Median home prices take a slight dip
According to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), in the fourth quarter, median home prices fell slightly, and mortgage rates rose slightly, both contributing to housing affordability “holding steady.”
Fully 64.7 percent of new and existing homes sold in the fourth quarter were affordable to families with the U.S. median income of $64,400, up 0.2 percent from the third quarter (thus “holding steady”).
The national median home price fell from $211,000 in the third quarter to $205,000 in the fourth quarter, as average mortgage interest rates rose from 4.45 percent to 4.54 percent in the same period.
Housing affordability stabilizing on a national level
“Housing affordability is stabilizing at a time when pent-up demand and ongoing job growth are helping housing markets across the nation to gradually strengthen,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly.
“While this bodes well for housing in 2014,” Kelly adds, “builders continue to face challenges, including tight credit for home buyers, inaccurate appraisals, and a shortage of workers and buildable lots.”
Regional performance varied
In the fourth quarter, the most affordable major housing market was Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa, as 89.4 percent of all new and existing homes sold in this year’s fourth quarter were affordable to families earning the areas’ median incomes of $53,900.
Kokomo, Ind. is the most affordable smaller market, with 96.3 percent of homes sold in the fourth quarter being affordable to those earning the local median income of $60,100.
Major housing markets Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y.; and Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; were also in the most affordable bracket, in descending order. Smaller markets joining Kokomo at the top of the affordability chart included Springfield, Ohio; Monroe, Mich.; Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton, N.J.; and Cumberland, Md.-W.Va.
The least affordable market was the San Francisco area for the fifth consecutive quarter, where only 14.1 percent of homes sold in the fourth quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $101,200.
Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart included Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif.; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif.; New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J.; and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.; in descending order.
All of the five least affordable small housing markets were in California. At the very bottom of the affordability chart was Santa Cruz-Watsonville, where 18.6 percent of all new and existing homes sold were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $73,800. Other small markets at the lowest end of the affordability scale included Salinas, San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Napa, and Santa Rosa-Petaluma, respectively.
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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