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What impacts the housing industry?

5/2/2014

Jobs, jobs and more jobs! Oakland County will add 43,000 jobs in next 3 years, UM economists forecast ...

University of Michigan economists expect Oakland County to add 43,000 jobs in the next three years and its unemployment rate to drop to 5 percent by 2016.

The county's 29th annual economic outlook study found that Oakland County will add 11,000 jobs this year, 15,000 next year and 17,000 in 2016 due to an improving national economic climate, local housing market and recovering automotive sales by the Detroit 3.

George Fulton and Don Grimes of the U-M Institute for Research on Labor, Employment and the Economy conducted the study, which will be presented today at the Oakland County Economic Outlook luncheon at the Troy Marriott.

"We see the continuation of a healthy recovery through 2016, extending its span to seven years, but with the pace of growth moderating a little more this year and accelerating again in the following two years," Fulton said.

There were 65,000 jobs added in the last three years. There were 21,500 white-collar jobs from 2009 to last year, and 11,000 of those are expected to be added in the next three years. Those include:

4,500 engineering jobs
2,300 automotive testing lab jobs
2,000 automotive management jobs

The health care industry is expected to add 6,300 jobs, while the leisure and hospitality industry is expected to add 3,800. Administrative support and waste management is expected to bring in 3,400 jobs, while finance, insurance and real estate is expected to add 2,800. Wholesale and retail trade jobs are expected to each grow by 2,200 in the next three years.

About 5,200 high-wage jobs in the goods-producing sector – manufacturing and construction – are expected by 2016.

"Over the next three years, the manufacturing sector in Oakland County contributes only one out of every 17 jobs added in the county over this period," Grimes said. "By 2016, the manufacturing sector accounts for less than 9 percent of the jobs in the county. We expect that its share will continue to slip."

Automotive manufacturing is expected to add 700 jobs by 2016.

The county lost 18,494 jobs in 2006; 5,801 in 2007; 20,433 in 2008; 59,663 in 2009; and 1,113 in 2010. It has gained jobs the last three years: 24,412 in 2011, 24,865 in 2012 and 15,734 last year.

In recent years, Fulton and Grimes have underestimated the job growth – by 1.6 percent in 2010, 2.3 percent in 2011, 2.2 percent in 2012 and 0.8 percent last year. They overestimated job growth by 2.2 percent in 2008 and 5.5 percent in 2009.

Provided Courtesy of Crain's Detroit Business

Senate Passes Flood Insurance With House Amendments

3/26/2014
On March 13, 2014, the United States Senate voted 72-22 to approve the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act (H.R. 3370). The Senate acted quickly to pass the bill as amended by the House to avoid the need for a conference committee to reconcile any differences. The new bill further reins in and holds the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) accountable for the Biggert-Waters implementation issues. As passed, the bill repeals FEMA’s authority to increase premium rates at time of sale or new flood map, and refunds the excessive premium to those who bought a property before FEMA warned them of the rate increase. The bill limits premium increases to 18% annually on newer properties and 25% for some older ones. Additionally, the bill adds a small assessment on policies until everyone is paying full cost for flood insurance. President Obama signed the bill into law on March 21, 2014. NAR had urged a swift vote in the Senate. Source: Realtor.org

The 10 Best Cities in Michigan

2/26/2014

Looking to make a move to the Wolverine State? These are the Michigan cities and townships that rank highest in several important factors.


We’ve been ranking cities across the country, and even those within single states, in a lot of different ways for a while now on the Movoto Real EstateBlog: nerdiestworst dressed; most… cowboy. Now we’re going state-by-state answering the question of which city within their borders is actually the best based on the data. Congratulations, Michigan, you’re up first.

We hate drawn-out buildups as much as the next blog, so we’re going to just lay it out: Midland is the best city in Michigan. Boom. It sits atop a top 10 that looks like this:

1. Midland
2. Novi
3. Canton
4. Portage
5. Ann Arbor
6. Grand Blanc
7. Royal Oak
8. East Lansing
9. Farmington Hills
10. Troy
10. West Bloomfield

“Wait,” you say, “that’s 11.” You’re right—and that’s because there was a tie for 10th. But how did these cities even end up in this order in the first place? Well, dear Michiganders—and potential Michiganians—you can read all about that in the ensuing paragraphs.

Michigan’s Metro Supreme

What makes a great city? The same thing that makes a great athlete: fundamentals. In the case of ranking cities in terms of overall best-itude, we settled on the following six criteria to measure:

  • Amenities (shopping, dining, entertainment, etc.)
  • Cost of living (percent above or below state average)
  • Crime (percent above or below state average)
  • Education (student to teacher ratio compared to state average)
  • Employment (income and unemployment compared to state average)
  • Home value (percent above or below state average)

We started with a list of the 50 most populous cities and townships in Michigan, then gave each city a rank from one to 50 in the individual criteria above based on the data, with one being the best possible score. Then, we averaged the criteria together for each city and gave it an overall Big Deal Score. The lower this number was, the higher the city ranked.

Now that you know how we did it, let’s talk about where each of our top 10 best cities in Michigan excelled the most. At the end of this post, you’ll find the full list of 50 cities ranked for your statistical pleasure.

Michigan, My Michigan

So, Michiganers, there you have it. We hope we’ve helped to settle some arguments—although we suspect that we might have just added fuel to the fire. Good thing you’ve got that big lake, eh?

The 10 Best Cities in Michigan

 

Source: Movoto

 

Are You Liable? What You Need to Know About Homeowner Responsibilities

2/12/2014

Accidents happen. But if they happen on your property, are you liable for damages? Possibly. As a homeowner, you are obligated to keep your property safe and free from obvious risks.

Where your obligation ends and personal responsibility begins is ultimately up to the courts to decide. Limit your exposure to potential homeowner liability risks:

Keep Pathways Clear – Prevent slip and fall accidents by removing yard debris, ensuring adequately exterior lighting, repairing leaking downspouts, and keeping sidewalks clear.

Repair Building Exterior – Maintain the exterior of your home, securing any loose siding or shingles, repairing stairs and railings, and fixing loose pavers.

Check Contractor Coverage – Make sure contractors and trades carry their own liability and workers’ compensation insurance, as you are liable for any damage they cause.

Train and Contain Dogs – Enroll Rover in dog training classes to curb any aggressive tendencies and designate a special fenced area for dog only.

Maintain Trees – Cut back dead branches or remove dead trees to prevent them from falling on your neighbor’s house (or neighbor) during the next big windstorm.

Comply With Building Code – Make sure any required safety equipment, such as handrails, and smoke detectors, are in good repair and functioning properly.

Secure Pools and Hot Tubs – Practice pool safety! Keep gates locked so neighbors cannot access it when you are not around, always supervise children, and make sure lifesaving floatation devices are easily accessible.

Supervise Trampoline Use – Check the safety net and pads regularly to make sure they are in good working order.

Top Architecture Trends For 2014

1/28/2014

New home construction has seen consistent growth in the last three years and sales of new homes are expected to increase by about 16 percent, or  580,000 homes, in 2014, according to Kiplinger’s Economic Outlooks. And as more homes are built, new architecture trends will begin to appear — slowly.

“Building is not an industry where big changes happen really fast,” said Amy Albert, editor of Custom Home Online. ”Things happen over time.”

Still, Albert named five home-design elements she expects to see more often in 2014:

1. Tranquility

More homeowners are seeing their homes as a place to get away from it all and relax, especially in certain rooms — particularly the bathroom. “The spa bathroom is really big as a result of more people traveling to nice hotels,”  Albert said. In 2014, we’re likely to see bathrooms with walk-in showers, roomy bathtubs and tranquil designs become a big trend for homeowners.

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2. Mission Control

In the past the kitchen was often built at the back of the house, attached to the garage, and away from high traffic areas, but that tradition is changing. In 2014 we’ll see the kitchen as the focal point of the house, often placed in the center of an open floor plan, especially as more homeowners start to use their kitchen space as a multitasking room, or as Albert calls it, “mission control.” By having the kitchen centered and open, parents can help children with homework, talk or pay bills — all while making meals.

3. Traditional Design

While “midcentury modern design is thriving” and will continue to do so in 2014, more homeowners are looking at traditional home styles, Albert said. For example, Craftsman homes with large porches, front columns and detailed gables will make a comeback in 2014. Queen Anne-style homes with asymmetrical facades and detailed gables may also see a resurgence. However, attention to detail will be important as homeowners look for exact replicas of the original styles.

Architecture:Passive

4. Passive Homes

More U.S.-based architects are expected to include passive-house elements in their 2014 designs. Originally a European design, a passive house is built to work with the climate. For example, its roof may be pitched to make use of wind power, or it could have large windows installed to attract sunlight that heats the home. A passive-house design can slash energy consumption by up to 90 percent, according to Passive House Institute U.S.

5. Flex Rooms

Between the recession and the growing number of senior citizens in the United States, more households are becoming multigenerational. That change is leading to a developing trend in home building – flex rooms. Typically bedrooms, flex rooms are designed to give more privacy to larger families and usually include a separate space such as a reading area or study off the main bedroom area. These rooms may also be built with a change in mind. “Many flex spaces include a private entrance, which could later become a rental unit,” Albert said.

 

 

Source: Realtor.com

Experts Predict 2014 Housing Market

1/21/2014

The U.S. real estate market made a robust comeback in 2013, surpassing expectations of many economists, as the combination of low inventories and historically low interest rates caused home prices to rise and even helped fuel bidding wars in some markets, surpassing the expectations of many economists. While positive trends, such as increasing home values, are expected to continue into 2014, mortgage rates are also expected to rise in the coming year and could put a damper on home buyers’ abilities to afford new homes.

Looking back at some 2013 data can give us a hint of the year ahead:

Predictions - Inventory

1. Inventory Should Gradually Stabilize and Return to Traditional Seasonal Levels

The beginning of 2013 could be characterized as the “year of low inventory” as buyer demand ramped up and homeowners waited for further price increases and evidence of a solid economic recovery before putting their homes on the market. The year began with a significant shortage of inventory (reported by realtor.com®), and then as early as February the level of shortages started to decline slowly. As 2013 comes to a close, inventory is approximately the same as a year ago. However, homes are selling faster than in 2012, with the median age of the inventory down by 11 percent.

2. More Homeowners Are Likely to Return to Positive Equity

Rising prices helped 2.5 million homeowners who were previously underwater regain positive equity status during the second quarter of 2013. However, approximately 7.1 million homes were still in negative equity at that time and an estimated 10 million homeowners, or about 21.1 percent of all homeowners with a mortgage, remained “under-equitied,” with less than 20 percent in home equity. The good news is that prices are expected to continue rising in 2014, which will lift more homeowners into positive territory. According to realtor.com®, median list prices for homes in October rose 7.57 percent above the same month of 2012.

3. Mortgage Rates Are Expected to Rise

Mortgage rates increased approximately 100 basis points in 2013 and are likely to rise in 2014. The new chairman-designate of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, is expected to continue the policies of Chairman Ben Bernanke, including keeping mortgage rates low by buying blocks of mortgage-backed securities. However, the Fed has considered tapering its bond-buying activity as the economy improves, which could lead to a slight increase in interest rates.

Predictions - Foreclosure

4. Foreclosure Activity Is Expected to Slow

Foreclosure sales are likely to play a minimal role in the housing market in 2014. September 2013 was the 36th consecutive month with a year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity. Foreclosure inventory has dropped to multi-year lows, down nearly 33 percent since the end of 2012. Foreclosure starts were down 39 percent in the third quarter of 2013 to the lowest level since the second quarter of 2006.

5. Further Declines in Home Affordability Are Expected

The National Association of REALTORS®’ Home Affordability Index, which compares home prices with income, dropped to a five-year low in 2013 as price increases outpaced income growth. If the U.S. economy begins to grow at a faster pace and incomes begin to rise, though, the affordability index will slide further from rising mortgage rates.

While no one can predict with certainty what the housing market holds in store for 2014, a constant in real estate is always that local markets vary widely in their performance. National numbers can tell a story about the economy in general, but home prices, inventory and foreclosure activity depend on local market conditions. Contact a Realtor® in your community for the most up-to-date  information about your market.

 

 

Source: Realtor.com

Busting a Health Care Reform Myth: Penalties Can’t Be Recouped With a Lien on Your House

10/25/2013

 

A false Facebook post is making the rounds claiming that if you don’t pay the penalty for not buying health insurance, the IRS can file a lien against your home.

 

The health care reform law requires individuals who don’t meet one of the law’s exemptions to buy an insurance plan that meets minimum requirements or face a penalty. The law set uponline state insurance exchanges to simplify cost comparisons among plans and to make purchasing a plan easy. Open enrollment for these insurance plans on the online exchanges began Oct. 1 and runs through March 2014. We’ve outlined all your options in a separate blog post.

 

Those who choose to have no insurance at all by the open-enrollment deadline will be penalized $95 or 1 percent of their income (whichever is greater). That penalty will go up to $695 or 2.5 percent of income in 2016.

 

However, it is not true that the IRS can file a lien against your home for failing to pay the penalty.

 

Though the IRS does have authority to garnish wages and file liens to collect unpaid taxes, the Affordable Care Act explicitly prohibits it from using such measures to collect health-insurance penalties, according to Kaiser Health News, an independent nonprofit news organization dedicated to covering U.S. health policy.

 

Instead, the IRS will withhold the penalty from your tax return, Kaiser Health News reports. Read the KHN piece here.

Source: Realtor Mag

Shutdown Update: Effects on Housing

10/16/2013

Thu, October 10, 2013

Last week, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) began providing information to its members about the possible effects of the government shutdown on housing. In an Oct. 1 post on the RE/MAX Blog, RE/MAX passed along that information – and some perspective – to you.

At that point, the shutdown was in its first days and the discussion centered on potential effects only. This week, the discussion is about the realities.

The shutdown is, in fact, delaying closings because lenders are unable to verify loan information only the closed Internal Revenue Service and Social Security Administration can provide. This means some pending mortgages likely won't be finalized until the IRS and Social Security offices reopen. Here's an Oct. 9 NPR article that offers more information.

So when will the shutdown end? Of course, that's impossible to know. The 1990s shutdown lasted 26 days. It's Day 10 of the current shutdown. The past doesn't necessarily predict the future; however, it's not unrealistic to think this all could last another week.

If you're currently in the process of buying a home or selling a home and want an update on the status of your transaction, call your real estate agent. He or she should know how what the shutdown is affecting your transaction, and should be in regular contact with you, the lender and other parties involved.

The shutdown doesn't have to completely derail your home sale or purchase, particularly if the lines of communication are open. If you have the flexibility to wait it out, it's reasonable to expect that when the shutdown ends, you and your real estate agent will pick up right where you left off in finalizing your home sale or purchase.

If you're not currently in the process of buying or selling property but you're interested in understanding your options during the shutdown and in the future, find a local RE/MAX agentwho can walk you through it all – and potentially right through the door of your new home.

 

Source: RE/MAX Blog

Number of Underwater Homeowners Down 42%

9/18/2013

Home prices are rising, more underwater home owners are regaining equity, and home sales are on the rise, according to the Obama Housing Scorecard, released each month by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

The August report showed that home prices continue to make strong gains while the number of underwater home owners has dropped by 42 percent since the beginning of 2012. The number of home owners who owe more on their mortgage than it is currently worth has dropped from 12.1 million to 7.1 million as of the second quarter of 2013. Home sales—for existing homes and new homes—continue to rebound as well. 

However, the report also stikes a cautious note, underscoring the fact that housing market hasn’t returned to normal quite yet.

“As we regain stability in our housing markets, it is important to remember that we still have a long way to go in making sure that our housing finance system is strong for future generations,” says Kurt Usowski, HUD deputy assistant secretary for economic affairs. 

The report notes that more than 1.7 million home owner assistance actions have taken place through the administration’s Making Home Affordable Program, including loan modifications and other foreclosure-mitigation efforts. But the administration continues to press mortgage servicers to improve their processes in helping struggling home owners, such as through better identification of home owners who could be helped through the program as well as improving upon the timeliness, accuracy, and detail of servicers communications with home owners. 

“While there is significant progress, there is still more improvement needed in [mortgage] servicer behavior,” says Tim Massad, Treasury assistant secretary for financial stability. “And while the housing market has recovered substantially, there are still home owners struggling to avoid foreclosure and it is vital that we continue to try to help them.” 

 

Source: RealtorMag

National Housing Report, August: What It Means For You

8/26/2013

The latest RE/MAX National Housing Report, "Inventory Improves; Sales, Prices Rise Higher," provides some helpful insights into what’s happening in the housing market in your region and across the country. The report is a comprehensive monthly snapshot of the current state of housing across 52 metropolitan areas in the U.S. Here's what the latest report could mean for buyers and sellers:

Buyers: With rising prices and fewer homeowners underwater, inventory levels are improving as more sellers opt to put their homes on the market. Eighteen metro areas reported increases in available inventory in July, an early sign that low inventory levels are beginning to stabilize. If you’re considering buying in the near future, keep an eye on mortgage rates and get pre-approved for a loan – that way you’re ready to act quickly when the right property comes along.

Sellers: It’s still a strong seller’s market. The number of sales was up slightly in July, and prices were 17 percent higher than last July. That’s great news! Prices are expected to remain stable over the next few months, but are unlikely to rise dramatically as inventory levels stabilize. Keep in mind that as mortgage rates climb, some buyers might be prompted to act before rates get too high. If you’ve been thinking about selling, now might be the perfect time to capitalize on buyer demand.

Whether you’re a buyer or seller, keep in mind that all real estate is local. For more information on your local market, find a RE/MAX agent who is ready to help you find your perfect fit.

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