Top News Of The Week

- GOP Tax Cuts Become Law
- Housing Starts, Builder Confidence Jump
- CoreLogic: Eroding Affordability Will Be 2018 Housing Theme
- Fed Raises Short-Term Interest Rates Again
- Why One Homebuilding CEO Is Optimistic
- New FHA Loan Limits For 2018
- Building Material Costs Continue to Increase
- Fannie, Freddie Won’t Be Grinches
- Uncertainty Sends Homebuyers to Lower-Tax States
- FHA Says No Further Mortgages on Properties With PACE Loans
- Trump Shuts the Door on Wells Fargo Hopes For A Break
- Serious Delinquency Rate At Lowest Point in Over Ten Years
- GOP Tax Bill Could Be Gift To Landlords
- Alley Homes Could Help Relieve Housing Crisis
- Self-Driving Cars Will Be Real Estate Game-Changers
- Construction Trades Can Be Stepping Stone to Executive Success


GOP Tax Cuts Become Law
Within a few weeks most Americans will start to see the impact of the Republican tax cut bill that is now law.

Homeowners will see the full impact at tax-filing time in 2019. The law allows homeowners to deduct interest on the first $750,000 of a new mortgage. State and local taxes will now be deductible only up to 10-thousand dollars.

House Ways and Means chairman Kevin Brady told Fox News.

Congressional Republicans, and President Trump, insist that the main beneficiaries of the bill will be middle-class Americans.

Housing Starts, Builder Confidence Jump
Housing starts in November rose to a 10-year high.

The government reports that new home starts rose 3.3% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1-point-29 million units.

Meanwhile, builder confidence was up again in December. The latest National Association of Home Builders / Wells Fargo Housing Market Index rose five points, to its highest level since July 1999.

CoreLogic: Eroding Affordability Will Be 2018 Housing Theme
The continuing erosion of housing affordability is going to be a central theme for the 2018 housing market, says the latest economic outlook from CoreLogic.

The company’s chief economist, Frank Nothaft, says affordability is an issue that will, quote, “permeate a growing list of American neighborhoods” in the new year.

Fed Raises Short-Term Interest Rates Again
The Federal Reserve has now raised its benchmark interest rate by a quarter percentage point.

While the Fed’s actions do not directly drive mortgage rates, they often influence the mortgage market.

Why One Homebuilding CEO Is Optimistic
Despite ongoing challenges for the industry, the head of one large homebuilder says the housing market is very good.

Tri Pointe Group CEO Doug Bauer, whose company builds homes in eight states, spoke to CNBC.

Bauer says the outlook is especially encouraging in California.

New FHA Loan Limits For 2018
New FHA lending limits will kick in on January 1st.

The ceiling will increase to $679,650, up some $43,000 from the current limit.

The FHA’s lending limit is the highest loan amount it will insure, and is influenced by the conventional loan limits set by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Building Material Costs Continue to Increase
The cost of building materials continues to soar.

In November government figures show that the price of softwood lumber was up 2.3%. The cost of OSB, which is similar to plywood, was up 30%.

Fannie, Freddie Won’t Be Grinches
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are suspending evictions of foreclosed single-family properties over the holidays.

Although legal and administrative proceedings may continue, the GSEs won’t be putting any borrowers out of their homes until January 2nd.

Uncertainty Sends Homebuyers to Lower-Tax States
Before the tax bill passed, uncertainty over what it might do to mortgage and SALT deductibility apparently inspired many people in high-tax states to look for homes in states where taxes are lower.

REALTOR® Jeff Miller, with Brown Harris Stevens in Miami, tells CNBC his firm saw a spike in recent weeks in the calls from potential homebuyers from the Northeast.

Before the final tax bill’s passage, Redfin predicting an exodus of homebuyers in 2018 from high-tax states to those where taxes are lower.

FHA Says No Further Mortgages on Properties With PACE Loans
The FHA is no longer going to insure mortgages on properties where energy-efficient improvement liens will remain in place.

The move affects homes with Property Assessed Clean Energy, or PACE, loans. They will no longer be eligible for FHA-insured forward mortgages.

The Mortgage Bankers Association applauded the move, saying, quote, “PACE liens pose a real danger to secured lenders and to the (government’s) MMI fund because they erode the underlying collateral ….”

Trump Shuts the Door on Wells Fargo Hopes For A Break
If Wells Fargo was hoping for a break, from penalties associated with claims of mortgage lending abuse, the bank better think again.

President Trump is rejecting the idea.

There had been talk in Washington that under the interim leadership of Mick Mulvaney, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may have a second look at prior settlements, like the one with Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo has pledge to reimburse customers for any wrongful charges.

Serious Delinquency Rate At Lowest Point in Over Ten Years
An improving economy means more people are paying their mortgage on time.

In its latest Loan Performance Insights Report, CoreLogic says mortgage delinquencies in September fell to their lowest levels in more than a decade.

Just 5-percent of America’s mortgages were in some stage of delinquency in September, the company says.

The “early-stage delinquency” rate rose 3-tenths of one percent in September, the biggest jump in 8 years. thanks, CoreLogic says, to the impact of the hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

GOP Tax Bill Could Be Gift To Landlords
If the Republican tax bill ends up effectively making it more expensive to own a home, landlords could reap some of the benefits.

CNBC reports that changes could keep more potential buyers on the sidelines longer, driving rental prices up.

Steve Hovland is research director at HomeUnion, a company that helps investors find and manage rental properties.

Hovland tells CNBC his company is seeing a surge in demand right now, some of which is likely the expectation that rental demand will increase.

Alley Homes Could Help Relieve Housing Crisis
Like many American cities, Washington, DC has an elaborate network of alleys throughout the city. In a prior day they were used for horses and carriages — but the Washington Post reports, alleys are now being seen as a way to help relieve the affordable housing crisis.

After all, it’s partly a “physics problem,” the Post says — there is only so much land to build on. Experts quoted by the paper say alley dwellings help by creating housing options in existing, underused space.

The group “Coalition for Smarter Growth” says alley homes could take some pressure off the housing market.

Self-Driving Cars Will Be Real Estate Game-Changers
What is the most likely “disrupter” of the real estate industry in the near future?

Experts quoted by REALTOR®.com say it’s the self-driving car.

As fully autonomous cars make their way from the pages of science fiction novels to America’s actual roads, experts say it will have a profound effect on where and how we live.

Exurbs and rural areas may suddenly become much more appealing, as the notion of a long and arduous commute doesn’t sound so bad, when someone — or some-thing — else is doing the driving.

Construction Trades Can Be Stepping Stone to Executive Success
One of the ongoing challenges for the home building industry is finding enough young people who want to learn a construction trade.

Well, maybe this will help persuade some of them: a new study by the National Association of Home Builders identifies eight specific senior positions often found in home building companies that are typically filled by someone with experience in one of the trades.

When they’re ready to trade the blue collar for a white one, the NAHB study says those executive jobs typically pay $80,000 to $100,000 a year or more.

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