HUD plans to end public housing aid for illegal immigrants | Bedford Real Estate

HUD building

Approximately 55,000 children could be evicted from public housing if the Department of Housing and Urban Development goes through with a proposed plan to end public housing aid for undocumented immigrants, HUD revealed in a report on the rule change’s potential impact.

Last month, HUD proposed a rule that would make undocumented immigrants ineligible for public housing aid and force them to relocate within 18 months.

The rule proposes the use of the Department of Homeland Security’s Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program, or SAVE program, to verify the citizenship of all members living in a household that receives assistance.

Under HUD’s current rules, families are allowed to live together in subsidized housing even if one family member is ineligible as long the ineligible person declares themselves as as such. The housing subsidy is then prorated to exclude the ineligible person from the assistance.

But HUD’s new rules closes that “loophole.”

HUD officially proposed changed those rules Friday, publishing the text of the rule in the Federal Register.

As part of the rulemaking process, HUD also issued a report on the potential impact of the rule change.

According to the report , the Trump administration plan to pull public housing aid could lead the removal of 55,000 children from public housing, putting them at risk of homelessness.

Overall, as many as 25,000 households would be affected by the rule change. According to HUD’s report, the vast majority of the potentially affected households (72%) come from three states – California (37%), Texas (23%), and New York (12%).

Beyond the direct impact on those households, who would be forced to find another place to live within 18 months, the rule change could also have the opposite effect of what the Trump administration claimed when initially floating the proposal.

“Thanks to @realDonaldTrump’s leadership, we are putting America’s most vulnerable first. Our nation faces affordable housing challenges and hundreds of thousands of citizens are waiting for many years on waitlists to get housing assistance,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson tweeted when the public housing rule change was initially reported.

The idea, according to Carson, is to make more housing available to American citizens.

“We have a long list of people we can only serve right now one in four of the people who are looking for assistance from the government,” Carson told Fox Business on Thursday. “So obviously we want to get those people taken care of. And we also want to abide by the laws.”

But according to HUD’s own analysis of the proposed rule changes, the move could actually lead to less public housing aid being available because the “American” households replacing the “mixed” households make less money than the families they’d be replacing and would, therefore, require more housing assistance.

From the HUD report:

“An additional transfer of the rule results from the replacement households requiring a higher subsidy than the mixed households. This would occur because the households that replace mixed families, on average, have less income and would receive higher per household subsidies.”

The impact of that would lead to an increase of HUD’s budget of between $193 million and $227 million, meaning it would cost taxpayers as much as $227 million more to give public housing aid to the replacement households.

Another “likelier” scenario would be HUD choosing to serve those replacement households without additional resources or pulling money from other HUD programs.

But according to the HUD report, “perhaps the likeliest scenario” would be HUD reducing the quantity and quality of subsidized housing because of the higher costs, meaning there would less subsidized housing available in the first place and the ones that remained would be lower quality than before.

“With part of the budget being redirected to cover the increase in subsidy, there could be fewer households served under the housing choice vouchers program; while for public housing, this would have an impact on the quality of service, e.g., maintenance of the units and possibly deterioration of the units that could lead to vacancy,” HUD said in the report.

So instead of making more public housing available to those on the waiting list, the proposal could lead to the exact opposite happening.

From HUD’s report:

However, it is unlikely that this transfer would occur in the form of increased subsidies from taxpayers to the replacement households. Housing assistance is not an entitlement and the federal budget for housing is not expected to increase because of this rule. Instead, it is likely that the higher per household subsidies would be paid for by reducing average spending on housing assistance for all households. or reducing the number of households served. The number and quality of public housing units likely could decline as could any additional resident services provided by housing authorities.

Beyond all of that, Diane Yentel, the president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition suggests that the “true motivation” of HUD’s rule changes is to instill fear into undocumented immigrants.

“HUD expects the fear of being separated would lead to a prompt evacuation by most mixed-status families, whether or not that fear is justified,” HUD states in a section on the report on the expected responses from the impacted households.

“The cruelty of Secretary Carson’s proposal is breathtaking, and the harm it would inflict on children, families and communities is severe,” Yentel said Friday in a statement. “Tens of thousands of deeply poor kids, mostly U.S. citizens, could be evicted and made homeless by this proposal, and – by HUD’s own admission – there would be zero benefit to families on waiting lists. This proposal is another in a long line of attempts by the administration to instill fear in immigrants throughout the country. We will not stand for it.”

Yentel was joined by more than two dozen housing, faith, civil rights, social justice, and immigration groups in denouncing the proposed rule changes.

HUD itself notes that there are less costly alternatives to the proposed rule change.

From the report:

The first alternative regulatory action would be to grandfather all of the existing mixed- families and apply the provisions of this proposed rule to new admissions only. The alternative would better target housing assistance. Gradually mixed-households would be replaced. For example, with a turnover rate of 10 percent, the number of mixed households would be halved within seven years. Such an option would fulfill the objectives of the rule but would limit the transition costs. A second would be to limit the denial of housing assistance to households for which the leaseholder is ineligible. There are approximately 17,000 households with ineligible noncitizen household heads who will be affected by this proposed rule and would no longer be the leaseholders. This would reduce the number of households affected from 25,000 to 17,000. Such an alternative would likely limit the adverse impact of the transition on eligible children.

According to HUD, the current average wait time for public housing assistance is more than two years.

To read the full HUD report on the impact of the rule change, click here.

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https://www.housingwire.com/articles/49017-hud-plan-to-end-public-housing-aid-for-undocumented-immigrants-could-lead-to-evictions-of-55000-children

Deer on your lawn | Pound Ridge Real Estate

One professor calls it a “hidden threat”: Bloodsucking ticks that carry an array of diseases hitch rides on deer as the mammals multiply across the country, popping up in forests, parks and even our front lawns. 

That probably means ticks in more places than ever in the USA in 2019, said Thomas Mather, a University of Rhode Island entomologist known as “The Tick Guy.” And that could mean more Americans are at risk from tick-borne illnesses such as Lyme disease.

“The phenomena of deer in more places and in ever-increasing proximity to people is, I think, the largest factor affecting the ticks-in-more-places trend,” said Mather, who calls springtime “almost a perfect storm” for ticks.

Mather runs Rhode Island’s TickEncounter Index, which monitors tick populations based on data from volunteers across the country. The continental USA is listed for “high” activity through May 15 except for three states: California, Oregon and Washington.

Mather traced the uptick primarily to that “hidden threat” of deer moving closer and closer to where we live. He pointed to his son, a Boston suburbanite who sees deer in his tree-lined neighborhood.

America’s deer population boomed over the past century, from dwindling numbers in 1900 to an about 33.5 million in 2017 – a population larger than Texas.

“The more commonly you see deer in your area, the more likely it is you’re going to see ticks,” Mather said.

A deer grazes on the lawn of the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Wash., Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016.

A deer grazes on the lawn of the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, Wash., Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. (Photo: Michael Lopez, AP)

Lyme disease could hit 2 million mark next year

Black-legged ticks, or deer ticks, have “pretty strong” numbers in New England, the Mid-Atlantic and Upper Midwest, said Mather, who’s heard from volunteers in the region.

Black-legged ticks that carry Lyme disease “are far and away most responsible for tick-borne diseases,” he said.

Tick-borne disease cases more than doubled from 2004 to 2016, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Lyme disease accounted for 82% of all cases.

Next year, the number of people with tick-borne Lyme disease could hit almost 2 million nationwide, scientists said in the peer-reviewed journal BMC Public Health.

The disease’s symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue and skin rashes, the CDC said, but untreated infections can spread to the heart, joints and the nervous system.M

It’s not just black-legged ticks: Lone Star ticks and Gulf Coast ticks carrying less common diseases are on the move in certain regions, Mather said.

“And these types of ticks all have one thing in common: They utilize whitetail deer as a blood source in some part of their life cycle,” he said.

The black-legged tick, also known as a deer tick, can carry Lyme disease.

The black-legged tick, also known as a deer tick, can carry Lyme disease. (

America’s booming deer population can be traced to fewer predators, fewer hunters, hunting regulations and new spaces – think lush parks and suburban landscapes – that let deer thrive, said Anthony DeNicola, president of White Buffalo, a Connecticut-based nonprofit group dispatched to cull deer herds everywhere from tony suburbs to all of Staten Island. 

Efforts to manage deer have been too little, too late, DeNicola said, and quiet residential areas have let deer become comfortable, shedding ticks near people’s doorsteps.

“You’re shoveling against the tide,” he said.

What’s needed is a paradigm change, DeNicola said, for Americans to view deer less like majestic Bambis and more like health threats that spread diseases.

“We have the tools to kill deer, but you have to train the hunter to not think as a recreationalist but as a manager,” he said. 

How to avoid ticks – in your yard and on your body

Here are tips on how to avoid ticks (and the deer that bring them) on your property and on your person, according to the University of Rhode Island’s TickEncounter Resource Center: 

  • Keep out deer, which bring ticks to your yard, and mice, by which ticks become infected. Clean and clear spaces around sheds, woodpiles and any other enclosed areas where mice might like to hide, and consider deer-resistant plants, a deer fence and deer repellent sprays.
     
  • Tick-repellent clothing is the best (and simplest) way to prevent bites. Such clothing can be purchased, or DIY methods for clothes already owned can be used. If you don’t have tick-repellent clothing, tucking pants into socks is one way to keep ticks out.
     
  • If you’ve been outside, check for ticks in the places they prefer: armpits, backs of knees, waistbands and other tight, constricted spaces. Check everywhere: Attached ticks don’t wash off during a shower.
     
  • If you do spot a tick: Remove it with tweezers, grasping close to the skin and pulling steadily upward to keep from breaking the tick. Disinfect the skin area with rubbing alcohol.

read more…

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/health/2019/05/07/deer-multiply-us-carrying-ticks-lyme-disease-and-more/1126591001/

US inventory of homes for sale flat | Bedford Corners Real Estate

home tops

The U.S. inventory of homes for sale was flat in the first quarter, compared with a year earlier, the first time since 2016 there wasn’t a decline, according to a Trulia report.

Inventory increased in 50 of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas, up from just 19 areas one year ago. Starter-home supply rose 3.5% year-over-year – the fastest annual growth rate observed in more than 6 years – while the number of luxury homes on the market fell 4.5%, the report said.

The increase likely is being driven by homes lingering on the market as high prices put them beyond the reach of first-time buyers, according to the report. About 54% of homes for sale were in the starter- or trade-up-home segments – in other words, the first few rungs of the housing ladder.

“The markets with the greatest growth in inventory are also markets where prices have rapidly risen to notoriously high levels and supply has been severely constrained over the past few years,” the report said. “This rapid appreciation has caused affordability to deteriorate more quickly in these areas, and the nascent rise in inventory may actually reflect an exhaustion of demand in these communities, more than it reflects a greater number of sellers listing their homes.”

The 10 markets with the largest gains in inventory are also among the nation’s most-expensive housing markets, including the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, Los Angeles and San Diego.

“Even in these markets, dramatic increases in inventory – especially among starter homes – have yet to stem the tide of declining affordability,” the report said.

Nationally, there were 273,282 newly-listed homes on the market during the first quarter, down 6.9% from the 293,481 in the year-earlier period. In other words, inventory growth was driven by homes that were listed in prior quarters.

“Inventory growth seems to be driven more by ebbing demand rather than an infusion of new supply,” the report concluded.

The first quarter data may be representing the tail-end of a housing slump caused by November’s eight-year high in mortgage rates that since then have fallen.

At the end of March, the U.S. average rate for a 30-year fixed mortgage had the largest one-week decline in more than 10 years, dropping to 4.06%, according to Freddie Mac. Since then, it has bounced around in a narrow band, and this week averaged 4.1%.

In March, pending home sales increased 3.8% as the cheaper financing costs brought more buyers into the market, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Last week, an index measuring mortgage home-purchase applications rose 5% from a week earlier and was 5% higher than the year-ago week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association.

“We saw a good week for the spring home buying season,” MBA’s Joel Kan said in the report released on Wednesday.

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https://www.housingwire.com/articles/49016-home-inventory-was-flat-in-q1-as-listings-lingered-on-market?utm_campaign=Newsletter%20-%20HousingWire%20Daily&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=72568506&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-97eI9f6irq-W5MGvRfv6pGqLdxmtWsaZHZ1d3KCG5Z8W-kyLXGD9f6NZHPyQVHvikIecdIzyzC7XnPn0J3HZuHXQtV8A&_hsmi=72568506

Americans favor owning over renting | Chappaqua Real Estate

close up neighborhood houses

With a homeownership rate of 64.2%, it’s safe to say the American dream of homeownership is alive and well. However, lackluster growth in the sector suggests the market might be turning, especially as affordability remains a top concern.

In a recent analysis, LendingTree surveyed 2,095 American homeowners aged 22 and older about their perceptions of owning a property versus renting.

According to the company’s study, 67% of American homeowners believe owning a home is a better option than renting. However, LendingTree discovered that for many American homeowners, renting is still a viable option.

“About 15% of homeowners believe renting is easier than owning a home, and another 18% are neutral on the topic,” LendingTree writes. “Just 13% of homeowners across all ages wish they could go back to renting, but when broken down by age, 1 out of every 5 homeowners ages 22 to 37 say they miss renting.”

Interestingly, LendingTree says this breakdown is highly dependent on the number of years a homeowner has lived in their home.

“In most cases, the longer that survey respondents have been in their homes, the more likely they are to believe owning is easier,” LendingTree writes. “That changes for those who have owned for a decade or longer. Nearly 72% of homeowners who have spent seven to nine years in their home agree with the statement, compared with 65% of those with at least 10 years in their home.”

Additionally, the report found that age also plays a major role in homeowner satisfaction.

According to the study, 23% of Gen Xers claimed to be dissatisfied with their home purchases, this was followed by 21% of Millennials who expressed the same sentiment.

When it came to Baby Boomers and those aged 73 and older, LendingTree reports that only 14% and 3% held the same regrets, respectively.

Overall, the study revealed that homeownership tenure is a tremendous indication of whether or not a person is likely to return to the rental market. 

“Our survey found that the longer you own your home, the less likely you’ll want to rent again,” LendingTree writes. “Only 7% of respondents who have owned their home for at least 10 years wish they could go back to renting, compared with 19% of those who have owned for three years or less.”

The image below highlights the percentage of Americans who wish to return to renting after owning a home:

(Click to enlarge

LendingTree: Return to Renting

Note: LendingTree commissioned Qualtrics to collect the responses of 2,095 American homeowners aged 22 and older from the dates of March 22-27, 2019.

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https://www.housingwire.com/articles/48981-americans-still-favor-owning-over-renting-but-for-how-long?utm_campaign=Newsletter%20-%20HousingWire%20Daily&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=72449673&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_wf5nhkg1FFSaVfcLLsDAq-vSfamUsKWH6fYQFizfFvEM3FO4rbfwKPtMxpuPxnlua16i-cB9BPHu8neekjPxwT8280A&_hsmi=72449673

Mortgage rates average 4.27% | Armonk Real Estate

For the fourth straight month, information compiled by Freddie Mac shows that mortgage rates continued to fall in March 2019. The 30-year FRM – Commitment rate, fell by ten basis points to 4.27 percent from 4.37 percent in February. The cycle peak was 4.87 percent in November.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that the contract rate for newly-built homes, also declined by five basis points to 4.53 percent in March. Mortgage rates on purchases of newly built homes (MIRS) declined by ten basis points over the month of March to 4.36 percent from 4.46 percent in February.

According to the May 2019 Federal Open Market Committee meeting statement, the Fed is likely to continue a “patient approach” stance to rate setting for the next several months. As expected, it kept the target for the federal funds rate at its setting of 2.25-2.50 percent. The post-meeting statement characterized growth as solid, but noted that broad inflation measures had declined and were running below the FOMC’s 2% inflation target. The Committee continues to view sustained expansion of economic activity, strong labor market conditions, and inflation near the two percent objective as the most likely outcomes. Considering global economic and financial developments and muted inflation pressures, the Committee will be patient as it determines what future adjustments to the target range for the federal funds rate may be appropriate to support these outcomes.

As of the end of March, the 10-year Treasury rate, is slightly up to 2.52%. The increased rate has contributed to an increase in the mortgage interest rates in the last few weeks. The average 30-Year Fixed market rate, according to Freddie Mac, was at 4.20% at the end of April compared to 4.06% at the end of March. At the end of 2018, the average 30-Year Fixed market rate was 4.64%.

Pending home sales up 3.8% in March | Mt Kisco Real Estate

Pending home sales rose in March, reversing course from a month prior, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Three of the four major regions saw growth last month, as the Northeast reported a minor slip in contract activity.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* www.nar.realtor/pending-home-sales, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, increased 3.8% to 105.8 in March, up from 101.9 in February. Year-over-year contract signings declined 1.2%, making this the 15th straight month of annual decreases.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, noted that pending home sales data has been exceptionally fluid over the past several months but predicted that numbers will begin to climb more consistently. “We are seeing a positive sentiment from consumers about home buying, as mortgage applications have been steadily increasing and mortgage rates are extremely favorable.”

2019 03 phs housing snapshot infographic 04 30 2019 750w 800h

See and share this infographic.

Yun noted that sales activity in the West had increased at a relatively stable rate for five consecutive months before the region saw a significant spike in activity in March. “Despite some affordability issues in the West, the numbers indicate that there is a reason for optimism. Inventory has increased, too. These are great conditions for the region.”

Pointing to active listings from data at realtor.com®, Yun says the year-over-year increases indicate a potential rise in inventory. Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo., Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro, Ore.-Wash., and Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, Tenn., saw the largest increase in active listings in March compared to a year ago.

Although pending contracts appear to be on an overall upswing, Yun says current sales activity is underperforming. “In the year 2000, we had 5 million home sales. Today, we are close to that same number, but there are 50 million more people in the country,” he said. “There is a pent-up demand in the market, and we should see a better performing market in the coming quarters and years.”

March Pending Home Sales Regional Breakdown

The PHSI in the Northeast declined 1.7% to 90.5 in March and is now 0.4% below a year ago. In the Midwest, the index grew 2.3% to 95.3 in March, 5.0% lower than March 2018.

Pending home sales in the South jumped up 4.4% to an index of 127.2 in March, which is 0.7% higher than last March. The index in the West ascended 8.7% in March to 95.1 and fell only 1.6% below a year ago.

read more…

https://www.nar.realtor/newsroom/pending-home-sales-climb-3-8-in-march

Case Shiller home prices rise 4% annually | North Salem Real Estate

house down payment

In February, annual home price gains slowed across the country, according to the latest Case-Shiller Home Price Index from S&P Down Jones Indices and CoreLogic.

The report’s results showed that February 2019 saw an annual increase of 4% for home prices nationwide, falling from the previous month’s report.

The graph below highlights the average home prices within the 10-City and 20-City Composites.

(Click to enlarge)

S&P CoreLogic - Case Shiller - February

Before seasonal adjustment, the National Index decreased 0.2% month over month in February. The 10-City Composite and the 20-City Composite both posted a 0.2% month over month decrease.

After seasonal adjustment, the National Index recorded a month-over-month gain of 0.3% in February. Additionally, the 10-City Composite and the 20-City Composite posted also posted a 0.2% month-over-month increase.

The 10-City and 20-City composites reported a 2.6% and 3.1% year-over-year increase for the month, respectively. Before seasonal adjustment, 14 of 20 cities reported increases, while 17 of 20 cities reported increases after the seasonal adjustment.

S&P Dow Jones Indices Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee David Blitzer said the pace of increases for home prices continues to slow.

“Homes began their climb in 2012 and accelerated until late 2013 when annual increases reached double digits,” Blitzer said. “Subsequently, increases slowed until now when the National Index is up 4% in the last 12 months.”

And although sales of existing single-family homes have recovered since 2010 and reached their peak one year ago in February 2018, home sales have drifted down over the last year except for a one-month pop in February 2019, according to Blitzer.

“Sales of new homeshousing starts, and residential investment had similar weak trajectories over the last year,” Blitzer said. “Mortgage rates are down one-half to three-quarters of a percentage point since late 2018.”

Additionally, Blitzer notes that regional housing trends are changing, especially as previously thriving housing markets continue to lose appreciation.

According to the report, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tampa reported the highest year-over-year gains among all of the 20 cities.

In February, Las Vegas led with a 9.7% year-over-year price increase, followed by Phoenix with a 6.7% increase and Tampa with a 5.4% increase. Notably, only one of the 20 cities reported larger price increases in the year ending February 2019 versus the year ending January 2019.

“The largest year-over-year price increase is 9.7% in Las Vegas; last year, the largest gain was 12.7% in Seattle. Regional patterns are shifting. The three California cities of Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego have the three slowest price increases over the last year. Chicago, New York and Cleveland saw only slightly larger prices increases than California,” Blitzer said. “Prices generally rose faster in inland cities than on either the coasts or the Great Lakes. Aside from Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Tampa, which saw the fastest gains, Atlanta, Denver, and Minneapolis all saw prices rise more than 4% — twice the rate of inflation.”

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https://www.housingwire.com/articles/48910-case-shiller-home-price-gains-continue-to-slow-shifting-regional-housing-trends?utm_campaign=Newsletter%20-%20HousingWire%20Daily&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=72230236&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–ygXtWx8r1R8vGQo3erxp3Kh-lZtWoE39s-RRgGzxvOOKIGHJQQr3d63g1XHQWPZSnnayVM3_yx9hKNzy5G6oRVSV5sA&_hsmi=72230236

Net zero building nationwide | Waccabuc Real Estate

California’s progressive approach may be difficult to implement nationwide – here are the hurdles to consider.

According to the Net Zero Energy Coalition, growth of ZE (Zero Energy) home construction was 75% higher in 2017 than in 2016. While California represents approximately half of all net zero energy homes built in the US, growth is occurring across the country, including Massachusetts, which has a similar top-down approach to the construction process, putting this state in second place in the inventory of zero ready (ZR), near zero (NZ), and ZE inventory.

A ZE home (also referred to as a Zero Energy Building, ZEB) is a home that consumes no more energy than it produces in a year. To achieve this, ZE homes are extremely efficient, leveraging cutting-edge building materials and construction methods, smart thermostats, and energy-efficient appliances to keep the home’s energy consumption as low as possible without seriously inconveniencing the homeowner. ZE homes produce on-site energy from renewable sources. In the residential segment, the most common renewable installed is solar photo voltaic (PV) panels. ZR homes have all of the energy-efficient elements with the exception of on-site energy generation.

For many communities, ZE is an important building block for their climate and sustainability action plans, driving several states and cities to introduce ZE legislation:

  • Oregon has set a 2023 target for all new home construction to meet ZE.
  • Austin, TX, has required all new homes to be ZE-ready since 2015.
  • Cambridge, MA, has a multiyear plan to move towards a zero net energy community, requiring all new residential home construction to be ZE by 2022.
  • Cambridge, MA, has a multiyear plan to move towards a zero net energy community, requiring all new residential home construction to be ZE by 2022.
  • The city of Fort Collins, CO, created FortZED nearly a decade ago to partner public, private, and academic resources to experiment with new technology that saves money and energy and helps create jobs locally.

The drive to implement ZE policies on a citywide or statewide level could help make these benefits a standard amenity, but these efforts require buy-in among builders. Most builders are now aware of ZE and have a basic understanding of the various elements. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) surveys its members regularly, and its 2017 Green Practices Study and Green Multifamily and Single Family Homes Report confirms that the housing industry is gradually changing. NAHB reports that three out of ten builders have constructed at least one near zero, zero energy ready, or ZE home.

However, the decision to construct a ZE home often relies with the consumer/home buyer, and many barriers can inhibit that decision. California is unique in that it has goals and codes driving changes, higher energy costs, favorable solar energy policies, and engaged utility providers. In other parts of the country, low energy costs are a barrier. Getting consumers excited about spending more upfront to see lower energy bills is a difficult proposition. Parks Associates survey data reveals that one-third of home owners in U.S. broadband households have a monthly electricity bill of less than $100.

As a result, ZE builders focus on the attributes of a higher quality home, which provides the homeowner with a healthier, quieter, more comfortable, and more energy-efficient home. A key message is the ZE home provides peace of mind, as well as a hedge against future utility bills, as the home is built with better components and with higher construction quality. Overall, customers indicate a willingness to pay more for high-performing homes. A Parks Associates survey of US broadband households in 4Q 2017 found 80% of homeowners believe that having an energy-efficient home is important or very important, and at the end of 2018, 89% reported energy-saving actions. Parks Associates interviews with builders confirm that most customers will pay approximately 5% more for higher quality, high-efficiency ZE homes.

However, a home is an infrequent purchase, and once it comes down to spending actual dollars, consumer actions often diverge from original intentions. Budget drives the decisions regarding efficiency upgrades or adding renewables, which can often push home buyers to decide between ZE options and other amenities. In interviews with Parks Associates, entry to mid-level builders report about one-third of buyers respond positively to energy-efficiency attributes and the associated benefits, while the remaining two-thirds are either more interested in other aesthetic enhancements or skeptic of the benefits overall.

Loss of incentives can drive decisions away from high-efficiency equipment. For example, the current residential federal tax credits for solar, wind, fuel cells, and geothermal heat pumps are 30% of the total installed costs. The amount is being stepped down yearly and will be phased out after 2021. As federal incentives go away, local municipalities and utilities will need to step up to replace them, or installation of these systems may decline.

Scarcity of resources can also be a barrier, and in general, local policies, codes, and incentives drive where support resources are located. Simply put, it can be difficult to find the materials and trained subcontractors necessary for a ZE project in an area that does not promote or incentivize this type of construction.

Policies can attract resources and also drive greater consumer awareness for ZE solutions. Just take a look at California, with the highest number of residential solar PV installations, to confirm that policies, codes, and coordinated efforts across players can drive adoption. In other areas, the federal tax credit has helped grow consumer awareness and adoption of solar. Today, most consumers also have a basic awareness of renewables and higher efficiency products, so market opportunities exist for high-efficiency appliances, equipment, and smart home energy products and service providers as part of the ZE equation. Smart-home products, renewable generation, battery storage, and electric vehicles are all transformative technologies individually, but all are currently in the early stages of adoption in US households.

Parks Associates

Near zero and zero ready homes create more choice for consumers and are becoming affordable as ZE homes become cost competitive to standard dwellings. Rocky Mountain Institute’s recent 2018 study on construction costs of ZE and ZR single-family homes report that on average, a ZE home now costs 6.7%-8.1% more than a standard home and a ZR home is only 0.9%-2.5% higher. Prices are continuing to decline for renewables and battery storage, making these energy efficient homes truly affordable.

Production builders can see a clear competitive advantage as they reduce their construction costs and expand their ZE and ZR home offerings across the US. As more builders embrace this trend, expect to see more creative offers such as Lennar’s SunStreet program that offers solar PV at no upfront costs to the home buyer.

Historically, the push for ZE home requires alignment, awareness, and education across all parties in the housing industry. Stakeholders include architects, construction trades, local code compliance organizations, utility partners, real estate professionals, and the financial industry, in addition to the product manufacturers, trade associations, and local suppliers who work with builders to implement these solutions.

It is a complex undertaking, but as more communities look for ways to preserve resources, and promote energy independence, ZE solutions will continue to emerge as viable options in US households. The single-family home building industry at a point where declining costs, competitive solutions, and consumer awareness of benefits could potentially drive adoption of ZE and ZR homes without incentives and policies.

This story appears as it was originally published on our sister site, www.hiveforhousing.com

Home prices fall | South Salem Real Estate

In March, the nation’s home-sale prices remained virtually stagnant, inching backward only 0.1% from 2018 levels, according to new data from Redfin.

This means U.S. home-sale prices reached a median of $295,000 in March, marking the first year-over-year price decrease on record since February 2012.

Despite this decline, Redfin’s data determined that only nine of the 85 largest metros saw a year-over-year decline in their median price.

This was especially so for San Jose, California, which saw its home prices fall 13% in March. That being said, other California cities like San Francisco experienced declines as little as 1%.

When it comes to home sales, the report revealed that expensive West Coast markets like Los Angeles, Orange County and Seattle posted double-digit year-over-year sale declines.

However, large markets on the East Coast saw big annual sales gains, as market affordability worked in their favor.

“Homebuyers have backed off in West Coast metros where home prices have risen far out of their budgets,” Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather said. “The opposite is happening in more affordable metros where buyers are eager to buy now to take advantage of low mortgage rates. In California, where the tax burden is high, some people are finding they have to move out of state to afford to buy a home. As a result, home sales are down in metros throughout the state.”

In fact, Redfin’s analysis indicated March’s home sales fell in 37 of the 85 largest housing markets. Whereas, only 24 of these markets saw double-digit year-over-year increases in home sales.

Interestingly, the housing markets that did experience the biggest declines features homes that were 2.5 times more expensive than homes belonging in areas where sales surged, according to Redfin.

The image below highlights March’s home-price growth:

Redfin: U.S. home price growth

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https://www.housingwire.com/articles/48894-redfin-us-home-sale-prices-experience-first-annual-decrease-in-7-years?id=48894-redfin-us-home-sale-prices-experience-first-annual-decrease-in-7-years&utm_campaign=Newsletter%20-%20HousingWire%20Daily&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=72168543&_hsenc=p2ANqtz-_iiwPf0Pdj4oHXWtcdoJ_X0DvTAceDo4oONh3pBS_CfzJWZfssQVvUIFs1DGZYy0IvTqMHRxUGxX_XrVphjhKmUHjaWw&_hsmi=72168543

Median rent reaches all-time high | Waccabuc Real Estate

Apartment for rent

Median asking rent has reached an all-time high, rising to a record $1,006 in the first quarter of 2019, according to recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Rental properties that were lying vacant remained low at 7% in Q1, a factor that is driving up rental prices.

rent

Meanwhile, homeownership levels across the country were relatively flatfrom last year, the data revealed, reversing a trend of eight consecutive quarters of growth.

Rents rise as increased demand takes a bite out of homeownership

It appears a surge in renters is the cause. The number of renters has changed course, rising in Q1 after falling in six out of seven previous quarters.

Skylar Olsen, Zillow’s director of Economic Research, said the data suggests the younger generation is having trouble overcoming the hurdles they face in the path toward homeownership, including securing a down payment, finding an affordable home and qualifying for a loan.  

“These hurdles – combined with potential shifts in preferences and/or a simple delay in the many ‘adulting’ events like marriage and children that precipitate buying a home – can have the effect of keeping younger, would-be buyers in rental housing for a longer time,” Olsen said.

He added that the sheer size of the 20-and-30-something population is exacerbating the situation by creating competition that drives up rental prices.

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https://www.housingwire.com/articles/48891-median-rent-reaches-all-time-high?id=48891-median-rent-reaches-all-time-high&utm_campaign=Newsletter%20-%20HousingWire%20Daily&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=72133183&_hsenc=p2ANqtz–UJ10g-blERYQowrIuE0apEhOELqrKPiq6ZfTaoudQUKAjt_2RBRCx8g27bpDIlIGC1c3fYmt44l4iOLOVC7kDeZ8d3g&_hsmi=72133183