Category Archives: Real Estate

The top spots with the most haunted houses

images-1It’s the season for boots, pumpkin pie, caramel apples and maybe even haunted houses. In these 10 cities, however, passing by haunted houses becomes just a little too real.

Across the U.S., over 40,000 single-family homes are vacant and have a homeowner who is now deceased, according to an ATTOM Data Solutions analysis of public record data.

Here are the top 10 zip codes with the most haunted houses, or homes that are left vacant after the homeowner passes away. One city stands out above the rest.

1. Youngstown, Ohio

In the zip code 44506, one in every 83 homes is “haunted.”

In one home in the city, the Punderson Manor, in the dining room in the late 1970’s, people claim that for a period of approximately three hours late one night, the ghost of a man who appeared to be a lumberjack seemed to hang from the rafters.

2. Gary, Indiana

In the zip code 46404, one in every 81 homes is “haunted.”

Are homes here really haunted? That’s hard to say, but we do know that the city is currently ranked fourth in homicide rates, and it was once ranked first.

3. Birmingham, Alabama

In the zip code 35207, one in every 81 homes is “haunted.”

One of the most haunted places in Alabama is in Birmingham’s Sloss Furnaces, [pictured below] which has many reports of paranormal activity over the years.

4. Jackson, Mississippi

In the zip code 39203, one in every 74 homes is “haunted.”

At the Old Capitol building in Jackson legend claims that the office of a man who reportedly died at his desk is haunted by his ghost.

5. Detroit, Michigan

In the zip code 48217, one in every 71 homes is “haunted.”

In Detroit, the Masonic Temple seems to be haunted. When the founder’s wife left him over money problems Mr. Mason jumped to his death from the temple. Security guards claim they still see sightings of Mr. Mason and visitors often report an eerie feeling of being watched.

6. Mobile, Alabama

In the zip code 36610, one in every 69 homes is “haunted.”

Two separate homes in the city were joined together in the mid-1800s to form an inn. Since then, the apparition of a lady in white has been seen pacing the balcony of Room #007, as well as chandeliers swinging when no one is around, furniture getting moved around and lamps being unplugged.

7. Braddock, Pennsylvania

In the zip code 15104, one in every 57 homes is “haunted.”

This desolate town [pictured below] lost 90% of its peak population, and looks like the nightmare at the end of the American Dream, according to an article by Jim Straub and Bret Liebendorfer for Monthly Review.

Things we learned from home buying

unduhan-5With vacations over and the holidays coming fast, home buying is beginning to slow down. So, given all of the predictions for 2016 (including mine), let’s review the better part of the 2016 home-buying season and see what we’ve learned, with an eye toward 2017.

1. Refis have finally dried up

The death of refis has been greatly exaggerated for a long time now, but given recent data and analysis, it may finally be here. Simply put, rates can’t get any lower, and those who qualified for refis have already done them. Given that refis have been the largest growth driver for the mortgage industry, banks need to find new opportunities to stimulate new purchases and borrowing.

2. Buyers want ‘new’ homes

The good news is that buyers want to own a home and that sales of newly constructed homes is healthy compared to recent years. However, existing home sales are down, partly because homeowners have been too cautious to upgrade. This has resulted in low existing-home inventory, especially at the starter home level.

3. Homebuyer confidence is strong (though maybe not for women)

Millennials, pegged as fiscally conservative, are increasingly more careful about what they do with their money. Still, even with economic, security and political concerns beyond their control, they want to own. But it must be on their terms: They are used to the flexibility and control renting affords, and given that 86% plan to stay in new homes fewer than seven years, prospective buyers need more assurance than a 30-year mortgage provides. Women are far more cautious in this area than men and need an even greater sense of security before they are willing to commit to buying or upgrading.

4. Low rates persist

Despite higher consumer confidence and lower unemployment, key indicators of economic growth such as GDP and international economic concerns such as Brexithave kept Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen from raising interest rates – for now. Having rates stuck so low for so long will likely affect new home sales in the future. When rates inevitably do rise, possibly by the end of 2016, prospective homebuyers will probably overreact and pull back. The good news is that rising rates should lead to falling home prices.

5. Real estate is still local

With the yin comes the yang. While areas like Atlanta are experiencing the highest sales prices on record, other areas, like much of Connecticut, have been hit hard. Jobs and industry are the biggest issues here. GE leaving with 10,000 jobs hurt the Nutmeg state much like dropping gas prices hurt Houston and other oil-producing towns. Given that the average job tenure of a Millennial is 2.8 years, job mobility and the need for housing flexibility can have big impacts on them as homebuyers.

Where does this leave us for 2017? In a word, uncertain. There are a lot of what-if and wait-and-see scenarios right now, but if I had to guess, home prices will likely normalize and drop for several reasons:

1. Naturally, they have to

That’s the way markets work. They go up and down. Fortunately, real estate value has historically risen over the long term. But given the current highs, we may see correction in some overheated markets.

2. Higher rates are likely (at some point)

If it costs more to borrow, home prices will have to come down. Although buyers will head to the sidelines, more convertible-rate homeowners will need to sell as their current low-rate mortgage terms expire.

3. Inventory will rise

With new construction shifting from multifamily to single-family homes, the market should become less competitive.

4. We must still address affordability

Tackling this issue will have some kind of direct or indirect impact on prices if public policy efforts succeed. But again, if people can’t afford homes, the market should naturally adjust.

5. We have an election

Both candidates have mentioned the fallout of the 2008 housing crisis, but neither has offered a vision to safeguard Americans from another collapse. So, many buyers and sellers in the housing market – as within the equity market – are in a wait-and-see mode through early November at least. There are also plenty of ongoing talks about GSE changes, what the CFPB and regulatory policies will be, and how to better handle underlining mortgage risk. Any of these can have impacts on the industry.

Occupancy requirements for condos

When President Obama signed the “Housing Opportunity Through Modernization Act of 2016” into law a few months ago, many celebrated because it changed the Federal Housing Administration’s rules for condominium financing, among other changes.

At the time, the National Association of Realtors said that law would “dramatically improve long-fought restrictions on FHA financing for condominiums.”

And Wednesday, the FHA announced that it is indeed changing some of its rules around condo financing, lowering its owner-occupancy requirements on certain condo developments.

Under the FHA’s current rules, approved condominium developments must have a minimum of 50% of the units occupied by owners.

The new rules, which go into effect immediately, would lower this requirement to 35% for existing condo developments provided the project meets “certain conditions,” the FHA said.

“While having too few owner-occupants can detract from the viability of a project, requiring too many can harm its marketability,” the FHA said in a statement. “It is FHA’s position that owner-occupants serve to stabilize the financial viability of the projects and are less likely to default on their obligations to homeowner associations than non-owner occupants.”

According to the FHA, for some condominium projects, the existing owner-occupancy requirement is “necessary” to maintain the stability of FHA’s Mutual Mortgage Insurance Fund.

But the FHA said that it in certain instances, it now believes that it would be possible to protect the MMIF while allowing a lower percentage of owner-occupants.

“(The Department of Housing and Urban Development’s) experience shows that higher reserves, a low percentage of association dues in arrears, and evidence of long-term financial stability allow for a lower owner-occupancy percentage without undue risk to the MMIF,” the FHA said.

To be eligible for the lower owner-occupancy rules, the condo development must be more than 12 months old. Additionally, the requirements for the lower owner-occupancy rules are:

  • Applications must be submitted for processing and review under the HUD Review and Approval Process (HRAP) option
  • Financial documents must provide for funding of replacement reserves for capital expenditures and deferred maintenance in an account representing at least 20% of the condo development’s budget
  • No more than 10% of the total units can be in arrears (more than 60 days past due) on their condominium association fee payments
  • Three years of acceptable financial documents must be provided

According to the FHA, for condo projects that are proposed, under construction, which includes existing projects that are less than 12 months old, or “gut rehab” conversions, the FHA will maintain its current owner-occupancy percentage of 30%.

NAR President Tom Salomone welcomed the changes, but said that NAR hopes the FHA will go even further with these new rules.

“NAR has been fighting for changes to FHA’s condominium rules for years, and the mortgagee letter announced will bring some much needed relief to the market,” Salomone said.

“Condominiums will have a much easier time getting certified by FHA, and Realtors will have more options for clients looking to purchase a condo with an FHA mortgage,” Salomone continued. “This is a big win for NAR, and while we believe all condominiums should have the rules applied to them equally, we also believe FHA has heard the concerns of Realtors and is moving in the right direction.”

Predictions bring bad news for housing

unduhan-6After last month’s uptick in construction, ADP now predicts yet another drop in its monthly National Employment Report.

Overall, the company predicts an increase of 147,000 in total nonfarm private sector employment in October. This is compared to September’s increase of 156,000.

“Job growth appears to be shifting from small to large companies due to the lessening impact the global economic environment had on large companies earlier in the year,” said Ahu Yildirmaz, vice president and head of the ADP Research Institute.

“This is also true because large companies often have the resources to attract workers with better pay and benefit packages,” Yildirmaz said.

Click to Enlarge

ADP

(Source: ADP, Moody’s Analytics)

“Job growth remains strong although the pace of growth appears to be slowing,” Moody’s Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi said. “Behind the slowdown is businesses’ difficulty filling open positions. However, there is some weakness in construction, education and mining.”

Here is a breakdown of the sectors where the changes occurred:

The goods-producing sector decreased by 18,000 with decreases in these areas:

Construction: Decrease of 15,000

Manufacturing: Decrease of 1,000

Natural resources, mining: Decrease of 2,000

The service providing sector increased by 165,000 with increases in these areas:

Trade, transportation and utilities: Increase of 17,000

Information: Increase of 3,000

Financial activities: Increase of 18,000

Professional, business services: Increase of 69,000

Education, health services: Increase of 22,000

Leisure, hospitality: Increase of 38,000

Other services: Decrease of 2,000

The decrease in construction does not bode well for housing, which is already struggling with low inventory levels and high home prices. Many of the gains, however, occurred in the professional and business sector, which could help consumers afford higher-priced homes.

Home Pricing the market too high

Speaking before a packed house gathered Wednesday on the 7th floor of the Newseum in Washington, D.C., CoreLogic’s chief economist, Frank Nothaft, told the crowd of housing insiders that anyone waiting for any dramatic shifts in housing, interest rates, or otherwise is likely to be left waiting.

Nothaft, speaking at the “Data, Demand, and Demographics: A Symposium on Housing Finance” presented by the Urban Institute and CoreLogic, told the crowd that housing is entering a new normal.

And that new normal means interest rates will be staying low, well below 5% for the next several years, amid shifting demographics bringing new homebuyers to the market.

“I think mortgage rates are going to be with us for a long period of time,” Nothaft said. “The expectation in capital markets is no rate change from the Federal Open Markets Committee today. We may see an increase in federal funds rate in December.”

Nothaft added that Wednesday’s FOMC announcement could provide more of an indication on the willingness of FOMC members to increase rates before the year is out.

But even if the FOMC does raise rates, mortgage interest rates will stay low, Nothaft said, but perhaps not as “dirt cheap” as they are right now.

“I think we’ll see rates rise from dirt cheap to a very low level as we move into next year, still remaining below 4% all through next year,” Nothaft said. “We’re evolving into a new era in mortgage rates.”

Nothaft also projects four other trends that will emerge over the next several years that will shape housing’s new normal.

Chief among those is a shift in household composition and a change in demographics as more Millennials approach homebuying age.

Nothaft presented a chart during his presentation that highlighted the difference between the largest age cohort in the U.S. population, ages 24 and 25, and the average age of the first-time homebuyer, which is 31.