Rural communities protected through 2020

March 14, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General, Legislative 

More than 900 communities that were at risk for losing access to federal rural housing programs are now protected through 2020. For the last three years, NAR has worked with Congress extend the eligibility of communities under a 40-year old definition of rural. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) had been required to revise the list of communities eligible for rural housing loans based on the 2010 census data – and apply them to the 1974 definition. But last week the President signed H.R. 2642, the Agricultural Act of 2014 (aka the Farm Bill), that will protect these communities through the release of the 2020 census. Read More.

Housing starts reached their highest level since 2007

January 17, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General 

Housing starts fell sharply last month but they remained strong enough to give builders their best year since 2007, the Commerce Department said Friday.

Starts fell 9.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 999,000 in December following a surge in November to the highest level of the year — 1.1 million. December’s rate was the year’s third highest.

The government estimated 923,400 homes and apartments were started last year. That’s more than 18% above the 2012 figure of 780,600.

In 2007, housing starts totaled nearly 1.4 million. Read More.

5 things to watch in housing in 2014

January 10, 2014 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General 

For housing, it was a tale of two halves in 2013. During the first half, unusually low supplies of homes and low rates spurred bidding wars, pushing prices up sharply. During the second half, the frenzy cooled amid a sudden spike in interest rates. While more markets are now reporting increases in inventory, the number of homes for sale remains quite low. Read More.

Rental affordability crisis is here

December 13, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General, Mortgage 

Since the housing crisis began in 2008, approximately 4.6 million homes were lost to foreclosure, according to CoreLogic. The vast majority of those homeowners became renters. Even as housing recovered, credit tightened, pushing even more potential buyers out of homeownership and into rentals, both apartments and single-family rental homes.

There are now 43 million renter households, or 35 percent of all U.S. households, the highest rate in over a decade for all age groups, according to Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies; 4 million more renters today than there were in 2007. For those aged 25 to 54, rental rates are the highest since the center began record keeping in the early 1970s. Read More.

3 factors that could shape the fate of housing overhaul

November 15, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General, Legislative 

At last month’s annual mortgage-industry trade show, most political and industry analysts agreed that there aren’t great odds that Congress will pass a bill addressing the future of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac before 2014, let alone 2016.

But several developments unfolding right now could make the next five or six months among the more consequential periods for housing-finance policy since the companies were taken over by the government five years ago. Here are three reasons why. Read More.

Legislation announced to delay flood insurance rate increases

October 30, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General, Legislative 

The following is a statement by National Association of Realtors® President Gary Thomas:

“The bipartisan ‘Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act’ introduced today in the Senate by Sens. Robert Mendendez, D-N.J.; Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; and Mary Landrieu, D-La., and in the House by Reps. Michael Grimm, R-N.Y., and Maxine Waters, D-Calif., will help millions of homeowners who are facing sudden and extreme increases in flood insurance premiums, which are an unintended consequence of legislation to reform the National Flood Insurance Program.” Read More.

Locally, Kentucky media is already picking up the issue and reporting on the effects the increases are having on the housing market:
Cost of flood insurance concerns Realtor group (Owensboro)
Flood waters bring rising rates for homeowners (Louisville)
Flood insurance rate spikes impacting Louisville home sales (Louisville)

Homebuyers: To get the house, get there first

October 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General 

Housing inventory is stiflingly tight in many locations, making it a challenge to find, much less land, your dream home.

The number of available houses in the hottest markets has dropped dramatically over the past year, says the National Association of Realtors: In the Boston area, for one, inventory levels are down 29% vs. 2012. And Denver, Seattle, and San Francisco aren’t far behind.

“Some homes are flying off the market in a matter of days,” says Paul Bishop, VP of research for NAR.

Shopping in a popular spot? You’ll have to go beyond the usual sellers’ market tactics, such as getting prequalified for a mortgage. These strategies will help you find homes first, stopping a bidding war before it starts. Read More.

Court to reconsider Fair Housing lawsuit

September 18, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General, Legal 

A federal appeals court examined whether an ad for a rental unit claiming that the unit was a “great bachelor pad” violated the federal Fair Housing Act (“FHA”).

In 2009, Rachel Underwood, a listing representative for the property management firm The Connor Group (“Property Manager”), placed an advertisement (“Ad”) for a unit on Craigslist that stated, in relevant part: “Great Bachelor Pad! Our one bedroom apartments are a great bachelor pad for any single man looking to hook up…” Read More.

Tighter mortgage rules will soon squeeze these groups even more

September 5, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General, Mortgage 

Five years after the housing collapse, the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is closing the barn door on the loose lending that caused the crisis. But as homebuyers struggle to get financing for new homes, some critics fear the door could be permanently nailed shut for many people seeking affordable housing.

The new lending rules will limit people from taking out a mortgage or refinancing an existing one that puts their overall household borrowing at more than 43 percent of their income. That new debt cap also includes a wide swath of common forms of debt that count toward the total, including student loans, most fees and points related a home purchase, and property taxes. It also tightens rules on documentation, and lenders who improvise to give customers easier terms will be open to consumer lawsuits if the loans go bad. Read More.

Craigslist scams on the rise

August 26, 2013 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: General 

After a short hiatus, the problem of scams using Craigslist is on the rise again.  Most recently, a report out of New Orleans highlights how the scam works most of the time.  Be on alert and make sure your listings don’t end up like this:

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