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Baby-Boomers-Poised-to-Influence-the-Housing-Market-240x170Whether they decide to move from their current homes or age in place, the decisions baby boomers and other older homeowners make during the next few years could significantly impact the single-family housing market. Today, baby boomers and other homeowners age 55 and older control almost two-third (or about $8 trillion) of the nation’s home equity. There also are more than 67 million 55-plus homeowners.

The new “Freddie Mac 55+ Survey”—which polled 4,900 homeowners born before 1961 regarding their current housing situations, plans and willingness to help their grown children become homeowners —found that this generation has the potential to generate significant new demand for mortgage credit and to tighten home-buying competition, especially for millennials and other first-time home buyers.

Here are some of the survey’s key findings:

• Consistent majorities said they are “very satisfied” with their current homes (64 percent), their communities (59 percent) and quality of life (54 percent). Nearly 90 percent of the respondents said people their age should own a home.

• Seventy-six percent of homeowners were confident they would have a comfortable retirement. These feelings were echoed across racial lines and shared by 55-plus homeowners who are still working, as well as retirees, and the 44 percent of homeowners surveyed had a mortgage.

• Consistent majorities said homeownership makes financial sense for married people with children (96 percent) and without children (85 percent), as well as single people with children (79 percent) and without children (53 percent). Almost 25 percent of the respondents also said they have offered down payment assistance to someone.

• This works out to an estimated 42 million homeowners who don’t plan to move. About a quarter (23 percent) indicated they would need major renovations to keep their homes accessible and a third (34 percent) would pay for improvements by refinancing their mortgage or taking out a second loan or home equity line of credit.

• Although movers were in the minority, it was a big minority. According to the survey, almost 40 percent of all 55-plus homeowners said they would like to move at least once more if they had complete control over it. This isn’t just about downsizing to a rental or nursing home; 19 million planned to buy a home and nearly 8 million expected to move within the next four years. Half of the 19 million likely movers also expected to buy less expensive homes.


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Spring-Ushers-in-Robust-Home-Market-240x170This spring’s real estate market is coming in strong. New data released by shows that homes in May are moving off the market at the fastest pace seen since the housing recovery began, despite record-high asking prices.

Based on’s preliminary findings, homes spent a median of 65 days on the market in May—the same length of time as a year ago and three days quicker than April. The median home was listed at $250,000—9 percent higher than a year ago and 2 percent higher than the past month. For-sale housing inventory also has continued to increase on a monthly basis, but remains lower than a year ago.

Meanwhile, more than 550,000 listings have been added to the market to date in May (a 4 percent increase), but the level of inventory remains 4 percent lower than a year ago. Site traffic data on shows a 30 percent growth in searches for homes for sale, compared with May 2015.

“Pent-up demand and low mortgage rates are driving consumers into the market with urgency,” says Chief Economist Jonathan Smoke in a statement. “However, the recurring issue of limited supply is leading to higher prices.”

Thankfully, Smoke adds, gains in new single-family construction and new home sales are providing a pressure release. “Potential buyers are finding they can avoid a competitive bid situation if they elect to sign a contract on a home to be built,” he says. “As the share of new homes sold goes up, we should eventually see signs of more balance in the existing home market, like lower price appreciation. However, we clearly aren’t there yet.”

Here is a snapshot of the’s May data:

• Median age of inventory is estimated to end at 65 days, the same as May 2015 and down 4 percent from April.

• Median listing price for May should reach a record high of $250,000—a 9 percent increase year over year and a 2 percent increase month over month.

• Listing inventory in May is showing a 4 percent increase over April. However, inventory decreased 4 percent year over year.


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How-Single-Women-Are-Changing-the-Home-Buying-Market-240x170Single women are quickly becoming major players in the home buying market. According to the National Association of Realtors’ recent report on Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends, single women made 60 percent more of recent home purchases than single men across all age groups. Single women also have emerged as largest home buying demographic after married couples.

And this trend of single female home ownership is only expected to continue in the coming years, thanks to various factors including a decreasing gender-pay gap that is giving women increased financial independence. In some areas, their incomes are even increasing faster than their male counterparts.

So, as the housing market continues to change, marketing to single women of all age groups is going to become highly important. From baby boomers to millennials, this means offering them a variety of choices and designs, along with features such as easy parking, safety and overall affordability—all with an obvious appeal for all single females. Here is a look at what each of these age groups is likely to desire when entering the housing market.

Baby boomers
NAR found that single female baby boomers buy twice as many homes as single men do and account for one out of every five houses sold in their own age group, making it wise to consider their preferences. Boomers tend to live in the suburbs and have more space than other generations who live in smaller city apartments. Custom hardwood cabinetry, granite or marble countertops, as well as the ability to customize all of a home’s features, are attractive options for single female baby boomers. This consumer will not turn away from affordable luxury, like a glass-gated walk-in shower or custom bathtub.

This age group tends to live in smaller spaces within major cities, close to their workplaces and social centers. Millennial women also tend to get married later and are well educated. Their demand for housing likely will increase, along with their salaries. McMansion-style designs will not sell well within this demographic, which seeks to differentiate themselves from their parents. They tend to favor unique, stylish, but practical, designs. This could mean an in-kitchen cocktail/bar space for entertaining or a shower with a top-mounted rainfall shower head that adds comfort and class to a small space. Location will be particularly important for this group. On the upper end of this market, a preference for condos in dense communities with vibrant street life is expected.


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Zero-Energy-Homes-240x170There’s been a lot of buzz recently about the zero-energy building trend, especially in California, which recently mandated that all new residential buildings must be built to zero-net energy specifications by 2020. If you’re not up-to-speed with the zero-energy building concept — relying on a home’s extraordinary energy conservation and on-site renewable energy to meet heating, cooling and energy needs — here is some info from RIS Media on what you can expect to see when builders start taking green homes to a whole new level:

• These high-performance homes will produce as much energy as they consume by incorporating a photovoltaic system (a linked collection of solar panels) — or other renewables — into the mix. With the majority of these homes still connected to the grid, any excess energy that’s accumulated throughout the day is fed back to the grid, so it can be used at night or on cloudy days.

• Not only are zero-energy homes designed and built as energy-efficiently as possible, residents can look forward to zero energy bills — other than the monthly fee required to connect to the grid — and zero carbon emissions.

• While zero-energy homes look like any other home from the outside, their exterior walls tend to be thicker than those found in traditional homes. They also incorporate heating and cooling systems that are a lot more efficient than typical systems, affording homeowners the luxuries they would expect in a home today.


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mythaboutmillenialsandhomeownership-240x170“The American Dream of homeownership is as strong today as ever.” That’s the belief of HUD Secretary Julián Castro, who in a May 10 address at the National Association of Realtors’ Regulatory Issues Forum said millennials are just as committed to homeownership as their parents and grandparents.

Despite a widespread impression that members of the younger generation are not interested in owning a home, Castro noted a recent survey by TD Bank that found 40 percent of millennials are planning on buying their first homes during the next year.

Student loan debt has been the main obstacle to millennials buying a home, Castro said. About 40 million Americans have some amount of student loan debt and about 70 percent of students graduate with student loan debt, with the average amount of debt at graduation spiking by 56 percent from 2004-2014. The increase has been so great that it has caused many parents and grandparents of millennials to shoulder that debt, with 20 percent of millennials now providing some type of financial assistance to their parents and grandparents.

But things are beginning to improve, Castro said. The number of student-loan delinquencies is declining, and economic improvements have resulted in the creation of 14.5 million jobs during the past 74 months. The average hourly wage also has risen 14 cents in March and April, and the current unemployment rate of 5 percent is the lowest it has been post-recession.

The housing market is a part of the nation’s overall economic strength, he added. “Real residential investment has grown by more than 8 percent for six straight quarters, highlighting the housing sector’s solid, steady recovery,” Castro said. “In fact, growth in residential investment has substantially outpaced growth in overall GDP.”

Castro noted that 1.3 million families have taken advantage of the FHA’s lower mortgage insurance premiums since the association sliced its premium by 50 basis points in January 2015. The immediate result of the mortgage insurance premium cut was a 27-percent increase in the number of home loans endorsed by the FHA from 2014-2015 (up to 753,000), with many of these loans being secured by first-time homebuyers.


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luxuryhomebuyers-240x170From posh outdoor living spaces to decked-out wine cellars, these luxurious features can transform ordinary homes into dream homes. According to real estate brokerage company Redfin, luxury home sales increased in fourth quarter 2015 and ended a nine-month slump, with an average luxury home sale price of $1.62 million. Sales in 2016 also are predicted to climb and attract a new wave of luxury homeowners. So, with that in mind, you might be thinking about how to attract homebuyers who are hunting for a property with a little something extra-special. If that’s the case, consider some of these popular trends emerging of late for some inspiration. While there are some simple fixes you can make — like landscaping and lighting —these amenities are the ultimate in luxury and creature comfort.

1. Think Smart

Wired high-tech spaces are in high demand, and according to a Smart Home Survey by Coldwell Banker and CNET Smart Home, 81 percent of current smart-home device owners said they would be more open to buying a home with connected technology already in place. Many high-end offerings let consumers control items in their homes remotely using a smartphone or tablet — including comforts like heating and ventilation —but consumers also can lock and unlock gates, windows and doors, and monitor encrypted security cameras from anywhere they’re online. In the future, expect sci-fi-level technology — like sensors embedded in your bed that record health-related data such as heart rate and body temperature and analyze it to make dining and recipe recommendations on a screen in the kitchen.

2. Wine Cellars

Remember the typical wine rack? It had individual square openings that you inserted the bottles into and then you had to pull each bottle out one by one just to read them? They have come a long way, baby. Today’s spacious wine cellars have custom drawers that can be pulled out to reveal multiple wine bottles for easy viewing and access, as well as rotating lazy Susans specifically designed to hold wine bottles and wooden wine cases — all installed behind climate-controlled glass doors. Homebuyers also are looking for complete tasting rooms that combine the cozy comfort of a den with restaurant lounge ambience to host friends and family. Add soft lighting, a fireplace and your best wine collection to complete the look.

3. Home Theaters

While home theaters have been around for a while, they now are being updated with actual theater seating — like a recliner, but with a bit more “theater” quality and feel — as well as theater-specific furnishings like popcorn and concession stands, theater “now showing” marquees, and even IMAX screens. There’s even tell of many a themed theater space — including a $300,000 pirate-ship-shaped home theater with leather seats on the ship’s deck and a movie screen for a billowing front sail, along with a keg disguised as a microwave and a door that appears to lead to the ship’s lower deck but actually masks a refrigerator.

4. Outdoor Living Spaces

Outdoor spaces can be as comfy and inviting as indoor areas. More homebuyers are seeking fully loaded, stand-alone outside entertainment areas for cooking, dining, playing and entertaining. Some examples include high-end tree houses; garden rooms; and spacious metal or wooden gazebos complete with climbing flowers pergolas, built-in fireplaces, kitchens, elegant seating areas and fire pits.

5. Underground Garages

The garage is not just a place to keep cars anymore. More and more people are looking for massive subterranean garages (most climate-controlled and with car elevators) that include everything from wet bars to TV lounges to maintenance bays … not to mention plenty of room to show off their prized car and motorcycle collection, and maybe even a golf cart or two.


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singlefamilyimproves-240x170This could finally be the year that production of single-family homes outpaces apartments in the U.S., according to the National Association of Home Builders’ 2016 Spring Construction Forecast.

On the downside, factors that stand to hinder a full rebound include a shortage of build-able lots and labor, along with limited access to acquisition, construction and development loans.

“Builders remain cautiously optimistic about market conditions,” says Robert Dietz, NAHB’s chief economist. “2016 should be the first year since the Great Recession in which the growth rate for single-family production exceeds that of multifamily. And we see single-family growth accelerating in 2017 as the supply side chain mends and we can expand production.”

Steady job growth mixed with affordable home prices, low mortgage rates and pent-up demand have bolstered consumer confidence, with the single-family housing market expected to make a recovery during the next year and into 2017.

NAHB forecasters predict that single-family production will see an increase of 14 percent this year (to 812,000 units), and then rise another 19 percent in 2017 (to 964,000 units).

Referring to the 2000-2003 period as a healthy benchmark when single-family starts averaged 1.3 million units annually, NAHB estimates that single-family production — which bottomed out at an average of 27 percent of normal production in early 2009 — will reach 64 percent of historically normal levels by the fourth quarter of this year and rise to 77 percent of normal by the end of 2017. Single-family production now stands at 58 percent of normal activity.

“Consumer surveys suggest the ultimate goal of millennials is to purchase a single-family home in the suburbs,” says Dietz. “We see growth for single-family looking ahead. The recovery continues and is dictated by demand-side conditions and supply-side headwinds.”

On the multifamily front, production was recorded at 395,000 units in 2015, above the rate of 331,000 that is considered a normal level of production. Multifamily starts are expected to decline by 4 percent (to 379,000 units) in 2016 and increase 6 percent (to 402,000 units) in 2017.

Residential remodeling activity also is expected to increase 3.3 percent in 2016 compared with 2015 and rise an additional 1.3 percent in 2017.

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