November 14th, 2018

Builders feel pinch of fewer young workers

Posted by at 9:41 am

There is a shortage of construction workers, especially in the Northeast and California. The nation lost tens of thousands of workers during the economic downturn. Even as demand has returned, the industry is having trouble replenishing its ranks. The share of workers 24 years old or younger has declined in 48 states, according to an analysis of U.S. Census data. After hitting a peak of 11.7 million during the Housing Boom years, the number of construction workers fell to 10.2 million by 2016. States hit hardest by the housing bust saw the greatest decrease in younger workers between 2005 and 2010, led by Delaware, Vermont, Maryland, California and Arizona. Home construction per household has dropped to the lowest level in 60 years – a big reason why U.S. home prices are rising, and why the home ownership rate remains stuck...
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October 4th, 2018

Millennials moving out from the middle

Posted by at 9:32 am

Cities across America are facing similar infrastructure problems – a lack of housing suitable for middle-income residents. Starter homes within city limits are increasingly hard to find, forcing new workers to move further and further into the periphery. An appropriately balanced housing stock helps cities retain college graduates and other skilled workers. For most of the last decade, young adults have often been targeted as the reason for slowing home sales, supposedly shunning suburbia in favor of rentals in hip urban neighborhoods. But the number of Millennials buying homes in urban areas is declining – dropping from 21 to 17 percent in recent years. Millennials now make up the largest share of suburban buyers, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), and the rising prices are only pushing their search further out. Their younger counterparts in Generation Z are...
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A bit about buying via blockchain

Posted by at 12:20 pm

Though Bitcoin still hogs most of the blockchain headlines, it’s only the tip of the iceberg in terms of applications likely to be affected by this burgeoning technology. However, Bitcoin does provide a simple way to illustrate how many different blockchain transactions might be conducted in the future. As a publicly-accessible ledger, blockchain record-keeping is far more efficient and secure than traditional central-server transactions. When a Bitcoin sales transaction occurs, imagine the users of the blockchain as members of a large audience. The seller and buyer are on a digital “stage,” in front of thousands, or millions, of “people.” In front of all those people, the seller transfers an item to the purchaser, and the purchaser hands over the Bitcoin. Thousands of witnesses can now vouch that the buyer owns the item, and the seller received payment. Since all the...
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Lending in the gig economy

Posted by at 12:20 pm

Plans are underway at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to make home loan qualification easier for people earning money in the “gig” economy. For those not familiar, the “gig” economy refers to the pursuit of flexible, freelance employment instead of full-time work on a traditional career path. In today’s ever-changing economy, finding stable, salaried positions that cover the bills isn’t always so easy. Other people simply find working as an independent contractor better fits their lifestyle. Workers in the gig economy often make similar income to salaried positions. Arguably, their income is more dependable than that of salaried employees, whose jobs are closely tied to the success of their employer and stability of their field. But in many cases, gig earnings don’t qualify as income under existing mortgage-industry guidelines. Typical mortgages tend to require W-2 forms and IRS information going...
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Looking out for Generation Z

Posted by at 11:51 am

It seems that almost every segment of the real estate profession today is aimed at the Millennial Generation. Makes sense. At 80 million strong, Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996, are the largest demographic in history. And now, most have graduated college, begun careers and families, and are settling nicely into the prime spending years. But time moves inexorably forward, and it’s not too early to be talking about the next wave of potential homeowners – Generation Z. Made up of the 75 million Americans born since 1996, Generation Z is expected to start buying homes in earnest within five to 10 years. Analysts say they’re going to be a bargain-hunting, tech-loving, real estate–savvy force to be reckoned with. Watching the Great Recession unfold, most are financially conservative. They know the value of a dollar and the mathematics behind long-term...
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Accessorize your dwelling with an ADU unit

Posted by at 2:56 pm

As home prices continue to  rise, many folks are left wondering how they can afford a piece of the American dream. Some have broached the idea of sharing, but co-ownership – even among family – is a little too cozy for most. The tenancy approach is probably the easiest. That’s why many buyers today are looking for homes with potential to add “accessory dwelling units,” or ADUs. ADU residences can be build-ons, re-purposed space or even a separate, free-standing unit. The main draw is practicality. ADUs provide a sense of autonomy for the renter at a lower cost, and can provide the homeowners with help paying their mortgage. The majority (62 percent) of U.S. households are made up of one or two people, while most new and existing homes are designed to accommodate three or four. Legacy housing stock is...
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Manufacturing a new real estate market

Posted by at 9:44 am

Like tiny homes, manufactured homes are emerging as a possible solution to the current housing shortage. For those with low-to-moderate incomes, who don’t want to sleep in a tiny home bed that folds out of a closet just above the kitchen sink, the manufactured home might make a more palatable choice. Previously referred to as mobile homes, manufactured houses are built in a factory, and transported to a site on a flatbed truck – not to be confused with pre-fab homes, which are transported in pieces and mostly built on-site. New manufactured homes cost a median of $73,800, or about a quarter the cost of new homes nationally, according to the latest U.S. Census Bureau. That might be just the remedy for first-time home shoppers who are having trouble saving up a down payment. But regulatory restrictions on zoning and...
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Rebuilding black homeownership

Posted by at 12:10 pm

After the Fair Housing Act passed in 1968, black homeownership in the U.S. increased steadily for 30 years, reaching nearly 50 percent in 2004. But those gains have all but disappeared since. The homeownership rate among African-Americans has tumbled below 43 percent in 2018, more than 20 percentage points lower than the national rate of 63.7 percent. While young people of all races are buying homes at lower rates than their parents, this is particularly true of young blacks. Fear and distrust of the system may be a motivating factor. Studies show African-Americans were disproportionately targeted by predatory lending practices in the run-up to the Housing Crisis, resulting in higher percentages of foreclosures and other adverse financial situations affecting credit. Market dynamics have made it difficult for many black households to regain a foothold. Today, only 20 percent of African...
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Shopping heats up for summer home season

Posted by at 12:42 pm

Just when you thought the housing market couldn’t get any hotter, it’s a buying frenzy as the summer season begins. Most buyers are beset with confidence in the job market, and many also carry the ticking biological desire to start families. Even with all the talk about rising prices, rising interest rates and reduced tax benefits in 2018, demand is not cooling. If anything, it appears the potential homebuyer is just becoming more rugged and resilient! According to a March survey, 40 percent of home shoppers have been looking for seven months or more, while 34 percent have been searching for four to six months. The numbers show that there is only enough inventory on the market to last 3.4 months. In a statement, Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors, reported: “supply is woefully low, and...
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Home water wells for more liquidity

Posted by at 3:10 pm

Well, well, well. Drilling a home water well could give you more liquidity – in your pocketbook. Cost to install a well depends on many factors, including where you live, but in most regions, it runs less than $5,000. After initial installation, any water you pump from the ground is free! Many urban homeowners use wells exclusively for outdoor watering, and in areas with shortages – and consequent bans on non-essential watering – a ready supply of well water can do wonders for lawn-lovers and gardening gastronomes. Water wells can also be used for drinking water, but these should be separated from any septic system by at least 100 feet. The well should be located on a level surface or uphill so that contaminants do not accumulate. If you plan to drink the water, you need to have it periodically...
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