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Immigrants are expected to make up a large number of the future home buyers of America in the coming decades, according to a new report, “Assimilation Tomorrow: How America’s Immigrants Will Integrate by 2030” by the Center for American Progress.  

Researchers found that while 25.5 percent of immigrants owned homes in 2000, that percentage is expected to jump to 70.3 percent by 2030. If that happens, the percentage of immigrants who will own homes will be on par or even slightly higher than the home ownership rate among native-born Americans, the study finds. 

Hispanics, in particular, are expected to make the biggest gains toward home ownership. Home ownership for Hispanic immigrants stood at 21 percent in 2000, but is projected to reach 67 percent by 2030. 

source:  RISMedia


While the housing market is improving in the U.S., some countries around the world are seeing even bigger improvements with their real estate markets. A report, based on Knight Frank’s latest global house price index of 55 countries, shows some of the hottest real estate markets based on largest price increases.

According to the report, these eight countries show the highest percentage increases in home prices in the past three years:

  1. Brazil: 15.2%
  2. Hong Kong: 14.2%
  3. Turkey: 11.5%
  4. Russia: 10.7%
  5. Colombia: 10.5%
  6. Austria: 10.1%
  7. China: 7.7%
  8. Malaysia: 7.3%

source:  AOL Real Estate


With the growth of green building the last decade, green lending has emerged to help finance those often costly “green” upgrades. 

Dave Porter, with PorterWorks in Stanton, Wash., who provides continuing education courses on green lending to those in the real estate industry, says there are several basic types of green mortgages, which most of the public still isn’t very aware about. For example, energy-efficient mortgages (EEMs) are “used to finance the construction of a home that would meet green standards or to buy one that’s newly built.” An energy improvement mortgage (EIM), on the other hand, is used to buy and fix up a house that needs green improvements, like insulation or new windows. 

The loans are available through mortgage programs by Fannie Mae, the Federal Housing Administration, Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Agriculture. 

“They have slight differences in requirements, but basically they allow you to finance the home, plus the energy-conserving improvements, without having to qualify for the additional cost of the improvements,” Porter told the Chicago Tribune.

source:  Chicago Tribune


The median sales price of homes with green, eco-friendly features is $47,600 higher than for homes without any green features, according to a new analysis by the real estate brokerage, Redfin.

Green features include solar panels, low-flow faucets, dual-pane windows, energy-efficient appliances, strong environmental ratings, and certifications from programs such as Energy Star or LEED.

“All of these features reduce your home’s impact on the environment,” says Julie Jacobson, a Redfin real estate professional in Los Angeles. “Going green also means saving money on monthly bills, especially when you take advantage of the various rebates and tax incentives available; it can really be a win-win.”

So where can you find the highest concentration of homes with green features? Redfin ranked neighborhoods based on the share of its “green” listings to overall listings in neighborhoods across the country over the past two years.

The following 10 neighborhoods boasted the largest number of green homes, according to its analysis:

  1. Valley View in Chicago, Ill.: 39% (Percentage of listings with green features)
  2. Mueller/RMMA in Austin, Texas: 39%
  3. Carpenter Village in Raleigh, N.C.: 37%
  4. Downtown Bellevue in Seattle: 36%
  5. Downtown Denver in Denver: 32%
  6. Downtown Woodstock in Atlanta, Ga.: 31%
  7. Galindo in Austin, Texas: 30%
  8. Columbia City in Seattle: 30%
  9. Overlook in Portland, Ore.: 26%
  10. Briar Chapel in Raleigh, N.C.: 26%

source:  Redfin

According to surveys, buyers want more environmentally sensitive home features, and they are willing to pay for them. But builders say not enough appraisers are recognizing green’s worth and factoring it into their property valuations. 

"Appraisers just don't get it," says William T. Nolan, a Florida consultant to home builders. "We can't get them to appreciate the value of net costs. And if we can't get the values recognized, (manufacturers) can't justify moving these products forward."

The Appraisal Institute is taking steps to change that, according to spokesman Ken Chitester, by producing several webinars and publishing a booklet to help educate more appraisers on green valuations.

But until the industry gets caught up, some say it’s up to the real estate agent or builder to make sure the appraiser used is trained in green building. 

Dave Porter of Porterworks, a sustainability consulting firm in Stanwood, Wash., tells agents and home owners that it’s not “pressuring anybody” to make sure an appraiser knows the value of green attributes and has the competency to factor it into his or her property evaluations. 

What You Can Do

Joseph Magdziarz, president of the Appraisal Institute, agrees and even encourages home owners to accompany the appraiser during his inspection to point out energy-saving features throughout the home so they aren’t missed. 

Southwest Florida appraiser Sandra Adomatis, an expert in green valuations, encourages home owners and professionals to provider appraisers with the following information: 

* Provide a rating from a recognized agency that shows how the “green” home compares to a similar model that has fewer energy efficiency construction standards.

* Offer a breakdown of the additional construction costs of green and energy-efficient items.

* Create a chart that compares “green” features with those in code-built houses.

source:  Chicago Tribune

Five to six million new renter households may be created within the next 8 years, caused from low inventories of homes available and tight credit conditions, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Rental demand is expected to particularly increase among seniors looking to downsize their homes, as well as young adults and a growing immigrant population.

“We expect to see an increase in household formation and for a variety of reasons that household formation is likely to be more heavily concentrated among renters and households who are likely to be renters for somewhat longer than was the case for the last 20 years,” Barry Zigas, director of Housing Policy for Consumer Federation of America, told HousingWire.

Tight credit conditions continues to be one main culprit holding back home ownership among some potential buyers.

“Credit for home ownership borrowing will likely be tighter and potentially more expensive, relative to earlier times,” Zigas predicts. “Families will likely have less wealth because the rising generation is starting with less wealth. If down payments are at any significant level, it will be a barrier to acquiring a home for longer than may have been the case in the past.”

source:  HousingWire


More than three-quarters of Americans who fall within Generations X and Y believe they have become increasingly knowledgeable about home ownership due to the greater media coverage on the real estate market the past six years, according to a Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate survey of about 1,000 18-35 year olds.

These two generations say that before buying they’d do their homework first, researching interest rates, home prices in a desired neighborhood, and the ability to secure a loan. Despite the past housing crisis, these generations say they are not deterred from home buying, and 75 percent say that home ownership is a key indicator of success.

Generations X and Y, which boast 103 million of the population, are viewed as major drivers of the economy for the next 30 years.

Among some of the survey’s findings about Generation X and Y’s perceptions on home ownership is:

  • 71% of Gen X and Gen Y surveyed say that home ownership is not something they deserve but rater something you must earn, and they say they’re willing to sacrifice in order to be able to buy a home one day. Sixty-two percent say they would save by eating out less, 40 percent are willing to take a second job, and 23 percent would move back home with their parents.
  • 75% say owning a nice home is an indicator of success over taking fancy vacations, owning an expensive car, or owning designer clothing.
  • 61% say they’ll be ready to buy when they’ve landed a secure job.

"Every generation faces defining economic events that alter their collective perspective," says Sherry Chris, president and CEO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate LLC. "'The Greatest Generation' was shaped by the Great Depression and Baby Boomers were impacted by the oil crises throughout the 1970s. Gen X and Gen Y experienced their 'coming of age' moment during the largest housing market downturn in American history. As such, these generations believe that the details, risks and rewards of home buying are integral to their planning.”

source:  Better Homes and Garden Real Estate


Fixed-rate mortgages have been at decade lows this year, increasing home buyers’ purchasing power and helping to trim home owners monthly mortgage payments—at least for those who qualify.

But a
number of home buyers and refinancers say they are shut out of the cheaper borrowing conditions due to banks’ tightened lending standards, according to data released by the Federal Reserve.

One Washington home owner with a top-notch credit score says he has been trying to refinance his mortgage but has been told “no” by banks because his mortgage is underwater. He told The New York Times that interest rates will at some point rise again, “and I should have been able to get those low rates. It’s not fair.”

“While low rates are supposed to encourage Americans to take more risks, ordinary Americans have been unwilling or unable to take advantage of them,” the paper notes in a recent article.

“There’s definitely winners and losers in this kind of extremely low interest rate environment,” Ed Yardeni, president of Yardeni Research, told The Times. “In this case, any borrower that has access to the capital markets and doesn’t have to fill out a loan application at a bank is definitely going to have a tremendous advantage.”

Many policy makers say a greater economic recovery will be put on hold until banks start lending more.

“The real problem is that relatively few borrowers meet the tougher standards of today even if they could benefit from refinancing, and that is the frustration,” Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance, told the publication.

source:  New York Times


With crowdfunding tech sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo successfully launching projects ranging from LPs to lightbulbs, the idea is making inroads in real estate.

Groundfloor, an online crowdfunding program devoted to real estate, is putting a historic Atlanta home on the market this week as it prepares to expand its funding platform to five new states.

The home renovator received $40,000 in funding from 39 independent investors in Georgia, who'll be paid back with 8 percent interest in six months.

Crowdfunding platforms pull together small amounts of money from many individuals and pool the money to fund projects ranging from product development to charitable works. About 20 crowdfunding platforms are operating in real estate, but Groundfloor is unique in that it works within state laws to operate on a more local basis. National real estate crowdfunding investment sites are awaiting rules from the Securities and Exchange Commission to allow nonaccredited investors to participate in crowdfunding.

Meanwhile, while Groundfloor launched in Georgia, it opens this week in five more states -- Arizona, Illinois, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virginia -- where regulators have authorized the company's plans to solicit state residents.

Groundfloor's terms allow investments from $100 to $2,000, and terms range from six months to several years. Founder Brian Daily believes that will prove attractive to small investors. "This is a steady, tangible way for ordinary people to make good returns on their money, a new class of product that didn't exist yesterday," he told USA Today.

source:  USA Today

Following a similar move by J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America Corp. runs a program geared to reducing loan balances for military borrowers who are struggling to pay their mortgages as they leave active duty.

Many of the banks' measures go beyond protections already provided to military borrowers in the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. The SCRA forbids foreclosures on active-duty military and caps interest rates at 6 percent. 

Bank of America’s aid program for military borrowers helps members departing active duty and who will no longer be covered by the SCRA. It reduces the balance on home loans to “as low as 100 percent of the current market value” and offer reduced interest rates and extended terms to repay the loan. For active-duty military, interest rates will be cut back.

J.P Morgan Chase also cut interest rates for active-duty military members and it will not foreclose on any active-duty military, even those who are not protected by SCRA. It also promised more loan modifications would be available to military borrowers who are struggling to make payments.

The programs came on the heels of investigations from the Justice Department into lending abuses affecting military families. J.P. Morgan had admitted it overcharged 4,500 military families on loans and wrongly foreclosed on at least 18 active-duty military families.

source:  Dow Jones Business News