DISPELLING THE MYTH ABOUT MILLENNIALS AND HOMEOWNERSHIP

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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.

5 WAYS TO ATTRACT MORE LUXURY HOME BUYERS

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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.

SINGLE-FAMILY SECTOR IMPROVES IN 2016

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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.

THE NEW DEFINITION OF SUBURBS

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newsuburbs-240x170A generation ago, the American dream was based in the suburbs. After an economic downturn and a housing crash, the upcoming generations have their own version of the American dream, and it looks decidedly more urban.

In fact, while more people are moving back to cities in search of better jobs and more conveniences, suburbs have been struggling to survive. That is why more suburbs are turning to urbanization to revitalize their communities.

This process of urbanization is taking place across the country from New Rochelle, New York, to San Ramon, California. These suburbs have lost a lot of residents in recent years, leading to structural decay and economic stagnancy. To combat dwindling population numbers, these suburbs have changed the community focus. Shopping malls are being exchanged for office buildings. High rise buildings are replacing empty storefronts, combining commercial space with apartments.

More commercial development attracts businesses, which is critical in a time when workers are in desperate need of jobs. By including downtown living space, these communities can appeal to younger workers, who have an interest in keeping their lives simple. Smaller apartments are not only more affordable, but they give these young people more flexibility while they get their financial standing.

This urbanization is still a relatively new phenomenon so it is impossible to say how long it will last or how successful it will be. However, as society continues to evolve, this new definition of the suburb may still be part of the American dream after all.

YOUR NEW NEIGHBOR IN THE ‘BURBS? A MILLENNIAL. YES, REALLY

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surbs-millenials-240x170If you are a member of the millennial group, you are maturing and are moving to the suburbs to escape the high rents and to take advantage of better school districts for your children. According to a national poll, only 17 percent of people in this group purchased a home within a major city last year.

Millennials’ ages average 30 years old. This is the normal time to begin a family. Even if an urban setting is desired, it is not a great place to find affordable space.

Currently, rents are rising at a steady rate. Home prices have been increasing as well. As interest rates remain low, housing supply is extremely limited, especially in urban areas. Also, home builders are not heavily interested in city neighborhoods. First time buyers are looking for smaller homes that are more affordable, which means it is difficult for builders to make a profit.

Debt is a factor for many buyers as well. Many potential buyers do not have the savings necessary to make a down payment. Student loan debts are very prevalent among this segment of individuals. Back a few years ago, credit card debt was the major issue facing home buyers. Wages must grow so that the market becomes easier to tackle. Despite job creation, income must be increased.

Almost half of millennials have a desire to purchase a home. If this segment decides city life is the way to go, realtors are trying to woo individuals into the condo or “tiny home” movement. To make homes affordable, they must be smaller in space.

THE TOP 10 BEST CITIES FOR NEW HOMEBUYERS

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10bestfornewhomebuyers-240x170While some cities are as unaffordable as ever, there are still places that offer reasonably priced residences as well as desirable amenities. The top 10 best cities for today’s new homebuyers range from Philadelphia to Virginia Beach.

Philadelphia 

With homes priced at around $220,000 and low unemployment rates, Philadelphia is becoming the place for New Yorkers to move to when they become overwhelmed by the Big Apple’s cost of living.

Baton Rouge 

Affordably priced homes make Baton Rouge a tempting place to live. This traditional Louisiana city also has a low median resident age of just 34.7, so Baton Rouge tends to cater to a younger crowd.

Minneapolis 

As one of the country’s fittest cities, Minneapolis is the place to live if working out is a priority. Outdoor spaces are in abundance throughout the city while a low median home price increases its livability rating.

Allentown 

According to recent reports, Allentown is on its way to economic redevelopment. A number of multinational companies have moved to Allentown making work options abundant.

St. Louis 

Access to higher education and the opportunity to take in plenty of Cardinals games make St. Louis an amazing place to live. With homes priced at around $164,000 and its low unemployment rate, the city offers a warm welcome to homebuyers.

Harrisburg 

Reasonably priced homes and ample job growth in the tech industry make Harrisburg a desirable place to live. This midsize city features outdoor spaces and quaint architecture.

Portland 

As the largest city in Maine, Portland features amazing restaurants and plenty of nightlife. The city’s average home prices are slightly more than $300,000 while its unemployment rate is low at 3.3 percent.

Albany 

Albany is currently experiencing an economic recovery with a number of tech companies moving into the area. Making the locale even more tempting for new homebuyers is the city’s median home price, which is at $238,000.

Dayton 

Dayton offers affordably priced homes and a large number of biking trails. These features are inspiring new homebuyers to move to the city.

Virginia Beach 

In Virginia Beach, the unemployment rate is low as is the median home price. With access to the beach and low-density neighborhoods, Virginia Beach is the city for those who dislike living in crowded conditions.

Despite the rising prices of homes across the nation, a number of cities continue to offer value with affordably priced residences and plenty of amenities.

SIX THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN BUYING AN INSURANCE POLICY FOR YOUR HOME

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6thingstoconsider-240x170As you begin the journey of homeownership, you’ll need to take steps to insure it as buying a home is a major investment. To make sure that you get the best protection for your home, consider the following six policy suggestions.

Your Home’s Location

Before agreeing to an insurance policy, assess your home’s surrounding area for potential discounts. For instance, if your house is near a constantly staffed fire department that is also highly rated, you could negotiate a policy discount with your insurance company.

When to Get Extra Protection 

If your new home comes with awesome amenities like a swimming pool and a hot tub, then consider kicking your liability insurance up a notch. This will protect you if someone suffers a serious injury on your property.

Claim History 

Check your home’s claim history because it could affect your homeowner’s insurance rates. When you buy a home that has had a claim filed for it during the past five years, your policy rates will probably be a little higher.

Embrace Earthquake Coverage 

California residents aren’t alone in their need for earthquake insurance. Other states also suffer from the natural disaster. In fact, at least 39 states experience earthquake tremors. Traditional home insurance policies generally don’t cover earthquake damage. Upgrade your policy to include it.

Is Flooding a Possibility?

Even if you don’t live in a flood zone, consider adding protection for it to your policy. According to reports, 90 percent of the nation’s natural disasters involve flooding, so protect your investment.

Take on a High Deductible 

If you take on a higher deductible, then your insurance company will reward you for it with lower policy rates. Since most people only file an insurance claim once every eight to 10 years, you’ll likely save more in the long run with lower yearly rates.

Insuring a Valuable Asset 

Homeowner’s insurance provides protection for one of your most valuable assets. When choosing a policy, be sure to compare the rates, coverage options and deductibles of several different insurers.

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