This Week in Real Estate: March 23, 2015

image001Hello,

This Week in Real Estate is highlighted by the news that more than a million homeowners regained their equity in 2014 and the foreclosure activity is at its lowest level since the summer of 2006. What does that mean for those renting? Below are a few of the highlights from the third week in March that influence our business:

* U.S. foreclosure activity at lowest level since July 2006. RealtyTrac released its U.S. Foreclosure Market Report for February this week, which shows foreclosure filings down 9 percent from a year ago to the lowest level since July 2006. “Given that August 2006 was the peak of the housing bubble, this eight-and-a-half year low in foreclosure activity is a significant milestone and a sign that nationwide foreclosure activity is on track to return to historic norms this year – and is possibly even headed below historic norms given the skinny-jeans-tight lending standards over the past five years,” said Darren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. Full Story… http://www.realtytrac.com/news/foreclosure-trends/february-2014-foreclosure-market-report/

* 1.2 million U.S. borrowers regained equity in 2014. This week Corelogic released new analysis showing 1.2 million borrowers regained equity in 2014, bringing the total number of mortgaged residential properties with equity at the end of Q4 2014 to approximately 44.5 million or 89 percent of all mortgaged properties. Full Story… http://www.corelogic.com/about-us/news/corelogic-reports-1.2-million-us-borrowers-regained-equity-in-2014.aspx

* Why renters may be in trouble. The gap between rental costs and household income is widening to unsustainable levels across the country. NAR evaluated income growth, housing costs, and changes in share of renter and owner-occupied households over the past five years in metropolitan statistical areas across the U.S. Over the last five years, a typical rent rose 15 percent, while the income of renters grew by only 11 percent, according to their research. “Current renters seeking relief and looking to buy are facing the same dilemma: Home prices are rising much faster than their incomes,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. Meanwhile, those who were able to buy a home in recent years have been insulated from the rising housing costs since they were able to lock-in a low 30-year fixed-rate mortgage with a set monthly payment, according to NAR’s study. Full Story… http://www.realtormag.realtor.org/daily-news/2015/03/17/why-renters-may-be-in-trouble

Have a productive week!

Jason

 


This Week in Real Estate: March 16, 2015

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The most pressing question in This Week in Real Estate is: will this be the best year for home sales in nearly a decade? As the first quarter prepares to close in just over 2 weeks, Freddie Mac believes the answer is yes. And, if you have not read the 2015 National Association of Realtor’s Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study that was released this week, I encourage you to. Below are a few of the highlights from the second week in March that influence our business:

* Freddie Mac: 2015 best year for home sales in 8 years. “We expect this year to be the best year for home sales and new home construction since 2007 when we saw total home sales about 5.8 million for the year,” said Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist with Freddie Mac. Reasons Freddie Mac is optimistic: high affordability, improving labor markets, rising rents and expanded credit availability. Full Story… http://www.housingwire.com/articles/33221-freddie-mac-2015-best-year-for-home-sales-in-8-years

* Home buyers borrowing more than ever before. The average loan size for home purchases reached $294,000 last week, the highest amount since the Mortgage Bankers Association started keeping records 25 years ago. While the loan amounts increased, so did the cost of borrowing money. The average rate for a 30-year, fixed rate loan last week was 4.01 percent, the highest level so far this year and up from 3.96 percent the previous week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. The association expects mortgage rates to continue marching upward as strong jobs data reinforces expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates as soon as June. The organization predicts long-term mortgage rates will reach 4.6 percent by the end of this year and 5.4 percent by the end of 2016. Full Story… http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2015/03/11/Home-Buyers-Borrowing-More-Ever

* NAR Generational Survey: Millenials Lead All Buyers, Most Likely to Use Real Estate Agent. For the second consecutive years, NAR’s study found that the largest group of recent buyers was the millenial generation, those 34 and younger, composed 32 percent of all buyers (31 percent in 2013). Generation X, ages 35 – 49, was closely behind with a 27 percent share. Regardless of their age, buyers used a wide variety of resources in searching for a home, with the internet (88 percent) and real estate agents (87 percent) leading the way. Millennials were the most likely to use a real estate agent, mobile or tablet applications, and mobile or tablet search engines during their search. Although the internet was the top source of where millennials found they home they purchased (51 percent), they also used an agent to purchase their home at a higher share (90 percent) than all other generations. Gen X homeowners represented the largest share of sellers (27 percent) followed by older boomers (23 percent) and younger boomers (20 percent). A combined 60 percent of responding sellers found a real estate agent through a referral by a friend, relative or neighbor, or used their agent from a previous transaction. Eighty-three percent are likely to use the agent again or recommend to others. Full Story… http://www.realtor.org/reports/home-buyer-and-seller-generational-trends

* The bitter divorce of ListHub and the Zillow Group was completed in a California courtroom on Thursday. The two parties have settled and ListHub’s listing data will now disappear from Trulia on April 7, the same day it was already set to disappear from Zillow. Full Story… http://www.housingwire.com/articles/33235-zillowtrulia-settles-with-move-listings-will-disappear-in-april

Have a productive week!

Jason

 


This Week in Real Estate: March 9, 2015

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Hello!

Following the report this week of another strong month of job growth in February the noteworthy news for This Week in Real Estate  centers around the increasing speculation of just when the Fed will raise interest rates. Also, a very fascinating report offered by Goldman Sachs about millennials and how they will impact the economy. Below are a few of the highlights from the first week in March that influence our business:

* U.S. labor market flexes muscles as February payrolls soar. The jobs report released Friday confirms that the U.S. labor market is continuing an impressive, if not historic, favorable run. The 295,000 gain in payrolls for February solidly outperformed the consensus expectation of 235,000. This is particularly impressive when you take into account the range of recent headwinds confronting the U.S. economy, from disruptive weather to a relentlessly stronger dollar. February was the 12th straight month of job gains exceeding 200,000, the longest such run since 1994. Equally impressively, this report increases the three-month moving average to around 290,000. The unemployment rate dropped two-tenths of a percentage point to 5.5 percent, the lowest since May 2008. Full Story… http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/06/us-usa-economy-idUSKBN0M20E620150306​

* Wall Street firms more convinced of June rate hike. Many of Wall Street’s biggest banks are more convinced the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in June after a strong February jobs report on Friday pointed to sustained economic growth and as the jobless rate hit a more than 6-1/2 year-low. “The strength of the jobs data today argues in favor of the Fed allowing itself the flexibility to soon drop the word ‘patient'” from its statement, said Dana Saporta, economist at Credit Suisse, who expects a June rate hike. Full Story… http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/06/us-usa-fed-reuterspoll-idUSKBN0M22DB20150306?feedType=RSS&feedName=businessNews

* Property tax rates highest for homeowners who have owned between five and fifteen years. It seems that taxes on real property reflect not only the value of the property itself, but also how long the owner has held title. That was one finding of a study released this week by RealtyTrac, which it called its ‘first-ever U.S. Property Tax Rates Report.’ RealtyTrac cut the data in several ways and came up with some interesting findings. First, it found that owners of very high end and very low end homes pay the highest property tax rates. The report found significant correlation between years owned and tax rate. The report found that homeowners who have owned 5 to 15 years had the highest effective property tax rates while those who have owned more than 20 years had the lowest effective property tax rates. The average effective property tax rate was 1.35 percent for homeowners who have owned between 10 and 15 years, and it was 1.34 percent for homeowners who have owned between 5 and 10 years. Meanwhile, the average effective property tax rates was 1.18 percent for homeowners who have owned less than 1 year, and it was 1.15 percent for homeowners who have owned more than 20 years. Full Story… http://www.realtytrac.com/news/home-prices-and-sales/property-tax-rates-highest-for-homeowners-who-have-owned-between-five-and-15-years-own-high-end-or-low-end-homes/

* Goldman Sachs just nailed millennial homebuying. The Millennial generation is the largest in U.S. history and as they reach their prime working and spending years, their impact on the economy is going to be huge. Millennials are poised to reshape the economy; their unique experiences will change the ways we buy and sell, forcing companies to examine how they do business for decades to come.  “As millennials enter their peak home-buying years, their reluctance to enter the housing market could change. The cohort’s sheer size, plus its desire to settle down in the future, could lead to a surge in home sales.” Millenials have come of age during a time of technological change, globalization and economic disruption. That’s given them a different set of behaviors and experiences than their parents. Full Story… http://www.goldmansachs.com/our-thinking/outlook/millennials/index.html?cid=tw-or-mil-3

Have a productive week!

Jason

 


This Week in Real Estate, March 2, 2015

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Happy March!

With the first two months of 2015 in the books the theme for This Week in Real Estate is “record highs.” Below are a few of the highlights from the final week in February that influence our business:

* Pending home sales hit highest level in 18 months. U.S. home buyers signed more contracts to buy existing homes in January than they have since August of 2013, according to the National Association of Realtors. Its monthly index of so-called  pending sales, an indicator of future closed sales, rose 1.7 percent month-to-month, and is now 8.4 percent higher than it was a year ago. This is the fifth straight month of year-over-year gains, and the gains are increasing. “Contract activity is convincingly up compared to a year ago despite comparable inventory levels,” said Lawrence Yun. “The difference this year is the positive factors supporting stronger sales, such as slightly improving credit conditions, more jobs and slower price growth.” Full Story… http://www.cnbc.com/id/102460499

* Construction optimism at 20-year high. Wells Fargo’s 2015 Construction Industry Forecast, presents results of a survey it has conducted for the last 19 years of industry executives representing large and small contractors as well as equipment distributorships and equipment rental companies. The survey attempts to track industry optimism using what it calls the Optimism Quotient (OQ). John Crum said that after tumbling to an all-time low of 42 in January 2009, the OQ has climbed steadily, reaching new highs in three of the last four years and landing this year at 130, up six points from 2014. “In the nearly 20 years that we’ve been tracking the OQ we’ve never seen such widespread optimism about the direction of the industry compared to the prior year,” said Crum. Full Story… http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/02262015_construction_forecast.asp

* U.S. new-home sizes set record last year. The median size of completed homes last year hit a new record of 2,415 square feet, according to the Commerce Department. Home sizes grew in every year between 1995 and 2007, but they fell during the recession as builders went small to compete with cheap foreclosures. There are signs that home sizes won’t set new records this year. The size of homes in which builders started construction ticked down last year after peaking in the first quarter. That could be a sign builders have concluded that they need to refocus on the entry level buyers if they want to increase sales.” Full Story… http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/02/25/u-s-new-home-sizes-set-record-last-year/

* Federal Reserve chairwoman, Janet Yellen, counsels patience on interest rate increase. “If economic conditions continue to improve, as the committee anticipates, the committee will at some point begin considering an increase in the target range for the federal funds rate on a meeting-by-meeting basis,” Ms. Yellen said. The central bank is pleased with recent economic growth, but convinced there is room for improvement and still pondering when to start raising interest rates. Ms. Yellen said the next step would be an announcement, which could come as soon as March, that the Fed would begin to consider raising its benchmark rate at each policy-making meeting. Patience remained the Fed’s watchword. Full Story… http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/25/business/economy/fed-chief-yellen-testifies-before-congress.html

Have a productive week!
Jason


This Week in Real Estate, Feb. 23, 2015

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Good Morning!

While the FTC completed its review of the Zillow acquisition of Trulia this week, allowing the transaction to close, the legal maneuvering just begins. The issue of syndication dominates the headlines again for This Week in Real Estate. Below are a few of the highlights from the third week in February that influence our business:

*  Battle of the Portals: ListHub to end syndication agreement with Trulia early; Zillow group fires back with restraining order. On Thursday Move Inc., operators of realtor.com, announced its listing management service, ListHub, will end its syndication agreement with Trulia as of next week. Zillow announced Friday it has filed for a temporary restraining order on that move to keep listings going to Trulia. “This action is a result of the completion of Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia this week, and the upcoming dissolution of ListHub’s syndication relationship with Zillow this April,” stated ListHub’s general manager Celeste Starchild. On Friday Move Inc. issued the following response to Zillow’s temporary restraining order: “What a difference two days make! On Wednesday, Spencer Rascoff (Zillow CEO) was celebrating the ‘liberating moment’ when ‘we announced we were parting ways with News Corp,’ and how they ‘were really freed from the constraint of being reliant on a competitor for listings,’ listings he (inaccurately) described as ‘inferior.’ Today, they say that the ‘sudden’ loss of those listings is ‘an incredible hardship for agents and consumers.'” Full Story… http://www.housingwire.com/articles/33011-zillow-group-launches-legal-fight-to-keep-listhub-listings-on-trulia

* Mortgage rates move higher on strong jobs report. Freddie Mac released this week the results of its Primary Mortgage Market Survey, showing average fixed mortgage rates moving higher amid a strong employment report. Regardless, fixed-rate mortgage rates still remain near their May 23, 2013 lows. “Mortgage rates rose last week following strong economic data,” says Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist, Freddie Mac. The economy added 257,000 new jobs in January after robust increases of 329,000 in December and 423,000 in November. Full Story… http://freddiemac.mwnewsroom.com/press-releases/mortgage-rates-rise-for-second-consecutive-week-otcqb-fmcc-1176375

*  Fed appears to hesitate on raising interest rate. The Federal Reserve is not sounding like an institution that is ready to raise its benchmark interest rate in June. “You can almost hear a little hesitation in the committee,” said Zach Pandl, senior interest rate strategist at the investment firm Columbia Management. “They sound confident on the economy, but nervous on pulling the trigger on rate hikes.” The economy is growing strongly, and the statement the Fed issued after the January meeting was its most upbeat since the end of the recession in 2009. That optimism has since been reinforced by the government’s latest jobs report, released this month, which estimated that strong employment gains at the end of 2014 continued at a healthy pace in January. Many officials were concerned that raising rates prematurely “might damp the apparent solid recovery,” potentially forcing the Fed to reverse course.” Full Story… http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/19/business/economy/fed-january-policy-making-meeting-minutes.html?_r=1

*  Realtors applaud FAA proposed rule to allow commercial drone use for real estate. Under the new FAA proposal, drones that weigh less than 55 pounds would be able to fly up to 500 feet above the ground at speeds up to 100 mph. Drone operators would have to obtain a special unmanned operating certificate, and follow a handful of restrictions, including keeping the drone within sight, and avoiding hazards like restricted airspace, people, airports, and other planes. “Today’s action does not authorize widespread commercial use of unmanned aircraft. That can only happen when the rule is final,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said. “In the meantime operators must go through the current process for a waiver or exemption to fly.” Full Story… http://www.inman.com/2015/02/16/proposed-drone-rules-applauded-by-nar/

Have a productive week!
Jason


This Week in Real Estate, Feb. 15, 2015

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Good Morning!

Six weeks into the new year the topic of conversation in This Week in Real Estate….Consumer Confidence. Below are a few of the highlights from the second week in February that influence our business:

* Consumers’ positive financial attitudes a good sign for housing. The number of respondents who said now is a good time to buy a home rose three percentage points to 67%, according to the results of Fannie Mae’s January 2015 National Housing Survey. The share of consumers who believe now is a good time to sell a home similarly increased to 44%, tying an all-time survey high. The January data saw more people looking to buy a home than rent – 66% of those survey said they would buy if they moved, while the share of those who said they would rent dropped five percentage points to 29%. “Consumers are as positive about their personal finances at the start of 2015 as they have been since we launched the National Housing Survey in 2010,” said Doug Duncan, senior vice president and chief economist at Fannie Mae. Full Story…
http://www.fanniemae.com/portal/about-us/media/corporate-news/2015/6217.html

*  Deloitte consumer spending index hits a 51-month high. The Index tracks consumer cash flow as an indicator of future consumer spending. “The Deloitte Consumer Spending Index increased in January, hitting a 51-month peak,” says Daniel Bachman, Deloitte’s senior U.S. economist. “The increase is due to positive contributions from all four components of the Index. The sharp drop in unemployment insurance claims is in line with a steady recovery in the U.S. labor market and augurs well for continued increased consumer spending. Additionally, January gas prices decreased 41% from this time last year, to a national average of $2.12 per gallon. That translates into an extra $994 in consumers’ pockets annually.” Full Story…
http://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/press-releases/deloitte-consumer-spending-index-hits-51-month-high.html

*  Consumer confidence at highest level in over a decade. Two recently released reports reveal that the American public is starting to feel much better about the U.S. economy. The University of Michigan’s Survey of Consumers  showed that consumer optimism reached the highest level in the past decade in the January 2015 survey…Consumers judged prospects for the national economy as the best in a decade, with half of all consumers expecting the economic expansion will continue for another five years. The anticipated strength in the overall economy has been accompanied by more favorable income and employment expectations. Full Story… http://www.keepingcurrentmatters.com/2015/02/10/consumer-confidence-at-highest-level-in-over-a-decade/

* Purchase applications suggest rising new home sales. “On the strength of an improving labor market and low interest rates, January new home sales were up nearly 30 percent from December,” said Lynn Fisher, MBA’s Vice President of Research and Economics.  The Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) said that based on this volume, which is not seasonally adjusted, it estimates that new home sales were running at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 530,000 units. On an unadjusted basis MBA estimates that 39,000 new homes sold in January, up 39.3 percent from 28,000 new home sales in December. Full Story… http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/02122015_mba_new_home_sales.asp

 

Have a productive week!
Jason


This Week in Real Estate, Feb. 9, 2015

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Good Morning!

This Week in Real Estate….more jobs added than expected and mortgage rates back to 2013 levels….are you prepared to seize all the opportunities in front of you?

Below are a few of the highlights from the first week in February that influence our business:

* New Study Finds Price Premium for Solar Homes. A study conducted by a team of researchers, led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Berkeley Laboratory, found that homebuyers are willing to pay more for homes that have installed solar photovoltaic (PV) energy systems. The research estimates a price premium of approximately $4 per watt of PV installed. For a typical PV system, the research team found that this translates into a price premium of $15,000. The research also examined the difference in price premium between newly built and existing homes. The estimates indicate a small, but statistically insignificant, difference between new and existing residences with PV systems. For new homes, the estimated premium was $3.58/watt, while for existing homes the premium was $4.51/watt. Full Story… http://eyeonhousing.org/2015/02/new-study-finds-price-premium-for-solar-homes/

* Experts got a pleasant surprise Friday morning as the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the U.S. economy added 257,000 jobs in January beating estimates. The strong start to 2015 in the labor market will be received as encouraging news at the Federal Reserve which has signaled that the economic recovery may be strong enough to begin raising interest rates as early as its scheduled June meeting. Below target inflation and economic developments overseas have opened the door to the possibility of a later liftoff but today’s employment report will be a positive note in the deliberations. Many experts believe this job report does not put enough pressure on Fed rates for it to raise them. “The Fed wants to see much more wage growth,” Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial, told CNBC on Friday. “We’re still well below that…This keeps the Fed patient in terms of how they do lift off going forward.” Full Story… http://www.cnbc.com/id/102405104?__source=mnd|news|&par=mnd

* Homebuilding: The Job Revival That Will Surprise in 2015. Housing-related employment got a jolt in January. The number of residential construction workers rose 12,500, a gain of 1.8 percent, the biggest one-month jump in percentage terms since 2002. Other trade categories related to housing jobs also showed strength. Specialty trade contractors, who’ve been in short supply, increased by 7,600 to the highest level since 2009. Wood products manufacturers added 4,100 employees, building materials stores another 3,700. Architectural and engineering employment, which includes home designers, increased by 7,800 to the highest level since 2008. Full Story… http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-02-06/home-building-the-jobs-revival-that-will-surprise-in-2015

* Falling Mortgage Rates Fuel Buying Activity. Mortgage interest rates rolled back to 2013 levels this week. The 30-year fixed-mortgage averaged 3.59% this week, down from 3.66% last week. A year ago this time, it was as high as 4.32%, according to the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market Survey. Mortgage applications for FHA loans spiked last week in the midst of lower FHA mortgage insurance premiums, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Both purchase and refinance activity are up, signaling a higher demand for housing. Buyers are refinancing, and they’re choosing FHA loans to do so. Refinance applications using FHA loans increased 76.5% after the drop in mortgage insurance premiums. FHA purchase applications increased 12.4%, according to the MBA. Full Story… http://www.realtor.com/news/falling-mortgage-rates-fuel-buying-activity/​

Have a productive week!
Jason


This Week in Real Estate

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Happy February!

As we close out the first 31 days of the new year more positive news with respect to the two key drivers of the real estate business: unemployment and interest rates headline This Week in Real Estate. Below are a few of the highlights that influence our business from the fourth week of 2015:

* U.S. unemployment benefit applications plunge to 15-year low. Weekly applications dropped 43,000 to a seasonally adjusted 265,000. That is the lowest level since April 2000. It is also the biggest decline in two years. Employers added almost 3 million jobs last year, the most since 1999. Most economists forecast growth will top 3 percent in 2015 for the first time in a decade. Full story…
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/us-unemployment-benefit-applications-plunge-133114403.html

* A more robust year for housing in 2015. A strengthening labor market, low interest rates, improving mortgage availability and growing pent-up demand will help to significantly boost single-family housing production in the year ahead and move the housing recovery to higher ground, according to economists speaking at the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas. Accelerating economic growth and employment gains are the primary factors that have helped consumer confidence jump back to pre-recession levels, according to NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. Full Story… http://eyeonhousing.org/2015/01/a-more-robust-year-for-housing-in-2015/

* Mortgage rates shoot past recent lows; 3.5% getting more prevalent. Rate sheets moved well past recent lows and back to levels not seen since May 10th, 2013. For the knife-catchers out there, today is the best day in more than 20 months. The specific result today is the greatly-increased prevalence of 3.5% as a conforming 30-year fixed quote for top tier scenarios. Full Story… http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/consumer_rates/430712.aspx

* Boomerang home buyers are coming back. RealtyTrac estimates 7.3 million so-called “boomerang buyers” will return to the U.S. housing market over the next eight years. With the economy gaining momentum and hiring picking up, many foreclosed on homeowners are in a position to buy again. Homeowners can recover from foreclosure in as little as three years, but seven years in the “conservative” amount of time it takes to rebuild a credit score. That means many homeowners who lost their homes in 2007 should be able to qualify for a new home loan this year. More than 500,000 people will fit this description in 2015. The number jumps to 1 million next year, peaks at 1.3 million in 2018. Full Story… http://money.cnn.com/2015/01/27/real_estate/boomerang-homebuyers-foreclosed-return/index.html

Have a productive week!
Jason


This Week in Real Estate

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Good Afternoon!

Refinancing activity, positive news for housing starts, and builder confidence dominate the headlines in This Week in Real Estate. Below are a few of the highlights from the third week of 2015:

* Mortgage applications rise on refinancing surge. Applications to refinance increased 22 percent from the previous week, and are now up 63 percent from a year ago. “This increase was largely due to mortgage rates dropping to their lowest level since May 2013. However, the recent reduction in FHA mortgage insurance premiums also played a role: FHA refinance applications increased 57 percent last week,” said Mike Fratantoni, MBA chief economist. Full story… http://www.cnbc.com/id/102353506

* Confidence among U.S. home builders held steady in January, giving back very little following a sizeable jump toward the end of 2014. A monthly index of builder sentiment from the National Association of Home Builders fell one point in January to 57 from December. Anything above 50 is considered positive sentiment, and this marks seven straight months above 50. “Steady economic growth, rising consumer confidence and a growing labor market will help the housing market continue to move forward in 2015,” said the association’s Chief Economist David Crowe. On a three-month moving average, builder confidence in the West rose by four points to 66. Full Story… http://www.cnbc.com/id/102350914

* Builders broke ground in December on the most single-family homes in almost seven years, propelling an unexpectedly large gain in U.S. housing starts that signals construction will contribute to economic growth in 2015. ​For all of 2014, groundbreaking increased 8.8 percent to 1.01 million units, the highest since 2007. Single-family home starts, the largest part of the market, jumped 7.2 percent to a 728,000-unit pace, the highest level since March 2008. Single-family permits rose 4.5 percent to their highest level since January 2008. Full Story… http://www.cnbc.com/id/102352190

* Fannie Mae’s economists expect the economy to strengthen in 2015 and that will “drag” housing into a better cycle this year. ​The company’s forecast for the year includes a moderate acceleration of economic growth, “driven by strengthening private domestic demand, especially consumer spending, amid continued low gasoline prices, firming labor market conditions, rising household net worth through both financial and housing wealth, improving consumer and business confidence, and reduced fiscal headwinds.” The collapse in oil prices was one of the big surprises of 2014. Along with the strengthening of the dollar to decades-high levels and the softening of other commodity prices, disinflationary pressures seem to have contributed to the bond rally and the resulting drop in interest rates. Full Story… http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/01222015_fannie_mae_forecast.asp

* Seattle home receives Remodel of the Year honors in National Design Competition. The Book House in Seattle has been selected as the Remodel of the Year in the 2014 Best in American Living Awards (BALA) by the National Association of Home Builders. In its 31st year, BALA recognizes outstanding achievement by builders and design professionals in all sectors of the residential industry including single-family production, custom, rental, affordable, interiors, remodeling, community and international. Full Story… http://www.nahb.org/news_details.aspx?newsID=17085

Have a productive week!
Jason


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