Despite affordability and labor concerns, homebuilder confidence held steady at 62 points in March, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index. “Builders report the market is stabilizing following the slowdown at the end of 2018 and they anticipate a solid spring home buying season," NAHB Chairman Greg Ugalde said. In March, the index measuring current sales conditions rose from 66 to 68 points, while buyer traffic declined from 48 to 44. Lastly, expectations over the next six months rose from 68 to 71 points. The three-month moving averages for regional HMI scores show the Northeast rose five points from 43 to 48 points, the South also moved forward from 63 to 66, the West inched forward from 67 to 69 points and the Midwest slid one point backwards from 52 to 51 points. "In a healthy sign for the housing market, more builders are saying that lower price points are selling well, and this was reflected in the government's new home sales report released last week," NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said. "Increased inventory of affordably priced homes – in markets where government policies support such construction – will enable more entry-level buyers to enter the market." “The skilled worker shortage, lack of buildable lots and stiff zoning restrictions in many major metro markets are among the challenges builders face as they strive to construct homes that can sell at affordable price points,” the report states. NOTE: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index gauges builder opinions of single-family home sales and expectations, asking for a rating of good, fair or poor. The scores are used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index with a rating of 50 or over indicating positive sentiment.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced this week that the Federal Housing Administration is expanding its low-income housing tax credit financing program for multifamily properties. According to HUD, the move is a “significant expansion” of an FHA pilot program that streamlines mortgage insurance applications for affordable housing developments that have equity through the LIHTC program. Back in 2012, the FHA rolled out a LIHTC pilot program that dealt specifically with applications to refinance mortgage debt under FHA's Section 223(f) program. Under the new expansion, FHA will begin to support “new construction and substantial rehabilitation” under its Section 221(d)(4) and Section 220 programs. “Today, we take another important step to stimulate capital investment in affordable housing at a time when we need affordable housing more than ever,” HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement. “We’re also applying the lessons we’ve learned from our earlier pilot program to streamline our processing for new construction and substantial rehabilitation developments, so we can get these deals done quicker and more efficiently.” According to HUD, the FHA’s expanded pilot program will “ensure faster and more efficient processing for low-risk, LIHTC transactions by eliminating redundant reviews.” Per details provided by HUD, the average processing time for LIHTC deals is currently 90 days. “A shorter application review period allows borrowers to lock in better interest rates sooner, an important capability in a rising interest rate environment,” HUD stated in a release. The move has the potential to have significant impact on the multifamily financing space. According to HUD, FHA multifamily transactions that include LIHTC financing make up approximately 30% of the FHA’s total multifamily volume. And the FHA expects that by including its Section 221(d) and Section 220 programs with the existing LIHTC program, the FHA will “support more production and preservation of critically needed affordable multifamily housing.” For much more on the FHA LIHTC expansion, click here.
A new report by Coldwell Banker reveals where the country’s wealthiest individuals are buying properties, listing the top 5 “power markets” for luxury real estate. Coldwell defines power markets as areas that offer the lifestyle amenities, education, and culture that the uber-rich seek out. Key features of these markets include airport accessibility and a housing stock that lends itself to privacy, exclusivity and stellar views. A recent report by Redfin revealed that luxury home sales – or sales of homes priced above $2 million – fell 3.9% in the fourth quarter of 2018, marking the first time in more than two years that sales in this high-end market have fallen on an annual basis. But Charlie Young, Coldwell President and CEO, said that the median sold price has remained around $1.4 million, holding steady for the last 18 months, and that this is a key sign of stability. “When you take the long view, the luxury real estate picture is steady and stable.” Here are Coldwell’s top five power markets for buyers and sellers, which Young called hotbeds of luxury home sales at the million-dollar price point and higher: 2018 Top 5 luxury buyer power markets Maui, Hawaii Palm Beach, Florida Washington, D.C. Kauai, Hawaii Brooklyn, New York 2018 Top 5 luxury seller power markets LA Valley, California Detroit, Michigan Las Vegas, Nevada Boulder, Colorado Raleigh, North Carolina Coldwell’s report also revealed other trends in luxury real estate. High-end real estate in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, had the shortest median days on the market – just three – for single-family homes. For condos, Orlando, Florida, had the lowest median price per square foot at $156. Vail, Colorado, ranked the most expensive for condos with a median price of $1,629 per square foot. Finally, Staten Island, New York, was named the most evolving market, standing out for its notable value compared with the other four boroughs of New York City, as its proximity to Manhattan appeals to buyers.
Despite rents continuing to rise throughout much of 2018, renters are choosing to remain in the same apartment more than they ever have before, even if their rent goes up. In fact, a new report from RealPage shows that apartment resident retention (renters electing to renew their lease after its initial term expires) hit an all-time high last year, with nearly 53% of renters choosing to renew their leases. According to RealPage’s report, apartment resident retention jumped to 52.5% last year, meaning that in the country’s 50 largest markets, when renters’ initial leases came up from renewal, 52.5% of them chose to renew. According to RealPage’s report, the renters who chose to renew their leases did so at rents that were 4.5% higher on average than their initial rent. The figures probably come as a bit of surprise to some in the market, especially considering apartment construction was at a nearly 30-year high last year, but RealPage notes that there a number of factors at work here. “For example, loss of renters to purchase ran below the historical norm, especially when interest rates inched ahead of year-ago levels, making purchase less affordable,” RealPage noted in its report. Apartments in Milwaukee and Newark-Jersey City had the most repeat renters, each registering conversion of expiring leases into renewal leases for 61.9% of the households. Resident retention was also above 60% in Providence, Rhode Island and Miami. The rest of the top ten markets where renters renewed their leases most often consisted of St. Louis, Philadelphia, Cleveland, New York, Minneapolis-St. Paul, and Pittsburgh. According to the report, other areas where resident retention ran well below the national level were San Diego, Charlotte and Phoenix.
January was a fairly flat month when it comes to rental growth, however a shift once again gave California six of the top 10 most expensive rental markets in the U.S. While most of the top 10 cities remained flat, Santa Ana rejoined the ranks, giving California six of the top 10 cities, according to a monthly rental report from Zumper. Three of those cities are in the top 5 most expensive markets. Overall, as the chart below shows, national one bedroom rent actually fell 0.4% to $1,212 in January, while two bedrooms increased slightly by 0.1% to $1,442. Annually, one bedroom rent is down 2.5% while two bedroom rent is up 3.7%. Click to Enlarge These slowdowns and even decreases bring many renters much-needed relief as affordability has been a major concern for Americans throughout 2018, as mortgage rates and rents both reached record highs. Los Angeles, California: One bedroom rent decreased a slight 0.8% to $2,400, while two bedrooms saw an even smaller dip, down 0.6% to $3,200. Boston, Massachusetts: One bedroom rent fell 1.2% to $2,420, while two bedrooms grew 1.5% to $2,740. San Jose, California: One bedroom rent grew 1.6% to $2,530, while two bedrooms increased 1% to $3,030. San Francisco, California: One bedroom rent grew 2.3% to $3,580, while two bedrooms decreased a slight 0.2% to $4,640.
According to Redfin’s migration analysis, 25% of home searchers looked to relocate to another metro in the fourth quarter of 2018. This percentage is a slight increase from 23% in 2017, and now sits at the highest recorded level in the report's history. The migration report utilized data from Redfin’s website, gathering information from more than 1 million users who searched for homes across 87 metros, from October through December. In fact, Redfin states all of these metros saw their outflows (people moving away from the area) dramatically increase from the previous year, especially in San Francisco. In this metro, 24% of Bay Area Redfin users were searching for homes in another metro, which is an uptick from 19% during the same time period in 2017. However, Denver made the biggest move up 2017’s list, as 24% of Denverites searched for homes outside the metro, climbing from 17% the previous year. Interestingly, although Seattle’s market continues to be one of the most expensive in the nation, its net inflow (the number of people moving into an area) surged in Q4, making it the fifth-most popular migration destination. “In both Seattle and Denver prices were growing rapidly in 2017 and early 2018 to the point that buyers backed off in the second half of 2018,” Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather said. (Click to enlarge) NOTE: Redfin's sample-sized users must have viewed at least 10 listings during the quarter. In order to calculate net inflow and outflow, Redfin took the number of users looking to leave the metro area and subtracted the number of users looking to move to the metro area from another metro area.
LendingReal EstateValuationsTechnology Claims contest winners’ algorithm improves Zestimate accuracy The Zestimate that appears on every listing on Zillow is about to get a little closer to the expected sales price of a house, and all the online real estate giant had to do is give away more than $1 million. According to Zillow, the winning team beat the Zillow benchmark model by approximately 13%. The winning team includes data scientists and engineers from around the world: Chahhou Mohamed of Morocco, Jordan Meyer of the United States, and Nima Shahbazi of Canada. As a result of Mohamed, Meyer, and Shahbazi’s efforts to beat the Zestimate, the team will be awarded $1 million. Beyond that, Zillow also awarded $100,000 to the second-place team, and $50,000 to the third-place team. Zillow said that it will incorporate parts of the winning team’s model, along with other contest entries, to improve the accuracy of the Zestimate that appears on the listings for 110 million homes on Zillow. According to Zillow, the improvements to the Zestimate will decrease its current nationwide error rate of 4.5% to less than 4%, meaning that half of all Zestimates will be within 4% of the selling price, and half will be off by more than 4%. “We’re so proud that the winning team’s huge achievement, and the work of all the teams in the competition, will provide millions of homeowners with a better understanding of one of their biggest life investments.” According to Zillow, the winning team’s algorithm utilized several “sophisticated machine learning techniques, including using deep neural networks to directly estimate home values and remove outlier data points that fed into their algorithm.” Additionally, the winning team made use of publicly-available, external data including rental rates, commute times, and home prices, among other types of contextual information, like road noise, all of which are variables that factor into a home’s estimated value. “It’s amazing to know that millions of people will benefit from our ideas,” Shahbazi said. For every idea that worked, there were a hundred that didn't work.
Among the top 10, San Jose ranked No. 6 and San Francisco No. 8. on a list compiled and released this week by urban planning consulting firm Demographia. For the ninth consecutive year, Hong Kong claimed the top spot as the least affordable city in the world. By comparison, the median property price was 9.4 times the median household income in San Jose, 9.2 times in Los Angeles and 8.8 times in San Francisco. But, the U.S. is also home to all of the nine major affordable markets on Demographia’s list. Among the most affordable major housing markets in the world, Pittsburgh and Rochester, New York, were tied for No. 1, followed by Oklahoma City; Buffalo, New York; Cincinnati; Cleveland; St. Louis; Indianapolis and Detroit. Here are the least affordable housing markets in the world: (Cities are listed by median home price as a multiple of median income.) Hong Kong……….20.9 Vancouver…….….12.6 Sydney……….…...11.7 Melbourne…….....9.7 San Jose……...…9.4 Los Angeles……...9.2 Auckland………....9 San Francisco…...8.8 Honolulu………....8.6 London………......8.3 Toronto……...…...8.3
If you’re a competitive business, you’re on social media. I've worked with businesses who've just created their first Instagram page and clients with an audience of over 3 million raving fans. Relationships Instagram is a social platform. Proactively engaging with other users on the platform and followers of your page through likes, tags and comments can show that you've created a meaningful relationship between users. The more human your brand feels (from real, authentic interactions), the more your fans can develop an authentic relationship with you. With this in mind, note that creating a content calendar and posting schedule of evergreen content as well as curated content can help your Instagram profile grow. You also want to make sure that you schedule this content at peak times of the day for social media posting — in the time zone you're trying to target. Make sure you actively engage with your audience and you post content that’s going to excite people and prompt a quick engagement when they see it on their feed. Bonus Factor: Authenticity There are many services out there that will promote social proof (through fake followers, likes and interactions). Focus on real and authentic engagement, and your audience will be likely to grow naturally.
In 2018, American consumer debt reached a whopping $4 trillion, contributing to tightening affordability concerns in the housing sector. In fact, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, housing affordability sat at a 10-year low in the third quarter of 2018. As the cost of living is often a significant factor in determining where people choose to live, homeowners often seek out more affordable markets. LendingTree recently released a report that highlighted the best U.S. metros for paying off debt. According to the company's data, the top metros had a rent-to-income ratio below 20%, and all but one had a below-average price on goods and services. 1 metro in the country for paying down debt, with a score of 77.2. The company calculated this total by comparing factors related to residents’ abilities to pay down debt in the 50 largest metros across the country. Notably, Milwaukee and Minneapolis followed closely behind with scores of 75.6 and 75.5, respectively. Residents living in Detroit and Los Angeles were also challenged, with scores totaling 40.8 and 42.3, respectively. The image below shows which metros are the best for paying off debt: (Click to enlarge) (Source: LendingTree) NOTE: LendingTree scored cities based on factors including credit rate, household income, unemployment rate, price parity for goods and services and more.