Consumers keep economy from flagging

March 25, 2013

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Jobs still aren’t easy to be had and hardly anybody’s getting a big pay raise, but consumers aren’t letting that stop them.

Consumer spending, the turbine of U.S. growth, has continued to spin forward and Americans probably opened their wallets again in February. Economists polled by MarketWatch forecast a solid 0.5% increase.

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Moving Out and Sprucing Up

March 25, 2013

35 Million Americans plan to move this year

Seller confidence increases 36%

72% plan to spend an average of $4,000 on home improvements

Mar 21, 2013
10:00am

NEW YORK, NY (March 21, 2013) – Americans are on the move, according to the latest American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. Fifteen percent of Americans, or approximately 35 million people, expect to move in 2013, a 50% increase from last year. Of these, 43% plan to purchase a new home, condo or apartment, while 47% will rent. Moving or not, the vast majority (72%) of Americans have at least one home improvement project on their to-do list this year, expecting to spend an average of $4,000.

A Seller’s Market

Overall, homeowners are more optimistic about the real estate market, with 57% feeling confident they could sell their home for their asking price today, a 36% increase from 2012.
Nearly half of consumers (45%) think the best time to buy is within the next six months. To speed up the process, most homeowners (70%) say they’re willing to make certain concessions to sweeten the home buying deal, a trend that’s increased 13% since 2011. Concessions include: throwing in appliances (46%), making requested repairs (32%) as well as paying closing costs (18%, up 64% since 2011).

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Housing Recovery Could Withstand 4% Mortgages: Ex-FHA Head

March 25, 2013

As we head into the spring home buying and selling season, the housing comeback is showing signs of accelerating more rapidly than most anybody had thought at this point, David Stevens, president and CEO of Mortgage Bankers Association, told CNBC on Friday.

“The peak housing era of 2005 through 2007, those couple years produced some very dangerous characteristics we can’t allow to ever come back,” the former Obama Federal Housing Administration commissioner said in a “Squawk Box” interview. “But the market is clearly improving [now]” and could weather rising interest rates should the Federal Reserve start tightening at some point.

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Wayne Homes Announces Price Increase Effective April 15, 2013

March 25, 2013

, OH (PRWEB) March 22, 2013

Custom home builder Wayne Homes has announced a limited time opportunity for families to purchase a home at 2012 prices before a planned price increase takes effect on April 15th, 2013.

The company announced the price increase in response to growing demand for new homes in 2013, which is creating higher prices for materials and labor. The company announced the price increase early to give families who are considering a new home purchase time to lock in their price early.

“We believe that today’s housing prices and interest rates provide families with more buying power than they are likely to have if they wait another six months, based on a continuing strengthening of the housing market in all of the areas where we build,” says George Murphy, President of Wayne Homes.

Read more here.


Report: Mortgages become slightly easier to get as standards ease

March 25, 2013

Here’s some good news on the mortgage availability front as you house-hunt this weekend: Credit standards appear to be easing, just a bit, according to an analytical study and reports from front-line lenders.

The average borrower credit score for a closed loan dropped from 749 in January to 745 in February, Ellie Mae Inc., a provider of software to home lenders, reported Friday. Though still steep, it was the lowest average score since last May, said Jonathan Corr, Ellie Mae’s chief executive.

MAP: An interactive look at Southern California’s housing recovery

The average down payment for a home purchase was exactly 20%, the report said — the first time it’s been that low since July.

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Kitchens and Baths Benefit from Broader Housing Recovery, Feature New Functions and Activities

March 21, 2013

As a nascent design and construction recovery spreads from region to region and building sector to building sector, one of the first tangible expressions of this long-awaited turnaround is arriving. Homeowners, and their architects, are looking to add more value and function to two vital and specialized rooms that are often the last to be downsized when a recession strikes: kitchens and baths.

During the housing downturn, less attention was paid to these areas as households were looking to control costs for new homes, and to limit home improvement expenditures on existing homes. As housing markets have begun to recover, households are concentrating more on these areas. More activities are taking place in kitchens, as they are regaining their role as “control center” of the home. While they haven’t significantly increased in size, they generally are utilizing more technology.

Read more here.


Economists Predict Home Value Appreciation Through 2017 to Exceed Pre-Bubble Norms

March 21, 2013

We’ve just finished compiling our Q1 2013 Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey (ZHPES), where professional forecasters provide predictions for housing market growth in the near term. This survey marks a break with the past in that the survey benchmark is now the national Zillow Home Value Index rather than the Case-Shiller index. The prediction for appreciation in 2013 is 4.6 percent, with the lowest projection at 3.5 percent depreciation and the highest at 8.5 percent appreciation. This edition of the survey was compiled from 118 responses, including the projections of economists, market and investment researchers and real estate experts.

Read more here.


Why renters are still driving America’s building boom

March 21, 2013

FORTUNE — As America’s housing market slowly heals, good news is pouring in from homebuilders: They’re building more; they’re hiring more workers; they’re building bigger houses.
Still, some things haven’t changed: Renters (as opposed to buyers) are still driving the rebound of the residential construction industry.

Construction of single-family homes rose to a nearly five-year high in February, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday. Single-family home building, which made up about 66% of housing starts last month, rose 0.5% to a rate of 618,000 units — the highest level since June 2008. This follows a 31.5% rise in single-family construction in the last year.

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Sudden Rise in Home Demand Takes Builders by Surprise

March 21, 2013

SACRAMENTO — After six years of waiting on the sidelines, newly eager home buyers across the country are discovering that there are not enough houses for sale to accommodate the recent flush of demand.

 
Multimedia
 
Max Whittaker for The New York Times

Carrie Miskawi of Folsom, Calif., and her family are searching for a bigger house.

Max Whittaker for The New York Times

Kevin S. Carson, president of the New Home Company, in a new development in Folsom.

“In my 27 years I’ve never seen inventories this low,” said Kurt K. Colgan, a broker with Lyon Real Estate in the Sacramento metropolitan area, where the share of homes on the market has plummeted by one of the largest amounts in the nation. “I’ve also never seen a market turn so quickly.”

Read more here.


Thinking of Moving Up? Don’t Wait.

March 21, 2013

Convinced that prices have just begun to rise, many homeowners are waiting for their property value to increase more before selling and moving up to a nicer place. That is likely a mistake.

“If you’re selling one house just to move up to another, it does you no good to wait for prices to rise — the price of the move-up home will increase faster than the price of the place you’re leaving behind,” said Redfin CEO Glenn Kelman. “But waiting until interest rates rise is what can really cost move-up buyers, because most economists believe that rates at some point will go back to historical norms, well above 5%. This means that most move-up buyers are likely to be trading in a low-interest loan on the old place for a higher-interest loan on the new one. In this scenario, the only winner is the lender.”

Read more here.


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