Sixteen projects earned accolades from our panel of judges for this year’s Builder’s Choice & Custom Home Design Awards program, representing some of the best residential design work being constructed today.
Overall, the jurors—J. Carson Looney of Memphis, Tenn.–based Looney Ricks Kiss, Michael Hennessey of San Francisco–based Michael Hennessey Architecture, and Jonathan Tate of New Orleans–based Office of Jonathan Tate—praised function in smaller footprints, use of innovative building materials, and remodels that respect the existing architecture. From production homes to interior renovations to meticulously crafted custom abodes, there is no shortage of inspiration below for you to reimagine for your own projects.
EXPLORE: ALL PROJECT OF THE YEAR GRAND AWARD MERIT AWARD
A for sale sign stands before property for sale in Monterey Park, California.Frederic J. Brown | AFP | Getty Images
A Federal Reserve economist says the current housing backdrop is similar to recent economic slumps, with several metrics “consistent with the possibility of a late 2019 or early 2020 recession.”
“Data on single-family home sales through May 2019 confirm that housing markets in all regions of the country are weakening,” the St. Louis Fed’s William R. Emmons said in a report posted on the central bank district’s site. “The severity of the housing downturn appears comparable across regions—in all cases, it’s much less severe than the experience leading to the Great Recession but similar to the periods before the 1990-91 and 2001 recessions.”
Specifically, Emmons looked at sales numbers for the 12 months ending May 2019 compared to the average over the past three years. He uses December 2019 as the “plausible month for peak growth” in the current case, and then looks at how far back from the peak was the first month in which sales fell below their three-year average in the previous three recessions.
WATCH NOWVIDEO02:50Here’s what Fannie Mae is forecasting for the housing market
The process may seem at least somewhat opaque, but Emmons said it has been a reliable indicator from the housing market for when the next recession is due — usually about a year away, according to historical trends.
In the Northeast, for instance, August 2018 was the first month that sales fell below the region’s three-year average. That would be 16 months from the December 2019 assumed peak. In the previous recessions, the first negative month respectively came 23, 10 and 21 months before the peak. That would put the current pattern within the historical range, Emmons wrote.
These charts look at how each region stacks up. The four lines each represent a recession; the deviation of the 12-month sales average toward the three-year average decreases until it goes negative; the charts then show how long it took before a recession hit:
In addition to the sales numbers, Emmons said current mortgage rates, inflation-adjusted house prices and residential investment’s contribution to economic growth are similar to patterns that preceded the most recent three recessions.
Single-family home sales work best as indicator, he said, because the other metrics are national in nature and thus don’t reflect whether the deterioration has spread through all regions.
“Considering signals from other housing indicators and from indicators outside housing with good forecasting track records (such as the Treasury yield curve), the regional housing data noted here merit close attention,” Emmons wrote.Calling for rate cut
The St. Louis Fed, where Emmons works, is led by its president, James Bullard, who has been one of the loudest voices on the Federal Open Market Committee advocating for an interest rate cut. Bullard was the lone member of the monetary policymaking body in June to vote against keeping the benchmark funds rate steady. He is advocating an “insurance” cut to head off anticipated economic weakness.
There are mounting signs that global weakness and business concerns over tariffs could hamper U.S. growth or cause an outright recession.
The New York Fed uses the spread between the 10-year and three-month Treasury yields to determine the probability of a recession over the next 12 months. That part of the yield curve has inverted, which has been a reliable recession indicator. Chances for negative growth by May 2020 are at 29.6%, up from 27.5% in April and the highest level since May 31, 2008, just as the financial crisis was set to explode in September.
Still, there are hopes that the U.S. can withstand a significant downturn.
Cleveland Fed President Loretta Mester, in a speech Tuesday, pointed out that the economy has been resilient through growth scares during a recovery that began 10 years ago. Mester said she expects housing to be neutral for growth this year.
Also, Joseph LaVorgna, chief Americas economist at Latixis, said a diffusion index of leading economic indicators is showing positive trends for six out of 10 components, indicating that “the risk of a downturn remains relatively low.”
Existing home sales rebound, but manufacturing and services sector activity cools
Existing-home sales rebounded in May, increasing 2.5% month-over-month (m/m) to an annual rate of 5.34 million units, compared to the Bloomberg expectation of a rise to 5.27 million units and April’s upwardly-revised 5.21 million rate.
Sales of single-family homes were higher m/m, but down from year-ago levels, while purchases of condominiums and co-ops rose compared to last month and were down y/y.
The median existing-home price rose 4.8% from a year ago to $277,700, and marking the 87th straight month of y/y gains.
Unsold inventory came in at a 4.3-months pace at the current sales rate, up from 4.2 months a year ago. Sales rose in all regions, with the Northeast seeing the largest increase.
National Association of Realtors Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said, “The purchasing power to buy a home has been bolstered by falling mortgage rates, and buyers are responding,” adding, that “solid demand along with inadequate inventory of affordable homes have pushed the median home price to a new record high.”
Welcome to the exurbs: remote areas just beyond the more affluent suburbs that have seen a wave of activity from builders and home shoppers.
According to a recent report by the National Association of Home Builders, the exurbs were the only regions that saw an annual increase in single-family permits in the first quarter of 2019.
Posting a 1.6% year-over-year gain, the exurbs are home to just 9% of the nation’s single-family construction. But while this might not seem like much, its share is growing – a fact that some analysts say is raising red flags.
Why? The last time the exurbs saw activity increase was during the housing boom, when speculators got a bit over-excited about the opportunity to make the big bucks by flipping homes on the cheap. But when the bubble burst, these areas were largely abandoned, and builders were left deep in the red.
A renewed surge of activity in exurban areas is a key indicator of a general lack of affordability that is plaguing the housing market.
“A shortage of buildable and affordable lots is forcing builders to increasingly look further outside of suburban and metropolitan areas to find cheaper land that provides more building opportunities,” explained NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde.
NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said the data highlights the fact that housing costs are increasing at a faster pace in large metro suburban counties.
“Supply-side issues that are hurting affordability and raising costs for builders include excessive regulations, labor shortages, rising material costs and a dearth of buildable lots in mid- to high population centers,” Dietz said.
Freddie Mac (OTCQB: FMCC) today released the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®), showing that mortgage rates held steady after seeing major drops last week. Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist, says, “Purchase mortgage application demand saw the second highest weekly increase over the last year and thanks to a spike in refinancing activity, overall mortgage demand rose to the highest level since the fall of 2016.”Khater continued, “While the housing market has faced many head winds the last few months, it sailed through the turbulence to calmer seas with demand buttressed by a strong labor market and low mortgage rates. The benefits of the decline in mortgage rates that we’ve seen this year will continue to unfold over the next few months due to the lag from changes in mortgage rates to market sentiment and ultimately home sales.”
News Facts30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.08 percent with an average 0.5 point for the week ending April 4, 2019, up from last week when it averaged 4.06 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.40 percent. 15-year FRM this week averaged 3.56 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.57 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.87 percent. 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) averaged 3.66 percent with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.75 percent. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.62 percent.Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following link for the Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.Freddie Mac makes home possible for millions of families and individuals by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Since our creation by Congress in 1970, we’ve made housing more accessible and affordable for homebuyers and renters in communities nationwide. We are building a better housing finance system for homebuyers, renters, lenders, investors and taxpayers.
National foreclosure rates continued their recovery in 2018 from their peak during the Great Recession.
Foreclosure filings were reported on one out of every 215 homes last year. That’s down markedly compared with the filings on roughly one in 47 homes in 2010. Last year’s rate is the lowest since at least 2005.
However, the foreclosure picture can look different at the state level.
Almost a third of states saw the number of foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — against homes climb last year, according to the report from ATTOM Data Solutions.
“Plummeting foreclosure completions combined with consistently falling foreclosure timelines in 2018 provide evidence that most of the distress from the last housing crisis has now been cleaned up,” says Todd Teta, chief product officer for ATTOM.
But some evidence of distress was gradually returning to the housing market in 2018, Teta says.
States with the highest foreclosure rates
The states with the highest foreclosure rates were clustered in mostly in the Northeast.
New Jersey has had the highest rate since 2015 and had 1.33 percent of housing units with foreclosure filings last year. Delaware had 0.96 percent; Maryland 0.86 percent; Illinois 0.74 percent and Connecticut 0.72 percent.
States with the lowest foreclosure rates
North Dakota was among the places where foreclosure rates increased from 2017 to 2018. But the Roughrider State’s real estate economy remains strong comparatively.
North Dakota had the lowest rate of housing units with foreclosure filings last year (0.06 percent). South Dakota had 0.07 percent; Montana 0.11 percent and West Virginia 0.12.
Alaska has the fastest-rising foreclosure rate
Alaska’s economy has been struggling in recent years after oil prices dipped in 2014, but the state’s real estate market has proved fairly resilient, according to Terry Fields, assistant professor at the College of Business and Public Policy within the University of Alaska Anchorage.
The data from ATTOM shows homeowners in The Last Frontier may be starting to feel the pressure. A total of 1,145 properties were in the process of foreclosure in 2018 — up from 614 in 2017.
The foreclosure rate in Alaska grew the fastest of all 50 states, rising from 0.20 percent in 2017 to 0.37 percent last year, according to ATTOM.
While local economists are keeping an eye on Alaska’s real estate market, foreclosures are still significantly below the levels they were during the Great Recession and previous bust periods in Alaska, Fields says.
Putnam, Bronx and Sullivan counties, which are also served by the Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, were the exceptions experiencing increases in residential sales of 4.7% in Sullivan, 1.9% in Putnam and 1% in Bronx County in 2018.
The lower Hudson Valley experienced historically low inventories of single-family homes at the beginning of the year, which may have contributed to an initial decline of sales. Rockland County, which experienced an 11.5% drop in sales of single-family homes, also saw an increase of 11.4% in sales of 2-4 family homes and an increase of 2.5% in condo sales. Days on market, the number of days from the time a home is listed for sale to the time of a fully executed contract of sale, was significantly lower in all counties.
Another indication of healthy demand in the housing market was the increase in sales price in all counties. Westchester County, which had the highest number of single-family home sales at 5,876 units, experienced a rise of 1.2% in median price to $650,000, up from $642,000 a year earlier. Orange County, with 3,827 units sold, saw an increase of 6.4% in its median to $258,600 from $243,000 a year earlier. Despite the diminution of units sold in Rockland County, the median sales price rose 4.5% to $460,000 from $440,000 a year earlier. Putnam County, which had a 2.2% increase in unit sales, also had a 3.7% increase in median price rising to $350,000 from $337,500 a year earlier.
Overall, in 2018, 21,338 residential units were sold in the areas covered by Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service. This was a drop of 2.6% from the prior year. Possible headwinds for the housing market for 2019 continue to be the unknown effect of the tax reform law of 2018, which limits the deductibility state and local taxes, and a volatile stock market. However, given the improving inventory numbers, continuing attractive mortgage interest rates, high employment in the region, and a healthy economy it is anticipated that the market will remain vibrant in 2019.
The Hudson Gateway Multiple Listing Service, Inc. (HGMLS) is a subsidiary of the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, Inc. (HGAR). HGMLS’s principal service area consists of Westchester, Putnam, Rockland, Orange and Sullivan counties. It also provides services to Realtors in Bronx, Dutchess and Ulster counties.
The reported transactions do not include all real estate sales in the area or all sales assisted by the participating offices, but they are fairly reflective of general market activity. HGMLS does not provide data on sub-county areas, but persons desiring such data are invited to contact Realtor offices in the desired areas. Prior reports back to 1981 as well as current market information and a directory of Realtor members are available on the Association’s website at www.hgar.com.
Note: The median sale price is the mid-point of all reported sales, i.e., half of the properties sold for more than the median price and half for less. The median is relatively unaffected by unusually high or low sales prices. The mean sale price is the arithmetic average, i.e., the sum of all sales prices divided by the number of sales. The mean does reflect the influence of sales at unusually low or high prices.
Detroit, Michigan Several employers in Detroit, Michigan, including Blue Cross Blue Shield and Quicken Loans, will pay their employees to live downtown, close to where they work. New renters can receive $3,500 over two years toward the cost of their apartment, and those who renew leases can receive $1,000. And if you buy a new home in an eligible neighborhood, you could be looking at $20,000 in forgivable loans toward the purchase of a primary residence.
Baltimore, Maryland It pays to buy a home in Baltimore—literally! Qualifying buyers can receive $5,000 toward the purchase of a primary residence through the Buying Into Baltimore or City Living Starts Here programs. Those willing to buy a home that has been vacant can apply to the Vacants to Value Booster Program, which awards $10,000 to eligible home buyers to put toward closing costs.
Niagara Falls, New York Niagara Falls wants to attract more than just tourists—and they’re looking for young people, in particular. In an effort to combat its population decline and recruit new residents, the city of Niagara Falls promises to pay off up to $7,000 in student loan debt over two years for any recent graduates who live near Main Street.
New Haven, Connecticut New Haven, Connecticut, is really rolling out the red carpet for new residents. First-time home buyers can receive up to $10,000 in forgivable loans to put toward down payments and closing costs. And for anyone buying a historic (and out-of-date) home, New Haven may provide up to $30,000 in forgivable loans to perform energy-saving upgrades. Plus, parents of school-age kids may not have to sock away money for college, thanks to the city’s commitment to provide free in-state college tuition to any child who graduates from New Haven public schools.
Anywhere, Alaska Do you dream of living in Alaska? If you do, you could earn $1,000 a year just for living there. The state of Alaska maintains a Permanent Reserve Fund that pays dividends to residents who have lived in the state for at least one calendar year and plan to remain there indefinitely. So, pack your thermals and head out for a new life of adventure.
Harmony, Minnesota With a population that hovers around 1,000, Harmony, Minnesota, wants to grow. If you build a brand-new home there, the Harmony Economic Development Authority will give you up to $12,000 in the form of a cash rebate. Nestled in the midst of some of the Midwest’s biggest farms, “The Biggest Little Town in Southern Minnesota” may be the perfect destination for anyone who loves country life but still wants modern amenities like shops, restaurants, and quality schools.
Marquette, Kansas Marquette, Kansas, will give you land to build a home—for free. This small town in the heart of America wants to attract new families to the Westridge area, where residents can enjoy spectacular views of the sunset and rolling hills, typical of the big-sky prairie. With only 650 residents, it’s a place where neighbors know each other and parents feel comfortable letting their kids play outside and walk to school.
Lincoln, Kansas Lincoln, Kansas, has built a completely new subdivision filled with zero-dollar lots for eligible newcomers to build a home. The small-town neighborhood boasts proximity to the city park, baseball field, and the junior-senior high school as well as the Lincoln Carnegie library, the golf course, and the rolling hills overlooking the Saline River.
Curtis, Nebraska Free home sites are available to build new homes in the Roll’n Hills subdivision of Curtis, Nebraska. Described as Nebraska’s Easter City—a nod to their annual Palm Sunday pageant—Curtis has a 9-hole golf course and is home to the Nebraska College of Technical Agriculture.
Housing starts in Canada decreased to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 172,965 units in December of 2015 from an upwardly revised 212,028 units in November and well below market expectations of 200,000 units. Urban starts dropped 19.1 percent to 159,007 units. The multi-unit segment shrank 27 percent to 101,264 units while the single-detached segment held steady at 57,743 units. In December, urban starts decreased in the Prairies, Ontario, and Atlantic Canada, but increased in British Columbia and Québec. Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 13,958 units. Housing Starts in Canada averaged 183.42 Thousand from 1977 until 2015, reaching an all time high of 291.60 Thousand in March of 1978 and a record low of 90.70 Thousand in August of 1982. Housing Starts in Canada is reported by the Canada Mortgage And Housing Corporation.
30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 3.96 percent with an average 0.6 point for the week ending December 24, 2015, down from last week when it averaged 3.97 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.83 percent.
15-year FRM this week averaged 3.22 percent with an average 0.6 point, unchanged from last week. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 3.10 percent.
1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.68 percent this week with an average 0.2 point, up from 2.67 percent last week. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.39 percent.
Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following links for theRegional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.
As of January 1, 2016, the PMMS will no longer provide results for the 1-year ARM. Additionally, the regional breakouts will not be provided for the 30-year and 15-year fixed rate mortgages, and the 5/1 Hybrid ARM.
Quote Attributed to Sean Becketti, chief economist, Freddie Mac.
“Treasury yields dropped slightly as the holidays approach. Mortgage rates remain largely unchanged, with the 30-year mortgage rate ticking down a basis point to 3.96 percent. As we mentioned last week, long-term interest rates will not spike in response to the Federal funds rate increase. While we expect the 30-year mortgage rate to be above 4 percent in early 2016, we anticipate rates will gradually increase, averaging 4.4 percent for the year.”