Top News Of The Week

- NFIP Gets Another Reprieve
- New Home Sales Do Best Monthly Gain in 25 Years
- California Homeowners Face Losing Insurance
- Most Markets Still Healthy, CoreLogic Finds
- Buying a Home Better Deal Than Renting?
- Credit Risk Up, But Still Inside Normal Bounds
- Value of Walkability Varies By Demographic
- Is Now The Time to Sell Your Home?
- Early 2018 Will See Booming Sales in Some Markets
- Builders Say New Policies Provide Brighter Outlook
- Insurance Claims Near 866,000 From Hurricane Irma
- Merrill Lynch is Bullish on The Housing Market
- Puerto Rico Facing ‘Housing Meltdown’ After Maria
- FHFA Wants Input on Credit Scoring Alternatives to FICO
- Hot Trends for 2018

NFIP Gets Another Reprieve
When Congress agreed to another short-term “continuing resolution” to avert a government shutdown just before Christmas, it included another reprieve for the National Flood Insurance Program, or NFIP.

The NFIP was originally going to expire last September, but Congress and the president extended its life to early December, then to late December, and now until January 19th.

But sooner or later, real estate professionals say, Congress is going to have to do something about the NFIP. As Florida insurance agent Florence Conlan told ABC-7 TV in Sarasota, the program is bankrupt.

Having valid flood insurance is a requirement to get a mortgage backed by the federal government.

New Home Sales Do Best Monthly Gain in 25 Years
Sales of new homes across America took off like a rocket in November.

The government says new-home sales surged 17.5% in November, the biggest monthly gain in more than 25 years.

November saw a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 733,000 units. That’s the highest level since July 2007, and it’s up more than 26.5% from a year ago.

California Homeowners Face Losing Insurance
Massive wildfires this year in Northern and Southern California are now giving homeowners something new to worry about — many are losing their insurance.

CNBC reports that.some insurance companies are taking advantage of state laws that make it easier in some cases to drop coverage than to raise rates.

Insurers must renew fire victims’ policies once, but after that homeowners could be driven to unusual, expensive policies.

Most Markets Still Healthy, CoreLogic Finds
Most of America’s housing markets remain healthy, or at least have relatively low risk, according to the latest CoreLogic Market Health Indicator.

But the report also finds that sixteen of the nation’s top hundred metro markets have been identified by CoreLogic as “high-risk” markets. Ten of those sixteen are in Florida, the rest are all in California.

Buying a Home Better Deal Than Renting?
A new Urban Institute study finds that in half of 33 major U.S. cities it’s cheaper to rent than to buy a home.

Dallas REALTOR® Rogers Healy tells Fox Business that buying a home is more affordable, the farther out you’re willing to live.

Healy says the closer you are to the bullseye, the more you’re going to pay.

Credit Risk Up, But Still Inside Normal Bounds
Over the last year it’s become slightly more risky for mortgage lenders to make loans, says a new report from CoreLogic.

But the company says the mortgage credit risk is still well within an acceptable range, comparable to what the risk picture was like in the early 2000s.

Value of Walkability Varies By Demographic
Which do homebuyers prefer — a big yard, or being close to everything?

A survey done for THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® found that Millennials, especially, are big on walkability. Nearly two out of three said living in an apartment or townhouse is worth it, if they can be close to everything.

Is Now The Time to Sell Your Home?
Does the new tax reform law just passed have you thinking about selling your house, because you can no longer afford the taxes?

Wall Street Journal reporter Veronica Dagher says it may be wise to wait.

Dagher says if you’re a high-end buyer, you may have a little more leverage now because of the tax reform legislation.

Early 2018 Will See Booming Sales in Some Markets
Home sales in the first quarter of 2018 are likely to boom, in five hot U.S. markets, according to a new forecast.

ATTOM Data Solutions predicts higher than normal home sales activity in Chicago, Washington DC, Nashville, Colorado Springs, and Manchester-Nashua, New Hampshire.

Builders Say New Policies Provide Brighter Outlook
We told you last week on Real Estate Today about the surge in homebuilder confidence, which soared in December to its highest level in 18 years.

Now we’re learning more about why they’re so upbeat.

Builders say housing market conditions are improving due to “new policies aimed at providing regulatory relief to the business community,” says NAHB Chairman Granger MacDonald.

Insurance Claims Near 866,000 From Hurricane Irma
Insured losses in Florida, due to Hurricane Irma, have now topped six and a half billion dollars, according to figures from the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

Still, Lynne McChristian, spokeswoman for the Insurance Information Institute, says Irma could have been “much worse” for homeowners and the insurance industry.

Merrill Lynch is Bullish on The Housing Market
Demand for homes is on the rise, and interest rates remain near record lows.

Those are two of the reasons the housing market remains so strong, says Michelle Meyer. She’s head of U.S. Economics at Merrill Lynch. In a company-produced video Meyer says the labor market is another reason she’s bullish.

The backdrop for housing is still largely positive, Meyet says, despite an ongoing lean supply of homes for sale.

Puerto Rico Facing ‘Housing Meltdown’ After Maria
Months after the devastation of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Rico is now headed for a “housing meltdown” and foreclosure crisis, reports the New York Times.

The paper cites figures from Black Knight indicating that about one out of three Puerto Rico homeowners is behind on their mortgage payments.

The foreclosure and delinquency rate in Puerto Rico is 35 percent, which is more double the rate on the U.S. mainland in 2010 at the worst of the housing crisis.

FHFA Wants Input on Credit Scoring Alternatives to FICO
FICO is not the only game in town, when it comes to credit scores.

And now the Federal Housing Finance Agency wants to know what should replace the classic FICO model.

FHFA asked Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to compare models known as “Classic FICO,” “FICO 9,” and “VantageScore 3.0.” But the result was, the alternatives to Classic FICO produced only marginal benefits.

Hot Trends for 2018
Where is the buzz going to come from, in housing trends in 2018?

REALTORmag.com reports that you’ll hear a lot about integrating technology, and about creating healthy and connected living environments.

Building materials, systems, and products that address those concerns will do well in the coming year, the article says.

And REALTORmag.com says there is a good chance you’ll be adding a new professional to your phone file, alongside plumber and electrician and lawn care — you may need a home tech guru, someone who makes house calls, assesses what’s needed, and makes all the tech devices hum effortlessly at the same time.”

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