Top News Of The Week

– Tax Reform Muddies Uncertain Market for First Time Buyers
- New Home Sales Hit 10-Year High in October
- Home Prices Up 6.2%: Case-Shiller
- Delinquency Rates Rise; Blame Harvey and Irma
- Orlando Getting Big Boost From Foreign Buyers
- HUD Writes Big Check For Texas Hurricane Recovery
- U.S. Supreme Court Turns Away ‘Affordable Housing Fee’ Challenge
- Flagstar Takes Zero-Down To The Next Level
- Wealthy Homeowners Most Likely to Be Hurt by Tax Reform, Says Former CEO
- America’s Shrinking Number of Seriously Underwater Homes
- Homeownership Builds Wealth — But Not Through Equity
- Mortgage Bankers Push Senate to Pass Regulatory Relief
- Southern Utah’s Affordability Crisis
- Townhouse Starts Continue to Rise
- Philadelphia Market Continues to Improve, But Low Inventory Still Holds It Back
- Affordability Crisis in America’s Rural Areas, Too


Tax Reform Muddies Uncertain Market for First Time Buyers
Could the impending GOP tax reform plan make it even harder for first-time buyers to get into the housing market?

That’s what some real estate professionals fear, reports CNBC.

REALTOR® Matt Donegan, a Redfin agent in New Jersey, tells CNBC that uncertainty about tax reform is making first-timers uneasy…

Also impacting first-time buyers, of course, is the ongoing shortage of homes for sale, as well as spiraling prices.

New Home Sales Hit 10-Year High in October
The government says sales of new single-family homes in America spiked in October to their fastest pace in a decade,

Sales rose 6.2%, to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 685,000 units last month.

The number hasn’t been that high since October 2007.

And new home sales have now increased three months in a row.

Home Prices Up 6.2%: Case-Shiller
The surge in home prices is relentless.

The latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price index rose faster than expected in September, with home prices nationwide up 6.2% year over year.

Economists polled by Reuters had predicted a 6.1% rise.

S&P Dow Jones Indices managing director David Blitzer says the index is rising “at the fastest annual rate since June 2014.”

Delinquency Rates Rise; Blame Harvey and Irma
Mortgage delinquencies rose again in October, a second consecutive monthly increase — and experts are blaming it on the summer hurricanes.

Black Knight Financial Service’s First Look Mortgage Monitor for October reveals that the national mortgage delinquency rate rose to 4.44%. That’s up by 0.94% from September, and it’s up 2% from a year ago.

Black Knight blames the increase largely on past-due mortgages in Texas and Florida.

Separately, the Mortgage Bankers Association reports a seasonally-adjusted third-quarter delinquency rate of 4.88%. That’s up 0.64% percent from the previous quarter, and 0.36% higher than a year ago.

Orlando Getting Big Boost From Foreign Buyers
Orlando’s housing market is getting a significant boost from foreign investors.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that foreign investors completed more than 2-billion dollars in residential sales during the yearlong period that ended last July.

One of those foreign buyers was Alex Carneiro, who told the Sentinel.

THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® reports that across Florida, foreign buyers account for more than 20 percent of home-sales revenues.

HUD Writes Big Check For Texas Hurricane Recovery
The federal government is providing more than five billion dollars in hurricane relief for the state of Texas.

The money, from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is aimed at helping the state’s “hard-hit areas” recover from the damage caused by Hurricane Harvey.

The storm damaged or destroyed thousands of homes, mostly in the greater Houston area.

The money now being sent is a grant from HUD’s Community Development Block Grant – Disaster Recovery Program.

U.S. Supreme Court Turns Away ‘Affordable Housing Fee’ Challenge
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a California affordable housing dispute.

At issue are payments some developers are required to make, to support affordable housing. Other jurisdictions are adopting similar permit policies.

The California case was brought by a developer, who challenged the “affordable housing fee” the city of Los Angeles assessed him.

Builders argue the fees violate the Constitution’s prohibition against taking private property “for public use without just compensation.”

A lower court sided with the city.

Flagstar Takes Zero-Down To The Next Level
Some low- and moderate-income homebuyers in Michigan are going to get some extra help buying a home.

The Detroit Free Press reports that under a new program from Flagstar Bank, eligible borrowers would have not only a zero down payment, but could also get up to $3,500 toward closing costs.

Those borrowers will get an IRS form 1099 from Flagstar, reflecting the bank’s outlay of down payment and closing costs on their behalf, meaning the assistance could be taxable, depending on the borrower’s financial status.

The new program from Flagstar hopes to attract more Millennial buyers, many of whom find it hard to save for a down payment.

Wealthy Homeowners Most Likely to Be Hurt by Tax Reform, Says Former CEO
As we wait to see what the final version of tax reform plan looks like, one former banking executive says the proposed elimination of some tax benefits to homeowners won’t affect some people as much as others.

In fact, former Wells Fargo CEO Richard Kovacevich tells CNBC that it’s mainly the rich who will feel the pain….

Kovacevich also says the proposed changes could slow down the real estate market for a while, but not long-term.

America’s Shrinking Number of Seriously Underwater Homes
The number of seriously underwater properties in America fell by 800,000 in the third quarter, compared to the second.

That, according to ATTOM Data Solutions.

The company defines “seriously underwater” as being where the combined loan amount secured by a property is at least 25-percent higher than the property’s estimated market value.

By that measure, some 4.6 million American homes are now seriously underwater — that’s 800,000 fewer than in the second quarter, and 1.4 million fewer than a year ago.

Homeownership Builds Wealth — But Not Through Equity
Homeownership builds wealth — but perhaps not in the way you’ve assumed it does.

A new study published in the Journal of Housing Research concludes that the price appreciation many homeowners expect when buying a home may not produce greater results, long-term, than investing in stocks or bonds.

But while some news outlets reported on the study with gloomy headlines about “homeownership doesn’t build wealth,” the study’s authors say ownership is still better than renting for most people because ownership forces people to save.

Study co-author Ken Johnson, real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University, says, quote, “Owning real estate should be sold as a strategy to create a better set of risk-adjusted returns, rather than create wealth alone.”

Mortgage Bankers Push Senate to Pass Regulatory Relief
Members of the Mortgage Bankers Association are pushing lawmakers in Washington to approve a package of bills that would provide some regulatory relief, and additional consumer protections.

Its sponsors in the Senate say the legislation “right-sizes” regulation for smaller financial institutions and includes important consumer protections for veterans, senior citizens and victims of fraud.

And they say it would improve the financial regulatory framework for small banks.

The bill is co-sponsored by nine Republicans, nine Democrats and one Independent in the Senate.

Southern Utah’s Affordability Crisis
Leaders in southern Utah are trying to come up with a plan to create more affordable housing.

A fast growing population is pushing the limits, officials say, and they’re bracing for an even greater surge of people in the next few years.

Washington County Commissioner Victor Iverson tells Salt Lake City’s KUTV….

According to the Washington County Affordable Housing Plan, the area has over 900 units for low income families, but the county is behind about 3,500 units.

Townhouse Starts Continue to Rise
Townhouse construction starts continue to post gains across America.

According to analysis of the latest Census data by the National Association of Home Builders, townhouse starts over the most recent four quarters totaled 98,000. That’s up 4-percent from the previous four quarters.

And the third quarter townhouse starts were up 18-percent from the same period last year.

And the NAHB says, after a “soft patch,” the market share of new townhouses is growing again. Using a one-year moving average, the share is now just under 12-percent of all single-family starts.

Philadelphia Market Continues to Improve, But Low Inventory Still Holds It Back
The Philadelphia area’s housing market continued to strengthen in October, according to the latest report from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach.

But the report also says low inventory is still a headwind.

The report says the number of properties sold in the 12-county metro region continued a year-long upward trend in October.

But home sales in Chester and Montgomery Counties, Pennsylvania were down from a year ago. So were sales in two neighboring New Jersey counties.

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices blames it on the low inventory.

Affordability Crisis in America’s Rural Areas, Too
Housing affordability is a national problem, not just in cities but also in rural areas.

So says a new study released by Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire.

The study’s authors found that rural areas, especially in places popular with retirees and second-home owners, don’t have enough affordable and adequate housing for local working families.

And land use regulations in those often-scenic areas are limiting options for developing new affordable housing.

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