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Housing hot with economy cold | Bedford Corners Real Estate

Housing Is Hot With the Economy in the Deep Freeze
Housing Is Hot With the Economy in the Deep Freeze

(Bloomberg Opinion) — No matter how you look at it, the economic fallout from the coronavirus is going to be brutal, with a projected 6.5% decline in real gross domestic product in 2020 and an unemployment rate of 9.3% at year-end, according to the Federal Reserve. In ordinary times, and without any policy response from government, a blow of this magnitude should weaken the housing market.Yet, what we’re starting to see is the very opposite. For various reasons, the supply of homes on the market continues to fall to record lows and home prices are, if anything, accelerating. For many homeowners stressed about the value of their biggest investment, it’s a welcome relief. But this signals one more hurdle for would-be millennial homebuyers as they age into their family-forming years.

The biggest reason we’re seeing home-price growth accelerating in the middle of a pandemic is that the disruption to the supply of housing is persisting longer than the disruption to demand — that is, would-be buyers. Wednesday’s weekly mortgage data showed that purchase applications rose for the eighth consecutive week and are approaching an 11-year high on a seasonally adjusted basis. Part of the reason for the quick rebound in demand is surely the decline in interest rates on mortgages to all-time lows, with few signs they are likely to rise for the foreseeable future.

But as is always the case in the housing market, supply doesn’t respond as quickly as demand. Single-family housing starts plunged in March and April, with the most recent report showing a 25% year-over-year tumble. Part of this decline is because construction in some states shutdown, and much more so in some regions than others. Single-family starts fell 73% in the Northeast but only 13% in the South. Even where construction continued, the pace slowed as builders adopted social distancing and other health measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Even as demand rebounds, homebuilders may be slow to acquire new construction lots and might hold back on increasing production after getting the scare they did in March and April. They may prefer to wait a while to make sure these revived levels of demand are sustainable, while they also shore up their balance sheets before beginning to build at the same pace as earlier this year.

Beyond the impact on construction, a little discussed factor leading to fewer homes on the market is mortgage forbearance programs put in place by banks, states and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. From a policy standpoint it’s great that banks and governments are helping to prevent a deluge of foreclosure as millions of people lose their livelihoods because of the pandemic. But a consequence of that policy change is that it deprives the housing market of the supply of foreclosed properties that occurs even in strong economies and solid job markets; this amounted to almost 500,000 houses in 2019.

Some homeowners may also be delaying the listing of their homes for sale because they’re sheltering-in-place, or have lost their jobs and can no longer provide income verification to buy a different home. They may also not be comfortable having potential buyers, who could be carrying the virus, walking into their homes for sales showings.

Put it all together and housing supply continues to fall. Mike Simonsen of Altos Research, who tracks real-time housing data, notes that there are only 700,000 single-family homes for sale in  U.S. compared to more than 900,000 at this time last year. Normally at this time of year the housing supply has been rising for a few months amid the traditional spring buying season, only to fall later in the year as activity slows. But that’s not what we’ve seen during the past few months, as supply continues to contract. As a result, the percentage of homes for sale with price reductions is the lowest he’s seen in his database, a leading indicator suggesting faster home-price growth in coming months.

Presumably, at some point the coronavirus crisis will pass, foreclosures will move forward again and all participants in the housing market from would-be buyers, sellers and homebuilders resume normal behavior. To the extent home prices rose too high because of supply distortions, we should see home prices leveling off or even declining. But it’s not clear that this will be a 2020 story. And in the meantime, steadily rising home prices may join steadily rising stock-market prices in the middle of a pandemic as a phenomenon that continues to flummox everyone.

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bloomberg.com

Cuomo extends halt on NYS evictions | Bedford Corners Real Estate

An aerial view of trees and buildings in New York City for an article discussing the eviction moratorium.

Faced with mounting pressure from tenant advocates, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has extended New York’s eviction moratorium another two months until August.

The measure builds on a March 20 order that prohibits residential and commercial evictions statewide through June. Now, that moratorium is in place through August 20 along with a ban on fees for late or missed rent payments during that same period.

“I hope it gives families a deep breath,” Cuomo said at a press conference announcing the extension. “Nothing can happen until August 20 and then we’ll figure out between now and August 20 what the situation is.”

Under the new executive order, a landlord cannot legally evict a tenant until the measure expires, preventing renters who are suffering a sudden financial hardship from being forced into the streets during a pandemic. The moratorium does not cancel rent payments, and tenants are still on the hook to pay back their landlords for any missed payments.

Renters who are struggling to make ends meet as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic also now have the option to put their security deposit toward paying rent—a measure New Jersey and Connecticut already allow and one that Mayor Bill de Blasio and other New York elected officials have advocated for since early April.

But there’s a catch: Those deposits must be repaid within 90 days of their usage. And if the amount of the deposit is less than a full month of rent, tenants still owe the remaining rent due that month, according to the executive order.

Cea Weaver, the campaign coordinator with Housing Justice For All, which is spearheading the push to cancel rent statewide, called the governor’s eviction moratorium extension and security deposit payments “half measures” that fail to truly protect tenants.

“It’s continuing to not face the problem,” says Weaver. “He’s ignoring the real issue—that tenants can’t pay—and just postponing the date of when there will be mass evictions.”

When asked about relief for landlords who may have difficulty making mortgage payments without rent revenue, Cuomo noted that the state is working on “relief from the banks for landlords also.” Landlord groups are not thrilled with Cuomo’s lack of details on support.

James Whelan, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, acknowledged that tenants and small retailers impacted by the pandemic “will need more time to pay their bills and more help from the federal government to do so” but those who have the ability to pay “should not get away with not paying rent.”

But paying—or not paying—rent may not be much of a choice for those who aren’t earning an income. The eviction moratorium keeps New Yorkers in their homes during a public health crisis, but crucially, it does not address the months of back rent tenants must eventually repay. Lawmakers and housing attorneys argue that there will be a “tidal wave” of eviction cases filed in the courts—potentiallyleading to mass homelessness—once that moratorium is lifted. And with COVID-19 hobbling New York’s economy, renters have few options to make up what’s owed.

Many in the state are still struggling to access unemployment benefits. And while federal stimulus checks of $1,200 have offered some relief, the one-time payment is woefully inadequate for the long-term financial burdens New York renters, homeowners, and small property owners face. (Others still, such as undocumented immigrants, don’t qualify for this aid.)

Cuomo has maintained that the eviction moratorium “solves” New York renters’ woes, and this week he doubled down on that assessment, saying that the extension and new security deposit mechanism “takes this issue off the table until August 20.” While the moratorium is a piece of the rent relief jigsaw puzzle, housing attorneys note that is it not a fullsolution.

“The governor must go farther,” says Ellen Davidson, a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society. “We welcome the extension of the eviction moratorium, but make no mistake, it doesn’t stop tenants from being at risk.”

In March, New York Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks announced a suspension on eviction proceedings in the courts, but a loophole of sorts briefly allowed landlords to file new eviction cases. Cuomo ultimately blocked those new cases by pausing the statue of limitations until May 7. That block has now been extended to June 6, according to Office of Court Administration spokesperson Lucian Chalfen.

In his latest executive order, Cuomo has banned the “initiation of a proceeding or enforcement” of evictions or a foreclosure, but only for those who are “eligible for unemployment insurance or benefits under state or federal law or otherwise facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic for a period of sixty days beginning on June 20.” Davidson fears the language of that provision leaves undocumented immigrants, and others who don’t qualify for unemployment aid, in a vulnerable position.

“Are they supposed to out themselves as undocumented to their landlords to be protected under this provision?” Davidson questioned, who has dealt with instances of landlords calling U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on undocumented tenants. “It would seem this is putting undocumented New Yorkers in danger. It’s not clear to me how I would advise a client about what to do about this provision.”

The governor’s office did not immediately clarify the provision.

In the meantime, Jay Martin, the executive director of the Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP), says greater federal support, such as additional stimulus aid and emergency housing vouchers, are sorely needed to help renters and landlords alike.

“New York State leaders are doing what they can and must to avoid a housing crisis in New York,” said Martin. “But it is past time for the federal government to step up and provide renters and building owners with the relief they need. If they do not millions of New Yorkers will suffer.”

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ny.curbed.com

Cuomo taxes lead to NYS flight | Bedford Corners Real Estate

The mass exodus of New Yorkers leaving the Empire State has reached a new fevered pitch, with nearly 80,000 choosing to move out to cheaper pastures, according to a new study.

But where are they going?

Whether it’s the high costs of living, a lack of well-paying jobs, or poor Northeastern weather, the population in New York State dropped by 76,790 between 2018 and 2019, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The number represents a 0.4 percent drop in the state’s population year-to-year, which has dropped by nearly 1.5 million in the past decade.

According to the website Zippia , which used data from the Census to determine where New Yorkers are landing, the most popular destinations are New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Florida, California, Connecticut, and North Carolina.

“New York, New York, what a wonderful place, except for the people who left the Big Apple last year that is. New York may be a cultural and economic hub in the United States,” Zippia stated. “However, it comes at a steep price. No doubt those high prices are partially to blame for New York being the most quickly shrinking state in the United States.”

According to reports, the population drop may cause New York to lose up to two congressional seats by 2022, dropping it from 27 to 25 members in office.

Last year, President Donald Trump was questioned about comments he made in 2017 stating that upstate New York residents should consider moving out of the state. The commander-in-chief doubled down on those statements.

“If New York isn’t gonna treat them better, I would recommend they go to another state where they can get a great job,” Trump said on Wednesday. “I love those people. Those people are my voters. They’ve been treated very badly.”

According to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office, the combined state/local tax rate for high-income New Yorkers is the second-highest in the country. The top one percent of taxpayer accounts for nearly half (46 percent) of State Income Tax liability. More than 95 percent of the tax increase from SALT falls on the top 20 percent of taxpayers – these taxpayers pay 87 percent of New York income taxes.

The governor said that the tax reforms encourage New York’s wealthiest to move to other states, “and even if a small number of high-income taxpayers leave the state, it would harm state revenues” and impact funding for education, healthcare, infrastructure, and a planned middle-class tax cut.

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www.dailyvoice.com/new-york/mtkisco/news

Home builder confidence at 10-year high | Bedford Corners Real Estate

Homebuilder confidence grew in December thanks to the nation’s low-interest rates and strong job market, according to this month’s Housing Market Index.

The National Association of Home Builders and Wells Fargo, which publish the monthly report,  revealed sentiment increased by 5 points to 75, markingthe highest reading since June of 1999.

 “Builders are continuing to see the housing rebound that began in the spring, supported by a low supply of existing homes, low mortgage rates, and a strong labor market,” said NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde.

In December, the index measuring current sales conditions rose to 84 points, while buyer traffic grew to 58 points and sales expectations over the next six months inched forward to 79 points.

The three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores show the South grew to 76 points, the West increased to 84 points and the Midwest climbed to 63 points. However, the report indicates the Northeast declined to 61 points.

Although sentiment improved in a majority of the nation’s regions, NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz warns homebuilders across the country continue to grapple with affordability concerns.

“While we are seeing near-term positive market conditions with a 50-year low for the unemployment rate and increased wage growth, we are still underbuilding due to supply-side constraints like labor and land availability,” Dietz said.  “Higher development costs are hurting affordability and dampening more robust construction growth.”

NOTE: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder opinions of single-family home sales and expectations, asking for a rating of good, fair or poor. Builders are also asked to rate prospective buyer traffic from very low to very high. The scores are used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index with a rating of 50 or over indicating positive sentiment.

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Single-Family Starts Growth Slows | Bedford Corners Real Estate

According to NAHB analysis of the Survey of Construction (SOC), nationally, there were 881,076 new single-family units started in 2018, 4% higher than the units started in 2017. It was the double of the units started in 2011, and still 49% less than the peak of 2007 (1,731,171 units).

Among all the nine Census divisions, new single-family units started in the South Atlantic, West South Central and Mountain Divisions exceeded 100k in 2018. These three divisions represent 21 states, while the number of new single-family housing starts in these three divisions accounted for about 62% of the total new single-family housing starts in 2018.

In addition, there were 98,760 new single-family units started in the Pacific Division and 78,858 units started in the East North Central Division in 2018. The Pacific Division accounted for 11% of the total new single-family housing starts, while the East North Central Division accounted for 9%. The other four divisions, including East South Central, West North Central, Middle Atlantic and New England, accounted for the remaining 18% of the total new single-family housing starts.

The scatter plot below compares the nine Census divisions’ annual growth rates of new single-family housing starts in 2017 and 2018. The red line represents the national level in 2018. The X-axis presents the annual growth rates in 2017; the Y-axis presents the annual growth rates in 2018. Each division grew at the different pace, while, nationally, new single-family housing starts rose by 4%. Four out of the nine divisions grew faster than the national level. The New England Division and the Mountain Division led the way with a 13% increase each, followed by the West South Central Division with an 8% increase, and the South Atlantic Division with a 4% increase. Meanwhile, the growth rates of the other five divisions were below the national level.

As shown in Figure 2, compared to last year, the New England Division and the Mountain Division had an acceleration in growth in 2018. Noticeably, the New England Division grew by 13% in 2018, after a 5% growth rate in 2017. Meanwhile, six out of the nine divisions, including South Atlantic, East North Central, Pacific, Middle Atlantic, East South Central and West North Central, experienced a deceleration in growth in 2018. Among them, the West North Central Division experienced the largest deceleration with a decline of 14% in 2018. Moreover, the West South Central Division grew by 8% in 2018, unchanged from 2017.



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Will robots construct homes? | Bedford Corners Real Estate

Construction worker on beams

“New York will be a great place, if they ever finish it.”
O. Henry, 1872 CREDIT: PXHERE.COM

It’s no secret that the world is rapidly urbanizing. People are flocking to cities around the globe that do not have enough buildings or infrastructure to support them. Builders can’t keep up. According to the McKinsey Global Institute, construction productivity has fallen by half since the 1960s. While there are many factors at play, one of the biggest threats to this labor-driven industry is the growing shortage of workers.

Unlearning by doing

Source: McKinsey Global Institute CREDIT: ECONOMIST.COMToday In: Leadership

When the recession hit in 2008, 600,000 workers left construction jobs never to return. Today workers avoid construction jobs, perceiving them as dangerous, difficult, and dirty. Millennials of all income backgrounds entering the workforce would prefer to go to a four-year college or take on jobs in retail or transportation. In the US alone, there are 434,000 vacant construction jobs as of April 2019, according to the US Labor Bureau. It’s important to note that this isn’t just an existential threat. Over the past few months, I’ve interviewed several construction managers who say that the shortage is felt on site daily. Contractors have been forced to pay subcontractors higher wages, often waiting for talent to become available – ultimately slowing down jobs across the country. Many attribute the 5.86% construction cost increase in 2018, cited by the Turner Building Cost Index, to this labor shortage.

Startups are racing to fix the construction productivity problem at large. VCs poured $3.1 billion into Construction Tech in 2018. Most of this money went towards modular housing companies or software that promises to optimize current processes such as project management and communication. Yet neither of these buckets addresses the labor shortage head-on. Many startups claim that robots might.

Over the last year, I have been looking into the startups trying to plug this gap with construction robotics.

With such an acute labor shortage, felt deeply by contractors and developers, are robots really the next best thing? What tasks can they accomplish on site today? Most importantly, will the customer— real-life, historically risk-averse contractors and developers—adopt robotics with open arms? If so, when?

The Construction Robotic Landscape

The robotics companies that currently exist take on the shape of a subcontractor. They use robotics to accomplish a vertical task on site like excavation, drywall installation, painting, and roofing. Some companies are inserting their autonomous software into pre-existing construction machinery. While other start-ups are adapting manufacturing robotics and small self-driving vehicles to do construction tasks, but there are still tasks that need to be done by humans, such as roofing, and the use of services like Reliable Roofing, Windows & Siding.

Most construction robotics companies promise to reduce construction costs by 1) cutting down on labor expenses, 2) taking less time to accomplish a task by working longer shifts and into the night, and 3) performing tasks faster—not by actually working faster than a human, but by shortening downtime between sub-tasks.

It’s important to note that many of the companies I spoke to are in their pilot phase. They are testing their technologies on live construction sites for the first time and require additional engineering oversight to get the job done. If these pilots (which may take six-plus months) run successfully, these construction robotics companies will most likely be ready for commercial use in one-and-a-half to two years. The biggest technological hurdles for robotic construction technology at the moment are 1) seamlessly integrating into an already-complicated construction site, 2) working off of plans and maps that evolve as they work, 3) being able to execute the task as well as a contractor.

However, the biggest challenge of all remains whether developers and contractors will adopt the technology at large.

The Customer: Curious, Risk-averse, & Cost-aware

Even though the labor shortage is real, one can’t help but wonder: if the construction industry has been hesitant to adopt technology in the past, will they adopt robotics today?

Unlike in manufacturing, where a single owner is incentivized to operate as efficiently as possible and invests in large capital expenditure projects that pay off over time, construction managers are motivated to turn around a single project as cost-effectively as possible while delivering to the architect’s specifications. They only work on a handful of projects each year, so they have a low willingness to experiment.

From speaking to contractors, I found that they would be willing to adopt technology or hire a robotics sub-contractor if there was proof that the robotic option could drastically reduce costs on their project.

To understand the biggest opportunity for cost savings, I set out to understand what costs the most on a construction site. While this data is challenging to obtain and costs are extremely variable site-to-site, through conversations with contractors, I have seen some patterns emerge, which I plot in the accompanying graph. Costs tend to be held up in a few key verticals, and then widely distributed across most other tasks.

% of Overall Cost

% of Overall Cost CREDIT: JULIETTE CILIA

Of the verticals that tend to cost the most today (structural support [i.e., concrete and steel] and mechanical and plumbing), not many can be automated because of the complexity of the task or we have yet to uncover companies in those verticals. Some verticals that proportionally cost less but still incur significant costs and are deployed across asset types, like drywall and bricklaying, are appealing, but it is unclear how quickly a large-scale contractor would rush to adopt them.

Construction at Sunset

In the near future we will see more companies tackling the cost-consuming tasks on big development projects. CREDIT: PXHERE.COM

The space is still evolving,  but I suggest holding off on large checks until we see movers who can tackle some of the costlier verticals, like cast-in-place concrete or facade installation. Automating these jobs will save contractors major money and could be widely adopted in time. While construction robotics are still maturing, I believe that in the next two to three years, we will see more companies tackling the cost-consuming tasks on big development projects, helping us finish more of our cities, offices, hospitals, and homes on time.

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https://www.forbes.com/sites/columbiabusinessschool/2019/07/31/the-construction-labor-shortage-will-developers-deploy-robotics/#e2be91f71988

New York to investigate Facebook’s allegedly discriminatory housing ads | Bedford Corners Real Estate

Facebook’s advertising practices are, once again, under scrutiny.

This week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to investigate Facebook’s ad practices that, according to reports, allow New York state-regulated advertisers to exclude consumers—even those looking for housing—through zip code information, based on classifications including race, sex, disability, national origin, religion, and familial status, the Daily News first reported.

“Facebook touts its advertising platform as a powerful means for housing and housing-related advertisers to reach desired consumers,” a statement from Cuomo’s office reads.

“The allegations against Facebook advertisers are extremely troubling and fly in the face of everything that New York stands for,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I am calling on the Department of Financial Services to investigate these claims and help ensure that New Yorkers seeking housing for themselves and their families are not discriminated against in any way.”

In March, following several legal actions, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) announced a civil rights settlement with the tech giant as it vowed to take steps to ensure that advertisers could not discriminate when sending credit, job, and housing ads to users.

“As the internet—and platforms like Facebook—play an increasing role in connecting us all to information related to economic opportunities, it’s crucial that micro-targeting not be used to exclude groups that already face discrimination,” Galen Sherwin, senior staff attorney at the ACLU, said in a statement.

Also recently, on the federal level, the Department of Housing and Urban Development sued Facebook for allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act through its advertising practices.

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https://ny.curbed.com/2019/7/2/20678837/facebook-housing-discrimination-advertising-andrew-cuomo

Connecticut prices continue slump | Bedford Corners Real Estate

The spring home buying market got off to a disappointing start in April, as sales sputtered and the state marked the ninth consecutive month of year-over-year sale declines, a new report Thursday shows.

The median sale price of a single-family house was unchanged in April, at $250,000, on a 5-percent decline in sales, according to the monthly report from The Warren Group, which tracks real estate trends in New England.

Sales closed in April typically would have gone under contract 45-60 days earlier, right around the traditional start of the spring homebuying season.

Through the first four months of this year, sales are down nearly 7 percent, compared with the same period in 2018. In the same period, the median sale price fell 1.2 percent, to $240,000, compared with $243,000 for the same four-month period last year.

Hartford County’s home sale market did better than the state as a whole in April. Sales were flat, but the median sale price crept up 1.4 percent to $223,000 from $219,000 for the same month a year ago.

Across all the state’s eight counties, all but Hartford, Litchfield and Middlesex counties saw year-over-year sale declines in April. The deepest decline was registered in New London County, down 16.6 percent compared with April of 2018.

The statewide median sale price was pulled down by declines in Fairfield, Tolland and Windham counties. Price gains in the other five counties — the highest being a 11-percent year-over-year rise in Middlesex County — were not strong enough to lift the overall median price to an increase.

So far in 2019, the four-month trend for sales and prices paid is disappointing for the state’s housing market, which has struggled to recover from the last recession, which ended in March 2010. There were hopeful signs in 2018 when Connecticut registered its third consecutive annual gain in median sale price. The velocity of sales remain a concern, however, failing to show upward momentum.

The median sale price is a well-watched indicator of changes in sale prices and trends affecting property values. But it doesn’t necessarily mean all home prices and values, for that matter, are moving in the same direction.

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https://www.courant.com/business/hc-biz-warren-home-sales-april-20190530-jibwdembvnce3gybfldsgmoxzm-story.html

More Americans flee high tax states | Bedford Corners Real Estate

More and more Americans are fleeing high-tax states – from California to Hawaii to New Jersey to New York – and relocating elsewhere in the hopes of holding onto some more of their hard-earned cash.

Problem is that’s pushing up the cost of living in the states they’re fleeing to, according to the country’s largest real estate trade group.

They’re going to nearby secondary states that used to be “affordable” – states like Washington, Nevada, Colorado and Arizona, for example, says Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS(r).

And it isn’t just the working class looking to move to lower-tax states.

Taxes are often a top consideration particularly when someone is relocating for work or looking to retire says tax expert Bob Meighan, a former executive with Intuit. The biggest tax you’re going to face, after the IRS, is the one your state presents.

That’s why Florida is a big draw “particularly among northeast residents currently living in high property-tax states such as New York, New Jersey (the highest in the country), and Connecticut,” says Yun. “In Florida, you get both lower taxes and a warmer climate.”

Last year, these were the ten highest income tax states, according to TurboTax (*These rates do not include local taxes.):

  • California 13.3%
  • Hawaii 11%
  • Oregon 9.9%
  • Minnesota 9.85%
  • Iowa 8.98%
  • New Jersey 8.97%
  • Vermont 8.95%
  • District of Columbia 8.95%
  • New York 8.82%
  • Wisconsin 7.65%

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https://www.foxbusiness.com/personal-finance/more-americans-fleeing-high-tax-states

Home builder confidence rises | Bedford Corners Real Estate

Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose one point to 68 in October on the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). Builder confidence levels have held in the high 60s since June.

Builders continue to view solid housing demand, fueled by a growing economy and a nearly 50-year low for unemployment. Lumber price declines for three straight months from elevated levels earlier this summer have also helped to reduce some cost pressures, but builders will need to manage supply-side costs to keep home prices affordable.

Favorable economic conditions and demographic tailwinds should continue to support demand, but housing affordability has become a challenge due to ongoing price and interest rate increases. Unless housing affordability stabilizes, the market risks losing additional momentum as we head into 2019.

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as “good,” “fair” or “poor.” The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as “high to very high,” “average” or “low to very low.” Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

The HMI index measuring current sales conditions rose one point to 74 and the component gauging expectations in the next six months increased a single point to 75. Meanwhile, the metric charting buyer traffic registered a four-point uptick to 53.

Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the Northeast rose three points to 57 and the South edged up one point to 71. The West held steady at 74 and the Midwest fell two points to 57.

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