Gary, Indiana is selling homes for a dollar
You may have heard of the program launched in June wherein the local government bought the homes at county tax sales after homeowners defaulted on property taxes. In an effort to stabilize the University Park section of town, they offered up several homes for only one dollar each, which has grabbed the attention and headlines of various news outlets.
But not so fast. You’re probably not qualified to get one, but it’s not because you can’t come up with a lone dollar, no, the criteria have more to do with who you are.
Gary, Indiana Mayor, Karen Freeman-Wilson tells CNNMoney that roughly 94 percent of all applicants since the program began have been turned away because of the hundreds of applicants simply didn’t qualify.
How can one actually qualify?
So what does it take to qualify to buy your very own one dollar house?
- You must have lived in Gary, Indiana for at least six months prior to applying to buy a home through the program.
- You must have at least $1,000 in savings (since the homes were bought from those who didn’t pay taxes, they want to insure they won’t have to buy your house back yet again).
- You must earn at least 80 percent of the University Park’s median annual income of $35,250.
- Homes “need work,” so you must demonstrate you have the financial capacity to rehabilitate the home.
- You may not currently own a home (no investors invited to this party).
Then, of those that actually qualify, the program requires the new owner to reside there for five years before they are given full ownership – kind of like an official squatter’s program. If the owner fails to stay for the entirety of five years, they forfeit their rights to the property.
Freeman-Wilson says only 25 applicants are currently eligible to buy these homes, and the City of Gary will take all qualifying applications and decide the next owners via a random drawing next month. If the program succeeds, the mayor suggests they could begin selling off up to 50 homes per year through this program.
Gary is not the first city to experiment with selling properties they repossess from homeowners who can’t pay their taxes or have abandoned properties, but this is one of the more creative ways currently being attempted to eliminate blight homes which could help property values in the area and award locals over investors who have never set foot in the town.
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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