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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

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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Real Estate Big Data

Pending home sales fall, hardest hit in the South

(REAL ESTATE) Despite a setback in home sales, there are several factors that indicate 2019 is back on track for being a growth year in the real estate sector.

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For the twelfth consecutive month, pending home sales (contracts signed on homes for sale) fell annually, dipping 9.8 percent in December compared to the previous December, according to the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

Down 2.2 percent from the previous month, NAR reports that pending home sales fell most dramatically in the South by 5.0 percent (down 13.5 percent annually), and 0.6 percent in the Midwest (down 7.2 percent from last December).

Meanwhile, pending home sales actually rose for the month in the Northeast (up 2.0 percent) and the West (up 1.7 percent), despite coming in lower than December 2017 (down 2.5 percent, and 10.8 percent, respectively).

Dr. Lawrence Yun, NAR Chief Economist, points to Wall Street and Main Street as factors in the decline.

“The stock market correction hurt consumer confidence,” said Dr. Yun, adding, “record high home prices cut into affordability and mortgage rates were higher in October and November for consumers signing contracts in December.”

Dr. Yun indicates that the partial government shutdown has not caused obvious damage to home sales, and that as the government reopens fully, more mortgage options will become available for consumers.

“Some home transactions were delayed,” he notes, “but we now expect those sales to go forward.”

Despite a setback in December, Dr. Yun stands by his previous forecast, asserting that the housing sector will see improvement in 2019.

“The longer-term growth potential is high,” he observes, adding that he expects the Federal Reserve to reduce their projected rate increases to one or even zero (from four as previously expected), decreasing mortgage rates and improving the 2019 forecast.

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Real Estate Big Data

Debate brewing over what home prices will do in 2019 (place your bets)

(REAL ESTATE NEWS) There are consistent factors we look at when forecasting housing prices, and a unanimous picture is emerging – but place your bets because there is a small spread to consider.

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In the past few years, it’s been pretty sweet to be a homeowner, watching your gains accumulate, while home buyers have been up against diminished inventory levels, rising prices, and perpetually tight lending conditions.

So what does 2019 have in store?

Several optimistic brokers we spoke with believe prices will continue their current pace, some predicting as much as a 7.0 percent increase this year, while others believe it to be as little as 1.0 percent. But none indicated prices will stagnate or even drop.

Which seems to be the consensus.

So the debate brewing is perhaps more nitpicking than anything, but a debate it remains.

According to Case-Shiller, CoreLogic, home prices are predicted to increase another 5.0% in 2019 (and another 5.0% in 2020), and many experts add a caveat that the 2020 elections will be a strong driver in both years as uncertainty inevitably plays a roll in buyer sentiment.

A Reuters report indicates prices will rise twice the speed of inflation and pay in 2019, again noting the impact of potential trade wars on the American economy. Meanwhile, mortgage costs are accelerating which could hold back home sales this year.

The good news is that inventory levels are loosening slightly as builders’ engines are starting to rev and housing starts inch upward, alleviating pressure on supply levels (although everyone agrees they’ll remain low).

Continued economic success, combined with low inventory levels are the primary indicators in favor of home price increases this year.

Calculated Risk suggests that inventory increases makes it “likely that price appreciation will slow to the low single digits – maybe around 3.0 percent.”

The National Association of Realtors is similarly conservative in projections, forecasting a slight increase in home prices in 2019.

NAR Chief Economist, Dr. Lawrence Yun tells The American Genius, “Home sales have been softened in the latter part of 2018. Not likely to be meaningful gains in home sales in 2019. Combine this with a modest growth in supply of new home construction and existing home inventory implies a much slower home price appreciation in 2019.”

Dr. Yun concluded, “My forecast is only 2 percent to 3 percent in 2019. This would be the first time in seven years where wage growth will likely exceed home price growth.”

So the spread is between 2.0 percent at 7.0 percent growth in home prices – what do you think this year has in store?

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