Consumer News and Advice Archive
Builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes improved three points to a 44 reading on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for May, released recently. This gain, from a downwardly revised 41 in April, reflected improvement in all three index components – current sales conditions, sales expectations and traffic of prospective buyers.
“Builders are noting an increased sense of urgency among potential buyers as a result of thinning inventories of homes for sale, continuing affordable mortgage rates and strengthening local economies,” notes National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chairman Rick Judson,
Homeowners with positive equity in their homes have fewer problem loans and are outperforming the national average for defaults. Their default rates are close to pre-crisis norms.
The number of U.S. housing markets showing sustained improvement in three key measures fell slightly to 258 in May from 273 in April, according to the NAHB/First American Improving Markets Index (IMI), released recently. This total includes entrants from all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The IMI identifies metropolitan areas that have shown improvement from their respective troughs in housing permits, employment and house prices for at least six consecutive months. Four new markets were added to the list and 19 were dropped from it this month. Newcomers included the geographically diverse metros of Dothan, Ala.; Elizabethtown, Ky.; Salisbury, Md.; and Salem, Ore.
Buying a house is the biggest investment most people will make in their lifetime, and the complex process can be intimidating to many homebuyers. Knowing the right questions to ask and receiving professional advice
To meet the nation’s growing need for affordable rental housing and homeownership opportunities, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) recently called on Congress to maintain its support for vital housing tax incentives, including the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, the mortgage interest deduction and real estate tax deductions.
“Home building is an industry dominated by small businesses, so the idea of simplifying the complicated tax rules related to business has great appeal. At the same time, our industry remembers painful lessons from the 1986 Tax Reform Act, when the commercial and multifamily sectors experienced a downturn due to unintended consequences,” said Robert Dietz, an economist and assistant vice president for NAHB, in testimony during a House Ways and Means Committee hearing on tax reform and residential real estate.
Attention from foreign consumers searching U.S. properties increased for Miami in March, according to the 26,000-member MIAMI Association of REALTORS® (MIAMI).
In traditional housing recoveries, individuals and households provide the bulk of the demand the market needs to rebound. This time, though, a different kind of buyer has been powering the housing recovery: investors looking for valuable rental property.
Along with individual investors, institutional investors have poured into the single-family home market, buying enough foreclosed and unsold homes to reduce inventories, drive up prices and encourage new construction. All-cash home purchases – many of which are made by investors – made up about 32.0% of sales nationally in March 2013, a stark rise from about 20.0% in 2009, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.
Pending home sales increased in March and remain above year-ago levels, but contract activity in recent months shows only modest movement, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. ...
(MCT)—With solar panel prices plunging and generous tax credits and incentives still available, now may be as good a time as any to go solar.
But shopping for a solar power system can be a tough task. Consumers face a bewildering array of options. There are thousands of different solar panel models from dozens of manufacturers. In some regions, consumers can choose from among hundreds of different panel installers. And once they pick their panels and a contractor, they have to figure out how to pay for their system from among several different methods.
Since late last year, industry experts forecast a drop in mortgage refinancings as rates rise, and a revival of purchase mortgages, as the housing recovery creates business for lenders willing to work with buyers. The spring housing market is here and now the mortgage market is following.
Purchase mortgages zoomed to their highest monthly market share since last August in Ellie Mae’s latest originations report, a sign that the mortgage business is shifting gears and the greatest boom in refis in recent years is ending. Loans to buyers made up 38 percent of all loans processed by the nation’s largest mortgage processing platform, up from 32 percent in February and 27 percent in January.
As the weather warms for spring, so are consumers—for home buying, that is. “Now that interest rates are at such a low level, people are beginning to realize that buying a home is more affordable than renting,” says Rob Sibcy,
(MCT)—QUESTION: I bought a vacant lot a few years ago on the Internet, sight unseen. Turns out, the property is unusable because it’s on the edge of a development and on a deep slope. I found out that it is part of an association, and the dues now have exceeded the value of the property. I want out of the deal but am afraid of the ramifications. What can I do?
ANSWER: Never buy anything sight unseen. You must always do your due diligence. As the owner of the property, you are responsible for all the obligations, such as association dues and property taxes. You can’t simply give the lot back unless the seller agrees to take it. But if the seller lied to you about the property, you may have some recourse in court.
Housing construction passed the psychological mark of one million starts in March coming in at 1.036 million homes, up 7 percent from an upwardly revised February level of 968,000. The surge was due to a 31 percent increase in apartment construction to a level of 417,000 units, the highest since January 2006. Single-family construction fell 4.8 percent to 619,000 from an upwardly revised February level, which was the highest since May 2008. The first quarter single-family average was 628,000 up 6 percent from the fourth quarter 2012.
Housing permits were down 3.9 percent but from a February high not seen since July 2008. The first quarter average was 915,000 up 2.6 percent from the fourth quarter. Builders were stock piling permits in February
Freddie Mac recently announced a free, online CreditSmart(R) tutorial
to provide working families and new or inexperienced borrowers with basic sound information about building savings, personal credit, and making wise
As the market continues to shift, one industry trend seems to be making continuous waves: vacation homes.
With low prices and mortgage rates still available in most parts of the country, affluent buyers—or those who have always dreamed of a cabin on a lake—are making their move and purchasing second homes in exotic locations to be used as vacation getaways.
According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), sales of investment and vacation homes jumped in 2011, with the combined marketshare rising to the highest level since 2005.
NAR’s 2012 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, covering existing- and new-home transactions in 2011, showed vacation-home sales rose