Top News Of The Week

- GOP Tax Reform Plan Draws Mixed Response
- Florida Homeowners to Shoulder Most Irma Damage Costs
- Case-Shiller Price Index Up 5.9% in July
- NAR Survey Reveals Optimism Among Buyers, Sellers
- Irma’s Effect in Miami Could be Short-Lived
- Coastline Population Continues to Grow, Despite Risks
- Remodeling Pays Big Benefits,Two Ways
- Freddie Mac Looks Ahead to 2018 Housing Market
- Puerto Rico REALTOR®: Maria Damage “Worse Than Anything You’ve Seen On TV”
- Houston Homeowners Push For More Flood Mitigation
- Houston Luxury-Home Market Little Affected by Harvey
- Negative Equity Still a Problem For Some
- Flood Insurance Chief: Do Your Claims Right
- Uptick in Mortgage Fraud Risk in Q2
- Not All Lumber Is The Same: NAHB
- Going Green is Trending Upward


GOP Tax Reform Plan Draws Mixed Response
The Republican tax reform framework is drawing contrasting reactions from REALTORS® and home builders.

THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® says millions of middle-income homeowners stand to lose under the plan.

The GOP proposal would double the standard deduction, but eliminate deductions for state and local taxes, and end personal and dependency exemptions. Senior NAR policy representative Evan Liddiard says that would hurt a lot of families….

Liddiard says many families would actually end up paying more in taxes.

And NAR has launched ads warning that the tax plan could cause home prices to fall as much as 10 percent.

On the other hand, the National Association of Home Builders calls the GOP plan “a positive step in the right direction.”

NAHB leaders praise the provisions to retain the Low Income Housing Tax Credit, and to lower the “pass-through” rate, which will reduce the taxes of thousands of small businesses. CEO Jerry Howard tells CNBC…

But even the NAHB acknowledges that the mortgage interest deduction’s effectiveness “could be diminished as more families elect to take a higher standard deduction.”

Florida Homeowners to Shoulder Most Irma Damage Costs
Experts at Florida International University estimate that Hurricane Irma caused $19.4 billion in wind-related losses in Florida — and that doesn’t include flood losses.

And FIU researchers say of that total, $6.3 billion will be paid by insurance companies — the rest, or about two-thirds of the total wind losses, will be absorbed by homeowners.

Case-Shiller Price Index Up 5.9% in July
Home prices rose faster in July than many economists had forecast.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index rose 5-point-9 percent in July, compared to a year ago.

Home prices in the 20-city composite index was up 5.8% in July, with Seattle, Portland, and Las Vegas seeing the biggest year-over-year gains.

NAR Survey Reveals Optimism Among Buyers, Sellers
A new survey by THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® suggests that home buyers and sellers alike are actually pretty optimistic about the housing market.

According to NAR’s third quarter Housing Opportunities and Market Experience survey, consumers don’t lack confidence about buying and selling, nor are they worried about the direction of the economy and their finances.

Instead what is still holding back many renters is the notion that saving for a down payment is challenging, and it will only get more difficult next year as rents continue to rise.

Irma’s Effect in Miami Could be Short-Lived
There is no doubt the housing market in South Florida will take a short-term hit from Hurricane Irma.

September closings in Miami could drop as much as 50%, says one leading REALTOR®.

But Christina Pappas, the Residential President of the Miami Association of REALTORS®, also tells Local 10 News in Miami that as things get back to normal, people want to get on with their lives — and buy homes…

Pappas says a seller who’s been on the fence now may “jump off the fence.” And she says there is a lot of opportunity out there for those ready to make the move.

Coastline Population Continues to Grow, Despite Risks
Increasingly powerful storms, and rising sea levels, are not discouraging a steady population growth in some of America’s most vulnerable regions: coastal Texas around Houston and resort areas of southwest Florida.

An analysis by the Associated Press finds that even the ongoing threat of wind and flood damage is doing little to slow the coastal population boom.

Graham Tobin, a disaster researcher at the University of South Florida in Tampa, tells the AP, quote, “History gives us a lesson, but we don’t always learn from it,”

And Robert Young, director of the Program for the Study of Developed Shorelines at Western Carolina University says, “The reason why this development still continues is that people are making money doing it.”

Remodeling Pays Big Benefits,Two Ways
It pays to remodel — literally.

A new report from THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® finds that homeowners who take on remodeling projects gain equity and add to the resale value of their homes.

But there is emotional equity that accrues from remodeling, as well.

The NAR 2017 Remodeling Impact Report — which incorporates insights from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry — finds that after completing a remodeling project, 75-percent of homeowners have a greater desire to be in their home, 65 percent say they have increased enjoyment in their home, and 77 percent feel a major sense of accomplishment

Freddie Mac Looks Ahead to 2018 Housing Market
We’re only just nicely into the fourth quarter of 2017, but Freddie Mac is looking ahead to 2018.

And their experts see new homes as a “primary driver of sales” next year.

Their forecast is for 1.33 million housing starts next year, up from this year’s 1.22 million.

Freddie Mac’s September Outlook report projects total home sales to rise about 2% from 2017 levels.

Puerto Rico REALTOR®: Maria Damage “Worse Than Anything You’ve Seen On TV”
Harvey and Irma have been the storms everyone’s been talking about for weeks.

But Maria has left widespread devastation in its wake, as well, especially in Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico Association of REALTORS® Executive Director Marcos Vilar says, quote, “It’s literally like the whole island was bombed.”

Vilar says even “homes that were reinforced with concrete were snapped in two like toothpicks.”

Mike Ford, broker-owner of Coldwell Banker Heritage Homes in West Memphis, Arkansas, has maintained close contact with Puerto Rico association executives. He says, “Everybody had damage to their homes.”

One Puerto Rican REALTOR® told Ford, quote, “This is worse than anything you’ve seen on TV.”

Houston Homeowners Push For More Flood Mitigation
Many Houston homeowners say Hurricane Harvey was so devastating, especially to neighborhoods that don’t normally flood, because the city has long dragged its feet on flood-mitigation projects.

Cynthia Neely is with a group that is suing the city to force tougher laws. She told CBS’s “60 Minutes”:

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner says homeowners have a point — there has been too little action on flood-mitigation….

Turner also spoke on “60 Minutes.”

Houston Luxury-Home Market Little Affected by Harvey
While Hurricane Harvey caused billions in property damage in Texas, one segment of the real estate market was less impacted: luxury homes.

REALTOR®.com reports that both listing prices and sale prices fell only slightly, according to Multiple Listing Service data from the Houston Association of REALTORS®.

Negative Equity Still a Problem For Some
Home prices and housing demand continue to spiral upward, and there’s an acute shortage of homes for sale in most markets.

So the question is, why aren’t more people selling?

Blame some of it, at least, on negative equity

CoreLogic reports that nearly 5.5% of all American mortgaged properties are “underwater” — that is, the borrower still owes more on the mortgage than the property is worth.

Now, that’s a big improvement from a year ago, when 7% of homes were in negative equity — and it’s a far cry from the worst of the housing crisis ten years ago when one out of every four homeowners was underwater.

Flood Insurance Chief: Do Your Claims Right
As tens of thousands of homeowners file flood-insurance claims after the recent hurricanes, the head of the National Flood Insurance Program wants to make sure you do it right.

FEMA’s Roy Wright tells CBS 4 News in Miami that having the right documentation is critical….

Under the NFIP, you can claim up to 250-thousand dollars in damage to the structure, and another 100-thousand for personal contents.

Uptick in Mortgage Fraud Risk in Q2
There’s been a spike in mortgage fraud risk, according to CoreLogic.

The company’s latest Mortgage Fraud Report reveals a nearly-17-percent year-over-year increase in fraud risk in the second quarter.

And New York has overtaken Florida as the state with the highest overall fraud risk.

The CoreLogic analysis found that during the second quarter, more than 13-thousand mortgage applications contained “indications of fraud.” Still, the company says, that number represents less than one percent of all mortgage applications.

Not All Lumber Is The Same: NAHB
Wood is wood, right? And minor differences between types of lumber don’t really matter much, when it comes to home construction.

That was what spokesmen for U.S. lumber producers said, when they testified before the U,S, International Trade Commission — but they were quickly and loudly contradicted by Texas home builder Edward Martin, who testified before the ITC representing the National Association of Home Builders.

Martin told the ITC that builders prefer Douglas fir and spruce-pine-fir over Southern yellow pine, which he says tends to twist and warp, which then causes drywall to buckle.

The ITC is trying to determine if U.S. lumber producers have been injured as a result of softwood lumber imports from Canada.

Going Green is Trending Upward
Going “green” is gaining traction among home builders.

New research by the National Association of Home Builders finds that “green” construction is becoming more commonplace among both single-family and multifamily home builders.

The NAHB report says at least one third of single-family and multifamily builders surveyed said that green building is a significant portion of their overall activity.

By 2022, NAHB says, that number should increase to nearly half, in both the single-family and multifamily sectors.

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