High-Low: The priciest and cheapest homes in La Cañada Flintridge

La Cañada Flintridge: home to Descanso Gardens, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and a healthy stock of hillside homes with commanding views of the city below. Between the houses draped along the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains or the larger estates on the south side of the city, it’s hard to go wrong — but it’s also hard to find anything for less than $1 million.

Here’s a look at the highest- and lowest-priced homes in La Cañada Flintridge.

High: A dazzling blend of Spanish Colonial Revival and Art Deco style, this 1920s mansion has been expanded over the years to include a pub, theater, gym, sauna and lanai. Throughout the 13,000-square-foot floor plan, one-of-a-kind spaces combine Batchelder tile, barrel ceilings, stained-glass windows and custom art such as a peacock made of colorful tile in the bathroom. Koi ponds, fountains and a swimming pool liven up the grounds outside.

Address: 607 Foxwood Road, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011

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Price: $10 million

Agent: Gina Olivares, Deasy Penner Podley

Low: A fresh paint job brought this 1960s single-story into the 21st century. Perched above the street at the end of a cul-de-sac, it opens to sunny living spaces with wood floors. At the heart of the floor plan, a whitewashed brick fireplace runs floor to ceiling.

Address: 4407 Rockmere Way, La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011

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Price: $1.094 million

Agent: Stephanie Vitacco, Keller Williams Realty

Source: latimes.com

10 Relaxing Home Decor Ideas to Transform Your Space

Much of our time these days is spent at home. Whether you’re still working from a home office, meal-prepping in your kitchen on weekends, or spending most of your leisure time looking at other homes for sale on your favorite real estate app, you may feel your home is not the calming space you’d hope it to be. Regardless of how you spend your time, your home is your sanctuary, where you should feel relaxed and be able to unwind from your daily life. If you want to design a more calming space but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered.

From adding cozy blankets and scented candles to dedicating a space to practice meditation, creating a relaxing house is just a couple of design steps away. Whether you live in warm Los Angeles, CA, or rainy Seattle, WA, one of these 10 relaxing home decor ideas is sure to transform your home into an even more calming place you’ll be happy to spend time in.

relaxing-home-decor-ideas

relaxing-home-decor-ideas

1) Design your space with cozy fabrics

There’s no better place to start designing a calming space than decorating with cozy fabrics. Whether that’s getting a new throw blanket for your couch or reupholstering your chair with a crushed velvet fabric, you can decorate just about anything with textiles. Soft fabrics bring a soothing, cozy feel to your home and can make you feel like you’re in a serene environment no matter the season. So break out the quilts, incorporate a fuzzy shag carpet, or pick up some soft throw pillows to make your space more relaxing after a long day.

2) Create balance between colors

When looking for the right relaxing home decor idea, think about how you’ll strike a balance between the colors in your space. Rather than bringing in lots of bright colors, consider adding a pop of color with a pillow or throw blanket against a neutral couch or chair. Unless you find yourself drawn to vibrant colors, less is more when it comes to incorporating these statement elements in your home. 

3) Choose classic and calming decor ideas

When it comes to choosing relaxing home decor, you may find yourself tempted by all the up-and-coming home trends. Opting for the latest trends can be fun, but if it’s not something you totally love, chances are you may not feel that relaxed in your space. One of the keys is to pick trends that you like along with those that will stand the test of time. If you’re interested in a new style but not sure how that fits into your home, looking into reversible home design ideas may just be your best option. 

4) Carve out a space for yoga or meditation

Nothing makes a home more relaxing than creating a designated space to wind down. Whether that’s a simple corner of your living room or a small room of its own, you can easily design a space that feels secluded from the rest of your home. With a yoga mat or a floor pillow, a few green plants, and a photo you love, you can easily make a calming nook for your yoga flow or mindfulness practice.

relaxing-house

relaxing-house

5) Use a weighted blanket in your bedroom

Chances are you’ve heard about weighted blankets. If you haven’t, weighted blankets range from 5 to 30 pounds and mimic therapeutic techniques of deep pressure stimulation, much like a massage. For those that have trouble balancing work and home life, choosing a weighted blanket for your bed or living room may help you relax. Either way, having a great blanket is one of the easiest relaxing home decor ideas to bring into your space to help you shut off for the evening. 

6) Light candles or diffuse essential oils throughout your home

Scents can be the gateway to creating a relaxing environment in your home. Whether you gravitate towards a calming chamomile scent or the smell of lavender before you go to sleep, there’s an essential oil for everything. If you’re more of a candle user, you can find a variety of scents perfect for cultivating a relaxing space. Fresh baked cookies, check. Christmas cheer, check. Nothing beats lighting your favorite candle or turning on your essential oil diffuser after a long day and letting your favorite aromas fill your home.

7) Mood lighting makes a relaxing home

If the weather is gloomy or it’s dark by the time you finish your workday, some much needed light can be all you need for a peaceful home. From sun lamps that mimic the benefits of sunlight or just incorporating string lights throughout your home, the options are endless. You can easily make your space more relaxing by switching up your lights and bringing a new vibe to your home. 

bright-living-room

bright-living-room

8) Embrace any and all natural light

Natural light is one of the easiest elements to brighten up your space. But if you live in an apartment with minimal windows or your living room doesn’t let in much natural light, there’s no need to worry. It all starts with embracing what natural light you do have in your home. Highlight the windows with high drapes to draw your eyes upward or keep window shades pulled open for as long as the daylight hours allow. Making an effort to let in any light from clouds or sun into your home can make your space more calming and welcoming. 

9) Take inspiration from nature for relaxing home decor

If getting out into nature makes you feel more relaxed, look to nature for inspiration when designing your house to be more relaxing. Incorporating the right shade of wood furniture into your home can evoke feelings of the mountains or the beach. Consider lighting a Fraser fir-scented candle or adding a few drops of pine essential oil in your diffuser to bring the mountain relaxation into your home. Taking inspiration from nature may be as simple as hanging a picture of your favorite beach or lake. That way you’ll have a serene feeling every time you see the photo.

10) Incorporate a plant garden

Plants are known to be a great way to incorporate nature and its properties into your relaxing home decor. The key is to choose plants that work with your space, like small succulents against a windowsill or tall fiddle leaf figs in a sunny room. For greenery that has multiple uses, consider starting an herb garden so you’ll have fresh herbs year-round. No matter how you bring plants into your home you’re likely to find yourself enjoying the greenery you see each day.

Source: redfin.com

15 Cities Where Homes Are Selling the Fastest

COVID-19 has brought tremendous volatility to many economic sectors, and one area where the effects have been felt most strongly is real estate.

In most areas, the onset of the pandemic last spring temporarily brought the real estate market to a standstill. Economic uncertainty was high as businesses shut down, making both buyers and sellers hesitant to enter the market, while stay-at-home orders and health and safety fears made it harder to arrange showings, inspections, and in-person meetings during the closing process.

As time has gone on, however, demand in the real estate market has picked up in a dramatic way. With the transition to working and schooling from home, families are increasingly seeking out homes with more space and amenities. Moreover, government efforts to stimulate the economy have kept interest rates low and provided relief to households through expanded unemployment benefits and direct payments. Simultaneously, shifts in consumer behavior have pushed savings rates higher over the last year. This combination of factors has given more buyers the desire and the means to look for homes.

Despite this, increased demand from buyers has not been met with an equal willingness of homeowners to sell. Some would-be sellers remain worried about risking COVID-19 exposure from tours and showings, but economic conditions may be the main reason why current homeowners are opting to hold onto their properties. For example, the same low interest rates that are enticing prospective buyers also make it easier for homeowners to refinance and stay put. Since selling one house frequently means buying another, sellers may look at a competitive market with many buyers and decide to avoid the hassle.

The overall effect is a market with unusually constrained supply of homes for sale. Real estate inventory usually shifts on a seasonal basis, dropping in the winter and picking up in the warmer months. COVID-19 interrupted these trends when the pandemic emerged in March. Inventory held flat during the spring but began to decline soon after. By December 2020, the number of active listings on the market was nearly 40 percent lower than at the same point in 2019.

Limited supply has affected sales in two major ways: first, prices are much higher, and second, homes are flying off the market. As with inventory, time to close usually follows seasonal patterns, with sales taking longer in the winter and less time in the warmer months. And here again, COVID-19 had a strong impact: sales were unusually slow after stay-at-home orders took effect but accelerated again over the course of the year. The median number of days a home spent on the market in the last quarter of 2020 was more than 15 percent lower year-over-year than the same period in 2019.

And as with all real estate, location matters. Demand—and with it, the speed of sales—are especially high in Western and Southwestern states that have been experiencing the highest rates of population growth. This includes the three states where homes are selling the fastest: Washington, Nevada, and Arizona.


Continue reading “15 Cities Where Homes Are Selling the Fastest”

10 Relaxing Home Decor Ideas to Transform Your Space – Redfin

Much of our time these days is spent at home. Whether you’re still working from a home office, meal-prepping in your kitchen on weekends, or spending most of your leisure time looking at other homes for sale on your favorite real estate app, you may feel your home is not the calming space you’d hope it to be. Regardless of how you spend your time, your home is your sanctuary, where you should feel relaxed and be able to unwind from your daily life. If you want to design a more calming space but don’t know where to start, we’ve got you covered.

From adding cozy blankets and scented candles to dedicating a space to practice meditation, creating a relaxing house is just a couple of design steps away. Whether you live in warm Los Angeles, CA, or rainy Seattle, WA, one of these 10 relaxing home decor ideas is sure to transform your home into an even more calming place you’ll be happy to spend time in.

relaxing-home-decor-ideas

relaxing-home-decor-ideas

1) Design your space with cozy fabrics

There’s no better place to start designing a calming space than decorating with cozy fabrics. Whether that’s getting a new throw blanket for your couch or reupholstering your chair with a crushed velvet fabric, you can decorate just about anything with textiles. Soft fabrics bring a soothing, cozy feel to your home and can make you feel like you’re in a serene environment no matter the season. So break out the quilts, incorporate a fuzzy shag carpet, or pick up some soft throw pillows to make your space more relaxing after a long day.

2) Create balance between colors

When looking for the right relaxing home decor idea, think about how you’ll strike a balance between the colors in your space. Rather than bringing in lots of bright colors, consider adding a pop of color with a pillow or throw blanket against a neutral couch or chair. Unless you find yourself drawn to vibrant colors, less is more when it comes to incorporating these statement elements in your home. 

3) Choose classic and calming decor ideas

When it comes to choosing relaxing home decor, you may find yourself tempted by all the up-and-coming home trends. Opting for the latest trends can be fun, but if it’s not something you totally love, chances are you may not feel that relaxed in your space. One of the keys is to pick trends that you like along with those that will stand the test of time. If you’re interested in a new style but not sure how that fits into your home, looking into reversible home design ideas may just be your best option. 

4) Carve out a space for yoga or meditation

Nothing makes a home more relaxing than creating a designated space to wind down. Whether that’s a simple corner of your living room or a small room of its own, you can easily design a space that feels secluded from the rest of your home. With a yoga mat or a floor pillow, a few green plants, and a photo you love, you can easily make a calming nook for your yoga flow or mindfulness practice.

relaxing-house

relaxing-house

5) Use a weighted blanket in your bedroom

Chances are you’ve heard about weighted blankets. If you haven’t, weighted blankets range from 5 to 30 pounds and mimic therapeutic techniques of deep pressure stimulation, much like a massage. For those that have trouble balancing work and home life, choosing a weighted blanket for your bed or living room may help you relax. Either way, having a great blanket is one of the easiest relaxing home decor ideas to bring into your space to help you shut off for the evening. 

6) Light candles or diffuse essential oils throughout your home

Scents can be the gateway to creating a relaxing environment in your home. Whether you gravitate towards a calming chamomile scent or the smell of lavender before you go to sleep, there’s an essential oil for everything. If you’re more of a candle user, you can find a variety of scents perfect for cultivating a relaxing space. Fresh baked cookies, check. Christmas cheer, check. Nothing beats lighting your favorite candle or turning on your essential oil diffuser after a long day and letting your favorite aromas fill your home.

7) Mood lighting makes a relaxing home

If the weather is gloomy or it’s dark by the time you finish your workday, some much needed light can be all you need for a peaceful home. From sun lamps that mimic the benefits of sunlight or just incorporating string lights throughout your home, the options are endless. You can easily make your space more relaxing by switching up your lights and bringing a new vibe to your home. 

bright-living-room

bright-living-room

8) Embrace any and all natural light

Natural light is one of the easiest elements to brighten up your space. But if you live in an apartment with minimal windows or your living room doesn’t let in much natural light, there’s no need to worry. It all starts with embracing what natural light you do have in your home. Highlight the windows with high drapes to draw your eyes upward or keep window shades pulled open for as long as the daylight hours allow. Making an effort to let in any light from clouds or sun into your home can make your space more calming and welcoming. 

9) Take inspiration from nature for relaxing home decor

If getting out into nature makes you feel more relaxed, look to nature for inspiration when designing your house to be more relaxing. Incorporating the right shade of wood furniture into your home can evoke feelings of the mountains or the beach. Consider lighting a Fraser fir-scented candle or adding a few drops of pine essential oil in your diffuser to bring the mountain relaxation into your home. Taking inspiration from nature may be as simple as hanging a picture of your favorite beach or lake. That way you’ll have a serene feeling every time you see the photo.

10) Incorporate a plant garden

Plants are known to be a great way to incorporate nature and its properties into your relaxing home decor. The key is to choose plants that work with your space, like small succulents against a windowsill or tall fiddle leaf figs in a sunny room. For greenery that has multiple uses, consider starting an herb garden so you’ll have fresh herbs year-round. No matter how you bring plants into your home you’re likely to find yourself enjoying the greenery you see each day.

Source: redfin.com

U.S. existing-home sales unexpectedly rise to three-month high

Sales of previously owned U.S. homes unexpectedly rose to a three-month high in January as Americans sought to take advantage of ultra-low mortgage rates that have powered the boom in housing.

Contract closings increased 0.6% from the prior month to an annualized 6.69 million, after a downwardly revised 6.65 million in December, according to National Association of Realtors data released Friday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for a 6.6 million rate in January.

Low borrowing costs paired with a desire for single-family homes with more space during the pandemic has propelled demand, even as other parts of the economy lag. Sales of existing homes last year were the strongest since 2006. Still, prices are rising, inventory is limited and expectations of higher mortgage rates may weigh on buyer demand going forward.

“We have to get more inventory,” Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist, said on a call with reporters. “Sales could be even higher,” if more homes were put on the market, he said.

Single-family homes with rooftop solar panels and backyard pools are seen in this aerial photograph taken over a Lennar Corp. development in San Diego, California.

Bing Guan/Bloomberg

While low mortgage rates have helped make buying a home more affordable, prices are soaring. The median selling price increased 14.1% from a year earlier to $303,900 in January, a record for the month.

Properties remained on the market for 21 days in January, compared with 43 days in the same month last year.

There were a record-low 1.04 million homes for sale last month, down 25.7% from a year earlier. At the current pace, it would take 1.9 months to sell all the homes on the market, down from 3.1 months in January of last year. Realtors see anything below five months of supply as a sign of a tight market.

Recent data also suggest the housing market will remain a bright spot for months to come. While home-construction declined in January for the first time in five months, permits to build single-family houses rose at the fastest pace since 2006. The number of one-family dwellings authorized but not yet started increased to the highest in more than 13 years.

Source: nationalmortgagenews.com

Now Renting in Calabasas, Nelly Is Selling Abandoned Mansion in Missouri

Nelly is ready to take off from his abandoned Missouri digs. The hip-hop star has placed an unfinished remodel in Wildwood, MO, on the market for $599,000.

This is a precipitous drop from the listed price of $2.5 million in 2002, when the home was last on the market.

The St. Louis native reportedly snapped up the property, billed as “Tuscan-style architecture,” as an investment opportunity. Sarah Tadlock of Keller Williams is now the listing agent.

Mansion in Missouri

Unfortunately, the Grammy winner has less than a winning touch with this real estate.

Apparently, the plan a couple of decades ago was for Nelly to buy the place and then flip it with a “contractor friend,” TMZ noted. And although some work appears to have begun, the project now looks as if it was abandoned long ago.

Two decades later, the home has fallen into a state of disrepair. For buyers who know their way around a rehab, the home is a deal.

Just be sure to add in a (hefty) budget for renovations, and plan to flip the finished product, or move in.

“It’s quite a home. It’s pretty spectacular,” says Coco Bloomfield, a local real estate agent with Dielmann Sotheby’s International Realty—who isn’t affiliated with the listing.

Bloomfield did walk through the property recently with a potential buyer. She notes that some of the renovations that were begun—some modest kitchen finishes, for example—didn’t match the upscale style of the home.

She estimates the cost of improvements to bring the place back to a livable condition at around $500,000, but adds that the figure could easily soar to $1 million, depending on how high-end a renovation the buyer opts for.

The work needed includes updating and possibly expanding the kitchen, gutting the bathrooms, adding flooring, and fixing up the pool.

“You would have quite a property when you are done,” Bloomfield says. “The views are unbelievable. You could well make back the money on the property, if you want to go through the hassle of renovation.”

She notes that the listing already has multiple offers, and she believes the home is likely to sell for well over its asking price.

Wildwood currently has 228 homes for sale, with a median list price of $500,000.

Local prices ramp up with larger amounts of land and bigger houses. For example, a nearby 7,500-square-foot home from 2016, with a 3-acre “backyard oasis,” is listed for $1.95 million and in pending sale status.

Nelly's mansion in Wildwood, MO
Nelly’s mansion in Wildwood, MO

realtor.com

Two-story entrance
Two-story entrance

realtor.com

Unfinished space
Unfinished space

realtor.com

Fireplace and columns
Fireplace and columns

realtor.com

Deck with view
Deck with view

realtor.com

Views from floor-to-ceiling windows
Views from floor-to-ceiling windows

realtor.com

Backyard with demolished wall
Backyard with demolished wall

realtor.com

Missouri makeover

The palatial estate offers six bedrooms and 6.5 bathrooms, on nearly 11,000 square feet. Described as an “amazing investment opportunity” in the listing, the mansion, which was built in 1998, is said to feature “some of the best views in Missouri.”

The high-ceiling, large-volume rooms open with a two-story entrance. Details include dramatic vaulted ceilings, columns, and walls of glass to take in the views of the Meramec River valley.

The floor plan is said to offer a great room, separate dining room, breakfast room, media room, game room, library, fireplaces, and multiple balconies. In many places, the unfinished space is waiting for flooring to be installed.

Outside, the 12 acres of land include a basketball court, pool, hot tub, and three-car garage. The grounds and water features, however, will need serious rehab before the next pool party. A partially demolished wall also needs to be addressed in the backyard.

The home is minutes from the Hidden Valley Sky Resort in Eureka, the listing notes, and about 30 miles from St. Louis.

The home last made headlines in 2009, when it was reportedly burglarized, and some video games and electronics were stolen. Nelly wasn’t there at the time.

Nelly’s previous abode in St. Louis, a lakefront, ranch-style home, was featured on a 2002 episode of “MTV Cribs” and showed off its motor court filled with luxury cars. The rapper reportedly sold the pad, which had four bedrooms and a boat dock, in 2010.

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Cozy in Calabasas

As for the “Hot in Herre” rapper, he and his girlfriend, Shantel Jackson, have decamped to the celebrity enclave of Calabasas, CA, where they are leasing a home.

The longtime couple posted a New Year’s shot on Instagram.

The mansion they are living in, in the gated community of Mountain View Estates, offers six bedrooms on 6,158 square feet.

From the formal entry, the expanse includes a living room, dining room, and gourmet kitchen. A family room features a wet bar and fireplace. The master suite features a fireplace, double closets, double bathrooms, and a large balcony.

The outdoor space offers outdoor cooking and dining areas, a pool and spa, sport court, and putting green. Best of all? No home improvement projects are required.

Calabasas rental
Calabasas rental

realtor.com

Nelly, whose given name is Cornell Iral Haynes Jr., debuted his album “Country Grammar” in 2000. The album hit No. 1 on Billboard. The two-time Grammy winner’s chart-topping songs have made him one of the best-selling rap artists.

  • For more photos and details, check out the full listing.
  • Homes for sale in Wildwood, MO
  • Learn more about Wildwood, MO

Source: realtor.com

U.S. Existing Home Sales Rise in January as Buyers ‘Snatch Up’ Any New Listings

The numbers: U.S. existing home sales inched up 0.6% to a seasonally-adjusted annual rate of 6.69 million, the National Association of Realtors said Friday. Compared with a year ago, home sales were up 23.7%.

Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast that existing home sales would fall to a median rate of 6.66 million.

What happened: The median existing-home price rose to $303,900 in January, up 14.1% from a year ago.

The inventory of homes for sale fell to a record low 1.04 million units by the end of January. That’s a 25.7% decline year-over-year. The market had a 1.9-month supply of homes for sales. A 6-month supply is considered a sign of a balanced market.

The South and the Midwest showed an increase in sales in January.

Big picture: Sales have been moving sideways since setting a cycle high in October. Economists think that low mortgage rates will continue to boost housing demand in coming months. Buyers are also looking for more room and more remote locations in the wake of the pandemic.

What the NAR said: “Home sales continue to ascend in the first month of the year, as buyers quickly snatched up virtually every new listing coming on the market. Sales easily could have been even 20% higher if there had been more inventory and more choices,” said said Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist.

What economists are saying? “In general, record low mortgage rates and families fleeing more crowded living situations are fueling demand for single family homes in spite of ongoing turmoil in the labor market and higher home prices. Indeed, this is one sector which is coming out of the crisis stronger than it went into it,” said Josh Shapiro, chief U.S. economist at MFR Inc.

Market reaction: U.S. stocks opened higher Friday with the S&P 500 index up 12.48 points in mid-day trading after declining in the past three trading sessions.

Source: realtor.com

Homebuilders preparing for big 2021, data suggests

Overall housing starts in January totaled 1.58 million units, a decline of 6% from December, according to the latest statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau. But there’s reason for optimism from homebuilders – a huge spike in building permits.

“Despite a modest month-over-over decline, single-family housing starts are up 17.5% from one year ago,” said Odeta Kushi, deputy chief economist at title insurance firm First American. “Single-family permits, a leading indicator of future starts, are up nearly 30% from one year ago. It’s still not enough to significantly narrow the gap between supply and demand, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

A total of 1.881 million residential building permits were issued last month to homebuilders, roughly 1.2% above December’s tally but more than 22% greater than were issued a year ago.

Interestingly, the overall decrease in housing starts last month was driven by single-family starts, which decreased by 12.2% from the prior month, while multi-family starts increased by 17.1% from last month. A seasonal dip was to be expected, experts said, but the widespread distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine should give the economy – and the housing industry – a shot in the arm in 2021.

Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s senior vice president and chief economist, said the vaccine combined with President Joseph Biden’s $1.9 trillion fiscal stimulus will drive consumer interest in locking-in historically low mortgage rates, thus driving the amount of home sales upward.


Making housing more affordable by bridging the affordable supply gap

In the last few years, the number of existing single-family homes for sale has decreased. But home prices have increased. To make homeownership a possibility for everyone, there needs to be a higher supply of affordable homes.

Presented by: Fannie Mae

“We assume that the proposed fiscal stimulus of around $1.9 trillion will be passed in mid-March, and that growth will accelerate sharply beginning in the second quarter,” Duncan said. “If 2020 was the year of the virus, then 2021 will more than likely be the year of the vaccine. Whether the vaccines are effective, including with the new virus strains, and how broadly and timely they can be distributed remain key questions.”

Economists are wary, Duncan said, of a potential boom-or-bust scenario for the housing industry in the new year: the combination of rising interest rates from record-low levels, a high national debt, and the risk of rising inflation.

“Very strong growth in the second half of 2021 could push inflation, and thereby rates, up significantly in 2022, thus invoking a Fed response of tightening and a significant deceleration later in 2022,” Duncan said. “This is not our base case scenario, but we see it as a significant risk moving forward.”

Added John Pataky, TIAA Bank executive vice president: “With rates creeping up and homebuilding still partially restricted by the pandemic, the housing market’s next phase of growth may be much more of a grind.”

Privately-owned housing starts in January hit an adjusted rate of 1.336 million, down 2.3% from December but up 2.4% from January 2020.

Single-family authorizations in January were at 1.269 million, up 3.8% from December.

January housing starts increased in the Northeast (+2.3%), but decreased in the Midwest (-12.3%), the West (-11.4%), and the South (-2.5%).

Where homebuilders go from here is of great interest to industry experts: Construction rates are expected to climb in the opening quarter of 2021 and possibly into the summer thanks to high-lumber prices and low land inventory, but the demand for homes is expected to remain high thanks to low interest rates and the hope of President Joseph Biden’s $15,000 first-time homebuyer tax credit.

“Lumber now costs more than double what it did this time last year – a fact that that has reportedly caused some builders to stop some projects mid-way,” said Matthew Speakman, Zillow economist. “Land and labor shortages also continue to hinder the ability to take on new projects.”

Still, Speakman noted, homebuilders’ earned some benefit of the doubt with the way they handled hurdles in 2020.

“Home construction was a source of strength in the U.S. economy in 2020, as builders strove to keep up with robust demand for housing and put up homes at the strongest pace in a decade and a half,” he said.  

Source: housingwire.com

Weekly mortgage refinance demand drops 5% after rates hit highest level since November – CNBC

An ‘Open House’ sign is displayed as potential home buyers arrive at a property for sale in Columbus, Ohio.

Ty Wright | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Record-low mortgage rates may now be a headline of the past.

Now, several weeks of rising rates are dousing what was incredibly high demand for refinancing. That pulled total weekly mortgage application volume down 1.9% last week, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association’s seasonally adjusted index.

The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($510,400 or less) increased to 2.92% from 2.88%, with points increasing to 0.37 from 0.33 (including the origination fee) for loans with a 20% down payment. The rate was 95 basis points higher one year ago.

The average rate on the 15-year fixed rose for the first time in seven weeks, to 2.48%.

With higher rates now offering less potential savings, applications to refinance a home loan fell 5% for the week but were 87% higher than a year ago. That annual comparison had been more than 100% just last week.

“Market expectations of a larger than anticipated fiscal relief package, which is expected to further boost economic growth and lower unemployment, have driven Treasury yields higher the last two weeks,” said Joel Kan, MBA’s associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting. “After a post-holiday surge of refinances, higher rates chipped away at refinance demand.”

Demand from homebuyers, however, increased despite the higher rates. Mortgage applications to purchase a home rose 3% for the week and were 15% higher than a year ago. The coronavirus pandemic spurred strong demand for larger, suburban homes. Despite the vaccine rollout, that demand does not appear to be abating. The biggest hurdles for homebuyers right now are high prices and record-low inventory of homes for sale.

“Homebuyers in early 2021 continue to seek newer, larger homes,” Kan said. “The average loan size for purchase loans jumped to $384,000, the second highest level in the survey,” which dates to 1990.

The incoming Biden administration is preparing to make multiple moves in the housing market that could favor both homebuyers and builders. Mortgage rates, however, started the week flat, as traders are likely awaiting the first major economic policy announcements before making a move.

Source: cnbc.com

Bidding wars heat up, but buyers are undeterred

Home buyers in the U.S. are facing increasingly fierce bidding wars, but even as prices rise and competition heats up, they’re not giving in.

A new survey by the National Association of Home Builders last week found that around 40% of prospective home buyers have been unable to purchase one because they keep getting outbid, CNBC reported. One year before, the main reason people couldn’t find a home to buy was due to unaffordable prices.

A second survey by Redfin found that 56% of its agents said they’ve faced a bidding war when making offers on behalf of their clients. It seems that bidding wars occur most frequently on higher priced homes in the $800,000 to $1 million region, Redfin reported.

Redfin’s chief economist Daryl Fairweather said he expects bidding wars to become more common this year, involving even more buyers.

“The best thing buyers can do is prepare: Prepare to see homes quickly as soon as they hit the market; prepare by talking to a lender and getting preapproved; and prepare by talking to your agent about how much a home you like is worth so you can go into a bidding war with your strongest offer tactics, but know when to back away if the price escalates more than you’re willing to pay,” he said.

The Redfin survey found that Salt Lake City, where 90.2% of all bids face competition, sees the most bidding wars, followed by San Diego (78.9% of all offers), the San Francisco Bay Area (77.1%), Denver (73.9%) and Seattle (73.8%).

CNBC said that bidding wars are being driven by a combination of record low mortgage rates and low inventories in most housing markets. The number of homes for sale in the U.S. was down 43% in January from one year ago, it said.

“Lower mortgage rates are making monthly payments for higher-priced homes more manageable,” Danielle Hale, realtor.com’s chief economist, told CNBC. “But finding a home that checks the right boxes amid limited supply, and saving up for the larger down payment needed with higher home prices, continue to be challenging, especially for first-time home buyers who haven’t accumulated home equity as prices have gone up.”

Source: realtybiznews.com