Real Estate




1 in 4 Americans say this is the best investment

Source: Yahoo! Finance

A new survey shows that more than one in four Americans (27 percent) said real estate was the best investment for any money that they would not need for at least a decade. Cash came in second with 23 percent of investors, only 17 percent said the stock market is their preferred place for long-term money, and just 5 percent said they would put their long-term money in bonds. It is the first time real estate has taken the top spot in the three years Bankrate has been conducting the survey. One certified financial planner notes that the tangible nature of real estate simply offers much more peace of mind than the intangible nature of stocks and bonds.

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As more Americans buy homes, will it ease the strain on renters?
Source: Christian Science Monitor

Last month the housing market experienced the fastest pace for home sales since February 2007, and prices continued to climb. However, due to shifting demographics and the lingering effects of the housing crash, more Americans are still renting than they have in decades. If more and more Americans take the leap and buy homes, it could finally ease the strain on renters, who, thanks to a combination of demographic and economic factors, are seeing their housing costs balloon and their ranks become more crowded than they have been in decades.

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As global news is consumed wU.S. home sales approach eight-and-a-half-year high, prices surge

Source: The Atlantic

Existing home sales increased 3.2 percent to an annual rate of 5.49 million units, the highest level since February 2007, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Overall, U.S. home resales rose in June to their highest level in nearly 8.5 years, a sign of pent-up demand that should buoy the housing market recovery. However, a tight supply of properties for sale remains a constraint. The string of strong housing reports indicate the economy continues to be on firmer footing despite a drop in retail sales and a slowdown in job growth last month.

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Is the US housing market the best story in the global economy right now?

Source: Quartzith

China’s stock market issues, Europe’s crisis with Greece, and monetary problems in South America, the outlier for a clear and positive growth trend lies in the United States and its housing market. Housing is a long-time driver of consumption trends, and in an economy where consumption amounts to roughly two-thirds of GDP, it’s a good sign that the annualized sales rate of previously owned homes hit a post-crisis peak of 5.49 million in June.

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How to buy a home in a seller’s market
Source: Washington Post
As more people look to jump into homeownership, they have to contend with fierce competition, limited choices, and the pressure to act quickly. Due to low inventory, homes are being snatched up within a matter of days in many areas. While more homes are being built, the pace is still not strong enough to meet demand, according to analysts. To improve one’s chances, it is advised that prospective buyers obtain a pre-approval letter in order to act quickly when they see a home they love. Find a knowledgeable broker who understands the competition and talk to your REALTOR® about adding an escalation clause to an offer.
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Boomers Competing With Millennials for U.S. Urban Rental Housing
Source: Bloomberg
The number of renters who are 65 or older will reach 12.2 million by 2030, more than double the level in 2010, according to research by the Urban Institute. However, if the supply of rental properties fails to keep up with demand, then younger people will be competing for housing with the burgeoning population of older Americans. Baby boomers are often looking to downsize, so they are expected to push up rents and spur construction of more multifamily housing. Research has found that adults in their 50s and 60s accounted for almost all of the net increase in multifamily occupancy from 2000 to 2013.

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What a rate hike may mean for housing

Source: Union-Tribune

The Federal Reserve’s Open Market Committee is expected to raise a key interest rate that has played a significant part in keeping mortgage rates at historic lows in the wake of the biggest economic downturn since the depression. If the rate hike transpires, it would be the first since June 2006. As for the effect on housing, interest rate increases will be gradual, and there are too many other forces pushing prices upward in the state, such as low supply and high demand.

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As Homeownership Lags, Young Renters Left Behind in WealthBuilding

Source: NBC News

Weighed down by high student loans and low credit scores, squeezed by rising rents and required down payments, homeownership is a distant goal for millennials, and economists worry that this demographic group is missing out on a crucial opportunity to build wealth. Harvard University's Joint Center on Housing Studies finds that homeownership is at a two-decade low. Household formation is also down, according to research from the Urban Institute. By 2030, only 38 percent of millennials will own homes, compared to 46 percent of baby boomers at that stage of their lives, the group predicts.

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Applications for new home purchases climbed 1% in June

Source: HousingWire

Mortgage applications for new home purchases increased by one percent relative to the previous month, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association Builder Application Survey data for June 2015. Lynn Fisher, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics, commented, “As house prices continue to recover, mortgage applications for the purchase of newly constructed homes increased slightly in June. Application activity in June was slightly higher compared to the past two years, leading us to estimate that new homes sales increased 8 percent from May on a seasonally adjusted annual basis.” Read the full story

Homebuilder confidence hits 10-year high

Source: The Hill

According to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index, homebuilder confidence hit a 10-year high in July as the housing market makes gradual strides amid stronger job growth. The index noted that confidence hit 60 this month, the highest level since November 2005, which was before the housing market crash. Any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good rather than poor. Read the full story

Solid housing market continues as California pending home sales dial higher from year ago for fifth straight month

Source: C.A.R.

With the California housing market continuing its upward trend, pending home sales registered their fifth straight annual gain, with the last three months being in the double-digits, according to the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Overall, the competitive market persists with more sales and bigger premiums paid above list price. In addition, another report from C.A.R. called the April Market Pulse Survey revealed the market is experiencing more floor calls and all cash purchases in comparison to March.
Making sense of the story
• California pending home sales were up 13.6 percent on an annual basis from the 114 index recorded in April 2014, marking the fifth straight month of year-to-year gains and the third straight month of double-digit advances.

• Statewide pending home sales dipped slightly in April, with the Pending Home Sales Index decreasing 0.6 percent from a revised 130.2 in March to 129.4, based on signed contracts. The month-to-month decrease was below the average March-April gain of 1.7 percent observed in the last seven years.

• Pending home sales in the San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California, and Central Valley regions posted back-to-back, double-digit, year-over-year gains.

• Pending home sales in Southern California were down 10.4 percent in April to reach an index of 103.5, but were up 13.5 percent from the April 2014 index of 91.2.

• The share of equity sales – or non-distressed property sales – edged up in April to make up 91.9 percent of all home sales, the highest level since 2007. Equity sales made up 91 percent of all home sales in March and 88.3 percent in April 2014.

• The share of sales closing above asking price has been on an upward trend for three straight months, indicating the return of bidding wars in some local markets. More than a third (36 percent) of transactions closed above asking price in April, up from the lowest point of 16 percent in January 2015.

• The premium paid over asking price increased in April, suggesting heightened market competition among home buyers. In April, homes that sold above asking price sold for an average of 10 percent above asking price, up from 7.7 percent in March and up from 8.7 percent in April 2014.

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Housing Bubble? Despite Rising Prices, Most Economists Still Say No

Source: Wall St. Journal

The relentless rise in housing prices has led many economists to question whether another housing bubble is forming. Housing prices have been climbing for 35 consecutive months, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index. However, while prices keep rising, the rate of growth has slowed, thereby giving economists reason to believe a bubble is not a concern. Also, far fewer new homes are being built than a decade ago, so oversupply will not be an issue related to a price bubble.

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Fewer Homes for Sale Makes U.S. Housing Recovery Painstaking
Source: Bloomberg

High prices and low inventory have made the recovery of the U.S. housing market painstaking for many potential buyers looking to enter the market. Contract closings on previously owned properties unexpectedly dropped 3.3 percent to a 5.04 million annualized rate in April after a 5.21 million pace that was the strongest in almost two years, according to figures from the National Association of REALTORS®. Bloomberg notes that “The rebound in residential real estate has been stop-and-go as small wage gains and lingering concerns about taking on more debt offset the benefits of historically low mortgage rates.”

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The Deep Roots of America's Housing Affordability Crisis
Source: The Atlantic
Wharton real estate economist Todd Sinai argues in a new policy brief that the current manifestation of the country’s housing affordability crisis is a long-running trend. His research shows that the roots of the current affordability crisis date back to at least the 1990s. During that era, six cities saw rents dramatically outpace inflation, growing around 3.5 to 4.5 percent per year. Since then, rents have actually grown much more modestly, especially in recent years. Sinai states, “It is true that, in many cities, rental costs are higher now than they were 10 years ago. But 10 years ago, rental costs were higher than they were 10 years before that. Likewise, ownership costs have followed the same pattern.” He adds that buying a home may offer a way to sidestep this cycle of ever-rising housing prices and rents.
Read the full story Waiting to buy a home could cost tens of thousands
Source: HousingWire
The financial penalties of delaying or forgoing a home purchase in today’s market have become very steep. After all, interest rates and home prices are expected to climb in the next year, and according to, the estimated wealth an average buyer would accumulate over a 30-year period based on today’s dollars totals $217,726. National data shows homeowners see significant financial benefits as compared to lifetime renters. In 88 percent of markets, buying a home produces a financial benefit of at least $100,000 over 30 years.

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Housing Waits–and Waits–on Millennials
Source: Wall St. Journal
Prior to a major plunge in housing starts in February, single-family housing starts were running less than half the levels seen during the housing boom and are 37 percent below their average of the 1990s. A major factor being blamed is the absence of younger home buyers. Research has found that the share of households headed up by someone 25 to 34 years old has fallen far more than other age groups since 2006. Overall, housing markets will depend on the labor markets, especially the hiring and paychecks of millennials.
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Southern California housing market is poised for a stronger spring
Source: L.A. Times
Market watchers and real estate agents say they're starting to see more sellers as prices remain relatively high, interest rates stay low and fewer borrowers owe more on their houses than they're worth. Selma Hepp, senior economist at the CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, says measures of buyer interest — online real estate searches and open-house traffic — have jumped in recent weeks. If that activity translates into sales, it could put a new round of pressure on pricing, she said. “The fundamentals are good," Hepp said. "But affordability is going to stare us right in the face again."
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The U.S. Cities Where It Takes the Longest to Be Able to Afford to Buy a Home
Source: The Atlantic
Americans are set to spend nearly $10 trillion on housing over the next five years but the question remains: Where are we spending the most, especially when compared to our incomes, to purchase homes?
According to a new metric evaluating housing costs, the metros where households have to devote the most years of income to housing are mostly on the West and East Coasts, in California, Washington State, Oregon and Arizona, and across the Boston-Washington corridor. Nine of the ten most expensive areas are in California. In these locations, the price of a home is equivalent to about seven years of income. In the top three metros, the price of a home equals roughly nine years of income.
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Low inventory may take bloom off spring home sales

Source: CNBC

Due to weak supply, home prices are heating up again, which could be bad news for the spring market since sticker shock contributed to weak sales in 2014. According to, there were nearly 9 percent fewer homes for sale in January of this year than there were a year ago. While demand is high, limited supply is creating a roadblock. Overall, high prices mixed with weak supply caused an unexpectedly large drop in January home sales, down nearly 5 percent from January of 2014.

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Why Are Developers Still Building Sprawl?

Source: The Atlantic

Once again, developers are building master-planned communities through projects that were derailed during the recession. In many cities across the country, the homes being built look very similar to the ones built during the boom, except in many instances they are larger. While surveys suggest that both boomers and younger generations are interested in living in more urban places, there are concerns that there have been few changes in the homebuilding industry since the recession. Smart growth advocates have urged builders to develop more compact, walkable communities near public transit, and rehabbing existing land to fit new projects.

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U.S. New-Home Sizes Set Record Last Year

Source: Wall Street Journal

The median size of completed homes last year hit a new record of 2,415 square feet; in fact, home sizes grew in every year between 1995 and 2007, according to the Commerce Department. Home builders have been competing primarily for affluent buyers, and the rise in home size matches the tastes of this demographic. Case in point: builders sold slightly more homes priced above $400,000 than those priced below $200,000 for the first time ever last year. Also, a new record was set when 4.8 percent of homes sold for at least $750,000 in 2014.

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Top CA Dems team up on affordable housing

Source: Union-Tribune San Diego

Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins and Treasurer John Chiang are tackling the issue of affordable housing with joint efforts to solve one of California’s most pressing problems. Atkins is pushing a series of bills that will spur the development of moderate and low-income housing. Overall, supply of new housing has fallen far short of demand by thousands of residences annually. Chiang has launched a six-month effort to bring together developers, government officials, finance experts, and others in order to find solutions.

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Internet search volume reveals housing demand

Source: HousingWire

Researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland found that they could gauge some degree of demand by using data on the volume of searches done on words and phrases in Google. One Google Trends term they tracked was “real estate agent” because they argue that the search-volume index for this term is a good indicator of housing demand because it closely tracks the Case-Shiller Home Price Index from 2007-2013. Searches for “mortgage broker” appear to diverge from “real estate agent” following the recession since income-constrained home buyers likely constitute a smaller fraction of home sales going forward.

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Household Formations Have Returned to Pre-Recession Levels


A new study from the Lusk Center for Real Estate at the University of Southern California has found that new household formation in the United States has recovered from the widespread job losses that came with the recession. The researchers found in their study that household formations in the U.S. fell to almost zero during the recession's peak years of 2008 to 2010, but then played three years of catch-up and have now recovered to pre-recession levels of about one million per year.

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Economists Differ on Impact of Falling Oil Prices on Housing
Source: Wall St. Journal

In a big increase from 2014, economists are anticipating that home builders will start construction on as many as 804,000 new single-family homes this year. But will falling oil prices affect housing construction? Some economists predict there could be an indirect benefit to the housing market in the form of more consumer spending, which will create more job/income growth and by extension make it easier for people to buy homes. But there are concerns that there could be a slowdown to housing construction activity in oil-focused local economies, such as cities in Texas.

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