Showing posts from October, 2019

LA law set to prevent new “granny flats” as short-term rentals

Los Angeles’s law policing  short-term rentals  goes into effect Friday, and one crucial component is being overlooked: A ban on using newly constructed accessory dwelling units as short-term rentals. Construction of accessory dwelling units – a.k.a. ADU’s, a.k.a. granny flats, or in-law flats – has exploded the last few years. At least some of these are posted on Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms, though no one yet has a count. Depending on one’s perspective, the ban could be a needless blow to single-family homeowners and future development, or a necessary measure that could be difficult to enforce. From ADU to Airbnb ADUs – which are backyard dwellings or converted garages built adjacent to single-family units – started playing a bigger role in L.A.’s housing stock in 2017. That was when the city conformed to a  California law  easing ADU construction restrictions, including almost doubling the cap on ADU space to 1,200 square feet. The effect was immediate. In

It Will Take More Than Lower Mortgage Rates for a Housing Rall

The Federal Reserve is hoping that its  latest interest-rate cut  will help keep the economy safely at cruising altitude. But don’t expect it to provide much of a lift to the housing market. Housing is one of the pathways by which Fed policy produces results. When the central bank cuts interest rates, it encourages people to buy houses (since mortgages are cheaper) and builders to ramp up construction (since demand is strong and borrowing is easier). Those decisions then ripple through the economy, as people buy furniture, builders hire workers and brokers cash their commission checks. But housing isn’t the engine it once was. The sector is a  smaller part of the economy  than before the financial crisis, and a smaller share of Americans are homeowners. And with rates already low, it isn’t clear that a further cut by the Fed will do much for housing — if it lowers mortgage rates at all. (More about that in a minute.) Interest rates still matter for housing. The Fed’s first two

U.S. homeownership rate rises in 3Q

The U.S. homeownership  rate  rose in the third quarter to match an almost five-year high set in the final three months of 2018, the Census Bureau reported on Tuesday. The 64.8% share of American households that own their  residences  increased from 64.1% in the second quarter, the report said. The rate has been trending higher since reaching a five-decade bottom in 2016 after 10 million families lost homes to foreclosure in the wake of the financial crisis sparked by defaults on risky mortgages. The homeownership rate for black Americans rose more than two percentage points to 42.7%, the highest since the end of 2018, from the  record low  set in the prior quarter. The rate for Hispanic households was 47.8%, rising over a percentage point from 46.6% in the second quarter to reach the highest level since 2018’s first quarter when it was 48.4%, Census data showed. White  households  had a homeownership rate of 73.4%, the highest since 2018’s fourth quarter when it was 73.6%.

Design Trends Coming to a Home Near You

1. Warmer Colors Designer Phoebe Schuh of  PS & Daughters  says she’s noticing people moving away from grays and heading toward warmer colors. “Coral in all shades is becoming popular and ocher is also catching on as a fun ‘boho’ color,” she says. Here, a sofa in a light coral shade delivers a little dose of warmth to the bohemian-style living room. Soda Pop Design Inc. 2. Wood Beams Everywhere Designer Cynthia Soda of  Soda Pop Design  says she’s getting requests to add wood ceiling beams “anywhere our clients can have them.” Soda incorporated several large beams in the Toronto kitchen seen here as a way to bring warmth to all the white. The beams also help accentuate the height of the room by drawing the eye upward, and they coordinate nicely with the brass accents found throughout the design. 3. Wall and Door Decals Soda is also seeing “ quirky design elements that speak to individuality,” she says. One example is wall or door decals that person

HUD changing use of False Claims Act in order to bring big banks back to FHA lending

The government’s use of the False Claims Act to extract massive settlements from the mortgage lending industry is about to take a significant step in the opposite direction. Two years after  telling the crowd  at the  Mortgage Bankers Association  Annual Conference in Denver that the  Department of Housing and Urban Development  was working with the  Department of Justice  to address the rise of DOJ enforcement in  Federal Housing Administration  lending, HUD Secretary Ben Carson is planning to make an official announcement on Monday at MBA Annual in Austin on a new approach to FHA lending enforcement. The bottom line? The agencies are easing the use of the False Claims Act in order to bring banks back to FHA lending. According to FHA Commissioner Brian Montgomery, HUD, FHA, and the DOJ have agreed to a memorandum of understanding, which is to be announced on Monday. The document will lay out a new policy for how the agencies will work together to ease the use of the False Cla

How Much Does It Cost to Hire a General Contractor?

A good general contractor can bring a lot of value to a home renovation or building project. These professionals help their clients set a realistic budget, keep a project on schedule and manage construction so the homeowners don’t have to. How much does it cost to hire a general contractor? Find out below. What Do General Contractors Do? Provide realistic cost estimates.  One of the most important services a contractor can provide is nailing down a realistic cost to build or remodel a home — before construction starts. There are two ways to get this all-important cost estimate from a contractor. Traditionally, clients either purchased house plans or worked with an architect to develop them. Then the homeowner sent the plans to multiple contractors for competitive bidding. The contractors bid — estimated the cost of building — the project without charging the client for their time. Many contractors still work this way today. However, plenty of excellent general contractors

A ban on Airbnb investor units eases housing shortage

Sheila Dillon, Boston’s housing chief and director of neighborhood development, said she expects a flood of apartments will hit the market in December when the city’s ban on investor units being used as short-term rentals goes into effect. “We’re hoping that the units returning to the market will be in the thousands,” Dillon  told  the Boston Herald this week. Boston last year banned the use of investor units for short-term rentals via  Airbnb  and other websites. In November 2018, Airbnb sued Boston in federal court over what it called “draconian” regulations. The company settled the suit in August by agreeing to add a function to its website that asks hosts to enter a city-issued registration number starting Sept. 1. Hosts that don’t provide the number by Dec. 1 will be blocked. Dillon said an earlier estimate from Airbnb put the number of investor units – measured as units that are rented for most of the year, implying the owners don’t live there – at about 3,000. That’s abou

To Afford Homes, Buyers Work More and Give Up Entertainment and Vacations

Buying a home is expensive – often the single priciest transaction most of us ever undertake. So it should come as little surprise that a majority of home buyers report making some kind of financial sacrifice to afford their homes – with younger buyers, first-time buyers and/or parents more likely to give up something. Although the housing market  has cooled  in recent months, homes in some areas remain out of reach for typical residents. In six of the country’s 100 largest metro areas, a mortgage on the median-valued home costs more than 30% of the median income – beyond what’s considered affordable. And even in more-affordable areas, saving for a down payment takes time and discipline. According to the  Zillow Group 2019 Consumer Housing Trends Report : 55% of buyers make some type of financial sacrifice in order to purchase their home. The most common sacrifices include reducing spending on entertainment (25% of buyers reported sacrificing this), picking up additional work (

Climate change isn’t affecting owners’ preferences

There’s a disconnect between widespread climate change fears and the actions homeowners are taking to mitigate their property risks, a new study finds. Eighty-one percent of more than 500 consumers recently surveyed say they are worried about climate change, and many are concerned about the impact of changing weather patters on their homes, according to ValuePenguin, a firm that offers consumer financial products. But those concerns don’t appear to be weighing as heavily on consumers’ financial or housing choices. Only 44% of consumers surveyed say they factor in an area’s disaster history when home shopping. Further, 47% of homeowners say they aren’t fully confident that they have adequate insurance to protect their homes from a natural disaster. Yet 42% say they wouldn’t pay more to insure their homes from climate change risks. While climate change comes under more scrutiny in the media, most consumers don’t appear to be letting it influence their real estate decisions. While Mi

Median home prices hit new high in Q3

Home prices rose to a new high in the third quarter, according to a new report from  ATTOM Data Solutions , curator of a property database and property data provider of Data-as-a-Service. Median home prices rose 8.3% from last year and up 2.9% from the previous quarter in the third quarter of 2019, according to the Q3 2019 U.S. Home Sales Report from ATTOM. Single-family homes and condos sold for a median price of $270,000 in the third quarter. Homeowners are also getting more profit than ever on the sale of their home. Homeowners who sold their home in the third quarter earned a median profit that ticked up to a post-recession high of 34.5%, up from 34.4% in the second quarter of 2019 and 34.3% in the third quarter of 2018, according to the report. And homeowners are getting more profit on their homes not only because of rising home prices, but also they are seeing their equity rise as the average homeownership tenure hit a new high of 8.19 years in the third quarter. This is u

Tips For Planning The Perfect Patio

Maybe you dream of baking wood-fired pizzas in a Mediterranean-style backyard. Perhaps you want to lounge by a sleek modern pool or sip wine under an old-world-style pergola covered in roses. Whatever your outdoor ideal, you can ensure that your patio fits your style and needs with thoughtful planning. Read on for tips from landscape designers Greg Koehler and Tony Zambito. Techo-Bloc 1. Select a Theme Nail down your style and color palette before you start to end up with a cohesive design.  Try a fresh modern look with a pattern of smooth  diamond-shape pavers  and warm beiges and grays, as seen here.  Embrace a rustic aesthetic with wood-effect slabs and warm brown cobblestones. Opt for veined sandy-hued pavers, box hedges and white hydrangeas for a Hamptons-inspired space. “The more you personalize your patio, the more you’re going to use it,” says Koehler, the owner of  Outdoor Dreams  in Richmond, Virginia. There’s a world of options from which to choose. T