Archive for August, 2019

Are Tiny Homes Here To Stay?

August 30, 2019

Are Tiny Homes Here To StayThe average size of an American home has been increasing since the 1970s. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) reports that, in 1973, the median size for a new home in the United States was 1,660 square feet.

Over the past 45 years or so, this increased by more than 1,000 square feet. The median size of a new home is now 2,687 square feet.

The Problem With Big Houses

At first, a big house is appealing until one tries to clean it or pay the utility bills. Many baby boomers, who are now nearing retirement age, are downsizing, especially if their children have all moved away.

Moreover, Millennials are the first generation of Americans to experience a reduced standard of living when compared to their parents.

Many millennials see big houses as wasteful, environmentally destructive, and not sustainable. Also, with the challenge of paying off massive student debt, these young adults are delaying buying a home or may remain renters for their rest of their lives, foregoing the chance to have their own home.

One solution for the problems with big houses is to make homes smaller.

The Tiny House Movement

There are strong motivators for the social trend called “The Tiny House Movement.” Many want a smaller space to live in, which they can more easily maintain and afford. Tiny houses are no more than 400 square feet. That is like living in a compact studio apartment.

TheTinyLife says that tiny houses are being built all over the country. They come in almost any style imaginable. The median price for a quality tiny house is about $40,000, although do-it-yourself types can build one for a lot less.

Some are built on a trailer bed that makes them portable. Others are built to function properly in off-grid locations using solar power. There are even tiny houses that have been printed using 3-D printing technology.

Tiny houses can be luxurious, or they can be built to provide inexpensive solutions for housing that helps the homeless.

The Denver Tiny House Community

Denver is trying an experiment with a group of tiny houses called The Beloved Community Village. This is a group of private one-room units that share a communal kitchen and bathrooms. They started with 11 units and plan to expand to 20.

The challenges they experienced were not necessarily construction related. They needed to change the zoning and occupant density rules to allow the development.

Summary

People make a conscious choice to simplify their lifestyle for the freedom that a minimalistic philosophy brings. It is quite possible to live well while also living with less. Tiny houses may even be part of the solution for the approximately half a million homeless people living on the streets in America as the successful tiny house community village in Denver is now demonstrating.

If you are interested in a new home or in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional.

 

Case-Shiller: June Home Prices Grew at Slowest Pace in 12 Years

August 28, 2019

Case-Shiller June Home Prices Grew at Slowest Pace in 12 YearsHome price growth continued to slow in June according to Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index. 17 cities reported higher home prices in June, but three cities reported lower home prices month-to-month. Seattle, Washington was the only city to report lower home prices year-over-year in June.

Phoenix, Arizona Home Price Growth Highest in June

Phoenix, Arizona toppled Last Vegas, Nevada’s hold on first place for home price growth in June. According to Case-Shiller’s 20-City Home Price Index, home prices in Phoenix rose by 5.80 percent year-over-year in June. Las Vegas, Nevada followed closely with year-over-year home price growth of 5.50 percent. Tampa, Florida had the third highest rate of home price growth with a year-over-year reading of 4.70 percent.

Home prices also slowed nationally; Case-Shiller reported 3.10 percent growth as compared to May’s year-over-year pace of 3.30 percent growth in home prices.

Home Buyers Leaving High-Cost West Coast

Analysts pointed out that recent slowing in home price growth followed a long period of rapidly rising home prices and higher mortgage rates. This sidelined many buyers as cash buyers and investors competed for fewer available homes. First-time and moderate income buyers could not afford rapidly rising prices and mortgages. Stricter mortgage loan requirements put in place after the Great Recession made qualifying for home loans more difficult.

Homeowners may not be seeing top pricing, buyer competition and offers higher than their asking prices, but after the long and fast increase in home prices, many sellers stand to realize significant profits after years of gains. At the height of the housing recovery, cities on the west coast saw steep rises in home prices. Seattle, Washington, Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, California enjoyed rapid home price growth as buyers paid cash and outbid each other, but lagging home price growth suggests that sky-high home prices have peaked in the West.

Seattle, Washington was the first city to show a year-over-year drop in home prices. Low mortgage rates may encourage formerly sidelined home buyers to enter the housing market. Analysts said that the only obstacle to increasing home sales might be homeowners unwilling to sell as home prices ease. Consumer concerns over the economic impact of trade tariffs may delay decisions to buy a home as consumer costs continue to rise. Home builders share these concerns as the cost of imported building materials increases.

 

Should You Relocate A House To Improve Its Value?

August 27, 2019

Should You Relocate A House To Improve Its ValueWhat can be done with a house that is just perfect but it is in a bad neighborhood or a dangerous spot? Think about homes that are in decent condition; yet, too close to the water. America is experiencing flooding now that is not supposed to happen in 500 years.

That cute little beach bungalow could easily get wiped out in the next hurricane. It might be time to think about moving those homes to a safer area or higher ground.

The International Association of Structural Movers says that around 8,000 homes are moved each year in America. Relocation may be due to hazards, such as the erosion of an oceanfront or cliff side lot. Others relocate for their historical value.

What It Takes To Move A Home

There are five main considerations for moving a home, which are:

  1. Legal Issues: Moving the home and transporting it must be allowed by law.
  2. Strength: A home must be strong enough to stay together when disconnected from its foundation.
  3. Lift and Transport: It must be possible to lift the home and transport it to the new location.
  4. Access: Access to the home’s new location must be unimpaired on the route to get there and on the site when the home arrives.
  5. Cost: The cost to move a home may be shockingly prohibitive.

Legal Issues

The legal issues can be very challenging. Do not give up easily, if the idea of moving a home is blocked at first because it may be possible to get a one-time waiver from the regulations.

Strength

Some homes are not strong enough to move. However, it is surprising what is possible if the home and/or lot is very valuable.

There are home-moving projects that lifted Victorian-style homes built over one hundred years ago in the most valuable parts of San Francisco. These homes only moved upwards. They stayed on their lots. The moving project raised them 15-feet higher to allow a garage to be built underneath. These well-built wooden homes survived the 1906 earthquake. They were carefully raised without damaging them.

Lift And Transport

Experts use many techniques to lift a home and prepare it for transport. Homes may be transported by strong flat-bed trucks, by industrial, heavy-lifting helicopters, and on barges in the river or ocean. Homes can be disassembled partially to make moving them easier.

Access

When moving a home, even if separated in pieces, the pieces may be very large. The entire transport route needs to be carefully checked by an engineer for proper clearance heights, enough turning radius when needed, and sufficient width for passage.

Cost

While many homes are movable, the cost may be too high to make it worthwhile. However, the cost to move a multi-million dollar mansion falling off a cliff may be far less than the home’s value, which might otherwise be lost.

Summary

If there is a beautiful heritage home sitting on a cliff’s edge overlooking the ocean and teetering on the edge of collapse, there is a new way to think about it. It may make perfect sense to move it to a lot that is down the street and further away from the edge.

If you are interested in purchasing a new home or refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss current financing options!

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 26th, 2019

August 26, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 26th, 2019Last week’s economic news included readings  from the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and July readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on initial jobless claims and mortgage rates were also released.

NAHB: Home Builder Sentiment Remains High

According to the National Association of Home Builders, builder confidence in housing market conditions rose one point to an index reading of 66 for August. Housing Market Index readings showed that builder sentiment has held steady with readings of 64 to 66; any reading over 50 indicates positive builder sentiment.

Analysts said that despite strong readings for builder confidence in recent months, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued did not reflect high builder confidence readings. Reports on housing starts and building permits issued fall one month behind the NAHB Housing Market Index.

Housing Starts Falter as Building Permits Increase

Commerce Department readings for July showed mixed results for housing starts and building permits issued as starts fell from June’s  downwardly revised reading of 1.24 million starts to 1.19 million starts in July. Housing starts are calculated on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis.

July building permits rose from June’s reading of 1.232 million permits to 1.336 million permits issued. Analysts expected a reading of 1.287 million housing starts for July. This was the second consecutive positive reading for housing starts after a post-recession period of fewer starts.

While building permits for single-family homes traditionally outpace permits issued for multi-family housing, analysts noted that demand for multi-family housing developments is trending higher due to high prices for single-family homes.

Increasing costs for building materials, indications of  global and domestic economic uncertainty and changing consumer priorities were cited as trends impacting housing starts.

Mortgage Rates Hold Near Record  Low, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported little change in mortgage rates last week; the average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages was unchanged at 3.60 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.07 percent and were two basis points higher.

The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages fell one basis point to 3.35 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose last week to 220,000 new claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 211,000 new jobless claims filed. Analysts expected 212,000 claims to be filed last week. Nearly 6000 new jobless claims filed in California boosted last week’s reading for new claims.

The less volatile four-week rolling report on new jobless claims rose by 1000 claims to  213,750 new claims filed. New jobless claims hit their highest level in six weeks, but were lower than average.

Consumer sentiment concerning current economic conditions fell 6.20 points to an index reading of 92.1 according to the University of Michigan monthly survey of consumer confidence in the economy. Concerns over trade wars and the Federal Reserve’s decision to lower its target interest rate range prompted consumer confidence to slip in August.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on sales of new and previously owned homes and minutes from the last meeting of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.

Tips On Making Friends In Your New Neighborhood

August 23, 2019

Tips On Making Friends In Your New NeighborhoodIt’s often harder to make friends as an adult than it is when you’re a child. It’s even more challenging to make adult friends when you move into a new neighborhood. You may feel like people already have their own group of friends and aren’t looking to include newcomers. Of course, that’s just an illusion.

Here are some easy ways to implement tips for making friends in your new neighborhood.

Put Out The Welcome Mat

Make your front door inviting to the neighbors. Place some cheery flower pots near the porch and buy a nice welcome mat for the front door. Be sure to put fresh light bulbs in the porch lanterns, too. These small touches will show neighbors you’re setting a friendly tone.

Have Coffee And Lunch Out

Make a point of having your coffee breaks and lunch at the nearby cafes as often as possible. Mention to the servers or owner that you’re new in town and this is your first time trying out their menu. They’ll likely take an interest in you and ask what house you bought, and so on. As you continue returning, you’ll be on a first-name basis, which will probably lead to some casual introductions to other locals who are stopping in for coffee.

Host A Housewarming Party

Housewarming parties are a fantastic way to welcome old friends and meet new ones. They are also a great excuse to knock on your neighbors’ doors and personally let them know they’re invited. If you feel uncomfortable having strangers in your new home, make it a backyard BBQ housewarming. In no time at all, you’ll have a new collection of local friends and acquaintances.

Join The Local Clubs

Membership clubs offer a natural way to meet new people without appearing overtly friendly. Look for some local clubs you’re interested in, such as gardening, exercise and book clubs. When you start attending on a routine basis, friendships will organically begin to develop.

Volunteer

If you have an extra hour or two in the week, consider volunteering as a way to help the community and to make new friends. Places that typically need volunteers include theaters, schools and athletic programs.

Making friends in your new neighborhood will enable you and your family to feel more at home sooner. One or more of the above-mentioned tips is likely to work for your personality and preferences.  And don’t forget your real estate and mortgage professionals! They’d be happy to help get you connected as well!

How To Maximize The Resale Value Of Your Home

August 22, 2019

How To Maximize The Resale Value Of Your HomeThere are a few things to consider, when selling a home, that will help you maximize your potential for a better sales price. Seasoned real estate professionals are one of your best resources for these tips.

The Buyer’s First Impression Is Emotional

The first goal is to improve the buyer’s first impression when they see photos or a video of the home, do a drive-by, or make an appointment to view the home. Work with a real estate agent on staging the home and pay particular attention to curb appeal.

Staging means that a home has no clutter. Remove any personal items (family photos, toys, pets, etc.). Make closets less than one-third full. Make sure the home is immaculately clean. Use nice decor and minimal furniture. 

Logical Backup For The Buyer’s Emotions

Once a buyer has a positive emotional reaction to the home, then to cement the deal at a good price, offer logical backup to support the emotional reaction. Create a handout that lists the amenities and positive attributes of living in the neighborhood, such as good schools. If possible, sell the neighborhood and the community along with the home.

Answer a buyer’s, often unspoken, question of “Why should I live in this area?”

Like-New Condition

Homes that are in perfect condition usually sell for a premium price and may attract multiple purchase offers. Make any repairs that are necessary to ensure all the systems in the home are in working order.

Another confidence builder for a buyer is when the seller reimburses the fees for the inspections needed, from the escrow closing. Let the buyer choose the inspection companies from a pre-approved list that is acceptable for the seller.

Kitchen and master bathroom upgrades usually have a positive impact on the sales price. New appliances can be included in the sale and covered by a home warranty.

Go Green

Homes that are energy efficient and have an alternative energy system, such as solar, are usually more desirable. This is especially true in parts of the country where the monthly utility bills are very high. Add information about the savings on the monthly utility bills, when compared to other homes that are not green, to the home’s selling brochure.

Summary

Top-selling real estate agents know that homes with these characteristics usually command the best prices, receive more offers, and spend less time for sale on the market. Another benefit is that agents get excited about listing high quality homes. They typically feature them prominently in their listings from the agency, on their website, and in all other marketing efforts.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional.

How To Maximize The Resale Value Of Your Home

August 22, 2019

How To Maximize The Resale Value Of Your HomeThere are a few things to consider, when selling a home, that will help you maximize your potential for a better sales price. Seasoned real estate professionals are one of your best resources for these tips.

The Buyer’s First Impression Is Emotional

The first goal is to improve the buyer’s first impression when they see photos or a video of the home, do a drive-by, or make an appointment to view the home. Work with a real estate agent on staging the home and pay particular attention to curb appeal.

Staging means that a home has no clutter. Remove any personal items (family photos, toys, pets, etc.). Make closets less than one-third full. Make sure the home is immaculately clean. Use nice decor and minimal furniture. 

Logical Backup For The Buyer’s Emotions

Once a buyer has a positive emotional reaction to the home, then to cement the deal at a good price, offer logical backup to support the emotional reaction. Create a handout that lists the amenities and positive attributes of living in the neighborhood, such as good schools. If possible, sell the neighborhood and the community along with the home.

Answer a buyer’s, often unspoken, question of “Why should I live in this area?”

Like-New Condition

Homes that are in perfect condition usually sell for a premium price and may attract multiple purchase offers. Make any repairs that are necessary to ensure all the systems in the home are in working order.

Another confidence builder for a buyer is when the seller reimburses the fees for the inspections needed, from the escrow closing. Let the buyer choose the inspection companies from a pre-approved list that is acceptable for the seller.

Kitchen and master bathroom upgrades usually have a positive impact on the sales price. New appliances can be included in the sale and covered by a home warranty.

Go Green

Homes that are energy efficient and have an alternative energy system, such as solar, are usually more desirable. This is especially true in parts of the country where the monthly utility bills are very high. Add information about the savings on the monthly utility bills, when compared to other homes that are not green, to the home’s selling brochure.

Summary

Top-selling real estate agents know that homes with these characteristics usually command the best prices, receive more offers, and spend less time for sale on the market. Another benefit is that agents get excited about listing high quality homes. They typically feature them prominently in their listings from the agency, on their website, and in all other marketing efforts.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Covenants, Codes and Restrictions?

August 21, 2019

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Covenants, Codes and RestrictionsThere is a joke about gated communities that says the walls are not just there to keep the people out but to keep the residents in. Living in a gated community that is subject to the rules of a homeowners’ association (HOA) can be a pleasant or a severely irritating experience, depending on the perspective a homeowner has about lifestyles.

The Good, Bad, And Ugly About CC&Rs

Gated and master-planned communities may have an HOA and also may have covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs) that are part of the property rights (or lack thereof) that a home buyer accepts when they buy a property in those neighborhoods.

The developer records a registered copy of the CC&Rs with the county where the development is. Every homeowner is subject to the rules found in the official CC&Rs. A copy of the CC&Rs may look like an old-style telephone book with hundreds of pages.

Prospective home buyers should force themselves to take the time to read the entire CC&Rs extremely carefully. This may take many nights to read because reading the CC&Rs may put a person to sleep. However, failure to read them can cause serious problems in the future and extremely stressful levels of frustration.

What Can Be In The CC&Rs?

It is not surprising to see in the CC&Rs rules that prohibit a homeowner from filling the front yard with broken-down cars or having a pig farm on the property. In a nice, gated, community nobody wants to see a neighbor’s property in that condition. The benefit of having reasonable CC&Rs is that homes, which are eyesores, because the people do not maintain them properly, are prohibited.

So far, so good. However, what about when the CC&Rs state the maximum measurement of grass before cutting it is 1.25 inches. That is an odd number to use as a measurement standard but don’t be surprised to see stuff like this in the CC&Rs. In such a neighborhood, you can be cited for a grass height violation. It may seem funny to see the enforcers in the front yard measuring the grass with a ruler until a homeowner gets a fine for a violation. This is just a simple example of the many rules potentially found in the CC&Rs that are very easy to violate.

Want to put up lighted holiday decorations? Check the CC&Rs because it may not even be allowed to put a wreath on the front door.

Think it would be a nice idea to repaint the exterior of the house? Check the CC&Rs first because there are usually severe color restrictions. If the paint is one shade lighter or darker than an approved color, this may cause the need to redo the entire paint job.

Conclusion

Personal taste differs significantly between people. When buying a home subject to CC&Rs, be sure to read them carefully and be able to live with all the details. Otherwise, a homeowner may find it really frustrating to live in a neighborhood with so many controls over personal freedom and choice.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, be sure to contact your trusted home mortgage professional to discuss your current financing options.

Boom Or Bubble? – Home Prices Hit Record Highs Across America

August 20, 2019

Boom Or Bubble? - Home Prices Hit Record Highs Across AmericaThe rapidly rising home prices currently found in many parts of the United States make it seem like the Great Recession of 2008 never happened. It took approximately eight years for home prices to recover the values that were equivalent to those they had before the recession.

After reaching this point of recovery, since around 2016, real estate prices have been going up very quickly in many cities.

The Best Recovered Housing Markets

Here are the fully-recovered housing markets analyzed by ATTOM data service for the second quarter of 2019 that have exceeded the peak valuations from before the recession.

This list of winners shows the percentage that they are now above their pre-2008 peaks:

  • Greeley, Colorado (87% up)
  • Shreveport, Louisiana (81% up)
  • Denver, Colorado (80% up)
  • Austin, Texas (77% up)
  • Fort Collins, Colorado (76% up)
  • Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas (72% up)
  • Nashville, Tennessee (71% up)
  • San Antonio, Texas (58% up)
  • Houston, Texas (54% up)
  • San Jose, California (54% up)

It took quite a while for homes to have this much appreciation in value, which in most cases meant that the homes, first, had to increase significantly to overcome the lowered values from pre-recession peaks.

Homeowners Waiting Longer To Sell

Homeowners, who were wise and able, waited for this to occur. This accounts for the median of eight years that homeowners waited before selling now. Before the Great Recession, the median holding period for selling a home was only four years after purchase.

Homeowners who were able to hang on to their homes after the Great Recession hit, and then ride it out until now, are, in general, being rewarded for waiting to sell.

The Hottest Markets For American Cities

Most American cities are hot real estate markets. The appreciation rate for annual increases is up 89% of all the metro market areas.

Cities showing the greatest annual appreciation rates are:

  • Atlantic City, New Jersey (16% increase)
  • Boise City, Idaho (14% increase)
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee (13% increase)
  • Mobile, Alabama (11% increase)
  • Madison, Wisconsin (11% increase)
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin (9% increase)
  • Boston, Massachusetts (9% increase)
  • Salt Lake City, Utah (9 % increase)
  • Columbus, Ohio (8 % increase)
  • Birmingham, Alabama (6% increase)

Summary

Whether this a continuing boom or an early indication of another real estate bubble that might eventually burst is anyone’s guess. It is a decent time to sell if selling a home is in the plans. It is a more challenging time for home buyers. However, the one thing the Great Recession taught us all is that housing prices do not always go up.

If you are in the market for a new home or interested in refinancing your current property, please consult with your trusted home mortgage professional.

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 19th, 2019

August 19, 2019

What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – August 19th, 2019Last week’s economic news included readings  from the National Association of Home Builders Housing Market Index and July readings on housing starts and building permits issued. Weekly readings on initial jobless claims and mortgage rates were also released.

NAHB: Home Builder Sentiment Remains High

According to the National Association of Home Builders, builder confidence in housing market conditions rose one point to an index reading of 66 for August. Housing Market Index readings showed that builder sentiment has held steady with readings of 64 to 66; any reading over 50 indicates positive builder sentiment.

Analysts said that despite strong readings for builder confidence in recent months, Commerce Department readings on housing starts and building permits issued did not reflect high builder confidence readings. Reports on housing starts and building permits issued fall one month behind the NAHB Housing Market Index.

Housing Starts Falter as Building Permits Increase

Commerce Department readings for July showed mixed results for housing starts and building permits issued as starts fell from June’s downwardly revised reading of 1.24 million starts to 1.19 million starts in July. Housing starts are calculated on a seasonally-adjusted annual basis.

July building permits rose from June’s reading of 1.232 million permits to 1.336 million permits issued. Analysts expected a reading of 1.287 million housing starts for July. This was the second consecutive positive reading for housing starts after a post-recession period of fewer starts.

While building permits for single-family homes traditionally outpace permits issued for multi-family housing, analysts noted that demand for multi-family housing developments is trending higher due to high prices for single-family homes.

Increasing costs for building materials, indications of  global and domestic economic uncertainty and changing consumer priorities were cited as trends impacting housing starts.

Mortgage Rates Hold Near Record Low, New Jobless Claims Rise

Freddie Mac reported little change in mortgage rates last week; the average rate for 30-year fixed rate mortgages was unchanged at 3.60 percent. Rates for 15-year fixed rate mortgages averaged 3.07 percent and were two basis points higher.

The average rate for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages fell one basis point to 3.35 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50 percent for fixed rate mortgages and 0.30 percent for 5/1 adjustable rate mortgages.

First-time jobless claims rose last week to 220,000 new claims filed as compared to the prior week’s reading of 211,000 new jobless claims filed. Analysts expected 212,000 claims to be filed last week. Nearly 6,000 new jobless claims filed in California boosted last week’s reading for new claims.

The less volatile four-week rolling report on new jobless claims rose by 1,000 claims to  213,750 new claims filed. New jobless claims hit their highest level in six weeks, but were lower than average.

Consumer sentiment concerning current economic conditions fell 6.20 points to an index reading of 92.1 according to the University of Michigan monthly survey of consumer confidence in the economy. Concerns over trade wars and the Federal Reserve’s decision to lower its target interest rate range prompted consumer confidence to slip in August.

Whats Ahead

This week’s scheduled economic news includes readings on sales of new and previously owned homes and minutes from the last meeting of the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee. Weekly readings on mortgage rates and new jobless claims will also be released.