Archives for January 2013

Northeast witnesses mass exodus in 2012

The Northeast saw a lot of people leave last year for other parts of the country.One of the most densely populated regions of the country is the Northeast and the Atlantic seaboard, largely thanks to its adjacency?to the coastline and major metropolitan areas,?such as?Philadelphia and New York.But according to a recent report on the moving trends of Americans, many people last year left this part of the country and headed to western and southerly climes.In a new report published by moving and relocation firm United Van Lines, New Jersey, Maine, New York and Connecticut, had a high rate of people moving out of state. In fact, the Northeast was the most well-represented region of the country?with outbound traffic.Those who moved decided that Southern and Western living was best for them, specifically Oregon and Nevada. North and South Carolina also had high volume levels for new arrivals.”While big states such as California, Texas and Florida have more total moves than other states because of their sheer size, other high inbound states such as Washington, D.C., Oregon and the Carolinas may be attractive places to move because of their lower housing costs, more temperate climate, diversified and growing economies,” Michael Stoll, economist and professor at the Department of Public Policy at the University of California.Indeed, Houston homes and the surrounding environs witnessed a surge in population last year. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that Texas was the third fastest-growing state last year from July 2011 to July 2012. The largest percentage change was in North Dakota, with a 2.1 percent change in population over the same 12-month stretch.
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Property values through the roof countrywide, S&P data reveals

Property values rocketed skyward throughout virtually all of 2012.A sure sign the housing market is improving is when home prices rise, and through the brunt of 2012, that’s just what home values did, new data reveals.Based on statistics from November 2011 through the same month last year, home prices rose 4.5 percent for the 10-city composite and by 5.5 percent for the 20-city composite, according to Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices.The gains were not only significant but widespread. In the 20 cities analyzed, 19 of them registered home prices increases, with some of the biggest improvements coming in markets?such as?Phoenix, where values soared 23 percent?year-over-year. The only metro area to log a decline was New York City, down 1.1 percent.David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P, said no one can deny that the market is headed in a positive direction.”Housing is clearly recovering,” said Blitzer. “Prices are rising as are both new and existing home sales.”He added that many of the improvements have been so significant that they haven’t been seen in years, such as November existing-home sales finishing higher than they have in four years.While these noteworthy rallies have been relatively recent, the Houston real estate market has been in recovery mode for nearly two years. The Houston Association of Realtors indicates that a positive housing report in January will mark 20 consecutive months in which home sales have been in the black.
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Texans well pleased with insurers

Texans appear to be overwhelmingly satisfied with insurers that operate in the state.Though few relish the idea of reaching out to their insurance provider, when they do, many owners of Houston homes couldn’t be happier with the services rendered, a new survey finds.According to the Insurance Council of Texas, a considerable percentage of Texans are highly content with their insurance providers, particularly those that deal with their residential properties.ICT discovered this after surveying 800 registered voters throughout the Lone Star State, asking them various questions about their overall satisfaction with their insurance carriers. For example, when respondents were asked if their insurer was helpful and responsive the last time they had to get in touch with them, nearly 95 percent of homeowners said yes.There was also widespread agreement about being fairly treated, as more than eight in every 10 said that their dealings were even-handed and just.”We certainly didn’t expect policyholders to be excited about paying insurance premiums, but we learned that most have done their homework when considering their coverage and preparing for the future,” said Mark Hanna, ICT spokesman. “Most importantly, the survey showed?consumers have confidence in their insurance companies.”As a general rule, most lenders require prospective homeowners to obtain a home insurance policy prior to approving a mortgage request.
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Scant number of Texas homes in negative equity

Few Texas-area homes were in negative equity last year, especially in the third quarter.When it comes to percentages and how many properties were underwater in the U.S. last year, Houston homes were on the good list.According to a new report released by analytics and services firm CoreLogic, between 0 and 7 percent of homes in the Houston area were in negative equity in the third quarter of last year, which means that the mortgages on these properties were more than the actual homes’ worth.The same can’t be said for other parts of the country, however. The California-based real estate company says Nevada had the highest percentage of mortgages that were underwater in 2012’s penultimate quarter at nearly 57 percent, followed by Florida at 42 percent, Arizona at 38 percent, Georgia at 35 percent and Michigan at 32 percent.Overall, upside down mortgages retreated between July and September of last year in the nation at large. Mark Fleming, chief economist at CoreLogic, noted that 100,000 additional borrowers reached positive equity in the three-month period, bringing the total number of borrowers in this favorable condition to 1.4 million through the first nine months of 2012.”Through the third quarter, the number of underwater borrowers declined significantly,” said Fleming. “The substantive gain in house prices made in 2012, partly due to tight inventory caused by negative equity’s lock-out effect, has paradoxically alleviated some of the pain.”Strong home values may have played into the high rate of property purchases in Houston last month. The Houston Association of Realtors reports home prices in December averaged $243,800 – an 11 percent rise from 12 months ago.
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Houston rents jump nearly 5 percent in 2012

Apartment rental rates have risen considerably in Houston.New data on the pace of rent growth in Texas’ largest city may be the strongest sign yet that there’s never been a better time for residents to consider leaping into the Houston real estate market while rates are low.According to recent data from apartment listing information firm RealPage, the rate at which rental rates rose last year was considerable. Though not?the quickest in the country, Houston apartments witnessed an annual rent growth pace of 4.8 percent in 2012. There were only six other metropolitan regions in which rent growth was more significant, those being San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, Denver, Nashville and New York City.Greg Willett, vice president of MPF Research – which performed the analysis at the behest of RealPage – indicated that because of the rent price growth, many apartment unit owners are losing their tenants to the improving for-sale housing market, as buyers take advantage of affordable mortgage rates while they still can.And one of the best places to buy is in the Lone Star State. James Gaines, an economist at Texas A&M’s Real Estate Center, recently noted that Texas home values have risen at a steady 4 percent between 2006 and 2011, allowing buyers to adjust to the gradual rate of growth.
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Builders say housing outlook bright

Builders say the future is bright for the state of housing.Forecasts about the nation’s housing market picking up steam aren’t solely the prognostications of survey estimates and so-called experts. Those on the front lines are also predicting a solid year for the real estate sector.David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders, reflected this general sentiment of construction workers during the International Builders Show in Las Vegas.”Nearly every measure of housing market strength – sales, starts, prices, permits and builder confidence – has been trending upward in recent months,” said Crowe. “We expect to see gradual but steady growth along these lines in 2013.”He added that one of the biggest reasons for builders’ sense of optimism are home prices, which have ticked northward by 6 percent in the last 10 months.”People feel comfortable if they buy a house that it will appreciate, not depreciate, in value,” he said.Builders have plenty of evidence to go on that homes are in high demand. The Cyprus Creek Mirror points out that Houston’s housing inventory level is 3.7 months from 5.8 months in November. The nation’s average inventory rate of 4.8 months, according to the National Association of Realtors, suggests buying conditions are particularly favorable in the Houston real estate market.
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Cheap home prices hard to come by on international stage

Hong Kong is the most expensive place to buy a house in the world.Many of the costliest places for prospective homebuyers to purchase a residence are in cities outside the United States, recent data reveals.According to a new analysis conducted by strategy research firm New Geography, the most expensive place to live in from a standpoint of home prices is Hong Kong, scoring a median multiple house price score of 13.5.Researchers determined these scores by measuring the median house price for a given area divided by its median pre-tax household income rate for the 337 metropolitan markets analyzed. Any score above 5.1 was considered “severely unaffordable,” while 3.0 and below was considered “affordable.”Vancouver, London and Sydney were a few of the other foreign cities that scored well above the 5.1 threshold.Some of the most inexpensive places to live in, according to the survey, were U.S.-based – including St. Louis, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Detroit and Rochester, New York.While Texas’ largest city wasn’t expressly listed among the firm’s most inexpensive housing markets, Houston homes are reasonably priced. In a report released last July, “by almost any measure, Texas homes are more affordable than the United States overall,” according to housing data from the real estate center at Texas A&M University.
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Southern home sales slide in December

Home sales in the South eased as 2012 came to a close.A new report shows that the favorable Houston real estate situation bucked the regional trend in December.According to the National Association of Realtors, existing-home sales in the South dipped approximately 3 percent in the last month of 2012 to an annual level of 1.9 million units. However, similar to the rest of the country, existing-home sales in the South were well above where they were at the same time last year – nearly 9 percent higher.Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, indicated that buyer’s market conditions created the positive climate in December, a month that typically sees fewer sales because of the extended holiday period.”Record low mortgage interest rates clearly are helping many home buyers,” said Yun.He added, however, that home purchases may have been even higher, but high lending standards prevented this.More regulated conditions didn’t appear to have too much of an impact on Houston homes sales. Overall property purchases in December contributed to the 62,229 that sold in 2012 overall, 16 percent higher than 2011.
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Two of five most-searched neighborhoods in 2012 located in Texas

Many families settled down in Texan neighborhoods, based on recent internet search data from Realtor.com.While Houston homes are routinely some of the most popular neighborhoods for homebuyers to peruse, cities not too far removed from Texas’ largest metro area are proving to be in high demand as well.Realtor.com recently released its list for the most-searched for cities in 2012 among people who were looking to purchase a home. Of the top five, two were located in the Lone Star State – Willows Bend in Plano and Keller in Fort Worth. Both of these communities are about three-and-a-half hours northwest of Houston.The real estate information website notes that both Keller and Willows Bend are highly soughtby homeowners not only because of the homes themselves, but also because the localities are situated in such a way that makes for easy freeway access to other major parts of Texas, such as Houston and Dallas.Other hot spots, according to Realtor.com, include Old Town in Chicago, Spring Valley in Las Vegas and Stoneybrook in Orlando.A variety of neighborhoods throughout Texas are favored by homeowners. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the Lone Star State witnessed the largest population rise last year in the U.S. overall and also was the third-fastest growing state, topped by only North Dakota and the District of Columbia.
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Unemployment rate continues to dwindle in Texas

Job opportunities are replete in Texas.While many people may still be having trouble landing a job in today’s economy, that hasn’t been too much of a problem for Texans.According to a recent report released by the Texas Workforce Commission, the unemployment rate in the Lone Star State, dipped to 6.1 percent in the last month of 2012 from 6.2 percent in November. On a year-over-year basis, the jobless rate was more than a full percentage point lower than where it was in December 2011.Andres Alcantar, chairman of the TWC, indicated that the job market was particularly strong in several of the state’s largest industries, including, education, trade, transportation and health services.”With those positive strides and 11,800 private sector jobs added in the past month, 2012 was a strong year for Texas and my hope is that the Texas economy will build on that success in 2013,” said Alcantar.Also indicative of Texas’ strong economic performance in December was the Houston real estate climate, particularly among properties with high asking prices. According to the Houston Association of Realtors, sales volume was strongest with properties priced at $500,000 and above.
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