New-Home Construction Surges to Highest Level in Decade

More new homes entered the pipeline in May than any other month since the end of the Great Recession. Total housing starts increased 5 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted annual rate pace of 1.35 million units, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. That marks the highest housing starts since July 2007.

Broken out, single-family starts rose 3.9 percent to 939,000 units in May—the second-highest reading since the Great Recession. The multifamily sector increased 7.5 percent to 414,000 units. Single-family and multifamily production are now 9.8 percent and 13.6 percent higher, respectively, than a year ago.

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Top 10 Threats to Real Estate in 2019

Rising interest rates and the economy are the top two current issues to watch in real estate, according to the Counselors of Real Estate’s Top Ten Issues Affecting Real Estate 2018-2019, a list of the biggest threats to the housing market. For the first time, CRE broke its annual list down into current and longer-term issues to watch during the industry’s next year.

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3 Pros, 3 Cons of Buying New Construction

Many house hunters are under the mistaken impression that new construction is flawless, a perception that may be challenging to wrestle with if a seller’s home is surrounded by brand-new development. In reality, there can be just as many inspection issues with new builds as there are with resale properties. For buyers who are interested in purchasing new, it’s important to manage expectations and know that no home—no matter what age—is perfect. On the other hand, new homes do have some advantages because they’re not worn. Here are three pros and three cons of new construction.

Bidding Wars Heat Up in Unassuming Towns

You’d expect bidding wars in major cities such as San Francisco, Boston, and New York—but Akron, Ohio? The Midwestern town has seen the biggest spike in multiple-offer situations on listings in the nation, according to realtor.com®. And as housing demand picks up in the spring, ushering in the typically busy selling season across the nation, other unassuming metros are becoming hotbeds for buyer competition. “Multiple-offer scenarios are no longer reserved for the usual big, fast-moving markets,” says Javier Vivas, director of economic research at realtor.com®. “Demand for homes has spilled outward into secondary, smaller markets, and more buyers are gearing up to face fierce competition in more places around the country.”

Realtor.com® pinpointed the cities that have seen the most acute spikes in bidding wars by looking at the percentage of homes that have sold above their asking prices. The site evaluated listing and sales data from March 2015 to February 2016 and then compared it to data from March 2017 to February 2018. The following seven locales saw the biggest upticks in the percentages of homes selling above asking price:

1. Akron, Ohio

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 20.6 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 91.7 percent

2. Worcester, Mass. 

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 41.5 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 88.1 percent

3. Lexington, Ky.

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 22.7 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 86.4 percent

4. Irvine, Calif.

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 30.3 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 85.5 percent

5. Greensboro, N.C.

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 29 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 81 percent

6. Sioux Falls, S.D.

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 32.8 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 74.2 percent

7. Madison, Wis.

  • Share of homes selling above ask: 40.9 percent
  • Increase in the share of homes selling above ask: 73.4 percent

Source: Housing Knife Fights! 10 Surprising Cities Where Bidding Wars Are Booming,” realtor.com®

6 Ways Home Buyers Mess Up Getting a Mortgage

Getting a mortgage is, by general consensus, the most treacherous part of buying a home. In a recent survey, 42% of home buyers said they found the mortgage experience “stressful,” and 32% found it “complicated.” Even lenders agree that it’s often a struggle.

“A lot can go wrong,” says Staci Titsworth, regional manager at PNC Mortgage in Pittsburgh.

If you’re out to buy a home, you have to be vigilant. To clue you into the pitfalls, here are six of the most common ways people mess up getting a mortgage.

Black Accents Make Comeback in Home Design

Black is making a comeback in home design, with black fixtures, appliances, and furniture emerging as hot trends for the new year. Ryan Brown of Brown Design Group in Southern California predicts that black fixtures will replace brass as the most trendy home hardware in 2018. “They look great in modern applications, as well as transitional homes,” he told realtor.com®. “And the best part is no water spots to clean off.”

Matted black furniture also will gain popularity in 2018, says Amy Chernoff, vice president of marketing for AJ Madison, an appliance and fixture retailer. Black goes with anything, and in matte finishes, it’s easier to clean than lighter, polished metals. Also, Chernoff predicts that black stainless appliances—an alternative to the shiny finish of stainless steel—likely will become trendier in the new year. “The smudge-resistant, minimal and sleek look was in line with 2017 kitchen trends,” Chernoff told Kitchen & Bath Design News.

Source: REALTOR Magazine

The Front Porch Is in Demand

The front porch—a classic feature of American homes—is making a comeback but with a twist.

Younger crowds are literally turning porches into stages. “Porchfest” is growing in popularity across the country, in which neighborhood music festivals pop up that are enjoyed from homeowners’ front porches.

The Atlantic Monthly’s CityLab reports: “In the Instagram age, the front steps have become places to see and be seen, throw a rocking concert or party, and to foster metropolitan community in a walk-by, stop-in-for-wine sense.”

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