U.S. New Home Sales Beat Expectations in July

25 08 2020

Sales of new U.S. single-family homes increased to their highest level in more than 13-1/2 years in July as the housing market continues to show strong immunity to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has plunged the economy into recession and thrown tens of millions of Americans out of work.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Commerce Department said new home sales rose 13.9% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 901,000 units last month, the highest level since December 2006. New home sales are counted at the signing of a contract, making them a leading housing market indicator. June’s sales pace was revised upward to 791,000 units from the previously reported 776,000 units.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales, which account for about 14% of housing market sales, gaining 1.3% to a rate of 785,000-units.

Source: Reuters





2020 July Market Stats for Jacksonville, Florida

14 08 2020

Median List Prices for July inventory in Jacksonville are up 5% from last year. New Listings Median List Prices are up 13%. Both Median List Prices for Active and New inventory continue to trend upwards Year Over Year and compared to the previous month.

mlsstat

mls1

mls2

mls3

Source: NEFAR MLS





Foreign Buyer Purchases Down From Last Year

8 08 2020

Foreign buyers continued to pull back for the second year, purchasing $74 billion of U.S. existing home sales from April 2019–March 2020, a 5% decrease from the prior 12-month period, according to the National Association of REALTORS®. Foreign buyer purchases made up 4% of the $1.7 trillion existing-home sales.

International clients (non-U.S. citizens) who already resided in the United States as recent immigrants or who held visas that allowed them to live in the U.S. for work, business, education purposes (Type B) purchased $41 billion of U.S. existing-home sales, or 61% of the dollar volume of purchases.  Foreign buyers who lived abroad (Type A) purchased $33 billion of existing home sales, accounting for 39% of the dollar volume.

Bar chart: Dollar Volume of Existing-Home Purchases by Foreign Buyers

Foreign buyer purchases declined as trade tensions escalated between the U.S. and China in 2019, resulting in weaker global economic growth and weaker currencies relative to the dollar — conditions that lower the purchasing power of foreign buyers. The decline in foreign buyer purchases in the 2019 and 2020 NAR reports comes amid a marked drop in foreign direct investment in newly acquired businesses, trade, and persons granted permanent legal residence and non-immigrant visas for businesses, travel, and education since about 2017 and in the wake of regulatory measures of China’s government to closely monitor dollar outflows from China since 2016.  The low inventory of homes for sale also constrained the home buying of international and domestic buyers alike. The sustained appreciation in home prices and the weaker currencies relative to the dollar also made a home purchase less affordable for foreign buyers living abroad (Type A).

The U.S. travel bans to control the spread of coronavirus to the United States that took effect from February may also have impacted some transactions that were due to close, but that impact does not appear to be significant based on the monthly REALTORS® Confidence Index survey.

China remains the #1 buyer of U.S. residential real estate despite a steep decline since 2018

Purchases of existing homes of Chinese foreign buyers have declined from $30.4 billion during the 12 months ended March 2018 to just $11.5 billion during the 12 months ended March 2020, but they remain as the largest buyer of residential property, slightly ahead of Canadian buyers who purchased $9.5 billion of existing homes. Mexican buyers purchased $5.8 billion, followed by Asian Indian buyers, at $5.4 Bn. Colombia rounded out the top 5, purchasing $1.3 billion. Colombia replaced the United Kingdom as the 5th largest country of origin of foreign buyers.

Table: Dollar Volume of Sales to Foreign Buyers from Top Five Countries

For the reference period of April 2019-March 2020, the majority of Canadian (74%) and Colombian buyers (61%) lived abroad (Type A) while only a minority of Asian Indian (11%) and Mexican (31%) buyers lived abroad. Thirty percent of Chinese buyers lived abroad, a decline from 41% during the prior 12-month period.

Bar chart: Share of Non-Resident Foreign Buyers Who Purchases U.S. Residential Property

Florida remains the #1 destination of foreign buyers

Florida remained the major destination, attracting 22% of foreign buyers. Florida’s foreign buyers mostly come from Latin America (35%) and Canada (29%). Florida was the top destination among Canadian and Colombian buyers.

California was the destination of 15% of foreign buyers. Fifty-four percent of California’s foreign buyers came from Asia/Oceania. It was the top destination among Chinese and Asian Indian buyers.

Texas attracted 9% of foreign buyers. Forty-two percent of Texas’ buyers came from Latin America/Caribbean. Texas was the top destination among Mexican buyers.

New York accounted for 5% of foreign buyers, with 51% coming from Asia/Oceania. It was a major destination among Chinese, Asian Indian, and Colombian buyers.

New Jersey accounted for 4% of all buyers. Fifty percent of New Jersey’s buyers came from Asian/Oceania. New Jersey was a major destination among Chinese buyers.

Other major destinations were North Carolina, Arizona, Minnesota, Georgia, Illinois, and Virginia. Arizona had been one of the top five destinations in past years but was not in the top 5 list this year. It was a major destination among Canadian buyers.

Table: Where Top Foreign Buyers Purchased US Residential Property April 2019 to March 2020

Higher median purchase price among foreign buyers reflects location choices

The median existing-home sales price among foreign buyers was $314,600, 15% more than the median price of $274,600 of all existing-homes sold in the U.S. during the April 2019–March 2020. The price difference reflects the choice of location and type of properties desired by foreign buyers.  Chinese buyers had the highest median purchase price, at $449,500, with nearly half of Chinese buyers purchasing property in California and New York.

Thirty-nine percent of foreign buyer transactions were all-cash sales, with a higher percentage among non-resident foreign buyers (59%) compared to resident foreign buyers (27%).  Canadian buyers were the most likely to pay all-cash, at 66%, while Asian Indian buyers were the least likely, at 8%. Forty percent of Chinese buyers made an all-cash purchase.

Table: Median Purchase Price of Top Five Foreign Buyer Countries

Methodology

This survey was sent to 150,000 randomly selected REALTORS®. The online survey was conducted from May 21–June 24, 2020. A total of 11,615 REALTORS® responded to the 2020 survey, of which 1,190 reported an international residential foreign buyer. NAR also conducted separate studies for the Raleigh Regional Association of REALTORS®, Mainstreet Organization of REALTORS®, Austin Board of Realtors®, the Long Island Board of Realtors® and the Ohio Realtors®, and their responses were added to the national random sample. To correct for over/under-sampling across states, NAR weighted the distribution of responses to the distribution of NAR membership by state as of June 2020. Respondents provided information about the characteristics of international clients based on the most recent closed transactions from April 2019–March 2020. To minimize the response bias that can skew upwards the share of foreign buyers to existing home sales, NAR estimates the share of non-resident (Type A) foreign buyers to existing home sales from the monthly REALTORS® Confidence Index Survey that that gathers information on the characteristics of transactions of the respondent’s most recent sale for the reference month, which are viewed as a random sample of all transactions for the month.

Source: NAR





American Dream Down Payment Act Gains Momentum on Capitol Hill

8 08 2020

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) is optimistic that the American Dream Down Payment Act will continue to gain momentum on Capitol Hill.

Cory Gardner and Doug Jones

U.S. Rep. Cory Gardner, left, is sponsoring legislation with Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama to make it easier for people to save money to buy a home.

Legislation introduced by Senators Doug Jones (D-AL) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) is being recognized as a critical component of the national effort to address the barriers to first-time homeownership in America. The National Association of Realtors®, which previously submitted a letter in support of the legislation, expressed optimism that the American Dream Down Payment Act and other similar proposals to address housing affordability would continue gaining momentum on Capitol Hill.

“The resiliency of our residential real estate market has been one of the few bright spots of America’s economy during this pandemic, but numerous would-be homebuyers are finding it difficult or impossible to save the money needed for a down payment on a home,” said NAR President Vince Malta, broker at Malta & Co., Inc., in San Francisco, CA. “This is especially discouraging given record-low interest rates are making it easier for aspiring homeowners to afford monthly mortgage payments.

“Modeled on the very popular 529 education savings account concept, the American Dream Down Payment Act would allow savings for the down payment of a principal residence to grow tax-free, offering a responsible and commonsense approach to the multi-faceted problem of housing affordability in America.”

In its letter sent Monday to Senators Jones and Gardner, NAR relayed hope that these accounts could serve as a tangible resource to aspiring homeowners who have been unable to save sufficient funds for a down payment. According to the Urban Institute, two-thirds of renters have identified the inability to save for a down payment as an obstacle to homeownership.

“We appreciate your initiative in putting forth a reasonable proposal that should attract support from your colleagues as well as the growing population of those for whom down payment assistance would help open the door to their all-important first home purchase,” Malta wrote to the lawmakers.

As described by Senators Jones and Gardner, the American Dream Down Payment Act would:

  • Let states establish American Dream Down Payment Accounts, which they would manage in the same way they manage 529 Plan accounts;
  • Allow prospective homeowners to save as much as 20% of today’s home cost, indexed for inflation, to use for an eligible down payment and other housing costs;
  • Facilitate long-term savings for a down payment and allow contributions from family and friends; and
  • Allow homebuyers to use those savings and earnings tax-free at withdrawal for eligible expenses.

The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.4 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

Source: NAR





Peak Home Buying Season Shifts from May to August This Year

6 08 2020

recoveryindexThe U.S. real estate market is now doing better than it did before the pandemic, with the Recovery Index hitting 103.8 compared to a back-to-normal score of 100. Two Central Florida metros have fully recovered as South Florida and Jacksonville move closer.

Home buying season’s usual May peak has shifted to August as buyers and sellers rebound from spring’s COVID disruption, according to Realtor.com’s Weekly Recovery Report. This week’s data shows growth in pace of sales, demand and prices have surpassed last year levels, while inventory continues to lag seasonal normals.

Realtor.com’s Housing Market Recovery Index reached 103.8 nationwide for the week ending Aug. 1, posting a 0.1 point increase over last week and bringing the index 3.8 points above the pre-COVID baseline.

According to the weekly survey, the New York-Newark-Jersey City metro area has seen the strongest rebound. It ranked first with a recovery index of 129.6, a weekly increase of 9.6 points. The Wisconsin metro area of Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis ranked last as No. 50 with an index score of 89.2 – a weekly drop of 1.5 points.

In Florida, two cities rose about the old-normal score of 100 this week, while two other cities remained slightly below:

  • The Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford metro area ranked No. 22 with a score of 102.5 – a weekly increase of 9.6
  • The Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater metro area ranked No. 25 with a score of 102.2 – a weekly increase of 1.2
  • The Jacksonville area was No. 34 with a score of 99.3 – a 3.4 weekly increase
  • The Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach metro area ranked No. 41 with a score of 96.8, a 0.2 weekly increase

“Real estate activity in the U.S. has regained its strength and continues on an upward trajectory as we enter the middle of the summer,” says Javier Vivas, director of economic research for realtor.com.

Vivas says the unusually robust summer selling season is making up for weakness in the spring, but current patterns will have to last 10 more weeks to “make up for the lost activity in the second quarter of the year. As we head into fall, an anticipated resurgence in COVID cases and economic aftershocks are likely to create an uphill battle for home buyers and sellers.”

  • Time on market is now 4 days faster than last year – a result of too few homes for sale and mortgage rates at or near-record lows.
  • Median listing prices grew 9.4% year-to-year, and the rate of home price increases continues to pick up speed. The report calls the price rise “perhaps the most surprising aspect of how the housing market has fared – a dramatic departure from the last time unemployment was in double-digit territory.”
  • New listings dropped 11%, and a gradual improvement in the number of new sellers listing homes took a pause despite continued price gains.
  • Total inventory advertised on realtor.com declined 35%.
  • Regionally, the West (110.5) continues to lead the pack in the recovery, with the overall index now visibly above the pre-COVID benchmark. The Northeast (108.2) remains above recovery pace and continues to improve, while the South (99.5) and Midwest (98.8) continue to lag. A total of 29 markets have crossed the recovery benchmark.

The Weekly Housing Index leverages a weighted average of realtor.com search traffic, median list prices, new listings, and median time on market and compares it to the January 2020 market trend, as a baseline for pre-COVID market growth. The overall index is set to 100. The higher a market’s index value, the higher its recovery.

Top 50 Metros Recovery Index

Rank Metro Recovery Index

(Week Ending 7/25)

Recovery Index
(Weekly Change)
1 New York-Newark-Jersey City, N.Y.-N.J.-Pa. 129.6 9.6
2 Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, Nev. 117.1 1.3
3 Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash. 115.5 -1.3
4 Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.-N.H. 115.2 -4.2
5 Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, Pa.-N.J.-Del.-Md. 115.2 0.6
6 Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo. 115.0 0.6
7 Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif. 114.1 0.5
8 San Diego-Carlsbad, Calif. 111.9 2.8
9 San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif. 110.6 -0.2
10 San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif. 110.1 -3.3
11 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-Va.-Md.-W. Va. 109.0 0.6
12 Austin-Round Rock, Texas 108.5 -0.8
13 Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. 108.3 -1.2
14 Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash. 107.3 0.7
15 Baltimore-Columbia-Towson, Md. 107.0 2.9
16 Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, Va.-N.C. 106.6 2.0
17 Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. 106.1 0.8
18 Pittsburgh, Pa. 105.6 1.9
19 Cincinnati, Ohio-Ky.-Ind. 105.2 4.8
20 Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford, Conn. 104.1 -0.8
21 Providence-Warwick, R.I.-Mass. 103.3 -0.6
22 Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Fla. 102.5 1.2
23 Rochester, N.Y. 102.4 -2.8
24 Raleigh, N.C. 102.3 3.4
25 Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Fla. 102.2 0.4
26 Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, N.C.-S.C. 101.4 0.0
27 Kansas City, Mo.-Kan. 101.0 -0.5
28 San Antonio-New Braunfels, Texas 100.9 0.5
29 Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas 100.2 0.2
30 Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis. 99.7 -1.7
31 Sacramento–Roseville–Arden-Arcade, Calif. 99.6 0.2
32 Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin, Tenn. 99.6 0.7
33 St. Louis, Mo.-Ill. 99.5 1.3
34 Jacksonville, Fla. 99.3 3.4
35 Memphis, Tenn.-Miss.-Ark. 99.2 0.6
36 Cleveland-Elyria, Ohio 99.1 -3.9
37 Louisville/Jefferson County, Ky.-Ind. 99.0 -0.1
38 Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga. 98.8 1.0
39 Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, Texas 98.3 -1.4
40 Detroit-Warren-Dearborn, Mich 97.9 2.0
41 Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, Fla. 96.8 0.2
42 Buffalo-Cheektowaga-Niagara Falls, N.Y. 96.4 -1.7
43 Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, Ill.-Ind.-Wis. 95.4 -1.9
44 New Orleans-Metairie, La. 94.4 -3.1
45 Birmingham-Hoover, Ala. 94.3 -0.4
46 Columbus, Ohio 92.8 -1.2
47 Richmond, Va. 92.2 -2.5
48 Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson, Ind. 92.0 0.5
49 Oklahoma City, Okla. 91.4 -3.3
50 Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis, Wis. 89.2

-1.5

Source: Florida Realtors





Chief Executive Magazine Ranks Florida Second-Best State for Business

17 06 2020

Chief Executive Best & Worst States for BusinessFlorida ranked second in a national publication’s list of the country’s best places for business.

In fact, Chief Executive magazine’s “Best and Worst States for Business” report has placed the same five states — Texas, Florida, Nevada, Tennessee, and Indiana — in the top five spots of its annual poll of CEOs.

The rankings reflect CEO perceptions of best and worst states based on a range of measures, including workforce, taxes and regulation, and living environment.

Texas topped the list for the 16th straight year, while Florida was runner-up for the eighth consecutive year.

Florida’s economy recently topped $1 trillion. More than $870,000 worth of adjusted gross income moves into Florida every hour. 

See the full report at https://chiefexecutive.net/2020-best-worst-for-states-business/





Jacksonville Listed in the Top 10 Best U.S. Cities for Veterans

24 05 2020

best-and-worst-cities-for-veterans

  • According to the Veterans Association, there are currently more than 19.2 million veterans living in America.
  • However, when it comes to adjusting to civilian life, some areas of the country are better for veterans than others.
  • WalletHub ranked the 100 largest US cities in four major categories — employment, economy, quality of life, and health — to determine the best cities for veterans to live in after leaving the service. 

WalletHub conducted a report of the best US cities for veterans, analyzing 20 key indicators of livability, affordability, and veteran-friendliness. The study then provided rankings — out of 100 — for each category.

Employment rankings took into account the number of veteran-owned businesses per veteran population and opportunities for job growth, as well as the availability of jobs that utilize military-learned skills. Economy rankings considered factors such as the median veteran income and veteran homelessness rates, while quality of life was determined by analyzing veteran population, restaurants with military discounts, and more.

The study found that Jacksonville, Florida, ranked 10th on the best US cities for veterans, earning a total score of 65.50 out of a possible 100.

Source: Business Insider





Jacksonville Listed in the Top 10 Best Places to Live on the Coast in 2020

4 04 2020

Coastal Insider named Jacksonville in the Top 10 Best Places to Live on the Coast in 2020.

has everything: 22 miles of beaches, more than 400 city parks, seven state parks, two national parks, three beach communities (fun-loving Jacksonville Beach, low-key Neptune Beach, and the luxurious village setting of Atlantic Beach), and a steady, gentle Atlantic swell that means you can surf every morning year-round, whether you’re 5 or 65. What else? With Florida’s youngest population age—36—–and one of its hippest, plus a growing economy, affordable real estate, historic neighborhoods, vibrant street arts scene, creative coastal cuisine, vibrant nightlife, and redeveloped urban districts like Riverside and Springfield luring tech startups, makers, and brewers (20 craft breweries at latest count). And while Jacksonville sprawls like a beach blanket over nearly 875 square miles, it is built out of more than 500 discrete neighborhoods that feel like small towns—each with its own commercial district and sense of identity—to its 940,577 residents.

Source: Coastal Insider





Single Women Own More Homes Than Single Men Do

28 01 2020

Single women own more than 1.5 million more homes than single men in America’s 50 largest metro areas, according to a new study conducted by LendingTree, an online lending marketplace.

All the single ladies are outpacing men in homeownership

Even though women earned just 79 cents for every dollar men made in 2019 – regardless of job type or seniority – single women in the U.S. currently own about 5.1 million homes, while single men own 3.5 million homes.

It is a continuation of a trend that the National Association of Realtors reported in late 2018, when single female buyers made up 18 percent of overall homebuyer demographics, second to married couples. While single male buyers came in third, they tended to purchase more expensive homes (at a median price of $215,000) than single female buyers (median price of $189,000).

Why single women are outpacing single men when it comes to homeownership is a bit of a mystery, although the desire to nest could be a factor. “We do know single females tend to really value homeownership, not just as a financial investment but also as a place where they can live,” NAR Director of Demographics and Behavioral Insights Jessica Lautz said in a statement about the report. “They really desire a place they can own.”

Caregiving responsibilities could be another reason. According to the Pew Research Center, 21 percent of children live with single mothers, while only 4 percent live with single fathers. “Even if she doesn’t have young children, she is likely a caregiver in another way,” Lautz said of the typical single female buyer. “Maybe she has children over 18 who live with her, or maybe she’s caring for an older parent.”

In all of the 50 largest metropolitan area surveyed by Lending Tree, single women owned more homes than single men do.

Jacksonville had the 12th largest gender gap of single homeowners in the study. Single women in Jacksonville own and occupy 49,328 households, while single men own and occupy 33,035 households, a gap of 4.60 percent.

Source: LendingTree





Florida Home Sales Up 23.8% and Condo Up 17.7% in Dec.

24 01 2020

The holiday season was a time of good cheer for Florida’s housing market, with more closed sales, higher median prices and increased pending sales, plus more pending inventory in December 2019 compared to a year ago, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®.

Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 25,557 last month, up 23.8% from December 2018.

Florida condo-townhouse sales were up 17.7% year-to-year. The statewide median price for single-family homes rose 5.9% to $270K, and condo-townhouse prices were up 8.1% to $200K. Pending inventory and new pending sales also rose statewide in both categories.

“Continued low interest rates are sparking buyer demand across Florida; however, a constrained supply and tight inventory of for-sale homes is putting pressure on home prices to rise,” says 2020 Florida Realtors President Barry Grooms, a Realtor and co-owner of Sarabay Suncoast Realty Inc. in Bradenton. “Existing single-family homes had a 3.4 months’ supply of inventory in December, while condo-townhouse properties showed a 5.2 months’ supply. In a positive sign, new pending sales rose 11.9% for single-family existing homes last month and new pending sales for condo-townhouse units increased 8.3%.

“Buying or selling a home can be a complex process, but a local Realtor stands ready to help.”

Statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and condo-townhouse properties in December rose year-over-year for 96 months in a row. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes was $270,000, up 5.9% from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Research Department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. Last month’s statewide median price for condo-townhouse units was $200,000, up 8.1% over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

According to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in November 2019 was $274,000, up 5.4% from the previous year; the national median existing condo price was $248,200. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in November was $589,770; in Massachusetts, it was $405,000; in Maryland, it was $301,000; and in New York, it was $280,000.

Looking at Florida’s condo-townhouse market in December, statewide closed sales totaled 9,605, up 17.7% from the level a year ago. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor points out that Florida’s housing market this December showed very different data trends than the previous year. In December 2018, the state was experiencing weak existing home sales growth and rising inventory levels driven in part by higher interest rates, a troubled stock market and uneasiness generated by an impending shutdown of the federal government, according to O’Connor.

“Closed sales of existing single-family homes were up by nearly 24% compared to last December, while closings in the condo-townhouse category were up by almost 18%,” he says. “So why such a big jump? Well, part of it is explained by the fact that sales were unusually weak at the end of 2018, driven in part by a sharp increase in the average 30-year mortgage rate.

Of course, that doesn’t explain the entire increase in sales, he adds.

“The average 30-year mortgage rate spent the entire second half of 2019 in the range of 3.5% to 3.8%, flirting with historical lows,” O’Connor says. “And in the months since the mid-year yield curve scare that spooked the financial markets, the Federal Reserve has dropped the federal funds rate three times, restoring calm to the national economy. Here in Florida, we saw new pending sales for both property types begin surging in October, and now, with the December figures, we see a significant share of those deals successfully closed by year’s end.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.72% in December 2019, down from the 4.6% averaged during the same month a year earlier.

Source: Floridarealtors.org.





Florida is the No. 1 Destination for Relocating Homebuyers

11 12 2018

LendingTree’s latest migration analysis revealed that 12.1% of American homebuyers who relocate to different states prefer to call the south their new home.

The migration report utilized data from LendingTree’s website, gathering information from 2 million new purchase mortgage loan requests made in 2018.

The report indicated that across the country, Florida is the No. 1 destination for homebuyers moving from 15 of the 50 states. Notably, of all purchase mortgage requests, 9.1% were made for Florida, and 12.4% of out-of-state movers requested the state as well.

However, when LendingTree analyzed destination states according to population size, South Carolina scored the highest. In this state, mortgage loan requests were 52% greater than suggested based on its share of the national population.

When it came to homebuyers relocating within their state, Texas led the way with 93.4% of purchase mortgage requests from individuals looking for properties.

Unfortunately, Alaska wasn’t as lucky, as LendingTree revealed only 75.2% of Alaskan homebuyers wanted to relocate within the state, marking the lowest percentage across the country.

NOTE: LendingTree’s popularity score derives from the calculation of dividing the percentage of all purchase mortgage requests for the state by the percentage of the total population each state represents.

Source: LendingTree and National Mortgage News





Jacksonville is the third-most diverse job market in the U.S.

5 12 2018

Jacksonville has been named the third-most diverse job market in the U.S., according to LinkUp, a job recruiting website. Jacksonville was listed behind Salt Lake City, Utah, and Buffalo, N.Y., respectively.

LinkUp analyzed data from job markets in relation to real estate values and availability in the third fiscal quarter of this year.

The study found that Jacksonville was less reliant on big employers and that job availability provided a wide range of options for workers.

In the top-five job markets, Jacksonville was followed by Raleigh, N.C., and Austin, Texas.

As far as the top-50 job markets in the United States, the least diversified were Cleveland, Atlanta, New York, Chicago and Detroit.

Source: LinkUp.com and Jacksonville.com





Housing sales, inventory trending up in Florida

4 12 2018

Florida’s housing market reported more closed sales, rising median prices and more new listings in October compared to a year ago, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 22,272 last month, up 8.5 percent compared to October 2017.

October marked 82 consecutive months (more than six and a half years) that statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and condo-townhouse properties increased year-over-year.

Rising interest rates are having a ripple effect across the housing market as the Federal Reserve increases borrowing costs. Analysts expect the Fed to raise rates again a few times in 2019. Areas with strong job or population growth, like Florida, may be able to weather higher mortgage rates, analysts say.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.83 percent in October 2018, up from the 3.90 percent averaged during the same month a year earlier.





Some Floridians can get up to $10K for septic-tank upgrade

8 10 2018

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced a Septic Upgrade Incentive Program to improve water quality and protect Florida’s springs. The program encourages homeowners to enhance their conventional septic systems by adding advanced features to reduce nitrogen pollution.

This Septic Upgrade Incentive Program can offset the cost of an upgrade by providing certified installers and licensed plumbers up to $10,000 after the installation of enhanced nitrogen-reducing features to existing septic systems located in targeted areas within eligible counties – generally those with natural springs. The program can reduce a homeowner’s costs for the septic system upgrades.

Homeowners who qualify for septic-tank money live in DEP “Priority Focus Areas.” According to DEP, those include homes in Citrus, Hernando, Leon, Marion, Orange, Pasco, Seminole, Volusia and Wakulla counties. DEP has a Priority Focus Area map posted on its website.

“We encourage homeowners in these Priority Focus Areas to take advantage of this new Septic Upgrade Incentive Program,” says Trina Vielhauer, director of DEP’s Division of Water Restoration Assistance. “Every homeowner who does their part to upgrade a septic system brings us one step closer to our goal of significantly lowering nutrients in Florida’s springs.”

Eligible enhancements include:

  • Retrofitting septic tanks with advanced pre-treatment
  • Recirculating aerobic treatment units
  • Replacing traditional septic tanks with upgraded nutrient-reducing technology

The incentives will be paid directly to septic system installers and licensed plumbers retained by homeowners to update existing systems, and they must be pre-approved before commencing work.





Florida housing market’s positive trends continues

20 09 2018

Florida’s housing market reported more sales, more new listings, and higher median prices in August compared to a year ago, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 26,273 last month, up 4.2 percent compared to August 2017.

“August marked the second month in a row that Florida’s housing market experienced a rise in new listings, which is a good sign for potential homebuyers,” says 2018 Florida Realtors President Christine Hansen, broker-owner with Century 21 Hansen Realty in Fort Lauderdale. “New listings for existing single-family homes rose 6.6 percent compared to a year ago and new listings for condo-townhouse properties increased 4.1 percent from last August.

“At the same time, the median time for a sale to go to contract is getting shorter: For single-family homes, it was 36 days, down 2.7 percent; for condo-townhouse properties, it was 46 days, down 6.1 percent. With such a quick turnaround time to contract, a Realtor with local expertise can help buyers and sellers navigate the market.”

August marked the 80th consecutive month (over six and a half years) that the statewide median sales prices for both single-family homes and condo-townhouse properties rose year-over-year. The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes was $254,290, up 6.0 percent from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Research Department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. The statewide median price for condo-townhouse units in August was $185,000, up 8.8 percent over the year-ago figure. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

Looking at Florida’s condo-townhouse market, statewide closed sales totaled 10,365 last month, up 6.6 percent compared to a year ago. Closed sales data continued to reflect fewer short sales and foreclosures in August: Short sales for condo-townhouse properties dropped 18.8 percent and foreclosures fell 28.9 percent year-to-year; while short sales for single-family homes declined 34.2 percent and foreclosures fell 30.1 percent year-to-year. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

“The dominant story across Florida’s housing markets over the past couple of years has been the shortage of single-family homes for sale, but in the July numbers, instead of the usual year-over-year decline, we saw that inventory was virtually unchanged from the level we reported for July of 2017,” says Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O’Connor. “So the question is, is this the beginning of a trend? According to the newly released August data from Florida Realtors, it very well could be.

The statewide inventory of single-family homes was up 4.5 percent compared to last year.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.55 percent in August 2018, up from the 3.88 percent averaged during the same month a year earlier.

Source: Florida Realtors





U.S. Housing: 10 Years After the Financial Crisis

10 09 2018





IRS Tax Relief for Hurricane Victims

10 10 2017

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) offered a rundown of key tax relief available to victims of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. In general, the IRS relief to individuals and businesses applies anywhere in Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, as well as parts of Texas.

Because the relief postpones various tax deadlines, individuals and businesses have until Jan. 31, 2018 to file any returns and pay any taxes due. Those eligible for the extra time include:

  • Individual filers whose tax-filing extension runs out on Oct. 16, 2017. Because tax payments related to these 2016 returns were originally due on April 18, 2017, those payments are not eligible for this relief, it only impacts the filing
  • Business filers, such as calendar-year partnerships, whose extensions ran out on Sept. 15, 2017
  • Quarterly estimated tax payments due on Sept. 15, 2017 and Jan. 16, 2018
  • Quarterly payroll and excise tax returns due on Oct. 31, 2017
  • Calendar-year tax-exempt organizations whose 2016 extensions run out on Nov. 15, 2017

variety of other returns, payments and tax-related actions also qualify for additional time. The IRS also continues to closely monitor the aftermath of these storms, and additional updates for taxpayers and tax professionals will be posted to IRS.gov.

Besides extra time to file and pay, the IRS offers other special assistance to disaster-area taxpayers. This includes the following:

  • Special relief helps employer-sponsored leave-based donation programs aid hurricane victims. Under these programs, employees may forgo their vacation, sick or personal leave in exchange for cash payments the employer makes, before Jan. 1, 2019, to charities providing relief. Donated leave is not included in the employee’s income, and employers may deduct these cash payments to charity as a business expense.
  • 401(k)s and similar employer-sponsored retirement plans can make loans and hardship distributions to hurricane victims and members of their families. Under this broad-based relief, a retirement plan can allow a hurricane victim to take a hardship distribution or borrow up to the specified statutory limits from the victim’s retirement plan. It also means that a person who lives outside the disaster area can take out a retirement plan loan or hardship distribution and use it to assist a son, daughter, parent, grandparent or dependent who lived or worked in the disaster area. Hardship withdrawals must be made by Jan. 31, 2018.
  • The IRS is waiving late-deposit penalties for federal payroll and excise tax deposits normally due during the first 15 days of the disaster period. Check out the disaster relief page for the time periods that apply to each jurisdiction.
  • Individuals and businesses who suffered uninsured or unreimbursed disaster-related losses can choose to claim them on either the return for the year the loss occurred (in this instance, the 2017 return normally filed next year), or the return for the prior year (2016). See Publication 547 for details.
  • The IRS is waiving the usual fees and expediting requests for copies of previously filed tax returns for disaster area taxpayers. This relief can be especially helpful to anyone whose copies of these documents were lost or destroyed by the hurricane.
  • If disaster-area taxpayers are contacted by the IRS on a collection or examination matter, they should be sure to explain how the disaster impacts them so that the IRS can provide appropriate consideration to their case.

Further details on these and other relief provisions can be found on the agency’s disaster relief page, as well as on the special pages for Hurricane Harvey and Hurricanes Irma and Maria. For information on disaster recovery, visit disasterassistance.gov.

Source: Florida Realtors





Congress Considers Post-Hurricane Flood Insurance Programs

9 10 2017

For the first time since 2005, four hurricanes have made a U.S. landfalls in a single hurricane season in over a decade.

The path of destruction in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, and Mississippi in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, Irma, Maria and Nate is catastrophic and there is an enormous financial jam facing the National Flood Insurance Program.  There has never been a greater need for the program. But that need has also set off a new round of calls to dramatically overhaul a program that hasn’t been able to sustain itself without major subsidies from the U.S. Treasury.

Established in 1968 to help homeowners living in flood-prone areas that private insurers wouldn’t cover, the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) has never been on steady financial footing, and continued construction in low-lying areas — as well as more frequent and powerful storms attributed to climate change — have put the NFIP deeply in the red.

As a result, Congress repeatedly finds itself re-authorizing new money to support the program. Even before Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, the program was set to expire on Sept. 30, and no new insurance policies can be written until it’s re-authorized again. 

Few home insurance policies cover flood damage, and nearly all U.S. flood insurance policies are issued through the program. To qualify for national flood insurance, a home must be in a community that has agreed to adopt and enforce various policies to reduce flooding risk.  

It’s hard to find a member of Congress who will call for an outright abolition of the program, which would likely destabilize real estate markets and property tax bases in those areas. So the aim among some legislators is to pass laws that will encourage homeowners to move into the private market.

One option is to raise the premiums for government insurance to help sustain the program, discourage new construction in high-risk areas and hope that as rates rise, more private companies will enter the flood insurance market.

The fear of many lawmakers who represent these homeowners is that a substantial rise in rates will be more than some can afford. 

The issue had the potential to become a crisis as congressional insiders worried that re-authorizing the program could get tangled up in fights over raising the debt ceiling and funding the government. But to the surprise of nearly everyone, President Trump cut a deal with Democratic leaders to re-authorize the program for the short-term and push all of those big decisions into December. 

Now, activists and member of Congress who want to overhaul the flood insurance program have an opportunity to make their case over the next couple of months.

They argue that government-subsidized insurance encourages more people to build in flood-prone areas — which then forces the government to rebuild their homes after every flood at taxpayer expense.

Those advocating an overhaul include taxpayer watchdogs, environmentalists, insurance companies and members of Congress who oppose bailing out areas that allowed building in flood-prone areas. They’re pushing for legislation that requires better flood plain mapping that takes climate change into account, stricter building regulations requiring measures like elevating homes and buildings to reduce flood risk, and setting sustainable insurance rates that won’t shock the market.

A powerful trifecta of interests groups comprised of bankers, real estate agents and home construction companies have fought these efforts. 

Back in 2012, former President Obama signed into law a major Congressional overhaul of the flood insurance program. Among the changes: eliminating subsidies for homes that are repeatedly damaged by flooding. 

But some homeowners and their representatives in Congress protested the steep price increase. In early 2014, Congress and Obama reversed course, passing into law a cap that would limit premium increases and mostly unwound the 2012 efforts. 

Now, many House members are pushing to let the private market take over the job of insuring properties in flood zones.

Supporters of the legislation in the House say they are undeterred, believing it’s the most popular proposal for changing the program and will inevitably pass.

For now, no one on Capitol Hill seems inclined to increase the misery of those affected in Houston by drastically changing the flood insurance program for those who are currently filing claims. And the Florida and Texas delegations have vowed to combine their legislative firepower to protect their constituencies — members from both parties say protecting the program is a key priority.

Source: The Eagle (Bryan-College Station, TX.)

 





Hurricanes and Real Estate Contracts

3 10 2017

Florida residents enjoy weather that many northern neighbors envy: warm temperatures all year, combined with easy access to breezy oceans, lakes, rivers and springs.

However, the weather here occasionally turns sinister, most notably when hurricanes meander across the Atlantic to wreak havoc on our state.

When these hurricanes impact real estate transactions, many Realtors scramble to locate casualty and bad weather provisions. This short inventory provides an overview of key provisions in the Florida Realtors/Florida Bar “AS IS” Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase revised in April of 2017, along with one reference to the casualty provision contained in the Florida Residential Landlord and Tenant Act.

  1. Section 18(G) Force Majeure
    This is an automatic extension that comes into play when a dramatic event prevents a party’s performance or closing from happening. It takes an unusual and unplanned event to trigger this “Force Majeure” clause, as you can see from a few of the examples given, such as, hurricanes, acts of God and acts of terrorism. Once the clause is triggered, though, certain time periods (including the closing date, if applicable) will be extended for a reasonable time up to 7 days after the force majeure no longer prevents performance. Parties should pay attention to the time in relation to the closing date, though, since either party may terminate the contract by delivering a written notice if force majeure continues to prevent performance more than 30 days beyond the closing date.
  2. Section 18(L) Access to Property to Conduct Appraisals, Inspections, and Walk-Through
    After a hurricane passes over a property, a buyer often wants to take another look at the property, regardless of whether the buyer is still in the inspection period. This clause generally favors the buyer’s request, as it provides that “Seller shall, upon reasonable notice, provide utilities service and access to Property for appraisals and inspections, including a walk-through (or follow-up walk-through if necessary) prior to Closing.”
  3. Section 18(M) Risk of Loss
    If the buyer or seller discover casualty damage from the hurricane, this clause describes the rights and obligations of each party. If the cost to restore the property does not exceed 1.5% of the purchase price (this cost includes the cost of pruning or removing damaged trees), then the cost is a seller obligation. If the restoration isn’t complete prior to closing, the seller will escrow a sum equal to 125% of the estimated cost to complete the restoration. If the cost of restoration exceeds 1.5% of the purchase price, then buyer has the option to either take the property along with 1.5% of the purchase price, or receive a refund of the deposit, releasing buyer and seller from all further obligations under the contract.
  4. Section 83.63, Florida Statutes (Casualty Damage)
    This brief section simply provides that if rented residential premises are damaged or destroyed “so that the enjoyment of the premises is substantially impaired, the tenant may terminate the rental agreement and immediately vacate the premises.” This section continues to present a second scenario whereby a tenant may “vacate the part of the premises rendered unusable by the casualty, in which case the tenant’s liability for rent shall be reduced by the fair rental value of that part of the premises damaged or destroyed.”

Source: Florida Realtors, Florida Realtors Legal Hotline





$250K Home Giveaway Sweepstakes for U.S. Military or Veterans

28 09 2017

Realtor.com® and Veterans United Home Loans, a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) purchase lender, have teamed up to launch a $250,000 Veterans Day Home Giveaway Sweepstakes.

The contest will award up to $250,000 toward a home purchase to a U.S. military service member or veteran.

Veterans and current members of the military can enter the sweepstakes until Oct. 29 at realtor.com/homegiveaway.

The winner will be announced on Veterans Day, Nov. 11.

The winner will receive $250,000 (less tax withholding) at the closing of a home purchase transaction.

For more details, go to https://www.realtor.com/homegiveaway/rules.

Source: Realtor.com®








%d bloggers like this: