December 15th, 2018

HUD announces new FHA loan limits for 2019

Posted by at 10:10 pm

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is raising loan limits for most of the country in 2019. The FHA’s loan limit ceiling is increasing in more than 3,000 counties, with the loan limit in high-cost areas increasing to $726,525 from $679,650. FHA will also increase its floor to $314,827 from $294,515. Single-family forward loans are limited to 115% of median house prices, subject to a floor and a ceiling. FHA also set its maximum loan limit ‘ceiling’ for high-cost areas at 150% ($726,525) of the national conforming limit. Click here to see county-by-county limits and read the FHA letter to mortgagees...
Read more
December 10th, 2018

The X Factor

Posted by at 6:46 pm

Young homeowners who scuffled through the economic strife of the Housing Crash appear now to be reaping the spoils of their resilience. According to the Pew Research Center, Generation X (born 1965-1980) homeowners have seen their home equity nearly double since 2010.. In the same timeframe, Gen X household wealth has risen by 115 percent, surpassing 2007 levels. Baby Boomers (born 1950 to 1964) and the Silent Generation (born 1935 to 1949) have yet to recover their pre-crisis wealth levels. Members of Generation X were hit disproportionately hard by the Housing Crisis. At the time, most were in their late 20s – a sort of first-time homebuyer “sweet spot.” Credit access was running like water. They were excited at their prospects and starting to build a little equity. Just as things were looking up, several concurrent financial calamities resulted in...
Read more
November 30th, 2018

Conforming loan limits set to rise again in 2019

Posted by at 6:57 pm

Due to generally rising home prices, the Federal Housing Finance Agency will increase conforming loan limits in 2019 for mortgages backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It’s the third straight year with an increase after nearly a decade without a change. Limits will rise to $484,350 from $453,100 in all but 47 counties in the U.S., an increase of 6.9%. Loan limits will also be increasing in what the FHFA calls “high-cost areas,” where median home prices are more than 115% of the baseline cost. Most of the high-cost counties in CA, CO, MA, MD, NC, NJ, NY, TN, UT, VA, WA and the District of Columbia will have a ceiling of $726,525, which is 150% of $484,350. In Alaska, Hawaii, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the baseline loan limit will be $726,525 for one-unit properties. For a county-by-county...
Read more
November 27th, 2018

Water Floods Future Real Estate Concerns

Posted by at 6:18 pm

The construction and ongoing maintenance of utilities, roads and other infrastructure is essential to meeting the growing housing need in the 21st Century. First among these needs is ensuring the availability of usable water, especially in drought-stricken parts of the Southwest and West already dealing with supply issues. In May, California became the first state in the nation to pass laws permanently limiting indoor water use: 55 gallons per person per day by 2022, gradually dropping to 50 gallons by 2030. The Department of Water Resources says it will recommend standards for outdoor use by October 2021. Water districts who fail the to meet the goals face fines of up to $10,000. Officials say they put the onus on providers to motivate cleaning up overall system problems. Estimates say up to 30 percent of urban water loss comes from supplier...
Read more
November 20th, 2018

Housing taking a peak?

Posted by at 11:02 am

After rapid acceleration for most of the past two years, home prices in many parts of the country are slowing as interest rates rise and inventory in some markets increases. Evidence that the market is cooling can be seen in price drops. In October, 31.3 percent of homes for sale had at least one price drop of more than 1 percent after listing, 6.3 percent higher than last October’s level of 25 percent. Ten years after the financial crisis, the notion of a housing “peak” – which would naturally be followed by a downturn – seems downright spooky. Is it time to start talking about a “housing bubble?” Most economists say no. Historically, price crashes are usually caused by over-supply. In contrast, the present moment is probably a simple “cycle top” – the kind of correction normal in any consumer...
Read more
November 14th, 2018

Builders feel pinch of fewer young workers

Posted by at 5:41 pm

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...
Read more
October 26th, 2018

Refinancing student loan requires careful consideration

Posted by at 12:03 pm

With untapped home equity at an all-time high of $14.4 trillion, homeowners could be poised to start cashing in. One way you can do that is to roll other debt into your mortgage. In 2017, Fannie Mae added the Student Loan Cash-out refinance option. With Fannie Mae adjusting the loan level depending on risk, some borrowers may pay as little as 1 percent of the loan for this arrangement. As of 2018, student debt in the U.S. totals a staggering $1.5 trillion. For many, rolling it into their mortgage seems like a viable option. Also referred to as debt reshuffling, paying one loan with another may seem amazing – after all, you have seemingly made a big chunk of debt “disappear.” But it’s no magic trick. You still owe the money, you’ve just changed the terms. Attaching student debt to...
Read more
October 19th, 2018

Think pickles

Posted by at 9:15 am

How does your garden grow? Well, after the uncommonly warm growing season of 2018, the answer is probably “pretty darn well.” With bountiful backyard harvests coming in faster than families can eat, many home gardeners are making up more farm-to-fork soups, pies and salads than they ever thought possible. But the onslaught continues. As the late season crops come in, this prodigious produce inevitably makes its way to the office, to church and the family reunion. At first, the people in your life may appear to appreciate it, but there’s a limit! Remember, they have their excesses too! Have you considered pickling? Pickling is an old-school, economical method for keeping fruits and vegetables out of the compost bin. The basic process is simple. First, add slices of fruits and/or vegetables to sterilized jars. Pretty much everything that grows can be...
Read more
October 17th, 2018

Itemize cut down to size

Posted by at 9:36 am

It’s hard to believe, but it’s almost 2019. Time to start thinking about your 2018 tax return in the first year of the Trump-Republican tax reform. Whether the changes help or hurt you, there’s one thing that seems nearly certain – a lot fewer filers are going to be itemizing. The standard deduction has nearly doubled, from $6,350 to $12,000 for single filers and from $12,700 to $24,000 for married filers filing jointly. Theoretically, far more taxpayers will be discouraged from itemizing, leaving a lot fewer deductions for IRS workers to verify. Even with the lower standard deduction, only about 30 percent took the time to itemize last year. With the big increases, it could go down to single digits. But the increased standard deductions aren’t the only reason taxpayers might skip itemization. Many deductions have been reduced or eliminated...
Read more
October 4th, 2018

Millennials moving out from the middle

Posted by at 4:32 pm

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...
Read more