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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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.
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:
There’s a down side to the housing market’s recovery: More people now can’t afford to buy a house.
Only 69.3 percent of new and existing homes sold in the second quarter of 2013 were affordable to households with the U.S. median income of $64,400, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index.
That’s down from 73.7 percent in the first quarter, and it’s the first time this housing affordability measure has fallen below 70 percent since late 2008. Read More.