Top News Of The Week

- More Housing Markets Back To ‘Normal’
- Rising Rates Won’t Push Home Buyers Out
- More Homes Have Heated Floors
- Texas Was New Home King In 2013
- Spelling Mistakes Can Cost Homeowners
- U.S. Household Wealth Sets A New Record
- Inventory’s Effect On 2014 Home Prices
- The Housing Crystal Ball
- Education Is Big Factor In Housing Recovery
- Happiest Housing Markets

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More Markets Back To ‘Normal’
Here’s more evidence the economy is heading in the right direction. More metro markets are returning to normal.

Out of 350 metro areas, 59 have now returned to OR exceeded their last normal levels of economic activity.

That’s according to a new report from the National Association of Homebuilders called the Leading Markets Index, or LMI. The LMI measures employment, home prices, and building permits for single family homes.

According to the LMI, markets NATIONWIDE are now about 87% of the way back to normal.

Topping the list of markets doing exceptionally well in the recovery is Baton Rouge – Louisiana. THAT area is performing 41% percent better than its last level of normal activity.

Other markets exceeding their previous norms include Honolulu, Oklahoma City, Houston and Austin-Texas; along with Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Rising Rates Won’t Push Home Buyers Out
When it comes to mortgage interest rates rising noticeably higher – some economists say it’s a matter of WHEN, not IF.

So, you might be wondering whether potential homebuyers will take a break from the market when rates do rise appreciably.

Anika Khan, a senior economist with Wells Fargo, doesn’t think so.

THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® has predicted that mortgage interest rates will reach 5.4 percent by the end of this year.

More Homes Have Heated Floors
Here’s something that would help with those cold winter mornings – heated bathroom floors.

According to the Washington Post, homeowners with luxury rooms in their houses are catching on to this idea.

Bathroom designers like to install flooring that’s visually stunning, like marble or other natural stones. But, the problem is, they get ice-cold when the temperature around them drops.

That’s where this radiant-floor heating comes into play.

All you do is flip a switch and the floors in the bathroom will get very warm – around 80 to 84 degrees.

The cost of this will vary depending on the size of the bathroom and the actual area that you want heated. It also depends on how frozen your feet are in the morning.

Texas Was New Home King In 2013
A new report calculating newly-built home sales by state, shows Texas is leading the pack when it comes to the purchase of newly constructed homes.

New home purchases in the Lone Star State were an incredible 30% of ALL of the state’s housing purchases in 2013. Statewide, that is a 4% increase from 2012. And when you compare it to the new home sale activity NATIONWIDE, which was 16%, it’s nearly double.

It outpaced every other state in the country.

One big reason for this is high household income, according to the Times Record News, based in Wichita Falls – Texas.

The median household income of homebuyers in Texas went up nearly 10% from 2012. That’s nearly double the increase nationwide.

Other contributing factors – job growth is strong in Texas and properties there are relatively affordable.

Spelling Mistakes Can Cost Homeowners
Here’s a new reason for you to double check the description of your home before it hits the market.

A study by the online real estate brokerage Redfin shows buyers are picky about what they read. 43% say they would be less inclined to tour a house if they see typos or improper grammar on a listing.

That includes too many exclamation points, writing in all capital letters and words that slip past spellcheck. For instance, does your house have CURVE appeal instead of CURB appeal?

The report finds 87% of potential buyers believe the home’s description is either extremely or very important to them. Analysts say photos grab your attention, but a listing description helps a buyer understand what the property has to offer. And apparently, if the writing is sloppy – maybe the house is, too!

U.S. Household Wealth Sets A New Record
We as Americans are the wealthiest we’ve ever been.

Rebounding property values helped boost the country’s wealth to a new RECORD, according to the Associated Press.

Newly-released figures show, during the fourth quarter of last year, household net worth went up nearly $3,000,000,000,000 to around $81,000,000,000,000.

Home prices helped push that number up. The value of Americans’ homes rose a collective $400,000,000,000 over that period of time.

This is a big deal, and it’s worth keeping an eye on. Analysts say household wealth triggers more consumer-spending, which will fuel the U.S. economy in its recovery.

Wealth in this country took a huge hit during the Great Recession, cutting it to $55,000,000,000,000. That was 19% down from the pre-recession peak of $68,000,000,000,000.

Inventory’s Effect On 2014 Home Prices
Rising property values CAN be a stimulating factor for the national housing market. It’s certainly leading to more equity for owners.

But, once builders add more INVENTORY out there, those price increases may start to slow down.

Richard Smith is the CEO of Realogy, the parent company of Century 21, and many of the nation’s other top brokerages.

He spoke to CNBC about what he sees for home values – in the year ahead.

Smith believes, despite rising prices, affordability is relatively attractive right now. As for inventory, he says it’s too early in the year to predict what will happen.

The Housing Crystal Ball
No matter how good you are at forecasting home prices, nobody has a crystal ball. There are always plenty of variables surrounding real estate that can push values one way or the other.
But, here’s the good news – investors say there are certain key elements you can look at that LIKELY signal a housing market is about to take off.

Think of it as the playbook that bargain hunters use.

FoxBusiness is out with a report that details a few questions a good investor will ask. They’re looking for a lot of “yes” answers.

Questions include – Are there a lot of ongoing home and business construction projects? Are trendy restaurants opening around the area? Are crime numbers trending downward? And, are renovated homes going to market?

If the answers to those and other questions are ‘Yes…’ it may be a neighborhood to watch closely.

Education Is Big Factor In Housing Recovery
We often talk about “the world we will leave for our children.” But a new push is on – to help PREPARE our children for that world – and all the financial decisions they’ll be faced with.

According to the industry website HousingWire.com, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is pushing for standardized tests that include financial education.

The agency says things like mortgages, credit cards and car and student loans are getting more complicated, and kids should learn about them, and understand them at an early age.

They’re recommending a range of classes on things like interest rates and risks associated with credit.

And outside of the classroom, they say parent can help too, by teaching their children the basics of proper money management.

Happiest Housing Markets
How happy is YOUR housing market?

Forbes is reporting on a new Gallup Poll that ranks states based on how happy their residents are as they go about their lives every day.

Researchers looked at a number of factors while surveying people – emotional and physical health, work environment and healthy behaviors.

Topping the list were states in the west and Midwest. A few of the HAPPIEST places include Montana, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota.

North Dakota was number 1. That was a big surprise, leaping from its previous spot of number 19…but it makes sense considering they’re in the middle of an oil boom.

And that black gold may be more important than sunshine…because this year, North Dakota knocked Hawaii right out of the top spot…which until now, it had held onto for the last 4 years.

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