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What’s Up With Housing?


Rural RedevelopmentHow to Rebuild Rural Communities…
Affordable housing and neighborhood revitalization aren’t just urban issues.



Fewer Tampa Bay Homeowners are in Foreclosure and Late on Mortgages.
As more bay area borrowers regain equity in the their homes, foreclosures and mortgage delinquencies in the four-county area have dropped to their lowest level in a decade.



Biggest Issues in Real EstateTop 10 Issues Facing the Real Estate Industry in 2017
Purchasing a home, securing a mortgage and even signing a lease are all activities that require some thought about the future.


Next Buyers’ Market? Two or Three Years?
As price growth slows, more sellers should sell, and one economist predicts the market will “meaningfully swing in favor of buyers” in the next two to three years.



How the Fed’s Rate Hike Will Affect Refinancing.
If every homeowner with a mortgage who could refinance did today, their potential savings would average $260 a month.



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Top 10 Issues Facing the Real Estate Industry in 2017

Biggest Issues in Real Estate

The No. 1 challenge? Polarization and political uncertainty.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Political uncertainty affects trade, consumer prices, home prices and mortgage interest rates.
  2. Big baby boomer and millennial populations (who want different things in their homes) are causing generational disruption and housing mismatch.
  3. The proliferation of real estate technology is also going to have a big impact on consumers, agents and brokers.

[Inman News] DENVER — Every year, the Counselors of Real Estate (CRE) surveys its members to discover what the most pressing issues facing the real estate industry might be.

Yesterday, at the National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE) conference in Denver, CRE chair Scott Muldavin unveiled a list of the 10 challenges the industry will face.

“As real estate agents, we’re all futurists,” said Muldavin, pointing out that purchasing a home, securing a mortgage and even signing a lease are all activities that require some thought about the future.

In a departure from previous years, Muldavin started the list with the item that CRE members think is the most pressing one for the industry to face right now.

1. Political polarization and global uncertainty

“Today we’re going to start at the top because political polarization and global uncertainty is an issue that permeates almost all the other issues,” Muldavin explained.

He noted that resurging nationalism, threats to the European Union and the possibility of war with Iran or North Korea — plus uncertainty relative to trade deals — are all contributing to this challenge.

“There are a lot of unintended consequences,” he noted.

Political polarization and global uncertainty have a particular impact on trade, so port, gateway and coastal communities might find themselves with economic or other problems that they haven’t yet had to tackle.

Add to that the fact that the consumer price index, home prices and interest rates are all rising, mortgages are less affordable and communities are increasingly polarized, and you can see how this issue would affect homeownership on an individual and national scale.

2. The technology boom

“One of the biggest booms today is actually the boom in applications,” said Muldavin, noting that in 2011, $186 million was spent on real estate tech applications, and that number had ballooned to $2.7 billion in 2016.

“This move is going to change every aspect of buying, selling and managing real estate,” he said.

Technology will affect home sales in the following ways:

  • Robotics has come alive — and that means your job might not be safe, which could have an impact on the number of households that can afford to buy a home.
  • Autonomous vehicles are coming sooner or later — Muldavin thinks sooner — and that’s going to mean buildings and parking garages are probably due for some redesign, and builders need to start thinking about that now.
  • Consumers are coming to expect growing sophistication from service providers who leverage technology, so those service providers better be ready to deliver.
  • Smart home devices are becoming increasingly popular.
  • Wireless access and bandwidth are key for residential properties.
  • New modes of transportation and new transportation models could be a boom for the suburbs.

3. Generational disruptions

The two biggest generations in the United States — millennials and baby boomers — have very different challenges and varying priorities and needs when it comes to housing, and that gets especially squirrelly when the two groups need to share living spaces.

This means that office, public and residential living spaces should be designed with the demands of both groups in mind, whenever possible, to meet the needs of this side-by-side generational workforce.

And while young renters and buyers have income limits and are marrying and moving to the suburbs later in life, older owners are downsizing and selling so they can move back to the cities.

4. Retail disruption

“This is not exactly a new issue that the retail markets are having a problem,” said Muldavin.

“Between 1970 and today, malls grew at twice the rate of the population.” He noted that the United States has 40 percent more retail space than Canada, five times more than the United Kingdom and 10 times more than Germany. That’s…a lot, especially when you combine it with the wonders of shopping online.

So is it any surprise that so many retail storefronts are closing up shop?

“Retail’s not dying,” assured Muldavin, “but people like experiences” — so current retail stores might be converted to climbing gyms, offices or what Muldavin calls “omnichannel” stores.

And this will all roll up to impact residential real estate; properties within walking distance will be within high demand, and retail disruption can be a residential value determinant, so it’s unwise to ignore it.

5. Infrastructure investment

“Infrastructure is a long-term problem relative to our competitiveness,” said Muldavin, and it’s another one we can’t ignore — it won’t fix itself and it’s only going to keep deteriorating.

He discussed the the infrastructure plan outlined by the Trump administration and said it would push funds into public transportation and other important infrastructure projects.

However, infrastructure projects of this scope are typically taken on when unemployment is relatively high — which it is definitely not right now; we’re at an unemployment rate of 4.3 percent in the U.S., the lowest since 2001.

So where are those infrastructure workers going to come from, and how much will they need to be paid?

There are commercial opportunities for fund management, plus advantages for ports and communities that support global transportation routes, and more infrastructure likely means more jobs (and therefore more money to buy a home), better access to housing and work and other necessary places, improved utilities, improved delivery of goods and more.

“The losers are going to be rural areas, water, electrical grids, parks — anything that doesn’t have a direct public source,” Muldavin said.

6. Housing: The big mismatch

“Affordability is a big issue, but in Cleveland you can still buy a house for $80,000,” Muldavin noted. “So affordability’s not a problem everywhere. The places where jobs are being created, you have huge affordability issues. What they really need to do is get jobs moving to where we have housing that’s affordable.”

This is just one example of the big housing mismatch. Others include:

  • Boomers want large apartments for their downsizing plans while developers have been building much smaller units for millennials.
  • There are far too few starter homes to meet demand in most markets.
  • The poor demand for old, large homes in the suburbs can also hinder move-up or downsizing buyers seeking a change.

7. Lost decades of the middle class

Middle class wages haven’t grown in 20 years, Muldavin noted.

“We have a real challenge in this and it has significant implications for real estate relative to homebuying.”

Is it any surprise that homeownership rates have dropped? Muldavin said that they’re forecasted to go even lower — to 60 percent or below. “We’re not expecting a homebuying boom,” he said.

8. Real estate’s emerging role in health care

Is anyone in the U.S. (aside from perhaps pharmaceutical companies) happy with the state of health care? Muldavin noted that we spend $3 trillion on health care every year in this country, and our outcomes rank 50 out of 55 developed countries surveyed. “We’re not getting a lot done,” Muldavin said, “and real estate has a key role in turning this around.”

That includes both increased health care infrastructure — urgent care centers, ambulatory care centers, clinics and other health care-related locales are popping up to help alleviate the burden from hospitals — and buildings themselves can help enhance and promote our health.

There are programs that can control carbon dioxide and lighting levels, for example, to promote alertness and align with circadian rhythms for better sleep.

9. Immigration

“The problem with immigration and the polarization is we don’t have a comprehensive strategy,” said Muldavin.

There are, of course, implications of toughening the borders against immigration:

  • It blocks access to skilled workers.
  • It impacts innovation.
  • It hampers multifamily development, rents and home sales.
  • It impacts home and rental unit size, as immigrant families are often larger.
  • There will be fewer new household formations, fewer renters and fewer buyers.

10. Climate change

Muldavin explained that whether or not you believe in rising sea levels and climate change, it’s going to affect real estate — because new scientific algorithms might convince other people that your property will soon be (literally) underwater.

“It doesn’t even have to be true for it to affect real estate,” he said.

Muldavin lives in the San Francisco Bay Area by the water, and he explained that his big concern is less about his property and more about how he gets there (and leaves).

“If the access road floods now, I can’t get to my house today,” he said. If it gets worse….

“Even if it’s wrong, the perceptions can affect values a lot,” he said “and particularly for baby boomers when your home is such a huge part of your equity and investment, are you going to take a huge risk and not sell or move?”

By AMBER TAUFEN Staff Writer, Inman News

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5 Signs You’re Ready To Stop Renting.

Buy or Rent?

via Nancy Mann Jackson

There’s a lot of conflicting advice about whether it’s smarter to rent or buy. Some say renting is like throwing money down the drain when you could be building equity in your own home. Others argue there are better ways to invest your cash, and you’re giving up valuable flexibility.

“We typically make big decisions like whether to rent or buy with emotion and defend them with logic, which is why it’s so easy to make a case for either,” explains Dana Bull, a Realtor at Sotheby’s Harborside in Boston.

But there are actually several considerations that can make the decision to rent or buy much easier. Here are five signs you’re ready to be a homeowner.

1. You actually want to own a home.

Enjoy gardening and fixing things up around your place? That’ll make homeownership easier. From coordinating maintenance and repairs to dedicating weekend time to yard work and other projects, owning a home requires a big time investment on top of the financial one. Be sure you’re ready for that responsibility.

“If you’d rather be able to call a landlord to handle issues when they arise, you may be better off renting for now,” says Certified Financial Planner John Piershale of Piershale Financial Group in Crystal Lake, Ill.

2. You’ve saved up for a down payment.

After deciding to take the leap, the next step is to save up a 20-percent down payment. This helps you avoid private mortgage insurance, which is typically equal to 1 percent of the purchase price (and paid annually). “If you can save more than 20 percent, even better,” Piershale says. “Taking out a smaller mortgage means you’ll pay less in interest over time.”

If homeownership is a near-term goal, you can take advantage of your flexibility as a renter by finding a roommate or downsizing to a cheaper place to accelerate your savings.

3. Your budget can handle all the extras.

A mortgage is just one home cost to budget for—there’s also taxes, insurance, maintenance and homeowners association fees. Generally, mortgage lenders want to see all these costs add up to no more than 28 percent of your income, Piershale says. (You can get estimates on sites like realestate.com.) It shows you can comfortably afford home costs and other living expenses, as well as repairs that may come up.

Don’t have that much wiggle room? Consider looking at homes with lower price tags or work on upping your income and savings while you’re still renting.

4. You’ve found a neighborhood you’d like to live in for years.

If you’ll only live in a particular area for a year or two, renting is likely your best bet. “Having the option to get up and leave with minimal strings attached is very appealing,” Bull says. Renting can also be a smart way to test the waters, learning what you like and dislike about different neighborhoods.

When you’re ready to put down roots, and plan to stay for at least five years, buying’s back on the table. Just make sure you thoroughly research the area first: If you have kids, are you happy with the school district? Is the neighborhood safe? Are the home prices increasing generally? You can find detailed information on crime rates and school rating on sites like City-Data.

5. You can’t rent a similar place for significantly less.

If you can rent in your desired area for much cheaper than a mortgage and other housing costs would set you back, you may benefit from renting a while longer and saving or investing the difference in monthly expenses. Not only can this build your net worth in the meantime, but it allows you to test-run your budget. When you do buy one day, you’ll already know you can comfortably handle the uptick in expenses.

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Is Now a Good Time to Rent? …Nope!

People often ask if now is a good time to buy a home, but nobody ever asks when a good time to rent is. Regardless, we want to make certain that everyone understands that today is NOT a good time to rent.

The Census Bureau recently released their 2017 first quarter median rent numbers. Here is a graph showing rent increases from 1988 until today:

Rent Increases

As you can see, rents have steadily increased and are showing no signs of slowing down. If you are faced with making the decision of whether or not you should renew your lease, you might be pleasantly surprised at your ability to buy a home of your own instead.

Bottom Line

One way to protect yourself from rising rents is to lock in your housing expense by buying a home. If you are ready and willing to buy, please give us a call.  We can help determine if you are able to today!

via Keeping Current Matters Thank you for your relevant content!

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What’s Up With Housing This Week?


Millennial House HuntingHouse Hunting in Florida, Millennial Style…
Millennials are a strong, and growing, segment of the home real estate market, but they approach the task differently than their parents do.


SustainabilityImproving Building Performance Through Initiatives, Incentives, and Mandates.
Several U.S. cities offer design- and code-related programs to encourage architects and developers to pursue sustainability more vigorously.



HomeownershipIs America Shifting From Renting Back to Owning?
Homeownership rate ticks up in 1Q, much more than renter households.



Design Ideas3 Design Schemes That are Heating Up This Summer
It’s important to stay focused on the purpose of home improvement. Be prepared to suggest both classic and off-the-wall ideas to help your client manifest their design dreams.



Construction Labor ShortageConstruction Industry Still Missing Workers.
This lack of workers has become one of the “under-reported factors” behind the rise in home prices.




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What’s Up With Housing This Week?


How to Read and Understand a Title Commitment.
Please join Title Security at 9:30am, April 25, 2017 at our Coffee Corner… Discover how the title commitment relates to the closing and the contract. You’ll walk away understanding how to read all components of a commitment, as well as how to deal with title defects and other requirements that need to be cleared before closing.



Millennial HomebuyersWhy Rising Interest Rates Won’t Slow Housing Demand.
Title agents answering First American’s real estate sentiment index survey say an increasing desire for homeownership by Millennials and continued affordability will sustain demand.


Commercial ConstructionFlorida commercial real estate development is booming.
Florida is among the top states in the nation for commercial real estate industry spending impact and the number of jobs the industry sustains.


Tampa Bay home values rise at second-highest rate among country’s top 35 metro areas.
Bay area home values jumped 11.4 percent from March last year to $183,300.



PRO LogoMarch 2017 Pinellas County Real Estate Stats Report
Stand Out Stat: Median Sale Price for Single Family was up year-over-year… $230,000 in March 2017 vs. $200,000 in March 2016.




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Fair Housing Act covers LGBT people, federal court rules

Decision extends fair housing sex discrimination protection on the basis of sexual stereotyping

[Inman]  In April 2015, landlord Deepika Avanti refused to rent one of her townhouses to the Smith family in the tiny town of Gold Hill, Colorado, in Boulder County.

Fair HousingAvanti denied the Smiths, spouses Tonya Smith and Rachel Smith, who is transgender, and their two children, housing because of concerns regarding the children and “noise” as well as the Smiths’ “unique relationship,” which Avanti feared would become the focus of the small community and jeopardize her and her husband’s “low profile.”

Thus rebuffed, the Smith family searched for months for another place to live and settled on a place that was less suitable to their needs.

The family later sued Avanti, alleging sex discrimination and familial status discrimination in violation of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act. The family also alleged sexual orientation discrimination under the CADA.

Now, just in time for Fair Housing Month, a federal court last week found for the first time that the prohibition against sex discrimination in the Fair Housing Act covers LGBT people. The court ruled in favor of the family on all five counts.

John Graff, a real estate broker and chair of the policy committee for the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP), praised the court’s ruling.

“Those of us in the LGBT community may be used to facing discrimination, but the indignity and feeling of helplessness never fade,” Graff told Inman via email. “The recent federal court decision stating unequivocally that federal fair housing protections apply to LGBT Americans is the latest domino to fall in the fight to recognize our community as equally worthy of the rights shared by our neighbors.”

State of the Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act, which real estate agents and brokers must adhere to, forbids housing discrimination on the basis of:

  • Race
  • Color, or the pigment of someone’s skin
  • Religion, including beliefs as well as non-beliefs
  • National origin, or a person’s birthplace, ancestry, language and/or customs
  • Sex
  • Disability, or any physical or mental factor that impairs any major life function, such as seeing, hearing, breathing, walking, speaking, learning or interacting with others — in addition, this applied to any person who has a physical or mental impairment, a history of disability or is perceived as being disabled
  • Familial status, or households with pregnant women or children under 18, with an exception made for senior/elderly housing

Last Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Raymond P. Moore ruled that denying housing for failure to conform to sex stereotypes constitutes sex discrimination under the FHA and the federal law therefore protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

Moore explicitly declined, however, to rule that discrimination solely on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity — without sex stereotyping — would violate the FHA.

Still, the court’s decision does extend FHA sex discrimination protection on the basis of sexual stereotyping, wrote law firm Nixon Peabody LLP following the ruling.

“Depending on the facts of individual cases and how broadly the concept of sexual stereotyping is applied, those protections may cover much of the same territory as sexual orientation/gender identity protections would cover,” the firm wrote.

Graff doesn’t think the ruling will change much for LGBT real estate agents or LGBT clients, but that it may deter any remaining real estate professionals who refuse to treat LGBT people equally.

“We knew we were worthy of equality before this decision and we feel just as confident in our humanity after the decision,” Graff said. “If anything, the ruling should be a stark warning to those shrinking few who insist on allowing their personal bigotry to encroach upon the property rights of others.”

The ruling also adds to another recent federal decision in favor of LGBT housing rights.

In September, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) amended its 2012 Equal Access Rule to include protection for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals, ensuring that housing assisted or insured by the department — including single-sex shelter — is open to all eligible individuals, regardless of gender identity.

Moore’s ruling on sexual stereotyping, discrimination

In his ruling, Moore wrote: “In this case, the Smiths contend that discrimination against women (like them) for failure to conform to stereotype norms concerning to or with whom a woman should be attracted, should marry, and/or should have children is discrimination on the basis of sex under the FHA. The Court agrees.

“Such stereotypical norms are no different from other stereotypes associated with women, such as the way she should dress or act (e.g., that a woman should not be overly aggressive, or should not act macho), and are products of sex stereotyping.”

Moore also agreed with the Smiths’ assertions that discrimination against a transgender person because of her gender-nonconformity is sex discrimination.

“To the extent the Smiths contend that discrimination against Rachel because she does not conform to gender norms of a male, e.g., does not act or dress like the stereotypical notions of a male, the Court agrees.”

But Moore declined to find violations of the Federal Housing Act based only on sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination, mainly because the Smiths did not argue their case on that basis, but rather on sex stereotyping.

Graff agreed with the finding that federal fair housing protections extend to the LGBT community based upon existing protections against sex discrimination.

“Requiring adherence to gender-based societal norms is sex discrimination. The court extended the same laws that protect a woman’s right to wear pants to work to a woman’s right to choose who she dates and marries,” he said.

“The court decision sets into precedent what a majority of Americans already know: LGBT people are deserving of the same rights and responsibilities to which all are entitled.”

via Andrea V. Brambila