The coronavirus appears to be splitting the mortgage market: More borrowers are refinancing to save money on monthly payments, while potential homebuyers are backing away fast.
Driven entirely by refinancing, total mortgage application volume increased 15.3% last week compared with the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index. Volume was 67% higher than one year ago, when interest rates were higher.
After rising for two weeks, mortgage rates plunged to the lowest level in the MBA’s survey. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($510,400 or less) decreased to 3.47% from 3.82%, with points decreasing to 0.33 from 0.35 (including the origination fee) for loans with a 20% down payment. That rate was 89 basis points higher one year ago.
As a result, refinance volume surged again. Those applications spiked 26% for the week and were 168% higher than a year ago. The refinance share of mortgage activity increased to 75.9% of total applications from 69.3% the previous week.
“Mortgage rates and applications continue to experience significant volatility from the economic and financial market uncertainty caused by the coronavirus crisis,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting. “The bleaker economic outlook, along with the first wave of realized job losses reported in last week’s unemployment claims numbers, likely caused potential homebuyers to pull back.”
Weekly jobless claims soared past 3 million to record high, the Labor Department reported last Thursday.
Mortgage applications to purchase a home fell 11% last week and were 24% lower than a year ago. Real estate agents and homebuilders have reported a sharp drop in buyer interest, and open houses and model homes are shuttering. Some potential buyers are doing virtual tours, but the demand is not even close to normal spring volume.
“Buyer and seller traffic — and ultimately home purchases — will also likely be slowed this spring by the restrictions ordered in several states on in-person activities,” Kan said.
The effects of the coronavirus on housing are widespread, but most acute in certain states. Purchase applications are down over 30% in New York, California and Washington state.
Molise is a small region in the south of Italy. Molise is not a famous region, it is still off the tourist track but this doesn’t mean that this area has nothing to offer to its visitors. There are beautiful sanctuaries, churches, abbeys, castles, medieval villages and wonderful archeological sites.
Molise: where the nature is wild and uncontaminated, the climate is mild and just in one hour it’s possible to move from the sandy beaches of the Adriatic sea to the green mountains and clay hills.
Why should you buy a property in Molise?
Buy a house in Molise is an excellent investment: the region is in a perfect position (3 hours driving from Rome, 2 from Naples and the Amalfi Coast) and property prices are still low.
Of course all those properties need a complete restoration.
Even if Molise is still uncontaminated by the global market, the “second houses” market is growing up and actually is very lively (despite the worldwide real estate crisis). Many foreign buyers and investors are buying in this lovely area for many reasons. I’ve written down the five top reasons why people should buy a property in Molise:
THE COST OF LIVING IS RELATIVELY LOW Molisan people live in small villages with a monthly wage of 800-900 euros;
HOSPITALITY Molisan people are very welcoming and happy to meet new people. You will feel part of a big family!
MOLISE IS AWAY FROM TOURISTS you won’t find a multi-races population, the few “foreign” families are well integrated with the local inhabitants
THE POSSIBILITY OF LIVING THE REAL ITALY WHERE PEOPLE STILL KEEP THE ORIGINAL TRADITIONS each place holds the authentic flavour of its history, people still celebrate ancient rites which have been repeated with every passing season, the ancient trades are handed down from father to son. In these villages there are craftsmen who have remained untouched by industrialization and are still producing uniquely and precious objects
BREATH-TAKING SCENERIES, QUIET AND PEACEFUL VILLAGES the region is characterised by different types of mountain ranges and with its great variety of climate, it lends itself to many different sports-trekking, horse-riding,cycling, canoeing, skiing and climbing.Living in this small slice of Italy can be easy and healthy.Molise could be a very safe place to buy your second home in Italy!
What do Americans do when so few new homes are being built? Remodel, according to the latest report for Buildfax.
According to the housing data and analytics company, 2019 marked the lowest rate of mobility in the U.S. since the metric was first tracked in 1947. Only 9.8% of Americans moved last year. Though this marks a new low, it’s not terribly far off from the only 10.1% who moved between 2017 and 2018.
Buildfax’s report pointed to new construction as part of the issue. Namely, the lack thereof. While single-family housing authorizations increased 4.82% year over year in 2019, the year did not close out on a strong note. According to the report, authorizations decreased by 2.61% from November to December 2019. Local Motion is a family run business, and we understand what families need when they long distance movers. Our administrative staff stays connected to you on your move day, ensuring every phase of your move is exemplary.
“The U.S. is facing a housing shortage, in part due to the slowdown in housing construction last year. This has been felt in both large metros and smaller cities across the country,” Buildfax Managing Director Jonathan Kanarek said. “Now, even though the economy is showing strong growth and mortgage rates remain low, those who want to buy a new home are experiencing challenges with increased competition on a tight housing supply.”
Instead, the report states, people are remodeling. Buildfax reports that existing maintenance volume and spending increased 9.47% and 16.26% year over year, respectively. In the past, Buildfax has often referred to home maintenance activity as a recession indicator. As this activity increases, Buildfax asserts that recession probability lowers, and vice versa.
That said, in its December Healthy Housing Report, Buildfax states that “maintenance and remodeling increased substantially, potentially fueled by homeowners who feel unable to buy a new home and therefore invest in their existing property.”
As many economists have pointed out, U.S. homeowners have been staying put for a while now. The concept of “aging in place” is not a new one. In August of 2018, AARP revealed that almost 90% of homeowners approaching retirement want to stay in their homes as they age.
And for the most part, they are.
Last February, Freddie Macreleased a study showing that seniors born after 1931 are staying in their homes longer than previous generations. According to the report, this generation held 1.6 million houses back from the market in 2018.
“Americans are staying in their homes longer because the house they have is perfectly suitable for their family’s need,” he writes. “For more than four decades, home sizes have been getting bigger while family size has been in decline.”
The horrible housing blunder The West’s biggest economic policy mistake
Its obsession with home ownership undermines growth, fairness and public faith in capitalism
Economies can suffer both sudden crashes and chronic diseases. Housing markets in the rich world have caused both types of problem. A trillion dollars of dud mortgages blew up the financial system in 2007-08. But just as pernicious is the creeping dysfunction that housing has created over decades: vibrant cities without space to grow; ageing homeowners sitting in half-empty homes who are keen to protect their view; and a generation of young people who cannot easily afford to rent or buy and think capitalism has let them down. As our special report this week explains, much of the blame lies with warped housing policies that date back to the second world war and which are intertwined with an infatuation with home ownership. They have caused one of the rich world’s most serious and longest-running economic failures. A fresh architecture is urgently needed.
At the root of that failure is a lack of building, especially near the thriving cities in which jobs are plentiful. From Sydney to Sydenham, fiddly regulations protect an elite of existing homeowners and prevent developers from building the skyscrapers and flats that the modern economy demands. The resulting high rents and house prices make it hard for workers to move to where the most productive jobs are, and have slowed growth. Overall housing costs in America absorb 11% of gdp, up from 8% in the 1970s. If just three big cities—New York, San Francisco and San Jose—relaxed planning rules, America’s gdp could be 4% higher. That is an enormous prize.
As well as being merely inefficient, housing markets are deeply unfair. Over a period of decades, falling interest rates have compounded inadequate supply and led to a surge in prices. In America the frenzy is concentrated in thriving cities; in other rich countries average national prices have soared, especially in English-speaking countries where punting on property is a national sport. The financial crisis did not kill off the trend. In Britain inflation-adjusted house prices are roughly equal to their pre-crisis peak, while real wages are no higher. In Australia, despite recent falls, prices remain 20% higher than in 2008. In Canada they are up by half.
The soaring cost of housing has created gaping inequalities and inflamed both generational and geographical divides. In 1990 a generation of baby-boomers, with a median age of 35, owned a third of America’s real estate by value. In 2019 a similarly sized cohort of millennials, aged 31, owned just 4%. Young people’s view that housing is out of reach—unless you have rich parents—helps explain their drift towards “millennial socialism”. And homeowners of all ages who are trapped in declining places resent the windfall housing gains enjoyed in and around successful cities. In Britain areas with stagnant housing markets were more likely to vote for Brexit in 2016, even after accounting for differences in income and demography.
You might think fear and envy about housing is part of the human condition. In fact, the property pathology has its roots in a shift in public policy in the 1950s towards promoting home ownership. Since then governments have used subsidies, tax breaks and sales of public housing to encourage owner-occupation over renting. Politicians on the right have seen home ownership as a way to win votes by encouraging responsible citizenship. Those on the left see housing as a conduit for redistribution and for nudging poorer households to build wealth.
These arguments are overstated. It is hard to show whether property ownership makes better citizens. If you ignore leverage, it is usually better to own shares than to own homes. And the cult of owner-occupation has huge costs. Those who own homes often become nimbys who resist development in an effort to protect their investments. Data-crunching by The Economist suggests that the number of new houses constructed per person in the rich world has fallen by half since the 1960s. Because supply is constrained and the system is skewed towards ownership, most people feel they risk being left behind if they rent. As a result politicians focus on subsidising marginal buyers, as Britain has done in recent years. That channels cash to the middle classes and further boosts prices. And it fuels the build-up of mortgage debt that makes crises more likely.
It does not have to be this way. Not everywhere is afflicted with every part of the housing curse. Tokyo has no property shortage; between 2013 and 2017 it put up 728,000 dwellings—more than England did—without destroying quality of life. The number of rough sleepers has dropped by 80% in the past 20 years. Switzerland gives local governments fiscal incentives to allow housing development—one reason why there is almost twice as much home-building per person as in America. New Zealand recoups some of homeowners’ windfall gains through land and property taxes based on valuations that are frequently updated.
Most important, in a few places the rate of home ownership is low and no one bats an eyelid. It is just 50% in Germany, which has a rental sector that encourages long-term tenancies and provides clear and enforceable rights for renters. With ample supply and few tax breaks or subsidies for owner-occupiers, home ownership is far less alluring and the political clout of nimbys is muted. Despite strong recent growth in some cities, Germany’s real house prices are, on average, no higher than they were in 1980.
A home run
Is it possible to escape the home-ownership fetish? Few governments today can ignore the anger over housing shortages and intergenerational unfairness. Some have responded with bad ideas like rent controls or even more mortgage subsidies. Yet there has been some progress. America has capped its tax break for mortgage-interest payments. Britain has banned murky upfront fees from rental contracts and curbed risky mortgage lending. A fledgling yimby—“yes in my backyard”—movement has sprung up in many successful cities to promote construction. Those, like this newspaper, who want popular support for free markets to endure should hope that such movements succeed. Far from shoring up capitalism, housing policies have made the system unsafe, inefficient and unfair. Time to tear down this rotten edifice and build a new housing market that works.
This villa breaks with all traditions and forms an unrestrained contrast to the otherwise natural surroundings. Like an artistic installation on a podium made of natural stone, which at the same time forms the underground car park, lies the two-storey villa and clearly focuses on the forest as the main point of reference. The shape of the building is based on the idea of an L, which borders the hillside of the plot while providing a sheltered outdoor-space for the terrace.
A small gap forms the entrance. From the street, three exposed shapes of concrete blend strikingly and puristically, leaving no room for a glimpse inside. The ground floor is completely closed to the street, dissolves to the forest by large glass elements, which flood the space with light, and produces an intense connection to the environment and nature. The upper floor forms a creative contrast to the ground floor. Above the transparent construction of glass and steel hovers an imposing, twisted concrete body, which ensures a high degree of privacy and protection. a few, floor-to-ceiling window elements in the sleeping areas present targeted views into the forest. Large slats of steel are wrapped around the airspace in the middle of the house and create a connection of the levels. This is our vision of a sculptural, purist and modern villa that abstracts classical rules: for an incomparable sense of living in the midst of nature.
Nature as a starting point Focused on the essentials and at the same time rich in characteristic features, the innovative villa made of concrete sits on a base made of natural stone and convinces with a unique sense of living as well as an artistic installation. Nature and architecture not only meet each other, aligned with the forest they flow into each other. The generous glass elements provide plenty of light and reveal the view of nature from the exclusive living area.
The nature is omnipresent: The forest has significantly influenced our thoughts on a perfect facade for this place. He has set us the task to develop a surface that can not be impressed by moss, leaves and weather, but just by dignified aging. – Crosshead architects
Break up closed forms In pleasant seclusion and undisturbed, “Villa Neo” is the most attractive retreat someone from Hamburg can imagine. Concrete, glass and steel – these are the three main materials that determine the characteristic appearance of this villa.Surrounded by the nature as well as the restful forest, the inhabitants of this property can concentrate on the desirable contents of life. On the one hand closed by surfaces of concrete to the street, the construction of the object leads to a pleasant level of privacy and security. Opened to the other side to the pool, whirlpool and forest, the natural urge for free space is satisfied. “Villa Neo” scores with originality. The object is not a modular house, but emerged from a unique vision. With a mixture of Bauhaus and brutalism, it emits strength and security to the outside without losing its elegance, generosity and tranquility in the inside. It gives its inhabitants a sublime feeling of freedom. – Querkopfarchitekten Ground floor The paths in the house are efficiently aligned: One junction connects all rooms on the ground floor. The generosity of the ground floor come especially due to the open access to all living spaces to retribution. Coming through the main entrance, the view to the left falls past the luxurious Eggersmann fitted kitchen with high-quality Gaggenau appliances directly onto the living / dining area framed by a large glass front. The Minotti sofa set in the comfortable living area. The TV room of the right wing underlines the use of only the most exclusive furnishing materials. UpstairsThe artfully staged and wood-clad stairs lead through the impressive airspace to the upper floor. Custom-made, floor-to-ceiling fitted wardrobes line up impressively in the sophisticated overall concept together with high-quality bathroom fittings. The special living atmosphere is topped by stylish details, such as pebble stone walls or full-surface mirror installations in the bathroom. Targeted views of the garden and the forest are provided by the large windows in the bedroom and the study and invite you to dream.
Basement The rooms in the basement offer in addition to the impressive living space above, a spacious guest room and a hobby room and a bathroom with exclusive rain shower. On the same level are the four garage spaces, which are easily accessible from the living area. Enjoy the silence The impressively choreographed outdoor space of the plot offer the resident plenty of space for relaxation and a sweeping view of more than 960 square meters of lawn. The turquoise blue water of the unique infinity pool impresses even without going into it. The 170 square meters large south-facing terrace area invites you to a cozy get-together. The entire complex seduces to spend one or the other summer day in the fresh air. If it gets colder, a luxurious whirlpool provides the necessary warmth.
Day becomes night The room-high window fronts flood the living area with plenty of daylight, opening up the view into the green landscape. A highlight are the large steel blades which are wrapped around the space in the middle and connect the lower and upper levels in this way. As soon as the day is over, the numerous elegant designer lamps immerse the rooms in an atmospheric light and, together with exquisite designer furniture and a state-of-the-art fireplace, create irresistible coziness and warmth. Whether day or night, light or dark, inside or outside – Villa Neo is an architectural highlight at any time and from any perspective. We are grateful that we had the opportunity to develop this property without compromise.
Project Credits: Project: Villa Neo Architects: Querkopf Architekten. Fionn Mögel (lead archtiect), Simon Mögel, Frank Zander, Wasfy Taha (project team) Engineering:Weber & Poll Landscape: Querkopf Architekten TGA : Querkopf Architekten Photographs: Frank Löschke I Arnt Haug
August 2019 saw an annual increase of 3.2% for home prices nationwide, inching forward from the previous month’s pace, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index from S&P Dow Jones Indices and CoreLogic.
The 10-City and 20-City composites reported a 1.5% and 2% year-over-year increase, respectively. During the month, 11 of 20 cities reported increases before seasonal adjustment, whereas 17 of 20 cities reported increases after seasonal adjustment.
“The U.S. National Home Price NSA Index trend remained intact with a year-over-year price change of 3.2%,” said Philip Murphy, Managing Director and Global Head of Index Governance at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “However, a shift in regional leadership may be underway beneath the headline national index.”
According to the index, Phoenix, Charlotte, and Tampa reported the highest year-over-year gains among all of the 20 cities.
In August, Phoenix led with a 6.3% year-over-year price increase, followed by Charlotte with a 4.5% increase and Tampa with a 4.3% increase. Seven of the 20 cities reported larger price increases in the year ending August 2019 versus the year ending July 2019.
“Phoenix saw an increase in its year over year price change to 6.3% and retained its leading position,” Murphy said. “However, Las Vegas dropped from No. 2 to No. 8 among the cities of the 20-City Composite, falling from a 4.7% year-over-year change in July to only 3.3% in August.”
“Meanwhile, the Southeast region included three of the top four cities. Charlotte, Tampa, and Atlanta all recorded solid year-over-year performance with price changes of 4.5%, 4.3%, and 4.0%, respectively,” Murphy said. “In the Northwest, Seattle’s year-over-year change turned positive (0.7%) after three consecutive months of negative year-over-year price changes. The 10-City Composite year-over-year price change declined slightly from July to 1.5%, while the 20-City Composite year-over-year price change remained steady at 2.0%. San Francisco was the only city to record a negative YOY price change (-0.1%).”
The graph below highlights the average home prices within the 10-City and 20-City Composites:
The Thousand Islands — if you’ve even heard of them — are probably best known as the home of a certain sweet-and-spicy salad dressing. Unless, of course, you happen to be the fancy type of person who builds themselves a villa. The islands on the St. Lawrence River dividing New York from Canada have been sprouting ritzy summer homes for the rich and famous for more than a century. Which is a bit strange, when you think about how one of the earliest of those homes was clearly the target of a family-destroying curse.
House of Horrors
As far as we can tell, there aren’t any ghost stories associated with Carleton Villa — none that made it on to the internet, anyway. Maybe that’s because there don’t really need to be. The house’s well-documented history is more than enough on its own to give any passerby the willies.
Let’s go back to the beginning. In 1894, William Wyckoff was on top of the world. About eight years previous, he and two of his business partners had purchased the Remington Typewriter Company and turned it into an incredibly lucrative business. Looking for some well-earned R&R, he commissioned the architect William Henry Miller to design a luxurious house on Carleton Island, one of the 1,800 islands in the Thousand Island archipelago.
It was beautiful. Covering seven acres, the estate was notable for the stately stonework, towering turrets, and eye-popping stained glass that was the envy of any passing boater. But even before Wyckoff and his family moved in, a dark shadow began to pass over them. One month before move-in day, William’s wife Francis passed away from cancer. But that was only the beginning. The very first night that the rest of the family moved in, William Wyckoff suffered a heart attack in his sleep. He never woke up.
The family fortunes only fell further. Clarence Wyckoff, the youngest son, inherited the house after his father’s death. Then the Great Depression hit — hard. As the bank accounts drained, desperate measures became necessary. The Wyckoffs sold Carleton Villa to General Electric, who planned to demolish the building for scrap and build a new employee resort and plant on the site. But this, too, failed to happen. That beautiful stained glass was removed — along with the rest of the windows — and in the service wing, the entire floor of a bedroom was cut directly out. The marble cladding around the mansion’s most prominent feature, the four-story tower, was removed as well, greatly weakening its foundation. But when World War II broke out, the demolition stopped. It never started again.
It wouldn’t have been pleasant to live in Carleton Villa in those days, but imagine what it’s like now. Other than the occasional urban spelunker, the house has been virtually abandoned ever since. Its tower is now long gone, torn down when it began to threaten the rest of the structure. But perhaps not all hope is lost. In fact, are you in the market? If you’ve got $495,000 handy, the place could be yours — as long as you’re all right with a bit of a fixer-upper. Elsewhere on Carleton Island, other monied residents with more modern houses have firmly established themselves. You know what that means. Once you’ve got the spooky old house, all you need is a mask and Halloween sound effects and you’re three-quarters of the way to scaring off your neighbors and getting an island to yourself.
National home prices increased modestly in August. New York and Las Vegas experienced price declines while Phoenix led the way with a 9.1% annual growth rate in August.
The Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, reported by S&P Dow Jones Indices rose at a seasonally adjusted annual growth rate of 4.2% in August, following an increase of 2.1% in July. On a year-over-year basis, the Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index posted a 3.2% annual gain in August, up from 3.1% in July. After six straight months of declines of the rate of growth, the annual growth rate increased for the first time in August.
Meanwhile, the Home Price Index, released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.1% in August, following a 4.9% increase in July. On a year-over-year basis, the FHFA Home Price NSA Index rose by 4.6% in August, after an increase of 5.1% in July. It was the lowest annual growth rate since October 2014.
In addition to tracking home price changes nationwide, S&P also reported home price indexes across 20 metro areas. In August, local home prices varied and their annual growth rates ranged from -5.2% to 9.1%. Among the 20 metro areas, four metro areas exceeded the national average of 4.2%. Phoenix, Miami and Seattle had the highest home price appreciation in August. Phoenix led the way with a 9.1% increase, followed by Miami with a 6.1% increase and Seattle with a 6.0% increase.
Home prices in two metro areas declined in August. They were New York (-5.2%) and Las Vegas (-1.7%). New York has experienced negative home price appreciation for six straight months this year.
Buoyed by a strong economy and continued low mortgage rates, the New York State housing market showed an upward climb in sales and listings in September, according to the housing market report released today by the New York State Association of REALTORS®.
Closed sales in New York totaled 11,467 units in the month of September, a 1.6-percent increase from this time last year. New listings and pending sales rose substantially in September – up 7.5-percent to 18,161 homes and 7.6-percent to 11,182 respectively.
For the third quarter, closed sales were down marginally, 0.8-percent to 38,722 homes but both new listings and pending sales trended upward. There were 56,361 new listings this quarter, a 1.2-percent increase, while pending sales rose 4.9-percent to 37,766 homes.
Interest rates remained low, down 0.1-percent to 3.61 percent on a 30-year fixed mortgage, according to Freddie Mac. This is the fourth consecutive month that interest rates were below 4.0-percent.
Median sales prices once again climbed in September, up 5.7-percent to $280,000. Quarterly prices surged upwards as well, rising 5.5-percent to $290,000. Inventory levels were down for September, 2.9-percent to 71,737 homes for sale.
The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Remodeling Market Index (RMI) posted a reading of 55 in the third quarter of 2019, unchanged from last quarter (Figure 1). Since the second quarter of 2013, the RMI has been above its breakeven point of 50, which indicates that more remodelers report market activity is higher than report it is lower, compared to the prior quarter.
The overall RMI is an average of two sub-indices, one measuring current remodeling activity and another measuring future indicators. The current market conditions index edged down one point to 54 from the previous quarter (Figure 2). Among its three major components, major additions and alterations dropped one point to 52, minor additions and alterations decreased by two points to 53 and the home maintenance and repair component rose one point to 57.
The future market indicators gained two points from the previous quarter to 57 (Figure 3). Calls for bids increased by one to 55, amount of work committed for the next three months gained two points to 54, the backlog of remodeling jobs increased one point to 59 and appointments for proposals jumped by five points to 60.
Demand for remodeling is solid and is supported by a healthy labor market and low interest rates. It is important to note that remodelers still face challenges, such as high costs and a lack of skilled labor.