Category Archives: Federal Government Feeds

Pending Home Sales Dip 0.8% in March

WASHINGTON (April 27, 2017) — Pending home sales in March maintained their recent high level, but momentum slackened slightly in most of the country as dearth supply weighed on activity, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Only the South saw an uptick in contract signings last month.  

The Pending Home Sales Index,*www.nar.realtor/topics/pending-home-sales, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, declined 0.8 percent to 111.4 in March from 112.3 in February. Despite last month’s decrease, the index is 0.8 percent above a year ago.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says sparse inventory levels caused a pullback in pending sales in March, but activity was still strong enough to be the third best in the past year. “Home shoppers are coming out in droves this spring and competing with each other for the meager amount of listings in the affordable price range,” he said. “In most areas, the lower the price of a home for sale, the more competition there is for it. That’s the reason why first-time buyers have yet to make up a larger share of the market this year, despite there being more sales overall.”

Pointing to revealing data from the March Realtors® Confidence Index, Yun worries that the painfully low supply levels this spring could heighten price growth — at 6.8 percent last month — even more in the months ahead. Homes in March came off the market at a near-record pace 1, and indicating an increase in the likelihood of listings receiving multiple offers, 42 percent of homes sold at or above list price (the second highest amount since NAR began tracking in December 2012).

“Sellers are in the driver’s seat this spring as the intense competition for the few homes for sale is forcing many buyers to be aggressive in their offers,” said Yun. “Buyers are showing resiliency given the challenging conditions. However, at some point — and the sooner the better — price growth must ease to a healthier rate. Otherwise sales could slow if affordability conditions worsen.”

Yun forecasts for existing-home sales to be around 5.64 million this year, an increase of 3.5 percent from 2016 (5.45 million). The national median existing-home price this year is expected to increase around 5 percent. In 2016, existing sales increased 3.8 percent and prices rose 5.1 percent.

The PHSI in the Northeast decreased 2.9 percent to 99.1 in March, but is still 1.8 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index declined 1.2 percent to 109.6 in March, and is now 2.4 percent lower than March 2016.

Pending home sales in the South rose 1.2 percent to an index of 129.4 in March and are now 3.9 percent above last March. The index in the West fell 2.9 percent in March to 94.5, and is now 2.7 percent below a year ago.  

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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1 Properties typically stayed on the market for 34 days in March, which is down from 47 days a year ago and is the second lowest since NAR began tracking in May 2011. The lowest was May 2016 at 32 days.

* The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.

The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months.

An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined. By coincidence, the volume of existing-home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which is considered normal for the current U.S. population.

NOTE: NAR’s metropolitan area home price report for the first quarter will be released May 15, Existing-Home Sales for April will be reported May 24, and the next Pending Home Sales Index will be May 31; all release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/narnewsreleases/~3/2tIvhHked-s/pending-home-sale-dip-08-in-march

Homeownership in the Crosshairs of Latest Tax Plan, Say Realtors®

WASHINGTON (April 26, 2017) – Major reforms are needed to lower tax rates and simplify the tax code, but that shouldn’t come at the expense of current and prospective homeowners. That’s according to National Association of Realtors® President William E. Brown, a second-generation Realtor® from Alamo, California and founder of Investment Properties.

Brown said that while the President’s tax proposal released today is well-intentioned, it’s a non-starter for homeowners and real estate professionals who see the benefits of housing and real estate investment at work every day.  By doubling the standard deduction and repealing the state and local tax deduction, the plan would effectively nullify the current tax benefits of owning a home for the vast majority of tax filers. In light of the plan’s release, Brown issued the following statement:

“For over a century, America has committed itself to homeownership with targeted tax incentives that help lower- and middle-class families purchase what is likely their largest asset. No surprise, real estate now accounts for over 19 percent of America’s gross domestic product, or more than $3 trillion in investment.

“But for roughly 75 million homeowners across the country, their home is more than just a number. It represents their ambitions, their nest egg, and the place where memories are made with family and friends. 

“Targeted tax incentives are in place to help people get there. The mortgage interest deduction and the state and local tax deduction make homeownership more affordable, while 1031 like-kind exchanges help investors keep inventory on the market and money flowing to local communities.

“Those tax incentives are at risk in the tax plan released today. Current homeowners could very well see their home’s value plummet and their equity evaporate if tax reform nullifies or eliminates the tax incentives they depend upon, while prospective homebuyers will see that dream pushed further out of reach. As it stands, homeowners already pay between 80 and 90 percent of U.S. federal income tax. Without tax incentives for homeownership, those numbers could rise even further. And while we appreciate the Administration’s stated commitment to protecting homeownership, this plan does anything but.”

“Homeowners put their hard-earned money on the line to make an investment in themselves and their communities, and it’s on them to protect that investment. Common sense says owning a home isn’t the same as renting one, and American’s tax code shouldn’t treat those activities the same either.

“Realtors® support tax reform, and it’s encouraging to see leaders in Washington doing their part to get there. We believe tax rates should come down to the degree that sound fiscal policy allows, and simplifying the tax code will help ensure fairness and transparency for individual taxpayers. It’s a goal we share with the authors of this tax plan, but getting there by eliminating the incentives for homeownership is the wrong approach. We look forward to working with leaders in Congress and the administration to reform the tax code, while preserving America’s long-held commitment to homeownership.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/narnewsreleases/~3/xPWOJwGhGp8/homeownership-in-the-crosshairs-of-latest-tax-plan-say-realtors

Pending Home Sale Dip 0.8% in March

WASHINGTON (April 27, 2017) — Pending home sales in March maintained their recent high level, but momentum slackened slightly in most of the country as dearth supply weighed on activity, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Only the South saw an uptick in contract signings last month.  

The Pending Home Sales Index,*www.nar.realtor/topics/pending-home-sales, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, declined 0.8 percent to 111.4 in March from 112.3 in February. Despite last month’s decrease, the index is 0.8 percent above a year ago.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says sparse inventory levels caused a pullback in pending sales in March, but activity was still strong enough to be the third best in the past year. “Home shoppers are coming out in droves this spring and competing with each other for the meager amount of listings in the affordable price range,” he said. “In most areas, the lower the price of a home for sale, the more competition there is for it. That’s the reason why first-time buyers have yet to make up a larger share of the market this year, despite there being more sales overall.”

Pointing to revealing data from the March Realtors® Confidence Index, Yun worries that the painfully low supply levels this spring could heighten price growth — at 6.8 percent last month — even more in the months ahead. Homes in March came off the market at a near-record pace 1, and indicating an increase in the likelihood of listings receiving multiple offers, 42 percent of homes sold at or above list price (the second highest amount since NAR began tracking in December 2012).

“Sellers are in the driver’s seat this spring as the intense competition for the few homes for sale is forcing many buyers to be aggressive in their offers,” said Yun. “Buyers are showing resiliency given the challenging conditions. However, at some point — and the sooner the better — price growth must ease to a healthier rate. Otherwise sales could slow if affordability conditions worsen.”

Yun forecasts for existing-home sales to be around 5.64 million this year, an increase of 3.5 percent from 2016 (5.45 million). The national median existing-home price this year is expected to increase around 5 percent. In 2016, existing sales increased 3.8 percent and prices rose 5.1 percent.

The PHSI in the Northeast decreased 2.9 percent to 99.1 in March, but is still 1.8 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index declined 1.2 percent to 109.6 in March, and is now 2.4 percent lower than March 2016.

Pending home sales in the South rose 1.2 percent to an index of 129.4 in March and are now 3.9 percent above last March. The index in the West fell 2.9 percent in March to 94.5, and is now 2.7 percent below a year ago.  

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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1 Properties typically stayed on the market for 34 days in March, which is down from 47 days a year ago and is the second lowest since NAR began tracking in May 2011. The lowest was May 2016 at 32 days.

* The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.

The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months.

An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined. By coincidence, the volume of existing-home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which is considered normal for the current U.S. population.

NOTE: NAR’s metropolitan area home price report for the first quarter will be released May 15, Existing-Home Sales for April will be reported May 24, and the next Pending Home Sales Index will be May 31; all release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/narnewsreleases/~3/2tIvhHked-s/pending-home-sale-dip-08-in-march

Monday Minute

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Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/W9x08q--awA/monday-minute-week-of-april-24-2017

Second Century Ventures Announces 2017 REach® Accelerator Class

CHICAGO (April 20, 2017) – The National Association of Realtors®’ strategic investment arm, Second Century Ventures, unveiled seven organizations chosen for the 2017 class of REach®, a growth technology accelerator program helping launch companies into the real estate, financial services, banking, home services and insurance industries. The program is focused on providing early-to mid-stage companies with access to NAR’s industry expertise, influence and key relationships as companies are launched into the trillion dollar real estate space.

“As technology continues to transform real estate, NAR is leading the charge through its innovative Second Century Ventures,” said Dale Stinton, president of SCV and NAR CEO. “SCV is unique in its ability to leverage NAR’s industry connections and insights, which position REach® companies for ultimate success. This year’s class has tremendous potential to benefit Realtors® and the clients they serve, well into the future.”

The REach® program differs from other accelerators in both its vertical focus within real estate and related industries and in the growth stage at which most companies enter the program. The seven companies range from seed stage to well-capitalized startups backed by world-renowned investors; in aggregate, the class has raised over $50M in previous financings and total valuation exceeds $350M. The REach® program aims to move these organizations rapidly forward beyond their initial successes through education, mentorship and market exposure.

The companies chosen for the 2017 class:

  • Centriq: The app helps solve the problem of transferring home organization, repair and maintenance knowledge from the seller to the buyer while keeping real estate professionals connected to their clients long after the transaction is over.
  • HouseCanary: The most complete and accurate source of residential valuations and analytics for every block and property in the U.S., and is used by agents to become differentiated, trusted advisors to their clients.
  • Notarize: A leading remote electronic notary service, which allows anyone to legally notarize a document from their mobile device or desktop 24-hours per day, seven days per week.
  • Occly: A portable 2-in-1 alarm solution that keeps real estate professionals safe and properties secure.
  • Pearl Certification: Certifies homes with features that contribute to its comfort, energy performance, indoor air quality and value.
  • Relola: Unlocks real estate professionals’ insider knowledge with tools that digitize, amplify and market their everyday tasks. 
  • Trusted Mail: Protects against wire fraud and email spoofing using facial-biometrics to sign and encrypt email and attachments.

“The future of our industry increasingly depends on fast, seamless adoption of technology that benefits home buyers, sellers and investors at every step of a real estate transaction, from prospecting to closing. These companies are seizing an opportunity for rapid growth within the real estate, finance and home services industries via REach®, which will ultimately help them expand into other vertical marketplaces,” said Mark Birschbach, managing director of Second Century Ventures and REach®.

Hundreds of companies applied to REach® this year, up significantly from the number of applicants in 2016. Those chosen proved to have solid business models, executable business plans and significant potential to impact the real estate space and beyond. The seven organizations can expect significant results, as past classes have doubled, on average, their customer base and collectively raised over $60 million in financing both during and after completing the program.

Second Century Ventures is an early-stage technology fund, backed by the National Association of Realtors® that leverages the association’s 1.2 million members and an unparalleled network of executives within real estate and adjacent industries.  SCV systematically launches its portfolio companies into the world’s largest industries including real estate, financial services, banking, home services, and insurance. SCV seeks to define and deliver the future of the world’s largest industries by being a catalyst for new technologies, new opportunities, and new talent.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/narnewsreleases/~3/_MKJLwp7zuc/second-century-ventures-announces-2017-reach-accelerator-class

Existing-Home Sales Jumped 4.4% in March

WASHINGTON (April 21, 2017) — Existing-home sales took off in March to their highest pace in over 10 years, and severe supply shortages resulted in the typical home coming off the market significantly faster than in February and a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Only the West saw a decline in sales activity in March. 

Total existing-home sales 1, https://www.nar.realtor/topics/existing-home-sales, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, ascended 4.4 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.71 million in March from a downwardly revised 5.47 million in February. March’s sales pace is 5.9 percent above a year ago and surpasses January as the strongest month of sales since February 2007 (5.79 million).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says existing sales roared back in March and were led by hefty gains in the Northeast and Midwest. “The early returns so far this spring buying season look very promising as a rising number of households dipped their toes into the market and were successfully able to close on a home last month,” he said. “Although finding available properties to buy continues to be a strenuous task for many buyers, there was enough of a monthly increase in listings in March for sales to muster a strong gain. Sales will go up as long as inventory does.”

The median existing-home price 2 for all housing types in March was $236,400, up 6.8 percent from March 2016 ($221,400). March’s price increase marks the 61st consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory 3 at the end of March increased 5.8 percent to 1.83 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 6.6 percent lower than a year ago (1.96 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 22 straight months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.8-month supply at the current sales pace (unchanged from February).

Added Yun, “Bolstered by strong consumer confidence and underlying demand, home sales are up convincingly from a year ago nationally and in all four major regions despite the fact that buying a home has gotten more expensive over the past year.”

Properties typically stayed on the market for 34 days in March, which is down significantly from 45 days in February and 47 days a year ago. Short sales were on the market the longest at a median of 90 days in March, while foreclosures sold in 52 days and non-distressed homes took 32 days (shortest since NAR began tracking in May 2011). Forty-eight percent of homes sold in March were on the market for less than a month.

Inventory data from realtor.com® reveals that the metropolitan statistical areas where listings stayed on the market the shortest amount of time in March were San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., 24 days; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., 25 days; Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., and Denver-Aurora-Lakewood, Colo., both at 28 days; and Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif., 31 days.  

“Last month’s swift price gains and the remarkably short time a home was on the market are directly the result of the homebuilding industry’s struggle to meet the dire need for more new homes,” said Yun. “A growing pool of all types of buyers is competing for the lackluster amount of existing homes on the market. Until we see significant and sustained multi-month increases in housing starts, prices will continue to far outpace incomes and put pressure on those trying to buy.”

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage rose for the fifth straight month in March to 4.20 percent from 4.17 percent in February. The average commitment rate for all of 2016 was 3.65 percent.

First-time buyers were 32 percent of sales in March, which is unchanged from February and up from 30 percent a year ago. NAR’s 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers – released in late 2016 4 – revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 35 percent.

NAR President William E. Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California, says patience is a virtue for prospective first-time buyers this spring. “Realtors® in most markets are saying interest from first-timers is up this year, but competition is stiff for listings in their price range,” he said. “The best advice is to lean on the guidance of a Realtor® throughout the home search and be careful about stretching the budget too far. Don’t get frustrated by losing out on a home and know the right one will eventually come along in due time.” 

All-cash sales were 23 percent of transactions in March, down from 27 percent in February and 25 percent a year ago. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 15 percent of homes in March, down from 17 percent in February but up from 14 percent a year ago. Sixty-three percent of investors paid in cash in March.

Distressed sales 5 – foreclosures and short sales – were 6 percent of sales in March, down from 7 percent in February and 8 percent a year ago. Five percent of March sales were foreclosures and 1 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 16 percent below market value in March (18 percent in February), while short sales were discounted 14 percent (17 percent in February).

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales

Single-family home sales climbed 4.3 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.08 million in March from 4.87 million in February, and are now 6.1 percent above the 4.79 million pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $237,800 in March, up 6.6 percent from March 2016.

Existing condominium and co-op sales increased 5.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 630,000 units in March, and are now 5.0 percent higher than a year ago. The median existing condo price was $224,700 in March, which is 8.0 percent above a year ago.

March existing-home sales in the Northeast surged 10.1 percent to an annual rate of 760,000, and are now 4.1 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $260,800, which is 2.8 percent above March 2016.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales jumped 9.2 percent to an annual rate of 1.31 million in March, and are now 3.1 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $183,000, up 6.2 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South in March rose 3.4 percent to an annual rate of 2.42 million, and are now 8.5 percent above March 2016. The median price in the South was $210,600, up 8.6 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West decreased 1.6 percent to an annual rate of 1.22 million in March, but are still 5.2 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $347,500, up 8.0 percent from March 2016.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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NOTE:  For local information, please contact the local association of Realtors® for data from local multiple listing services. Local MLS data is the most accurate source of sales and price information in specific areas, although there may be differences in reporting methodology.

1 Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR rebenchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs.

Existing-home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which account for more than 90 percent of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample – about 40 percent of multiple listing service data each month – and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.

The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.

Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.

2 The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical of market conditions than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if additional data is received.

The national median condo/co-op price often is higher than the median single-family home price because condos are concentrated in higher-cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single-family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR’s quarterly metro area price reports.

3 Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90 percent of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).

4 Survey results represent owner-occupants and differ from separately reported monthly findings from NAR’s Realtors® Confidence Index, which include all types of buyers. Investors are under-represented in the annual study because survey questionnaires are mailed to the addresses of the property purchased and generally are not returned by absentee owners. Results include both new and existing homes.

5 Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on market, first-time buyers, all-cash transactions and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR’s Realtors® Confidence Index, posted at Realtor.org.

NOTE: NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index for March is scheduled for release on April 27, and Existing-Home Sales for April will be released May 24; release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/narnewsreleases/~3/am7OaSuQ59s/existing-home-sales-jumped-44-in-march

Personal Safety Company Guard Llama Scores Deal on ABC's "Shark Tank"

WASHINGTON (April 17, 2017) – With an offer of $100,000 from investor Barbara Corcoran, 2015 REach real estate technology accelerator participant and personal safety device company, Guard Llama, is officially a part of “Shark Tank” television history.

Guard Llama offers a mobile personal security system that expedites the 9-1-1 dispatching process when dialing 9-1-1 is not possible. This technology caught the attention of the National Association of Realtors®’ strategic investment arm, Second Century Ventures, which announced in 2015 that Guard Llama had been added to its growth technology accelerator program known as REach.

NAR President William E. Brown, a second-generation Realtor® from Alamo, California and founder of Investment Properties, congratulated the company on making their case before the Shark Tank panelists. “The Guard Llama team should be proud of their accomplishment,” he said. “Pitching a product is no small task, especially in front of well-known business leaders on national television, but the Guard Llama team did fantastic.”

NAR is committed to the safety and well-being of its members, and established the REALTOR® Safety Program to empower and inform members of the potential risks they face in this profession as well as how to navigate them safely. According to NAR’s 2016 Member Safety Report, while 95 percent of Realtors® have never been the victim of crime, 39 percent have found themselves in situations where they have feared for their safety or the safety of their personal information. Smart phone apps and devices are among the popular safety tools for real estate agents.

Guard Llama CEO Joe Parisi said that while the “Shark Tank” experience was intense, the event marked a real opportunity for his company.

“Anytime someone recognizes the value in your product and says they want to put an investment behind it, that’s a good day,” he said. “Having a celebrity businessperson do it on a national stage like “Shark Tank” is just extraordinary. This represented a chance to showcase what Guard Llama is doing to help make the world safer, and we’re looking forward to the good work we have ahead of us.”

Additional information on Guard Llama’s products and services is available on their website, guardllama.com/how-it-works/.  

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/narnewsreleases/~3/-J_RE-2Rmr8/personal-safety-company-guard-llama-scores-deal-on-abcs-shark-tank

2017 Spring Break Report from NAR Government Affairs

Congress is approaching their April District Work Period. The District Work Period is an excellent opportunity to interact with your Members of Congress in advance of the 2017 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. May 15-20.

Several issues have emerged in the early stages of Congress that are of critical importance to REALTORS®. It is essential for REALTORS® to highlight NAR’s positions on these issues to ensure Members of Congress do not enact proposals that would disrupt real estate markets around the nation.  

Tax Reform

Despite its status as one of the top priorities of both Congressional Leadership and the Trump Administration, tax reform remains in the discussion stages with much work remaining before any tax reform plan comes up for votes. The on-going debate places a number of tax laws, including those affecting commercial and residential real estate, under increased scrutiny.  

Threats to the Tax Benefits of Homeownership

  • Massive increases to the standard deduction reduce the relevance of itemized deductions.
  • Taxpayers claim the higher of the actual itemized deductions or the standard deduction.
  • Elimination of most other itemized deductions, such as the deduction for state and local taxes paid, would greatly exacerbate the effect of a higher standard deduction.

Projected Timeline

Tax reform legislation is likely to come into focus in late summer 2017.

NAR’s Issue Summary

National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization

NAR supports renewing and strengthening the long-term viability of the federal flood insurance program, as well as maintaining funding to update and improve the accuracy of flood maps. The current program expires on September 30, 2017. NAR is working closely with Congress to ensure the program does not lapse. A program lapse could affect nearly 40,000 real estate transactions per month.

NAR Flood Principles

  • Long Term Reauthorization
  • Affordable Rates through Risk Mitigation
  • Accurately Priced Premiums 
  • Strong NFIP Homeowner’s Advocate
  • Improved Flood Mapping

Projected Timeline

NFIP legislation is likely to move in late spring 2017.

NAR’s Issue Summary

Government Sponsored Enterprises Reform (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac)

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac play a key role in the secondary mortgage market, which is crucial in providing capital for mortgage lending. Without the GSEs and FHA-insured loans, there would be almost no capital available for mortgage lending. This would severely restrict, if not curtail, home sales and any supporting ancillary home sales services.

NAR GSE Reform Principles

  • NAR supports restructuring the secondary mortgage market to ensure a reliable and affordable source of mortgage capital for consumers
  • Restructuring of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to end government conservatorship

Projected Timeline

GSE legislation has no projected start date.

NAR’s Issue Summary

GSE Guarantee Fees (G-fees)

NAR is very concerned with the high G-fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have translated into huge profits for the entities. These profits show that the current fees and pricing do not reflect the improved profitability or reduced credit losses that the GSEs experienced over the last few years.  NAR will continue to push the GSEs for robust underwriting guidelines that put homeownership above profitability so that conventional borrowers are not priced out of the market.

Representatives Sanford (R-SC) and Sherman (D-CA) have introduced g-fee legislation H.R. 916, the “Risk Management and Homeowner Stability Act.”

Projected Timeline

Currently it is unclear if similar legislation will be introduced in the U.S. Senate.

NAR’s Issue Summary
 

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/x3hvaW6XFtI/spring-break-report

May is REALTOR® Advocacy Month

ABOUT REALTOR® ADVOCACY MONTH

REALTOR® Advocacy Month is a celebration designed to engage and educate REALTORS® to Vote, Act and Invest in advocacy. Throughout three weeks in May, the National Association of REALTORS® invites you to use the more than 80 programs, services and grants offered by the REALTOR® Party to demonstrate the importance of advocacy at the national, state and local levels.

Each week has a Vote, Act or Invest theme that offers state and local associations opportunities to tout their candidate and issue campaign success, hold a voter registration drive, hold a community outreach event, or educate members on RPAC (the REALTORS® Political Action Committee). Feel free to use examples of activities to hold throughout the year. We encourage you to consult NAR and your state association to confirm if your activities meet the Core Standards advocacy requirements.

As you are holding activities, post photos and videos of your association’s advocacy efforts on social media using the hashtag #REALTORParty. Be sure to tag us (REALTOR® Action Center on Facebook and @REALTORAction on Twitter) in your post. Submit your advocacy activities using the feedback form.

TELL US WHAT YOU’RE DOING FOR REALTOR® ADVOCACY MONTH

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VA Reconsiders Limits on Fees

By Megan Booth, Joe Harris, Sehar Siddiqi

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Co-Marketing in a Digital Age under RESPA

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First-time Home Buyer Savings Account Signed into Law in Mississippi

Mississippi is helping lead the way to home ownership after Gov. Phil Bryant today signed HB 1601 into law. 

The law establishes a First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account, allowing Mississippians to create monetary savings accounts for down payments or other home purchase related expenses. 

Mississippi REALTORS® President David Griffith said home ownership is part of the American dream. 

“With this law, more Mississippians will be able to invest in themselves and their communities,” he said. “One of our priorities as REALTORS® is to provide every Mississippian the opportunity to own a home. Through the leadership of Gov. Bryant, Speaker Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Mississippi has created a smoother path to homeownership.” 

The law enables individual Mississippians to deduct up to $2,500 from state adjusted gross income annually, and couples filing jointly are able to deduct up to $5,000 annually from their state adjusted gross income. Interest earned on the account is also exempt from state gross income, and there is no cap on the aggregate amount that can be saved. 

Eligible single-family homes includes newly-constructed homes, existing homes, manufactured homes, modular homes, mobile homes, condominium units or cooperatives.

Individual account holders are responsible for maintaining the funds in a separate account and reporting to the Department of Revenue. Unqualified use of the funds is penalized 10 percent and all back taxes associated with the account. 

HB 1601 was introduced by Rep. Jeff Smith. It unanimously passed the House and passed the Senate 51-1. 

“The Mississippi REALTORS® would like to thank Ways and Means Chairman Jeff Smith, Finance Committee Chairman Joey Fillingane, Rep. Jason White and Sen. Barbara Blackmon for helping to make the dream of home ownership a reality for all Mississippians,” said Clarke Wise, Mississippi REALTORS® Governmental Affairs Director. 

As a result of the law, projections indicate approximately 379 new homes will be constructed to meet demand. It is also estimated that first-time homebuyer households will spend an additional $1,830 annually in their communities. 

The law goes into effect immediately. Mississippians can begin taking the tax deduction in tax year 2018. 

Mississippi is now one of only four states to have a First-Time Home Buyer Savings Account program. Montana, Virginia, and Colorado passed similar laws in recent years. “We hope that other states will follow Mississippi’s example and provide similar relief for first-time home buyers,” Griffith said. 

Mississippi is the fourth state to sign First Time Home Buyer Savings Accounts into law, joining Montana, Virginia and Colorado.

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Affordability, Tight Supply Cause Vacation Home Sales to Plummet in 2016; Investment Sales Climb 4.5%

WASHINGTON (April 11, 2017) — Last year’s strongest pace of home sales in a decade included a sizeable drop in activity from vacation buyers and a jump from individual investors, according to an annual second-home survey released today by the National Association of Realtors®. The survey additionally found that vacation and investment buyers in 2016 were more likely to take out a mortgage and use their property as a short-term rental.

NAR’s 2017 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey 1, covering existing- and new-home transactions in 2016, revealed that vacation home purchases last year descended to an estimated 721,000, down 21.6 percent from 2015 (920,000) and the lowest since 2013 (717,000).

Investment-home sales in 2016 rose 4.5 percent to 1.14 million from 1.09 million in 2015. Owner-occupied purchases jumped 12.5 percent to 4.21 million last year from 3.74 million in 2015 – the highest level since 2006 (4.82 million).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says vacation sales in 2016 tumbled for the second consecutive year and have fallen 36 percent from their recent peak high in 2014 (1.13 million). “In several markets in the South and West – the two most popular destinations for vacation buyers – home prices have soared in recent years because substantial buyer demand from strong job growth continues to outstrip the supply of homes for sale,” he said. “With fewer bargain-priced properties to choose from and a growing number of traditional buyers, finding a home for vacation purposes became more difficult and less affordable last year.”

Added Yun, “The volatility seen in the financial markets in late 2015 through the early part of last year also put a dent in sales as some affluent households with money in stocks likely refrained from buying or delayed plans until after the election.”

Tight inventory conditions pushed the median sales price of both vacation and investment homes last year to levels not seen in roughly a decade. The median vacation home price was $200,000, up 4.2 percent from 2015 ($192,000) and the highest since 2006 (also $200,000). The median investment-home sales price was $155,000, up 8.0 percent from 2015 ($143,500) and the highest since 2005 ($183,500).

With home prices steadily rising, an increasing share of second-home buyers financed their purchase last year. The share of vacation buyers who paid fully in cash diminished to 28 percent (38 percent in 2015), while cash purchases by investors decreased to 35 percent from 39 percent in 2015 and 41 percent in 2014.

“Sales to individual investors reached their highest level since 2012 (1.20 million) as investors took advantage of record low mortgage rates and recognized the sizeable demand for renting in their market as renters struggle to become homeowners,” said Yun. “The ability to generate rental income or remodel a home to put back on a market with tight inventory is giving investors increased confidence in their ability to see strong returns in their home purchase.”

Vacation sales accounted for 12 percent of all transactions in 2016, which was the lowest share since 2012 (11 percent) and down from 16 percent in 2015. The portion of investment sales remained unchanged for the third consecutive year at 19 percent, and owner-occupied purchases increased to 70 percent (65 percent in 2015).

Greater interest in short-term rentals; South most popular destination

Given the rising popularity of short-term rentals in locales throughout the country, it’s no surprise there were slightly more investment and vacation buyers renting their property for less than 30 days. Forty-four percent of investors (42 percent in 2015) and 29 percent of vacation buyers (24 percent in 2015) did or tried to rent their property last year and plan to do so in 2017. Twenty-one percent of investment buyers and 15 percent of vacation buyers did not rent their home for short-term purposes last year but plan to try it in 2017.

Vacation buyers’ typically earned $89,900 ($103,700 in 2015), while investment buyers had a household income of $82,000 ($95,800 in 2015). Both were most likely to purchase a single-family home in the South, with vacation buyers preferring a beach location and investors choosing a suburban area.

The top two reasons for buying a vacation home were to use for vacations or as a family retreat (42 percent) and for future retirement (18 percent), while investors mostly bought to generate income through renting (42 percent) and for potential price appreciation (16 percent).

NAR’s 2017 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey, conducted in March 2017, surveyed a sample of households that had purchased any type of residential real estate during 2016. The survey sample was drawn from an online panel of U.S. adults monitored and maintained by an established survey research firm. A total of 2,099 qualified adults responded to the survey.

The 2017 Investment and Vacation Home Buyers Survey can be ordered by calling 800-874-6500, or online at www.nar.realtor/prodser.nsf/Research. The report is free to NAR members and accredited media and costs $149.95 for non-members.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.    

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1  Vacation homes are recreational property purchased primarily for the buyer’s (or their family’s) personal use, while investment homes are residential property purchased primarily to rent to others, or to hold for other financial or investment purposes. Sales data excludes institutional investment activity.

Home sales were calculated based on a proportion of buyers who bought each respective home type—vacation, investment, and primary residence. The number of purchases for each housing type were calculated using the total number of existing home sales and new homes in 2016. To calculate the difference in the number of purchases in 2015 to 2016, the percent change of each housing type purchased was calculated.

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NAR Publishes Co-Marketing Do's and Don'ts

By Sarah C. Young, Christie DeSanctis

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Spring Break Report from NAR Government Affairs

Congress is approaching their April District Work Period. The District Work Period is an excellent opportunity to interact with your Members of Congress in advance of the 2017 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings Trade Expo in Washington, D.C. May 15-20.

Several issues have emerged in the early stages of Congress that are of critical importance to REALTORS®. It is essential for REALTORS® to highlight NAR’s positions on these issues to ensure Members of Congress do not enact proposals that would disrupt real estate markets around the nation.  

Tax Reform

Despite its status as one of the top priorities of both Congressional Leadership and the Trump Administration, tax reform remains in the discussion stages with much work remaining before any tax reform plan comes up for votes. The on-going debate places a number of tax laws, including those affecting commercial and residential real estate, under increased scrutiny.  

Threats to the Tax Benefits of Homeownership

  • Massive increases to the standard deduction reduce the relevance of itemized deductions.
  • Taxpayers claim the higher of the actual itemized deductions or the standard deduction.
  • Elimination of most other itemized deductions, such as the deduction for state and local taxes paid, would greatly exacerbate the effect of a higher standard deduction.

Projected Timeline

Tax reform legislation is likely to come into focus in late summer 2017.

NAR’s Issue Summary

National Flood Insurance Program Reauthorization

NAR supports renewing and strengthening the long-term viability of the federal flood insurance program, as well as maintaining funding to update and improve the accuracy of flood maps. The current program expires on September 30, 2017. NAR is working closely with Congress to ensure the program does not lapse. A program lapse could affect nearly 40,000 real estate transactions per month.

NAR Flood Principles

  • Long Term Reauthorization
  • Affordable Rates through Risk Mitigation
  • Accurately Priced Premiums 
  • Strong NFIP Homeowner’s Advocate
  • Improved Flood Mapping

Projected Timeline

NFIP legislation is likely to move in late spring 2017.

NAR’s Issue Summary

Government Sponsored Enterprises Reform (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac)

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac play a key role in the secondary mortgage market, which is crucial in providing capital for mortgage lending. Without the GSEs and FHA-insured loans, there would be almost no capital available for mortgage lending. This would severely restrict, if not curtail, home sales and any supporting ancillary home sales services.

NAR GSE Reform Principles

  • NAR supports restructuring the secondary mortgage market to ensure a reliable and affordable source of mortgage capital for consumers
  • Restructuring of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to end government conservatorship

Projected Timeline

GSE legislation has no projected start date.

NAR’s Issue Summary

GSE Guarantee Fees (G-fees)

NAR is very concerned with the high G-fees charged by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have translated into huge profits for the entities. These profits show that the current fees and pricing do not reflect the improved profitability or reduced credit losses that the GSEs experienced over the last few years.  NAR will continue to push the GSEs for robust underwriting guidelines that put homeownership above profitability so that conventional borrowers are not priced out of the market.

Representatives Sanford (R-SC) and Sherman (D-CA) have introduced g-fee legislation H.R. 916, the “Risk Management and Homeowner Stability Act.”

Projected Timeline

Currently it is unclear if similar legislation will be introduced in the U.S. Senate.

NAR’s Issue Summary
 

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/x3hvaW6XFtI/spring-break-report

Commercial NFIP Priorities

By Austin Perez, Ken Wingert, Erin Stackley

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PACE Reform Bills Introduced

By Russell Riggs, Ken Wingert

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Basel III HVCRE regulations

By Erin Stackley, Stephanie A. Spear, Helen Devlin

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/NknB1kxEisQ/basel-iii-hvcre-regulations

NAR Testifies on VA Appraisals

By Sehar Siddiqi, Joe Harris

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/_07RNEafDbA/nar-testifies-on-va-appraisals

Majority of Realtors® Say Clients Interested in Sustainability

WASHINGTON (April 6, 2017) — Growing consumer interest and demand for greener, more sustainable properties is driving a dialogue between Realtors® and homebuyers and sellers. Over half of Realtors® find that consumers have interest in real estate sustainability issues and practices, according to the National Association of Realtors®’ recent REALTORS® and Sustainability report.

The report, stemming from NAR’s new Sustainability Program, surveyed Realtors® about sustainability issues facing consumers in the real estate market and ways Realtors® are setting their own goals to reduce energy usage.

“As consumers’ interest in sustainability grows, Realtors® understand the necessity of promoting sustainability in their real estate practice, such as marketing energy efficiency in property listings to homebuyers,” said NAR President William E. Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California and founder of Investment Properties. “The goal of the NAR Sustainability Program is to provide leadership and strategies on topics of sustainability to benefit members, consumers and communities.”

To meet growing consumer interest, more Multiple Listing Services are incorporating data entry fields to identify a property’s green features; 43 percent of respondents report their MLS has green data fields, and only 19 percent do not. Realtors® see great value in promoting energy efficiency in listings with seven out of 10 feeling strongly about the benefits in promoting those features to clients.  

The survey asked respondents about renewable energy and its impact on the real estate market. A majority of agents and brokers (80 percent) said that solar panels are available in their market; forty-two percent said solar panels increased the perceived property value.

Twenty-four percent of brokers said that tiny homes were available in their market, compared to 61 percent that reported tiny homes were not yet available. When asked about involvement with clients and green properties, 27 percent of agents and brokers were involved with 1 to 5 properties that had green features in the last 12 months. Seventy percent of members worked with no properties that had green features, leaving a great deal of room for future growth.

The home features that Realtors® said clients consider as very or somewhat important include a home’s efficient use of lighting (50 percent), a smart/connected home (40 percent), green community features such as bike lanes and green spaces (37 percent), landscaping for water conservation (32 percent), and renewable energy systems such as solar and geothermal (23 percent).                                    

When it comes to the sustainable neighborhood features for which clients are looking, 60 percent of Realtors® listed parks and outdoor recreation, 37 percent listed access to local food and nine percent listed recycling.

The transportation and commuting features of a community that Realtors® listed as very or somewhat important to their clients included walkability (51 percent), public transportation (31 percent) and bike lanes/paths (39 percent).

NAR initiated the Sustainability Program as a platform for dialogue on sustainability for Realtors®, brokers, allied trade associations, and consumers. The program’s efforts focus on coordination and articulation of NAR’s existing sustainability resources, while also supporting a growing area of interest for consumers, helping members to assist home buyers and sellers.

To further position NAR as a leader in real estate sustainability topics with consumers, Realtors®, brokers and allied trade associations, the REALTOR® Sustainability Program surveyed Realtors® pertaining to sustainability issues facing consumers and the industry. NAR plans to use this report to better benchmark Realtor® understanding of sustainability.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing over 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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VA Appraisers Few and Far Between in Some Rural Areas

Michelle Bradley, past chair of NAR’s Real Property Valuation Committee, said many appraisers would benefit from a better understanding of what the VA requires for its appraisals.

The VA home loan program is considered the gold standard for appraisal independence, but the system is coming under pressure because veterans often have to endure long delays in finding a VA appraiser, particularly in rural areas.

Michelle Bradley, past president of NAR’s Real Property Valuation Committee, testified before a House Veterans Affairs subcommittee yesterday that delays often just stem from the physical remoteness of many rural areas.   

“If appraisers do not have the data to develop geographic competence in a market, they simply cannot take on [these rural] assignments,” Bradley said at the April 4 hearing.

Bradley cautioned the committee against harming the VA system’s high standards in a quest to attract more appraisers to the program.  “The standards do not need to be changed in my personal opinion,” she said.

What might be a better approach is having education programs more readily available to remove misconceptions many appraisers have about becoming a VA-approved appraiser. “Perhaps there are many appraisers who choose not to request an appointment into a VA-approved panel because of misinformation about overregulation,” she said.  “Appraisers who have never done VA [appraisals] before think, ‘I don’t know what a minimum property requirement is, so I’m too concerned to do it for liability purposes.’ If there was training, in conjunction with open enrollment to join the panel, I think that would take care of some concerns.”

At the hearing, lawmakers looked at whether additional use of automated valuation models, or at least data programs, could help speed up rural appraisals. Among other things, an appraiser who can tap a database rather than drive for hours to physically look at a comparable might help cut the time.

Lawmakers agreed that the more the VA and industry groups can do together to solve these problems, the less need for Congress to pass legislation that could take years to complete. More on the challenges facing the VA appraisal community.

—Robert Freedman, REALTOR® Magazine Daily News

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VA Home Loan Program Marked by Strong Underwriting, but Appraisers Raise Concerns

WASHINGTON (April 4, 2017) – Challenges facing real estate appraisers servicing the Veterans Affairs were under Congress’s microscope this week as the National Association of Realtors® and other industry leaders took to Capitol Hill to hail the continued success of the VA Home Loan Guaranty Program.

Michelle Bradley, a state-certified general real property appraiser from Pennsylvania and Immediate Past Chair of NAR’s Real Property Valuation Committee, testified before the House Veterans Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. Bradley told Members of the Committee that while good appraisals are key to maintaining a strong VA Home Loan Guarantee Program, regulatory burdens are getting in the way.

“America’s veterans have been well-served for years by VA’s appraisal system, and professionals in the business should be proud of their good work,” Bradley said. “Unfortunately, that system is under tremendous pressure today.”

The VA Home Loan Guaranty Program has served veterans and active duty service members for over 70 years by encouraging private lenders to offer favorable terms on home loans and allowing buyers to utilize a zero-down payment option.

According to NAR’s 2016 Veterans and Active Military Home Buyers and Sellers Profile, 18 percent of all recent homebuyers were veterans. Among those buyers, over half used a VA loan to finance their home purchase.

A professional appraisal is key to giving everyone involved in the transaction a clear understanding of the purchase and ensuring that buyers ultimately pay a fair price for their home. Citing NAR’s recent Appraiser Trends Survey, however, Bradley pointed out a number of impediments to continuing the current level of service.

“What we’ve found is that, among appraisers, there’s a real reluctance to work with the VA,” Bradley said. “Generally, appraisers are dissatisfied with the level of compensation they’re receiving for their work. It’s also harder than ever for trainees to enter the field, not just within the VA system but across the industry, which only adds to the perception of an appraiser shortage. This overall regulatory burden is a significant issue, and we have to turn things around.”

Bradley sounded a positive note on an element of the VA system known as the “Reconsideration of Value.” When a VA appraiser finds that the market value of a property is lower than the sale price, the VA’s process calls for them to stop work and notify the lender’s point of contact. Also known as the “Tidewater Initiative,” Bradley said that this operating procedure is unique to VA transactions and designed to protect the buyer.

She noted, however, that the process often isn’t transparent to the buyer or their agent. To improve the program, Bradley reminded the committee that a clear understanding between appraisers, real estate agents and the agents’ clients is not only allowable, but should in fact should be encouraged.

Despite the challenges facing the industry, Bradley sounded an optimistic tone about the road ahead.

“What we have today isn’t perfect, but it’s an important part of ensuring veterans and active-service members are protected when using a VA home loan,” Bradley said. “NAR looks forward to working with the VA and Members of Congress to improve this system in the years to come.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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NAR Commercial Members & RPAC in 2016

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2016 RPAC Election Cycle

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With National Flood Insurance Program Expiring in Six Months, Realtors® Sound the Alarm

WASHINGTON (March 30, 2017) — On September 30, just six months from today, the National Flood Insurance Program will expire. The National Association of Realtors® is working closely with federal regulators and members of Congress to strengthen the program and clear the way for a private market to take hold; NAR has also issued a series of principles to improve access and affordability for consumers.  

But Realtors® warn the program’s September 30 reauthorization deadline is a threat to consumers.

NAR President William E. Brown, a second-generation Realtor® from Alamo, California and founder of Investment Properties, believes that expiration would deal significant damage to current policy-holding property owners, as well as threaten property sales and the broader housing market.

Brown said that Realtors® see the NFIP’s importance every day in their lives and in their business and made the following statement:

“When the NFIP expired in 2010, over 1,300 home sales were disrupted every day as a result. That’s over 40,000 every month. Flood insurance is required for a mortgage in the 100-year floodplain, but without access to the NFIP, buyers simply couldn’t get a mortgage or vital protection from the No. 1 cause of loss of property and life: flooding.

“This problem affects far more than coastal communities, and prospective homeowners aren’t the only ones at risk. Policyholders in over 22,000 communities across the country depend on the NFIP to protect homes and businesses from torrential rain, swollen rivers and lakes, snowmelt, failing infrastructure, as well as storm surges and hurricanes. When that lifeline is cut off, the NFIP can’t issue new policies or renew existing residential or commercial policies that expire. That means current home and business owners may find their most important asset unprotected.

“Last year was the third largest claims payout year in NFIP’s history, costing more than $4 billion. While there were five billion-dollar floods, including Hurricane Matthew, four of the five were inland, and the largest single event was in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in August, just one year out from the NFIP’s expiration date.

“The NFIP isn’t perfect, and reforms are needed. We will continue working closely with everyone involved to achieve those reforms.

“Good work has been done in Congress, at FEMA and elsewhere to clear the way for those efforts. We thank leaders on both sides of the aisle for all they’ve done up to this point. Now, it’s time for action. Congress has six months to do the right thing and pass a long-term reauthorization of the program. We’re hoping they do just that.”

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/RealtororgGovernmentAffairsHeadlines/~3/IcyKhyU4RNQ/with-national-flood-insurance-program-expiring-in-six-months-realtors-sound-the-alarm

Troubled Waters

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Pending Home Sales Leap 5.5% in February

WASHINGTON (March 29, 2017) — Pending home sales rebounded sharply in February to their highest level in nearly a year and second-highest level in over a decade, according to the National Association of Realtors®. All major regions saw a notable hike in contract activity last month.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* www.nar.realtor/topics/pending-home-sales, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, jumped 5.5 percent to 112.3 in February from 106.4 in January. Last month’s index reading is 2.6 percent above a year ago, is the highest since last April (113.6) and the second highest since May 2006 (112.5).

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says February’s convincing bump in pending sales is proof that demand is rising with spring on the doorstep. “Buyers came back in force last month as a modest, seasonal uptick in listings were enough to fuel an increase in contract signings throughout the country,” he said. “The stock market’s continued rise and steady hiring in most markets is spurring significant interest in buying, as well as the expectation from some households that delaying their home search may mean paying higher interest rates later this year.”

Added Yun, “Last month being the warmest February in decades also played a role in kick-starting prospective buyers’ house hunt.”  

Looking ahead to the busy spring months, Yun expects to see continued ebbs and flows in activity as new supply struggles to replace listings that are going under contract at a very quick pace. This is especially the case at the lower- and mid-market price ranges, where choices are minimal and prices are being bid higher by multiple offers.

“The homes most buyers are in the market for are unfortunately the most difficult to find and ultimately buy,” said Yun. “The country’s healthy labor market is translating to greater job security, but affordability is not improving because home prices in some areas are still outpacing incomes by three times or more because of tight supply. How much new and existing inventory there is on the market this spring will determine if sales can reach their full potential and finally start reversing the nation’s low homeownership rate.”   

Existing-home sales are forecast to be around 5.57 million this year, an increase of 2.3 percent from 2016 (5.45 million). The national median existing-home price this year is expected to increase around 4 percent. In 2016, existing sales increased 3.8 percent and prices rose 5.1 percent.

The PHSI in the Northeast rose 3.4 percent to 102.1 in February, and is now 6.6 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index jumped 11.4 percent to 110.8 in February, but is still 0.6 percent lower than February 2016.

Pending home sales in the South climbed 4.3 percent to an index of 127.8 in February and are now 4.2 percent above last February. The index in the West increased 3.1 percent in February to 97.5, but is still 0.2 percent higher than a year ago.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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* The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.

The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months.

An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined. By coincidence, the volume of existing-home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which is considered normal for the current U.S. population.

NOTE: Existing-Home Sales for March will be reported April 21, and the next Pending Home Sales Index will be April 27; all release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.

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6 REALTOR® Associations Honored for Community Outreach

WASHINGTON (March 28, 2017) – The National Association of Realtors® has honored six Realtor® associations across the country with Community Outreach Awards. These awards recognize associations that have worked within their communities to make them a better place to live and do business.

“Realtors® are community leaders and are dedicated to building successful neighborhoods and advocating on behalf of homeowners,” said NAR President William E. Brown, a second-generation Realtor® from Alamo, California and founder of Investment Properties, a division of his family real estate business. “I am proud to recognize the associations that are receiving NAR’s Community Outreach Award; through their work, these associations exemplify the core values of Realtors® to improve their neighborhoods and communities.”

This is the second time NAR has honored Realtor® associations with Community Outreach Awards. To be considered for the award, associations must have made use of Realtor® Party Community Outreach resources over a two-year period to address a challenge facing their community, developed partnerships with community stakeholders, or involved the public in a project or discussion to improve the community. The award recipients were announced and recognized last week at NAR’s 2017 Association Executives Institute in Denver.

The 2017 recipients of NAR’s Community Outreach Award are:

Cape Fear Realtors®, North Carolina: The association made use of two NAR Land Use Initiatives to defeat a proposed vacation rental ordinance in Kure Beach and to work with elected officials to modify a zoning change for group homes in New Hanover County. The association also received two NAR Placemaking Grants to build community gardens – and incorporated both activities into a Realtor® volunteer action day – and an NAR Smart Growth grant to hold a seminar for 165 people on water issues and bring together several community groups to discuss the topic.

Greater Rochester Association of Realtors®, New York: The association, working closely with the city and other local organizations, utilized an NAR Housing Opportunity grant to hold a very successful housing fair called “Celebrate City Living,” which attracted 500 people. The association also used four NAR Smart Growth grants to sponsor a lecture series on equity in planning and hold a symposium for community design professionals on planning and transportation.

Austin Board of Realtors®, Texas: With an NAR diversity grant the board held a two-day conference surrounding the National Association of Real Estate Brokers’ State of Housing in Black America report; the local NAREB chapter and leaders from the local Hispanic and Asian real estate professionals’ organizations, NAACP, Black Chamber of Commerce and Urban League attended. The board also received NAR Housing Opportunity grants to connect homeless veterans to permanent housing, hold an event about the community’s need for small homes and townhouses, host housing fairs, and hold a forum to explore the connection between housing and health. The board also took advantage of an NAR Smart Growth grant to fund a community workshop about a large development that many neighbors opposed, which helped facilitate the city, developers and neighbors reaching consensus.

Richmond Association of Realtors®, Virginia: The association used an NAR Housing Opportunity grant to support Project Homeless Connect, an event that matches volunteers and service providers with the homeless. NAR Housing Opportunity Grants were also used to educate the public on the connection between housing supply and economic prosperity and for seminars on community land trusts. The association also held two vacant property trainings supported by NAR’s Housing Opportunity Program, and invited Richmond public officials, city staff, property owners and housing advocates to learn about the effect vacant properties have on communities and real estate values and the techniques that can be used to turn these properties into community assets.

Coastal Carolinas Association of Realtors®, South Carolina: The association implemented an NAR Placemaking Grant to build a playground and received a NAR Smart Growth Grant to support a community planning analysis by the Urban Land Institute. The association also undertook a pilot walkability study, or “walkshop,” using an NAR Smart Growth Grant to host a national expert in walkability who carried out a “walk audit” to observe and analyze the Myrtle Beach community and to make a major commercial artery more safe and welcoming for pedestrians. 

Bronx-Manhattan North Association of Realtors®, New York: Using an NAR Placemaking Grant, the association partnered with the local Bronx Community Board 9 on a public arts project that used local artists to create a mural celebrating notable people from the Bronx, from hip-hop pioneers to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. The mural has contributed to the success of a new pedestrian plaza adjacent to a rail transit station. Taking advantage of several NAR Smart Growth Grants, the association worked with Bronx Community Board 9 to undertake long-term planning activities to change local land use and zoning. 

For additional information on NAR’s community outreach programs and awards, visit realtoractioncenter.com/community-outreach/.  

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.                      

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House Approves Association Health Plan

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NAR’s Analysis of the President’s Budget

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NAR Urges Congress to Support Net Neutrality

By Melanie Wyne, Daniel Blair

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DOJ Shifts Support Against CFPB

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EGRPRA Report to Congress

By Sehar Siddiqi, Joe Harris

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Existing-Home Sales Stumble in February

WASHINGTON (March 22, 2017) — After starting the year at the fastest pace in almost a decade, existing-home sales slid in February but remained above year ago levels both nationally and in all major regions, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

Total existing-home sales 1, which are completed transactions that include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, retreated 3.7 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.48 million in February from 5.69 million in January. Despite last month’s decline, February’s sales pace is still 5.4 percent above a year ago.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says closings retreated in February as too few properties for sale and weakening affordability conditions stifled buyers in most of the country. “Realtors® are reporting stronger foot traffic from a year ago, but low supply in the affordable price range continues to be the pest that’s pushing up price growth and pressuring the budgets of prospective buyers,” he said. “Newly listed properties are being snatched up quickly so far this year and leaving behind minimal choices for buyers trying to reach the market.”

Added Yun, “A growing share of homeowners in NAR’s first quarter HOME survey said now is a good time to sell, but until an increase in listings actually occurs, home prices will continue to move hastily.”

The median existing-home price 2 for all housing types in February was $228,400, up 7.7 percent from February 2016 ($212,100). February’s price increase was the fastest since last January (8.1 percent) and marks the 60th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.

Total housing inventory 3 at the end of February increased 4.2 percent to 1.75 million existing homes available for sale, but is still 6.4 percent lower than a year ago (1.87 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 21 straight months. Unsold inventory is at a 3.8-month supply at the current sales pace (3.5 months in January).

All-cash sales were 27 percent of transactions in February (matching the highest since November 2015), up from 23 percent in January and 25 percent a year ago. Individual investors, who account for many cash sales, purchased 17 percent of homes in February, up from 15 percent in January but down from 18 percent a year ago. Seventy-one percent of investors paid in cash in February (matching highest since April 2015).

First-time buyers were 32 percent of sales in February, which is down from 33 percent in January but up from 30 percent a year ago. NAR’s 2016 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers — released in late 2016 4 — revealed that the annual share of first-time buyers was 35 percent.

“The affordability constraints holding back renters from buying is a signal to many investors that rental demand will remain solid for the foreseeable future,” said Yun. “Investors are still making up an above average share of the market right now despite steadily rising home prices and few distressed properties on the market, and their financial wherewithal to pay in cash gives them a leg-up on the competition against first-time buyers.”

According to Freddie Mac, the average commitment rate for a 30-year, conventional, fixed-rate mortgage inched up in February to 4.17 percent from 4.15 percent in January. The average commitment rate for all of 2016 was 3.65 percent.

Properties typically stayed on the market for 45 days in February, down from 50 days in January and considerably more than a year ago (59 days). Short sales were on the market the longest at a median of 214 days in February, while foreclosures sold in 49 days and non-distressed homes took 45 days. Forty-two percent of homes sold in February were on the market for less than a month.

Inventory data from realtor.com® reveals that the metropolitan statistical areas where listings stayed on the market the shortest amount of time in February were San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif., 23 days; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif., 27 days; Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif., 33 days; Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Wash., 36 days; and Boulder, Colo., at 37 days.

NAR President William E. Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California, says being fully prepared is the right strategy for prospective buyers this spring. “Seek a preapproval from a lender, know what your budget is and begin discussions with a Realtor® early on about your housing wants and needs,” he said. “Homes in many areas are selling faster than they were last spring. A buyer’s idea of a dream home in a popular neighborhood is probably the same as many others. That’s why they’ll likely have to decide quickly if they see something they like and can afford.”

Distressed sales 5 — foreclosures and short sales — were 7 percent of sales for the third straight month in February, and are down from 10 percent a year ago. Six percent of February sales were foreclosures and 1 percent were short sales. Foreclosures sold for an average discount of 18 percent below market value in February (14 percent in January), while short sales were discounted 17 percent (10 percent in January).

Single-family and Condo/Co-op Sales

Single-family home sales declined 3.0 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.89 million in February from 5.04 million in January, and are now 5.8 percent above the 4.62 million pace a year ago. The median existing single-family home price was $229,900 in February, up 7.6 percent from February 2016.

Existing condominium and co-op sales descended 9.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 590,000 units in February, but are still 1.7 percent higher than a year ago. The median existing condo price was $216,100 in February, which is 8.2 percent above a year ago.

Regional Breakdown

February existing-home sales in the Northeast slumped 13.8 percent to an annual rate of 690,000, but are still 1.5 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $250,200, which is 4.1 percent above February 2016.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales fell 7.0 percent to an annual rate of 1.20 million in February, but are still 2.6 percent above a year ago. The median price in the Midwest was $171,700, up 6.1 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South in February rose 1.3 percent to an annual rate of 2.34 million, and are now 5.9 percent above February 2016. The median price in the South was $205,300, up 9.6 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West decreased 3.1 percent to an annual rate of 1.25 million in February, but are 9.6 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $339,900, up 9.6 percent from February 2016.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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NOTE: For local information, please contact the local association of Realtors® for data from local multiple listing services. Local MLS data is the most accurate source of sales and price information in specific areas, although there may be differences in reporting methodology.

1 Existing-home sales, which include single-family, townhomes, condominiums and co-ops, are based on transaction closings from Multiple Listing Services. Changes in sales trends outside of MLSs are not captured in the monthly series. NAR rebenchmarks home sales periodically using other sources to assess overall home sales trends, including sales not reported by MLSs.

Existing-home sales, based on closings, differ from the U.S. Census Bureau’s series on new single-family home sales, which are based on contracts or the acceptance of a deposit. Because of these differences, it is not uncommon for each series to move in different directions in the same month. In addition, existing-home sales, which account for more than 90 percent of total home sales, are based on a much larger data sample — about 40 percent of multiple listing service data each month — and typically are not subject to large prior-month revisions.

The annual rate for a particular month represents what the total number of actual sales for a year would be if the relative pace for that month were maintained for 12 consecutive months. Seasonally adjusted annual rates are used in reporting monthly data to factor out seasonal variations in resale activity. For example, home sales volume is normally higher in the summer than in the winter, primarily because of differences in the weather and family buying patterns. However, seasonal factors cannot compensate for abnormal weather patterns.

Single-family data collection began monthly in 1968, while condo data collection began quarterly in 1981; the series were combined in 1999 when monthly collection of condo data began. Prior to this period, single-family homes accounted for more than nine out of 10 purchases. Historic comparisons for total home sales prior to 1999 are based on monthly single-family sales, combined with the corresponding quarterly sales rate for condos.

2 The median price is where half sold for more and half sold for less; medians are more typical of market conditions than average prices, which are skewed higher by a relatively small share of upper-end transactions. The only valid comparisons for median prices are with the same period a year earlier due to seasonality in buying patterns. Month-to-month comparisons do not compensate for seasonal changes, especially for the timing of family buying patterns. Changes in the composition of sales can distort median price data. Year-ago median and mean prices sometimes are revised in an automated process if additional data is received.

The national median condo/co-op price often is higher than the median single-family home price because condos are concentrated in higher-cost housing markets. However, in a given area, single-family homes typically sell for more than condos as seen in NAR’s quarterly metro area price reports.

3 Total inventory and month’s supply data are available back through 1999, while single-family inventory and month’s supply are available back to 1982 (prior to 1999, single-family sales accounted for more than 90 percent of transactions and condos were measured only on a quarterly basis).

4 Survey results represent owner-occupants and differ from separately reported monthly findings from NAR’s Realtors® Confidence Index, which include all types of buyers. Investors are under-represented in the annual study because survey questionnaires are mailed to the addresses of the property purchased and generally are not returned by absentee owners. Results include both new and existing homes.

5 Distressed sales (foreclosures and short sales), days on market, first-time buyers, all-cash transactions and investors are from a monthly survey for the NAR’s Realtors® Confidence Index, posted at Realtor.org.

NOTE: NAR’s Pending Home Sales Index for February is scheduled for release on March 29, and Existing-Home Sales for March will be released April 21; release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.

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REALTOR® Party Corporate Ally Program

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HUD Secretary Launches Listening Tour

By Megan Booth, Sehar Siddiqi, Joe Harris

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Senate Commerce Hearing on Drones

By Erin Stackley, Stephanie A. Spear, Russell Riggs

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President Trump Releases Budget

By Megan Booth, Austin Perez, Joe Harris

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NAR Urges Mnuchin to Protect MID

By Evan Liddiard, Jamie Gregory

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NAR HOME Survey: Economic, Financial Optimism Surges; Renters Lukewarm About Buying

WASHINGTON (March 15, 2017) — Multiple years of uninterrupted job gains and hope that the best is yet to come in 2017 are igniting consumer confidence across the country, and especially in rural and middle America, according to new consumer survey findings from the National Association of Realtors®. The survey additionally found a growing disparity among renters who think it’s a good time to buy and homeowners who think it’s a good time to sell. 

In NAR’s ongoing quarterly Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey 1, respondents were asked about their confidence in the U.S. economy and various questions about their housing expectations.

In the first three months of 2017, the share of households believing the economy is improving soared to its highest share in the survey’s five-quarter history (62 percent), and is up from 54 percent last quarter and 48 percent in March 2016.

In an extraordinary reversal from previous quarters, NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says the surge in positive sentiment about the economy is primarily from respondents living in the Midwest (67 percent; 51 percent last quarter) and rural areas (63 percent; 43 percent last quarter). Last March, only 49 percent of Midwesterners and 35 percent of those living in rural areas thought the economy was improving.

“Confidence levels generally rise after a presidential election as the nation hopes for the best. Even though it is a highly polarized country, consumers for the most part have upbeat feelings about the economy right now,” he said. “Stronger business and consumer morale typically lead to even more hiring and spending, which in turn encourages more households to make big decisions like buying a home. These positive developments would be especially good news for prospective homebuyers in the more affordable Midwest region.”

Higher confidence in the economy is also translating to better feelings about households’ financial situation. The HOME survey’s monthly Personal Financial Outlook Index 2 showing respondents’ confidence that their financial situation will be better in six months, jumped to its highest reading in the survey, climbing to 62.6 in March from 59.8 in December 2016. A year ago, the index was 58.1.

Affordability and inventory challenges dimming renter optimism

On the cusp of the busy spring season, most households believe now is a good time to buy a home. However, confidence continues to trickle backwards among renters. Fifty-six percent of renters said now is a good time to buy, which is down both from last quarter (57 percent) and a year ago (62 percent). Eighty percent of homeowners (78 percent in December 2016; 82 percent in March 2016) think now is a good time to make a home purchase. Younger households, renters and those living in the costlier West region – where prices continue to spike – are the least optimistic.

“Inventory conditions are even worse than a year ago 3 and home prices and mortgage rates are on an uphill climb,” added Yun. “These factors are giving many renter households a pause about it being a good time to buy, even as their job prospects improve and wages grow. Unless there’s a significant boost in supply levels this spring, these constraints will unfortunately slow or delay some prospective buyers’ pursuit of purchasing a home.”

Led by the West, more homeowners view selling favorably right now

One promising trend that could alleviate supply shortages is the notable bump in the share of respondents this quarter who believe now is a good time to sell a home. Sixty-nine percent of homeowners think now is a good time to sell, which is up from last quarter (62 percent) and a year ago (56 percent). Continuing the trend over the past year, those in the West continue to be the most likely to think now is a good time to sell (77 percent), while also being the least likely to think it’s a good time to buy (61 percent).

NAR President William E. Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California, says homeowners looking to trade up or move down this spring could find themselves in a tricky spot without careful planning and a reliable expert on their side. “Demand far outpaces supply in many parts of the country right now, which means homeowners will likely sell their home much quicker than the time it takes to buy another,” he said. “Before listing, it’s best to have a carefully crafted plan in place. In addition to assisting in the hunt for a new home, a Realtor® is an invaluable negotiating partner in the common situation where a buyer’s new home purchase is contingent upon selling their property currently up for sale.”

About NAR’s HOME survey

In January through early March, a sample of U.S. households was surveyed via random-digit dial, including half via cell phones and the other half via land lines. The survey was conducted by an established survey research firm, TechnoMetrica Market Intelligence. Each month approximately 900 qualified households responded to the survey. The data was compiled for this report and a total of 2,698 household responses are represented.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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1 NAR’s Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey tracks topical real estate trends, including current renters and homeowners’ views and aspirations regarding homeownership, whether or not it’s a good time to buy or sell a home, and expectations and experiences in the mortgage market. New questions are added to the survey each quarter to reflect timely topics impacting real estate.

HOME survey data is collected on a monthly basis and will be reported each quarter. New questions will be added to the survey each quarter to reflect timely topics impacting the real estate marketplace. The next release is scheduled for Monday, June 12, 2017 at 10:00 a.m. ET.

2 Index ranges between 0 and 100: 0 = all respondents believe their personal financial situation will be worse in 6 months; 50 = all respondents believe their personal financial situation will be about the same in 6 months; 100 = all respondents believe their personal situation will be better in 6 months.

3 Total housing inventory at the end of January was at 1.69 million existing homes available for sale, which is 7.1 percent lower than a year ago (1.82 million) and has fallen year-over-year for 20 straight months.

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NAR Supports Sanford/Sherman G-fee Bill

By Vijay Yadlapati, Charles Dawson

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Flood Insurance Hearings

By Austin Perez, Ken Wingert, Russell Riggs

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NAR Survey Finds Gen X on the Mend; More Children Living with Millennials and Boomers

WASHINGTON (March 7, 2017) — An improving economy, multiple years of strong job growth and the notable increase in home values in most markets fueled a greater share of purchases from Generation X households over the past year.

This is according to the National Association of Realtors® 2017 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study, which evaluates the generational differences 1 of recent home buyers and sellers. The survey additionally found that a growing number of millennials and younger boomer buyers have children living at home; student debt is common among Gen X and boomer households; more millennials are buying outside the city; and younger generations are more likely to use a real estate agent.

Much of the spotlight in recent years has focused on the several challenges millennials are enduring on their journey to homeownership. According to Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, lost in this discussion are the numerous Generation X households who bought their first home, started a family and entered the middle part of their careers only to be rattled by job losses, falling home values and overall economic uncertainty during and after the Great Recession.

This year’s survey reveals that debt and little or no equity in their home slowed many Gen X households from buying sooner. Recent Gen X buyers delayed buying longer than millennials because of debt, were the most likely generation to have previously sold a distressed property and were the generation most likely to want to sell earlier but couldn’t because their home was worth less than their mortgage. Furthermore, Gen X buyers indicated they had the most student loan debt ($30,000).

“Gen X sellers’ median tenure in their previous home was 10 years, which puts many of them selling a property they bought right around the time home values were on the precipice of declining,” said Yun. “Fortunately, the much stronger job market and 41 percent cumulative rise in home prices since 2011 have helped a growing number build enough equity to finally sell and trade up to a larger home. More Gen X sellers are expected this year and are definitely needed to ease the inventory shortages in much of the country.”

The uptick in purchases from Gen X buyers this year (28 percent) was the highest since 2014 and up from 26 percent in 2016. Millennials were the largest group of recent buyers for the fourth consecutive year (34 percent), but their overall share was down slightly from a year ago (35 percent). Baby boomers were 30 percent of buyers, and the Silent Generation made up 8 percent.

Younger boomers increasingly consider adult children when buying

This year’s survey also brought to light how the soaring cost of rent in many areas is likely influencing the decision of middle-aged parents to buy a home with their young adult children in mind. Younger boomers were the most likely to purchase a multi-generational home (20 percent; 16 percent in 2016), and the top reason for doing so was that children over 18 years old either moved back home or never left (30 percent; 27 percent in 2016).

“The job market is very healthy for young adults with a college education, but repaying student debt and dealing with ever-increasing rents on an entry-level salary are forcing many to either shack-up with several roommates or move back home,” said Yun. “This growing trend of delayed household formation is one of the main contributors to the nation’s low homeownership rate.”

Student debt is not just a millennial problem

Debt, particularly from student loans, appears to be a portion of the household budget of buyers in every generation. While millennials were the most likely to have student debt (46 percent), their typical balance ($25,000) was lower than Gen X buyers ($30,000). A combined 16 percent of younger and older boomer buyers also had student debt, with a median balance of over $10,000 for each group.

Among the share of buyers who said saving for a down payment was the most difficult task, millennials were most likely to cite student loans as the debt that delayed saving (55 percent), followed by Gen X (29 percent) and younger boomers (9 percent).

“Repaying student debt also appears to be slowing some current homeowners who went to graduate school and now can no longer afford to sell and trade up because of their loans,” added Yun. “Nearly a third of homeowners in a NAR survey released last year said student debt is preventing them from selling a home to buy a new one.”

More millennials moving to the suburbs…with their kids

Similar to previous years, roughly two-thirds of millennial buyers are married. One aspect of their household that has changed is the number of children in them. In this year’s survey, 49 percent of millennial buyers had at least one child, which is up from 45 percent last year and 43 percent two years ago.

With more kids in tow, the need for more space at an affordable price is increasingly pushing millennial buyers outside the city. Only 15 percent of millennial buyers bought in an urban area, which is down from 17 percent last year and 21 percent two years ago.

“Millennial buyers, at 85 percent, were the most likely generation to view their home purchase as a good financial investment,” added Yun. “These strong feelings bode well for even greater demand in the future as more millennials settle down and begin raising families. A significant boost in new and existing inventory will go a long way to ensuring the opportunity is there for more of them to reach the market.”

Millennial buyers and sellers overwhelmingly go online and use a real estate agent

Regardless of age, buyers and sellers continue to see real estate agents as an integral part of a real estate transaction. In this year’s survey, nearly 90 percent of respondents said they worked with a real estate agent to buy or sell a home. This kept for-sale-by-owner transactions down at their lowest share ever (8 percent).

Not surprisingly, online and digital technology usage during the home search has increased in recent years. Although millennials and Gen X buyers were the most likely to go online during their search, they were also the most likely to buy their home using a real estate agent (92 percent and 88 percent, respectively). On the seller side, millennials were the most likely to use an agent (90 percent), followed closely by Gen X and younger boomer sellers (each at 89 percent).

“Online and mobile technology is increasingly giving consumers a glut of real estate data at their disposal,” said NAR President William E. Brown, a Realtor® from Alamo, California. “However, at the end of the day, buyers and sellers of all ages — but especially younger and often DIY-minded consumers — seek and value a Realtors®’ ability to dissect this information and use their expertise and market insights to coach buyers and sellers through the complexities of a real estate transaction.”

NAR mailed a 132-question survey in July 2016 using a random sample weighted to be representative of sales on a geographic basis to 93,171 recent homebuyers. Respondents had the option to fill out the survey via hard copy or online; the online survey was available in English and Spanish. A total of 5,465 responses were received from primary residence buyers. After accounting for undeliverable questionnaires, the survey had an adjusted response rate of 5.9 percent. The sample at the 95 percent confidence level has a confidence interval of plus-or-minus 1.32 percent.

The recent homebuyers had to have purchased a home between July of 2015 and June of 2016. All information is characteristic of the 12-month period ending in June 2016 with the exception of income data, which are for 2015.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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1 Survey generational breakdowns: younger millennials (ages 26 and under); older millennials (ages 27-36); Generation X (ages 37-51); younger boomers (ages 52-61); older boomers (ages 62-70); and the Silent Generation (ages 71-91).

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Pres. Trump Signs WOTUS Order

By Russell Riggs, Ken Wingert

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Carson Becomes HUD Secretary

By Megan Booth, Sehar Siddiqi, Joe Harris

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Senate Confirms Carson Nomination as Realtors® Look to Opportunities and Challenges Ahead

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Pending Home Sales Weaken in January

WASHINGTON (February 27, 2017) — Insufficient supply levels led to a lull in contract activity in the Midwest and West, which dragged down pending home sales in January to their lowest level in a year, according to the National Association of Realtors®.

The Pending Home Sales Index,* a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, decreased 2.8 percent to 106.4 in January from an upwardly revised 109.5 in December 2016. Although last month’s index reading is 0.4 percent above last January, it is the lowest since then.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, says home shoppers in January faced numerous obstacles in their quest to buy a home. “The significant shortage of listings last month along with deteriorating affordability as the result of higher home prices and mortgage rates kept many would-be buyers at bay,” he said. “Buyer traffic is easily outpacing seller traffic in several metro areas and is why homes are selling at a much faster rate than a year ago 1. Most notably in the West, it’s not uncommon to see a home come off the market within a month.”

According to Yun, interest in buying a home is the highest it has been since the Great Recession. Households are feeling more confident about their financial situation, job growth is strong in most of the country and the stock market has seen record gains in recent months. While these factors bode favorably for increased sales in coming months, buyers are dealing with challenging supply shortages that continue to run up prices in many areas.

“January’s accelerated price appreciation 2 is concerning because it’s over double the pace of income growth and mortgage rates are up considerably from six months ago,” said Yun. “Especially in the most expensive markets, prospective buyers will feel this squeeze to their budget and will likely have to come up with additional savings or compromise on home size or location.”

Existing-home sales are forecast to be around 5.57 million this year, an increase of 2.2 percent from 2016 (5.45 million). The national median existing-home price this year is expected to increase around 4 percent. In 2016, existing sales increased 3.8 percent and prices rose 5.1 percent.

“Sales got off to a fantastic start in January, but last month’s retreat in contract signings indicates that activity will likely be choppy in coming months as buyers compete for the meager number of listings in their price range,” added Yun.

The PHSI in the Northeast rose 2.3 percent to 98.7 in January, and is now 3.6 percent above a year ago. In the Midwest the index fell 5.0 percent to 99.5 in January, and is now 3.8 percent lower than January 2016.

Pending home sales in the South inched higher (0.4 percent) to an index of 122.5 in January and are now 2.0 percent above last January. The index in the West dropped 9.8 percent in January to 94.6, and is now 0.4 percent lower than a year ago.

The National Association of Realtors®, “The Voice for Real Estate,” is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.2 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.

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1 Properties typically stayed on the market for 50 days in January, down considerably from a year ago (64 days).

2 January’s median existing-home price increased 7.1 percent, which was the fastest since January 2016 (8.1 percent).

* The Pending Home Sales Index is a leading indicator for the housing sector, based on pending sales of existing homes. A sale is listed as pending when the contract has been signed but the transaction has not closed, though the sale usually is finalized within one or two months of signing.

The index is based on a large national sample, typically representing about 20 percent of transactions for existing-home sales. In developing the model for the index, it was demonstrated that the level of monthly sales-contract activity parallels the level of closed existing-home sales in the following two months.

An index of 100 is equal to the average level of contract activity during 2001, which was the first year to be examined. By coincidence, the volume of existing-home sales in 2001 fell within the range of 5.0 to 5.5 million, which is considered normal for the current U.S. population.

NOTE: NAR’s 2017 Profile of Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends will be released March 7, the first quarter Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey is scheduled for March 15, Existing-Home Sales for February will be reported March 22, and the next Pending Home Sales Index will be March 29; all release times are 10:00 a.m. ET.

Article source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/narnewsreleases/~3/QqV__IEyj2o/pending-home-sales-weaken-in-january

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