Home prices in 20 major U.S. metro areas rose 0.8% in June from the month prior on a non-seasonally-adjusted basis, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller home price index. From the same period a year prior, prices saw a 5.1% increase, below the expectations for a 5.2% rise
This morning, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) reported that interest rates on home mortgages increased slightly in March. The same was true for the subset of mortgages used to purchase new homes.
On conventional mortgages used to purchase newly built homes, the average contract rate and average initial fees and charges each increased by 2 basis points. The contract interest rate increased from 3.79 percent to 3.81, and the initial fees and charges increased from 1.11 percent to 1.13. The result was an average effective interest rate (which amortizes initial fees over the estimated life of the loan) that edged up from 3.91 to 3.93 percent. That marks the second month in a row that the effective rate has been below 4 percent, following 19 consecutive months above that threshold.
Meanwhile, the average size of the conventional loans used to purchase newly built homes continued to inch toward $340,000, increasing by $400 to $339,000 in March, which is an all-time high.
However, the average price of the new homes purchased with the loans in March declined by $3,800 (a little under 1 percent) to $445,700. Consequently the loan-to-price ratio moved back up over 78 percent for the first time in three months.
Meet the WaterNest 100 floating home. Designed by architect Giancarlo Zema and developed by EcoFloLife after years of research, the WaterNest is intended for use on any calm body of water and is built from materials that are 98% recyclable.
The 1000-square-foot floating pod-shaped home measures 40 feet in diameter and 14 feet tall. Its curved body is constructed from recycled glued laminated timber atop a recycled aluminum hull. It is self=powered by a roof mounted, 600 square foot solar display that generates 4 kW of electricity. The solar panels are framed by generously sized skylights on either side. Large windows and balconies wrap around the unit to give users to unobstructed views of the water. The glazing also lets in plenty of sunshine to light the interior.
The developers created a “sophisticated system of internal natural micro-ventilation and air conditioning” to classify the building as a “low-consumption residential habitat.” The WaterNest 100 also features a flexible interior design that can be changed to suit different uses. If the owner doesn’t intend to use the unit as a home, the floating ecological pod could easily be reconfigured into an office space, lounge bar, restaurant, shop, or exhibition space.
On its website, EcoFloLife describes its mission as follows:
The world around us is becoming increasingly chaotic and conformist, requiring fully eco-friendly and recyclable housing units which allow us to live in complete independence and in harmony with nature while respecting and admiring it.
The ongoing climate changes and the resulting sea- and river-level rises force us to ponder on the eco-sustainability of our housing choices. EcoFloLife is committed on the topic of environmental sustainability with its floating and eco-friendly residential units.
The WaterNest 100 seems to embody that philosophy perfectly and is a truly inspired representation of what an environmentally friendly home of the future could look like.
Craigslist is the grandfather of listing sites.
So like grandfathers everywhere, it’s associated with the past, not the future. As a result, some agents may neglect the old-timer, seeking to harvest leads using cutting-edge tools instead.
But while some might consider Craigslist a bit of an old fogey, agents who shun it are passing up a marketing opportunity that remains a fertile (and typically free) source of high-quality leads, according to Amy Gerrish, leader of The Phoenix Metro Group, an agent team part of Phoenix-based HomeSmart.
As a resource for buyer leads, Gerrish — the latest winner of Inman News’ #madREskillz contest — says Craigslist seems to offer a better return on investment than advertising on listing portals or Facebook.
The leads she’s picked up from those sites seem to be of about equal quality to those she gets from Craigslist, which have translated into six sales for her team in the last year, she said.
“If they’re the same quality, then I just want the ones that you don’t have to pay for,” she said.
– See more at: http://www.inman.com/2014/03/05/craigslist-real-estate-listings-can-help-agents-keep-deals-in-house/?utm_source=20140305&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=dailyheadlinespm#sthash.i2Zmr3w0.dpuf
Home prices maintained their course and increased 11% in December 2013 compared to a year ago, recording the 22nd consecutive monthly year-over-year increase in home prices nationally, according to the latest December CoreLogic Home Price Index.
Month-over-month, home prices, including distressed sales, dipped by .1% in December compared to November.
Home prices, excluding distressed sales, jumped by 9.9% in December compared to a year prior and .2% month-over-month compared to November.
“Last year, home prices rose 11%, the highest rate of annual increase since 2005, and ten states and the District of Columbia reached new all-time price peaks,” said Mark Fleming, chief economist for CoreLogic.
“We expect the rising prices to attract more sellers, unlocking this pent-up supply, which will have a moderating effect on prices in 2014,” Fleming added.
Looking ahead, the HPI forecasts that January homes prices, including distressed sales, will increase 10.2% year-over-year from January 2013. But on a month-over-month basis, home prices are projected to dip .8% from December 2013 to January 2014.
Douglas Elliman Realtor Elaine Richheimer has noticed that the South Shore of Long Island is buzzing with real estate activity despite continuing efforts to recover from the water damage of November 2012’s Super Storm Sandy. In fact, home sales have increased 48.5% in the region stretching from Queens to the Hamptons.
“Although sales of waterfront properties are quieter, pricing is attractive and, as a result, living in a house on the water overlooking the South Shore is more obtainable now,” Richheimer told MainStreet.
Richheimer’s optimistic glow on home sales in New York reflects an estimated 56% of real estate agents who say now is a good time to buy compared to 55% in the fourth quarter of 2013, according to Redfin data.
While 71% of current homeowners are contemplating selling in 2014, according to a Lending Tree survey, buyers continue to be frustrated by housing shortages with 87% of Redfin realtors citing limited inventory as the biggest challenge for buyers.
“The housing crash lead new home construction to fall off dramatically, restricting the number of homes available for sale,” said Ellen Haberle, economist with Redfin, a national real estate brokerage. “New home construction has increased slowly over the past two years, but factors such as a lack of developed lots and skilled labor, expensive materials and tight credit conditions have challenged builders’ ability to boost construction quickly.”
This year’s hot price increases could be more important than rising rents, credit availability or even underwater homeowners in freeing up the inventories that stifled hundreds of housing markets last season and kept sales from reaching their potential, according to a new study by two Federal Reserve economists.
Price increases and job growth are more important than buyers’ access to credit, freedom from negative equity, owners’ decisions to wait to achieve greater gains and the loss of large numbers of owner-occupied homes to rentals in a market when it comes to building inventories.
Last season opened with inventories at near-record lows in February, down by 15.97 percent nationally compared to a year ago and is less than half its peak of 3.1 million units in September 2007. Inventories increased in 100 out of Realtor.com’s 146 markets and even markets, spurring price increases and seasonal increases in homes for sale.
“Current inventories of homes for sale are low given more than a year of house price appreciation,” concluded the study Fed by economists William Hedberg and John Krainer released recently. “County-level data suggest that many homeowners are waiting for prices to rise further in their markets. Markets that have seen the strongest house price appreciation and job growth are the ones where for-sale inventories have declined the most.”
The economists analyzed a number of widely discussed causes of the inventory decline beginning with the transformation of about 3.5 million formerly owner occupied homes into rentals since 2007. “It is impossible to say though whether declining sales are pushing down homeownership rates or falling homeownership is pushing down sales, or both are interacting with each other in a complicated feedback process,” they concluded
Nor could they find strong evidence that homeowners are keeping their homes off the market in hopes prides will continue to rise. “On balance, counties that experienced relatively large increases in house prices over the past year also experienced relatively large declines in inventories available for sale,” they said.
Let me start off by saying that I am in no way looking to bash beige. There are many beautiful shades of the neutral hue that are appropriate and look fantastic in and on homes. But when I am hired to do a paint color consultation, I often avoid suggesting beige. And clients even ask to avoid it, which leads me to believe that many homeowners are tired of the hue, or they see it as a crutch to fall back on when they’d really prefer something different, something with a little more oomph.
For those of you who just aren’t a fan of bold, intense color but want to move beyond white and beige, I’ve pulled together some of my favorite not-beige neutrals that I think look fantastic in bedrooms. These are softer, more soothing hues that work well with a variety of other colors, materials and styles of decor. Yet they still look fresh and current.
Whether you go for a cool lavender or a warmer mauve, the trick to making this color appear sophisticated rather than sugary is to go with a shade that has a good amount of neutralizing gray or brown in it. The paint color here contains both gray and brown, which neutralizes the purple. You get the best of both worlds — a neutral hue with just a hint of color.
A soft blue with a hint of gray is a fantastic choice to create a soothing, relaxing vibe in a bedroom. Those who live in areas where cool and overcast days outnumber warm and sunny ones may want to opt for a hue with more blue and less gray.
What’s the best way to use leaves in the garden?
Leaves are one of the main ingredients of the dark, rich humus that covers the forest floor — nature’s compost. A gardener can replicate that humus by mixing carbon-rich leaves with nitrogen-rich manure or grass clippings to make compost.
Maintaining an active compost pile in winter can be a challenge, however. An easier alternative is to use leaves in the garden in fall, says Abigail Maynard, associate agricultural scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, who has studied the use of leaves as a garden soil amendment for more than 10 years.
If possible, shred your leaves first with a chipper-shredder or mower; the smaller pieces will break down faster. Spread the chopped leaf mulch over your garden soil, then incorporate it with a tiller or spade. “By spring, almost all of the chopped leaves will be completely decomposed,” Maynard says.
Maynard’s research has shown that amending soil with maple or oak leaves alone probably won’t boost yields the way adding finished compost does, but she says using leaves in the garden does add organic matter to the soil. Organic matter improves soil structure, holds nutrients and moisture that are released slowly to plants, and provides food for beneficial soil organisms.
Maynard suggests adding a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, such as aged manure, in spring. (Nitrogen added in fall could leach away by spring.)