August 2019 saw an annual increase of 3.2% for home prices nationwide, inching forward from the previous month’s pace, according to the Case-Shiller Home Price Index from S&P Dow Jones Indices and CoreLogic.
The 10-City and 20-City composites reported a 1.5% and 2% year-over-year increase, respectively. During the month, 11 of 20 cities reported increases before seasonal adjustment, whereas 17 of 20 cities reported increases after seasonal adjustment.
“The U.S. National Home Price NSA Index trend remained intact with a year-over-year price change of 3.2%,” said Philip Murphy, Managing Director and Global Head of Index Governance at S&P Dow Jones Indices. “However, a shift in regional leadership may be underway beneath the headline national index.”
According to the index, Phoenix, Charlotte, and Tampa reported the highest year-over-year gains among all of the 20 cities.
In August, Phoenix led with a 6.3% year-over-year price increase, followed by Charlotte with a 4.5% increase and Tampa with a 4.3% increase. Seven of the 20 cities reported larger price increases in the year ending August 2019 versus the year ending July 2019.
“Phoenix saw an increase in its year over year price change to 6.3% and retained its leading position,” Murphy said. “However, Las Vegas dropped from No. 2 to No. 8 among the cities of the 20-City Composite, falling from a 4.7% year-over-year change in July to only 3.3% in August.”
“Meanwhile, the Southeast region included three of the top four cities. Charlotte, Tampa, and Atlanta all recorded solid year-over-year performance with price changes of 4.5%, 4.3%, and 4.0%, respectively,” Murphy said. “In the Northwest, Seattle’s year-over-year change turned positive (0.7%) after three consecutive months of negative year-over-year price changes. The 10-City Composite year-over-year price change declined slightly from July to 1.5%, while the 20-City Composite year-over-year price change remained steady at 2.0%. San Francisco was the only city to record a negative YOY price change (-0.1%).”
The graph below highlights the average home prices within the 10-City and 20-City Composites:
The Thousand Islands — if you’ve even heard of them — are probably best known as the home of a certain sweet-and-spicy salad dressing. Unless, of course, you happen to be the fancy type of person who builds themselves a villa. The islands on the St. Lawrence River dividing New York from Canada have been sprouting ritzy summer homes for the rich and famous for more than a century. Which is a bit strange, when you think about how one of the earliest of those homes was clearly the target of a family-destroying curse.
House of Horrors
As far as we can tell, there aren’t any ghost stories associated with Carleton Villa — none that made it on to the internet, anyway. Maybe that’s because there don’t really need to be. The house’s well-documented history is more than enough on its own to give any passerby the willies.
Let’s go back to the beginning. In 1894, William Wyckoff was on top of the world. About eight years previous, he and two of his business partners had purchased the Remington Typewriter Company and turned it into an incredibly lucrative business. Looking for some well-earned R&R, he commissioned the architect William Henry Miller to design a luxurious house on Carleton Island, one of the 1,800 islands in the Thousand Island archipelago.
It was beautiful. Covering seven acres, the estate was notable for the stately stonework, towering turrets, and eye-popping stained glass that was the envy of any passing boater. But even before Wyckoff and his family moved in, a dark shadow began to pass over them. One month before move-in day, William’s wife Francis passed away from cancer. But that was only the beginning. The very first night that the rest of the family moved in, William Wyckoff suffered a heart attack in his sleep. He never woke up.
The family fortunes only fell further. Clarence Wyckoff, the youngest son, inherited the house after his father’s death. Then the Great Depression hit — hard. As the bank accounts drained, desperate measures became necessary. The Wyckoffs sold Carleton Villa to General Electric, who planned to demolish the building for scrap and build a new employee resort and plant on the site. But this, too, failed to happen. That beautiful stained glass was removed — along with the rest of the windows — and in the service wing, the entire floor of a bedroom was cut directly out. The marble cladding around the mansion’s most prominent feature, the four-story tower, was removed as well, greatly weakening its foundation. But when World War II broke out, the demolition stopped. It never started again.
It wouldn’t have been pleasant to live in Carleton Villa in those days, but imagine what it’s like now. Other than the occasional urban spelunker, the house has been virtually abandoned ever since. Its tower is now long gone, torn down when it began to threaten the rest of the structure. But perhaps not all hope is lost. In fact, are you in the market? If you’ve got $495,000 handy, the place could be yours — as long as you’re all right with a bit of a fixer-upper. Elsewhere on Carleton Island, other monied residents with more modern houses have firmly established themselves. You know what that means. Once you’ve got the spooky old house, all you need is a mask and Halloween sound effects and you’re three-quarters of the way to scaring off your neighbors and getting an island to yourself.
National home prices increased modestly in August. New York and Las Vegas experienced price declines while Phoenix led the way with a 9.1% annual growth rate in August.
The Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index, reported by S&P Dow Jones Indices rose at a seasonally adjusted annual growth rate of 4.2% in August, following an increase of 2.1% in July. On a year-over-year basis, the Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index posted a 3.2% annual gain in August, up from 3.1% in July. After six straight months of declines of the rate of growth, the annual growth rate increased for the first time in August.
Meanwhile, the Home Price Index, released by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), rose at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 2.1% in August, following a 4.9% increase in July. On a year-over-year basis, the FHFA Home Price NSA Index rose by 4.6% in August, after an increase of 5.1% in July. It was the lowest annual growth rate since October 2014.
In addition to tracking home price changes nationwide, S&P also reported home price indexes across 20 metro areas. In August, local home prices varied and their annual growth rates ranged from -5.2% to 9.1%. Among the 20 metro areas, four metro areas exceeded the national average of 4.2%. Phoenix, Miami and Seattle had the highest home price appreciation in August. Phoenix led the way with a 9.1% increase, followed by Miami with a 6.1% increase and Seattle with a 6.0% increase.
Home prices in two metro areas declined in August. They were New York (-5.2%) and Las Vegas (-1.7%). New York has experienced negative home price appreciation for six straight months this year.
Buoyed by a strong economy and continued low mortgage rates, the New York State housing market showed an upward climb in sales and listings in September, according to the housing market report released today by the New York State Association of REALTORS®.
Closed sales in New York totaled 11,467 units in the month of September, a 1.6-percent increase from this time last year. New listings and pending sales rose substantially in September – up 7.5-percent to 18,161 homes and 7.6-percent to 11,182 respectively.
For the third quarter, closed sales were down marginally, 0.8-percent to 38,722 homes but both new listings and pending sales trended upward. There were 56,361 new listings this quarter, a 1.2-percent increase, while pending sales rose 4.9-percent to 37,766 homes.
Interest rates remained low, down 0.1-percent to 3.61 percent on a 30-year fixed mortgage, according to Freddie Mac. This is the fourth consecutive month that interest rates were below 4.0-percent.
Median sales prices once again climbed in September, up 5.7-percent to $280,000. Quarterly prices surged upwards as well, rising 5.5-percent to $290,000. Inventory levels were down for September, 2.9-percent to 71,737 homes for sale.
The National Association of Home Builders’ (NAHB) Remodeling Market Index (RMI) posted a reading of 55 in the third quarter of 2019, unchanged from last quarter (Figure 1). Since the second quarter of 2013, the RMI has been above its breakeven point of 50, which indicates that more remodelers report market activity is higher than report it is lower, compared to the prior quarter.
The overall RMI is an average of two sub-indices, one measuring current remodeling activity and another measuring future indicators. The current market conditions index edged down one point to 54 from the previous quarter (Figure 2). Among its three major components, major additions and alterations dropped one point to 52, minor additions and alterations decreased by two points to 53 and the home maintenance and repair component rose one point to 57.
The future market indicators gained two points from the previous quarter to 57 (Figure 3). Calls for bids increased by one to 55, amount of work committed for the next three months gained two points to 54, the backlog of remodeling jobs increased one point to 59 and appointments for proposals jumped by five points to 60.
Demand for remodeling is solid and is supported by a healthy labor market and low interest rates. It is important to note that remodelers still face challenges, such as high costs and a lack of skilled labor.
The average FICO score stands at 706, a record high, said Ethan Dornhelm, vice president of scores and predictive analytics at FICO. That compares with 686 at the 2009 end of the Great Recession and it eclipses the 690 at the 2006 height of the housing bubble.
The key drivers are U.S. economic expansion that has propelled job growth and an increase in consumer education about protecting and improving scores, Dornhelm said in a blog post. In addition, the passage of time is helping to remove the credit scars from events that happened during the financial crisis, he said.
“Consumers who suffered financial misfortune during the Great Recession have over the past few years had the associated missed payments from that time period purged from their credit file, in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act,” he said.
Measuring different credit events, the biggest improvement between April 2009 and April 2019 was the timeliness of mortgage payments, Dornhelm said. A decade ago, 7.2% of the population had been 90 days or more late on a mortgage payment within the last two years. By April, it had dropped to 2.8%.
Also showing big improvement was the percentage of the population who had been 90 days or more past due on a credit card in the last two years. A decade ago, it was 13%, and in April it was 8.6%.
The jump in FICO scores was due to “score improvement, not score inflation,” Dornhelm said.
“Significant improvement in the overall population’s credit profile has been the key driver of the 20-point increase in national average FICO score over the past decade,” he said. “These improvements are reflective of improving consumer financial health, as would be expected during a period of economic expansion.”
Economic data signaling the chance of a looming recession has increased uncertainty in the credit-scoring realm, he said.
“The average FICO score will continue to change, but in what direction?” Dornhelm said. “Trade talks with China, the possibility of a `no-deal Brexit,’ and Fed interest rate decisions loom large as concerns of a recession persist.”
Builder confidence in the market for newly-built single-family homes rose one point to 65 in July, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). This marks the sixth consecutive month that sentiment levels have held at a steady range in the low- to mid-60s.
Builders report solid demand for single-family homes. However, they continue to grapple with labor shortages, a dearth of buildable lots and rising construction costs that are making it increasingly challenging to build homes at affordable price points relative to buyer incomes.
Even as builders try to rein in costs, home prices continue to outpace incomes. The current low mortgage interest rate environment should be getting more buyers off the sidelines, but they remain hesitant due to affordability concerns. Still, attractive rates should help spur new home purchases in large metro suburban markets, where approximately one-third of new construction takes place according to the NAHB HBGI. Lower recent have driven new home sales 4% higher on a year-to-date basis thus far in 2019, while single-family permits continue to lag.
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.
All the HMI indices inched higher in July. The index measuring current sales conditions rose one point to 72, the component gauging expectations in the next six months moved a single point higher to 71 and the metric charting buyer traffic increased one point to 48.
Looking at the three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores, the South moved one point higher to 68 and the West was also up one point to 72. The Northeast remained unchanged at 60 while the Midwest fell a single point to 56.
Prices paid for goods used in residential construction decreased by 1.1% in June (not seasonally adjusted) according to the latest Producer Price Index (PPI) released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The decline broke a four-month trend of increases and was only the fifth month over the past two years in which prices fell.
Over the past 12 months, building materials prices have decreased 1.6%, just the fifth June year-over-year decrease since 2000. The decline is a sharp reversal of June 2017 to June 2018, during which prices increased 8.8%.
The PPI report shows that softwood lumber prices decreased (-1.7%, not seasonally adjusted) in June—the index’s third consecutive monthly decline. Prices remain at their lowest level since February 2017. While weekly prices have been volatile since mid-May according to Random Lengths, the difference between the average prices of softwood lumber in May and June mirrored the PPI data (-1.8% v. -1.7%).
One of the special indexes published by BLS tracks lumber and plywood in one category. Similar to softwood lumber, the lumber and plywood index fell 2.3%. Prices paid for softwood lumber and lumber and plywood have decreased 23.1% and 17.6%, respectively, since June 2018.
The price index for gypsum products continued its downward trend in June, declining 1.9%. In the last 10 months, gypsum prices have only increased twice.
Prices have declined by 6.2% and 10.8% since January 2019 and August 2018, respectively.
Ready-mix concrete prices increased 1.2% in June and remain relatively volatile. Prices have risen by more than 1.0% in two of the past three months, something that has only happened in 18 of the previous 231 months.
These seven products will make your home a DIY haven. Find out what the Family Handyman editors are falling in love with right now.
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Telescoping ladders allow you to reach the same height as standard extension ladders, but they eliminate all ’re lighter and easier to transport and take up far less space in your garage. There are a few different brands, and each has models that extend to various heights. We got our hands on the Xtend + Climb 770P, and we’re big fans. It retracts to just 32 in. tall and extends in 1-ft. increments, up to 12 ft. And it weighs only 27 lbs. You can get one online for about $190.2 / 7
My go-to tape
I use a tape measure nearly every day and rely on them for accuracy in detailed woodworking and metalworking projects, and for large-scale carpentry. But I don’t always need to lay out 35-ft.walls, so I prefer this 16-ft. Milwaukee compact tape measure for day-to-day work. It’s easy to carry in my tool belt or clip to my pocket. The strong, nylon-coated blade is printed on both sides, so I can read measurements from any position. The rugged outer case has survived many drops from the top of my ladder to my concrete shop floor. You can find one for about $11 at home centers and online. — April Wilkerson, Contributing Editor3 / 7
The bits in this StubbyBit set by Milescraft may look funny, but they’re super practical. They solve the problem of making pilot or dowel holes in confined spaces—for example, to add shelf pin holes in a narrow cabinet.
If you combine one with a right-angle bit, you can drill a pilot hole nearly anywhere. The hex shank makes going from drill bit to driver bit very fast, and the short length means they’re less likely to snap off. Pick up a set for about $14 online. When you need them, you’ll be glad you did.
By the time we’d get to the dinner dishes after putting the kids to bed, my wife and I would often find melted cheese and lasagna residue stuck to our plates. But when I remodeled our kitchen, I installed a Kohler faucet with a sweeping sprayer pattern that acts like a scraper to rinse off dishes. It doesn’t replace elbow grease in extreme cases of dried-on dinner, but it definitely works better than the faucet we had before. This is the Simplice kitchen faucet, which is available at Home Depot for $180, but Kohler makes several models with this convenient feature. — Mike Berner, Associate Editor
If you’ve struggled to get a grip on short wires or to pull cable through an electrical box, compound-motion pliers may provide the extra gripping power you’re looking for. A few brands make them, but I’ve had the DeWalt long nose pliers in my belt for the recent electrical work I’ve been doing. You can find compound-motion pliers at home centers and online. This DeWalt long nose costs $15. It’s also available in a set (less than $40) that includes side cutters and lineman’s pliers.
Headlamps provide hands-free light that follows your line of vision. That makes them a great tool for DIYers, whether you’re putting away your string trimmer after sunset, navigating a dark attic or crawl space, or working under the hood. The downside is that most headlamps are spotlights that focus their light on what’s in front of you. This OV LED Broadbeam Headlamp gives you 210 degrees of illumination, lighting up your surroundings so you can find your tools in the yard or change that tire in the dark. It’s powered by three “AAA” batteries and has two brightness settings. OV LED headlamps are available online for $15.
If you’re thinking about a way to upgrade your bathroom, here’s an easy one. Put a frame around the plain mirror above your vanity. MirrorMate simplifies that by cutting a frame to fit for you. After you supply the mirror dimensions on its website, including how much space is around your mirror, it will ship a frame to your home along with special connectors and glue to put it together. Just glue the ends together, pound the connectors in, and stick it on. You can choose from 65 frame styles in different pricing tiers at mirrormate.com.
Every product is independently selected by our editors. If you buy something through our links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Mortgage rates have steadily declined with the 30-year fixed-rate bottoming out to 3.82 percent, its lowest level since September 2017, according to the latest figures from Freddie Mac.
Digital Risk co-founder Jeff Taylor told FOX Business’ Neil Cavuto that now is the time for new home buyers to take advantage of the bigger inventory on the market.
“If you’re looking to get into the housing market, i.e., you don’t have a house right now, this is literally the perfect time,” he during an interview on Monday. “Interest rates are about a one percentage point less than it was this time last year … that’s a 10 percent savings on a 30-year mortgage a month.”B
The Federal Reservemight cut the federal funds rate twice this year, a move that could cause the 30-year fixed rate to fall even lower.
“If you get two rate cuts at 50 and if you get to 75, yeah, I think you can be back down to three and a quarter [percent], Taylor said.C
Taylor adds that the lower interest rates allow consumers to reach a little deeper into their pockets and “afford more of a house.”
“People are feeling better about their jobs right now and they’ve been saving. It’s a great time to finally to get into the housing market and make a purchase,” he said.