Real Estate Roundup: January U.S. Home Sales Strongest in a Decade

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Here’s a look at recent news of interest to homebuyers, home sellers, and the home-curious

EXISTING HOME SALES CLIMB TO 10-YEAR HIGH
America’s robust economy helped push existing home sales to the highest level since the last housing boom, in spite of supply conditions that remain below normal.

That’s according to a new report from the National Association of Realtors, which says that existing U.S. home sales increased to 5.69 million on an annual basis in January, up 3.3 percent year over year and the highest since February 2007. The median home price increased to $228,900, a 7.1 percent gain from one year earlier, while inventory declined by an identical amount from January 2016.

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Low Affordability, Inventory Drive Bay Area Homebuyers to Bedroom Communities

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A home in Contra Costa County, which saw home sales increase by 10 percent year over year in January.

California home sales got boost in the inaugural month of 2017, while the number of transactions trended lower here in the Bay Area — particularly in the more expensive counties.

In its latest home sales and price report, the California Association of Realtors says that there were 420,100 annualized single-family home sales in January, a gain of 4.4 percent from one year earlier. In a statement accompanying the report, CAR Senior Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young said that higher interest rates likely fueled real estate activity, motivating buyers to get off the fence before they increase further.

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Home Amenities More Important Than Size, Buyers Say

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New home sizes dropped for the first time in seven years in 2016, which isn’t likely to trouble the majority of buyers, who are willing to sacrifice square footage for the right features.

Those are two key takeaways from a recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders, which found that more than two-thirds of homebuyers are willing to accept less living space in exchange for specific amenities. Topping the list of must-have features is a separate laundry room, which is the most sought-after home amenity regardless of buyer income bracket. Energy-efficient appliances and windows, programmable thermostats, outdoor lighting, and patios are other features currently a hit with buyers.

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Bay Area Housing Markets Begin 2017 as the Nation’s Hottest

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Low inventory and rising mortgage rates are motivating homebuyers as the year kicks off, with three Bay Area cities ranking as the nation’s most sought-after real estate markets.

That’s according to Realtor.com’s January analysis of the nation’s 20 hottest housing markets as determined by most listing views on its website and fewest days on the market. Nationwide, homes are selling 4 percent faster than they were one year ago while inventory is down by 11 percent. The median list price held steady from the previous month at $250,000, setting a new record for January.

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Bay Area Housing Markets Are Among the World’s 10 Least Affordable

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While the Bay Area’s housing affordability crunch is all too familiar for local home shoppers, a recent report brings a global perspective to the situation, with San Jose and San Francisco ranking among the planet’s least affordable housing markets.

In its 13th Annual International Housing Affordability survey, Demographia ranks the the world’s most and least affordable housing markets according to the median multiple, a benchmark that divides the median house price by the median household income. Markets with a score of 3.0 or less are considered affordable, while those with a 5.1 or higher are considered severely unaffordable.

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Renovated Kitchens Equal Healthier Homeowners, Survey Finds

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If your New Year’s resolution is to live a healthier lifestyle, remodeling your kitchen could be one step toward achieving that goal.

That’s one key takeaway from Houzz’s 2017 Kitchen Trends Study, which surveyed homeowners who were in some stage of renovating their kitchens last year or this year. One-third of respondents reported that they were leading healthier lifestyles after remodeling their kitchens, while the other 67 percent said they were equally as healthy as before.

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Election Outcome and Rising Mortgage Rates Temporarily Slow Bay Area Home Sales

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Executive Summary:

  • The December home sales decline in the Bay Area was larger than historically seen between November and December.
  • The decline was led by slower activity among homes priced below $1 million, which is a function of higher mortgage rates, but also a severely depleted inventory of affordable homes for sale.

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In the Bay Area, Land Is More Valuable Than the Homes That Sit on It

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First, a cautionary note: Bay Area homeowners who spend countless hours and thousands of dollars on home improvements and upkeep may be a bit miffed by the data uncovered recently by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. But the facts, as they say, are facts.

To wit: Your home, for which you have worked so hard to maintain and beautify, is worth far less than the dirt underneath it.

It’s true.

U.S. Home Construction to See Healthy Gains in 2017

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Single-family home production, housing starts, and permits are all expected to rise this year, providing at least some relief to a market starved for inventory, although rising mortgage rates will likely exact a toll on affordability.

That’s the outlook from the National Association of Home Builders International Builders’ Show, held this week in Orlando, Florida. NAHB projects that builders will construct 855,000 new single-family homes in 2017, a gain of 10 percent. The outlook is even brighter for 2018, when the organization expects home production to increase an additional 12 percent to 961,000 — still shy of the normal benchmark of 1.3 million new units annually.

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