fourteen percent believe more affordable construction would also lessen anxiety.

Location plays a role in the level of anxiety baby boomers feel, according to the report. Twenty percent of those living in the Midwest are concerned about housing payments, compared to 38 percent of those living in the South. A recent forecast projects home prices in the Midwest to rise 3.4 percent in 2017, with those in the South to rise 3.5 percent. Those in the West—where home prices are expected to rise just 1 percent—feel the lowest level of anxiety.

“Though housing insecurity is a national problem, these geographic differences demonstrate the need to tailor housing options to the unique needs of each region,” says Stefano Rumi, an advisor to The NHP Foundation and a senior fellow at the Batten Center for Social Policy at the University of Virginia. “The winning solutions will incorporate private and public partnerships to finance affordable housing. This means a ‘YIMBY’ attitude on the part of local communities and elected officials.”

Source: The NHP Foundation

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Categories: Realty News

Dow 20K to Benefit Housing Market…at Least, Psychologically

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 15:48

There are many key metrics brokers look to in order to gauge how the housing market is trending. The Case-Shiller Index, the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index and the National Association of REALTORS®’ monthly Existing-Home Sales Statistics are all closely watched within the industry. For a sense of the broader economy, brokers tend to familiarize themselves with other data points such as inflation, employment and gross domestic product.

For everybody else, there’s the stock market. On January 25, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average—a composite index of 30 companies, none of which are solely in the real estate sector—passed 20,000 points for the first time, the story made national headlines. For most, it was a feel-good economic story that won’t change much except for instilling the sense of confidence and optimism, simply because it’s a nice round number.

Consequently, a whole new audience has been reached, and many of them are potential homebuyers who have not been following the minutiae of data-driven real estate news that more directly impacts the supply-and-demand equation, such as interest rates, inventory and tax reform. Unlike those important policies, which are somewhat limited to the real estate and finance industries, the stock market milestone was covered in all the papers, news sites and social media. In this environment, the hype, alone, will have significant value.

“It sounds good,” says Anthony Hitt, CEO of Engel & Völkers North America. “It sounds stable and it sounds positive and it makes me feel that things won’t go in the wrong direction anytime soon.”

Considering all the uncertainty that has been attached to the new administration in Washington—either warranted or not—it is good to know that investors in the capital markets have not turned bearish on the American economy; in fact, they’ve been quite bullish, as all major indexes are up since the election and have mostly been backed by strong Q4 earnings.

“With all the uncertainty, this is a good beacon that real estate remains a safe place to put your assets,” says Hitt, who oversees 2,100 agents in the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Cayman Islands. “It remains a safe haven, as (politically) chaotic as it seems. There was a peaceful transfer of power, and the 20,000 Dow is a sign to the entire world that (American real estate) is still a safe investment in 2017.”

According to San DeBord, managing broker of Seattle Homes Group, the key psychological factor here is certainty. Simply put: When people feel safe, they are more likely to buy.

“People want to make the decision to buy a home—a very big financial decision—when they feel most certain they’ll have the ability to pay for it comfortably,” DeBord explains. “Consumer confidence and real estate sales are somewhat linked. While the stock market’s strength may have far less influence on a homebuyer’s ability to purchase than interest rates, many consumers will make a decision to buy when the outlook for the economy looks brightest.”

Bruce Ailon, an Atlanta broker for RE/MAX Town and Country, says this is certainly true for certain portions of the economy, especially those who have sizable stock holdings and wouldn’t mind diversifying their portfolio.

“A strong stock market does create a wealth effect,” says Ailon. “Although gains are only paper until a stock is sold, people feel better and more comfortable spending money.”

The luxury real estate market is the chief beneficiary of Dow 20K, Ailon says; however, he notes that most people, even though they want to buy real estate, lack the means to leverage the milestone.

“This has a greater impact on the luxury market, (but) in a country where more than 50 percent of the population has no savings to deal with a major car repair or illness, the Dow at 20,000 has about as much relevance as finding water on Mars,” Ailon says. “I expect in the top 20 percent—more pronounced in the top 1-10 percent of priced homes—there will be improving values and greater activity.”

When the market soars, so do luxury areas around Lower Manhattan, because Wall Street is such an important economic driver for New York City. But when it comes to the rest of the nation and serving its sub-luxury buyers, Hitt says he does not think these types of psychological phenomena are confined just to the luxury market.

“It does not affect the luxury markets that much more,” says Hitt. “The confidence affects everyone. If your portfolio is up and you have the ability to make purchases, you’re more likely to buy if you have a good feeling about the economy and the markets.”

There is also a practical scenario that should not be overlooked. For the middle class and millennial first-time homebuyers, there is more buying power by borrowing against their 401(k)s or other stock market-backed funds.

With the stock market on a tear lately, a passive investor who doesn’t need their retirement funds for a while could be looking at a doubling in their savings over the past few years. All of a sudden, that $50,000 down payment is now a $100,000 down payment, and they’re in the game for a nice new home and only have to pay themselves back with interest.

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Categories: Realty News

Plan B for Trump’s ‘Big Number’ on Dodd-Frank Bypasses Democrats

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 15:47

(TNS)—Donald Trump faces a major hurdle in fulfilling his pledge to do a “big number” on the Dodd-Frank Act: persuading enough Democrats to go along.

That’s why Republican lawmakers say they are considering a backup plan for dismantling parts of the financial rules overhaul that wouldn’t require support from a single Democrat.

In the narrowly-divided Senate, most bills need 60 votes to become law. But Republicans are looking into ramming through changes with just 51 votes through a complicated process known as budget reconciliation.

To do that, they’d need to demonstrate that the financial regulations are draining the government’s checkbook. For instance, they’d have to supply evidence federal expenditures would be reduced if hedge funds got a break on regulations. Or that the nation’s fiscal health would improve if the Treasury Department doesn’t help failing banks.

The strategy is already being used to go after Obamacare. Key Republicans, including House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling of Texas, have said it’s also an option for targeting at least some aspects of the 2010 Dodd-Frank law.

Republicans are constrained in which parts of the law they can kill because of the need to show a direct effect on federal spending. Still, reconciliation is an “attractive option,” as the prospect of Republicans and Democrats agreeing to compromise on any legislation dims, Brian Gardner, an analyst at Keefe Bruyette & Woods wrote in a note to clients Wednesday.

“It’s plausible you could do this, but the next part is the hard part—finding out what works,” says Norbert Michel, a financial regulation fellow at the Heritage Foundation. “It’s torturous logic to make anything fit within the limits of reconciliation.”

House lawmakers, led by Hensarling, are planning to introduce legislation in the coming weeks that would make changes to Dodd-Frank, Republicans have said. Trump supports ripping up the law, saying this week that it’s a “disaster” that has made it difficult for businesses to get loans and that he wants to do a “big number” on the measure. If Hensarling’s bill fails to pass in the House or dies in the Senate, Republicans might then turn to reconciliation.

Here’s an overview of how it works and what parts of Dodd-Frank Republicans might be able to go after.

Reconciliation and Dodd-Frank: The Basics
Budget reconciliation, used to reduce the U.S. deficit, is a multi-step process in both chambers of Congress. Lawmakers are limited in the nature of what can be included in the legislation.

Republicans don’t have a problem passing legislation in the House. The Senate, where they hold 52 of 100 seats, poses the bigger challenge.

Sen. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania is leading the charge in his chamber to identify what aspects of Dodd-Frank can be altered through reconciliation.

“There’s a long list of what we can do,” Toomey said in an interview, declining to give specifics. “We’re still refining it.”

Republicans will have to demonstrate that overhauling any part of Dodd-Frank they seek to eliminate will help the U.S. reduce costs or increase revenues. That requires getting an assessment from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office and sign-off from the Senate parliamentarian.

In determining the cost effect, Senate leaders could tell the budget office to consider how Dodd-Frank affects the U.S. economy. That may make it easier for some changes to be approved through reconciliation by changing the calculations over reducing government costs or increasing revenue.

Debate likely would play out as lawmakers consider the 2018 budget—a discussion that’s months away. Republican leaders have already said the focus of those talks will be on revamping tax law. Adding Dodd-Frank to the discussions will create an additional hurdle.

Weakening CFPB
The future of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a watchdog agency created under Dodd-Frank, is likely to be one of the biggest targets under reconciliation.

Republicans and financial services executives have tried for years to change how the Bureau is managed and funded. They object to the Bureau’s structure. It’s funded by the Federal Reserve system and has a single person in charge of approving rules and enforcement actions. Other independent agencies are run by a chairman and a bipartisan commission and get funding directly from Congress.

Republicans must show that requiring Congress to approve the CFPB’s budget—which totals about $646.2 million—would reduce government spending. With Congress in charge of funding, lawmakers could cut agency funds, reducing how much it has to create rules and pursue enforcement actions.

Gutting Too-Big-To-Fail Bankruptcy
Dodd-Frank gives the federal government the power to intervene when U.S. banks fail. The biggest banks are required to create living wills detailing how they could be wound down in a bankruptcy. If their plans don’t work, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. can step in, liquidate the bank and force losses on shareholders and creditors. The Treasury would provide temporary funding, which the budget office has said contributes to the U.S. deficit.

Republicans argue this part of the law makes taxpayers liable when banks fail and should be revised. Under reconciliation, they’re considering blocking regulators’ ability to intervene after a bank failure. The budget office estimated in 2012 that eliminating that authority would decrease the federal deficit by $22.5 billion over a decade.

Big banks might not be happy about a change. While they don’t like the paperwork and scrutiny associated with living wills, banks appreciate that there’s a system in place to prevent them from going out of business in a crisis.

“The banking industry likes that there’s certainty,” says Ed Mills, a financial policy analyst FBR Capital Markets. “Taking away that certainty would be bad. What does that do for investor confidence?”

Eliminating FSOC and Systemic Risk Label
Republicans want to use reconciliation to take power from the Financial Stability Oversight Council, a unit of the Treasury established by Dodd-Frank that monitors major risks to the financial system. The Council decides which financial companies should be labeled as “systemically important,” a designation that subjects them to more rules.

Insurers, asset managers and other financial companies have fought for years to change how the Oversight Council determines risk. Republicans say the Council isn’t transparent and there aren’t enough checks and balances on its management.

They also don’t like the Office of Financial Research, another independent bureau within the Treasury, created to provide analysis and research in support of the oversight council and its members. Eliminating the Office of Financial Research would have reduced spending by $255 million over 10 years, the budget office estimated in 2012, potentially giving Republicans ammunition to get rid of it in reconciliation.

Easing Rules for Private Equity and Hedge Funds
Republicans may also try to eliminate a requirement that private-equity companies and hedge funds register with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which forces them to disclose more information about their investments and undergo routine inspections by the regulator.

That registration requirement helped the SEC spot alleged violations at private equity companies, resulting in record fines imposed against Apollo Global Management LLC, Blackstone Group LP and KKR & Co.

The SEC’s new authorities required it to hire additional staff, and will cost about $2.5 billion over a 10-year period, the CBO estimated in 2010. As a result, Republicans could target the provision under reconciliation.

©2017 Bloomberg News
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Categories: Realty News

Illinois Real Estate Agent Fired after Twitter Beef with Comedian Patton Oswalt

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Mon, 02/06/2017 - 15:47

Here’s a lesson about what not to do on social media.

There are so many pros to connecting on the web: social media expands your reach, helps you build your sphere of influence, and, ultimately, helps you strengthen relationships that are necessary to fuel your business. Unfortunately, the free exchange we value so much on the internet and social media has also encouraged troll culture—people who post deliberately hateful or provocative messages on social with the intention of causing mass chaos. Not cool.

However, just last week, one REALTOR® from Peoria, Ill., learned exactly how posting on social media could ruin his business when he engaged in some Twitter beef with the Emmy-winning comedian Patton Oswalt. Here’s what went down.

In response to one of Oswalt’s political tweets, Tony Brust, a now-former agent for Jim Maloof/Realtor®’s Pekin office responded: “Oh (bleep), the little troll has an opinion again.”

To which comedy writer Chris Conroy responded:

@tonybrust@pattonoswalt Everyone stop having opinions! You’re upsetting Tony Brust!

— Chris Conroy (@conniewriter) January 31, 2017

And now for the worst of it: the part Brust tried to hide by deleting his Twitter account. But thanks to the internet Powers That Be, the entire exchange was captured in eternity via screenshots:

@tonybrust @pattonoswalt hey tony, your tweet is missing. Don’t worry I saved it for you pic.twitter.com/E4KgAf0naa
— Nick Mundy (@dickfundy) January 31, 2017

Oswalt’s wife, Michelle McNamara, tragically and unexpectedly passed away at the age of 46 just last April.

The incident went viral and Brust quickly found himself on the wrong side of Oswalt’s 3.39 million followers, who bombarded Brust in defense of Oswalt and his wife’s memory. (Oswalt responded himself, but later deleted his responses and apologized.) It was a Twitter storm of epic proportions and Brust was (obviously) on the losing end of it.

So here’s a clue for you to buy, Brust (and a lesson all of us in the biz should learn): What you say on the internet is immortal. It’s public, it can be saved by anyone, and it can and will be used against you, especially if you decide to use social media’s powers for evil, rather than good. Don’t follow Brust’s lead, don’t be a troll, and perhaps most importantly…don’t bring up a man’s dead wife, celebrity or otherwise. But then again, that has nothing to do with real estate. That’s just being a decent human being.

Social media is the most powerful tool you can use in your business, and most of the time, you’ll meet amazing people and improve your business across the board. But don’t lose sight of the prize, because what you say on social also has the power to take you down, and you don’t want to become the subject of the next viral story taking flight in the industry.

And I’m pretty sure Brust’s next employer will know how to Google…

Nick Caruso is RISMedia’s senior editor. Email him your real estate news ideas at nick@rismedia.com.

This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter.

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Categories: Realty News

Consumer Confidence Wanes after 15-Year Spike

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Sat, 02/04/2017 - 00:03

Consumer confidence waned in January after spiking to a 15-year high in December, posting a 111.8 reading in The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index®. The Expectations reading of the Index fell to 99.8, while the Present Situation reading rose to 129.7. December’s reading was 113.3.

“Consumer confidence decreased in January after reaching a 15-year high in December,” said Lynn Franco, director of Economic Indicators at The Conference Board, in a statement. “The decline in confidence was driven solely by a less optimistic outlook for business conditions, jobs, and especially consumers’ income prospects.

“Consumers’ assessment of current conditions, on the other hand, improved in January,” Franco said. “Despite the retreat in confidence, consumers remain confident that the economy will continue to expand in the coming months.”

The percentage of consumers who believe business conditions are “good,” as defined by the Index, increased from 28.6 percent in December to 29.3 percent in January; the percentage of those who believe business conditions are “bad” decreased from 17.8 percent in December to 16.1 percent in January. The percentage of those who expect business conditions to improve decreased from 24.7 percent in December to 23.1 percent in January; the percentage of those who expect business conditions to worsen increased from 8.9 percent in December to 10.7 percent in January.

The percentage of consumers who believe jobs are “plentiful” increased from 26.0 percent in December to 27.4 percent in January, according to the Index; the percentage of those who believe jobs are “hard to get” decreased from 22.7 percent in December to 21.5 percent in January. The percentage of those who expect more jobs in the coming months decreased from 21.7 percent in December to 19.8 percent in January; the percentage of those who expect less jobs in the coming months was unchanged at 14.0 percent.

The percentage of consumers who expect higher income, as well, decreased from 21.5 percent in December to 18.0 percent in January; the percentage of those who expect less increased from 8.6 percent in December to 9.6 percent in January.

Source: The Conference Board

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Categories: Realty News

Homebuilders Are Betting on Baby Boomers

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Wed, 02/01/2017 - 16:12

(TNS)—Aging baby boomers don’t get any love from the consumer products sector. All the mainstream advertising is pitched toward 20- and 30-somethings. The only nod we boomers get is from hearing aid manufacturers and erectile dysfunction drugmakers trying to stiff us out of our retirement savings.

Well, bless the homebuilders.

They’ve spent the last few years courting those fickle millennials and have now decided to dance with the ones that brought them: the 50-plus generation.

We boomers are da bomb when it comes to the builders.

We’ve got money and experience, and know what we want in a house.

And the U.S. housing industry is ready to sell it to us.

The numbers of 55-plus homebuyers are increasing as America’s population ages. By 2020 there are forecast to be 54 million 55-plus households in the U.S.—up by almost 4 million from 2016, according to studies by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

“It’s growing and projected to grow every single year,” says Paul Emrath, a senior researcher with the Washington, D.C.-based builders group. “Not only are they growing in absolute numbers but as a share of all households. The 55-plus segment is on the rise as a share of the overall market.”

As these folks move kids out of the household and move into retirement, a large number are looking to change their address.

Often they have money from the sale of current homes to pay for new digs.

“Almost half of them are owned free and clear after a year,” Emrath says. “This is a segment of the market that’s paying cash.”

And even when they don’t, boomer buyers typically make much larger down payments than younger households.

Jim Chapman, a Georgia builder who heads the NAHB’s 55-plus building council, says that since home values around the country have recovered from the recession, more of these buyers have the equity to make a move.

Chapman’s average buyer is in their early 60s.

“Ten years ago when I started building active adult communities, our average age was probably 72,” he says. “About 20 percent are moving to be near the grandkids.”

Both Chapman and Emrath say the biggest obstacles for builders who want to woo boomers is producing a house they can afford.

“I’m constantly asked if you have anything under $250,000,” he says. “Our average home is $400,000.”

Emrath says that a third of baby boomer buyers say they want a house priced under $150,000. “There are virtually no homes built at those prices.” So just like their millennial counterparts, boomer buyers are finding that home cost is the biggest issue in making their move. ©2017 The Dallas Morning News

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

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Categories: Realty News

The Greatest Football-Inspired Real Estate Memes on the Internet!

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Sun, 01/29/2017 - 13:03

Super Bowl Sunday is right around the corner, and regardless of who you’ll be rooting for in the big game, we know you’ll be rooting for your next closing to go according to plan.

In honor of one of the biggest games of the year, we decided to create a football/real estate mash-up of epic proportions to pay homage to your jobs in the field, not on the field.


Check out the rest of Housecall’s football-inspired real estate memes here.

Nick Caruso is RISMedia’s senior editor. Email him your real estate news ideas at nick@rismedia.com.

This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter.

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Categories: Realty News

What Is the White House Worth? Nearly $400 Million, Says Zillow

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Sat, 01/28/2017 - 00:03

Want to buy the White House? Well, you can’t. But if you could, it would go for just under $400 million, says new hypothetical Zillow data.

According to the data, the White House has appreciated 15 percent since Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009, and is currently valued at $397.9 million. Were it to actually be listed on Zillow, it would be the most valuable home on the site—and rightfully so.

Zillow first calculated the value of the White House in 2009 using their Zestimate® algorithm, which provides a starting point for a home’s worth based on public data and recent sales. According to Zillow, the value of the 55,000-square-foot “residence” is currently at its peak. If it continues in line with the projected value growth rate of homes in Washington, D.C., the estate will appreciate another 3 percent in 2017.

“[President] Trump is moving into one of the most famous homes in the country and, according to Zillow, it’s also the most valuable home in the country,” says Zillow Chief Marketing Officer Jeremy Wacksman. “President Obama’s term coincided with a massive recovery of the U.S. housing market, and that’s reflected in the updated value of the White House. Home values across the country are growing at their fastest pace since 2006, with many markets setting new records—one of the reasons why the White House is worth more now than it has ever been.”

So what can you get for just under $400 mill? Built in the 1800s, the estate offers over 130 rooms, 35 bathrooms and 18 acres. The grounds include basketball and tennis courts, and the residence includes a gym, a sun room and a library. The President and his family will reside on the top two floors of the six-story Executive Residence. Also located in the house are a doctor’s office, flower shop and a bowling alley.

What if a hypothetical buyer wished to take out a hypothetical mortgage on the palatial presidential domicile? If they were to lock in a standard 30-year fixed mortgage on the White House today, the monthly payment would be about $1.6 million. If they wanted to rent the spot, their monthly payment would be over $2 million per month.

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter.

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Categories: Realty News

Urban Land Institute Predicts Positive Economic Changes for New Year

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Wed, 01/25/2017 - 16:08

A new presidential term always brings change, especially when it comes to the economy. Despite the doom and gloom of the media, the overall economic outlook for the country and real estate market seems relatively positive, according to a recent Urban Land Institute webinar. During the hour-long webinar, Institute experts shared their views on what real estate professionals should expect as a result of new leadership in the White House and the federal executive departments, as well as new lawmakers in both houses of the U.S. Congress.

Featured speakers were Kenneth Rosen, chairman, Rosen Consulting Group and Fisher Center for Real Estate, UC Berkeley, as well as Roy March, chief executive officer, Eastdil Secured. The webinar was moderated by Sheridan Schechner, co-head of the Americas, Real Estate Banking at Barclays.

“Where are we today?” asked Rosen. “We go into this new regime with a very strong economy. We think that this sugar high being created by new fiscal stimulus will create more jobs. The unemployment rate is presently 4.7, but we think it will go down to the lower fours with this new stimulus.”

An uptick in jobs might simultaneously bring an uptick in housing, as financial stability will lure sideliners into the housing market.

“When you look at where we ultimately are, we’re in a really good place on a comparison basis,” said March.

The biggest change that will come? According to Rosen, it’s inflation. “Our best guess is inflation will be in the threes and probably going over 4 percent. That is a big change.”

What does this mean for interest rates? According to Rosen, they will rise. “We’ve seen the low point of the cycle last year and we’re about to see further increases.”

Despite this, the overall outlook seems to be pretty positive for the real estate market, especially in terms of supply and demand. “We’re still in pretty good supply/demand balance, with the exception of luxury condos and apartments,” said Rosen. “Development will continue to exhilarate in this environment.”

March echoes an optimistic outlook: “The good news is the debt origination market is very, very healthy, with 515 billion dollars estimated for 2016, which is above the all-time high of 2007.”

Stay tuned for details on economic impact as the year rolls out.

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter.

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Categories: Realty News

Bath and Kitchen Remodels: Breaking Tradition Two Ways

Rismedia Todays Top Story - Wed, 01/25/2017 - 16:03

Homeowners are parting ways with traditional bathrooms and kitchens, taking a walk on the side of contemporary and transitional, according to the 2017 Kitchen & Bath Design Trends Report by the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA). Their preference is as clear as black and white (er, gray and white), with subtle shades of gray and white the new neutrals in a mix of modern and conventional styles.

Ten percent of homeowners completed a bathroom or kitchen remodeling project in 2016, according to the NKBA, totaling $85 billion. Twenty-one percent of homeowners spent $7,500 (or more) to remodel the master bathroom, while 48 percent spent $15,000 (or more) to remodel the kitchen.

How do those numbers sound? Bathrooms and kitchens are the hubs of a household—even minor upgrades can have ripple effects. (Love It or List It, anyone?) The value, though, is subjective at resale—in fact, according to Remodeling Magazine’s 2017 Cost vs. Value Report, a midrange bathroom remodel ranks among the least valuable home improvements with a 65 percent return on investment, while a midrange minor kitchen remodel ranks among the most valuable at 80 percent.

The NKBA report shows aging-in-place and technology-enabled features have become necessary elements in bathroom and kitchen design due to demand not only from an aging population, but also from multigenerational households. (Sixty-one percent of homeowners recently surveyed by HomeAdvisor plan to stay in their homes “indefinitely.”) The primary motivators for both are comfort and safety—intangibles that have perceived benefits unique to the homeowner.

All of these factors raise the question: Whether the bathroom or kitchen, is resale value still a reliable measure of the “worthiness” of a remodel? The answer, based on the NKBA’s report, could be another break with tradition.

Suzanne De Vita is RISMedia’s online news editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at sdevita@rismedia.com.

This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. Visit the blog daily for housing and real estate tips and trends. Like Housecall on Facebook and follow @HousecallBlog on Twitter.

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Categories: Realty News

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