Thursday, October 12, 2017



     The Real Estate Market remained strong through the third quarter of this year.  According to data from the Multiple Listing Service of the Catawba Valley , Inc, there were 873 single family homes closed during the period from July 1 - September 30, 2017.  That brings the total number of single family homes closed from January 1 -  September 30, 2017 to 2,449, which is slightly more than the 2,416 homes that closed during the same period in 2016.
     With interest rates still remaining in the 3.25% to 4.25% range, there is optimism that the local market will finish with a strong fourth quarter.

More Retirees Carry Mortgage Debt

Retiring baby boomers are less likely to be mortgage-free compared to people their age in previous generations, according to Fannie Mae. That could hurt boomers’ financial security and exacerbate the housing affordability crisis.
Slightly less than 50 percent of the oldest baby boomer homeowners in 2015 were mortgage-free, 10 percentage points lower than the number of Silent Generation homeowners who were in the same age group in 2000 and mortgage-free, according to Fannie Mae. “The increasing prevalence of housing debt among older homeowners could compromise financial security in retirement by expanding housing affordability problems, crimping essential non-housing spending, increasing vulnerability to home loss through foreclosure, or limiting the accumulation of housing wealth,” Fannie Mae researcher Patrick Simmons writes on the GSE’s Housing Perspectives blog.
Between 2010 and 2015, when the housing market was recovering from the crash, baby boomers were paying off their mortgages at an accelerated pace. But even if that trend continues, researchers predict, the rate of boomers who own their homes free and clear in retirement is unlikely to keep pace with previous generations.  
“The greater propensity of boomer homeowners to carry housing debt might signal the need to expand consumer outreach and education that helps older mortgagors manage their monthly housing expenses, including ensuring that they have fully exploited opportunities to reduce monthly mortgage payments through refinancing,” Simmons notes. “Educating younger boomers about options for shorter-duration mortgages that accelerate principal pay-down might also increase the likelihood that they enter retirement with little or no housing debt. For older boomer mortgagors who wish to eliminate housing debt, an option worth considering is trading down to less expensive homes.” 
Source: “Baby Boomers Accelerate Their Advance into Free-and-Clear Homeownership,” Fannie Mae’s Housing Insights (Oct. 5, 2017)

Big Roadblock for Owners of Tiny Homes

Homeowners who have embraced the “tiny home” lifestyle are discovering that it’s not so easy to find a place to put their property. Many tiny houses—usually considered to be between 100 and 400 square feet—are built on trailers with wheels so they can be towed, but zoning regulations in many cities don’t allow for temporary structures such as RVs or other movable homes. These laws also frequently specify a minimum size for a home or lot size, and building codes for residential properties can be problematic for tiny houses built on foundations, The New York Times reports. 
Andrew Morrison, a professional builder, told the Times that he believes “upwards of 90 percent of tiny-house owners are living illegally when it comes to zoning. …  A very small minority live in RV parks, though they usually have a limit on how long you can stay. A friend or family’s backyard, or land in the country, is much more common.”
The tiny home movement has become popular over the last few years, and many municipalities are facing increased pressure to embrace smaller structures as legal residences. Advocates in some cities have made headway in changing ordinances governing accessory dwelling units and backyard cottages. For example, Fresno, Calif., and Nantucket, Mass., now permit tiny houses to share land with existing homes. “It’s a spirit of cooperation,” Morrison told Times. “It’s a simple way to bring in affordable housing that doesn’t cost the municipality anything.”
The tiny home movement won another victory recently when the International Code Council approved a model code for tiny houses to be included in its International Residential Code. The document is the most widely recognized residential building code in the U.S. “There’s a fear that people are going to end up living in shanty shacks,” says Morrison, who helped write the code guidelines. “We don’t want that either. We want people to be safe in their houses and in something they can afford.”
Source: “Where Can You Park a Tiny Home?” The New York Times (Oct. 6, 2017)
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