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Real Estate Big Data

Top 10 places to raise a family, according to science

We present to you the top 10 suburbs in America to raise a family, based on statistics and science. Does yours make the list?

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The quality of school systems is one of the most common reasons that people choose to move, followed closely by job opportunities and changes in family status. For many buyers, the search for an affordable house that is both in a good school district and close enough to work means living in the suburbs. Luckily, the U.S. is chalk full of charming small towns that make for great family communities.

The Business Insider recently created a list of the top 50 best suburbs in America based on average commute times, median household income, poverty and crime rates, public school rating (based on ratings from GreatSchools.org), and housing affordability. They reviewed data from 2,754 municipalities in the U.S., focusing on suburbs located within 40 kilometers of a metropolitan area, and with populations between 5,000 and 100,000.

Here are the top ten best suburbs in America today.

10. Bellaire, Texas

With its close proximity to Houston’s Galleria mall, mature oak trees, and multitude of parks, Bellaire is a very desirable place to put down roots. The school system rated 6 out of 10, the median commute time is less than 20 minutes, and the unemployment rate is low at 3.7%. The population is 17,223.

9. Fox Chapel, Pennsylvania

Fox Chapel is only 10 miles from Pittsburgh, and has fabulous schools that rate 10 out of 10 on the GreatSchools.org website. The community is almost 100% residential, but it also has churches, private clubs, and private schools. The average household income is $174,924, and the population is 5,390.

8. Indian Hill, Ohio

Indian Hill is another suburb with a top notch, 10 out of 10, school system. It is located just northeast of Cincinnati, with 5,797 residents. This rural town has a legendary red schoolhouse and charming appeal. The median household income in Indian Hill is $207,067.

7. Highland Park, Texas

Home to the famous Big Pecan Tree, Highland Park hosts Dallas County’s annual tree lighting to celebrate the Christmas holiday. This town of 8,706 people is only 3 miles north of Dallas, and scores 8 out of 10 for great schools. It has many parks, and an average household income of $191,422.

6. Piedmont, California

Piedmont is full of great attributes that make it desirable: five landscaped city parks, tennis courts, playgrounds, picnic areas, and a great location near the San Francisco Bay. With more than 82% of its citizen’s having received a bachelor’s degree or higher, Piedmont’s 10,852 residents are highly educated and well-off (median household income of $207,222). The school system is also top tier, scoring 10 out of 10.

5. Atherton, California

This suburb is located between San Francisco and San Jose, and features native live oak, white oak, bay, redwood, and cedar trees. Atherton’s 6,993 residents are the wealthiest on Business Insider’s 50 suburbs list—the average household income is $239,886. The school system rates an 8 out of 10.

4. University Park, Texas

A large suburb with a population of 23,460, University Park is located five miles north of downtown Dallas, and has a very highly educated populace. 83.7% of residents have earned a bachelor’s degree or higher, and the median household income is $173,520. University Park has a low crime rate and great schools (9 out of 10).

3. Ladue, Missouri

This small town features charming boutiques, gourmet dining, and antique shopping. Ladue has a remarkably low poverty rate of 1.6%, and great schools rated 7 out of 10. The median household income is $176,369, and the population is 8,519.

2. Mountain Brook, Alabama

Mountain Brook is beloved for its five shopping villages, great school system (10/10), and beautiful residential areas designed by the landscape planner that worked on New York City’s Central Park. It is only 17 minutes outside the Birmingham-Hoover metropolitan areas, and its 20,416 residents have a median household income of $131,281.

1. New Albany, Ohio

This top-ranking suburb has 8,135 residents, and is only a 21 minutes drive from Columbus. Characterized by white picket fences, colonial style architecture, public parks, and a low poverty rate of 1.2%, New Albany is a safe and beautiful place to live. The school systems rate a perfect 10 out of 10, and the median household income is $185,076.

After seeing what characteristics make up the top ten best suburbs in America, it’s worthwhile to reflect on your own town. Are you getting your money’s worth? Are your clients? Did your town make the list?

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Hannah is currently a writer and student in Colorado Springs, pursuing her master's degree in Creative Writing at the University of Denver. Before becoming a Staff Writer for the American Genius, Hannah wrote website content and grant applications for a law office in central Minnesota.

Real Estate Big Data

Pending home sales dip in all regions but the Midwest

(REAL ESTATE) Pending home sales slipped nationally, but there are some healthy signs for the housing sector as we look forward.

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If you’re in the field and feeling a slight slowdown, you’re probably right. Pending home sales (contracts signed) dipped 1.5% nationally, down 2.0% year-over-year, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR). This marks the 16th consecutive month of annual decreases.

Pending home sales dipped 1.8% in the Northeast, 2.5% in the South, 1.8% in the West, and rose 1.3% in the Midwest.

Compared to last year, pending homes are 2.1% below a year ago, down 1.8% in the South, 1.5% lower in the West, and 2.4% lower in the Midwest during the same time period.

This indicator is forward-looking and lets us know how closings will look in the coming months.

NAR Chief Economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun said the sales dip has not yet reflected the market shifts that work in favor of homeownerships.

“Though the latest monthly figure shows a mild decline in contract signings, mortgage applications and consumer confidence have been steadily rising,” he said. “It’s inevitable for sales to turn higher in a few months.”

Dr. Yun noted that home price appreciation has been strongest on homes priced under $250,000 as inventory levels have been perpetually tight for several years. Price conditions are soft on upper-end homes, “especially in high tax states like Connecticut, New York and Illinois,” he added.

There are now signs for a rise in inventory, Dr. Yun states, digging into data from realtor.com, noting the largest increase in active listings (in April) compared to April 2018.

“We are seeing migration to more affordable regions, particularly in the South, where there has been recent job growth and homes are more affordable,” Yun said.

NAR has repeatedly pointed to housing starts by new home builders as one of the key paths to loosening up the tight inventory levels that continue to edge out willing buyers. Starts remain low, but with a healthy market, the inventory appears to be correcting, albeit slowly.

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Real Estate Big Data

Are you selling real estate in a high-cancer-risk area?

(BIG DATA) If you own a brokerage knowing your local ecosystem can be beneficial. Whether it’s a humble brag on your blog, or a letter to a local rep, knowing your environment is always a good idea.

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As a realtor or brokerage owner, you know the importance of understanding your community’s ecosystem in order to shape your business strategy.

However, have you considered how environmental and quality may play a role in those decisions?

A recent study published in Cancer suggests that you should. According to the study, “of every 100,000 Americans, 451 of us will get cancer in a given year.” The study “found a difference of 39 cases (per 100,000) people, between areas with the highest and the lowest environmental quality.

This establishes a significant link between environmental qualities and cancer risks.

The study also showcases a map of the US and the air quality of various regions. Red and orange areas have the worst air quality, while blue and green areas have the best air quality. As you might expect, large metropolitan areas have the worst air quality, and things improve as you move into more rural areas. You do find the most exceptions throughout the southeastern region and a vertical stretch that runs from the tip of Texas to the Dakotas up north.

These kinds of signs can either be a major benefit or a major obstacle to attracting buyers to your real estate market.

According to the most recent Gallup polls, 47 percent of Americans worry a great deal about the quality of the environment. So, how do you adjust?

If you’re in a blue or green area, make sure to get the word out! People now consider environmental quality as part of the quality of life factor. Don’t let that benefit go unnoticed. Blog about it on your own website. Use your social media to share data like this from other sources, or other information praising the environmental quality and protections of your market.

Integrate it into your marketing materials where possible.

If you’re in a red or orange area, you’ve got a bit more work to do here, and it’s going to get a bit political. There is already plenty of concern about attempts at the federal level to handicap agencies dedicated to protecting the environment. Be wary of such measures at the state and city level, and be a voice for the real estate economy in shaping this policy.

Does going to places of legislative businesses give you the heebie-jeebies? Find local organizations dedicated to improving environmental quality. Sponsor a river or park clean up event. Show your support for events like Earth Day. Don’t have those kinds of events? Harness your entrepreneurial spirit and bring these events to your community. Taking action as a community leader will be massively beneficial for your brand.

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Real Estate Big Data

Much needed good news for housing, despite slowed sales

(REAL ESTATE) The data is in, and some truly positive signs for the housing market are slowly surfacing.

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If you put your finger on the pulse of the housing market right now, you’d see some much needed health improvements – inventory levels are finally loosening up for the first time in years, and the rate of price increases abated in the fourth quarter.

The median price of an existing home in Q4 rose 4.0 percent to $257,600 compared to the fourth quarter of last year, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist, said in a statement that despite hurdles last year, “the close of the fourth quarter was promising.”

“Home prices continued to rise in the vast majority of markets,” said Dr. Yun, “but with inventory steadily increasing, home prices are, on average, rising at a slower and healthier pace.”

Existing home sales fell 1.8 percent in the fourth quarter compared to the previous quarter, and 7.4 percent over the year.

Why?

Dr. Yun said the West Coast needs more homes built. “The West region, where home prices have nearly doubled in six years, is undergoing the biggest shift with the slowest price gain and large buyer pullback.”

Comparing Q4 of 2017 and 2018 shows some relief when it comes to tight inventory levels which has edged hopeful homebuyers out of the market, increasing 6.2 percent over the year.

Housing affordability is the key ingredient to a healthy real estate sector going forward, which Dr. Yun says will require more homebuilding of moderately priced homes (a drumbeat the economist has been steadily beating for years).

“Housing starts fell far short of historically normal levels, with only 9.6 million new housing units added in the past decade; compared to 15 to 16 million that would have been needed to meet our growing population and 20 million new job additions,” said Dr. Yun.

“Local zoning law changes, expanding construction worker training programs at trade schools and promoting the use of tax breaks for developers in the designated Opportunity Zones will all play an important role in assuring an adequate future supply of housing,” Dr. Yun opined. 

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