Immobilien News

3 Fla. Cities in Top 10 ‘Best Places to Retire’ list

U.S. News & World Report: Out of 125 cities ranked, 10 Fla. cities are in the top 50. In top 10: 1) Fort Myers, 2) Sarasota, 5) Port St. Lucie and 6) Jacksonville.

WASHINGTON – U.S. News & World Report released its 2020 Best Places to Retire in the United States list, and all Florida cities were in the top third, with three metros in the top 10.

The magazine says its rankings “offer a comprehensive evaluation of the country’s 125 largest metropolitan areas – up from 100 last year – based on how well they meet Americans’ expectations for retirement, with measures including housing affordability, desirability, health care and overall happiness.”

The report lists four Florida metro areas in its top 10.

Up from No. 2 last year, Fort Myers tops the list at No. 1 due to increases in desirability, health care quality, job market strength and happiness. Sarasota jumps from No. 3 to No. 2 due to increases in desirability, health care and job market scores, despite falling in the areas of happiness and housing affordability.

In addition, two metro areas not previously ranked broke into the top five, including Port St. Lucie, at No. 5 thanks to ranking high due to desirability, happiness scores and retiree tax policy.

At No. 6, Jacksonville was still in the report’s top 10.

2020 U.S. News best places to retire rankings – top 10

1. Fort Myers

2. Sarasota

3. Lancaster, Pa.

4. Asheville, N.C.

5. Port St. Lucie

6. Jacksonville

7. Winston-Salem, N.C.

8. Nashville, Tenn.

9. Grand Rapids, Mich.

10. Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

Florida city rankings in U.S. News 2020 report

1. Fort Myers

2. Sarasota

5. Port St. Lucie

6. Jacksonville

14. Miami

15. Lakeland

17. Tampa

19. Melbourne

22. Orlando

33. Pensacola

54. Daytona Beach

“Deciding where to retire is an important part of your life plan,” says Emily Brandon, senior editor for Retirement at U.S. News. “When considering potential retirement spots, you should look for an affordable cost of living, proximity to health care services and a strong economy, especially if you plan to work part-time.”

The 2020 Best Places to Retire were determined based on a methodology that factored in happiness, housing affordability, health care quality, desirability, retiree taxes and job market ratings. These measures were weighted based on a public survey of individuals across the U.S who are nearing retirement age (ages 45-59) and those who are of retirement age (60 or older) to find out what matters most when considering where to retire. Survey respondents said happiness and housing affordability were their most important criteria when selecting a retirement spot. Data sources include the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as well as U.S. News rankings of the Best Hospitals.

Of the 10 least desirable retirement cities ranked by U.S. News & World Report, five are in California, including the four at the bottom of the list. Of the rest, two are in Louisiana, and one each in Alabama, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

© 2019 Florida Realtors®




Florida Growth to Top 300,000 People Each Year

Fla. will continue growing by more than 330,000 people per year (906 per day) and top 22 million residents by 2022, according to a report by state economists. The rate is equivalent to adding a city population larger than Orlando each year.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida will continue growing by more than 300,000 people a year and will top 22 million residents in 2022, according to a report posted online this week by state economists.

The Demographic Estimating Conference updated population forecasts through April 1, 2024 and showed steady growth during the multi-year period.

“Between April 1, 2018 and April 1, 2024, population growth is expected to average 330,605 net new residents per year (906 per day), representing a compound growth rate of 1.53% over this six-year time horizon,” an executive summary of the report said. “These increases are analogous to adding a city slightly larger than Orlando every year.”

The report estimated the population on April 1, 2018, at 20.84 million, with an increase to 21.2 million on April 1, 2019. It’s forecast to hit 22.2 million as of April 1, 2022 and 22.8 million on April 1, 2024.

The population increases will primarily stem from “net migration” as people move into the state, rather than births, which are largely offset by deaths.

The report noted that the state’s forecasts are actually lower than population predictions by the U.S. Census Bureau, saying they use different methodologies in reaching their estimates.

Source: News Service of Florida




Fla.’s home sales, new listings, median prices up in July

 

ORLANDO, Fla. – Aug. 22, 2018 – Florida's housing market reported more sales, rising median prices and more new listings in July compared to a year ago, though for-sale inventory remains constrained in many markets, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 25,488 last month, up 3.8 percent compared to July 2017.

"In a positive sign for Florida's housing market and potential buyers, we saw a modest increase in new listings in July," says 2018 Florida Realtors President Christine Hansen, broker-owner with Century 21 Hansen Realty in Fort Lauderdale. "New listings for existing single-family homes rose 3.1 percent compared to a year ago and new listings for condo-townhouse properties increased 2 percent from last July. Meanwhile, home sellers received more of their original asking price at the closing table. Sellers of existing single-family homes received 96.7 percent (median percentage) of their original listing price, while those selling condo-townhouse properties received 95.3 percent (median percentage)."

July was the 79th month in a row that the statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and condo-townhouse properties rose year-over-year. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes was $255,000, up 6.3 percent from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Research Department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. The statewide median price for condo-townhouse units in July was $180,000, up 5.3 percent over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in June 2018 was $279,300, up 5.2 percent from the previous year; the national median existing condo price was $258,100. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in June was $602,760; in Massachusetts, it was $430,000; in Maryland, it was $313,254; and in New York, it was $280,000.

Looking at Florida's condo-townhouse market, statewide closed sales totaled 10,032 last month, up 8.5 percent compared to a year ago. Closed sales data reflected dwindling short sales and foreclosures in July: Short sales for condo-townhouse properties dropped 33 percent and foreclosures fell 26.5 percent year-to-year; while short sales for single-family homes declined 41.6 percent and foreclosures fell 38.3 percent year-to-year. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

"We are continuing to see signs that the low-inventory situation impacting the single-family home market has finally stopped getting worse, though it remains constrained," says Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O'Connor. "As of the end of July, there were 3.9-months' supply of single-family inventory in Florida, marking the third straight month where there was no year-over-year change in this metric. We're still squarely in seller's market territory, though, and we're going to need new single-family construction to ramp up even more.

"Half of Florida's 4.3 million millennials are now in their thirties, and while their employment opportunities have improved drastically in recent years, the state's housing shortage is locking them out of their best opportunity to build lasting wealth during their prime working years. In the short run, their best bet may be to consider ownership of a multifamily unit like a condo or townhouse, where inventory levels are not nearly as tight in most areas around the state. Statewide, there's currently a 5.3-months' supply in the condo-townhouse category, indicating a much more balanced market than what we have with single-family homes."

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.53 percent in July 2018, up from the 3.97 percent averaged during the same month a year earlier.

To see the full statewide housing activity reports, go to Florida Realtors Research & Statistics section on floridarealtors.org. Realtors also have access to local market stats (password protected) on Florida Realtors website.

© 2018 Florida Realtors®

 

 

Foreign buyers spent $7.1 billion in S. Fla. last year

 

MIAMI – Feb. 9, 2018 – Foreign homebuyers spent $900 million more on South Florida homes and purchased more local residential properties in 2017 than they did in 2016, according to the new 2017 MIAMI International Homebuyers Report conducted by the Miami Association of Realtors® (MIAMI) and the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). The sixth-annual survey includes data from Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Martin counties. It ranks transactions by countries of origin and highlights key characteristics of foreign buyers.

Survey results for South Florida

  • Foreign buyers purchased $7.1 billion of South Florida residential properties last year, up from $6.2 billion in 2016.
  • Foreign buyers accounted for 29 percent of Florida’s $24.2 billion of international dollar sales volume.
  • International buyers purchased 15,400 properties – a 41.3 percent increase from one year ago (10,900).
  • Foreign buyers accounted for 35 percent of MIAMI’s closed sales and 24 percent of Florida international sales.

“International buyers continue investing in South Florida and Miami because they see the economic potential of America’s youngest major city,” said Miami broker George C. Jalil, the 2018 MIAMI chairman of the board.

Florida is the top U.S. destination for foreign buyers (22 percent of all sales), according to NAR’s 2017 Profile of International Activity in U.S. Residential Real Estate. More than half of all international home sales in Florida (53 percent) occur in Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, according to the Florida Realtors 2017 Profile of International Residential Real Estate Activity in Florida.

Nationwide, South Florida secures about 11 percent of all U.S. international home sales. Of that 11 percent:

  • 51 percent take place in Miami-Dade County
  • 32 percent in Broward (up from 27 percent in 2016)
  • 9 percent in Palm Beach (up from 4 percent in 2016)

Top countries investing in South Florida

  • Argentina (15 percent of South Florida foreign purchases)
  • Venezuela (11 percent)
  • Canada (11 percent)
  • Colombia (9 percent)
  • Brazil (8 percent)
  • France (4 percent)
  • Ecuador (4 percent)
  • Mexico (4 percent)
  • United Kingdom (3 percent)
  • Italy (3 percent)
  • Chile (3 percent)
  • China (3 percent)
  • Dominican Republic (3 percent)
  • Germany (2 percent)
  • Russia (2 percent)

To investor countries by county
Miami-Dade

  • Venezuela (12 percent)
  • Argentina and Brazil (9 percent)
  • Colombia (5 percent)
  • France (4 percent)
  • Ecuador
  • Italy (3 percent each)

Broward County

  • Canada (12 percent)
  • Argentina (8 percent)
  • Brazil (6 percent)
  • Colombia (6 percent)
  • Venezuela (6 percent)

Palm Beach County

  • Canada (31 percent)
  • Brazil (15 percent)

Additional survey highlights

  • South Florida international homebuyers spent a median price of $339,300 for residential properties in 2017. In comparison, foreign buyers of Florida Realtors members had a median price of $259,400, while foreign buyers in the United States spend $302,300.
  • About 66 percent of all 2017 international residential transactions in South Florida were made in all-cash, down from 72 percent in 2016.
  • South Florida international home buyers prefer condominiums (55 percent) in the central/urban areas (57 percent), which they intend to use mainly as residential rental, vacation home or both (70 percent).
  • About 37 percent of buyers say real estate prices are less expensive than their home country.
  • About 5 percent of South Florida foreign buyers purchased local homes without even visiting Florida. About 18 percent purchased with just one visit to Florida; 31 percent purchased with two visits; 17 percent bought after visiting Florida three times.
  • About 57 percent of MIAMI members work with international buyers, almost double the national figure of 30 percent.

© 2018 Florida Realtors®





Report: Fla.’s fast-growth track may create housing boom

 

NEW YORK – Feb. 5, 2018 – The U.S. population is growing and rose by 2.2 million people in 2016, according to the latest Census data.

But the population growth isn't even, as some areas face booming growth patterns even as others show little or no growth. The South and West, for example, saw their populations rise by 1.1 percent in 2016, while the Northeast and Midwest saw just a 0.1 percent uptick.

Out of the 50 U.S. states, eight had populations that grew by more than 1.6 percent in 2016. Many of the fastest-growing states tend to have affordable, midsize cities with quality school systems, and low unemployment, reports 24/7 Wall St., a financial news site.

24/7 Wall St. reviewed one-year populations for all 50 states from 2015 to 2016 Census data. (The population estimates listed are from July 1 of each year.)

The fastest growing states are:


1. Utah

  • 1-year population growth rate: 2.03%
  • Current population: 3.05 million
  • 2015 population: 2.99 million
  • 10-year population growth rate: 20.82%

2. Nevada

  • 1-year population growth rate: 1.95%
  • Current population: 2.94 million
  • 2015 population: 2.88 million
  • 10-year population growth rate: 16.55%

3. Idaho

  • 1-year population growth rate: 1.83%
  • Current population: 1.68 million
  • 2015 population: 1.65 million
  • 10-year population growth rate: 14.60%

4. Florida

  • 1-year population growth rate: 1.82%
  • Current population: 20.61 million
  • 2015 population: 20.24 million
  • 10-year population growth rate: 13.46%

5. Washington

  • 1-year population growth rate: 1.78%
  • Current population: 7.29 million
  • 2015 population: 7.16 million
  • 10-year population growth rate: 14.40%

6. Oregon

  • 1-year population growth rate: 1.71%
  • Current population: 4.09 million
  • 2015 population: 4.02 million
  • 10-year population growth rate: 11.51%

7. Colorado

  • 1-year population growth rate: 1.68%
  • Current population: 5.54 million
  • 2015 population: 5.45 million
  • 10-year population growth rate: 17.37%

8. Arizona

  • 1-year population growth rate: 1.66%
  • Current population: 6.93 million
  • 2015 population: 6.82 million
  • 10-year population growth rate: 14.96%

Meanwhile, West Virginia and Illinois are seeing their populations shrink by the fastest amount. West Virginia's one-year population growth rate dropped by 0.54 percent; its 10-year population growth rate is projected to be 0.17 percent. Illinois' one-year population growth rate declined by 0.29 percent, though its 10-year population growth rate is 1.25 percent, according to the study.

More study results are posted online.

Source: "The Fastest Growing (and Shrinking) States," 24/7 Wall St. (Jan. 5, 2018)

© Copyright 2018 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688 





Fla. housing market: Sales, median prices rise in Dec. 2017

 

ORLANDO, Fla. – Jan. 24, 2018 – Florida's housing market reported more closed sales and higher median prices in December, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 22,903 last month, up 2.6 percent compared to December 2016.

"Florida's housing market continued to experience tight inventory of for-sale homes in December, and that's definitely impacting the market," said 2018 Florida Realtors President Christine Hansen, broker-owner with Century 21 Hansen Realty in Fort Lauderdale"Last month, statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and townhouse-condo properties rose year-over-year for 72 months in row. For sellers, that's good news; however, rising prices and tight inventory are putting pressure on first-time homebuyers and those who may be looking for their next 'move-up' home.

"Any consumer looking to buy or sell a home in Florida should consult a local Realtor, who can who can help them understand local market conditions and be prepared to act when the time is right."

In fact, sellers continued to get more of their original asking price at the closing table. Sellers of existing single-family homes in December received 96.3 percent (median percentage) of their original listing price, while those selling townhouse-condo properties received 95.1 percent (median percentage).

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $244,185, up 8 percent from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Research Department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Thestatewide median price for condo-townhouse properties in December was $180,000, up 7.8 percent over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

According to the National Association of Realtors®(NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in November 2017 was $, up percent from the previous year; the national median existing condo price was $546,820; in Massachusetts, it was $384,000; in Maryland, it was $280,570; and in New York, it was ®Chief Economist Dr. Brad O'Connor.<span< p="">

December's for-sale inventory remained tight with a 3.6-months' supply for single-family homes and a 5.6-months' supply for condo-townhouse properties, according to Florida Realtors.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.95 percent in December 2017, down from the 4.20 percent averaged during the same month a year earlier.

For the full statewide housing activity reports, go to the Florida Realtors Research & Statistics section on floridarealtors.org. Realtors also have access to local market stats (password protected) on Florida Realtors' website.

© 2018 Florida Realtors®






Florida report: 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

 

ORLANDO, Fla. – Jan. 17, 2018 – What does the typical Fla. buyer or seller look like? Only 1 in 5 (22 percent) of buyers are first-timers compared to 34 percent in U.S., and they're typically 45 years old.

On the other hand, the average seller is 60 years old, makes about $96,500 annually and owns a home that they think is too small.

The insights stem from the 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers Florida Report issued by Florida Realtors®with data compiled by the National Association of Realtors® (NAR) research department. The report can also be downloaded via the "Residential" drop-down menu on Florida Realtors' research page.

Report highlights

Florida homebuyer characteristics

  • In Florida, 22 percent of all buyers were first-timers. (Nationally, it was 34 percent.)
  • The typical Florida buyer was 54 years old and had a median income of $83,000.
  • 68 percent were married couples, 14 percent were single females, nine percent single males, and eight percent unmarried couples.
  • 15 percent of homebuyers purchased a multi-generational home.
  • 88 percent of recent Florida homebuyers identified as heterosexual, four percent as gay or lesbian and less than one percent as bisexual. The rest preferred not to answer.
  • 25 percent of buyers are veterans and three percent are active-duty service members in Florida. Nationally, only 18 percent of recent homebuyers were veterans.
  • At 26 percent, the primary reason for purchasing a home was the desire to own a home of their own.

Characteristics of Florida homes purchased

  • In Florida, 18 percent of first-time buyers purchased a new home and 82 percent bought a previously owned home.
  • Why wait for a new home to be built? In Florida, 34 percent wanted to avoid renovations and problems with plumbing or electricity.
  • Why buy a previously owned home? 34 percent were looking for a better overall value.
  • 79 percent of buyers opted for a detached single-family home.
  • 21 percent bought a senior-related home.
  • The median home price was $215,000 and 97 percent of the asking price.
  • The typical Florida home purchased was 1,800 square feet and built in 1996.
  • Overall, buyers expect to live in their homes for a median of 15 years.

The home search process

  • In Florida, 42 percent of buyers looked online first and 22 percent contacted a real estate agent.
  • 81 percent found real estate agents very useful, and 83 percent said the same for websites.
  • Florida buyers typically searched for 10 weeks and looked at 10 homes. However, those who did not search the internet looked at six homes over three weeks.
  • Among buyers who used the internet, 86 percent found photos useful.
  • In Florida, 64 percent were satisfied with the buying process – a better report card for the state than the 61 percent satisfied nationally.

Home buying and Florida's real estate professionals

  • 83 percent of Floridians (86 percent nationally) purchased their home through a real estate agent or broker.
  • Why work with a Realtor? In Florida, 56 percent said it was to find the right home.
  • 36 percent of Florida buyers (42 percent nationally) used an agent referred by a friend, neighbor or relative, and 12 percent used an agent that they had worked with in the past.
  • Seven in 10 buyers interviewed only one real estate agent during their home search.
  • Eighty-nine percent of buyers would use their agent again or recommend their agent to others.

Florida sellers and the selling experience

  • The typical Florida home seller was 60 years old, with a median household income of $96,500.
  • In Florida, the top reasons for moving were retirement (15 percent), the desire to move closer to friends and family (12 percent) and a job relocation (11 percent).
  • Florida sellers typically lived in their home for 11 years before selling.
  • 90 percent of home sellers worked with a Florida real estate agent to sell their home.
  • For recently sold homes, the final sales price was a median 98 percent of the final listing price.
  • 33 percent of all sellers offered incentives to attract buyers.
  • 66 percent of Florida sellers were very satisfied with the selling process.

Sellers and Florida's real estate professionals

  • 63 percent of Florida home sellers found their agent through a referral from a friend, neighbor, or relative, or they used an agent they had worked with before.
  • 74 percent of recent Florida sellers contacted only one agent before finding the one they worked with to sell their home.
  • 93 percent of sellers listed their homes on the Multiple Listing Service (MLS).
  • 81 percent of sellers reported that they provided the agent's compensation.
  • 34 percent of Florida's sellers have recommended their agent to others at least three or more times since selling their home.
  • In Florida, 67 percent said they would definitely recommend their agent for future services, and 16 percent said probably.

© 2018 Florida Realtors®




New: 2017 Profile of international RE activity in Fla.

 

ORLANDO, Fla. – Nov. 10, 2017 – Since 2005, Florida Realtors has released an annual study on international real estate activity in Florida. Conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) Research Group, it attempts to understand the interaction of members with international clients, the challenges and opportunities they face serving foreign clients, and the characteristics of foreign buyers who purchase Florida property.

The 2017 Profile of International Residential Real Estate Activity in Florida covers the 12-month period of August 2016-July 2017 and includes info on U.S. clients seeking to purchase property abroad.

The survey considers only residential purchases in the state.

Survey highlights

Florida residential property purchases by foreign buyers

  • Foreign purchases in the state increased to $24.2 billion, a $4.8 billion increase from 2016’s $19.4 billion
  • Foreign transactions accounted for 21 percent of Florida’s residential dollar volume of sales, a 2 percent increase year-to-year
  • Foreign buyers purchased 61,300 Florida properties (47,000 in 2016), which made up 15 percent of Florida’s residential market (12 percent in 2016)
  • The median purchase price paid by foreign buyers increased to $259,400 ($252,500 in 2016), which was in line with the overall increase in Florida prices
  • The median price paid by foreign buyers was 18 percent higher than the median price paid by all Florida buyers

Nationalities of Florida’s foreign residential buyers

  • Latin American and Caribbean buyers accounted for the largest portion of Florida foreign buyers (34 percent), though this group made up 39 percent the previous year.
  • Canadian buyers increased to 22 percent (19 percent in 2016)
  • Other countries remained consistent year-to-year: The share of European buyers was unchanged at 23 percent; Asian buyers at 10 percent; and African buyers at one percent
  • Most foreign buyers were concentrated in five metropolitan areas: Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach (53percent); Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford (11percent); Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater (nine percent); Cape Coral-Fort Myers (six percent); and North Point-Sarasota-Bradenton (five percent)

Transaction details

  • 72 percent of foreign buyers made an all-cash purchase
  • 68 percent of foreign buyers purchased residential property for vacation, residential rental or for both uses (72 percent in 2016); 49 percent bought a townhouse or condominium (52 percent in 2016)
  • 35 percent (40 percent in 2016) purchased in a central city/urban area; 15 percent purchased in a resort area (14 percent in 2016)
  • 93 percent of foreign buyers visited Florida at least once before purchasing a property (92 percent in 2016)

Florida clients searching properties abroad

  • 17 percent of Florida’s Realtors said they had a client seeking to purchase property abroad, up from 14 percent in 2016
  • Top countries of interest from Florida residents looking elsewhere: Colombia, Costa Rica, Spain, Canada and the Dominican Republic
  • 75 percent were interested in residential property (79 percent in 2016)
  • 75 percent intended to use the property for vacation, residential rental or both uses (84 percent in 2016)

Florida’s Realtors interaction with international clients

  • While international business rose, fewer Realtors in Florida (44 percent) said they worked with an international client in 2017 (48 percent in 2016)
  • 61 percent of Realtors said they did not have cultural and language problems
  • Personal contacts, previous clients and business contacts accounted for 72 percent of referrals or leads
  • An agent’s firm, franchise website or social media was the primary source of online leads, followed by other aggregator websites and Realtor.com
  • Respondents were evenly split about the outlook in the next 12 months: 43 percent expected the same or an increase in international clients, 42 percent expected a decrease, and 15 percent had no opinion.
  • 56 percent expect foreign retirees to be potential clients

© 2017 Florida Realtors





New home sales soar to highest level in a decade

 

WASHINGTON (AP) – Oct. 25, 2017 – Sales of new U.S. homes jumped last month to the highest level since October 2007, a sign that Americans – unable to find existing homes – are turning to new construction. Damage from last month's hurricanes may have also inflated the data.

New home sales leapt 18.9 percent in September to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 667,000, the most in a decade, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. Sales rose in all regions including the South, where they increased nearly 26 percent.

The government said it couldn't estimate what impact, if any, last month's hurricanes had on the data. But the measure of new home sales is based on contract signings, so the number was likely lifted by those looking to replace homes destroyed or damaged by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

"This is yet another sign that, as we first saw with the initial jobless claims data, the recovery from Harvey was very fast and the disruption from Irma in Florida was far less than initially feared," said Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont Securities.

Still, sales of new homes also jumped outside hurricane-affected areas, including in the Northeast, where they rose 33 percent, and the Midwest, where they rose nearly 11 percent. Sales in the West ticked up 3 percent.

A supply crunch of existing homes has frustrated many would-be buyers and hobbled the housing market this year. September's figures suggest that Americans are increasingly looking to new homes instead, which could encourage more construction.

Yet developers have struggled to keep up with demand. Many construction firms say they have difficulty finding the workers they need to start new projects.

Construction of single-family homes slipped nearly 5 percent last month. Still, thanks to large increases over the summer, single-family homebuilding remains 5.9 percent higher than a year ago. Builders also obtained more permits for new building last month. That suggests home building could accelerate in the coming months.

Developers are feeling optimistic. A survey by the National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo found that their outlook is the brightest it has been since May.

Homebuilders are increasingly focused on higher-priced housing, potentially freezing out potential buyers of more modest incomes. The average price of a new home rose to $385,200 in September, the highest on records dating back to 1963.

Last month, 19,000 homes were sold for $500,000 or higher, more than the 13,000 that were sold for $200,000 or less.

AP Logo Copyright © 2017 The Associated Press, Christopher Rugaber, AP economics writer. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




Bubble? Nowhere in sight for U.S. housing market

 

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Oct. 24, 2017 – U.S. housing markets are expected to remain healthy through at least the end of 2018, with no housing bubble in sight and no projection of home prices falling, according to the Fall 2017 edition of The Housing and Mortgage Market Review (HaMMR), released by Arch Mortgage Insurance Company.

The HaMMR features the Arch MI Risk Index, a statistical model based on recent housing market indicators. The index suggests that over the next two years, the probability of home price declines in America's 401 largest cities averages just 4 percent – an unusually low number.

The trend reflects broad-based favorable fundamentals, such as a tightening job market, relatively low interest rates, a low number of homes for sale and an overall housing shortage.

"People waiting for home prices to fall before buying may want to change their strategy, as the overall housing market is expected to stay strong for the foreseeable future," says Dr. Ralph G. DeFranco, Global Chief Economist, Mortgage Services of Arch Capital Services Inc. "Our research shows no housing bubble is forming in the United States, with prices overall near historic norms compared to incomes."

The HaMMR also finds that some recent concern about U.S. home prices hitting all-time highs is overblown because, after adjusting for inflation, national home prices are still 10 percent below their prior peak.

However, recovery from the housing crash is not universal. While prices have increased in Colorado, Idaho, North Dakota and the Pacific Northwest (Washington and Oregon), areas like New England and energy-extraction states like Alaska, West Virginia and Wyoming are growing more slowly.

© 2017 Florida Realtors  




Investors focusing on build-to-rent homes

 

NEW YORK – May 26, 2017 – Investment companies are betting big that the rental boom will continue, which is why they're still snatching up properties even as foreclosures dry up.

Following the financial crisis, investors purchased foreclosures on the cheap and then rented these single-family homes out for profit. It's a move that worked for several years, but now there are fewer foreclosures to buy, home prices are on the rise, and there's fewer homes overall on the market. That has prompted more investors to turn their focus to build-to-rent: If they can't find a home to rent, they'll build one themselves.

Indeed, American Homes 4 Rent, the largest publicly traded landlord by number of homes, is buying up lots and houses. U.S. Colony Starwood Homes says it plans to buy at least 600 just-built properties over the next year from more than a dozen builders. AHV Communities LLC says it's planning to buy entire neighborhoods of single-family residences that would be available for renting.

Landlord companies believe there are a lot of people who want single-family homes but still can't afford to buy them. They believe the rental market will stay strong for the foreseeable future.

Buying new costs investment firms more than acquiring an existing home, however. Companies are searching for discounts from builders. They're also able to put less into maintenance and repairs on the new homes to cover some of the added costs of buying new.

Investors are betting that newer homes will bring in higher yields than existing properties. A new single-family rental tends to fetch a higher rent – 5 percent to 8 percent more than an older, renovated home – according to Alex Sifakis, president of JWB Real Estate Capital, which has built around 450 rental homes in Jacksonville, Fla., since 2011.

Still, some industry analysts warn that landlord companies may be miscalculating how long the rental boom will really stick around. True, the homeownership rate in the U.S. has been hovering near a 51-year low. However, the number of owner-occupied homes increased faster than the number of renting households for the first time since 2006 in the first quarter of this year, Census data shows.

Source: "Foreclosures Dry Up and a Hot Wall Street Trade Gets New Look," Bloomberg (May 22, 2017)

© Copyright 2017 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688





NAR midyear forecast: Existing sales to climb 3.5%

 

WASHINGTON – May 19, 2017 – The multi-year stretch of robust job gains along with improving household confidence should guide existing-home sales to a decade high in 2017 – but supply and affordability headwinds coupled with modest economic growth are holding back sales and threatening to keep the nation's homeownership rate low, according to speakers at a residential real estate forum at the 2017 Realtors® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo.

Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of Realtors (NAR), presented his 2017 midyear forecast. He was joined onstage by Jonathan Spader, senior research associate at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, and Mark Calabria, chief economist and assistant to Vice President Mike Pence.

Spader's presentation addressed past and projected movements in the homeownership rate, and Calabria dove into why reversing weak productivity and the low labor force participation rate are necessary to boost the economy.

The first quarter was the best quarterly existing sales pace in exactly a decade (5.62 million), and Yun expects activity to stay on track and finish around 5.64 million – the best since 2006 (6.47 million) and 3.5 percent above 2016. With several metro areas seeing hefty price growth, the national median existing-home price is expected to rise around 5 percent this year.

"The housing market has exceeded expectations ever since the election, despite depressed inventory and higher mortgage rates," says Yun. "The combination of the stock market being at record highs, 16 million new jobs created since 2010, pent-up household formation and rising consumer confidence are giving more households the assurance and ability to purchase a home."

Although sales are currently running at a decade high, Yun believes the healthy labor market should be generating even more activity. However, listings in the lower- and mid-market price range are scant and selling fast, and homebuyers are discovering they can afford less of what's on the market based on their income.

"We have been under the 50-year average of single-family housing starts for 10 years now," said Yun. "Limited lots, labor shortages, tight construction lending and higher lumber costs are impeding the building industry's ability to produce more single-family homes. There's little doubt first-time buyer participation would improve and the homeownership rate would rise if there was simply more inventory."

Housing construction has been uneven so far this year, but Yun does anticipate starts to jump 8.4 percent to 1.27 million. However, this is still under the 1.5 million new homes needed to make up for the insufficient building in recent years. New single-family home sales are likely to total 620,000 this year, up 8.4 percent from 2016.

Low ownership rate

Addressing the nation's low homeownership rate, Spader said substantial uncertainty exists about its future direction. He cited foreclosure-related housing exits from older adults and delayed buying from younger households as the primary causes in the downward trend since the downturn. While there was growth in homeowner households in 2016, he said an aging population, changes in family type and increasing diversity by race and ethnicity all pose as headwinds going forward. Spader's 2025 projection puts the homeownership rate in a range of 61.0 to 65.1 percent.

"Stagnant household incomes, rising rental costs, student loan debt and limited supply have all contributed to slower purchasing activity," said Spader. "When the homeownership rate stabilizes, there will be an increase in homeowner households. Young and minority households' ability to reach the market will play a big role in how much the actual rate can rise in coming years."

Factors for growth

Calabria's presentation focused on his thoughts of what can be done to jump-start economic growth. He attributed prolonged weak productivity and the low labor participation rate as the primary reasons why the current economic expansion is the slowest since World War II.

"A strong labor market will drive a strong housing market, but you can't have a strong housing market without a strong economic foundation," said Calabria. "The recovery has been uneven with roughly 70 counties making up roughly half of all job growth. The White House's proposed plans to cut corporate and individual tax cuts will help large and small businesses grow, hire and ultimately contribute to more households buying homes as more money goes into their pockets."

Although Yun said economic growth in the first quarter was "a huge disappointment" at 0.7 percent (first estimate), he anticipates that an increase in consumer spending and more homebuilding should provide enough fuel for gross domestic product to finish slightly higher, at 2.2 percent, than a year ago (1.6 percent).

Yun believes the rising interest rate environment is here to stay as the Federal Reserve slowly begins unwinding its balance sheet. He foresees two more short-term rate hikes by the end of this year and for mortgage rates to average around 4.30 percent before gradually climbing towards 5.0 percent by the end of 2018.

"There was a lot of uncertainty at the start of the year, but a very strong first quarter sets the stage for a modest sales increase compared to last year," said Yun. "However, prices are still rising too fast in many areas and are outpacing incomes. That is why housing starts need to rise to alleviate supply shortages. There will be more sales if there's a meaningful bump in new and existing inventory."

© 2017 Florida Realtors




Fla. home sales up 9.3% year-to-year in March

 

ORLANDO, Fla. – April 21, 2017 – Florida's housing market reported more closed sales, higher median prices and increased pending sales in March, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors. Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 25,921 last month, up 9.3 percent compared to March 2016.

"March's strong sales likely were influenced by buyers ready to take action before interest rates could move higher," says 2017 Florida Realtors President Maria Wells, broker-owner with Lifestyle Realty Group in Stuart. "Higher demand, coupled with a shortage of available homes for sale, continues to put pressure on prices – so buyers are eager to make an offer when they find the right property.

"That means it's a good time for sellers to list their homes since they continue to receive a higher sales price as inventory remains scarce," Wells adds. "In March, sellers of existing single-family homes received 96.1 percent (median percentage) of their original listing price, while those selling townhouse-condo properties received 94.7 percent – an indication that the listed price is extremely close to market value.

"Consumers who work closely with a local Realtor have an expert guide to help them navigate the often-complex process of buying or selling a home."

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $231,900, up 10.4 percent from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors research department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. The statewide median price for townhouse-condo properties in March was $171,000, up 9.4 percent over the year-ago figure.

March marked the 64th consecutive month that statewide median prices for both sectors rose year-over-year. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in February 2017 was $229,900, up 7.6 percent from the previous year; the national median existing condo price was $216,100. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in February was $478,790; in Massachusetts, it was $330,000; in Maryland, it was $251,816; and in New York, it was $242,000.

Looking at Florida's townhouse-condo market, statewide closed sales totaled 11,193 last month, up 11.4 percent compared to March 2016.

Closed sales data reflected fewer short sales and cash-only sales last month: Short sales for townhouse-condo properties declined 29.7 percent while short sales for single-family homes also dropped 33 percent. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

"March turned out to be one of the strongest months we've seen in a long time for sales of existing homes in the Sunshine State," said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O'Connor. "Sales for both single-family homes and for townhouse-condo units in March marked the fourth-highest monthly total for any single month over the past decade.

"The data shows that inventory levels in the more affordable price tiers continue to fall, especially in the case of single-family homes. The number of active single-family home listings was down almost 5 percent year-over-year at the end of March. As a result, the single-family sector remained a seller's market, though the inventory situation in the townhouse-condo market appears more balanced."

In a continuing trend, inventory remained at a tight 4.1-months' supply in March for single-family homes and at a 6.3-months' supply for townhouse-condo properties.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.20 percent in March 2017, up significantly from the 3.69 percent average recorded during the same month a year earlier.

To see the full statewide housing activity reports, go to Florida Realtors Media Center and look under Latest Releases, or download the March 2017 data report PDFs under Market Data.

© 2017 Florida Realtors





Floridians’ confidence hits 15-year high in March

 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – April 4, 2017 – Consumer sentiment among Floridians rose last month to the highest level in 15 years, according to the latest University of Florida (UF) consumer survey.

The reading of 99 in March was the highest since March 2002 and the second-highest since November 2000. The 5.2-point March increase followed a dip in February, which ended the month with a revised reading of 93.8.

All five of the components that make up the index increased.

Current perceptions
Floridians' perception of their personal financial situation now compared with a year ago ticked up four-tenths of a point, from 88.1 to 88.5. Perceptions as to whether it's a good time to buy a major household item such as an appliance rose 3.8 points, from 99.7 to 103.5.

"The increase in these two components shows that current economic conditions improved among Floridians in March," says Hector H. Sandoval, director of the Economic Analysis Program at UF's Bureau of Economic and Business Research. "In particular, women and those under age 60 displayed more optimistic perceptions."

Short-term future expectations
The sub-index measuring Floridians' personal finance expectations a year from now rose 7.8 points from 99.5 to 107.3. Opinions of anticipated U.S. economic conditions over the next year increased 7.2 points, from 92.0 to 99.2.

Similarly, expectations of U.S. economic conditions over the next five years rose 7.2 points, from 89.5 to 96.7.

"Overall, Floridians are far more optimistic in March than the previous month. The gain in March's index came mainly from consumers' future expectations about the economy. Importantly, these views are shared by all Floridians, independent of their demographic characteristics and socioeconomic status," Sandoval says. "These expectations are particularly strong among women and those with an income under $50,000."

U.S. consumer sentiment at the national level also remained positive in March at 96.9, according to the University of Michigan's survey of consumers.

In Florida, consumer sentiment may have been lifted by good economic news. The Florida labor market has continued expansion, adding jobs on a monthly basis for more than six years. The unemployment rate in Florida remained unchanged at 5 percent in February, the most recent figure available. Over the last year, the unemployment rate has remained stable: Between March and December 2016, the unemployment rate was 4.9 percent, and since January the rate has been 5 percent.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Florida ranked third out of all states in the country in personal income growth, with a growth rate of 4.9 percent in personal income between 2015 and 2016. The main contributor to this change came from net earnings, which includes wages, salaries and supplements but excludes contributions for government social insurance.

Nationwide, economic activity and the labor market has continued to expand and strengthen, and household spending has risen. As a consequence, last month the Federal Open Market Committee decided to raise the federal funds rate to a target range of 0.75 to 1 percent.

"In general, the economic outlook is very positive and the positive sentiment will aid the economy to expand even further," Sandoval said.

Conducted March 1-30, the UF study reflects the responses of 507 individuals who were reached on cellphones, representing a demographic cross section of Florida. The index used by UF researchers is benchmarked to 1966, which means a value of 100 represents the same level of confidence for that year. The lowest index possible is a 2, the highest is 150.

© 2017 Florida Realtors  




Fla.’s housing market continues to see rising prices in Feb.

 

ORLANDO, Fla. – March 22, 2017 – Florida's housing market continued to report a tight supply of homes for sale and rising median prices in February, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Sales of single-family homes statewide remained relatively flat last month, totaling 18,033, down only 0.5 percent compared to February 2016.

"Florida's economy is growing, with more jobs being created," said 2017 Florida Realtors President Maria Wells, broker-owner with Lifestyle Realty Group in Stuart. "And a growing economy boosts the state's housing sector as well. However, many local markets are reporting a low inventory of for-sale homes at a time of increasing buyer demand. For sellers, it's a good time to list their homes, as they continue to get more of their original asking price at the closing table. In February, sellers of existing single-family homes received 95.8 percent (median percentage) of their original listing price, while those selling townhouse-condo properties received 94.7 percent.

"In these kinds of market conditions, serious home buyers must be prepared to act fast, and work closely with a local Realtor to find the right home for their needs and their budget."

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $225,000, up 12.5 percent from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors research department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Thestatewide median price for townhouse-condo properties in February was $167,500, up 11.7 percent over the year-ago figure. February marked the 63rd month in a row that statewide median prices for both sectors rose year-over-year. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), thenational median sales price for existing single-family homes in January 2016 was $230,400, up 7.3 percent from the previous yearthenational median existing condo price was $217,400.In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in January was $489,580; in Massachusetts, it was $330,000; in Maryland, it was $261,868; and in New York, it was $250,000.

Looking at Florida's townhouse-condo market, statewide closed sales totaled 7,949 last month, up 4.1 percent compared to February 2016. Closed sales data reflected fewer short sales and cash-only sales last month: Short sales for townhouse-condo properties declined 39.6 percent while short sales for single-family homes also dropped 39.6 percent. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

"Florida's market for existing single-family homes in February continued to perform in line with what we've seen over the past year and a half," said Florida Realtors®Chief Economist Dr. Brad O'Connor. "Due primarily to fewer distressed properties on the market, sales of single-family homes edged down. However, non-distressed sales of single-family homes were up almost 10 percent year-over-year, showing that the traditional market – as opposed to the niche distressed market – is healthy and continues to grow.

"Meanwhile, Florida's condo and townhouse sales are off to very good start in 2017. Coming off a 6.2 percent year-over-year increase in January, condo and townhouse sales rose 4.1 percent year-over-year in February. For perspective, the last time statewide condo and townhouse sales rose on a year-over-year basis for two consecutive months was in August and September of 2015."

For the second consecutive month, inventory remained at a tight 4.2-months' supply in February for single-family homes, and was at a 6.4-months' supply for townhouse-condo properties, according to Florida Realtors.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.17 percent in February 2016, up significantly from the 3.66 percent average recorded during the same month a year earlier.

For the full statewide housing activity reports, go to Florida Realtors Research and Statistics on floridarealtors.org. Realtors also have access to local market stats (password protected) on Florida Realtors' website.



Spring real estate buyers: Early bird gets worm

 

CHICAGO – March 15, 2017 – Entering real estate's traditionally busiest time of year, the housing market is buoyed by a stronger economy and consumer confidence. Job creation is 30 percent stronger year-to-year, unemployment is near a nine-year low, and wages and incomes are growing at the highest levels in about eight years, says Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com's chief economist.

Some buyers are in more of a hurry this season too, and speed may count.

In the last two weeks, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose by nearly a quarter point. The Federal Reserve has also strongly indicated that it plans to raise short-term rates more than once this year, which would could directly affect adjustable-rate mortgages and, indirectly, fixed-rate mortgages. Smoke predicts three to four interest rate increases this year, and he predicts that they'll rise from 10 to 25 basis points in one- to two-week spurts, followed by some holding patterns.

"The upside of higher rates is that it is getting easier to get a mortgage," Smoke says. Mortgage credit access has increased 6.5 percent since September, the Mortgage Bankers Association reports.

"Arguably the biggest challenge to buyers this spring will be simply finding a home to buy and getting it successfully under contract," Smoke says. "That's because the supply of homes for sale is at an all-time low, and yet demand is strong and getting stronger."

In January, the nation saw the lowest inventory of homes available for sale ever at realtor.com. Inventory managed a 2 percent increase in February, but it's still down 11 percent compared to last year.

With lower inventories and higher demand, homes are selling faster. Twenty-seven percent of listings sold in less than 30 days in February, according to realtor.com.

"The early birds who decided to buy in the winter faced less competition and enjoyed lower rates than we are seeing now," Smoke says. "It gets more expensive and more competitive going forward, but the early-ish buyer, at this point, is still likely to come out on top, when you consider that prices and rates are likely to be much higher later in the year."

Source: "Forget the Snow: Spring Has Sprung in the Nation's Housing Markets," realtor.com® (March 13, 2017)

© Copyright 2017 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688





Fla.’s housing market: More sales, rising prices in Jan.

 

ORLANDO, Fla. – Feb. 22, 2017 – Florida's housing market reported more closed sales, higher median prices, increased pending sales and more new listings in January, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 16,779 last month, up 5.2 percent from January 2016.

"Florida's housing market continues to show positive momentum," says 2017 Florida Realtors President Maria Wells, broker-owner with Lifestyle Realty Group in Stuart. "While existing inventory remains tight, Realtors across the state are reporting interest from both buyers and sellers – and with interest rates expected to rise over the next few months, now is certainly a good time to take action. On the buyer front, new pending sales for existing single family homes in January increased 3.8 percent year-over-year; pending sales for townhouse-condo units increased 6.5 percent. On the sellers' side, new listings for single-family homes rose 7.6 percent year-over-year, while new townhouse-condo listings ticked up 0.9 percent.

"When market conditions are tight, consumers can get ahead by working with a Realtor who's an expert in the local area," Wells says. "A Realtor will have the knowledge needed to help both buyers and sellers through the complex home buying process."

Home sellers continued to get more of their original asking price at the closing table in January: Sellers of existing single-family homes received 95.6 percent (median percentage) of their original listing price, while those selling townhouse-condo properties received 94.6 percent.

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $220,000, up 10.1 percent from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors research department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Thestatewide median price for townhouse-condo properties in January was $161,000, up 6.6 percent over the year-ago figure. January marked the 62nd month in a row that statewide median prices for both sectors rose year-over-year. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

Accordingto the National Association of Realtors (NAR), thenational median sales price for existing single-family homes in December 2016 was $233,500, up 3.8 percent from the previous yearthe national median existing condo price was $221,600.In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in December was $509,060; in Massachusetts, it was $355,000; in Maryland, it was $269,319; and in New York, it was $240,000.

Looking at Florida's townhouse-condo market, statewide closed sales totaled 7,209 last month, up 6.2 percent compared to January 2016. Closed sales data reflected fewer short sales and cash-only sales last month: Short sales for townhouse-condo properties declined 47.7 percent while short sales for single-family homes dropped 36.3 percent. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

"Florida's markets for existing homes are off to a good start in 2017," says Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O'Connor. "Throughout much of this housing cycle, growth in single-family home sales has outpaced that of condos and townhouses, but in January – for the first time since November 2015 – this was not the case, though one month's worth of data alone doesn't indicate a long-term trend.

Also, new listings of single-family homes were up in January compared to last year, including in the $150,000 to $250,000 range where inventory is sorely needed throughout the state. That said, inventory was still down overall in this range, as this segment of the market remains in high demand throughout the state."

 

Inventory dipped to a 4.2-months' supply in January for single-family homes and was at a 6.4-months' supply for townhouse-condo properties, according to Florida Realtors.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.15 percent in January 2016, up significantly from the 3.87 percent average recorded during the same month a year earlier.

For the full statewide housing activity reports, go to Florida Realtors Research and Statistics on floridarealtors.org. Realtors also have access to local market stats (password protected) on Florida Realtors' website.

© 2017 Florida Realtors®




Real Estate Trends: Fla. ‘outperformed’ the U.S.

 

ORLANDO, Fla. – Jan. 27, 2017 — In 2016, Florida’s economy outperformed the nation in part because of better job creation, according to several economists who spoke to a standing-room-only crowd of about 500 Realtors® at the 2017 Florida Real Estate Trends event Thursday during Florida Realtors Mid-Winter Business Meetings.

National Association of Realtors (NAR) Chief Economist Lawrence Yun noted that the pace of U.S. home sales in 2016 at 5.5 million was “the best in a decade.” Since it’s nowhere near the 7.2 million sales peak in 2006, however, it leaves room for continued growth in 2017. And while interest rates are trending higher, it hasn’t had a dampening effect on home sales.

“A 4.2 percent mortgage rate is still a great rate,” Yun said. “As long as we’re around the 4 to even 5 percent mortgage rate, home sales are likely to stay on pace. As mortgage rates rise, job creation – which Florida excels at – could be a great neutralizer and good for home sales. In fact, Florida is outperforming the country because of better job creation.”

Other speakers who shared their views on 2017 included Dr. Elliot Eisenberg, a nationally known economist and former senior economist with the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB); Michael Johnston, Florida regional sales manager, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage; Dr. Julie Harrington, director of Florida State University’s Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis; and Dr. Brad O’Connor, chief economist for Florida Realtors.

“The good news, here in Florida, you’re in the right place,” Eisenberg said. “The South is the right division to be in – the economic recovery here has been much more robust. Florida is doing fine economically, unemployment is OK, and foreclosures are diminishing.”

He agreed with Yun that while mortgage rates will continue to rise this year – albeit slowly – the markets will be fine as long as jobs are being created.

“Housing is improving, but in fits and starts,” Eisenberg said. “There’s not enough inventory of homes for sale, and builders aren’t building, especially at the entry-level. Bigger houses are being built, but it’s not profitable for builders to construct more affordable homes.”

Eisenberg cited worker shortages, burdensome land-use regulations and costs – land, labor and regulation – as some of the constraints homebuilders face when it comes to building entry-level homes.

“We have to try a myriad of solutions, but getting the land costs down and easing land-use regulations will be the single most important factor in solving this issue,” he said.

According to Eisenberg, forces at work in Florida and across the U.S. that are dampening real estate sales include:

  • Low inventory – December 2016 data, which is just a few days old, shows that the existing single-family home inventory nationwide is 3.6 months; in Florida, it’s 3.9-month months. A 6-month supply is generally considered a balanced market between buyers and sellers.
  • New model of renting – Six million single-family units have been taken off the market because institutional investors snapped up many homes during the Great Recession and created a new method of renting.
  • Mortgage rate lock – many people don’t want to sell because they’ll lose the really low mortgage rate they’re currently paying.

When it comes to financing, lenders are in a technology race to provide a digital, user-friendly experience. Their goal is to make the mortgage process easier for the customer, said Michael Johnston, Florida regional sales manager for Wells Fargo Home Mortgage.

“Today, 42 percent of homebuyers are millennials,” he said, “and with 92 million more millennials coming up, it will be an even bigger part of the housing market over the next five years. A recent survey found that 93 percent of those age 18-34 intend to buy a house sometime in their future. Millennials are always online, so creating a digital mortgage experience for them is critical.”

Johnston shared research showing that millennials value the expertise of Realtor professionals during the home buying process. “While they will go online to do home shopping, they do want to consult a trusted advisor along the way,” he said.

The condominium market is an important part of the overall real estate market, and often offers an affordable option for buyers, according to Johnston. “In Florida, the condo market is healthy and robust,” he said. “Condos make up 28 percent of all home sales in Florida; nationally, it’s 12 percent.”

Dr. Julie Harrington, director of Florida State University’s Center for Economic Forecasting and Analysis (CEFA), previewed elements of an economic impact study on Florida’s SHIP and SAIL funds by county that Florida Realtors commissioned CEFA to conduct. SHIP stands for State Housing Initiatives Partnership program, while SAIL stands for the State Apartment Incentive Loan program.

As data is collected and analyzed, researchers will construct an economic forecasting model for Florida’s future affordable housing needs, and the data will also be used to compile statewide economic impact numbers for the SHIP and SAIL programs, Harrington said.

Looking ahead to the coming months, Florida Realtors Chief Economist Brad O’Connor announced to Realtors that the state association plans to soon release housing data metrics for Florida specific to cities and zip codes. Applause greeted his announcement. O’Connor anticipates having the new statistics starting on Feb. 9, which coincides with the release of the fourth quarter 2016 and 2016 year’s end data from Florida Realtors. The statistics will be available to members at www.floridarealtors.org/research (password-protected).

Looking at all of 2016, the statewide existing homes market remained stable but was also relatively “flat,” according to O’Connor, though part of the reason for that year-to-year analysis was that “2015 was a pretty darn good year, sales-wise.”

He also pointed out that a shortage of housing inventory in markets across the state, particularly for properties values at $200,000 or less, is impacting closed sales and putting pressure on median prices. Another factor: Sales of distressed properties continue to fall.

“In 2015, 10 percent of Florida’s housing inventory was distressed at the end of each month,” O’Connor said. “This past year, it’s been 5 percent, and it’s going to keep going down in 2017.”

© 2017 Florida Realtors®




The risk Fla. home values will decline? Only 3%

 

GREENSBORO, N.C. – Jan. 11, 2017 – The likelihood of home price declines across the United States over the next two years remains unchanged at only 4 percent, according to the latest Arch MI Risk Index. And in Florida it's even lower – only 3 percent.

The risk of price declines continues to drop, according to the Winter 2017 edition of The Housing and Mortgage Market Review (HaMMR) published by Arch MI. One year ago, it was 6 percent across the U.S.; two years ago, it was 8 percent.

In addition, much of the overall risk comes from a handful of states dependent on energy that took a hit when gas prices declined. Only Wyoming and North Dakota are ranked at an "elevated risk," while Alaska, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico are considered a "moderate risk."

And while Florida's risk is considered "low" at only 3 percent, 37 of U.S. states are considered "minimal risk" with the chances of a price decline over the next two years 2 percent or less.

No U.S. bubble

"Housing is not in a bubble relative to incomes or monthly payments, either in a historical or international context," says Dr. Ralph G. DeFranco, global chief economist, mortgage services of Arch Capital Services Inc. "Even as homeownership remains out of reach for many people, a growing housing shortage will continue to push up national home prices faster than inflation for the foreseeable future."

DeFranco cites positive fundamentals for affordability, such as below-normal mortgage rates, employment growth of 2 to 2.5 million jobs a year, an extremely tight inventory of homes for sale, accelerating rent increases.

"While there are many negatives ranging from weak wage growth to a near-tripling of student debt over the past 10 years, rapid price growth suggests the supply shortfall is more important," DeFranco adds. "Given these positives for home prices, it isn't surprising that our models give a very low chance that home prices could be lower in two years in the vast majority of cities across the country."

© 2017 Florida Realtors









Fla.’s housing market: Median prices rise in Sept.



ORLANDO, Fla. – Oct. 20, 2016 – Florida's housing market had more new listings, higher median prices and fewer all-cash closed sales in September, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

Tight inventory continues to impact the state's housing market, noted Florida Realtors Chief Economist Brad O'Connor. Closed sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 22,704 last month, slightly down (0.5 percent) from September 2015. Meanwhile, in the townhouse-condo market, statewide closed sales totaled 8,818 last month, down 3.9 percent year-to-year.

"Florida's economy continues to grow, resulting in improving jobs and incomes for workers across the state," says 2016 Florida Realtors President Matey H. Veissi, broker and co-owner of Veissi & Associates in Miami. "In turn, that is generating interest from many would-be buyers who are ready to enter the housing market. However, the latest data shows that a continued lack of inventory – especially in the mid-$200,000-and-under range – is affecting those potential homebuyers, leaving them with limited choices and higher prices as a result."

Home sellers continued to get more of their original asking price at the closing table in September: Sellers of existing single-family homes received 96.2 percent (median percentage) of their original listing price, while those selling townhouse-condo properties received 94.8 percent (median percentage).

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $222,500, up 11.3 percent from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors research department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Thestatewide median price for townhouse-condo properties in September was $160,000, up 6.7 percent over the year-ago figure.

In September, statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and townhouse-condo properties rose year-over-year for the 58th month in a row, Veissi notes. The median is the midpoint: half the homes sold for more, half for less.

Accordingto the National Association of Realtors, thenational median sales price for existing single-family homes in August 2016 was $242,200, up 5.3 percent from the previous yearthe national median existing condo price was$225,100.In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in August was $526,580; in Massachusetts, it was $375,000; in Maryland, it was $278,578; and in New York, it was $257,291.

Closed sales data reflected fewer short sales and cash-only sales in September: Short sales for single-family homes declined 33.8 percent year-to-year, while short sales for townhouse-condo properties dropped 27.2 percent. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

"Even though the number of Florida single-family home sales in September was essentially the same as last year, the composition of this year's group was quite different – and in a good way," says Florida Realtors Chief Economist Brad O'Connor. "Distressed sales made up only 10 percent of single family home sales this September, compared to over 19 percent in September 2015. And only 28 percent of sales were all-cash deals this time around, compared to 34 percent last year.

"If our housing markets are going to return to some semblance of what many might term 'normalcy,' it's vital that both of these trends continue."

Similar to previous months, inventory was at a 4.2-months' supply in September for single-family homes and at a 5.8-months' supply for townhouse-condo properties.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.46 percent in September 2016, which was lower than the 3.89 percent average recorded during the same month a year earlier.

For the full statewide housing activity reports, go to Florida Realtors Research and Statistics on floridarealtors.org. Realtors also have access to local market stats (password protected) on Florida Realtors’ website.

© 2016 Florida Realtors®



How to transform a fixer-upper

 

SEBRING, Fla. – Sept. 19, 2016 – The real estate market will always have its ups and downs, but real estate is an oft-profitable investment. Real estate investors do their investing for various reasons. Some see a house as a place to hang their hats for years and years, while others look at properties as nothing more than investments.

Buying a home with the intent to fix it up and resell it is called a "fix and flip." In such situations, investors buy homes at below-market prices before refurbishing the homes with the goal of recouping their initial investment and then some when the homes are ultimately put back on the market.

Flipping has become popular for both expert re-modelers and novice investors. RealtyTrac noted in its "Year-End and Q4 2015 U.S. Home Flipping" report that 5.5 percent of all single-family home and condo sales during the year were flipped properties. This marked an increase from the same time the previous year.

Investing in a fixer-upper requires a leap of faith and a vision of what the home can look like in the future. Turning a real estate lemon into lemonade requires certain skills and a good measure of patience. The following are some guidelines to get anyone started.

  • Don't bite off more than you can chew. Make an honest assessment of your abilities and which renovations, if any, you can handle. If you are unskilled or inexperienced working with your hands, then it can be easy for an investment property to quickly become a money pit. Before purchasing a property, hire a trained home inspector to tour the home with you and point out all of the areas that will need renovation. With this list, begin getting estimates on how much money the work will entail. Determine if this fits with your budget or not. You do not want to invest so much that it exceeds what you could feasibly recoup when it comes time to sell.
  • Overlook cosmetic things when visiting properties. Cosmetic issues include all of the easily replaceable items in a home, such as carpeting, appliances, interior paint colors and cabinetry. Focus on the bones of the house – the architectural integrity and those little touches that you envision having a "wow" factor.
  • Seek the help of experts. Some flippers think they'll save the most money by doing all of the work themselves. This isn't always the case. Professional architects, designers and contractors may help you save money. Contractors have an intimate knowledge of where to buy materials and may be able to negotiate prices based on wholesale or trade costs. In addition, experts can help you avoid common pitfalls because they've already done this type of work time and again. It's smart to rely on expert advice, even if it means investing a little bit more.
  • Save money by doing some work yourself. While the pros may tackle the more complex parts of a given project, such as rewiring electricity or changing the footprint of a home, you can still be involved. Ask to participate in demolition, such as taking down walls or removing old materials from the home. Such participation may be fun, and it can save you substantial amounts of money on labor.
  • Recognize that not everything must be completely redone. Realize that, in some instances, a coat of paint and some new accents may be all you need to transform a space. For example, if kitchen cabinets are in good condition, see if they can be refaced or painted instead of replaced entirely. Install new door pulls/handles to add visual interest. Look for some ready-made items, such as bookshelves, instead of installing custom carpentry.
  • Think about what the buyer wants and not what you want. Renovate with an eye toward prospective buyers' needs. Keep things neutral and accommodating. Research the latest trends to understand what buyers might be seeking in a home. You want potential buyers to envision themselves moving right in.

Renovating a fixer-upper takes time, but it can be a worthwhile project, and one that can help anyone turn a profit in a booming real estate market.

© Copyright 2016 Highlander, The (Highlands, NC), All rights reserved.




Where investors can find the best return

 

WESTMINSTER, Conn. – Sept. 15, 2016 – With competition stiff for a limited number of entry-level homes, investors are finding the single-family rental market to be strong for consumers who are opting to continue renting rather than buy.

"An increasingly competitive homebuying market bodes well for the single-family rental market relative to both demand and rental rate increases," says Wally Charnoff, CEO of RentRange Data Services.

In a new report, RentRage, a housing market data analytics firm, ranks the top 25 U.S. markets for rental rate rises on single-family homes between the second quarters of 2015 and 2016. California and Florida dominated the top 25 list. The states are seeing some of the largest increases in home values and in rental demand.

The following are the markets with the largest year-over-year rental rate increases:

  • Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla.: 26.1% annual rent gain
  • New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner, La.: 20.6%
  • Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash.: 16.6%
  • Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Fla.: 15.7%
  • Port St. Lucie, Fla.: 15.2%
  • Knoxville, Tenn.: 14.9%
  • Syracuse, N.Y.: 14.8%
  • Huntsville, Ala.: 14.4%
  • Charleston-North Charleston, S.C.: 13.7%
  • Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta, Calif.: 13.1%
  • Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn.: 13%
  • Pittsburgh: 12.6%
  • Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta, Ga.: 12.3%
  • San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont, Calif.: 12%
  • Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway, Ark.: 11.6%

Source: Altisource.com

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688






New-home sales climb to highest level in nine years

 

WASHINGTON (AP) – Aug. 23, 2016 – Americans stepped up their purchases of new homes in July to the fastest pace in nearly nine years, as low mortgage rates and a steady job market are fueling a real estate surge.

New-home sales jumped 12.4 percent last month to a seasonally adjusted rate of 654,000 annual units, the strongest level since October 2007, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. The demand has eclipsed the pace of construction. Just 4.3 months' supply of new homes is available on the market, down from 5.2 months a year ago.

Construction of single-family houses has picked up this year, as the housing market continues to recover from the drop-off caused by the Great Recession and sub-prime mortgages. Sales in July roughly matched the historic pace of 650,000 new homes selling each year, as the 4.9 percent unemployment rate, mortgage rates hovering near all-time lows and recovering economy have pulled more buyers to new developments and properties.

"We see tremendous growth potential in new home sales as housing demand continues to grow and with the continued supply shortage of newer vintage homes," said Tian Liu, chief economist at Genworth Mortgage Insurance.

Purchases shot up 40 percent in the Northeast and 18.1 percent in the South last month. They increased slightly in the Midwest and stayed unchanged in the West.

July's median sales price dipped 0.5 percent from a year ago to $294,600, a possible reflection of the regional sales mix.

New-home sales have climbed 12.4 percent so far this year to 352,000.

Builders are increasing construction but still running behind demand. Groundbreakings for houses have climbed 10.6 percent year-to-date, the government reported last week. This marks a sharp reversal from prior years in the recovery from the Great Recession when a large share of the increase in residential construction came from apartments.

Optimism abounds for many builders as well. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index for August rose two points to 60 following a downwardly revised reading of 58 in July. Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good rather than poor.

Low mortgage rates are feeding much of this confidence. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage fell to 3.43 percent last week from 3.98 percent a year ago.

AP Logo Copyright © 2016 The Associated Press, Josh Boak. All rights reserved.  




Fla. population expected to reach 20.7M this year

 

ORLANDO, Fla. – Aug. 16, 2016 – Cushman & Wakefield released their inaugural Florida Population Report, an examination of population trends and its economic impact in Florida.

The report, compiled by Cushman & Wakefield's Research Team, analyzes population growth, employment levels, home values and retail sales activity in Florida's eight major markets – Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, Lakeland (Polk County), Miami-Dade County, Orlando, Tampa-St. Petersburg and West Palm Beach. It issued a statewide report and individual reports for each of the eight markets.

Key report findings

  • Florida's population will reach 20.7 million by the end of 2016. In 1910, the state had a population of 1 million people; by 1980 it grew to 10 million. Since then, the population has doubled.
  • Florida's population grew 1.84 percent in the past year, trailing only North Dakota, Colorado and Nevada as the fastest-growing states. Florida trailed California (39.14 million) and Texas (27.5 million) in overall population.
  • Florida's population grew by more than 1,000 people per day, a pace that has accelerated over the past year. Jobs are the No. 1 reason people are attracted to the state. The trend is driven, in part, by economic challenges in Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico's population declined 1.7 percent over the past year, with most exiting residents settling initially in Florida.
  • For the past 38 months, Florida's job-growth percentage has exceeded the national average. In the past 12 months, 244,500 new jobs were added, a 3 percent growth rate. Most new jobs supported the expanding healthcare, logistics and home construction markets. Retail and hospitality also contributed to the state's employment performance.
  • Current home prices in Florida were down $42,000 compared to fourth quarter 2006 values. Prices have rebounded since bottoming out in 2011, however, rising by an average $83,000 in the span of five years. Tight supply and pent up demand are driving price increases and pace of sales.
  • Retail sales continued to highlight consumer optimism and a favorable local economic climate. Florida's economy enjoyed elevated consumer confidence despite uncertainty at the national level caused by the upcoming presidential campaign.

"Florida remains a national leader in population growth," says Chris Owen, Florida research manager. "This is driven by excellent employment numbers, lagging home prices and favorable consumer sentiment. We foresee this optimism prevailing in the short term."

Regional and metro area reports

© 2016 Florida Realtors®





1 in 10 home sales flipped in many Fla. metros

 

IRVINE, Calif. – June 2, 2016 — RealtyTrac's Q1 2016 U.S. Home Flipping Report finds that 6.6 percent of all U.S. single-family home and condo sales in the first quarter of 2016 were flips – a 20 percent increase quarter-to quarter and 3 percent increase year-to-year.

The percent share of flips was still 26 percent below the 9 percent share at the peak of home flipping in the first quarter of 2006 – but was 55 percent above the recent trough in home flipping (4.3 percent in Q3 2014).

For the report, a home flip is a property sold in an arms-length sale for the second time within a 12-month period.

"After faltering in late 2014, home flipping has been gaining steam for the last year and a half thanks to falling interest rates and a dearth of housing inventory for flippers to compete against," says Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at RealtyTrac. "While responsible home flipping is helpful for a housing market, excessive and irresponsible flipping activity can contribute to a home price pressure cooker … and we are starting to see evidence of that pressure cooker environment in a handful of markets.

However, the current rate of home flipping "is not far above its historic norm, and home flippers in most markets appear to be behaving rationally and responsibly," says Blomquist.

In the first quarter, 71 percent of flipped homes were purchased with cash compared to 37 percent at the height of the flipping boom.

"Spending their own money rather than other people's money is keeping flippers conservative," says Blomquist. "On average, they're buying the homes they flip at a 27 percent discount below full market value and selling them at a 6 percent premium above full market value."

Florida metro areas with strong flipping numbers

Home flipping hits new all-time highs in 7 percent of U.S. markets, but in a few Florida metro areas, 1 in 10 home sales involved a flip.

One Florida area – Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach – ranked third in RealtyTrac's top five for "highest share of flipping with 11.8 percent of sales a flipped home. Other U.S. cities in the top five include: Memphis, Tennessee (13.3 percent) and Clarksville, Tennessee (12.5 percent) in the top two spots, and Fresno, California (11.3 percent), and Visalia-Porterville, California (11.1 percent) in the last two positions.

Other Florida markets where the share of homes flipped surpassed the national average included Tampa (10.8 percent), Miami (9.5 percent) and Jacksonville (9.4 percent).

"There continues to be good opportunities for cash investors in the South Florida market," says Mike Pappas, CEO and president at the Keyes Company. "One out of 10 transactions in the first quarter were flipped investor deals yielding an average $65,000 gross profit with an average 51 percent gross ROI."

Gross flipping profit

Homes flipped in the first quarter yielded an average gross profit of $58,250 – a more than 10-year high and average 47.8 percent return on the original purchase price. The average gross flipping profit is the difference between the purchase price and the flipped price, and it doesn't include rehab costs and other expenses.

In addition to Flint, Michigan (105.8 percent return on investment), the top metro areas for return on investment (ROI) were in Pennsylvania: East Stroudsburg (212.1 percent), Reading (136.4 percent) and Pittsburgh (126.8 percent). In New Haven, Connecticut, the ROI was 104.8 percent.

One Florida city made RealtyTrac's list for an average gross ROI over 80 percent: Jacksonville with an 81.8 percent return.

© 2016 Florida Realtors®  




5 solid property investments this year

 

NEW YORK – June 3, 2016 – Which property types hold the most promise for investors this year? Experts from research firms Situs RERC, Reis Inc., Green Street Advisors and Real Capital Analytics offered their recommendation to National Real Estate Investor.

1. Senior housing
An aging population is making senior housing a good bet for investors. "Senior housing is experiencing upward demand, but with this property type, you can't increase rent as rapidly as you can with multifamily," notes Barbara Byrne Denham, a Reis economist.

2. Student housing
The pre-tax yield for student housing properties was 7.6 percent during the first quarter of this year, according to data from Situs RERC.

"Student housing operations are generally in line with the long-term trend, and the sector's defensive attributes have not gone unnoticed by investors," says Andy McCulloch, managing director and head of real estate analytics at Green Street Advisors. He says that student housing is the best performing sector year-to-date in the REIT space (Real Estate Investment Trusts).

3. Warehouses
Big-box flex warehouse space is one of the healthiest industrial sub-sectors, which has been getting a lift from e-commerce tenants.

"Against a backdrop of healthy demand boosted by e-commerce, market rent growth has been stronger than expected," McCulloch says. "While new supply and obsolescence are always concerns for industrial, the sector's future growth prospects look better than past performance would suggest."

4. Neighborhood community centers
Situs RERC calls the neighborhood community center the second-best investment at the moment, right behind industrial warehouses.

"Strip center tenants are generally healthier than mall tenants today, especially when putting department stores into the mix," McCulloch notes. "While retailer bankruptcies are a continued nuisance in the strip sector, the lack of ground-up development points toward a continued improvement in operating fundamentals."

5. Self-storage
The price appreciation within the self-storage industry has risen 16 percent over the past years, according to data from Green Street Advisors.

"Storage continues to become more accepted as an institutional asset class, and operating fundamentals have been phenomenal," says McCulloch. "Higher cap rates, solid NOI [net operating income] growth, and low cap-ex make self-storage a great business."

Source: "Seven Property Types to Invest in This Year," National Real Estate Investor (May 26, 2016)

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688




Banks rush to offer 3% downpayment loans

 

NEW YORK – May 31, 2016 – As some banks veer from Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, they're offering their own low downpayment mortgages to appeal to home shoppers struggling to save enough to buy a home. Wells Fargo made headlines this week when it debuted its 3 percent downpayment loan.

JPMorgan Chase also announced its offering called the "Standard Agency 97percent" program, a 3 percent down payment loan geared for first-time home buyers and requires a FICO score of 680. Chase also has a loan program called "DreaMaker Mortgage," which offers a 5 percent down payment – 3 percent of which can come from the borrower as well as flexible funding options for closing costs and reduced mortgage insurance requirements.

Other banks have recently announced their low downpayment offerings.

Earlier this year, Bank of America began offering a 3 percent downpayment loan that did not involve the Federal Housing Administration and does not require mortgage insurance. The bank requires a minimum FICO score of 660.

Wells Fargo's newly launching lending program, "yourFirstMortgage," requires a 620 FICO minimum score and minimum downpayment of 3 percent for a fixed-rate conventional mortgage of up to $417,000. Downpayment assistance also can come from gifts and community assistance programs. Customers who complete a homebuyer education course can earn a 1/8 percent interest rate reduction, although the course is not required.

Brad Blackwell, executive vice president and portfolio business manager at Wells Fargo, says the monthly payment for the loan will be less than a government-insured FHA loan.

"We've taken all the complexity of the home mortgage lending process, removed it from the front-line consumer, so that it's easy for them to understand and Wells Fargo is taking care of all the capital markets and other types of complexities behind the scenes," says Blackwell.

Bank giants have been leery of FHA loans lately, with JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon's calling FHA lending "too costly and too risky" to pursue extensively.

"We have dramatically reduced FHA originations," Dimon wrote in his yearly letter to shareholders. "Currently, it simply is too costly and too risky to originate these kinds of mortgages. Part of the risk comes from the penalties that the government charges if you make a mistake – and part of the risk is because these types of mortgages default frequently."

Dimon acknowledges Chase's new low downpayment lending program also carries some of those risks, but he believes it responds to customers' needs.

"Mortgages are important to our customers," Dimon wrote in the letter. "For most of our customers, their home is the single largest purchase they will make in their lifetime. More than that, it is an emotional purchase – it is where they are getting their start, raising a family or maybe spending their retirement years. As a bank that wants to build lifelong relationships with its customers, we want to be there for them at life's most critical junctures."

Source: "Wells Fargo Launches 3% Down Payment Mortgage," CNBC (May 26, 2016) and "Chase Quietly Launches Its Own 3% Down Mortgage Lending Program," HousingWire (May 26, 2016)

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688  




Fla.’s housing market: Median prices, new listings rise in April 2016

 

ORLANDO, Fla. – May 20, 2016 – Florida's housing market reported increased new listings, rising median prices, fewer days to a contract and fewer cash closed sales in April, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. With inventory still constrained, statewide closed sales eased last month: Single-family home sales totaled 24,144, remaining relatively the same (down 0.6 percent) as April 2015.

"Still-low mortgage interest rates and a strong jobs outlook are positive trends for Florida's housing market," says 2016 Florida Realtors®President Matey H. Veissi, broker and co-owner of Veissi & Associates in Miami."We're also seeing a rising number of new listings added to the market, which is a trend that needs to continue as many areas still face a shortage of supply, particularly for single-family homes. New listings for existing single-family homes rose 3.1 percent compared to a year ago while new listings for townhouse-condo properties rose 3.7 percent."

Meanwhile, sellers continued to get more of their original asking price at the closing table. Sellers of existing single-family homes in April received 95.9 percent (median percentage) of their original listing price, while those selling townhouse-condo properties received 94.5 percent (median percentage).

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $213,000, up 9.2 percent from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Thestatewide median price for townhouse-condo properties in April was $160,000, up 4.4 percent over the year-ago figure.

In April, statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and townhouse-condo properties rose year-over-year for the 53rd month in a row, Veissi noted. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

Accordingto the National Association of Realtors®(NAR), thenational median sales price for existing single-family homes in March 2016 was $224,300, up 5.8 percent from the previous yearthenational median existing condo price was $209,600.In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in March was $483,280; in Massachusetts, it was $329,505; in Maryland, it was $252,068; and in New York, it was $230,000.

Looking at Florida's townhouse-condo market, statewide closed sales totaled 10,738 last month, down 5.3 percent compared to April 2015. However, the closed sales data reflected fewer short sales and cash-only sales in April: Short sales for townhouse-condo properties declined 43.2 percent while short sales for single-family homes dropped 35.9 percent. Closed sales may occur from 30 to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

"The positive growth we're seeing in sales for homes priced above the $150,000 mark is being offset by a continuing decline of homes for sale in the most affordable price ranges," says Florida Realtors®Chief Economist Brad O'Connor. "This trend is due in part to the ongoing decline in sales of distressed properties. In April, distressed sales accounted for less than 12 percent of all closed Multiple Listing Service (MLS) sales in Florida – the lowest such percentage we've recorded since the initial stages of the downturn last decade."

Inventory was at a 4.5-months' supply in April for single-family homes and at a 6.3-months' supply for townhouse-condo properties, according to Florida Realtors.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.61 percent in April 2016, down from the 3.67 percent average recorded during the same month a year earlier.

Realtors also have access to local market stats (password protected) on Florida Realtors' website.

© 2016 Florida Realtors®




Housing costs may prompt a population shift

 

ORLANDO, Fla. – April 27, 2016 – More residents of some of the nation's priciest areas are heading to new cities where housing costs are lower. High-priced areas like San Diego, Silicon Valley and some parts of Washington, D.C., are seeing fewer new residents.

On the other hand, lower-cost cities like Las Vegas, Phoenix and parts of Florida are seeing population gains, according to new U.S. Census data.

"Available and affordable housing may be the new piece in the continued gains in the Sun Belt counties," says William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution. "The housing market is motivating some of the growth in Nevada as well as Florida, and maybe for Arizona too."

Arizona's Maricopa County – which includes Phoenix – saw its largest population gain in a decade in 2015. The county added 78,000 residents, Census data shows. Also, in Clark County, Nev. – which includes Las Vegas – the population grew by 46,000 last year, the county's largest uptick since 2007. Utah County, Utah – which includes Provo – saw a 14,000 jump, its largest gain since 2009.

On the other hand, cities that have traditionally been the leaders in population gains, such as Los Angeles; San Diego; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Silicon Valley; and suburban areas of Washington, D.C., are seeing smaller population growth. Santa Clara County – the location of Silicon Valley – saw 22,000 new residents in 2015, down from 25,000 in 2014 and the lowest number since 2006. In Silicon Valley, the median home price is also $950,000, the highest in the nation.

Source: "High Housing Costs Driving Population Shifts?" RISMedia (April 24, 2016)

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688




Pending home sales up a bit in March

 

WASHINGTON – April 27, 2016 – Pending home sales increased slightly in March for the second consecutive month, reaching its highest level in almost a year, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR).

Only the West region of the United States saw a decline in contract activity last month.

The Pending Home Sales Index is a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings. It climbed 1.4 percent to 110.5 in March from a downwardly revised 109.0 in February and is now 1.4 percent higher year-to-year.

After last month's slight gain, the index has increased year-over-year for 19 consecutive months and is at its highest reading since May 2015 (111.0).

"Despite supply deficiencies in plenty of areas, contract activity was fairly strong in a majority of markets in March," says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist. "This spring's surprisingly low mortgage rates are easing some of the affordability pressures potential buyers are experiencing, and are taking away some of the sting from home prices that are still rising too fast and above wage growth."

In the short-term, a healthy labor market and favorable borrowing costs should lead to sustained buyer demand and a durable pace of sales. However, Yun says a failure to construct more single-family homes in recent years is starting to impact some top job producing markets, where endless supply shortages continue to limit choices for buyers and drive up prices beyond what a growing share of households can comfortably afford.

"Demand is starting to weaken in some areas, particularly in the West, where the median home price has risen an astonishing 38 percent in the past three years," says Yun. "As a result, pending sales in the region have now declined in four of the last five months and are lower than one year ago for the third month in a row. Closed sales in the region in March were also below last year's pace."

Pending sales in the Northeast increased 3.2 percent to 97.0 in March, and are now 18.4 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest, the index inched up 0.2 percent to 112.8 in March, and it's now 4.0 percent above March 2015.

Pending home sales in the South rose 3.0 percent to an index of 125.4 in March but they're still 0.6 percent lower than last March. The index in the West declined 1.8 percent in March to 95.3, and is now 7.9 percent below a year ago.

© 2016 Florida Realtors®




Survey: Real estate is the best investment

 

NEW YORK – April 25, 2016 – Americans ranked real estate as the best long-term investment, even over stocks and gold, according to a recent Gallup Poll of about 1,000 U.S. adults. Real estate has been the top investment choice for the past two years, and its lead is increasing over four other popular investment choices.

In the latest survey, 35 percent of Americans selected real estate as their top investment choice compared to 22 percent for stocks and mutual funds, 17 percent for gold, 15 percent for savings accounts/CDs and 7 percent for bonds.

By comparison, 34 percent of Americans said gold was their top long-term investment choice in 2011 and, at the time, only 19 percent said real estate.

"As the average sale price of new homes in the U.S. increased from $259,300 in August 2011 to $348,900 in February of this year, the percentage of Americans picking real estate as the best long-term investment almost doubled," according to Gallup. "During approximately the same time span – from August 2011 to April of this year – gold prices plunged from $1,910 to $1,254 per ounce, and the percentage thinking gold would be the best investment was cut in half."

The poll also found the following:

  • Men are more likely than women to say gold is the best long-term investment. Women tend to favor savings accounts more than men.
  • Survey respondents younger than 30 years old were the least likely age group (26 percent) to think real estate is the top investing choice. They're most likely to choose savings as a top long-term investment choice.
  • Renters (32 percent) and homeowners (34 percent) are almost equally likely to choose real estate as their top long-term investment choice.

Source: Gallup.com

© Copyright 2016 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688




Average rate on 30-year mortgage slips to 3.58%

 

WASHINGTON (AP) – April 14, 2016 – Average long-term U.S. mortgage rates edged down this week to their lowest levels of the year, offering a continued incentive for purchasing during the spring home-buying season.

The benchmark 30-year fixed-rate loan touched its lowest point in nearly three years, since May 2013. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average slipped to 3.58 percent from 3.59 percent last week. The key rate stood at 3.67 percent a year ago.

The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages declined to 2.86 percent from 2.88 percent last week.

The continued strong demand for U.S. government bonds, spurred by indications that the Federal Reserve won't raise the interest rates it controls any time soon, has kept prices of the bonds at high levels. The bonds' yields, moving in the opposite direction from their prices and influencing mortgage rates, have remained at low levels.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond stood at 1.76 percent Wednesday, unchanged from a week earlier. The yield rose to 1.78 percent Thursday morning.

To calculate average mortgage rates, Freddie Mac surveys lenders across the country at the beginning of each week. The average doesn't include extra fees, known as points, which most borrowers must pay to get the lowest rates. One point equals 1 percent of the loan amount.

The average fee for a 30-year mortgage was unchanged from last week at 0.5 point. The fee for a 15-year loan rose to 0.5 point from 0.4 point.

Rates on adjustable five-year mortgages averaged 2.84 percent this week, up from 2.82 percent last week. The fee fell to 0.4 point from 0.5 point.

AP Logo Copyright © 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.  



Buyers need a Realtor to compete in seller’s market

 

WASHINGTON – April 14, 2016 – With demand exceeding supply in markets across the U.S., homebuyers may face an uphill battle to find the perfect home this spring.

Total housing inventory at the end of February was 1.88 million existing homes available for sale – 1.1 percent lower year-to-year and at 4.4 month supply at the current sales pace (4.5 months in Florida), which is below the six-month supply that most experts consider a balanced market between buyers and sellers.

"When there is more demand than inventory, homes sell quickly, prices rise and bidding wars can start," says National Association of Realtors® (NAR) President Tom Salomone, broker-owner of Real Estate II Inc. in Coral Springs, Florida. "A Realtor with an ABR (Accredited Buyer's Representative) designation is a homebuyer's upper hand; they understand local markets and can negotiate on behalf of their buyer-clients."

Salomone says, "Buying a home is often one of the biggest decisions of a person's life, and having a Realtor in their corner is the ultimate advantage. They are there to guide consumers through the complexities of this life-changing transaction."

NAR's 2015 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers asked recent homebuyers what they look for when deciding on a real estate agent: 53 percent said someone who could help them find the right home to purchase, and 12 percent said someone who can help them negotiate the terms of sale. The report found that homebuyers look at a median of 10 houses before deciding on one to purchase, and the typical search lasts 10 weeks.

"Having a real estate expert with specific knowledge of the local market and purchase process can mean the difference between a homebuyer getting that 10th house and having to search for another," says Salomone.

In 2016, the ABR designation celebrates its 20th anniversary, with over 28,000 ABR designees. Realtors with the designation have completed advanced training in representing the specific needs of buyers and have specialized training for finding buyers the right home in a seller's market.

© 2016 Florida Realtors®  




NAR: Feb. pending home sales up 3.5%

 

WASHINGTON – March 28, 2016 – Pending home sales rose solidly in February to its highest level in seven months, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). Led by a sizeable increase in the Midwest, all major regions except for the Northeast saw an increase in February contract activity.

The Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, rose 3.5 percent to 109.1 in February from a downwardly revised 105.4 in January and it's 0.7 percent higher year-to-year. The index has now increased year-over-year for 18 consecutive months, though last month's annual gain was the smallest.

"After some volatility this winter, the latest data is encouraging in that a decent number of buyers signed contracts last month, lured by mortgage rates dipping to their lowest levels in nearly a year and a modest, seasonal uptick in inventory," says Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.

"Looking ahead, the key for sustained momentum and more sales than last spring is a continuous stream of new listings quickly replacing what's being scooped up by a growing pool of buyers," Yun adds. "Without adequate supply, sales will likely plateau."

According to Yun, last month's noticeable slump in existing-home sales had one silver lining: Price appreciation lessened to 4.4 percent, which is still above wage growth but more favorable than the 8.1 percent annual increase in January.

"Any further moderation in prices would be a welcome development this spring, particularly in the West, where it appears a segment of would-be buyers are becoming wary of high asking prices and stiff competition," adds Yun.

Existing-homes sales this year are forecast to be around 5.38 million, an increase of 2.4 percent from 2015. The national median existing-home price for all 2016 is expected to increase between 4 and 5 percent. In 2015, existing-home sales increased 6.3 percent and prices rose 6.8 percent.

The PHSI in the Northeast declined 0.2 percent to 94.0 in February, but it's still 12.6 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest, the index shot up 11.4 percent to 112.6 in February, and it's now 2.5 percent above February 2015.

Pending home sales in the South increased 2.1 percent to an index of 122.4 in February but it's 0.4 percent lower than last February. The index in the West climbed 0.7 percent in February to 96.4, but it's now 6.2 percent below a year ago.

© 2016 Florida Realtors®





 

 

Reprinted with permission. Florida Realtors®. All rights reserved.