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Housing Headlines Archives for 2017-01

The week's top housing news




Buyers haven't flocked to new homes this much since the bubble

It's fairly common to hear that a particular economic data point is the best since the recession. But you'd have to go back a bit further to compare the last time home builder sentiment was so high. 


USA Today
Lower, but steady, economic growth expected in Q4

This week brings the last significant snapshot of the U.S. economy in 2016. It's expected to show continued moderate growth, a solid housing recovery and a nascent rebound for business investment.


U.S. News & World Report
First-time homebuyers are ready to test the housing market. Can they find a home?

First-time homebuyers are finally ready to jump into the market. They've met tougher mortgage qualifying standards in recent years, they've saved up for down payments, they've done their homework and know what they can afford.


New home sales tumble to a 10-month low in December as recovery remains rocky

Sales of newly-constructed homes plunged in December as the housing market recovery sputtered.
Existing-home sales stutter as inventory shrinks to 17-year low in December

Sales of previously-owned homes dipped in December, as increasingly tight inventory and higher prices began to stifle the housing market.


Mortgage rates rise for the first time in 2017, Freddie Mac says

Rates for home loans reversed a 3-week losing streak, rising for the first time in 2017, mortgage provider Freddie Mac said Thursday.


The New York Times
Peak millennial? Cities can't assume a continued boost from the young

Over the past decade, many American cities have been transformed by young professionals of the millennial generation, with downtowns turning into bustling neighborhoods full of new apartments and pricey coffee bars. But soon, cities may start running out of millennials.



The 'housing culture war' reignites over $42 a month

The distracting politics of an insurance premium cut Call it housing's culture war: the tussle between progressives who want homeownership to be available to every American, and conservatives who'd rather government stayed out of the business of helping people who can't make the biggest purchase of their lives entirely on their own.


Bloomberg View
Trump is set up for retro housing policy

The Trump administration's first official act was to restore some mortgage fees that had just been eliminated by the Obama administration. The Democratic response to it suggests that nearly a decade after the housing bust, the nation may finally be ready to look at housing policy again with fresh eyes.


National Mortgage News
Four takeaways from Mnuchin's Capitol Hill grilling

Treasury Secretary-designate Steven Mnuchin struck a pro-banking industry tone during testimony on Capitol Hill Thursday while tangling with lawmakers over foreclosures, offshore accounts and other issues. (Subscription may be required.)


The Wall Street Journal
Money-fund overhaul gives federal home loan banks new prominence

The Federal Home Loan Banks are emerging as one of the unexpected beneficiaries of last year's money-market fund overhaul, lending fresh support to a U.S. mortgage market in flux as interest rates creep higher. (Subscription may be required.)


The Wall Street Journal
Blackstone wins Fannie's backing for rental home debt

The question of what to do with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has bedeviled investors and politicians ever since their crisis-era bailout. Donald Trump's election, and comments by his pick for Treasury secretary, have raised hopes of a solution. (Subscription may be required.)



The New York Times
Quicken loans, the new mortgage machine

A low buzz fills the air as an army of mortgage bankers, perched below floating canopies in a kaleidoscope of vivid pinks, blues, purples and greens, works the phones, promising borrowers easy financing and low rates for home loans.

The Wall Street Journal
Redfin dives into lending

An upstart real-estate brokerage is getting into the mortgage business. Seattle-based Redfin Corp., a discount online property broker, is planning to offer mortgages to home buyers who use Redfin agents to purchase a home. (Subscription may be required.)



[Video] Trump wants to cut all regulation by 75%

Will housing rules be a chunk of the percentage? President Donald Trump announced in a meeting with business leaders on Monday that he plans to cut regulations by 75% or more, according to an article in CNBC by Jacob Pramuk.

Banking Committee approves Ben Carson's HUD nomination

The Senate Banking Committee Tuesday approved the nomination of Dr. Ben Carson to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development.


The Wall Street Journal
California housing crunch prompts push to allow building

Marco Gonzalez spent more than a decade suing real-estate developers in California over housing proposals that would have spoiled wetlands and gutted hillsides. The environmental lawyer won cases that stopped scores of units from being built. (Subscription may be required.)


The New York Times
Foreclosure prevention returns to the unknown

After an eight-year run, a troubled government effort to prevent foreclosures and keep struggling borrowers in their homes came to an end last month.


The Wall Street Journal
Some housing advocates in California use lawsuits to push agenda

As affordable-housing advocates push back against environmental challenges to what they view as sensible development proposals, some are taking the fight to court. (Subscription may be required.)



The New York Times
De Blasio and Cuomo spar over cost of affordable housing plan

The push and pull between New York's mayor, Bill de Blasio, and his archrival, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, surfaced again this week over an issue both men consider crucial to their administrations: providing affordable housing for New Yorkers.



Labor Access Challenges Persist

Home builder confidence remains solid at this early stage of 2017, and it mirrors NAHB's expectations for continued growth of single-family construction throughout the year. For 2016, single-family starts were up 9%, while multifamily construction experienced month-to-month volatility in the second half of the year.


However, this growth will also cause the ongoing labor shortage to worsen. In a new NAHB industry survey, builders identified access to labor as the biggest challenge they anticipate for 2017, with lot availability coming in second.

Labor market data confirm high levels of unfilled construction sector jobs, and builders can expect wages to grow in the coming year. While that is a positive for housing demand, it's a concern for builders' bottom line. 

–NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz


Industry Insights


Builders' No. 1 Problem: Availability of Labor 

Survey shows the dramatically rising levels of builder concern in recent years.


Residential Construction Employment Solid in December

Though the overall trend for open jobs continues to increase. 


Remodeling Market Remains Positive in 4th Quarter

The majority of remodelers continue to report strong market activity.


Builder Confidence Holds Firm in January

NAHB economists predict 10% growth for single-family construction in 2017.


Market Trends


Existing Sales for 2016 Best in a Decade

Signs point to an improving market for new-home construction.


Single-Family Housing Starts Gained Momentum in 2016

Noteworthy rise in permits also indicates more growth in 2017.


OSB Prices Climb in 2016

Slight drops in December can't offset significant, one-year price spikes.  


Builders Satisfy Demand for Open Floor Plans

Recent surveys emphasize which features buyers want most. 


Economic Outlook


Who Isn't in the Labor Force

Several key reasons are preventing people from working.   


Consumer Price Index Rose in December

Higher energy prices accounted for most of the overall increase.


Survey Reveals States with the Highest, Lowest Property Taxes

The top and bottom 10 remain mostly unchanged since 2014. 


Consumer Credit Grows but Some Risks Lurk

Student loan debt outstanding has been growing consistently since 2003.