Top News Of The Week

- Tax Reform Pushing Ahead in Washington
- NFIP Gets Two Week Reprieve
- Rare December Wildfires Devastate L.A. Area
- Home Prices Up Seven Percent Year Over Year in October
- NJ Democrat Warns GOP Tax Plan Will Hurt Home Prices
- First-Timers Lack Basic Mortgage Knowledge
- Gig Workers Not as Big on Home Ownership
- Identifying 2018′s Hottest, Affordable Markets
- Toll Brothers CEO Not Predicting Dire Effects From GOP Tax Bill
- Millennials Shoulder More Debt to Become Homeowners
- Study: Principal Reductions Didn’t Help That Much
- Are You Urban, Suburban .. or Surban?
- NAHB Chief: Home Values Must Be Protected
- How Many Bathrooms In a New Home?
- A Robot May Show You Your Next Rental Home
- Homeowners Admit to Real Estate Stalking


Tax Reform Pushing Ahead in Washington
As the U.S. House and Senate move swiftly toward final votes on a tax cut bill, THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® continues to voice strong concerns over the legislation.

NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall warns that home values could fall by an average of more than 10%, and even more in high-cost areas.

Yale economics professor Robert Shiller says it “could happen,” but he also tells CNBC that reducing mortgage interest deductibility won’t have a great impact.

Shiller does say eliminating the property tax deduction could be, quote, “a substantial hit to people who are paying a lot of property taxes.”

NFIP Gets Two Week Reprieve
Congress has hit the snooze button again, as the alarm goes off warning of an end to the National Flood Insurance Program.

The NFIP is now due to expire December 22nd, unless Congress agrees to extend its life further.

But if that doesn’t happen, Houston REALTOR® Ed Wolff tells KHOU-TV the impact could be huge in his market.

Without the NFIP, many home sales would be in jeopardy because sales involving a federally-backed loan are required to carry flood insurance if that house sits in a floodplain.

Rare December Wildfires Devastate L.A. Area
Just weeks after the devastating wildfires in Northern California, a rare outbreak of December fires is doing similar damage in Southern California.

Hundreds of homes have already been damaged or destroyed. A CoreLogic analysis estimates that tens of thousands of homes are at some level of risk from the fires. The cost of repairing or rebuilding could be from 5-billion to as much as 27-billion dollars, the company says.

The fires have forced tens of thousands of people from their homes, including some of America’s priciest neighborhoods, such as L-A’s Bel Air community, where many celebrities and entertainers live.

Home Prices Up Seven Percent Year Over Year in October
The average American homeowner now has a property that is worth seven percent more than it was at this time last year.

That, according to the latest monthly CoreLogic Home Price Index.

Nationally, home prices rose in October by 0.9% compared to September.

The company forecasts an increase of 4.2% over the next year.

Prices nationwide have risen 38% over the last five years — but they’re up 47% in Utah.

NJ Democrat Warns GOP Tax Plan Will Hurt Home Prices
Supporters and opponents alike of the GOP tax cut plan agree that some American taxpayers will be impacted more than others by provisions that would reduce or eliminate the tax deductibility of homeownership.

New Jersey Democratic Congressman Josh Gottheimer tells CNBC the Republican bill will cause home prices to plunge in his state — a devastating blow….

Gottheimer says the figures he has seen indicate that a typical couple in his state will see their taxes go up some $5,000 in the first two years, under the GOP plan.

First-Timers Lack Basic Mortgage Knowledge
A recent survey finds that many Americans lack a basic knowledge of mortgages and the home-buying process.

The survey by the mortgage education website FreeandClear.com, revealed that only 14% of first-time buyers said they had learned about mortgages in high school, and only 17% in college.

Most borrowers say their knowledge of mortgages and the homebuying process came from their lender, or from the internet.

The survey also found that one out of five borrowers thought it was impossible to get a mortgage with less than 5% down.

One encouraging note, FreeandClear.com says — their survey found that a full 50% of those responding said a borrower should not spend more than 34% of gross income on housing costs and all other debt. Most lenders will let you spend up to 43-percent.

Gig Workers Not as Big on Home Ownership
Have you heard of the “gig” economy?

If you or someone you know drives for Uber, or rents out a property through AirBnB, you’ve seen the gig economy at work. It’s a labor market characterized by short-term or freelance work instead of a traditional fulltime job, and it’s growing.

Now Fannie Mae has found that gig workers may be a little less enthusiastic about home ownership.

Among gig workers, 40% said now is a good time to buy a home, compared with 49% of other renters who think so.

Gig workers were also 19% points more likely to say they’ll rent, rather than buy, next time they move.

Identifying 2018′s Hottest, Affordable Markets
What are the hot, and affordable, real estate markets for 2018?

REALTOR®.com has assembled a list of markets where home prices are almost certain to appreciate, the ones with burgeoning economies. and lots of job growth.

REALTOR®.com‘s economic data team analyzed sales and price trends, new construction, and local economic conditions — and concluded that the top housing market for 2018 will be …

…Las Vegas. They say its future is, quote, “eye-searingly bright.”

Dallas comes in at Number Two, followed by Deltona, Florida, Stockton, California, and Lakeland, Florida.

Toll Brothers CEO Not Predicting Dire Effects From GOP Tax Bill
One of the often-heard criticisms of the proposed Republican tax cut plan is that it would precipitate a drop in home values, especially in states like New York and California,

But Toll Brothers CEO Doug Yearley disagrees. He tells CNBC….

Yearley calls the GOP tax bill “a wash,” saying there are pluses and minuses for homebuyers.

Millennials Shoulder More Debt to Become Homeowners
Millennials are really starting to make their mark in real estate. And it’s costing them a lot.

A new analysis of mortgage origination data from Optimal Blue by REALTOR®.com shows that Millennials are taking out the largest share of new mortgages, and they’re buying up the most homes in the lower price tiers.

But to do that, the analysts finds, they’re also taking on a lot more debt.

REALTOR®.com‘s chief economist Danielle Hale points out that Millennials continue to face student loan debt, while also starting families and buying houses at a time when home prices are rising faster than wages.

But Hale is very encouraged by the fact that Millennials’ debt-to-income ratios haven’t gone up much, and that they’re making down payments that are almost as big, percentage wise, as members of Generation X.

Study: Principal Reductions Didn’t Help That Much
During the housing crisis many distressed homeowners were offered — and took advantage of — opportunities to reduce the principal on their mortgages.

Now a new study concludes that principal reduction was expensive, and not very useful.

The report from the JPMorgan Chase & Co. Institute — a think tank set up by the bank — found that homeowners who got a principal reduction, and those who didn’t, had strikingly similar rates of default two years later.

So, what did work?

The report finds that cutting a borrower’s monthly mortgage payment reduced defaults. A 10-percent reduction in the monthly payment reduced default rates 22% over the two years after the modification.

Are You Urban, Suburban .. or Surban?
The distinction is blurring, between “urban” and “suburban” — and the transition is creating a new kind of living style. They call it “surban.”

And according to RISMedia, many real estate industry professionals it’ll be one of 2018′s hottest trends.

What characterizes “surban” life?

For one thing, walkability — people like to get to retail or restaurants without having to drive there, while also preserving a suburban feel to the neighborhood.

Over the next decade, according to the Urban Land Institute, surban areas could draw at least 80-percent of new households, and attract the most families.

NAHB Chief: Home Values Must Be Protected
As House and Senate Republicans work on a compromise tax cut bill, the CEO of the National Association of Home Builders, Jerry Howard, says no matter what the final bill looks like, home values have to be protected…

Howard told CNBC the homebuilders association is much more encouraged by the Senate version of the bill than the House version, and he says his group has had some “very interesting and positive discussions” with key lawmakers.

How Many Bathrooms In a New Home?
American homes have been getting more bathrooms. But the trend may have peaked.

Census Bureau figures analyzed by the National Association of Home Builders reveal that the share of new single-family homes with three or more bathrooms has been steadily growing since 2000. As of last year, more than one of every four new single-family homes had at least three full baths.

About 61% had just two, while about 9% had four or more full baths.

But the NAHB points out that with the recent trend back toward somewhat smaller new homes, more starter homes may soon have fewer bathrooms per home.

A Robot May Show You Your Next Rental Home
It may not be the kind of robot that Will Robinson or Dr. Smith would recognize, but one artificial intelligence company is now producing a robot that can show rental properties, so real estate agents can manage the entire process online.

Zenplace says its robot provides smart guided home showings. A promotional video shows a couple being guided through a home, by the company’s robot.

Zenplace says its robot also includes a video touch screen to enable prospects to fill out an online application on the spot.

Homeowners Admit to Real Estate Stalking
How much did your cousin pay for his new house?

If he won’t tell, you can always go online to find out — a new survey reveals that half of those surveyed admit they have gone online to find out how much friends or family paid for their homes.

Most of those who admit it say they’re just curious.

The survey, by REALTOR®.com and Branded Research, found that Millennials and Gen Xers are among the most likely to snoop.

And those who live in the West are much more likely to indulge their curiosity than those in the Midwest.

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