Showing posts from April, 2019


News Facts 30-year fixed-rate mortgage  (FRM) averaged 4.20% with an average 0.5 point for the week ending April 25, 2019, up from last week when it averaged 4.17%. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 4.58%. 15-year FRM  this week averaged 3.64% with an average 0.5 point, up from last week when it averaged 3.62%. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 4.02%. 5-year Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable-rate mortgage  (ARM) averaged 3.77% with an average 0.4 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.78%. A year ago at this time, the 5-year ARM averaged 3.74%.

Mortgage Applications Decline

Mortgage applications decreased 7.3% from one week earlier, according to data from the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey for the week ending April 19, 2019. The Market Composite Index, a measure of mortgage loan application volume, decreased 7.3% on a seasonally adjusted basis from one week earlier. On an unadjusted basis, the Index decreased 6% compared with the previous week. The Refinance Index decreased 11% from the previous week. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index decreased 4% from one week earlier. The unadjusted Purchase Index decreased 3% compared with the previous week and was 3% higher than the same week one year ago. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($484,350 or less) increased to 4.46% from 4.44%, with points increasing to 0.44 from 0.42 (including the origination fee) for 80% loan-to-value ratio (LTV) loans. The effective rate increased from

Neighborhoods Are Changing

The buyers are mostly white. The change is jolting the economics of the land beneath everyone. In cities across the United States, white homeowners are arriving in places they’ve long avoided. Since 2000, according to a Times analysis of demographic and housing data, the arrival of white residents is affecting about one in six predominantly African-American census tracts. Predominantly minority neighborhoods near downtowns are growing whiter, while suburban neighborhoods that were once largely white are experiencing an increased share of black, Hispanic and Asian-American residents.

Home Inventory Rise Due To Softening Demand

Despite an increase in the total pool of for-sale inventory, the number of new listings on the housing market has fallen year-over-year in each of the past four months, according to the March Zillow® Real Estate Market Report. Overall inventory in the U.S. is 1.2% higher than in March 2018, but new listings fell 6.1% over the same period. And homes are staying on the market for longer – the median time on market increased four days in February from a year prior, the first such increase in four years and the largest since 2011. These trends indicate that the inventory growth is driven largely by cooling demand, not more home sellers. Home values in San Jose, Calif., the most expensive of the 35 largest housing markets in the country, fell 0.2% from this time last year. This is the first time in four years that home values have depreciated on a year-over-year basis in any of the top 35 markets, and the first drop in San Jose in seven years.


In Los Angeles County, more than 15,000 individuals live in cars, vans, and mobile homes, due to the lack of affordable housing. But, according to  CityLab contributors Anne Brown, Donald Shoup, and Vinit Mukhija, there is a huge, untapped source of affordable housing in the area: garages. By their estimate, about 400,000 single-family homes in Los Angeles have a two-car garage that could be converted into an apartment. Until recently,  Los Angeles  prohibited most such conversions, but in 2017, California enacted a law that overrides local prohibitions and allows almost any homeowner to convert their garage into an accessory dwelling unit (ADU). In 2016, before the new state law took effect, Los Angeles issued only 117 permits for second units. In 2018, it issued 4,171 permits, or 36 for every one issued in 2016. Many single-family neighborhoods have garages that can provide a new supply of small, well-located, and high-quality apartments within walking distance of stores and pub


According to a report from the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals, Hispanics made up 39.6% of U.S. household formations between 2008 and 2018. They have also “remained passionate about homeownership” over this period, with 88% of the report’s survey respondents describing a home as a good investment. The overall Hispanic homeownership rate stood at 47.1% in 2018, and the number of Hispanic-owned households has grown from 4,242,000 in 2000 to 7,877,000 in 2018. New Mexico  had the highest rate of Hispanic homeownership in 2018, with 65.5 percent, followed by  Texas  at 56.86 percent. The report also found that with the exception of  California , in “every state where Hispanics account for greater than 30 percent of the state’s population, their rate of homeownership is above 50 percent.” The report further identifies an “upward trajectory for Hispanic homeownership,” adding that “Hispanics will account for more than half of all new homeowners over the next

Sustainability Is Growing in Importance

The National Association of Realtors on Friday issued it REALTORS® and Sustainability 2019 Report, which found that consumer demand in real estate continues to trend eco-friendly. According to the report, 59% of respondents found that residential consumers were very or somewhat interested in sustainability. Seven in 10 residential and commercial agents and brokers reported that promoting energy efficiency in listings is either somewhat or very valuable. A large majority of respondents (83%) said that solar panels were available in their markets, and 36% said that solar panels increased the perceived property value. However, only 8% of those surveyed said that solar panels decreased the perceived amount of time a home spent on the market. Solar panels are most prevalent in Northeast (available in 94% of markets) and respondents in the West were the most likely to report they increase perceived property value (41%). 25% of brokers indicated that tiny homes – hom


Although many millennials want to adopt a pet, get married, and have children, several are waiting to become homeowners first, says ’s Clare Trapasso. A recent survey from LendingTree reports almost a quarter prioritize buying a home before marriage, 27% want a home before children, and 22% want to own before a pet. See other interesting findings from the survey below. Other big findings: 43% of respondents who are first-time home buyers, of all ages, are single; about a quarter have lousy credit; and the overwhelming majority, 79%, are in debt. "People are getting married at later ages or are separated or divorced," says Kapfidze. But he wasn't terribly worried about the debt—provided it's not too high and is being managed responsibly. "The majority of people are in debt. If you own a car and you have a car note, you're in debt. Even if you lease your car, you're in debt." First-time buyers, who tend to be younger, are typicall


Traditionally used primarily as an exterior building material, concrete is having a bit of a moment in the home design world, the  Los Angeles Times  reports. Concrete can help designers and homeowners achieve modern, contemporary, and rustic stylistic looks and is being used in everything from home furnishings to sink faucets. Today, contemporary concrete design has shifted from its formerly formidable and imposing aesthetic to embrace the material’s organic roots in a modern collaboration of earthy elements. Using concrete in combination with wood, warm-toned metals and tactile materials creates a sense of nature and balance in both product and building design. “There’s something really peaceful about [concrete],” Abeer Sweis, design partner at the Los Angeles-based firm Sweiskloss, said, “and yet it’s very powerful, strong and permanent. If you buy something made out of concrete, it feels like it’s been around awhile … it feels like it has just existed.” “The touch of it is a

Garage Door Trends

Topping the list for the second year in a row, garage door replacement projects carry the highest return on investment in  Remodeling's  2019 Cost vs. Value Report. They recoup nearly 100% of the project cost at resale. The  Cape Gazette  highlights several trends that can be incorporated in future garage projects. Bold Colors  Gone are the days of the standard white garage door—bold, dark colors are all the rage in today’s exterior design trends. Black garage doors are one of the leading design trends in the housing world right now. Glass Windows and Natural Light Now that garages and their doors are better insulated, your garage isn’t just a place for your car anymore—it can also serve as a laundry room, workshop, exercise space, or home office. However, the more time homeowners spend in the garage, the more important it is to find ways of letting the light in. In 2019, there likely will be an uptick in garage doors with windows. Garage door windows both brighten the inter

Outdoor Living Trends

In the latest American Institute of Architects’ home design trends survey, outdoor kitchens topped the list of most popular projects. Unfortunately, the survey didn’t go into detail on what owners are adding to those spaces.  Forbes  contributor Jamie Gold looked into the popular features within outdoor kitchens and its consequent outdoor living areas. Check out more details below. Premium cooking “In the past, many homeowners focused solely on their grill, and perhaps some outdoor seating,” recalls Mary Hannah Fout, senior marketing manager with Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery. “Today, many homeowners are accompanying the grill with a fully functioning built-in kitchen complete with sink and faucet, refrigeration, dishwasher, ice machine, beverage unit, pizza oven, weather resistant cabinets and more. Smart appliances are becoming very popular and it comes as no surprise that smart technology is also trending in the outdoor kitchen,” she comments. “Many grills and smo

Homeowners Underestimate The Costs Of Remodeling

Homeowners significantly underestimate the costs involved when planning a home improvement project, finds a new study from Discover Home Equity Loans, based on a survey of 1,200 Americans.  Estimated Cost of Common Interior Remodeling Projects New master suite/owner’s suite: $125,000 Kitchen upgrade: $35,000 Complete kitchen renovation: $65,000 Bathroom renovation: $30,000 Adding a new bathroom: $59,000 Basement conversion to living area: $40,000 Attic conversion to living area: $75,000 Insulation upgrade: $2,100 New wood flooring: $5,500 Hardwood flooring refinish: $3,000 HVAC replacement: $7,475 Source: “ 2017 Remodeling Impact Report, ” National Association of REALTORS® Eighty-two percent of consumers believe the home they own is a financial asset, the study says. As such, they want to tackle home improvement projects to increase the value of their home even more. More than half—52 percent—of consumers say they plan to take on a home improvement project in the

2019 Kitchen Design Trends

With the many sources of inspiration and countless trends that emerge, it is often difficult to keep track of the latest design trends. Surveys and studies conducted by industry organizations, such as the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) and Houzz, can offer a synthesis of the latest trends and provide figures to back up anecdotal evidence. Recent surveys by both the NKBA and Houzz indicate there are many seismic shifts occurring in the kitchen design sphere, and the  Washington Post  highlights some of the top trends the surveys identify. Colorful Cabinets and Appliances  Painted cabinets, including the base of a center island, are brightening more kitchens today, as are appliances with bright exteriors. “Colorful cabinets or pops of color are very much in for kitchen design,” says Allie Mann, a senior designer-interiors specialist with Case Design/Remodeling in Falls Church, Va. “While shades of blue remain a popular go-to color, we’re starting to see more and more gre


Home sale prices of residential properties in areas designated as federal “Opportunity Zones” code have risen by more than 25% over the past year, according to a new report by Zillow. The Opportunity Zones program, created as part of the 2017 tax code, gives developers and investors a tax benefit if they build new apartments or condos, or rehabilitate existing properties, in one of 8,700 specially designated “distressed” zones. Government officials anticipate that the program will bring more than $10B in private capital to these distressed areas. The majority of these zones were required to have an average poverty rate of 20 percent and a median family income of no more than 80 percent of the statewide median income. That means some sites met the requirements but were not selected. Of those eligible sites that were not selected as Opportunity Zones, residential sales only increased 8.4 percent in the last year, according to Zillow. Critics of the program still worry it will on

The Redefined Role Of The Pantry

A greater emphasis on open concept design has led to the evolution of the kitchen. Now, the kitchen is often viewed as the heart and social center of the home, with the layout of a kitchen having paramount importance for homeowners. With this evolution, back-up storage space and work space have been viewed with greater importance. As such, the role of the pantry has evolved with the kitchen,  Kitchen & Bath Design News  reports. The debate between pantry cabinetry and walk-in, stick-built space is no longer a black and white, either/or choice. Traditionally, the decision was dictated by budget of dollars and space, but today there are many factors influencing this choice. A discussion of cabinetry for pantry storage must include a nod to the amazing lighting and accessorization available to bring more storage safely within the reach of most of us—quite a feat in the reduced amount of space available. The tall pantry with pull-out individual shelves is probably the most flexibl

Homeowners Spend $21,000 On Average To Sell Their Homes

Home sellers in the United States spend $20,851 on average to sell their homes, according to Zillow® and Thumbtack's 2019  Hidden Costs of Selling analysis . This includes closing costs, but also the improvements and other projects made when people are preparing their homes for sale. More than half of today's sellers are doing so for the first time, and the costs associated with the process may come as an unwelcome surprise. Zillow and Thumbtack identified several common – but often overlooked – expenses to inform sellers as they prepare to list their homes this spring. Courtesy Adobe Stock/Sean Locke The majority (79%) of sellers complete at least one home improvement project before putting the home on the market, which tends to pay off. Sellers who make improvements to their homes are more likely to sell for more than their asking price than those who don't – 22% versus 16%, according to the   Zillow Group Consumer Housing Trends Report . Sellers who hire profess

Zestimates Improve

In response to complaints that its estimates gave homeowners unrealistic expectations, Zillow, an online real estate marketplace and creator of the Zestimate, conducted a competition to improve its accuracy. Almost 4,000 teams of data scientists and engineers in 91 countries participated. The winner was announced in January. When Zillow launched the Zestimate in 2006, its margin of error for home price estimates was about 14% nationally, says Skylar Olsen, director of economic research at Zillow. That improved to 4.5% by early 2019, she says. As the winning improvements are made this year, the margin of error will fall below 4% nationally, says Olsen. That means half of Zestimates will be within 4% of the actual sale price of homes, and half will be outside that margin of error, says Olsen. Even with the improvements, Zillow says, homeowners should supplement the Zestimate with a comparative market analysis from real estate agents or a professional appraisal.

Keep Smart Home Technology Simple

Custom smart home technology is gaining headline appeal—who wouldn’t want a home that works seamlessly in sync with one's needs and demands? Yet, for those who get caught up in its appeal, it also generates frustration. A recent report from the Customer and Product Experience 360 (CPX 360)  shows just the level of frustration that they are experiencing. The report shows that, on average, tech users have to take more than eight steps to resolve an issue with a smart device. This process involves valuable time, on average two and a half hours, according to the report. And 22% of users cannot resolve the issue at all and return the product for a refund. This now explains a two-part challenge that large scale builders face. First, builders need to be able to deliver technology that will solve for the buyer’s needs—keeping them away from retail shelves and DIY projects after they move in. Second, builders also need to create a seamless, intuitive solution that is easy for the con

Pet Showers Tops In Increasing Home Value

A recent Zillow study found home pet amenities, such as pet showers or dog doors, can increase the price of a home by 19% and dog or cat doors by 5%, Home theaters are also an important feature for home buyers--those can increase the sale price of a home by 17 percent. Other top features include professional appliances or chef inspired kitchens. Zillow says millennials are also looking for homes with free standing tubs, pizza ovens and wine cellars. The study also found that homes with open shelving in the kitchen and subway tile sold faster than expected.

Student Loan Debt Still An Issue For Millennials

U.S. student loan debt, which is currently estimated at $1.56 trillion, remains one of the top reasons millennials have delayed the home buying process. According to a recent report from, 31% of Americans say they currently have or have had student loan debt stemming from their own education. Only 15% of their baby boomer parents could say the same.  Forbes  contributor Ellen Paris has more details on the issue below.’s Senior Economic Analyst Mark Hamrick based in  Washington  sees it this way. “When we look across the landscape, potential home buyers are among those most adversely affected. When we receive data from the Federal reserve showing student loan debt at over $1.5 trillion, we find it important to connect the dots and see how and where it’s impacting individuals.” For Millennials who have settled in areas like  Boston ,  New York , Washington DC,  Los Angeles  or  San Francisco , even without crushing monthly student loan debt payment, there’s


In advance of the March jobs report due out from the Labor Department on Friday, payroll processor ADP was out Wednesday with results of a survey that shows job growth slowing. AP News reports: Companies added the fewest jobs in 18 months in March, a  private survey found, suggesting employers may have grown more cautious as signs of slower economic growth have emerged. Payroll processor ADP said Wednesday that businesses added 129,000 jobs last month, down from the previous month’s gain of 197,000. Still, the job gains in March are enough to slightly lower the unemployment rate over time. All the job gains were in service sectors, such as education and health care, which added a combined total of 56,000. Professional and business services, which include engineering, accounting, and other higher-paid work, added 41,000. Manufacturing and construction firms both cut jobs last month.

Flinstone House near SF Raises All Kinds Of Property Rights Issues

ccording to  The  Sacramento  Bee , a fanciful home in the San Francisco suburbs is the site for a battle over property rights between the city of Hillsborough and  Florence  Fang the homeowner who is also the former publisher of the San Francisco Examiner. The dispute is not over the 2,730 square foot house but the grounds that it occupies which includes sculpture of dinosaurs, mushrooms, and other oddities. "Mrs. Fang has made people smile, she's giving them joy. What's not to love about Dino, who acts like a dog?" said Angela Alioto, a former San Francisco supervisor. "What is wrong with these people?" The oddly shaped house, currently painted red and purple, was designed by architect William Nicholson and built in 1976. Fang, a prominent philanthropist who once published the  San Francisco  Examiner, bought the property in June 2017 for $2.8 million. The whimsical front yard has statues of Barney and Betty Rubble, along with Fred and Wilma. A sign r

Energy Star Rated Windows Are The #1 Green Home Feature

Many consumers in today’s market are interested in energy-efficient home features, such as solar heating, efficient lighting, and water-saving products. But, according to NAHB’s  What Home Buyers Really Want  survey, Energy Star windows are the most-wanted green feature this year with 89% of prospective homeowners reporting it either as an ‘essential/must have’ or ‘desirable.’ Energy Star-rated appliances follow close behind with 86% and a complete Energy Star-rated home ranks third with 81%. Further analysis provides evidence that for home buyers, a green home is first and foremost an energy efficient home. Except for water-conserving toilets, every one of the top ten green features deals directly with energy efficiency: ‘efficient lighting that uses less energy than traditional bulbs’ (77 percent), ‘windows with triple-pane insulating glass’ (77 percent), ‘insulation higher than required by code’ (73 percent), as well as low-e insulating glass windows (62 percent), a tankless wate

Where The Dogs Are

Seattle, Chicago and Denver are this year's top cities for dog lovers, according to a new ranking from Redfin, the tech-powered real estate brokerage, and Rover, the largest network of five-star pet sitters and dog walkers in the country. Architects, designers, builders, and remodelers are adding practical and luxurious dog-friendly options, spurred by pet-crazy millennials. Despite the notion that some people may wait to move to the suburbs to adopt a dog, urban cores still rank highest in dog friendliness. Cities renowned for leafy parks and outdoor activities like Seattle, Chicago and Denver claimed the top spots. And while New York City, Brooklyn and San Francisco rank highest for walkability, a seemingly significant factor when deciding to get a dog, they rank lower for overall dog friendliness, perhaps due to a higher cost of living and housing inventory of typically smaller apartments.

Top Kitchen Design Trends for 2019 and Beyond

Each year, the National Kitchen & Bath Association (NKBA) surveys hundreds of professional kitchen designers around the country to crowd source emerging styles, features, and materials with staying power in the kitchen. These experts travel to showrooms and trade shows, observing the latest trends front and center. The NKBA survey aims to capture trends not only for the current year, but for many more beyond it. The trends highlighted by professionals are: Color, and Lots of It The all-white kitchen will always have a place in ultra-modern homes, but its days as the dominant design force are over. “We’re heading into 2020 with bold, vibrant colors in the kitchen,” says Elle H-Millard, a certified kitchen designer and editor-at-large with NKBA. Deep, saturated colors evocative of nature, including emerald green and navy blue, are on the rise, maybe as an island counter color or even as an appliance finish. Column Refrigerators The fridge and freezer have al