Monthly Archives: March 2018

Houston Housing Market Data – February 2018

For the latest sales information on single-family homes and condos in Houston, see these three infographics below.

Click on the arrows below the infographics for more statistics from the association’s annual housing market report.

HAR_Feb_Infographic_1
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New York Housing Market Data – February 2018

The New York State housing market continued to post solid numbers in February, reaching 7,328 closed sales despite a 6.2-percent decline from February 2017, according to the housing market report released today by the New York State Association of REALTORS. The February statewide median sales price of $260,000 represented an increase of 8.8 percent from a year ago.

Click on the arrows below the infographics for more statistics from the association’s annual housing market report.

Median Sales
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New Program Would Help Pennsylvanians Save For A Home

First-Time Homebuyers

The Pennsylvania Association of Realtors® is working with the state legislature to create a First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account Program in Pennsylvania. More than 80 percent of Pennsylvanians believe that buying a home is a good financial decision. But many first-time homebuyers face difficult obstacles in achieving the American dream of homeownership.

House Bill 1981 was introduced by Reps. Ryan Bizzarro (D-Erie) and Rosemary Brown (R-Monroe). Companion legislation, Senate Bill 1066, was sponsored by Sens. Wayne Fontana (D-Allegheny) and Bob Mensch (R-Montgomery) and introduced in the Senate. PAR is encouraging consumers to contact their legislators and ask them to support this legislation.

The First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account Program would create an incentive for Pennsylvanians to save money toward the purchase of a home and the money saved would qualify as a tax deduction on their state income tax return. Parents and grandparents would be eligible to save for children and grandchildren as well.

Lower wages, higher rents and crushing college debt have made it difficult for young people to save toward the purchase of a home. Research conducted for PAR showed that 56 percent of Pennsylvanians identified college student loans as an obstacle to homeownership. And a recent study by LendEDU ranked Pennsylvania as having the highest average college loan debt per borrower at $35,185.

'A First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account Program could result in an increase of home purchases of up to 4,000 annually in Pennsylvania'
- Todd Umbenhauer, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors®
Click To Tweet

“Our research also shows that a First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account Program could result in an increase of home purchases of up to 4,000 annually in Pennsylvania,” said Todd Umbenhauer, president of the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors®. “The increase in the number of home purchases would have an overall positive impact on Pennsylvania’s economy, spurring additional economic activity, job creation and earnings for households, according to research conducted by the Anderson Economic Group.”

To contact your legislator and learn more about the proposed Pennsylvania First-Time Homebuyers Savings Account Program, visit FirstHomePA.com.

Existing-Home Sales Bounce Back

Existing Home Sales

Despite consistently low inventory levels and faster price growth, existing-home sales bounced back in February after two straight months of declines, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Sizeable sales increases in the South and West offset declines in the Northeast and Midwest.

Existing-Home Sales
Overall, existing-home sales grew three percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.54 million in February from 5.38 million in January.

“The unseasonably cold weather to start the year muted pending sales in the Northeast and Midwest in January and ultimately led to their sales retreat last month. Looking ahead, several markets in the Northeast will likely see even more temporary disruptions from the large winter storms that have occurred in March,” said Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist.


Read the full release: Existing-Home Sales Rebound 3.0 Percent in February.


Regional Breakdown

February existing-home sales in the Northeast fell 12.3 percent to an annual rate of 640,000, and are now 7.2 percent below a year ago. The median price in the Northeast was $258,900, which is 3.6 percent above February 2017.

In the Midwest, existing-home sales dipped 2.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.22 million in February (unchanged from a year ago). The median price in the Midwest was $179,400, up 4.5 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the South jumped 6.6 percent to an annual rate of 2.41 million in February, and are now 3.4 percent above a year ago. The median price in the South was $215,700, up 5.4 percent from a year ago.

Existing-home sales in the West surged 11.4 percent to an annual rate of 1.27 million in February, and are now 2.4 percent above a year ago. The median price in the West was $370,600, up 9.6 percent from February 2017.

Marine Turned Realtor® Still Fighting For All Americans

Home Equity Line of Credit
Photo: Steve Amos accepting an award from National Homes for selling 100 fair housing properties circa 1970.

When Steve Amos was discharged from the Marines during the Vietnam War in 1968, he didn’t know what he was going to do.

He had grown up in a small town of 100 people in the sand hills of Nebraska but was displaced from his home while looking for work in Omaha. The city was so big. The culture was shocking. But, Amos needed to find a job. A friend named Dick Ellersick had just started his career in real estate. He convinced Amos to work with him on an effort to sell 100 lots for newly developed homes in La Vista, Nebraska.

Not knowing anything about real estate, Amos tagged along with Ellersick on a trip to Loghead, Indiana for a tour of the Price Brothers plant. Price Brothers were the innovators of pre-panelized construction in the 1930s. They would build walls at their plant and then put homes up in pre-made sections.

When Ellersick and Amos arrived, there was a big ceremony taking place at the plant. There were a number of guest speakers, including “The Great Conciliator,” former Tennessee senator Howard Baker, Jr.

Baker was speaking about the brand new Fair Housing Act that had just been passed by Congress. But he specifically was talking about a section of the bill that he had co-sponsored – which had been come to be known as the Section 235 Program.

This component of the Fair Housing Act made it so that rather than the federal government dispensing aid to local housing authorities to build public housing, it would instead direct supply-side subsidies to the private sector to stimulate home ownership for minorities and the poor.

“At the beginning it was an incredible opportunity for people who needed homes,” Amos said. “It was $10 down, $109 at closing and 1% interest. It was unheard of.”

Amos immediately sold his first home using the Section 235 Program.

Amos said he started offering this program to more potential buyers, and he and Ellersick had agreements for sales on all 100 lots in the Las Vista development in the span of one month.

But there was a problem.

“We sent each of these potential buyers to see Jack Obdink,” Amos said. “Jack was a survivor of the Bataan Death March during World War II, so he was a no-nonsense guy. He was the local director of the Federal Housing Administration, but his office was completely unprepared to process these Section 235 applications. He told me, in some not-so-flattering terms, that I had to give each of the deposits back.”

Amos did, but Obdink promised he would reach out to Amos once his office was up to snuff on Section 235 processing. But being a military guy himself, Amos knew Obdink would be true to his word – and he was. Obdink reached out a few months later and told Amos his office was finally ready for Section 235 applicants.

Amos and Ellersick eventually found buyers for all 100 properties, but rather than that crush of interested buyers that were there to show interest in buying those homes in less than a month when the Act was first announced, this time it took Amos and Ellersick more than a year to sell all 100 lots.

“It was definitely a hard lesson,” Amos said.

But that initial rush of finding homes for people who couldn’t afford them was a special time for Amos. He made it a point that in his career, he would be a fair housing champion and try to find homes for minorities and the poor as often as he could.

He even went ahead and got licensed in neighboring Iowa so that he could sell in both places. He even moved to Iowa – sort of.

Amos bought a house in Carter Lake, Iowa, but the land sits on the Nebraska side of the body of water. In short, it left Amos in no man’s land.

North Omaha, had a lot of minorities at the time, and while he had no problem convincing sellers to sell their property to minorities, he couldn’t find a bank that would make a loan. They weren’t interested in giving loans to minorities or trusting a real estate agent from Iowa.

And when he tried to sell homes in Iowa, he was told to go back to Nebraska because they didn’t want people like him selling to minorities in Iowa.

“It was a good old boy network in the late 60s and early 70s,” Amos said. “People started to become educated and break through about 10 years after the Fair Housing Act, and eventually things started to get better, but for that first decade, it was tough.”

'People started to become educated and break through about 10 years after the Fair Housing Act, and eventually things started to get better, but for that first decade, it was tough.' - Steve AmosClick To Tweet

Amos said the loan and mortgage bias wasn’t just against minorities and the poor but was also sexist against women.

“If I had a single white guy who wanted to get a loan, it wasn’t a problem,” he said. “But if I tried to get a single woman a loan? They would deny her almost immediately. Women, minorities, the poor – they were all being redlined. When I reminded the banks about the Fair Housing Act, they would just laugh at me and say, ‘We don’t care.’

“A lot of people in the industry were like me, and when they ran into these obstacles, they just quit the business. But I stuck with it. I wanted to make a difference. And eventually, I was able to make a good career out of it, start a family and be successful.”

Amos is still selling homes today. He said Nebraska and Iowa have come a long way in the past 50 years.

“When you get away from discrimination and treat everyone fairly, that’s the golden rule for REALTORS®.”  

'When you get away from discrimination and treat everyone fairly, that’s the golden rule for REALTORS®.' - Steve AmosClick To Tweet

“When you apply the education with it, and it has completely changed the industry from where we were as recently as 40 years ago. You can lose your license now for doing the wrong thing. I believe in the good of people and there is good in all of us. As REALTORS® The Fair Housing Act allows us to find that good, expand it and make it ingrained into our communities.”

Is Interest Still Deductible On Home Equity Lines Of Credit?

The IRS has recently clarified and confirmed that under the new tax law owners can continue to deduct the interest on a home equity loan, line of credit or second mortgage when the proceeds are used to substantially improve their residence.

“There has been much confusion on this issue, and the continued deductibility will bring real benefits to those who choose to take on remodeling projects to bring more resale value to their home or gain equity that may have been lost during the downturn,” said National Association of Realtors® President Elizabeth Mendenhall.

Homeowners sometimes decide they want to borrow against the value of their home to help remodel or pay for other large expenses. One way to do this is with a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC).

Here are some resources on the web to help you decide if a HELOC is a good option for you:

  • What you should know about home equity lines of credit 
    From the CFPB
    “If you are in the market for credit, a home equity plan is one of several options that might be right for you. Before making a decision, however, you should weigh carefully the costs of a home equity line against the benefits.”
  • 5 Good Reasons to Tap Your Home Equity
    From Nerd Wallet
    “Lenders want you to borrow against your home equity again. The question is, should you? …HELOCs are typically a cheap source of credit, with current rates averaging less than 5%. But borrowing against your home equity can be risky.”
  • Consider a Home Equity Line of Credit
    From Houselogic
    “So how can you decide if a HELOC is right for you? Start by understanding how this type of equity loan works, then carefully compare loan offers to ensure you’re getting the best terms for your circumstances.”

For an overview of provisions of the new tax reform law affecting current and prospective homeowners, see our story “Major Provisions of the New Tax Reform Law Affecting Homeowners.”

Home Ownership Matters will continue to provide ongoing updates and guidance on tax reform-related topics in the coming weeks.

HELOC

New York Housing Market Data – January 2018

Homebuyer activity in New York State remained strong throughout 2017, driving closed sales past the 2016 record, according to the annual housing market report from The New York State Association of REALTORS®. The statewide median sales price also grew by 5.5 percent in 2017 to reach $250,000.

Click on the arrows below the infographics for more statistics from the association’s annual housing market report.

Days on market
Days on market
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Houston Housing Market Data – January 2018

For the latest sales information on single-family homes and condos in Houston, see these three infographics below.

Click on the arrows below the infographics for more statistics from the association’s annual housing market report.

Single Family Home Sales
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