October 11, 2019
The 30-year fixed-mortgage fell 8 basis points this week, averaging 3.57%, Freddie Mac reports. The lower rates are drawing out more home buyers in the fall market.
“Despite the economic slowdown due to weakening manufacturing and corporate investment, the consumer side of the economy remains on solid ground,” says Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. “The 50-year low in the unemployment rate combined with low mortgage rates has led to increased home buyer demand this year. Much of this strength is coming from entry-level buyers—the first-time home buyer share of the loans Freddie Mac purchased in 2019 is 46%, a two-decade high.”
Freddie Mac reports the following national averages with mortgage rates for the week ending Oct. 10:
September 16, 2019
Fewer new homes are being built with a fireplace, a sign the cold-weather amenity is falling out of favor with home buyers. A record low percentage of newly constructed single-family homes—41%—last year included a fireplace, according to an analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data from the National Association of Home Builders. The share of single-family homes with fireplaces has been declining since 2015, the NAHB reports.
“An obvious explanation for the declining trend is that builders are foregoing fireplaces in some of their homes so they can bring them in at prices their customers can afford,” the NAHB reports on its Eye on Housing blog. “Keeping new homes affordable has become a considerable challenge lately.”
Fireplaces are usually considered a desirable amenity but not a must-have, the NAHB notes. Fifty-five percent of buyers rate gas-burning fireplaces as desirable, while 48% say the same of wood-burning fireplaces as desirable, according to the survey. That places such features in the middle of the list of decorative features most sought-after in terms of desirability, according to the NAHB’s “What Home Buyers Really Want” survey. However, only 16% of buyers say either type of fireplace is essential in a home purchase.
Fireplaces are the most uncommon home feature in the lower price points of the market. For example, just 7% of new single-family homes started in 2018 that were priced under $150,000 had fireplaces. On the other hand, more than 60% of homes priced at $500,000 or above had a fireplace.
© National Association of Home Builders
“Share of New Homes With Fireplaces Drop to Record Low,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (Sept. 16, 2019)
August 20, 2019
Debt can be stressful, and stress can be bad for your health. But some debt may actually be good for your health and even prolong your life, a new study from LendingTree suggests.
Researchers evaluated 797 U.S. counties on how various forms of debt—from mortgages to student loans—can possibly influence a person’s health and even life expectancy.
Notably, researchers found that a higher mortgage debt relative to income is linked with a higher life expectancy.
“That trend reaffirms the idea that homeownership is ultimately a good thing. This is despite the fact that a mortgage is one of the biggest financial decisions and burdens a person will take on in their lifetime,” researchers note.
Other forms of debt—like auto debt and personal loan debt—did not have the same link and actually generally corresponded with lower life expectancies, according to the study.
Counties with the highest life expectancy and their financial characteristics
August 1, 2019
The home may look great, but if you don’t get this one thing right, buyers won’t be buying, real estate pros say. And that all centers around the smell—the sense that too many home sellers neglect to pay attention to.
Some home sellers may be noseblind to their home’s scent, and they need the real estate professional to offer a fresh unbiased opinion.
“One of the easiest ways to evoke pleasant feelings about a space is to enhance the way it smells,” Ben Creamer, a managing broker in Chicago, told realtor.com®. “It’s often the first thing a person will notice upon entering a space—and it’s one of the things that, when done poorly, can kill a sale no matter how beautiful the home.”
What If Your Listing Stinks?Good Smells, Bad Smells in Real EstateHow to Create Scent Appeal
What If Your Listing Stinks?
Good Smells, Bad Smells in Real Estate
How to Create Scent Appeal
To freshen up the smell, scrub all surfaces, wash all rugs, and have the carpets cleaned, suggests Barb Boehler, a real estate professional in Madison, Wis. “Until this is done, you’ll only be masking smells,” she says.
Real estate professionals offer some of the following tips:
“The One Thing That Can Make or Break How People Feel About Your House,” realtor.com® (July 31, 2019)