Real Estate Blog
Thursday, October 28 2010
Existing-home sales rose again in September, affirming that a sales recovery has begun, according to the National Association of Realtors®.
Sales of existing single-family, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops jumped 10.0% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.53 million in September from a downwardly revised 4.12 million in August, but remain 19.1% below the 5.60 million-unit pace in September 2009 when first-time buyers were ramping up in advance of the initial deadline for the tax credit last November.
The housing market is in the early stages of recovery, said NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun.
“A housing recovery is taking place but will be choppy at times depending on the duration and impact of a foreclosure moratorium. But the overall direction should be a gradual rising trend in home sales with buyers responding to historically low mortgage interest rates and very favorable affordability conditions,” he said.
The national median existing-home price for all housing types was $171,700 in September, which is 2.4% below a year ago. Distressed homes accounted for 35% of sales in September compared with 34% in August; they were 29% in September 2009.
Opportunities abound in the current market, said NAR President Vicki Cox Golder, owner of Vicki L. Cox & Associates in Tucson, Ariz. “A decade ago, mortgage rates were almost double what they are today, and they’re about one-and-a-half percentage points lower than the peak of the housing boom in 2005,” she said. “In addition, home prices are running about 22% less than five years ago when they were bid up by the biggest housing rush on record.”
To illustrate the jump in housing affordability, the median monthly mortgage payment for a recently purchased home is several hundred dollars less than it was five years ago. “In fact, the median monthly mortgage payment in many areas is less than people are paying for rent,” Golder said.
Housing affordability conditions today are 60 percentage points higher than during the housing boom, so it has become a very strong buyers’ market, especially for families with long-term plans. “The savings today’s buyers are receiving are not a one-time benefit. Buyers with fixed-rate mortgages will save money every year they are living in their home—this is truly an example of how home ownership builds wealth over the long term,” Golder added.
Home inventory falling
Total housing inventory at the end of September fell 1.9% to 4.04 million existing homes available for sale, which represents a 10.7-month supply4 at the current sales pace, down from a 12.0-month supply in August. Raw unsold inventory is 11.7% below the record of 4.58 million in July 2008.
“Vacant homes and homes where mortgages have not been paid for an extended number of months need to be cleared from the market as quickly as possible, with a new set of buyers helping the recovery along a healthy path,” Yun said. “Inventory remains elevated and continues to favor buyers over sellers. A normal seasonal decline in inventory is expected through the upcoming months.”
One-third of homes sold to first-time buyers
A parallel NAR practitioner survey shows first-time buyers purchased 32% of homes in September, almost unchanged from 31% in August. Investors were at an 18% market share in September, down from 21% in August. The balance of purchases were by repeat buyers. All-cash sales were at 29% in September compared with 28% in August.
Single-family home sales rise
Single-family home sales increased 10% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 3.97 million in September from a pace of 3.61 million in August, but are 19.5% below the 4.93 million level in September 2009. The median existing single-family home price was $172,600 in September, down 1.9% from a year ago.
Condo and co-op sales up
Existing condominium and co-op sales rose 9.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 560,000 in September from 510,000 in August, but are 16.2% lower than the 668,000-unit level one year ago. The median existing condo price was $165,400 in September, down 6.2% from September 2009.
Regional home sales
Regionally, existing-home sales in the Northeast increased 10.1% to an annual pace of 760,000 in September but are 20.8% below September 2009. The median price in the Northeast was $239,200, which is 1.4% below a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the Midwest jumped 14.5% in September to a level of 950,000 but are 26.4% below a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $139,700, down 5.2% from September 2009.
In the South, existing-home sales rose 10.6% to an annual pace of 1.77 million in September but are 14.9% lower than September 2009. The median price in the South was $149,500, down 2.6% from a year ago.
Existing-home sales in the West increased 5.0% to an annual level of 1.05 million in September but are 16.7% below a year ago. The median price in the West was $213,600, which is 4.9% lower than September 2009.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/news/articles/september-existing-home-sales-show-another-strong-gain/#ixzz13gJDJl7u
Thursday, October 21 2010
A new bathroom brings added convenience for your family and can prove to be a valuable asset should you decide to sell your home.
Depending on the size of your family and the number of existing bathrooms in your house, adding a new bathroom may be one of the best home improvement decisions you’ll make. According to Greg Miedema, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders Remodelers (NAHBR), additional bathrooms are highly desirable features. “You can almost never go wrong adding a bathroom,” says Miedema.
This is especially true if an additional bathroom helps relieve congestion at hectic times, or if it provides much-needed convenience for guests—no small considerations.
As an investment, however, a new bathroom should be carefully considered. The cost of a new bathroom ranges from $39,000 to $75,800, but the return on that investment averages a modest 59%, according to Remodeling Magazine’s annual Cost vs. Value Report. That value has been steadily declining over the past several years due to rising construction costs and falling home prices.
Nevertheless, national averages may not be a reliable predictor of value in your particular neighborhood. Before committing to a bathroom addition, call in a real estate agent or professional appraiser to evaluate whether an additional bathroom makes sense in your situation. Buyers tend to prefer houses where the number of bathrooms equals the number of bedrooms, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).
NAHB data also suggests that an additional half bath may increases a home’s value by about 10%, while an additional full bath increases the value by 20%. That means spending $1,000 to $2,000 more to add a shower or tub could double the return on your investment.
National and regional data from the Cost vs. Value Report:
National average cost, midrange 6x8-ft. bathroom addition:
Job cost: $39,000
Resale value: $23,200
Cost recoup: 59.5%
National average cost, upscale 10x10-ft. bathroom addition:
Job cost: $75,800
Resale value: $43,900
Cost recoup: 57.9%
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/articles/bathroom-addition-return-investment/#ixzz12wVxMCfh
Friday, October 15 2010
Nearly eight out of 10 respondents believe buying a home is a good financial decision, despite ongoing challenges with the economy and housing market. That’s according to the 2010 National Housing Pulse Survey, an annual report released today by the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS.®
The survey, which measures how affordable housing issues affect consumers, also found job security concerns to be the highest in eight years of sampling, with 70 percent of Americans saying that job layoffs and unemployment are a big problem in their area; eight in 10 cite these issues as a barrier to homeownership.
“The real issue facing the nation’s economy right now is that many Americans can’t find meaningful work to support their families,” said NAR President Vicki Cox Golder, owner of Vicki L. Cox & Associates in Tucson, Ariz.
“While a job recovery is what’s needed right now to get the economy and housing market back on the right track, owning a home continues to be part of the American Dream and one of the best long-term investments in your future.”
Despite economic uncertainty, 68 percent of those surveyed still believe now is a good time to buy a home; while that number is down from last year (75 percent), it’s up from 2008 (66 percent) and 2007 (59 percent). Lower home prices and record-low mortgage interest rates may be attracting buyers to the housing market – more than one-fourth of renters said they are thinking more about buying a home than they were a year ago. Sixty-three percent of renter respondents said that owning a home is a priority in their future, and nearly 40 percent said it was one of their highest priorities.
Lower home prices have improved affordability. In fact, the percentage of renters who are worried that the cost of housing is getting so unaffordable that they will never be able to buy a home has decreased steadily since 2007, from 63 to 57 percent.
Despite improved affordability, 79 percent of respondents still consider having enough money for down payment and closing costs to be among of the biggest obstacles to buying a home. Another obstacle is a lack of confidence in their ability to be approved for a loan, reported by 73 percent of respondents.
The good news is that Americans are seeing more stability in the real estate market. Nearly seven out of 10 believe that home values have stabilized in their area; the same number expects home sales to remain about the same through the end of the year.
While more than half (51 percent) say foreclosures are a problem in their area, the rate of foreclosures is also seen as stabilizing; 51 percent say the rate is about the same as last year. Thirty-six percent of respondents cite the recession, loss of jobs and the poor economy as the main reason for the ongoing foreclosure problem. This has also led to a slight increase in the number of people who believe the federal government should take a more active role overseeing loans and mortgages (44 percent, up from 43 percent last year).
While nearly seven out of 10 say it’s harder to sell a home in their area today than it was a year ago, it’s less of a concern from last year when the number was 10 percentage points higher. This is most likely the result of lower home inventories.
The 2010 National Housing Pulse Survey is conducted by American Strategies and Myers Research & Strategic Services for NAR’s Housing Opportunity Program. The telephone survey was among 1,209 adults living in the 25 most populous metropolitan statistical areas. The study has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.
NAR’s Housing Opportunity Program, www.realtor.org/housingopportunity, was created in 2002 to encourage local Realtor® associations to create initiatives that help increase housing opportunities available to consumers and make affordable housing more readily available in their communities.
Monday, October 11 2010
Holiday World & Splashin' Safari President Dan Koch says the parks have topped one-million in attendance for the fifth year in a row. The attraction in Santa Claus has wrapped up its 64th season by setting an attendance record with nearly 1.2 million guests. Holiday World has also announced former President Will Koch has been inducted into the World Waterpark Association Hall of Fame.
SANTA CLAUS, IND-----Holiday World finished its 64th season today by setting a new seasonal attendance record, up nearly 14 percent from the previous record, set last year.
“This is the fifth year in a row we’ve topped one million in attendance,” says park president Dan Koch. “We’re very grateful to all the families who came to visit our parks.”
With a final count of 1,182,636 guests, Koch credits the season’s growth with the addition of Wildebeest, the world’s longest water coaster, plus the parks’ budget-friendly free soft drinks, along with a continued concentration on cleanliness and friendliness.
“So much of the credit for our growth goes to the incredible service and hospitality provided by our Hosts and Hostesses,” Koch says. “As far as we’re concerned, it takes more than great rides and shows to make a park worth visiting. We are very appreciative of our hard-working staff.”
Koch became president of the park in June, following the unexpected death of his brother Will, who had guided the park’s successful growth and development for more than two decades. Over the weekend, the World Waterpark Association (WWA) inducted Will Koch into its Waterpark Hall of Fame. According to the WWA, their Waterpark Hall of Fame “honors the water leisure industry's most important pioneers and innovators.”
“This is a great honor for a great man,” says Dan Koch. “I am thankful for my brother’s life.”
Holiday World, the world’s first theme park, will open its 65th season on May 7, 2011. Splashin' Safari will open for the season on May 13, with the debut of Safari Sam’s SplashLand, a children’s water-play area with eight new water slides. For more information visit www.holidayworld.com or call 1-877-GO-FAMILY
Source: Holiday World & Splashin' Safari & Inside INdiana Business
Monday, October 04 2010
Should you stick with the old or go with the (relatively) new?
By Nigel F. Maynard
Wood is one of the most loved flooring material in the home building and buying universe. Prized for its exceptional good looks and warmth, wood is highly versatile and sustainable. In the past 10 years, however, there has been a great disturbance in the force, and now wood has an able and extremely popular challenger: bamboo.
Though bamboo has had a limited history in the U.S. construction market, it has been widely used in East Asia and the South Pacific. One of the oldest building materials known to man, it has been used to build fences, houses, and furniture, and has even been known to hold up suspension bridges.
Read more here: Product Pros and Cons: Hardwood Flooring vs. Bamboo
Monday, October 04 2010
Pending home sales have increased for the second consecutive month, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.
The Pending Home Sales Index rose 4.3%, but is 20.1% below August 2009. The data reflect contracts and not closings. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.
NAR chief economist Lawrence Yun said the latest data is consistent with a gradual improvement in home sales in upcoming months. “Attractive affordability conditions from very low mortgage interest rates appear to be bringing buyers back to the market,” he said. “However, the pace of a home sales recovery still depends more on job creation and an accompanying rise in consumer confidence.”
Although Yun expects a continuing steady rise in home sales from favorable affordability conditions and some job creation, he cautioned any sudden rise in mortgage rates could slow the recovery. “Current low consumer price inflation has helped keep mortgage interest rates very attractive this year. However, recent rising trends in producer prices at the intermediate and early stages of production, along with very high commodity prices, are raising concerns about future inflation and future mortgage interest rates,” he said. “Higher inflation would mean higher mortgage interest rates. In the meantime, housing affordability is hovering near record highs.”
Regional pending home sales
The PHSI in the Northeast declined 2.9% in August and remains 28.8% below August 2009. In the Midwest the index rose 2.1%, but is 26.5% below a year ago. Pending home sales in the South increased 6.7%, but are 13.1% below August 2009. In the West, the index rose 6.4%, but remains 19.6% below a year ago.
Read more: http://www.houselogic.com/news/articles/pending-home-sales-show-another-gain/#ixzz11PKEp9me
Friday, October 01 2010
Using U.S. Census data, the nonprofit Tax Foundation has uncovered where the highest property taxes in the country are paid relative to the median value of the homes. Some of the locales may surprise you.
New Jersey came in first — no surprise there — but New Hampshire, which has no state income tax and prides itself on that, had the next-highest real estate taxes as a percentage of home values.
Louisiana had the lowest median taxes compared to property values, another ho-hum finding. But the second-lowest taxes compared to values are in pricey Hawaii.
The national median for real estate taxes is 1.04 percent of a property’s value. Here’s the list of the top 10 states with the highest median real estate taxes as a percentage of median home value as well as the ranking of states with the lowest:
States with the highest taxes:
1. New Jersey (1.89 percent of property value)
2. New Hampshire (1.86 percent)
3. Texas (1.81 percent)
4. (tie) Wisconsin (1.76 percent)
4. (tie) Nebraska (1.76 percent)
6. Illinois (1.73 percent)
7. Connecticut (1.63 percent)
8. Michigan (1.62 percent)
9. Vermont (1.59 percent)
10. North Dakota (1.42 percent)
States with the lowest taxes:
1. Louisiana (0.18 percent)
2. Hawaii (0.26 percent)
3. Alabama (0.33 percent)
4. Delaware (0.43 percent)
5. West Virginia (0.49 percent)
6. South Carolina (0.50 percent)
7. (tie) Arkansas (0.52 percent)
7. (tie) Mississippi (0.52 percent)
9. New Mexico (0.55 percent)
10. Wyoming (0.58 percent)
Source: 2009 U.S. Census Data and Tax Foundation calculations