Contract interest rates rose to their highest levels in two years12/07/2016 | ConsumerAffairs
Mortgage applications were down for the second week in a row last week.
The Mortgage Bankers Association reports applications dipped 0.7% in the week ending December 2. The prior week’s results included an adjustment for the Thanksgiving holiday.
While the Refinance Index was down 1% percent from the previous week, the refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 56.2% of total applications from 55.1% a week earlier.
The adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) share of activit...
As inventory builds and rates rise, sellers will have less leverage12/06/2016 | ConsumerAffairs
Over the last couple of years the U.S. housing market has transformed into something of a seller's market, especially in fast growing cities favored by Millennials.
Declining inventory of homes for sale has increased competition for the remaining homes on the market, driving up prices. So it's been good for sellers but not so good if you are trying to buy a home.
Real estate marketplace Zillow has found fewer than half of buyers successfully close on the first home they m...
Home plan selection shows generations moving in different directions09/11/2014 | ConsumerAffairs
One way to get a read on where the housing market is going is to look at what kinds of houses are being built.
Not so much what builders are putting up – those tend to be driven by what's efficient and what's profitable. But if the homeowner is the one choosing the design, what are they choosing?
Houseplans.com gets about 8 million visitors a year who browse among the home designs and, if something strikes their fancy, they can purchase the plans. CEO Jamie Roche...
More are trying to buy homes but still face challenges10/19/2016 | ConsumerAffairs
Since the housing crash eight years ago, it has been widely assumed that Millennials, who were just coming of age at that time, would be a generation of renters.
After all, lenders wanted sterling credit scores and ample down payments before agreeing to a mortgage. Many young people did well just to find a job.
But today, it's Millennials who are driving the housing market. A report by real estate marketplace Zillow shows first-time home buyers, overwhelmingly Millennials...
After already steep climbs, Seattle renters could face another 7% rise10/07/2016 | ConsumerAffairs
Home prices have risen the fastest in the major Western U.S. markets, so it shouldn't come as a shock that rents in these metros are rising as well. The latest report from real estate marketplace Zillow suggests there's no relief in sight for some of these Western renters.
Rents are up generally because more consumers are renting instead of buying. That increases competition for apartments and condos and single-family homes on the rental market.
In the West, there's anoth...
Rising rents and tighter inventory are big factors07/29/2016 | ConsumerAffairs
Since the housing bubble burst, fewer Americans have been buying homes.
First it was because it was so much harder to qualify for a mortgage and so many people were out of work. Then it was because there were fewer homes for sale.
Now, the U.S. Census Bureau reports homeownership in the U.S. is at its lowest level since 1965, when the median priced U.S. home was $21,000.
The Census Bureau tracks the percentage, not the actual number. In the second quarter of this year, the...
Have an open house but don't hang around for it05/15/2015 | ConsumerAffairs
Lettiann Southerland is a Kansas City area real estate agent and a foodie. Despite the fact those two things have little in common, she has combined them in a new book, "Homes that Cook: Best Kept Secrets for Buying, Selling and Creating a Home."
The book offers tips for selling your home but also includes more than 100 pages of recipes and cooking tips.
"I have taken two very happy areas of my life and combined them in a book of real estate buying and selling tips along ...
It isn't coming up with the down payment07/15/2016 | ConsumerAffairs
Two numbers go a long way toward explaining the U.S. housing market this summer.
The first number is 13, as in an additional 13% of consumers were actively shopping for a new home last month. The second number is five – there are 5% fewer homes available for sale.
The result of those two numbers, says realtor.com's chief economist Jonathan Smoke, is an ever-tighter housing market that is pushing up home prices. Prices are rising, he says, because demand far outpaces suppl...
Builders say demand is steady08/08/2016 | ConsumerAffairs
While demand continues to be strong in the single-family 55+ housing market, production isn't as robust as it could be.
According to the National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) 55+ Housing Market Index (HMI), builder confidence in the market was up a point to57 in the second quarter. That's the ninth consecutive quarter with a reading above 50. An index number above 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.
“Builders and developers for the 5...
Zillow reports rents rose 1.7% compared to 5% for home prices09/23/2016 | ConsumerAffairs
Many Millennials have been caught in a housing squeeze. Unable to buy a home, they've been forced to remain renters. But in the wake of the housing crisis, when demand for rental property skyrocketed, so did rents. And as rents rose year after year, it was harder to get ahead.
However, there's finally some good news. Real estate marketplace Zillow reports rents are still rising, but not as fast as home values are.
In August 2015, rents were up an average of 6% over 2014 l...
Deduction for middle class homeowners would be capped at $5,000 per year05/04/2016 | ConsumerAffairs
Suburban areas across America are dotted with one subdivision after another, where residents are required to belong to a homeowner association (HOA). Residents pay a fee and, in return, receive some level of services.
It might be something as simple as maintenance of common areas. In some communities, the fee might take care of amenities like swimming pools and tennis courts. In some developments, the HOA has responsibility for repairing and maintaining roads.
In other wo...
WeLive takes a dorm-style approach to apartment dwelling05/25/2016 | ConsumerAffairs
WeWork, an early purveyor of the co-working space movement, is taking the concept of shared office space and applying it to apartments.
In April, the office-sharing company launched WeLive: an apartment complex with an abundance of shared, open spaces. Renters can have their own private space, as well -- but the draw of WeLive is the sense of community.
Founding partner, Rebecca Newman, explains that WeLive is centered on community and “the belief that we’re basically a...
Your fellow consumers' concerns might be your opportunity01/08/2015 | ConsumerAffairs
Let's start by conceding that buying a house these days is a lot different than it used to be. Before the housing crash, you could be pretty confident that if you purchased property it would rather quickly appreciate in value.
It was looked at as an investment, a smart place to put your money. But a lot of people who purchased a home at the top of the market in 2007 owe a lot more on their mortgage than their homes are worth.
Today, people can still make money buying ...
Building permit applications, though, were lower08/16/2016 | ConsumerAffairs
Construction of new homes in July built on the gains posted in June, although developers' plans for housing in the months ahead slipped a bit.
The Commerce Department reports ground was broken for privately-owned houses at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,211,000, up 2.1% from the revised June total of 1,186,000 and 5.6% above the rate posted a year earlier.
Starts on single-family homes were up 0.5% in July at a rate of 770,000 and a year-over-year advance of 1.3%....
Zillow reports inventory of available homes is down 38% from 201107/27/2016 | ConsumerAffairs
The couple had looked at five houses for sale and really liked one. But they told their real estate agent they would like to keep looking.
“If there's a house you really like, you should put in an offer today,” the agent advises. “Otherwise, you'll miss your opportunity.”
The agent isn't just blowing smoke. In today's real estate market, the low inventory of available homes has made it a seller's market, and desirable homes are selling quickly.
“Days on market” can be a st...
Economic worries now 'the new normal'07/26/2016 | ConsumerAffairs
The housing market appears healthy. Despite tight inventories, sales keep rising and so do prices. The market appears to have come a long way since the depths of the 2008 financial crisis, when homes prices imploded.
But a new survey suggests the market is still suffering a hangover. The ValueInsured Modern Homebuyer Survey found there is still some nervousness influencing home buying decisions today, a condition it declares as “the new normal.” In particular, it affects...
Negative equity down sharply since the housing collapse, but still pretty high08/18/2016 | ConsumerAffairs
It's not as bad as it was, but it's still not very good.
That's the bottom line of Zillow's latest report on negative equity in residential real estate, the percentage of homeowners who still owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.
Nationally, 13.7% of urban homeowners are underwater, compared to 11.2% of homeowners in the suburbs.
The numbers, of course, present something of a “glass is half full/empty” scenario. While the percentage is double digits five ...