Top News Of The Week

- Millennials Drive First Increase in Homeownership in 13 Years
- Home Price Gains Hold Steady in November
- Home Seller Profits at Ten-Year High
- Was Alexa Super Bowl Ad A Hint About HQ2?
- 2018 Market To Look a Lot Like 2017 in Detroit
- Early Start to Spring Buying Season, Says MBA Chief Economist
- Affordability Crisis? What Affordability Crisis?
- Demand for 55+ Housing Hits New Record
- Single Family Rentals In Affordability Crisis
- Construction Spending Hits New High in December
- Cash Sales Of New Homes Tie Post-Recession High
- Online Petition Calls on Cities Not to Give Amazon Too Much
- High Tax States to Sue Over Federal Tax Reform
- Millennials Discover Florida Market Dominated by Retirees
- Price of Imported Softwood Lumber Climbs to Record High
- Top Landscape Design Trends For 2018


Millennials Drive First Increase in Homeownership in 13 Years
For the first time since 2004, the U.S. homeownership rate rose in the fourth quarter of 2017. And experts say you can thank Millennials for that.

As of the fourth quarter, the Census Bureau says 64-point-2 percent of Americans own a home, up from 63.7% a year earlier. A surge in Millennial homebuying is one reason, says Wall Street Journal reporter Laura Kusisto.

The homeownership rate among Millennial households rose to 36%, up from 34.7% a year ago.

Home Price Gains Hold Steady in November
It has now been 67 straight months that America’s home prices have gone up, according to the latest monthly Home Price Index report from Black Knight.

Prices gained 0.27% in November, up 6.44% year over year.

The average price for a home in the U.S. is now around $283,000, according to Black Knight’s figures.

New York was the state with the strongest home price appreciation in November, followed by Nevada, Vermont, Arizona and Utah.

Home Seller Profits at Ten-Year High
The average U.S. home seller’s profit hit a 10-year high in the fourth quarter of 2017.

A new report from ATTOM Data Solutions finds that sellers made an average profit of $54,000 over what they originally paid for their homes. That’s more than 14% higher than the average profit a year ago, and it’s the largest profit sellers have seen since third quarter 2007.

The company says you can thank the national ongoing housing shortage for those impressively fat profits.

ATTOM senior vice president Daren Blomquist says, “If you’re selling, you’re taking advantage of a red-hot housing market with low supply, high demand, and fast-appreciating home prices in many areas,” says

Was Alexa Super Bowl Ad A Hint About HQ2?
Did Amazon tip its hand, on Super Bowl Sunday, about where it’s going to put HQ2?

Amazon’s popular Super Bowl commercial was built on the premise that Alexa loses her voice. This is how the spot opened….

Hmm. a clue, perhaps? Austin is, after all, one of the 20 markets on Amazon’s short list.

Amazon tells USA Today, “The Alexa Super Bowl spot and HQ2 are totally unrelated.”

Also, during that commercial, the word “Alexa” was spoken at least ten times. Wondering why it didn’t wake up your Echo? Bloomberg reports it’s because Amazon changed subtle sound frequencies in the ad, so WE could hear the word “Alexa…” but your Echo device could not!

2018 Market To Look a Lot Like 2017 in Detroit
2018 will continue to be a seller’s market in Detroit, says one broker.

Jeanette Schneider, Vice President of ReMax of Southeastern Michigan, tells WXYZ-TV that the big issue continues to be inventory. Is it a matter of Baby Boomers sitting on the sidelines?

Schneider says she is very optimistic about the market, though, saying there are plenty of ready buyers, including Millennials and Gen-Xers eager to move up

Early Start to Spring Buying Season, Says MBA Chief Economist
We could see an early start to the spring homebuying season, says the chief economist with the Mortgage Bankers Association.

Speaking at the recent MBA Independent Mortgage Bankers Conference, Mike Fratantoni said the near-term future for the housing market is mostly healthy.

Fratantoni says growth in the housing market should continue over the next few years, fueled by healthy growth in jobs and wages.

And thanks to federal tax reform, Fratantoni says, quote, “We have raised our outlook on economic growth. Overall, the tax bill will be a positive for the economy.”

Affordability Crisis? What Affordability Crisis?
The housing affordability crisis is often spoken of as a given, of our present time and circumstances/

But by one measure, not only is there no crisis, homes haven’t been this affordable since before the peak of the boom a dozen years ago.

According to the First American Real House Price Index, the affordability crisis is overstated.

Their index — which measures how much home someone can buy, based on changes in income and interest rates — finds that “real house prices” are now almost 38-percent below their housing boom peak in July 2006.

Demand for 55+ Housing Hits New Record
There is strong and growing demand across the country for 55-plus housing. And that is why builder confidence in that market is soaring.

The National Association of Home Builders’ 55+ Housing Market Index jumped 12-points in the fourth quarter, compared to the third quarter.

But Chuck Ellison, chairman of NAHB’s 55+ Housing Industry Council, warns that, quote, “Regulations in some parts of the country can make it challenging to meet the demand.”

Single Family Rentals In Affordability Crisis
Affordability is not just an issue for home buyers. It hits renters hard, too.

Molly Boesel, principal economist with CoreLogic, says in a company-produced video that the soaring price of single-family rentals is becoming a serious problem.

CoreLogic says rents for single-family homes fell during the Great Recession, but then bounced back strongly from their low point in mid-2009 and continue to trend up.

According to CoreLogic, the single-family rental market makes up one-half of residential rentals.

Construction Spending Hits New High in December
The government says construction spending rose 0.7% in December to a record high.

It was the fifth straight monthly gain.

Total residential construction was at an estimated seasonally adjusted annual rate of $532 billion, up 0.4% of one percent from November — and 6.2% higher year over year.

Cash Sales Of New Homes Tie Post-Recession High
More people are paying cash for new homes.

Cash sales accounted for 11,000 new-home sales in the fourth quarter of 2017, or nearly 8% of purchases, a mark not reached since 2014.

According to an analysis of Census Bureau data by the National Association of Home Builders, among buyers who financed their purchase, FHA-loans financed almost 13% of new home sales in the fourth quarter. VA loans backed 7.2%.

Conventional loans accounted for 72% of new home sales in 2017.

Online Petition Calls on Cities Not to Give Amazon Too Much
Professors and economists from across the U.S. have signed an online petition, urging the 20 cities on the Amazon HQ2 short list not to get into a bidding war.

The petition on Change.org asks elected officials in those 20 cities to support what the petition organizers are calling a “non-aggression pact” in competing for Amazon’s second headquarters. That would mean no overly generous tax breaks or monetary incentives.

Organizers say, quote, “Tax giveaways and business location incentives offered by local governments are often wasteful and counterproductive, according to a broad body of research.”

Amazon says its HQ2 will bring 50-thousand high paying jobs, and billions in investment.

High Tax States to Sue Over Federal Tax Reform
New York, New Jersey, Connecticut and Maryland are preparing a lawsuit to challenge the federal tax reform.

A key provision of the new tax law is a cap on the deductibility of state and local taxes — including property taxes — and leaders in high-tax states have complained that that will hurt their states. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The states are forming a coalition that will sue the federal government. The governors expect other states to join the suit.

Millennials Discover Florida Market Dominated by Retirees
Cape Coral, Florida, has long been considered a prime location for retirees.

But now Millennials have discovered Cape Coral, in a big way, according to NBC-2 News in Fort Myers.

Chris Porter is co-owner of Cape Realty.

The station reports that builders are taking notice of the influx of younger buyers, and are starting to concentrate on homes priced for first-time buyers.

Price of Imported Softwood Lumber Climbs to Record High
Imported softwood lumber — a critical component of home construction — is now more expensive than ever.

The National Association of Home Builders reports that since Hurricane Harvey hit Texas last summer, prices for softwood lumber imports have soared 30-percent.

The NAHB says the price spike is largely the result of tariffs imposed by the Commerce Department, coupled with a stalemate in negotiations among the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

And the NAHB says the near-term outlook appears uncertain. Canada has filed a complaint with the World Trade Organization.

Top Landscape Design Trends For 2018
As more Americans are moving some of their living space outdoors, the National Association of Landscape Professionals has identified the five top landscape design trends for 2018.

Number one on the list — outdoor fireplaces. Not just a fire pit, but a real fireplace, which they say is the perfect addition to an outdoor living space with couches.

Another trend this year — “experiential landscape design,” which is another way of saying creative play areas — like, a life-size chess set.

Patterned plants will be big, plants with stripes on leaves or brightly colored veins.

And water-conserving foliage will be very “in” for 2018.

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