U.S. Homeownership Rate Holds Steady

31 01 2007

Census Bureau data shows that the U.S. homeownership rate held steady in the fourth quarter at 68.9 percent.

Regionally, the homeownership rate was 73 percent in the Midwest, 70.8 percent in the South, 65.3 percent in the Northeast, and 64.5 percent in the West.

The homeownership rate for non-Hispanic whites was 76 percent, vs. 49.5 percent for Hispanics and 48.2 percent for blacks. The data also reveals a jump in the homeownership rate for those in the 65-and-up age segment to 81.2 percent from 80.6 percent in the fourth quarter of 2005, while the rate of homeownership for the 55-64 age group held steady at 80.7 percent.

However, the homeownership rate fell to 76.4 percent from 76.7 percent in the 45-54 segment, to 68.9 percent from 69.7 percent for those between the ages of 35 and 44, and to 42.8 percent from 43.1 percent for the under-35 set.

In terms of income level, the homeownership rate held steady at 84.5 percent for those earning the median income or more and at 52.9 percent for households earning less than the median income.

Source: Inman News

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Centex Homes Offers Home Financing Deal

27 01 2007

In an effort to make buying a home more affordable, Centex Homes has teamed with sister company CTX Mortgage Co. to offer home financing interest rates starting at less than 2 percent. Rather than steeply discounting the price of a home, which can reduce property values for an entire neighborhood, the production home builder and CTX Mortgage are advertising “super low payments” and a “Sweet Life” financing offer of 1.875 percent to 4.542 percent.





Centex Homes Offers Home Financing Deal

27 01 2007

In an effort to make buying a home more affordable, Centex Homes has teamed with sister company CTX Mortgage Co. to offer home financing interest rates starting at less than 2 percent. Rather than steeply discounting the price of a home, which can reduce property values for an entire neighborhood, the production home builder and CTX Mortgage are advertising “super low payments” and a “Sweet Life” financing offer of 1.875 percent to 4.542 percent.





2006 Homes Sales Down, Median Price Up

25 01 2007

Sales of existing single-family homes in Jacksonville and across the state fell in 2006 while the median price was climbing.

Sales in Jacksonville fell 10 percent compared with 2005, while the median price rose 7 percent to $200,600. Sales were even slower statewide, falling 28 percent from 2005. But the median price of those homes rose 6 percent to $248,300. The figures are from the Florida Association of Realtors.

Sales fell in all 20 of the markets tracked by the FAR, and in 19 of the 20 they fell by double digits. But the median price fell in only six markets, and nowhere by more than 5 percent.

The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing single-family homes nationwide dropped 7.9 percent, but maintains the market should rebound in 2007.

“Home sales appear to have bottomed out, having reached a cyclical low in September of last year,” noted NAR Chief Economist David Lereah, who predicts that 2007 will represent a year of stability for the housing sector.

The sales numbers in Florida were even worse for existing condominiums. Sales in Jacksonville fell 19 percent while the median price dropped 3 percent to $165,800. Across the state sales dropped 33 percent while the median price climbed 1 percent to $211,300.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal





Gov. Crist Signs Insurance Bill

25 01 2007

Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law Thursday a bill reforming insurance law and cutting property insurance rates in an effort to counteract swelling policy costs for Florida homeowners.

The result will be several changes to Florida insurance law designed to lower rates. Companies will now be required to seek state approval before raising rates, dropping policyholders during hurricane season or delaying payment of claims. They will also be required to allow coverage options — wind coverage, for example, will now be optional — and installation payments on premiums.

Citizens Private Insurance Corp., the state-run insurer of last resort, had scheduled a two-part, 80 percent rate increase for January and March. Those increases have been repealed to make the company more competitive with private insurers. The bill freezes rates at their current level and provides refunds to those that have already paid since the Jan. 1 increase.

Insurers will now be required to return excess profits to policyholders and will face new restrictions when “cherry-picking” — selling only automobile insurance and neglecting to offer more risky property insurance in Florida.

The bill is expected to save the average Florida homeowner 21.8 percent on property insurance payments.

“Today, we have a message for the people of Florida: ‘Help is on the way!’ We have heard the calls for help from Floridians suffering from high insurance rates,” Crist said in a release. “With this legislation, the powerless have become the powerful.”

The move has already been criticized by Chicago-based Fitch Ratings, which said rates are already too low to cover the cost to insurance companies and competition in the Florida market should determine insurance rates.

“Fitch views Florida’s proposed legislation as a mechanism to further suppress homeowner’s insurance rates in a market where rates continue to be inadequate despite several large recent rate increases,” the company said in a release. “The best long-term solution to the Florida homeowners market is for the state to allow competitive market forces to set rate levels.”

In addition to directly addressing insurance rates, the bill expands the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund — a move that’s designed to make purchasing reinsurance less expensive for insurers in the hope that they will pass those savings on to consumers. Regional exemptions to the Uniform Building Code will also be eliminated, with the goal of minimizing storm damage to buildings.

Soure: Jacksonville Business Journal





2006 Homes Sales Down, Median Price Up

25 01 2007

Sales of existing single-family homes in Jacksonville and across the state fell in 2006 while the median price was climbing.

Sales in Jacksonville fell 10 percent compared with 2005, while the median price rose 7 percent to $200,600. Sales were even slower statewide, falling 28 percent from 2005. But the median price of those homes rose 6 percent to $248,300. The figures are from the Florida Association of Realtors.

Sales fell in all 20 of the markets tracked by the FAR, and in 19 of the 20 they fell by double digits. But the median price fell in only six markets, and nowhere by more than 5 percent.

The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing single-family homes nationwide dropped 7.9 percent, but maintains the market should rebound in 2007.

“Home sales appear to have bottomed out, having reached a cyclical low in September of last year,” noted NAR Chief Economist David Lereah, who predicts that 2007 will represent a year of stability for the housing sector.

The sales numbers in Florida were even worse for existing condominiums. Sales in Jacksonville fell 19 percent while the median price dropped 3 percent to $165,800. Across the state sales dropped 33 percent while the median price climbed 1 percent to $211,300.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal





Gov. Crist Signs Insurance Bill

25 01 2007

Gov. Charlie Crist signed into law Thursday a bill reforming insurance law and cutting property insurance rates in an effort to counteract swelling policy costs for Florida homeowners.

The result will be several changes to Florida insurance law designed to lower rates. Companies will now be required to seek state approval before raising rates, dropping policyholders during hurricane season or delaying payment of claims. They will also be required to allow coverage options — wind coverage, for example, will now be optional — and installation payments on premiums.

Citizens Private Insurance Corp., the state-run insurer of last resort, had scheduled a two-part, 80 percent rate increase for January and March. Those increases have been repealed to make the company more competitive with private insurers. The bill freezes rates at their current level and provides refunds to those that have already paid since the Jan. 1 increase.

Insurers will now be required to return excess profits to policyholders and will face new restrictions when “cherry-picking” — selling only automobile insurance and neglecting to offer more risky property insurance in Florida.

The bill is expected to save the average Florida homeowner 21.8 percent on property insurance payments.

“Today, we have a message for the people of Florida: ‘Help is on the way!’ We have heard the calls for help from Floridians suffering from high insurance rates,” Crist said in a release. “With this legislation, the powerless have become the powerful.”

The move has already been criticized by Chicago-based Fitch Ratings, which said rates are already too low to cover the cost to insurance companies and competition in the Florida market should determine insurance rates.

“Fitch views Florida’s proposed legislation as a mechanism to further suppress homeowner’s insurance rates in a market where rates continue to be inadequate despite several large recent rate increases,” the company said in a release. “The best long-term solution to the Florida homeowners market is for the state to allow competitive market forces to set rate levels.”

In addition to directly addressing insurance rates, the bill expands the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund — a move that’s designed to make purchasing reinsurance less expensive for insurers in the hope that they will pass those savings on to consumers. Regional exemptions to the Uniform Building Code will also be eliminated, with the goal of minimizing storm damage to buildings.

Soure: Jacksonville Business Journal








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