Gov. Probe Into Creating More ‘Affordable Housing’

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order to ease or, in some cases, eliminate rules that have been blamed for blocking greater construction of affordable housing. Home building is near its lowest level in 60 years, contributing to a nationwide housing shortage that has pushed home prices up and hurting affordability.

Trump announced that a newly created initiative called the White House Council on Eliminating Barriers to Affordable Housing Development will use federal programs to find ways to encourage local governments to allow for more building. The council, which will be chaired by Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, will also conduct a study to quantify the effect of regulations on the housing market and economy.

Source: “Trump Administration to Take on Local Housing Barriers,” The Wall Street Journal (June 25, 2019) [Log-in required.]

Flood Insurance Extension

The Financial Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a five-year extension to the National Flood Insurance Program, the nation’s largest flood insurer. The bill also includes a mandate to improve the country’s flood maps.

Federal law requires the purchase of flood insurance for a federally backed mortgage in special flood hazard areas designated by FEMA. Private flood insurance is also available in many high-risk areas, but the NFIP may be the only option for some.

The bill will now go before the full House for approval. The Senate must be then approve it to bring it to President Donald Trump.

Planning for Home Ownership?

When is the right time to purchase your first home? The answer differs across age groups, family pressures and life goals.

One in five parents say they expect their child to own a home by age 25, yet this doesn’t match up to reality. Younger adults tend to feel the most pressure to own a home, but they’re still waiting on their own time terms, according to a new survey from Porch.com, a home remodeling website. Porch.com surveyed nearly 1,000 individuals, ages of 18 to 81.

“Purchasing a home is one of the most complex and expensive decisions most of us make, so it’s easy to see how not choosing the right style, location, or size can invoke criticism from relatives,” the report notes. “Of the three generations, millennials felt the least amount of pressure from relatives when it came to housing choices, whereas both baby boomers and Gen Xers felt slightly more judged.”

Source: “Exploring Generational Differences in Life Goals,” Porch.com (June 4, 2019)

Homeowners’ Top Neighborhood Gripes

The wrong neighborhood can make for an unhappy homeowner.

A new survey from Porch.com, a home remodeling website, surveyed about 1,000 consumers to find the biggest neighborhood turnoffs. Noise, traffic, and crime were the chief concerns of buyers. Noise topped the list of neighborhood turnoffs, with 41% of respondents citing it as their top gripe, according to the survey. In fact, noise proved to be an even bigger deterrent than a high crime rate.

More details on illustrations at source: “Moving Matters,” Porch.com (May 2019)

Owning Is Easier Than Renting

Survey: A majority of homeowners recently surveyed say they believe owning a home isn’t as difficult as renting, according to a new survey from LendingTree, an online loan marketplace. Only 15% of homeowners believe renting is easier than owning a home, compared with 67% of more than 2,000 homeowners who said owning is easier.

The longer homeowners have been in their homes, the more likely they are to believe owning is easier, according to the study. For example, nearly 72% of homeowners who have spent seven to nine years in their home say owning is easier than renting.

Saving Enough for Remodeling?

Eighty-two percent of consumers believe the home they own is a financial asset, the study says. As such, they want to tackle home improvement project to increase the value of their home even more. More than half—52 percent—of consumers say they plan to take on a home improvement project in the next year. Kitchen and bathroom remodels lead in projects. (Read more: Design TV Shows Are Inspiring Optimistic Home Renovators)

But many consumers have failed to save enough. Sixty-four percent of consumers say their home improvement project will cost under $15,000. Bathroom remodels can cost anywhere from $19,000 upwards to $61,000; significant kitchen remodels can cost upwards to $125,000, according to the study from Discover Home Equity Loans.

Report: ‘Homeowners 8% Richer’ Over the Past Year!

The average homeowner has gained $9,700 in home equity between the fourth quarter of 2017 and the fourth quarter of 2018, the report showed. Western states saw the most significant gains.

“As home prices rise, significantly more people are choosing to remodel, repair or upgrade their existing homes,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “The increase in home equity over the past several years provides homeowners with the means to finance home remodels and repairs. With rates still ultra-low by historical standards, home-equity loans provide a low-cost method to finance home-improvement spending. These expenditures are expected to rise 5 percent in 2019.”

Source: “Homeowner Equity Report: Fourth Quarter of 2018,” CoreLogic (3/7/2019)

‘Bank of Mom and Dad’ for Loans?

Parents and grandparents are increasingly helping their adult children buy their first home. A new study suggests that if families were considered a financial institution, the “Bank of Mom and Dad” would be the seventh largest mortgage lender in the country.

One in five of buyers received gifts or interest-free loans from family members, the study shows. The average amount buyers received from them was $39,000. The Pacific region saw the greatest share of young adults receiving financial help in buying.   Source: Legal & General Group

“For many, perhaps most,young adults, buying a house without help is an increasingly unattainable goal,” says Nigel Wilson, chief executive at Legal & General Group.

The Bank of Mom and Dad “reflects, first and foremost, a housing market where significant problems remain in matching the supply and demand of different types of housing, most notably starter homes and affordable housing of all kinds,” Wilson says.

California’s solar mandate cost?

Recently, California became the first state in the nation to make solar mandatory for new houses. Beginning in 2020, newly constructed homes must have solar panels, which could be costly for homeowners: According to California’s Energy Commission (CEC),that mandate will add between $8,000 and $10,000 per home.

CEC estimates suggest that the solar addition will increase the average monthly mortgage payment by $40, but new homeowners will save an average of $80 a month on their heating, cooling and lighting bills.

Source: cnbc.com/2019/02/15/california-solar-panel-mandate

Homeowners ‘Tax Snags’ Update

Tax season is here, and many homeowners may have questions about what they can and can’t write off under the new tax code.

One big change: Homeowners who used to write off property taxes and interest paid on their mortgage may no longer be able to entirely. But that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll pay higher taxes. HouseLogic, the National Association of REALTORS®’ consumer-facing website, offers guidance and worksheets on the changes for homeowners.

Under the new law, the standard deduction every tax filer gets has nearly doubled ($24,000 for married couples who file jointly and $12,000 for single filers). Most people likely will be better off taking the standard deduction than itemizing their write-offs.

Other interesting information at: “Tax Deductions for Homeowners: How the New Tax Law Affects Mortgage Interest,” HouseLogic.com (2019) and “Are Closing Costs Tax Deductible Under the New Tax Law?” HouseLogic.com (2019)