chart up blogDecember 2016 — Housing markets in the U.S. overall continue to progress, supporting the best year in homes sales in a decade, as indicated by Freddie Mac’s Multi-Indicator Market Index® (MiMi®) value, which stands at 86—a market on the “outer edge of its historic benchmark range of housing activity.” The MiMi value, which has climbed back up 45 percent since its all-time low in 2010, is still trailing its high of 121.7.

“The National MiMi stands at 86, a 5.6 percent year-over-year increase, but still below its historic benchmark normalized to 100,” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac deputy chief economist. “The purchase applications indicator is up nearly 19 percent from last year, indicating strong housing demand and a market that’s poised to close out the best year in home sales in a decade.

“National home prices have surpassed their pre-recession nominal peak with about half of states still below their pre-recession peak,” Kiefer continues. “Factoring in low mortgage rates and modest income gains, house prices still have some room to run, as indicated by the MiMi payment-to-income indicator which is nearly 33 percent below its historic benchmark.”

instagram cameraDecember 2016 — In real estate, agents focus on stories. Whether it’s the seller’s memories in their old home or the buyer’s hopeful dreams in their new one, agents use these emotions to connect with their clients. While Instagram was once thought to be a social network that was only for pictures of fancy food and artful lattes, 85 percent of top brands now have profiles, and 60 percent of the 400 million active users log in each day, making it the second most-engaged social network second only to Facebook.

When Instagram released major updates back in August, users were introduced to Stories, a photo-sharing opportunity similar to Snapchat. Stories allows users to create a string of pictures and videos viewable to their followers for 24 hours. With the popularity of Stories increasing, Instagram has created additional features to make the platform even more unique.

downarrow2016November 2016 — Distressed sales - including bank-owned (REO) sales, sales of homes actively in foreclosure, and short sales - accounted for 12.9 percent of all U.S. single-family home and condo sales in Q3 2016. According to ATTOM Data Solutions' Q3 2016 U.S. Home Sales Report, these numbers are down from 15 percent in the previous quarter and down from 15.9 percent in Q3 2015 to the lowest share of distressed home sales since Q3 2007, when distressed sales accounted for 12.3 percent of all home sales.

The peak in share of distressed sales was Q1 2009 at 43.9 percent of all U.S. single-family home and condo sales.

The report also shows that all-cash purchases accounted for 25.9 percent of all single-family home and condo sales in Q3 2016, down from 27.4 percent in the previous quarter and down from 29.2 percent in Q3 2015 to the lowest level since Q3 2007, when all-cash purchases accounted for 24.3 percent of all home sales.

dollarNovember 2016 — Signs of improvement continue in the national mortgage market, with the second quarter of this year ushering in the highest year-to-year growth in near and subprime originations and the third quarter seeing delinquency rates fall, according to TransUnion’s recently released Industry Insights Report.

Originations overall, the Report shows, grew to 1.99 million in the second quarter of this year, up 3.7 percent from last year. Near prime originations grew to over 262,000 in the second quarter, up 5.7 percent to its highest level since the recession, while subprime originations grew to approximately 64,000, up 10.9 percent. The delinquency rate (60 days past-due) dropped by 8.4 percent in the third quarter.

“Mortgage originations have experienced steady growth across all risk tiers, and these new milestones in subprime and near prime account originations reflect growing credit access across the risk spectrum,” said Joe Mellman, vice president and mortgage business leader at TransUnion, in a statement on the Report. “While access has grown, it’s important to note that the subprime share of originations was only 3.2 percent, and the near prime share was 13.2 percent of all originations. We do not see a cause for concern.”

Balances, in addition, grew 1.7 percent in the third quarter, according to the Report, up to $8.39 billion. Average debt in the third quarter was $193,489, up from $189,428 the year prior.

WaveOctober 2016 — The recently released ATTOM Data Solutions 2016 U.S. Natural Hazard Housing Risk Index found that home sales in the first six months of 2016 increased 4.2 percent from the same time period a year ago in the bottom fifth of U.S. counties with the lowest level of natural hazard risk—more than twice the 1.9 percent increase in the top fifth of U.S. counties with the highest level of natural hazard risk.

More than 3,000 U.S. counties were indexed based on risk of six natural hazards: earthquakes, floods, hail, hurricane storm surge, tornadoes and wildfires using data collected by ATTOM’s neighborhood research portal ATTOM also analyzed home sales and price trends in more than 800 counties with at least 100 single family home sales in the first six months of 2016. Those 800 counties—which combined have more than 70 million single family homes and condos—were divided into five equal groups (quintiles) based on the natural hazard risk index and assigned to one of five risk categories: Very High, High, Moderate, Low, and Very Low.

consumers1October 2016 — A new national survey of millennials reveals a generation convinced the economy is failing them, a generation that is willing to work hard to better their lot, and a generation experiencing a great deal of anxiety about the future.

The report, recently released by EY and the Economic Innovation Group (EIG), gauged millennials’ views on a variety of issues related to the economy, education, American institutions, and the challenges they continue to face almost seven years into the recovery from the Great Recession. Many millennials entered the workforce in the midst of a deep economic crisis and today find themselves racked by student debt and lacking confidence in most American institutions.

Highlights from the study include:

chart up blogOctober 2016 — Home prices continued their rise across the country over the last 12 months, according to recent data from the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Indices.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price NSA Index, covering all nine U.S. census divisions, reported a 5.1 percent annual gain in July, up from 5.0 percent last month. The 10-City Composite posted a 4.2 percent annual increase, down from 4.3 percent the previous month. The 20-City Composite reported a year-over-year gain of 5.0 percent, down from 5.1 percent in June.

Portland, Seattle, and Denver reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities over each of the last six months. In July, Portland led the way with a 12.4 percent year-over-year price increase, followed by Seattle at 11.2 percent, and Denver with a 9.4 percent increase. Nine cities reported greater price increases in the year ending July 2016 versus the year ending June 2016.

microphoneSeptember 2016 — While Siri and Google Now are well-established smartphone features, it is in the smart home that voice control systems will live out their full potential. Smart TVs, smart refrigerators, smart plugs, and more will extend the reach and simplicity of managing the smart home environment using voice. With ABI Research forecasting more than 120 million voice-enabled devices to ship annually by 2021, voice control, which combines speech recognition and natural language processing, is quickly becoming the key user interface within the smart home.

"Led by the success of Amazon's Alexa platform, smart home voice control is creating new competition and demands for wireless speaker and other vendors to include voice capabilities in their devices," says Jonathan Collins, research director at ABI Research. "But the scaling of voice control applications in the smart home breeds complexity. Vendors will need to evaluate how and when to bring voice control into smart home devices in order to best tackle adding the service into wider smart home systems."

BankSeptember 2016 —For the first time since 2012, mortgage originations are expected to top $2 trillion in 2016, according to Freddie Mac's monthly Outlook for August. Low mortgage interest rates are spurring a burst of refinance activity, and strong home sales and house price growth are supporting purchase mortgage activity.

  • Revising down GDP growth to 1.5 percent in 2016 and 1.9 percent in 2017. Expecting low mortgage interest rates and strong home sales to boost 2016 forecasted mortgage originations by $175 billion over last month's forecast.
  • Projecting interest rates to remain below 4 percent in 2016 as well as 2017. Revising down the 2017 mortgage rates forecast to 3.7 percent for the average 30-year fixed-rate mortgage and 2.1 percent for the 10-year Treasury yield.
  • Forecasting total home sales to reach 6.04 million in 2016 (the highest level in a decade) versus 5.96 million forecasted last month. Expecting housing construction to remain on an upward trend, but at a slower pace of increases. Revising down the housing starts forecast for 2016 and 2017 to 1.2 million and 1.4 million, respectively.

green houseSeptember 2016 — The best technique for pricing a home when listing it for sale is setting the asking price just below a round number, according to recent research published by the Journal of Housing Research, an official publication of the American Real Estate Society (ARES).

"These findings will help real estate professionals and sellers of homes develop more informed listing and marketing strategies to better suit sellers' needs," says Ken Johnson, Ph.D., ARES publication director, real estate economist at Florida Atlantic University's College of Business and co-developer of the Beracha, Hardin and Johnson Buy vs. Rent Index. "The results of this study take a lot of guess work out of the marketing of homes for real estate professionals."

keysAugust 2016 — Fannie Mae recently announced enhancements to HomeReady®, the affordable mortgage option designed to meet the diverse needs of today’s borrowers. HomeReady allows borrowers to provide as little as 3 percent down, and was the first affordable lending option to offer creditworthy borrowers the ability to qualify with income from non-borrower household members. HomeReady continues to evolve with enhancements that expand access to credit responsibly and promote successful homeownership.