Top News Of The Week

– New Home Starts Down; Builder Confidence Trending Higher
– Americans Are Very Optimistic About Real Estate
– Refinances Soar as Rates Fall
– Some of The Hottest Markets Are in Middle America
– Redfin Chief Economist Sees Strong Fall Real Estate Market
– FHA Restores Condo Spot Approvals
– FHFA Issues Rule on Credit Score Models
– Home Tour Via Alexa
– Moody’s Zandi Says Housing ‘Treading Water’ Right Now
– Competition Cools Off in July
– Mortgage Debt Now At Record Level
– REALTOR®’s ‘Smoking Hot’ Deal Listing Causes Controversy
– Oregon Governor Signs Landmark Housing Bill
– NAR Partners With Food Recovery Network


New Home Starts Down; Builder Confidence Trending Higher
Housing starts fell in July for the third straight month, down 4-percent from June, to an annual pace of just under 1.2 million units.

But single-family starts were up by 1.3% percent from June.

And building permits were up 8.4%, the largest gain in two years. National Association of Home Builders CEO Jerry Howard tells Fox Business.

Meanwhile, builder confidence in the market for new single-family homes is higher.

The latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose a point to 66 for August.

Builder sentiment levels have now held at a solid 64-to-66 level for the past four straight months.

Americans Are Very Optimistic About Real Estate
Americans are more upbeat than ever about the prospects of buying, and selling, a home.

The Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index reached a new high in July.

The index was up more than 7-points compared to a year ago, and is now at a record-high reading of 93-point-7. Five of the six components measured by the index rose month over month.

Fannie Mae chief economist Doug Duncan says consumers are optimistic despite ongoing housing supply and affordability challenges.

Refinances Soar as Rates Fall
America’s homeowners are refinancing their mortgages at a much faster pace.

The Mortgage Bankers Association reported a surge in refi applications in the first week of August. In fact the MBA’s Refinance Index has more than doubled since last year at this time.

The Mortgage Bankers Association says the 30-year fixed mortgage rate fell to 3.93% in the first week of this month, its lowest since November 2016.

Some of The Hottest Markets Are in Middle America
Some of the nation’s hottest real estate markets right now are not the “usual suspects” like San Francisco or Boston or Seattle.

The Wall Street Journal reports that there’s a housing boom in smaller cities in middle America.

Reporter Laura Kusisto said in a Journal-produced podcast.

Kusisto says home values in some middle America markets have risen 50-percent or more in the last seven years.

Redfin Chief Economist Sees Strong Fall Real Estate Market
The end of summer is almost here, and that often means a slowdown in home sales.

But this year could be different, as Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather told CNBC.

And Fairweather says it’s a good time to be a buyer — if you wait until 2020, she says, you’re likely to face more competition for the available homes.

FHA Restores Condo Spot Approvals
HUD is bringing back “spot approvals” for individual condominium units, making them eligible for FHA financing.

HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson spoke to Fox Business.

The revised FHA guidelines take effect October 15th.

FHFA Issues Rule on Credit Score Models
FICO is no longer the only game in town when it comes to credit scoring.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency. or FHFA, is going to allow Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to consider using VantageScore, a joint venture of the nation’s three largest credit bureaus, as an alternative to FICO.

VantageScore’s model takes into account factors, such as rent payments which are not covered in a FICO score.

Home Tour Via Alexa
Next time you walk through a home you’re considering buying, your agent may turn things over to their assistant — Alexa.

REALTOR® magazine reports that a growing number of brokers are testing out new ways to use Amazon’s Echo or Google Assistant.

One brokerage, Engel and Volkers, is now letting prospective buyers at a model condo unit in Atlanta ask Alexa things like, “Tell me about the kitchen,” or “Alexa, what is there to do in the neighborhood?”

Of course, voice assistants can’t replace a knowledgeable REALTOR®. It’s just a helpful partner. Right, Alexa?

Moody’s Zandi Says Housing ‘Treading Water’ Right Now
Fear of a recession is becoming more widespread, but one economist says it will NOT be housing that gets us into one this time.

Moody’s Analytics chief economist Mark Zandi says housing is “treading water”…

Zandi told CNBC that, ironically, the shortage of available homes for sale will help housing weather a recession, by “putting a nice floor under house prices.”

Competition Cools Off in July
The red-hot competition among homebuyers in many markets has cooled considerably.

Redfin reports that in July, only about one out of ten offers written by a Redfin agent faced a bidding war. That’s down from more than 45-percent a year ago, and it’s the lowest rate since at least 2011.

San Francisco, San Diego and Boston were the most competitive markets in July, Redfin says.

Mortgage Debt Now At Record Level
Americans now have more mortgage debt than ever,

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, U.S. homeowners with a mortgage now collectively owe over 9.4 trillion dollars.

That exceeds the previous record set in 2008 in the midst of the financial crisis.

REALTOR®’s ‘Smoking Hot’ Deal Listing Causes Controversy
You’ve heard of real estate markets that are “on fire.”

Well, recently REALTORS® Dylan Jaeck in St. Petersburg, Florida listed a home for sale — accompanied by a photo of that house engulfed in flames.

Jaeck told Spectrum News he did it so potential buyers could see that the house would have to be demolished, and that what they were really bidding on was the land.

And the listing took off — it was the week’s most popular property on REALTOR®.com two weeks ago.

Oregon Governor Signs Landmark Housing Bill
Oregon’s governor has signed into law an ambitious, but controversial, measure that effectively bans single-family zoning in the state’s largest cities.

Governor Kate Brown said at a bill-signing ceremony that the new law will “change the United States”.

The new law requires cities with a population of more than 10-thousand to permit duplexes in neighborhoods now zoned only for single-family homes.

NAR Partners With Food Recovery Network
THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®is making a new commitment to fight hunger, by partnering with the Food Recovery Network.

From now on, NAR will ensure that all events and meetings are “Food Recovery Verified,” a designation that recognizes efforts to recover surplus food and donate it to hunger-fighting non-profits.

NAR leadership is calling on the 12-hundred local and state REALTOR® associations to, quote, “take the pledge” and join to help multiply the food recovery effort.

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