As the partial government shutdown enters its second week, its effects are not only being felt on federal agencies but also on the housing market as federal employees go without pay for the second consecutive week. This is, in turn, is affecting their ability to repay loans.
According to the latest estimates, around 800,000 workers are either on furlough or required to work without pay. This includes employees of federal institutions like the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as well as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Federal Contractors Losing Out
On Friday, FEMA posted a stop work order that is likely to impact many open contracts. According to the Washington Post, in a note to federal contractors Bobby McCane, Head of FEMA's Contracting Activity said, "Any work done after the receipt of this notice is at your own risk and will not be reimbursed. I thank you for your assistance during this funding lapse."
While many of the contractors affected by the FEMA shutdown are deep-pocketed tech companies and large government services firms such as AT&T and IBM, the Post said that small businesses and contractors were feeling the shutdown more sharply as they relied on these contracts to provide a large portion of their annual revenue.
Effect on Borrowers
The effects of the shutdown are now being felt on the housing market too as banks and credit unions announce assistance programs to help affected borrowers working in the government to tackle loan repayments. For example, Wells Fargo has said that it will work with "individuals and business banking customers whose income is disrupted as a result of the shutdown." Additionally, the bank has said that it has set up phone lines to help mortgage, loan, and credit customers who might qualify for forbearance or other payment assistance programs based on their individual circumstances.
Chase has also offered hardship programs to customers who have been affected by financial strain, unemployment, or natural disasters. The bank has said that it will automatically waive or refund overdraft and monthly service fees on Chase checking and savings accounts if an employee’s salary from an affected federal agency was direct-deposited into the account in November 2018.
“We’re here for our government worker customers whose pay may be disrupted,” said Thasunda Duckett, CEO of Consumer Banking at Chase. “We all hope this will be resolved soon.”
About Author: Radhika Ojha
Radhika Ojha, Online Editor at the Five Star Institute,
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The Town boasts 65 public beach accesses on miles of sandy beaches, as well as fishing docks and piers, boat ramps and many other access points to the Intracoastal Waterway and the Davis Canal, making it the perfect location for fishing, boating, kayaking and other water activities. The Town also has a municipal golf course and eight parks, ranging from a fishing T at the west end of the island to a large park on the mainland complete with baseball and football fields. There is a skate park, a dog park, a cabana on the oceanfront with an observation deck and plenty of places to find a quiet spot to relax and enjoy the view. Area businesses, like piers and marinas, restaurants and ice cream shops, also help make vacationers feel welcome while catering to full-time residents. Now work is to begin on Oak Island’s new splash pad, to open before summer.
Oak Island residents will soon have a freshwater option to splash in, just one block from the ocean. The town’s Parks and Recreation Department announced Friday that a splash pad, years in the making, will be installed before the summer.
Will new ‘megadecks’ be harmful to Surf City’s fragile dune system?
Officials from Surf City and the state's Division of Coastal Management respond to concerns that some beach homeowners have raised of the negative impact these structures could have on a beach dune system left heavily damaged and vulnerable after Florence.
PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Surf City could see more mega decks in its future even though residents have mixed feelings about it.
Town council in a 3-1 vote Wednesday night approved a motion for mega decks, which are structures up to 500 square feet on the oceanfront where a house would not be able to be built.
Some residents aren’t in favor of the new development because of possible deck parties that could result in loud music or the deck becoming an eyesore.
However, Bill Pelon, who owns two mega decks, couldn’t think of a better way to use the lots.
“We utilize it not just going up and laying out but also, we’ve got a bar there," Pelon said. “We have a refrigerator, freezer. It’s just nice things to have along with the grill. We can grill out and have access to the ocean.”
The town has two Coastal Area Management Act-approved mega decks.
At Wednesday night’s meeting, Surf City resident Marcus Norton said mega decks will eat away at available parking space, which could cause people to avoid the area altogether.
Full article: http://bit.ly/2FbPbYJ
A green idea, Cape Fear Solar Systems planning carbon-neutral development
New development and conservation are typically not used in the same sentence, but amidst all of the razing of trees and packing apartments into already crowded road corridors, one development is hoping to limit its carbon footprint in Wilmington.
Plans have been submitted to the City of Wilmington’s Planning Commission for a special-use permit that will allow the development of a 75-foot tall office structure in a planned mixed-use development.
The project is being brought forward by Cape Fear Solar Systems and would be located at the currently vacant property at 901 South Front Street.
“The proposed project includes a multi-phased solar system design and installation company containing a 5-story, 75-foot office structure and a 14,994 sqft warehouse where solar system kits will be stored and placed on trailers for deliveries. Additional phases will include a net-zero exhibition home, solar-powered car charging stations, and multi-family residential buildings,” according to the application.
Source and full article provided by Port City Daily - our local reporters.http://bit.ly/2VCDqPV
2019 Tax Calendar:
2019 and all of its tax deadlines are upon us! Below is a quick guide of the most important dates to keep in mind this calendar year.
January 15th: due date to pay 4th quarter estimated taxes.
Due date to send out 1099s and W-2s to recipients.
Due date to file 1099s/1096s with amounts in Box 7 and W-2s/W-3s with the IRS.
February 28th: due date to file 1099s/1096s that do not have amounts in Box 7 if you are paper filing.
Due date to file S-Corp (1120S) and partnership (1065) returns
Due date to elect S-Corp status for existing corporations or LLCs.
April 1st: due date to file 1099s/1096s that do not have amounts in Box 7 if you are filing electronically.
Due date to file individual (1040), trust (1041), and C-Corp (1120) returns.
Last day to make HSA contributions and contributions to the majority of retirement plans.
Due date to pay 1st quarter estimated payments.
May 15th: due date to file most nonprofit returns (Form 990).
June 17th: due date to pay 2nd quarter estimated payments.
Due date for extended S-Corp and partnership tax returns.
Due date to pay 3rd quarter estimated payments.
October 1st: due date for extended trust returns.
Due date for extended individual tax returns and C-Corp returns.
November 15th: due date to file extended nonprofit returns.
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Why Utilization Rate Affects Credit Scores
A high utilization rate is a sign that you may be experiencing financial difficulty and is a strong indicator of lending risk. As a result, high utilization hurts credit scores and can cause lenders to be reluctant to extend additional credit.
If you have a high balance-to-limit ratio on one card, that negative can be significantly off-set by having a low overall utilization rate. That is why we caution against closing unused cards if your scores are low and eliminating that open credit limit might increase your total utilization ratio.
Keep Credit Card Balances as Low As Possible
VantageScore recommends an overall utilization rate of no more than 30 percent. However, the lower your utilization ratio, the better for your credit scores.
Ideally, you should pay your balances in full each month so that you never pay finance charges and don't spend more than you can afford to repay. But, don't expect paying in full to lower your utilization. The balance reported is the amount owed when you receive your billing statement.
The only way to have a zero balance is to not use the card for an entire billing cycle or pay the balance well before the due date so that your billing statement will show a zero balance due.
If your scores are not as good as they need to be to be approved at the best rates, paying down balances is often the best action you can take to improve your risk.
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How lenders view your credit
This is the money or cash that is available to you through savings, investments or any other assets that you can use for repayment of a loan. Your household income is viewed as the main source of repayment, but any extra capital you show lenders tells them that you have saved money and manage your finances well, making you less of a credit risk. Additional capital on hand can help you in case of emergencies such as losing your job.
This is your monthly income and how stable it has been over an extended period of time. Lenders want to see that you can afford your payments. Often lenders will do so by reviewing your income, work history, and stability along with your earning potential as a way to project your ability to pay back the borrowed debt.
This can be done by evaluating your debt-to-income ratio (DTI), which compares the total amount of debt you owe each month with the total amount you earn. A higher debt-to-income ratio could mean that you are seen as a credit risk and may not be able to afford your loan payments. Lenders can even predict a borrower's likelihood to make payments on time during the length of the loan.
This is something that you own that can be used for any loans or lines of credit that you apply for that are secured by that possession. A secured loan, such as an auto or home equity line of credit loan (HELOC), means that you will pledge something that you already own as collateral.
That collateral will have a value assigned to it, and any debt that you already have will be subtracted from the value. What is left is the remaining equity that lenders will consider as a factor in their lending decision.
For example, on a home loan, lenders can take possession of your home if you default on the mortgage. They will get an appraisal of the home to get an accurate value of what it's worth to make sure it is worth at least as much as the loan amount you are borrowing. Your collateral is then seen as the officially appraised value of the home.
This can include the interest rate for a credit card or loan or the amount of money you are borrowing as the lender decides whether to approve you. Conditions can also include the lender asking how you plan to use the money you are borrowing.
The amount you plan to borrow and how you plan to use it can influence a lender's decision. Other conditions that can be considered include the current state of the economy or even different lending trends for that industry, such as the impact of the Great Recession on the mortgage industry in 2008.
5. Credit History
This plays a large role in a lender's decision to qualify you for a loan or credit card. Your credit history is your financial track record that shows how you have managed credit and made payments over time. This history can be seen in your three credit reports, which provide all the information from lenders that have previously given you credit.
This data can vary among the different credit reporting agencies but will include the same information such as the names of lenders that extended credit, the types of credit, your payment history, and more. Most lenders like to see a good payment history, low amounts of debt and no missed or late payments. Your credit history is captured into a single number known as credit scores.
Your credit scores are one of the first things that lenders look at when assessing your credit history. Having a good credit score increases your odds of getting approved for a loan and helps with the conditions of the offer, such as what the interest rate will be. There are many different types of credit scores. FICO® Scores and VantageScore® are two of the more common types of credit scores, but other industry-specific scores also exist.
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The housing market continued to cool down in December with properties staying on the market for a longer time, especially in the large markets and 15 percent of listings seeing price reductions, according to a report by Realtor.com.
The report indicated that while inventory increased by 5 percent across the nation, it rose by 10 percent in the larger markets in December. While homes sold at a pace of 80 days in December, three days faster than December 2017, the pace at which they're selling is decelerating. "December 2017 saw homes sell six days faster compared to the previous year," the report said.
Nineteen of the top 45 metros saw properties spend more time on the market compared to December 2017 and included real estate in the hot housing markets of San Jose, California; Seattle, Washington; and Nashville, Tennessee. Homes in these markets spent 14, 10 and six more days on the markets respectively. In comparison, properties in Birmingham, Alabama; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Richmond, Virginia sold at the fastest pace at 12, 11, and 10 days respectively.
Even as the median listing price grew 7 percent year-over-year to $289,000 in December, it was lower than the 8 percent listing price seen in December 2017. Despite the lower pricing, listings that saw price reductions increased to 15 percent in December compared with 13 percent in 2017 as home sellers adjusted their strategies in "slowing, pricey markets with growing availability of homes for sale."
The report found that some of the largest housing markets in the nation were driving these price reductions with 38 of the 45 top metros seeing an increase in such discounts. Charlotte, North Carolina, topped the list with the share of price reductions growing by 10 percent, from 14 percent in 2017 to 24 percent in December. It was followed by San Jose that saw an increase of 10 percent, Tampa (+9 percent), Phoenix (+9 percent), and Seattle (+8 percent).
The steepest declines in median listing prices were seen in San Jose and San Francisco where listing prices declined by $130,000 and $33,000.
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Home prices rose 5.1 percent in November 2018, compared to the same period in 2017, according to CoreLogic's Home Price Index (HPI) and the HPI forecast released on Wednesday. The report projects home prices calculated using the CoreLogic HPI and other economic variables.
While home prices showed an increase year over year and month over month in November, the report forecast a decrease in home price growth in 2019 projecting home prices to grow by 4.8 percent on a year-over-year basis from November 2018 to November 2019. Month over month too, the report forecast a drop in home price growth by 0.8 percent from November 2018 to December 2o18.
"The rise in mortgage rates has dampened buyer demand and slowed home-price growth," said Dr. Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist at CoreLogic. "These higher rates and home prices have reduced buyer affordability."
The report also included the CoreLogic Market Conditions Indicators (MCI), which analyze the housing values in 100 largest metropolitan areas across the U.S. It indicated that while 35 percent of the metros had an overvalued housing market, 27 percent were undervalued, and 38 percent remained at value.
The projected drop in home prices during the year as well as recent declines in the stock market are likely to see homeowners changing their selling strategy. In fact, according to Nothaft, home sellers are already responding to the reduced buyer affordability by "lowering their asking price, which is reflected in the slowing growth of the CoreLogic Home Price Index."
"A strong economy helps homeowners feel confident about the value of their property," said Frank Martell, President and CEO, CoreLogic. "If recent declines in the stock market shake consumer confidence in the national economy, we may see homeowners' perception of home value change and a subsequent buyers' market emerge in 2019."
At a state-level, the report found that North Dakota was the only state to show a year-over-year decline in home prices in November, while Idaho and Nevada showed double-digit growth. At a metro level, Las Vegas posted the maximum gains in home prices at 11.7 percent followed by Denver (6.6 percent); San Francisco (5.9 percent); Los Angeles (5.3 percent); and Boston (5.1 percent).
Radhika Ojha, Online Editor at the Five Star Institute
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The housing market has come a long way from its lowest point recorded in 2012, regaining $10.9 trillion in value over the past six years, according to a study by Zillow.
The market, which was worth a cumulative $33.3 trillion in 2018 is now worth $4 trillion more than what it was at the peak of the housing bubble, the study revealed. On a year-over-year basis, the market gained $1.9 trillion in value over 2017.
Of all the markets across the country, one state accounted for nearly one-third of the value gained during the nationwide housing recovery—California. The report indicated that the housing market in the Golden State grew by $3.7 trillion since early 2012, making it the only state that gained more than $1 trillion in value since the market fell.
Despite coming in a close second in terms of dollar contribution to the national housing recovery (a contribution of $937.9 billion, or 8.6 percent of the overall recovery), "the total value of all the homes in Florida is still $263.9 billion below its peak level," the study indicated.
"Seen from the rearview mirror, 2018 was a year of unusually strong, stable home value growth across the country," said Aaron Terrazas, Senior Economist Zillow. "But cracks in the foundation are clearly starting to emerge. During the second half of the year, appreciation slowed sharply in the priciest corners of the country while it picked up in affordable hotspots. Periods of stability often precede periods of instability, and the outlook for 2019 is certainly both cloudier and blurrier than the outlook a year ago."
Breaking down the growth in home values even further, the study stated that the New York/New Jersey area was the single most valuable metro worth $3 trillion, or 9.1 percent of the national housing market. Four California markets–Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and San Diego–were among the 10 most valuable metros in the country.
Radhika Ojha, Online Editor at the Five Star Institute,
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The change in direction at the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) would be one of the most important things to happen in housing finance this year, according to experts at the Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute. "I’ll be watching to see if whatever changes are made will bring more private capital into the market," said Laurie Goodman, VP, Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute.
These experts will closely follow the actions of Mark Calabria, who was nominated by President Trump to lead the FHFA. "Though he would be in a uniquely powerful position" to do "something" about the government's role in the housing finance system, Jim Parrott, Non-resident Fellow at the Urban Institute said, "But we’ll be heading into an election year and possibly an increasingly weak housing market, so it will be interesting to see how that tension between ideology, politics, and economics plays out."
Some of the other questions that these researchers would be seeking answers to during the year include, the future of the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) as well as the actions being taken by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) to mitigate risks related to the risk profile of its book of business.
That, apart from how the "various proposals and policies that are being introduced legislatively and administratively, will affect housing affordability," would be the key issues that the market will have its eye on in 2019, according to Alanna McCargo, VP, Housing Finance Policy Center at the Urban Institute.
Ed Golding, a Non-resident Fellow at the Urban Institute and former Head of the FHA, said that 2019 could well be the year when home price appreciation "comes back down to earth."
"They can’t continue to go up at 7 percent a year in an environment where interest rates and inflation rates are in the 2 percent range," Golding said. "The tax code increased the user cost of housing in some (upper-end) markets by as much as 30 percent but created little discernable change in house price momentum."
In 2018 the housing market showed early signs of a slowdown in home price growth, softening of the housing markets, and rising inventory in even the hottest markets, like San Francisco and Seattle, according to Bing Bai, Research Associate at the Urban Institute who said that he was interested in seeing the shifting trends in the housing and mortgage market. "Rising interest rates cut down the refinance volumes, and a slowdown in the purchase mortgage market would put further volume pressure on the mortgage industry," he said.
Senior housing would be another focus area that will be on their radar. "Not only are we about to have more senior renters (many on fixed incomes), but also fewer senior homeowners with any significant home equity (and some with large mortgages, especially compared with their incomes), more in need of structural modifications to be safe in their homes," said Ellen Seidman, non-resident Fellow at the Urban Institute.
Radhika Ojha, Five Star Institute
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1. Shore Up Your Credit
The higher your credit scores, the better. Why? Because good credit can unlock a world of benefits, such as significant savings on big-ticket items (like car loans and mortgages), insurance discounts and access to credit cards with the best perks.
The first thing you should do to improve your scores is to see where they're at. Review all three credit reports maintained at each credit bureau: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian (the publisher of this piece).
Get your free credit report from Experian, where you can also obtain your FICO® Score. You are entitled to one free credit report every 12 months from Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion at AnnualCreditReport.com. Review each credit report to make sure all the information is accurate. If you find mistakes or inaccurate information, initiate a dispute with the appropriate credit bureau.
Examining your credit report will also help you figure out what you need to do to improve your scores. Maybe you have a history of missed payments or you are using too much of your available credit each month. Your credit reports will help provide a roadmap for what to do next. And remember, the easiest thing you can do to improve your scores is to pay your bills on time.
2. Pay Down Your Debt
One of the best things you can do this year to fatten your wallet is whittle down your debt—especially high-interest credit card balances. Paying off debt quickly helps improve your financial health because you save money in interest, cut down on stress and improve your credit scores.
Start by making a list of all your credit card balances and loans with the monthly minimum payments and the APRs for each. Make sure you're making at least the minimum payments on each bill, and if you have extra money after you've paid your monthly fixed expenses, apply that extra amount to the debt with the highest interest rates first. Once you've paid off the debt at the highest rate, focus on the next highest rate, until you've knocked out all your debt.
If you need help paying off your debt, you may want to consider a debt consolidation loan, which involves taking out one new loan to pay off others. Such a loan can save you money by rolling your debts into one at a lower interest rate and minimizing the number of payments you have to make. Shop around for the best consolidation loan for you through Experian CreditMatch.
You can also transfer your current credit card balance to another card at a lower interest rate. Many balance transfer credit cards will offer an introductory rate, sometimes at 0%, for a certain period of time—giving you the opportunity to pay down the debt in that window without incurring any interest. Find the right balance transfer credit card here.
3. Beef Up Your Savings
Nearly half of all Americans surveyed by Experian in fall 2018 said saving money is a top New Year's resolution for 2019. Of course, saving money is easier said than done. That's why behavioral economists suggest automating your savings as much as possible so you don't even have a chance to touch the money you want to save.
If your employer allows it, direct a percentage of your paycheck to be deposited into a separate savings account. That way, the money you want to save never even appears in your checking account, tempting you to spend it. If that's not possible, set up a recurring transfer with your bank that transfers money into your savings account on the same day your paycheck is deposited.
4. Protect Your Identity
In a world where stories of data breaches and phishing scams fill the headlines, you must be vigilant about protecting your identity. In addition to monitoring your credit reports, run a free dark web scan to find out if information like your Social Security number, phone number or email addresses are on the dark web.
If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, you might want to file a free initial security alert, which remains active on your account for one year, at the Experian fraud center. (You only need to file it with one credit bureau—they are legally required to share such alerts with their counterparts, so you don't need to file with all three.) This fraud alert will notify any lenders pulling your credit report to take extra steps to verify your identity—a measure that can frustrate and dissuade identity thieves.
You can also freeze your credit reports, which prevents lenders from issuing new credit in your name. Or try Experian CreditLock, a benefit of your Experian membership, which allows you to lock and unlock your report in real time with no waiting period. You also receive daily monitoring of your credit file, up to $1 million in identity theft insurance, and access to your Experian credit report and FICO® Score.
5. Make Your Credit Cards Work for You
Be sure you have the best credit cards in your wallet for your spending needs. If you tend to carry a balance, find the card with the lowest interest rate possible. If you don't carry a balance, a cash back card or rewards card can put money back in your wallet.
Check out Experian CreditMatch for personalized credit card offers that match your credit profile so you can apply for your next card with confidence.
December 19, 2018
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Regardless of the type of space you're decorating, there's nothing more important than paying attention to details. Right now Floral farbrics and wallpapers are making a bold statement for 2019.
IN: FLORAL FABRICS AND WALLPAPERS
"The traditional beauty of floral patterns, either abstracted or straight up chintz, will be the pattern to use." — Erin Gates of Erin Gates Design
GO BOLD IN SMALL SPACES
Graphic prints can have a major impact in small spaces such as a powder room. Here, an Ellie Cashman floral wallpaper is the star of a powder room a New Orleans manse designed by Sara Ruffin Costello.
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Credit scores help lenders evaluate if they want to do business with you. FICO® Scores, which range from a low of 300 to a high of 850, are the most widely-used type of credit scores. However, other scoring models may also use the 300 to 850 scoring range. While 300 is the lowest credit score, the reality is that almost nobody has a score that low. For the most part, a score below 580 is considered " bad credit." The average FICO Score in the U.S. is 704.
I Have a Low Credit Score. Why Does it Matter?
If you have a very low credit score, you may find it difficult to qualify for credit cards and loans, or you may be required to pay a higher annual percentage rate (APR), or additional fees.
When you apply for a loan or credit card, lenders want to know if you will be a responsible borrower who stays on top of payments. Credit scores are an important way businesses can get a sense of how good (or bad) you are at repaying your debts.
How Can I Improve My Credit Scores?
You are never stuck with a bad credit score. Work on your financial habits and you can improve your credit scores over time.
Paying your bills on time, even if you manage to pay just the minimum amount due, accounts for 35% of your FICO® Score. Set up automated bill pay to avoid late payments.
Your credit utilization ratio is another important credit scoring factor to be aware of. This takes into account how much of your total available credit you are using on a monthly basis. Your credit utilization ratio accounts for 30% of your FICO® Score. Focus on paying down your balances will help to lower your utilization rate.
You might also want to consider a credit-builder loan.
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Editor's Note: This feature originally appeared in the December issue of MReport, out now.
The year 2018 has been a good year for the economy that posted a solid GDP growth of around 3 percent in October. Unemployment, another key indicator of the economic health, is falling and the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded more open positions than unemployed at over 7 million compared with under 6 million for the latter. Yet, a recent Bloomberg report pointed out that the housing market “remained a weak spot posing the third consecutive drag on GDP growth with a contraction of 4 percent.” The year has clearly not been as good for housing as it has been for the overall economy. Will 2019 bring some relief?
To know the future trends, we first need to understand the present. Recent housing market data indicates a slowing down amid higher prices, rising mortgage rates, and a shortage of affordable inventory. Home sales have been falling consistently over the past seven months according to the National Association of Realtors’ (NAR’s) Existing Home Sales data that reported a decline of 4.1 percent in home sales at the end of September compared with the same period last year. NAR also predicted that home sales would flatten in 2019 as home prices continued to grow.
But the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index found that home-price growth might be softening. For the first time this year, the index registered a home-price growth below 6 percent in August 2018. “Following reports that home sales are flat to down, price gains are beginning to moderate,” David M. Blitzer, Managing Director and Chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices, said in the report.
On the bright side though, the pressure on inventory, that was an overarching concern for the industry for most of 2018 seems to be easing a bit. The inventory of homes on the market grew by 2 percent nationally in October for the first time in four years, according to a report by Realtor.com. Are these indicators then a harbinger of another crisis for a market that finally pulled itself out of a recession only a few years ago? Not really.
ears ago? Not really. “Think of it as a pause, rather than a slowdown,” advised Sam Khater, Chief Economist, Freddie Mac. “As long as the economy remains hot, housing should remain active.” The signs, according to Khater, have been there since late 2017, starting with the deceleration of home sales at that time, the rising mortgage rates since mid2018, and the “fairly elevated home prices” for most of this year. But it is the decline in affordability that has caused the biggest lag. Having said that, these five trends are likely to shape the housing market in 2019.
1. The Rate Roulette
Khater’s sentiments are echoed by Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist at CoreLogic who saw rising mortgage rates as a key factor affecting the affordability of homes in the lowest price tier. While mortgage rates have averaged 4.9 percent recently, Nothaft noted during a recent webinar that the consensus in the marketplace for the coming year was towards an upward pressure of close to 5.2 percent by the end of 2019. “That will place mortgage rates at their highest level since 2009,” he said.
For first-time homebuyers, especially millennials who were looking to transition from renting to homeownership, these rising rates would likely make them pause their decision. And not without reason.
“For millennials who have been familiar with an extraordinarily low level of interest rates, they’ll see the highest mortgage rates that they have seen in their adult lifetimes,” Nothaft said. “Just over the last year, with the rise in mortgage rates coupled with the increase in home prices that translates to an approximate 20 percent increase in just this one year in the monthly principal and interest (P&I) payment to buy exactly the same home that you could have bought a year ago. In contrast, rents are rising about 3 percent on single-family homes and that underscores some of the challenges that millennials may be facing in the coming year in making that switch from renting to homeownership.”
Home prices and mortgage rates are two key hurdles that Doug Whittemore, Head of Mortgage and Consumer Default Services at U.S. Bank, also foresees. The combination of rising home prices and mortgage rates could mean that the monthly P&I equivalent for the median home was likely to jump as much as 30 percent in 2019, compared to last year, if all things trended as projected.
Sonu Mittal, SVP and Head of Retail Lending for Citizens Bank Home Mortgage, echoed this sentiment. “Rising rates, combined with home-price increases and low inventory in most markets in the U.S. are impacting affordability in 2018 and will likely continue to factor into affordability in 2019.”
Existing homeowners, too, will feel the pinch of rising interest rates. “Considering the majority of the market now sits with a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage below 4 percent, an existing homeowner could find a scenario where they would spend significantly more for less house than they already have,” Whittemore observed. “Jumping from a rate of 3.75 percent to 5.5 percent would result in a 22 percent increase in P&I for the exact same home.”
The 5.5 percent projection by Whittemore is not far off the mark either with both Khater and Nothaft pointing to the possibility of rates rising to around these levels in 2019. “Rates have increased this year more than I would have expected if you would have asked me at the beginning of this year,” Khater said. “If you go back to September of 2017, they were down in the high three’s, and here we are already knocking on the door of 5 percent.”
As far as existing homeowners are concerned, Nothaft projected rising rates would also mean that there would be less homeowners moving and putting their homes up for sale. They would be more likely to “choose to stay in the same home for a bit longer and choose to make improvements in their current home. So inventory levels are low relative to what they have been and that’s working to depress home sales.”
Apart from home sales, affordability has been impacted by the continued rise in home prices outpacing wages and the slowdown in construction activity in the affordable space, according to Kathy Cummings, SVP, Bank of America. But, she said that lenders were looking to help homebuyers achieve homeownership, especially if they were creditworthy borrowers. What is important is education and preparing for homeownership.
“According to Bank of America’s Fall Homebuyer Insights Report, 72 percent of millennials are prioritizing homeownership, and 38 percent of first-time buyers are looking to buy in the next two years, so it is important to educate prospective buyers on how homeownership can be achievable,” Cummings said.
Giving an example of Bank of America’s low down payment programs, she said that not only did such programs provide low down payments and competitive rates, they also helped eligible buyers look into down payment and closing cost assistance programs available in their community.
“A lot of would-be buyers are currently renting, and as rents increase, they’re not able to save as much or quickly enough to afford a down payment in the near future,” observed Mittal. Despite rising rates though, Mittal said that buying a home was still more affordable than renting in the long run. “As homebuyers compare a mortgage against the rent they would pay, even with rising rates, many would find that buying a home would be a cheaper option
and has many long-term benefits, most notably the opportunity to build equity,” Mittal said.
However, rising mortgage rates are only one part of the problem. Housing supply, especially at the lowest price-tier—the one that first-time homebuyers look at—is an issue that will be observed closely in 2019.
2. The Inventory Conundrum
It’s true that supply has increased slightly over the past few months. But the paucity in home inventory has impacted home sales and prices through most of the year, in fact, according to Khater the chronic lack of supply has actually been “a decades-old issue, but was only masked by the last boom and bust.”
Giving the example of manufactured housing—a traditional source of affordable supply—he said that property types that were historically affordable were decreasing consistently over the past few decades. “Manufactured housing boomed between 1993 and 1998. It busted in 1998, and has not recovered since then. We are producing about 90,000 manufactured housing units today where we used to be up in the 300,000s during the boom for these units,” Khater said. Explaining the impact of inventory on competition among homebuyers, Nothaft said, “The months of supply available for sale over the past year has been running at the lowest level that we have seen in the last 20 years and consequently, the amount of time that a home is on the market before it sells has really shortened. So the percent of homes selling within 30 days of their listing has risen over the last couple of years.”
Looking at 2019, Jeff Taylor, Founder and Managing Director of Digital Risk, projected that housing supply would remain tight. Khater agreed, “We’re just not building enough,” he said, adding that one way of starting to solve the problem was to approach policymaking from the supply angle. “Unlike past cycles which could be managed by sorting demand, the problem this time is on the supply side and there are no federal interventions or levers to deal with that,” Khater said, adding that while states had the ability to intercede they delegated to the localities.
“But some states are starting to rethink and are looking at intervention in a variety of ways such as increasing production or looking at rent controls. Creating policies and incentives to increase production are the two main ways to solve this issue,” Khater observed. “The problem is that you have local resistance in the form of homeowners who are concerned that the increased supply will lead to a decline in home values.”
3. Price Pains
Inventory’s also affecting prices, especially at the lowest price points of the market. “Sellers are pricing their homes higher and higher as they want to make a big profit from their last purchase, but all this seems to do is force prices even higher, particularly for today’s first-time buyers,” said Matt Clarke, COO and CFO, Churchill Mortgage, observing that the low inventory was also affecting the purchase loans market. “Homes may not be so “overvalued” today, but rather, “overpriced, with a severely limited supply of affordable housing.”
Looking at 2019, Whittemore projected that although the pace of home price appreciation was slowing, forecasts for 2019 still showed a 4-6 percent home price growth annually across the country with some markets in California seeing double-digit growth. “If home price growth continues to exceed wage growth, the spread for a firsttime homebuyer will continue to be a problem until rates come down, home prices drop, or wages grow. I don’t see the latter happening fast enough.”
However, home prices have been softening in the recent months and Taylor projected that this trend is likely to continue into the next year. “Prices may come down a little bit because ultimately, people are trying to price to what somebody can afford to buy the house at.”
The forecast though calls for a slowing in the rate of appreciation to about roughly 3-4 percent over the next couple of years. “I think that’s good and that it’s really important that we see a slowing in home price growth,” Nothaft said.
4. Rising Equity
Prices and home values will also be the biggest opportunities for growth for some of the markets, especially those that are seeing a rising influx of homebuyers from the more unaffordable markets. “If you look into the open West, meaning markets like Reno, Carson City, Boise, Coeur d’Alene, Provo, and Salt Lake City, all these medium-sized Western markets are booming of an outflow from the unaffordable West Coast coastal markets like San Francisco, San Jose, Los Angeles, and, to a lesser extent, Seattle,” Khater said.
And while prices are likely to soften, homeowners have seen their equity grow manifold over the past few years. In fact, according to a TransUnion study, household home equity, currently nearing $15 trillion, has surpassed its prior “housing bubble” peak in Q1 2006 by over $1 trillion.
“Home equity levels have been rising at a rapid rate each year since hovering around $6 trillion between 2009 and 2011. While the S&P/Case-Shiller House Price Index (HPI) increased by 42 percent between Q1 2011 and Q1 2018, home equity levels outpaced home prices in that same timeframe,” the study revealed.
For lenders, already grappling with drying up refinance loans, this could provide a world of opportunity, especially in home equity lending. According to Joe Mellman, SVP and Mortgage Business Leader at TransUnion, “The recession caused a home equity lending pull-back, which all but eliminated consumer marketing and education. We think there’s an opportunity to re-introduce that education to consumers and help them evaluate how and when tapping home equity could make sense.”
Mellman was particularly optimistic about the long term rise of home equity lines of credit (HELOCs) moving forward. “HELOC’s are going to be a primary driver of home equity lending products,” he said. “We have observed that this segment has been growing for the past seven years and will become even more important as cash out refinancing options decline because of the rising mortgage rates.”
But HELOCs aren’t the only opportunity for lenders going into 2019.
5. Innovation in Lending
We’re seeing a lot more non-QM products and similar types of loans coming to the market. People are looking to expand their credit box and see what types of different loans they can put in the marketplace and what the appetite might be from the investor base,” Taylor said. “The higher the interest rate, the higher the payment, the more risk tolerance people will be willing to take from a nonQM type loan, and the expansion of these mortgage products into different areas.”
According to Taylor, inventory may affect the purchase loan market especially since “the refinance market has dropped off significantly and the purchase market is much more of a focus for all lenders.” In such a case, lenders who invest in technology and streamline operations are likely to see the best opportunities come their way in 2019.
“The biggest trends for me are how all lenders, whether they’re a bank or an independent mortgage lender, are having to actually successfully utilize technology in order to strengthen their reach to the customer base,” Taylor said. “It’s not as simple as going ahead and buying technology and implementing it, but implementing it correctly and making sure that the people and technology work together to be able to reach their intended customer base and provide a much more dynamic customer experience, whether it be to digital solutions, telephone or anyways the borrower wants to interact.”
Clarke concurred, saying that while technology had the potential to improve the overall mortgage process by streamlining many of today’s cumbersome processes, there was a significant demographic of borrowers that still wanted to work intimately with their lender. “Lenders will want to use technology to enhance their relationships with borrowers and help them make smarter mortgage decisions. This will help lenders build stronger, lifelong relationships because after all, technology is not here to replace us, it’s here to complement how we work on a day-to-day basis.”
Despite falling delinquencies, lenders will also be looking closely at this trend as the market takes a pause in 2019. “As a default executive, for me, what will be key in 2019 and beyond in the new world is less macro and more microtrends. The future will require you to identify patterns and behaviors at a much more granular level in order to effectively understand and manage your default,” Whittemore said.
According to Mellman, “No one talks about delinquencies right now because they are at all-time lows and have been experiencing a decline year-over year. But while there’s nothing to worry about in delinquencies yet, I would always want to keep an eye on those as the housing market evolves.”
What Will You Bring to the Table?
At the end though, 2019’s housing market will be one where lenders will be set apart from each other through the additional value they bring with each and every deal—whether it is for homebuyers or owners. “This means providing educational resources for borrowers, having strong partner relationships, and an efficient or nimble operations team,” Clarke said. “Lenders in 2019 will want to think of themselves as teachers and coaches for their borrowers—guiding them through the mortgage process to ensure they’re making the best decision for their given financial situation.”
About Author: Radhika Ojha
Radhika Ojha, Online Editor at the Five Star Institute
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Mortgage applications increased by 1.6 percent this week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s (MBA) latest Weekly Mortgage Applications Survey.
The volume of refinance loan applications recorded the highest level since March 2018 at 41.5 percent of total applications. The refinance share of mortgage was at 40.4 percent the previous week. An increase in adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) activities reflected at 7.6 percent of total applications.
In government lo an applications, the FHA share went up to 10.8 percent from 10.2 percent in the past week. The survey revealed an increase in VA share of total applications at 10.2 percent this week compared to 10.0 the week prior. The USDA share of total applications increased to 0.7 percent from 0.6 percent the week prior.
Here’s how the average contract interest rates performed for various loans:
For 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances decreased to 4.96 percent, the lowest level since September 2018.
The rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with jumbo loan balances decreased to 4.80 percent, the lowest level since September 2018.
FHA-backed 30-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.97 percent, the lowest level since September 2018, from 5.05 percent.
The 15-year fixed-rate mortgages decreased to 4.41 percent, the lowest level since September 2018, from 4.50 percent.
The rate for 5/1 ARMs decreased to 4.24 percent from 4.33 percent.
The effective rate for all the above loan types recorded a decrease from last week.
About Author: Donna Joseph
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TransUnion’s 2019 Consumer Credit Reportforecasts an increase in originations and consumer balances for most credit products, while serious delinquency rates are likely to decline or remain steady. This will lead to lenders expanding their base of subprime and near-prime borrowers—a positive sign for both lenders and borrowers, according to the report.
The report also predicts lenders will be less risk-averse with the steady pace of delinquency rates. This will also help borrowers to showcase their ability to better manage their finances, it said. Subprime borrowers will continue to have access to loans, it noted. Interestingly, the percentage of subprime borrowers originating loans remains far below what was recorded at the onset of the last recession, according to the forecast- wherein 9 percent of borrowers in this group originated mortgage loans in 2007.
Pointing to home prices, the forecast indicated that though homes are becoming more expensive, the increase in home equity will benefit buyers. The downward trend in mortgage originations which has been steady over several quarters in the past will continue into 2019 as a result of rising interest rates, surging home prices and supply constraints, the report noted.
A surge in average balances is expected in 2019, growing from an anticipated $208,831 at the end of Q4 of this year to $218,490 by the end of Q4 2019, a 4.6 percent increase. Delinquencies will also continue to drop from 1.62 percent by the end of this year to 1.45 percent by the end of 2019—a consistent downward trend since 2010 on a year-over-year basis, the report stated.
“While overall originations will be down in 2019, increases in home prices are resulting in record levels of home equity, which provide homeowners more opportunities to tap into low APR home equity products. This will particularly benefit consumers deciding to pay off other higher interest rate products, as well as consumers finding it difficult to afford a new ‘move up’ house, who instead opt to invest in improving their existing home,” said Joe Mellman, SVP, Mortgage Line at TransUnion.
TransUnion expects non-prime originations to decrease by 2.4 percent “as the composition of new accounts changes.” The prime segment will see a resurgence in origination growth in the coming year, indicating lender’s desire for credit quality for their portfolios as delinquency continues to increase.
About Author: Donna Joseph
Donna Joseph is a Dallas-based writer who covers technology, HR best practices, and a mix of lifestyle topics.
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On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced the nomination of Dr. Mark Calabria, who is currently the Chief Economist to Vice President Mike Pence, to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency for five years after the term of the current FHFA Director, Mel Watt expires in January.
“The American $10 trillion mortgage market is the envy of the world, and to keep us on top we need an FHFA Director who is dedicated to capitalism and economic growth. Dr. Calabria is that man,” said House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX). “At a moment in time when the future of housing finance policy in our country will be permanently shaped by the next FHFA Director, I can think of no better or more responsible person for the role than Dr. Calabria and applaud President Trump for his outstanding pick.”
“I congratulate Mark Calabria on his nomination as director for the Federal Housing Finance Agency,” said Ed Delgado, President and CEO of The Five Star Institute. “Housing finance policy is approaching a critical juncture and we look forward to working with Dr. Calabria and the team at FHFA towards implementing regulations that preserve and protect homeownership.”
About Author: Radhika Ojha
Radhika Ojha, Online Editor at the Five Star Institute, is a graduate of the University of Pune, India, where she received her B.A. in Commerce with a concentration in Accounting and
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What is going on at 211 St. James Center in Brunswick County? A lot of growth and real estate development.
Brunswick County North Carolina, which is located just south of Wilmington all the way to the North Carolina/South Carolina state line
More developmental growth in St. James area. Malcolm Jones III, with his grand plans to develop a smaller version of Mayfair. Take a look below of the plans that he proposed:
A developer has big plans for a site near St. James.
The U.S. Census Bureau reports that our county is now the fastest growing in North Carolina and ranks as 47th-fastest growing county in the US. “The figures reflect continued interest in Brunswick County as a desirable location to live, work and visit,” stated Mike Hargett, Director of Planning and Community Development. “Based on the increasing level of development activity, this positive trend is expected to continue.” On the average Brunswick County’s population has had a yearly growth rate of 2.8 percent, that’s roughly over 3,000 new locals moving here annually. This provides a positive indication that existing homeowners will continue to see their property values increase while home developers will likely further invest in what is clearly a popular real estate market.
Indeed, proximity to the giant St. James Plantation residential development and its more than 4,400 residents as of 2014 -- up 448 percent since 2000 --is a major selling point for Mirasol.
Malcolm Jones III, who is originally from this area, has at least five years to begin to make it happen.
He uses commercial real estate parlance to describe Mirasol as a “power center,” which he described as a Mayfaire only much smaller.
This is a 5 year plan from 2016-2021 and should open several opportunities to the growing area.
Corps of Engineers may discontinue Cape Fear dam management, what will it mean for drinking water?
Since the Cape Fear River's lock and dam system has become far removed from its original, authorized purpose of navigation, the U.S. Amry Corps of Engineers is considering discontinuing federal management of the lock and dam system.
Wilmington’s raw water intake was moved 20 miles upstream decades ago near the Riegelwood dam, where three counties now depend on the same intake source, Lindsey Hallock, CFPUA’s director of public and environmental policy, said.
“Lock and Dam No. 1 is critical to the drinking water supply for the customers of Cape Fear Public Utility Authority,” Hallock wrote in an email. “It protects our source water from increasing salinity downstream and provides the water volume needed to meet community demand.”
CFPUA plans to submit formal comments on the disposition study, currently underway, for Army Corps’ consideration.
Planned on Dec. 12, Army Corps representatives will discuss in a public meeting whether federal interest in continuing maintenance of the locks and dams still exists and if disposal of the property is warranted.
Held in Elizabethtown from 5:30 to 7 p.m., Army Corps will host their “Public Scoping” meeting next week.
How much credit should you use?
Credit cards can be wonderful tools if you know how to use them to your advantage. For example, you should use them in a way that helps boost your credit scores—which will, in turn, help you qualify for the best cards with the best perks and rewards.
One key thing to keep in mind while using your credit cards is to make sure you're not using too much of your own credit. If you do, you'll end up with a higher credit utilization ratio, which can pull your credit scores down.
In general, the less of your available credit you're using, the better: Aim to use no more than 30% of the credit available to you. For the best credit scores, keep it under 10%, but above zero.
Have more questions about credit and home ownership? Contact us today!
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1. USE PINTEREST RESPONSIBLY.
Browse for inspirat ion, but remember that offices in design magazines may not be set up to accommodate a 50-hour work week. Upholstered dining room chairs look amazing, but they won’t support your back.
2. FOLLOW ERGONOMIC RULES.
The top of your computer screen should be at eye level or a little below.
3. EMBRACE NATURAL LIGHT.
Move your desk close to the windows, but place it parallel to the panes. This ideal set-up gives you the happiness benefits of natural light, and a good reason to turn away from your computer every few minutes to take in the scene.
4. BUT DON’T FORGET THE LAMPS.
Even with great natural light, you’ll still need additional lighting for darker hours of the day.
5. GET CREATIVE WITH STORAGE
If you’re the sort of person who needs to see something to remember it exists, try wall storage: magazine type racks, or children’s library-style display shelves.
6. CREATE SOME COMFY SPACE.
Your desk is for active work, but you probably need a place to think or read, too.
7. ADD GREENERY.
Plants make people happier.
8. PERSONALIZE THOUGHTFULLY.
rotate the photos, and include mementos of success, cartoons that make you laugh, even a scent that makes you happy–something you definitely can’t get away with in a cube.
9. HIDE THINGS YOU DON’T WANT TO LOOK AT.
Modern offices have lots of cords. Run a power strip behind your desk and plug everything into that.
Keep all your office supplies–pens, scissors, stapler, stamps–handy. Consider a small fridge or coffee maker if you like to enjoy a few beverages during the day.
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The Changing Middle-Class Household Demographics
A report by the Brookings Institute assesses what metropolitan areas the middle class most inhabits, as well as how concentrated middle-class communities are, what forces shape them, and how they’ve changed since 2000.
Defining the middle class as the middle three quintiles of the national income distribution—only adjusted to take account of regional price parities and household size—the study found that the metropolitan areas with the largest concentration of middle-class families are manufacturing centers, military towns, and Mormon communities: what the Brookings Institute refers to as “one of the three M's’’” These areas tend to have a high number of workers not only in manufacturing but also construction and administration. They also are mostly suburban in nature, lacking the subsidized housing and public transit found in older cities with a greater percentage of low-income residents. Demographically, they also tend to be less diverse, with predominately white populations.
While small and mid-sized metro areas have the most homogenous middle-class communities, the majority of middle-class families can nevertheless be found in or around larger cities that tend to support the same labor force in addition to lower-paying and higher-paying jobs.
The study also revealed fluctuations in the middle class since the beginning of the millennium. Overall the middle-class community has shrunk slightly, but this is due to a corresponding increase in higher incomes. The number of middle-class families in the areas described above have also decreased in relation to the number found in larger metro areas.
Since 2000, the concentration of middle-class families in the South has grown substantially but fallen in the Northeast, along with the West Coast, and in a few cities located in the Midwest. Areas, where the middle class has grown, tend to have developed as newer metropolitan areas with distinct suburban characteristics.
Metropolitan areas with the lowest share of middle-class families tend to be tech capitals and college towns. Whereas tech capitals are predominantly populated with high-income workers, college towns are mostly split between high-income faculty members and low-income students. For this reason, areas like the San Francisco Bay and towns like Boston, Boulder, and Huntsville, Alabama tend to have a much lower percentage of middle-class families. Also, older cities tend to have smaller middle classes, such as many cities in the Northeast like Bridgeport, Philadelphia, and New York.
Author: J S Khan
J S Khan is a contributing writer for DS News and MReport.
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The Connection Between Jobs, Wages, and Housing
The unemployment rate in September fell to its lowest since 1969 to 3.7 percent, according to the latest jobs and wages data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics on Friday. However, the growth of jobs softened to 134,000 in September compared with an average monthly gain of 201,000 over the last one year, the report revealed.
Wage growth, though slow, continued its upward trend during the month rising 2.8 percent year-over-year.
Despite this slow growth in wages and weak hiring, the report shouldn't spark any concerns regarding the strength of the labor market and the broader economy, according to Doug Duncan, Chief Economist at Fannie Mae, who put the three-month average increase in jobs at a "healthy 190,000."
"In addition, Hurricane Florence may have temporarily suppressed hiring, as suggested by the first drop in leisure and hospitality payrolls since last September, shortly after Harvey’s landfall," Duncan said.
According to Tendayi Kapfidze, Chief Economist, LendingTree, despite the disappointing jobs report, the "job market remains robust, emphasized by upward revisions to job numbers for both July and August totaling 87,000."
"Although September’s wage increase pales in comparison to growing home prices—which rose another 7 percent last month—any increase is helpful for buyers trying to get in the market," said Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.com. "However, if this growth is seen as a sign of higher inflation, it could prompt mortgage rate increases, which would eat into home buying power."
However, though home buying power has seen a decline, it hasn't been as much thanks to rising household incomes, according to Mark Fleming, Chief Economist, First American. "In September, consumer house-buying power declined by $28,000, compared to a year ago. If household income had not increased compared to a year ago, the increase in mortgage rates would have reduced consumer house-buying power by $38,000," he said.
However, despite rising incomes, wages have continued to disappoint throughout this year. "The low labor force participation rate may offer a clue as to why. The large pool of available people to enter the labor force is a drag on wages as it reduces the bargaining power of workers who are already employed," Kapfidze explained.
However, according to Duncan, the "Annual growth in average hourly earnings, which slowed one-tenth from the expansion high in the prior month, shouldn’t stoke inflationary concerns."
Wage growth, in fact, is a wild card, said Hale, that could have a significant implication on the housing market. "If we see significant wage increases, we could start to make up ground in home sales, which have been woefully behind last year’s gains. If wages remain stagnant, home sales will likely continue to taper," she said.
The recently rising mortgage rates are also likely to have an impact according to Fleming. "While recently rising mortgage rates have reduced consumer house-buying power, rising household income increases house-buying power," he said.
Looking at construction jobs which increased at a slower pace by 23,000 in November, Duncan said that the impact of Hurricane Florence was felt on the construction jobs market too. However, he said that any lost construction jobs associated with the hurricane should be recouped as the affected areas recover.
Author: Radhika Ojha
Radhika Ojha, Online Editor at the Five Star Institute
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The Key Elements of a ‘Green’ Home Improvements
What is the biggest difference between a truly green home and a property with eco-friendly features? The answer lies in the value of the home. According to the Appraisal Institute homeowners looking to increase the value of their home must look at making six key elements of their property truly energy-efficient. They include site; water efficiency; energy efficiency; indoor air quality; materials; and operations and maintenance.
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