Top News Of The Week

Builder Confidence Tumbles; Stocks Languish
Bipartisan Push to Expand Fair Housing Act
Falling Home Prices Are a ‘Fantastic’ Thing
October Inventory Up. As Home Sales Decline
Seattle May Be Returning to ‘Normal’
California Wildfires Cause Billions in Losses
Mortgage Delinquency at 12-Year Low
Freddie Mac Will Turn Sweat Equity Into a Down Payment
Remodeling to Benefit As Rates Rise
White House Will Address Fannie, Freddie Future
Thirteen Percent Plan on Buying a Home Next Year
Higher Rates Don’t Discourage Millennial Buyers
Builders Look Harder to Find Lots
Housing Market Under-performing
Buy a Home When You’re Young. It’s Good For Your Economic Health
Interior Design May Aid Obesity, Study Finds

Builder Confidence Tumbles; Stocks Languish

Concerns about housing affordability helped send homebuilder confidence sharply lower in November.

The latest National Association of Home Builders housing-market index showed an eight-point drop, to a reading of 60.

Economists had expected to see a much more modest decrease, although any number above 50 is considered positive.

Meanwhile, on Wall Street, homebuilder stocks continue to get hit hard. Analyst Gina Sanchez, CEO of Chantico Global, tells CNBC that builders are getting socked right now largely because interest rates have been going up.

Sanchez says lower material costs will help builders, but the cost of labor remains a big question mark.

Bipartisan Push to Expand Fair Housing Act

Two U.S. Senators on opposite sides of the aisle are behind a proposal that would strengthen the Fair Housing Act.

Utah Republican Orrin Hatch and Virginia Democrat Tim Kaine have introduced the legislation, which would expand the Fair Housing Act to include protections for low-income families and military veterans.

Their bill would prohibit housing discrimination based on source of income or veteran status.

Falling Home Prices Are a ‘Fantastic’ Thing

Falling home prices are not just a good thing, one economist says — they’re a “fantastic and absolutely wonderful” thing.

Chief Economist at LendingTree Tendayi Kapfidze tells The Street that falling prices signal something better.

He adds that the slowdown we’ve seen this year is actually rather modest, but seems disappointing when seen against the expectations of more growth that people had earlier in the year.

October Inventory Up. As Home Sales Decline

The number of homes for sale in October rose, year-over-year, for the first time in a decade, according to the latest monthly housing report from RE/MAX.

The report notes that inventory rose because fewer homes were sold in October. According to RE/MAX’s report, October sales fell 4.6 percent compared to October 2017. It was the eighth month this year that saw year-over-year declines in sales.

RE/MAX says October’s median sale price of two hundred and thirty six thousand dollars was the highest October price in the 10-year history of the RE/MAX report.

Seattle May Be Returning to ‘Normal’

Seattle’s housing shortage is changing rapidly. In some parts of the Seattle area the number of homes for sale has doubled, compared to last year.

Realtor Jon Bye tells Seattle’s KING-5 TV that the numbers are encouraging.

Bye says a growing inventory is also keeping home prices from increasing as fast as they have in recent years.

California Wildfires Cause Billions in Losses

The deadly wildfires in California have damaged or destroyed over 23-thousand homes, according to CoreLogic.

The losses will amount to at least 8.6 billion dollars, the company says.

For the thousands left homeless, California’s extremely tight housing market is going to be their next challenge. Danielle Hale, chief economist at Realtor.com, says, “These market conditions that require would-be home buyers to make quick decisions are not easy for buyers.”

Meanwhile, Fannie Mae is expanding the post-disaster services it’s offering its borrowers.

The company says it will offer personalized case management services to, quote, “address safety and basic needs, property repairs, employment, and financial recovery.”

Mortgage Delinquency at 12-Year Low

We are getting better and better at making our mortgage payments on time.

According to the latest figures from CoreLogic, the share of homeowners who were 30 days late fell, in August, to its lowest level since March 2006. Just 4-percent of borrowers were 30 days or more past due.

The foreclosure inventory rate, meanwhile, fell from 6-tenths of one percent to five-tenths in August.

Freddie Mac Will Turn Sweat Equity Into a Down Payment

The term “sweat equity” has been around a long time. Now Freddie Mac is embracing it, as a way to help more Americans become homeowners.

The company will partner with some rural nonprofits to help buyers of aging homes turn their construction skills into actual down payments and closing costs.

And Freddie Mac says there is no limit on the amount of sweat equity that can be applied toward a down payment, as long as certain conditions are met, including completing the work in a skillful manner, and is certified by an appraiser.

Remodeling to Benefit As Rates Rise

Rising home mortgage rates could prove to be good news, on Wall Street, for companies that cater to remodelers.

Analyst Susan Maklari at Credit Suisse tells CNBC that a growing number of homeowners are deciding to stay put, and fix up…

Maklari says the broader economic numbers do point to likely housing growth in 2019.

White House Will Address Fannie, Freddie Future

Housing finance reform is on the president’s 2019 to-do list, says one of Mr. Trump’s top economic advisors.

Andrew Olmem. acting deputy assistant to the president for economic policy, says, “The administration recognizes the importance of, and the need to tackle, housing finance reform.”

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were bailed out by the federal government ten years ago and have been under federal conservatorship since then.

Leaders in Washington have been unable to agree on how to move Fannie and Freddie back into private investors’ hands.

Thirteen Percent Plan on Buying a Home Next Year

About 13-percent of Americans plan to buy a home in the coming year.

That, according to the third quarter Housing Trends Report from the National Association of Home Builders.

The report finds that 19-percent of Millennials plan to become homeowners in the next 12 months, compared to 13-percent of Gen Xers and seven percent of Baby Boomers.

Higher Rates Don’t Discourage Millennial Buyers

Rising interest. Rates have apparently done little to dampen Millennials’ enthusiasm for homeownership.

That comes from the latest Ellie Mae Millennial Tracker.

Joe Tyrrell, executive vice president at Ellie Mae, says, quote, “With interest rates increasing, there is an even greater opportunity for the industry to educate these buyers on all of the options that they have.”

Ellie Mae says the average age of a Millennial borrower was 29.7, up from 29.4 a year ago.

Builders Look Harder to Find Lots

There’s a shortage of land ready to build houses on.

A recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders found that nearly two out of three builders reported a “low to very low” supply of developed lots in their areas.

That’s the largest share of builders reporting a lot shortage since the NAHB started tracking it in 1997.

Housing Market Underperforming

America’s housing market continues to underperform, and it may be due largely to the shortage of homes for sale.

The First American Potential Home Sales Model for October finds that the housing market underperformed by 6 and a half percent.

Potential home sales increased month-to-month by five-tenths of one percent, but year-over-year potential sales fell 4-tenths of one percent.

Buy a Home When You’re Young. It’s Good For Your Economic Health

There is impressive new evidence that it pays to become a homeowner when you’re young.

Researchers at the Urban Institute tracked people since 1968 to find out how their finances were affected by how old they were when they bought their first homes.

The study found that by age 60, those who had bought their first homes between the ages of 25 and 34 had a median housing wealth double that of people who bought between the ages of 35 and 44.

Those who waited until after age 45 to buy a first home had even smaller median housing wealth by age 60.

Interior Design May Aid Obesity, Study Finds

Is your house making you fat?

The way the architect designed your home could be discouraging physical activity, says a new report from the nonprofit Trust of America’s Health.

They’re urging architects to pay more attention to details that would encourage more physical activity. Things like stairs, which can be made more prominent and attractive.

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