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North Salem Homes for Sale

Single-Family Construction Up | North Salem Real Estate

NAHB analysis of Census Construction Spending data shows that total private residential construction spending fell 0.7% in November to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $462.9 billion.

Multifamily construction spending slowed for the first time since July to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of $61.9 billion, down 2.9% from the revised October estimate. Despite the slowdown, multifamily spending was still 10.7% higher than the rate one year prior.  In contrast, single-family construction spending increased by 1.7% over the month, posting its second consecutive gain. However, single-family construction spending still slipped down by 0.9% over November 2015. Though not as pronounced as the drop-off in multifamily construction spending, home improvements still fell by a substantial 3.5%. On a year-over-year basis, spending on home improvements increased by 6.8%.

The NAHB construction spending index shown in the graph below illustrates the recent convergence, though small, of single-family spending with that of multifamily and home improvements.

The pace of private nonresidential construction spending increased by 2.5% over the month, more than offsetting the 2.1% October decline, reaching a pace 6.4% higher than one year ago. The primary drivers of this month-over-month increase were spending on structures to be used for lodging (+6.9%) and religious (+9.8%) purposes.

 

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http://eyeonhousing.org/2017/01/single-family-construction-up-in-november/

Housing bubble is probably more myth than reality | North Salem Real Estate

 

If you own a home and you’ve visited real estate information websites Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, or any of the like recently, you’ve probably noticed an interesting trend: Your home is increasing in value at a rate that’s far and away higher than the national rate of inflation.

Is housing bubble 2.0 around the corner?

According to the S&P Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which tracks residential real estate prices nationally, as well as within 20 large metropolitan regions, residential real estate prices rose 5.3% between Aug. 2015 and Aug. 2016. By comparison, the national measure of inflation, the Consumer Price Index, has moved higher by a little more than 1% over the trailing 12-month period.

If we back the data out a bit further, the outperformance of housing prices becomes even more apparent. Real housing prices — essentially home price increases with inflation backed out — have risen by 25% just since 2012, and are now sitting at their highest point since the Great Recession. This is noteworthy considering that in the 107 years between 1890 and 1997, housing prices generally tracked the national inflation rate very closely, at least based on data from Robert Shiller in the book Irrational Exuberance. Only over the past two decades have we witnessed a diversion from the mean, with the first diversion leading to a massive housing bubble that’s still fresh in the minds of many homeowners.

This latest outperformance in housing prices, as well as the fresh memory of the recent housing collapse less than one decade prior, has some pundits predicting that housing bubble 2.0 could be right around the corner. A Dec. 2015 interview with 66 industry experts conducted by Zillow found that more than 10 believed the Boston, Los Angeles, and Miami markets were at risk of entering a bubble, while even more pundits believed New York and San Francisco were already there.

Images

IMAGE SOURCE: ARMCHAIRBUILDER.COM VIA FLICKR.

Home prices can continue to soar

However, it’s possible these industry experts could be completely wrong. Based on the evidence available at the moment, I’d contend that we’re not even close to a bubble in housing prices, and that home prices could very well outpace the national rate of inflation for many years to come.

Let’s have a closer look at why home prices could keep soaring.

1. Supply constraints

The biggest factor that could push home prices continuously higher is the trade-off between homebuilder supply and homeowner demand. According to Jesse Edgerton, an economist at J.P. Morgan, most national markets simply don’t have the homebuilder supply to meet demand, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.

In an interview with Yahoo! Finance, Edgerton had this to say:

One might wonder if these high prices reflect growing demand that could soon elicit a wave of construction that would prove our forecasts wrong. We find, however, that high prices are concentrated in markets where supply is constrained by geography or regulation, suggesting there may be little room for additional construction.

Data from J.P. Morgan indicates that while housing prices are rebounding rapidly from their recessionary lows, homebuilders appear content in increasing their supply at only a modest pace. Furthermore, the areas where an expansion of construction would appear to be beneficial — San Jose, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and so on — are also the areas that are the most limited in their ability to respond to an increase in demand.

It’s tough to predict how homebuilders will respond if prices continue to climb. For some builders, the allure of profits may be too great to ignore. However, if homebuilders can prudently manage their supply growth, they’ll likely encourage home prices to head higher at a rate that handily outpaces inflation.

 

2. A continuation of the low-lending-rate environment

Secondly, the ongoing low-lending-rate environment should continue to spur demand for new homes.

A home is arguably the largest purchase Americans will make during their lifetimes, and historically low mortgage rates could be the catalyst that coerces prospective homeowners to pull the trigger. Even more appealing is the fact that many Americans have far better FICO credit scores than they had a decade prior, meaning they’d probably qualify for sweeter deals from lenders.

Based on data released by FICO last year, the national average FICO score of 695 was an all-time high. Comparatively, the national average FICO score in Oct. 2005 was 688. FICO’s data showed a 3% increase in the number of consumers with a FICO score above 800 compared to the prior decade (FICO scores max out at 850), with a 2.1% decline in consumers with a FICO score under 550. Long story short, Americans appear to be in better shape than ever when it comes to getting a mortgage.

Though the Federal Reserve is the “X factor” here, and it can be completely unpredictable, the case for raising the federal funds target rate isn’t that strong. Inflation remains below the Fed’s target level, job creation has been up and down in 2016, and external factors, such as Brexit and China’s slowing GDP growth, could weigh on the growth outlook in the United States. After aiming for four interest-rate hikes in 2016, it’s quite possible the Fed ends the year without making a single move, which favors the continuation of a low-lending-rate environment.

 

3. The “rent” vs. “buy” trade-off

Over the longer term, the trade-off between renting and buying a home would also seem to favor rising housing prices.

If interest rates do normalize over the long term and head back to around 3%, it would presumably work in favor of the rental market. Higher interest rates mean higher mortgage rates, which in turn should push on-the-fence homebuyers back into renting. When this happens, landlords become privy to significant rental pricing power and are able to increase rental rates well above the national rate of inflation. Just the expectation of rising interest rates at some point soon has been pushing rental prices around the country higher, at a pace that’s well above the national inflation rate.

However, there comes a tipping point in the renting vs. buying trade-off where rental prices increase enough that buying a home actually becomes the cheaper option on a monthly basis. It happened to me in 2007, and it could very well happen to millions of Americans as rental inflation increases.

 

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http://www.fool.com/mortgages/2016/11/07/no-were-not-in-a-housing-bubble-and-yes-home-price.aspx

FHA increases loan limits going into 2017 | North Salem Real Estate

house sun

Home prices force loan limits higher

The Federal Housing Administration announced plans on Thursday to increase loan limits in 2017, announcing a significant jump in counties set to increase compared to last year.

Due to home price increases, the FHA said that most areas in the country will see a slight increase in loan limits in 2017.

These loan limits are effective for case numbers assigned on or after Jan. 1, 2017, and will remain in effect through the end of the year.

The FHA recalculates its national loan limit on a yearly basis. The limits are based on a percentage calculation of the nation conforming loan limit.

Here are the upcoming changes. In high-cost areas, the FHA national loan limit “ceiling” will increase to $636,150 from $625,500.  FHA will also increase its “floor” to $275,665 from $271,050.

Additionally, the maximum claim amount for FHA-insured Home Equity Conversion Mortgages (HECMs), or reverse mortgages, will increase to $636,150.

The FHA noted that this amount is 150% of the national conforming limit of $424,100.

The maximum loan limits for forward mortgages increased in 2,948 counties, which is attributed to changes in housing prices and the resulting change to FHA’s “floor” and “ceiling” limits.

There were no areas with a decrease in the maximum loan limits for forward mortgages though they remain unchanged in 286 counties.

This is compared to last year, which increased the loan limits in 188 counties due to changes in housing prices.

As an added note, FHA’s minimum national loan limit “floor” is set at 65% of the national conforming loan limit of $424,100. The FHA said the floor applies to those areas where 115% of the median home price is less than 65% of the national conforming loan limit.

For any area that doesn’t fit this and the loan limit exceeds the “floor,” it’s considered a high cost area. The maximum FHA loan limit “ceiling” for high-cost areas is 150% of the national conforming limit.

Check here for a complete list of FHA loan limits.

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http://www.housingwire.com/articles/38657-fha-increases-loan-limits-going-into-2017?eid=311691494&bid=1602929

McMansion home construction rises | North Salem Real Estate

chart1finalNew homes with 5,000 square feet or more of living space increased both as a share of all new construction and in absolute number in 2015, according to the Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction. In 2015, the share of new homes this size reached a post-recession peak of 3.9% of new homes started. The total number of 5,000+ square-foot homes started that year was 28,000 units.

chart2finalIn 2012, the number of new homes started with 5,000+ square feet rose to 15,000 units, yet their share remained at only 2.8%. In 2015, while the number of 5,000+ square feet homes started (28,000) was the highest since 2008, their share of the new market (3.9%) was the highest since 2004. A previous postdiscussed the declining trend in the median and average size of new single-family homes due to an expansion in entry-level market wherein home size is expected to trend lower. This is not necessarily a contradiction, because 5,000+ square foot homes are relatively uncommon and represent the extreme upper tail of the distribution. The extreme upper tail can behave differently than the center of the distribution, measured by the average or median.

In the boom year of 2006, 3.0% or 45,000 new homes started were 5,000 square feet or larger. In 2007, the share of new homes this size was 3.6%, yet the total number of 5,000+ square-foot homes started that year fell to 37,000. In 2008, only 20,000 such homes were started or 3.2% of the total. From 2009 to 2011, fewer than 13,000 of these large homes were started every year, accounting for less than 3% of all new construction during this period. The extent to which the 5,000+ square foot homes have recovered, roughly to where they were in 2008, shows a growing trend at the top of the market at least through 2015.

Growing number of firms offering energy-efficient modular design | North Salem Real Estate

The Alfreds' net-zero residence, in Cumberland, Maine, is a modular design by BrightBuilt Home.
James R. SalomonThe Alfreds’ net-zero residence, in Cumberland, Maine, is a modular design by BrightBuilt Home.

When Shaun Alfreds and his wife decided to build a house for their family of five in Cumberland, Maine, they didn’t know if a high-performance project would be within their budget. “We aren’t wealthy by any stretch of the imagination, but we wanted an energy-efficient home,” says Alfreds, a chief operating officer at HealthInfoNet, a local health information technology company.

After some research, however, the couple realized that they achieve their dream for a nominal additional investment over the cost of a conventional house if they opted for a modular high-performance house. They chose a two-story, Cape Cod–style design from Portland, Maine–based BrightBuilt Home, and moved in last December.

At more than 3,000 square feet, the house is spacious, but its full sun exposure and a 10-kilowatt solar array of 39 photovoltaic (PV) panels should cover its energy consumption year-round. Alfreds says the house cost “almost exactly what other [builders] were bidding” for a standard, code-compliant project that was custom designed. And their small additional investment goes to building equity in the house, rather than to paying utilities.

BrightBuilt, a sister company of local firm Kaplan Thomson Architects (KTA), joins an increasing number of design companies that are expanding the market for high-performance residential projects. While KTA has custom-designed many energy-efficient houses, principal Phil Kaplan, AIA, says the firm also wanted to offer an off-the-shelf product. In 2015, it launched BrightBuilt with nine design templates. Starting at $175 to $180 per square foot, the houses bring net-zero energy to a price more people can afford. “We’re definitely seeing a lot of demand,” Kaplan says.

But some architects and builders have found ways to lower the price of net-zero housing even more.

De Verneil residence, by Deltec Homes (Ridgeline model)
Marie de VerneilDe Verneil residence, by Deltec Homes (Ridgeline model)

Marie de Verneil dreamed of building a retirement home on land she owned in central Virginia. “To me, green was very important,” she says. However, her savings from teaching French and international relations at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, didn’t seem like enough. “It’s kind of discouraging for someone like me,” she says.

Kitchen, de Verneil residence
Marie de VerneilKitchen, de Verneil residence

Then de Verneil heard about Deltec Homes, in Asheville, N.C. The company—known for its distinctly round, prefabricated, and hurricane-resistant houses—recently launched Renew, a collection of models that use about two-thirds the energy of a conventional house and can include a PV array. De Verneil estimates she spent $250,000 on her 1,600-square-foot house (less than $160 per square foot), which includes a roof-mounted solar array. Her monthly electric bill is $30, the base fee for taxes and distribution. And when she is retired and living on a fixed income, she knows she’ll never have to say, “I can’t put the heat on.”

For those wanting to build a passive or net-zero energy house, right-sizing expectations is a crucial step to meeting one’s budget. And, as Deltec president Steve Linton adds, every project—modular or not—must be tailored to the particular site and climate. The company’s design team also conducts an energy model to evaluate site variables, solar energy capacity, building-shell size, features, and cost trade-offs.

Much of the market for high-performance housing is around single-family units in the suburbs, but the past few years have seen an uptick for multifamily dwellings and affordable housing projects in cities, including Washington, D.C., New York, and Philadelphia.

For low- and middle-income residents, in particular, an energy-efficient house can provide substantial benefits, says Orlando Velez, director of Housing Programs and Community at Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C.The organization recently built six passive townhouses last year in the district’s Ivy City neighborhood, whichhas a lot of air pollution. By creating a tight building envelope and filtering outside air, “you’re improving the air quality significantly,” Velez says. “It’s a healthier living environment.”

With savings from the lower utility bills, he says, residents may be able to spend more within the community. The organization plans to study those benefits over time to know whether energy efficiency is the best investment for its limited funds.

Ridgeline model in Deltec Homes' Renew Collection
Spacialists.com courtesy Deltec HomesRidgeline model in Deltec Homes’ Renew Collection
Interior rendering, Ridgeline model
Courtesy Deltec HomesInterior rendering, Ridgeline model

Living in a high-performance house can take some adjustment. Residents are often unfamiliar with high-tech HVAC equipment, such as energy recovery ventilators and solar water heaters. A tight building envelope also means that the size of the HVAC system can be decreased (fresh air supply is increased for indoor air quality purposes). The word that many residents use is “comfort”—indoor temperatures stay remarkably consistent across different areas of a house throughout the year.

 

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http://www.architectmagazine.com/technology/living-the-dream-of-a-net-zero-house_o

DIY spring cleaning guide | North Salem Real Estate

Do you have a closet you’re terrified to open? Do sweaters, paperwork, and random Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issues from the last millennium clog up every drawer? If so, then there’s a very high likelihood you’re overdue for some serious spring-cleaning.

But what’s that you say: Lying on the couch bingeing on the latest season of “House of Cards” sounds way more enticing? Then you’ll love our first installment of the Lazy Homeowner’s Guide: a collection of hacks and shortcuts that make decluttering a breeze.

Try a few of these tips to whip your place into shape with minimal time and effort. Honest, you’ll barely work up a sweat

Trick yourself into tossing things

If you know you have a problem parting with things, Jennifer Adams, celebrity interior designer and lifestyle expert, advises taking on your separation anxiety literally. Get two large boxes; label one “repair/clean” and the other “not sure.” Box up the latter items, and date the box.

“If you haven’t opened the box in a year, donate it,” she says. Same goes for the “repair/clean” box. Stick them in the trunk of your car, and drive thyself to the nearest Salvation Army or other charitable organization.

“Face it: You’re not that committed to those items if you haven’t repaired, cleaned, or looked at them within a month or two,” Adams says.

Turn castoffs into cash

Maybe extra moolah is the prime incentive you need to help you clean out cluttered spaces. If selling your unwanted stuff on eBay is too complicated, try the simple-to-use app OfferUp, the largest mobile marketplace for local buyers and sellers. Take a snap of your unwanted items, and post it on the site—and you’ll instantly be connected to buyers in your neighborhood.

Curb your clothes

Your closets are likely full of clothes you don’t wear and are ripe for purging. What should you chuck?

“Focus on clothes that don’t fit, are out of style, require expensive tailoring, that don’t look good on you, or are duplicates,” says Cynthia Kienzle, aka New York’s The Clutter Whisperer. You could end up eliminating a large swath of your wardrobe, yet feel you have more clothes since everything you pull out is something you’ll actually wear!

Save space in your closet

After purging, set up simple systems and maintain them. One of Kienzle’s favorite inexpensive closet organizing tools is Ikea’s $5 hanging shoe bags. She calls them “the best organizing bargain around.” She also likes the Container Store’s Elfa door rack system—secured inside of closet doors—to hold scarves, gloves, and belts. For about $75, it’s an “inexpensive investment relative to the enormous value they provide. And they look so nice!” Finally, skinny Huggable hangers can triple your closet space, plus the felt keeps clothes from sliding off.

Purge paperwork

It’s time to unload those old catalogs, coupons, junk mail, and tax support documents (after all, you don’t need to keep your tax documents forever—for most states it’s only the past seven years). If you need to shred but dread the prospect of feeding a small home shredder all weekend, she recommends using Staples or FedEx Office shredding services. Easier still, you can hire a shredding truck to come to your apartment building or home.

 

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http://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/lazy-guide-to-spring-cleaning/?identityID=563634a60b124c77df02b110&MID=2016_0318_WeeklyNL-ctl&RID=3397440202&cid=eml-2016-0318-WeeklyNL-blog_2_lazyguide-blogs_trends

Underwater borrowers increased for two straight quarters | North Salem Real Estate

Home prices are still rising, and the economy is improving, but the ills of the housing crash are far from cured: 7.4 million borrowers were still “seriously” underwater on their mortgages at the end of June, according to RealtyTrac.

The real estate information company defines that as the loan amount being at least 25 percent higher than the property’s estimated market value.

Over 13 percent of all properties with a mortgage are in this predicament, and that is actually a slight increase from the first quarter of this year.

House underwater

Cherezoff | Getty Images

How can this be when home prices are still rising? It depends on how you read those prices. The National Association of Realtors reported that the median price of a home sold in June reached its highest level in history. The median, however, means half the homes sold for more and half sold for less, so if higher-priced homes are selling more, which they are, that skews the median higher. S&P/Case Shiller, which measures repeat sales of similarly priced homes, shows price gains have been shrinking in general but are still higher than a year ago.

Still, another report from Weiss Residential Research digs deeper in local areas and finds that nearly half the homes in the nation’s top markets are actually losing value.

“Don’t be fooled by averages,” said Allan Weiss, founder and CEO of Weiss Residential Research. “All of the largest metro indexes are rising more slowly than they were a year ago though market reports give the impression that values are rising across the board. However, people don’t own the entire market, they own one house.”

Larger, more expensive homes, are sitting on the market longer and seeing more price cuts than smaller homes with two bedrooms or less, according to Weiss. That is likely because there is so much less supply on the lower end of the market than on the high end.

Home prices are most often measured in terms of sale price, but RealtyTrac’s numbers are based on estimates of home all home values, not just the ones for sale.

 

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http://www.cnbc.com/2015/07/30/more-homeowners-drowning-in-debt.html

CoreLogic: Cash sales once again trend lower in April | North Salem Real Estate

Cash sales once again trended down, accounting for 33.7% of total home sales in April 2015, down from 37.4% in April 2014.

This marks the 28th consecutive month of declines, with the year-over-year share falling each month since January 2013.

On a monthly basis, the cash sales share fell by 0.9 percentage points. Due to seasonality in the housing market, cash sales share comparisons should be made on a year-over-year basis.

To put this in perspective, CoreLogic said, “The cash sales share peak occurred in January 2011 when cash transactions accounted for 46.5% of total home sales nationally. Prior to the housing crisis, the cash sales share of total home sales averaged approximately 25 percent. If the cash sales share continues to fall at the same rate it did in April 2015, the share should hit 25 percent by mid-2017.”

Click to enlarge

Chart 1

Source: CoreLogic

Click to enlarge

Chart 2

Source: CoreLogic

CoreLogic: May home prices rose 6.3% nationally | North Salem Real Estate

May home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased by 6.3% in May 2015 compared with May 2014, according to the home price report from CoreLogic(CLGX).

This change represents 39 months of consecutive year-over-year increases in home prices nationally. On a month-over-month basis, home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased by 1.7% in May 2015 compared with April 2015.

“Mortgage rates on 30-year fixed-rate loans remained below 4% through May, helping to fuel home-purchase activity,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic. “Our homes-for-sale listing data shows that markets with high demand and limited supply, such as San Francisco, are recording double-digit appreciation rates over the past year.”

Including distressed sales, 33 states and the District of Columbia were at or within 10% of their peak prices in May 2015.

Ten states and the District of Columbia reached new price peaks not experienced since January 1976 when the CoreLogic HPI started. These states include Alaska, Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas and Vermont.

Click to enlarge

(Source: CoreLogic)

Excluding distressed sales, home prices increased by 6.3% in May 2015 compared with May 2014 and increased by 1.4% month over month compared with April 2015. Excluding distressed sales, only Massachusetts (-2%) and Louisiana (-0.2%) showed year-over-year depreciation in May. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate-owned transactions.

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices, including distressed sales, are projected to increase by 0.9% month over month from May 2015 to June 2015 and by 5.1% on a year-over-year basis from May 2015 to May 2016. Excluding distressed sales, home prices are projected to increase by 0.8% month over month from May 2015 to June 2015 and by 4.7% year over year from May 2015 to May 2016.

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast is a projection of home prices using the CoreLogic HPI and other economic variables. Values are derived from state-level forecasts by weighting indices according to the number of owner-occupied households for each state.

“The rate of home price appreciation ticked up in May with gains being fairly widely distributed across the country. Importantly, higher home prices over the past couple of years have spurred increases in new single-family construction,” said Anand Nallathambi, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “Sales of newly built homes during the first five months of 2015 were up 23% from a year ago, and as rising values build equity for homeowners, we expect to see more existing homes offered for sale in the coming year.”

 

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http://www.housingwire.com/articles/34393

California housing market slows considerably | North Salem Real Estate

California’s massive housing market is slowing down in almost every way imaginable, according to the latest California Real Property Report from PropertyRadar.

California single-family home and condominium sales dropped 3.5% to 36,912 in May from 38,249 in April.

However, the report explained that what is unusual this month is that the decrease in sales was due to a decline in both distressed and non-distressed property sales that fell 8.6% and 2.5%, respectively.  The monthly decline in non-distressed sales is the first May decline since 2005.

On a yearly basis, sales were up slightly, gaining 2.3% from 36,096 in May 2014.

“With the exception of a few counties, price increases have slowed considerably,” said Madeline Schnapp, director of economic research for PropertyRadar. “You cannot defy gravity.”

“The environment of rising prices on lower sales volumes was destined not to last.  Higher borrowing costs since the beginning of the year and decreased affordability was bound to impact sales sooner or later. We may also be seeing the fourth year in a row where prices jumped early in the year, only to roll-over and head lower later the rest of the year,” Schnapp continued.

Back in March, PropertyRadar’s report showed California was finally ramping up for the spring homebuying season, posting that March single-family home and condominium sales surged to 31,989, a 33.1% jump from 24,031 in February. It was the biggest March increase in three years.

Meanwhile, May’s median price of a California home was nearly unchanged at $396,750 in May, down 1.8% from $404,000 in April.

Within California’s 26 largest counties, most experienced slight increases in median home prices, edging higher in 21 of California’s largest 26 counties.

Year-over-year, the median price of a California home was nearly unchanged, up 0.4% from $395,000 dollars in April 2014.

While at the county level most of California’s 26 largest counties exhibited slower price increases, four counties continued to post double digit gains.

 

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http://www.housingwire.com/articles/34297-california-housing-market-slows-considerably