Author Archive

Retirees Choosing to ‘Upsize’ Homes

July 30 2015

Americans traditionally have chosen to downsize in retirement, but that may no longer be the case. A wave of retirees are choosing to upsize and enjoy the best home of their lives in retirement, according to a recent Merrill Lynch and Age Wave retirement study of more than 3,600 respondents. In fact, 65 percent of retirees recently surveyed say they’re currently living in the best home of their lives.

The study showed that 49 percent of retirees say they didn’t downsize in their last move and 30 percent ended up moving into larger homes. Retirees’ top reasons for upsizing were wanting a home large and comfortable enough for family members to visit (33 percent) or even live with them (20 percent). One out of six retirees – or 16 percent – say they have a “boomerang” child who has moved back in with them, according to the study.

Nineteen percent of retirees also said they upsized in retirement in order to have a more prestigious home and 16 percent say they wanted a larger home to have more room for friends to visit, according to the study.

Source: “Home in Retirement: More Freedom, New Choices,” Merrill Lynch (July 2015)

Better Days Ahead for First-Time Buyers

July 28 2015

First-time home buyers have found themselves in a sellers market, faced with above-average price appreciation and bidding wars due to limited inventories of homes for-sale.

But in the second half of the year, the market is expected to shift toward more of a balance as more sellers – motivated by higher home prices – put their homes on the market, alleviating the inventory shortage. This will help provide buyers with more choices of homes to buy as well as likely soften the speed at which home prices are rising.

For potential first-time home buyers, the housing market will soon be more inviting, writes Jonathan Smoke,®’s chief economist, in recent commentary. “Combined with a temporary reprieve from rising mortgage rates and slightly easier access to credit, buyers should find it easier to purchase a home in the months ahead,” Smoke says.

Source: “Don’t Lose Faith, Would-Be Home Buyers: It Will Get Better,”® (July 23, 2015)

Trend Shows Why ‘Mobile Marketing Is Key’

July 23 2015

The total amount of time consumers spend on smartphones has surpassed PCs, with more than 50 percent of all digital time now spent on mobile devices, according to data from “Mobile Internet usage is growing faster than Internet usage in general, up 23 percent compared with just 8 percent and, as a whole grew 34 percent year over year, while desktop digital advertising grew 11 percent.”

The findings should inform the way real estate professional present their advertising and listings. After all, 50 percent of home buyers used a mobile website or application in the home buying process last year, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.

While mobile advertising continues to grow, consumers are reporting that advertisements are disrupting their mobile experience. Contextual relevancy is key, according to a Forrester/Tapad report. Twenty-three percent of consumers surveyed say they want ads to be tailored to the content they’re viewing, and 21 percent expect ads to be tailored to their location, according to the report.

Source: “Buyer Behavior Trends Driving the Digital Shift Toward Mobile,” (June 18, 2015) and “Over 50 Percent of all Digital Time Now Spent on Mobile,” RISMedia (July 21, 2015)

Owners will be Focusing on Home Improvements

July 19 2015

Home owners are expected to increase their home improvement spending expenditures in the next year, says a new study, and recent increases in home equity are partially behind that anticipated surge. Also, a rise in recent home sales activity is a good indicator for the home improvement market, since recent home buyers usually spend about a third more on home improvements than non-movers, even when controlling for age or income differences, according to Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies’ Leading Indicator of Remodeling Activity.

JCHS has predicted a surge in remodeling on the horizon in the coming years, driven by a rising number of older adults who will want to outfit their homes with more age-in-place home features as well as projects spurred by an aging housing stock.

Source: “Pick-Up Projected in Home Improvement Activity Moving into 2016,” Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University (July 16, 2015)

What First-Time Home Buyers Are Willing to Sacrifice

July 16 2015

A new survey shows that consumers saving for a home are willing to forego modern conveniences in order to secure a down payment. That may even mean giving up phones, Internet, cable TV, or Starbucks, according to a newly released survey by the business advisory firm the Collingwood Group.

Potential first-time home buyers are making such sacrifices because they want to be able to make a sizable down payment on their home purchase. Nearly two-thirds recently surveyed by TD Bank say they’d like to put 20 percent down or more on their home purchase. The bank polled more than 1,000 consumers who were not home owners but intended to purchase a home within the next five years.

First-time home buyers are increasing their ranks lately, with their share in the housing market rising to 32 percent in May. That matches their highest share since September 2012, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. A year ago, first-time buyers represented 27 percent of all buyers.

Source: TD Bank First-Time Home Buyer Pulse and “Report Says More Millennials Value Home Ownership Over Conveniences,” MReport (July 14, 2015)

Relief in Mortgage Interest Rates Likely to Stick Around

July 10 2015

Average fixed-rate mortgages moved lower this week, helping to keep buyer activity strong toward the close of the spring homebuying season, Freddie Mac reports in its weekly mortgage market survey.

“Yields on Treasury securities declined this week in response to investor concerns about events in Greece and China,” says Sean Becketti, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “Mortgage rates fell as well, although not by as much as government bond yields. The rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages fell 4 basis points to 4.04 percent. Overseas volatility is likely to persist for some time, providing some restraint on potential U.S. rate increases.”

Freddie Mac reports the following national averages for the week ending July 9:

  • 30-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 4.04 percent, with an average 0.6 point, dropping from last week’s 4.08 percent average. A year ago, 30-year rates averaged 4.15 percent.
  • 15-year fixed-rate mortgages: averaged 3.20 percent, with an average 0.5 point, dropping from last week’s 3.24 percent average. Last year at this time, 15-year rates averaged 3.24 percent.
  • 5-year hybrid adjustable-rate mortgages: averaged 2.93 percent, with an average 0.4 point, dropping from last week’s 2.99 percent average. A year ago, 5-year ARMs averaged 2.99 percent.1-year ARMs: averaged 2.50 percent, with an average 0.3 point, dropping from last week’s 2.52 percent average. A year ago, 1-year ARMs averaged 2.40 percent.

Source: Freddie Mac

Home Renters Face More Cost Increases

July 7 2015

Rents continue to push upwards, as landlords take advantage of the hot rental market.

Average effective rents climbed 3.6 percent during the second quarter compared to a year earlier, according to REIS Inc., a real estate research data firm. Rent growth has bloomed at a fast pace since 2012, hovering around a 4 percent annual growth since then.

Strong technology markets like San Jose, Calif.; San Francisco; and Denver are seeing some of the largest increases in rental costs. In San Jose, rents rose 7.2 percent from the second quarter of 2014 to $1,951 a month. In San Francisco, rents rose 6.8 percent to $2,316. In the country’s most expensive rental market, New York City, rents rose 1.7 percent over the prior quarter, reaching $3,294 a month.

REIS projects that 230,000 units will be completed this year — that’s nearly double above normal levels. In the second quarter, the apartment vacancy rate was just 4.2 percent.

Source: “Rents Continue Their Steep Climb,” The Wall Street Journal (July 1, 2015)

Home Amenities That Jack Up Sales Prices

July 4 2015

Americans will dig deeper in their pockets and shell out more cash to live near top-notch schools and in safer neighborhoods with access to retail and “artificial amenities,” according to a new study published in the Journal of Urban Economics. In analyzing 2,000 neighborhoods across the country, researchers found that home buyers are willing to potentially spend thousands of extra dollars for these amenities.

A regional funding increase of $1,000 per student in schools is associated with a $570 annual increase in what people are willing to pay for a home in the neighborhood, though “this number is likely biased from well-funded areas being nicer or having more desirable residents,” researchers note.

A neighborhood’s size, density, and “artificial amenities” — those that are created by the residents — were also found to be important, even more so than living near a natural environment such as mountains and coastlines, according to the study.

“Because artificial amenities are largely produced by local residents, they may reflect the desirability of the populations themselves,” the authors note. That means residents are willing to pay not only for the neighborhood itself but the access the neighborhood affords them to other people, jobs, and amenities, according to a study by The Atlantic. Source: “How Much Are You Willing to Pay to Live in America’s

Best Neighborhoods?” The Atlantic CityLab (June 29, 2015)

Contracts to Buy Homes Reaches 9-Year High!

June 30 2015

Pending home sales continued to make gains last month, rising to the highest level since April 2006, according to the National Association of REALTORS®’ Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings.

NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index rose 0.9 percent in May to 112.6 in May. The index is at its highest level since April 2006 when it was 113.7.

“The steady pace of solid job creation seen now for over a year has given the housing market a boost this spring,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “It’s very encouraging to now see a broad based recovery with all four major regions showing solid gains from a year ago and new home sales also coming alive.”

“Housing affordability remains a pressing issue with home-price growth increasing around four times the pace of wages,” says Yun. “Without meaningful gains in new and existing supply, there’s no question the goalpost will move further away for many renters wanting to become home owners.”

Source: National Association of REALTORS®

Google Releases ‘Undo Send’ Option

June 24 2015

For those who have sender regret, Gmail now includes the option to take back sent e-mails. But you have to act quickly. Google announced the release of an “undo send” option, which allows users to recall a message within 30 seconds of it being sent.

Users of Google’s popular mail application will be able to unsend e-mails, for example, when you accidentally forget to attach a file or hit the “reply all” button by mistake.

The unsend feature was originally launched in 2009 but only an experimental basis. Now, the feature has been rolled out as a formal setting in Gmail on the Web, via a gear icon at the top right. Under “settings” in the drop-down menu, you’ll need to check the “enable undo send” box to use the feature. You can also select the number of seconds (among options of five, 10, 20, or 30) that you’ll have to cancel a message.

Source: “How to Unsend E-mails in Gmail,” WIRED (June 23, 2015) and “Gmail ‘Undo Send’ Option Officially Rolls Out,” Forbes (June 23, 2015)