Top News Of The Week

- House Passes Flood Insurance Bill
- October Housing Starts Best In a Year; Builder Confidence at Eight-Month High
- No Bubble, Says Freddie Mac
- Fannie Pilot Program Would Make New Homes More Affordable
- What Investors See In The Housing Sector in 2018
- LA Bumps SF as Nation’s ‘Least Affordable’ Market
- Legal Aid Groups Brace For Foreclosure Waves in Storm-Ravaged Areas
- REALTORS® Urge Homeowners To Take a Critical Look at GOP Tax Reform
- Hurricane Rebuilding Could Take Years
- Borrowers Say Mortgage Originations Are Still Too Slow
- Your Credit Score May Make it Easier to Buy a Home Than to Rent
- Why Photo Shoots After The Sale Are The New Thing
- GOP Tax Plan Already Impacting New York
- Staging Your Home For the Holidays
- Is Renting Losing Ground to Buying?


House Passes Flood Insurance Bill
The House of Representatives has passed a bill to renew and overhaul the National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP, which was due to expire December 8th.

The legislation — dubbed the “21st Century Flood Reform Act” — renews the NFIP for five more years. But it also updates federal flood mapping requirements, and encourages more private companies to get into the flood insurance market.

Louisiana Republican Congressman Steve Scalise praised the House action.

The bill now awaits action in the U.S. Senate.

October Housing Starts Best In a Year; Builder Confidence at Eight-Month High
The government says construction of new homes climbed 13.7% in October to its highest level in a year.

Housing starts came in at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.29 million units in October.

Experts say September disruptions caused by recent hurricanes in the South have evaporated.

Meanwhile, America’s home builders are more confident than they’ve been in months.

The November “National Association of Home Builders / Wells Fargo Housing Market Index” finds that builder confidence rose two points from October, to a level that’s the highest since last March.

Demand for single-family housing is growing at a consistent pace, says NAHB chief economist Robert Dietz.

No Bubble, Says Freddie Mac
“There currently is no house price bubble in the U.S.”

So says Sean Becketti, the chief economist with Freddie Mac, writing in the company’s November Insight report.

Becketti says “despite the rapid increase of house prices over the last five years,” there is no bubble like the one ten years ago.

But he does concede that, again quoting, “the housing sector is significantly out of balance.”

Fannie Pilot Program Would Make New Homes More Affordable
Fannie Mae is set to roll out an affordable housing initiative.

Bloomberg reports that the effort may include a pilot program that would help prospective homebuyers obtain loans to build new homes.

The plan would allow a bank or other lender to sell a construction loan to Fannie Mae on the first day of construction, rather than having to wait and create a mortgage when construction is complete. The borrower would not need to begin making payments until they move in.

What Investors See In The Housing Sector in 2018
If Wall Street is right, 2018 should be a very good year for housing.

Veteran analyst Robert Wetenhall (“wetten-hall”) with RBC Capital Markets tells CNBC he’s very bullish on housing in 2018.

He says the trend is for renters to become buyers. And he’s forecasting a 5% growth in home prices in 2018. Those are among the factors he calls “very powerful tailwinds”.

Wetenhall says there are positive economic fundamentals across the board, including strong job growth.

LA Bumps SF as Nation’s ‘Least Affordable’ Market
San Francisco is no longer the nation’s least affordable major housing market.

After nearly five years, San Francisco has been replaced by Los Angeles.

That, according to the National Association of Home Builders Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index.

Legal Aid Groups Brace For Foreclosure Waves in Storm-Ravaged Areas
Legal aid groups are already working with homeowners in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico who are struggling to keep up with mortgage payments on storm-damaged homes while they’re also renting temporary housing.

CNN reports that housing experts and consumer advocates worry that a wave of foreclosures may be on the horizon.

That wave could begin as early as February, says one foreclosure specialist in Houston.

REALTORS® Urge Homeowners To Take a Critical Look at GOP Tax Reform
It looks like there will soon be a tax reform bill landing on President Trump’s desk.

And members of THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® are among those working hard to make sure Americans understand what the Republican-crafted legislation will mean for homeowners.

Cynthia Carley with Lake Arrowhead Luxury Properties in Blue Jay, California says to find out what its effect will be, recalculate your own taxes. She did…

Opponents of the GOP tax cut plan worry that eliminating the deduction for state and local taxes, and the possible reduction in the mortgage interest deduction, could indeed mean that millions of homeowners would end up paying more in taxes than they do now.

Hurricane Rebuilding Could Take Years
A chronic shortage of construction workers is hampering the rebuilding efforts in areas devastated by hurricanes this summer.

And builders and their trade groups tell USA Today that it could be years before all of the repairs, to the thousands of damaged homes, are complete.

National Association of Home Builders CEO Jerry Howard tells USA Today there was a significant labor shortage in the construction sector before the hurricanes. The storms just made the crisis even worse.

Borrowers Say Mortgage Originations Are Still Too Slow
Americans are impatient, and are consequently less satisfied with mortgage lenders this year.

According to J.D. Power’s 2017 “U.S. Primary Mortgage Origination Study” there’s been an increase in the number of consumers complaining that the process is too slow.

This, despite a boom in technology allowing online mortgage origination.

The company says some lenders — including Quicken Loans and Guild Mortgage — did get high satisfaction ratings for 2017.

Your Credit Score May Make it Easier to Buy a Home Than to Rent
Here’s another way that buying a home beats renting….

In some hot rental markets right now, a new study finds, you’ll actually need a higher credit score to rent than to buy.

The study by RENTCafé, based on tenant screening data from RentGrow, finds that nationwide, the average FICO score you need to rent an apartment is 650. In Boston, San Francisco and Seattle, you’ll need a 700 or better to rent.

According to the FHA, a FICO score as low as 580 will get you a house, with a 3-and-a-half percent down payment.

Why Photo Shoots After The Sale Are The New Thing
The explosion of social media in recent years has encouraged us to share more of our lives’ big moments with the world.

And buying that first home certainly qualifies as a big moment. The Wall Street Journal reports that some savvy real estate professionals are now staging photo shoots to help first-time buyers capture the moment.

And the Journal reports that real estate pros say post-closing photo shoots are great for their business, too. They say seeing a friend’s home purchase photos online encourages people to buy a home themselves.

GOP Tax Plan Already Impacting New York
Congress has not yet passed a tax reform bill to send to President Trump. But the GOP proposal is already having an impact in New York City.

According to REALTOR®.com, there are signs that homebuyers in New York are taking a moment to consider what effect Republican tax reform would have on their purchase.

Brokers quoted by REALTOR®.com say the pause sets the stage for a possible chill in the market.

Staging Your Home For the Holidays
Selling your home around the holidays may mean you’ll have to scale your decorating back just a bit.

Staging expert Dana Baggett with Showhomes in Little Rock, Arkansas says she tells her clients to keep it simple.

And she tells ArkansasMatters.com that means the holiday aromas, as well your decorations…

And she recommends putting your valuable holiday gifts in a closet, not under the tree.

Is Renting Losing Ground to Buying?
A modest increase in the home ownership rate in the third quarter has some rental-home investors concerned.

REALTOR®.com reports that some investors and analysts are wondering whether the rental market’s good times are coming to an end, especially when talking about single family rentals.

Wall Street, meanwhile, is watching demographic trends to predict movement from renting to buying.

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