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Sept. 17, 2019

4 Tips for Painting Your Home’s Exterior


Most homeowners turn to professional painters when updating their home’s exterior. However, with the right know-how and proper equipment, painting your home is easy and, let’s face it, more affordable. 

Homeowners who want to ‘DIY’ the job should consider these tips.

Behr paint
When you’re painting a home, not just any paint will do. Check the label — in this case, a paint and primer combination won’t work because it’s formulated only for interior surfaces.

1. Consider the Type of Paint 

Painting your home requires paint that’s thick and durable. So, you should choose between the two types of paint used for exterior surfaces: latex and oil-based paint. 

These paints are water-resistant, long-lasting, and are a great way to guarantee the house’s exterior stays fresh for years to come. 

Expect latex paint to dry quickly, be applied easily, and resist direct sunlight and age. Acrylic latex is higher-quality latex paint. 

Each paint product’s instructions vary, so check the label for information on application and special considerations. 

Watch and Learn:

When Is the Best Time to Paint Outside

Tape Measure
Before you can purchase paint, you need to measure your home’s square footage.

2. Measure the Square Footage 

Painting the outside of a home requires far more paint than is needed to cover the walls of a single room in the house. 

For this reason, you need to measure the house before buying the paint. You can determine the home’s square footage by multiplying its width, in feet, by its height. Measurements of the doors and windows won’t need to be subtracted as this will leave room for leftover paint. 

Watch and Learn:

Leftover paint can be used to cover the railing, steps, porches and similar elements that aren’t included in the initial calculations. 

It can also be useful to hang onto the extra paint for touch-ups after the painting job is done.

Paint house
Check with your homeowners association, if you belong to one, to verify that you can paint your home. Row houses, like this one, often are governed by HOA rules. (DepositPhotos)

3. Choose Your Colors

Most homeowners have free reign when it comes to choosing their paint colors. However, those who belong to a homeowners association must double-check the rules to determine if there are specific colors they have to use when painting the home. 

If this isn’t the case, consider using a fresh coat of your home’s current color or choose something different and new. While neutral colors are generally recommended, a primary color with a deeper greyscale value can match any home while giving a certain flair.

Painting a house
If you have a one-story home, you don’t need much equipment to paint a house. Just a sprayer and something to stand on!

4. Pick the Right Equipment

While choosing the right equipment for the job can seem intimidating, just consider the home’s size and take it from there. 

For small, one-story homes, you may just need a paint sprayer to cut back painting time.

For larger homes, you may need to rent an aerial lift. Boom lifts make it easier to reach every nook and cranny of the house.

Your home doesn’t need the expertise of a professional paint crew for it to look like it was professionally painted. 

Give your house an expert paint job with these four tips.

Sept. 16, 2019

Opendoor, online house-flipper, buys title company OS National in bid to own more of residential real estate market

With competition increasing among internet-based real estate firms for control of the homebuying and -selling market, companies including Opendoor, Redfin and Zillow are seeking ways to design an end-to-end experience when consumers buy, sell or trade a home online.

On Thursday, Opendoor — which makes instant online offers to buy homes — announced it was acquiring national title and escrow company OS National. The purchase allows Opendoor to integrate title, escrow and closings into its online buying and selling experience.

“Title and escrow has always been a major pain point in the homebuying and -selling process,” an Opendoor spokeswoman told CNBC. “This acquisition will enable us to start mitigating that pain point with deeper integration with OSN.”

The acquisition is Opendoor’s second after last September’s purchase of Open Listings, but the more significant one in terms of company size. Open Listings has 50-plus employees, OS National about 500.

Duluth, Georgia-based OS National has worked with Opendoor since 2016 and will become a wholly owned subsidiary. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Consumers are confused about the status of the close and timeline, overwhelmed by hundreds of documents to understand and sign, and frustrated by the delays due to multiple parties coordinating,” said Eric Wu, co-founder and CEO of Opendoor, in a statement announcing the deal.

Opendoor ranked No. 35 on the 2019 CNBC Disruptor 50 list and has been valued at close to $4 billion after raising more than $1 billion in capital from investors, including publicly traded national homebuilding company Lennar.

This San Francisco-based start-up helps homeowners sell their house more quickly by offering to buy it from them. Sellers pay an average fee of 7.7% of the selling price to Opendoor and can schedule a closing in as little as 10 days, compared with 50 days for a traditional home sale closing. There are no showings, and any repair work can be handled by Opendoor and the costs deducted from the proceeds.

The company uses market data and software tools like machine learning to figure out how much it can make by buying, fixing, listing and then selling the home to another buyer. The houses are those typically priced between $100,000 and $500,000 and built after 1960.

Online real estate companies, including Opendoor, Redfin and Zillow — as well as more established residential real estate brokers, like Keller Williams — are vying to take control of the one-stop, internet-based real estate market, sometimes referred to as iBuying.

Opendoor recently launched a home-loan business in Texas and Arizona allowing homebuyers in those states to get a mortgage directly from the Opendoor app. The company — which says its all-cash offers to homeowners has reached $4 billion in deals annually — operates in 20 markets, including Atlanta; San Antonio, Houston, Austin and Dallas–Fort Worth, Texas; Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte, North Carolina; Denver; Las Vegas; Los Angeles and Sacramento, California; Minneapolis-St.Paul; Nashville; Phoenix; Portland, Oregon; Orlando and Tampa, Florida; and Tucson. The company is expanding into Boise, Idaho; Salt Lake City and St. Louis next year.

Zillow, which began as an advertising-based online real estate information company, expanded last year into online homebuying and -selling, a program called Zillow Offers. Zillow reported in its recent August earnings that its Homes segment had grown to roughly half of its revenue, $248.9 million of a total $599.6 million in revenue last quarter.

But the profitability of these online home transaction models remains uncertain. Owning real estate services like the title and mortgage process could give these companies a way to generate greater margins from home transactions.

Redfin has been in the mortgage and title business for several years. Redfin’s Title Forward launched in 2012, and Redfin Mortgage started in January 2017. Revenue for both businesses is reported in its “other” segment. In Q2 2019 the “other” segment contributed revenue of $5.3 million, an increase of 89% annually. Its CEO, Glenn Kelman, said after its recent August earnings reportthat mortgage and title services were in “a more aggressive phase of market expansion” and will “contribute meaningful gross profits three to five years from now.”

Sept. 13, 2019

Here’s why millions of millennials are not homeowners


Homeownership eludes millions of millennials.

There is a whole host of reasons, including personal preferences and economic disadvantages, that explain why the homeownership rate for the largest generation in U.S. history is lower than that of their parents and grandparents.

“In my generation — I’m a baby boomer — you bought a home as quickly as you could,” said Laurie Goodman of the Urban Institute. “You didn’t take a vacation for years to save for the down payment on your first home.”

Millennials are in less of a rush to get their hands on house keys, Goodman said.

Delayed marriage has one of the biggest impacts on their low homeownership rate, the Urban Institute found. Marriage increases one’s likelihood of owning a home by 18 percentage points.

Yet millennials are wedding later — and less. In 1960, the average age at which women and men first married was in their early 20s. Today, the median age for a first marriage is closer to 30. And millennials are three times as likely to have never married as members of the silent generation — those in their 70s and 80s — when they were young.

“Homeownership represents a stable place to live for the rest of my life,” Goodman said. “And a lot of single people think this isn’t the rest of my life — I’m going to find a mate and we’re going to put roots down together.”

More from Personal Finance:

To be sure, even without saying, “I do,” many young people still want to become homeowners. Unmarried couples accounted for 16% of first-time homebuyers in 2017, the highest share on record, according to the National Association of Realtors. Single men and women accounted for a quarter of first-time homebuyers. Today, just 57% of first-time homebuyers are married, compared with 75% in 1985.

Young people are also in no rush to have kids. The share of married households with children, aged 18 to 34, dropped to 25% in 2015, from 37% in 1990. And having a child increases a person’s chance of owning a house by 6 percentage points, the researchers at the Urban Institute calculated.

Millennials are also a far more diverse generation than previous ones, and homeownership rates are lower among Hispanic, black and Asian Americans compared with white Americans. While almost 39% of white millennials, aged 18 to 34, own a house, just 14.5% of those black Americans do, according to the Urban Institute.

“The homeownership rate for blacks is falling more than it is for other groups,” Goodman said.

The unprecedented student debt millennials take on also reduces their chances of landing in a home of their own. Researchers at giant mortgage company Freddie Mac recently found that more than half of workers employed in the “essential workforce,” including in fields such as health care, education and law enforcement, have made their housing decisions based on their student debt.

If a person’s education debt went from $50,000 to $100,000, their chance of homeownership declined by 15 percentage points, the Urban Institute found.

Millennials are also renting for longer in locations that tend to be pricey, making it harder for them to save up for an eventual down payment. Nearly half of households headed by people ages 18 to 34 are rent-burdened, meaning that more than 30% of their paycheck goes to their landlord.

Goodman said she was surprised to learn just how much one’s chances of homeownership increases — by more than 10 percentage points, if their parents were homeowners. She said these people have learned the value of a home.

“They think homeownership represents stability,” she said. “It represents I’ve arrived.”

Although Goodman expects the homeownership rate for millennials to pick up as they get older, the fact that they’re buying homes later than previous generations means, “they’re building wealth much, much more slowly.”

Sept. 12, 2019

Here are the best and worst US cities for retirement


Just under a quarter of Americans are “very confident” they’ll have enough money to retire comfortably. And many expect to delay retirement at least until age 65, according to recent studies.

So what’s a person who’s ready to call it quits at the office to do? Relocating to more affordable climes is one option.

Personal finance website WalletHub has ranked 182 U.S. cities by retiree-friendliness as part of its 2019′s Best & Worst Places to Retire report. The study compared the cities across 46 key metrics, ranging from cost of living and quality of local health care to retired taxpayer-friendliness, crime rates and availability of recreational activities.

Roughly speaking, the top cities for retirees tended to be located in Southeastern or Mountain states, while those ranking last seemed to be clustered in California and the Northeast. The latter regions tend to have higher housing costs and taxes, which can impact seniors living on fixed incomes more severely.

Some key findings about the cities surveyed included:

  • Most seniors: Pearl City, Hawaii, boasts the highest share of the population age 65 and older, 23.3% — 3.2 times higher than Fontana, California, the city with the lowest such share at 7.2%.
  • Lowest cost of living: Laredo, Texas, has the lowest adjusted cost-of-living index for retirees, 76.28, which is 2.6 times lower than San Francisco, the highest at 195.49.
  • Older workers: Juneau, Alaska, has the highest share of workers aged 65-plus, 28.08% — 2.8 times higher than bottom-ranked Detroit, with 10.11%.
  • Home health care: St. Louis has the most home health-care facilities per 100,000 residents, at 49.54, which is 25.7 times more than Fontana, at 1.93.
Sept. 10, 2019

New Listings Up 10% from July to August Supply is Down 73% in this Area and Price Range

New Listings Up 10% from July to August
Supply is Down 73% in this Area and Price Range

For Buyers:
A faint glimmer of good news for buyers, supply finally stopped declining and actually rose a tiny bit in the last week.  While active listings are still 16% lower than they were this time last year, they’re 1% higher than 4 weeks ago.  This rise can be attributed to a 10% increase in new listings from July to August, which is not uncommon as July is typically a low point in the year for new listings.  However this August was 3% below last August in comparison and the lowest August since 2016.  One price range that is still declining in supply is $200K-$250K, which has plummeted 51% since February.  The Southeast Valley on the Maricopa County side has seen the largest decline of 73% in this price range for single family homes.  Gilbert is especially low with only 5 listings in the entire city under $250K as of September 9th, all of them townhomes with an average size of 1,116 square feet. 

For Sellers:
For some sellers the idea of listing their home is stressful, even if it’s in great condition. The pressure of keeping their home clean for showings and open houses, enduring negative feedback, and the unknowns of the inspection report can send homeowners right into the arms of flip investors who will happily buy their home “as is” with significant fees attached.  While there is nothing wrong with doing that (there is value in ease and certainty) sellers should understand that if their home lands within a frenzy price range for their area, where there are literally more homes under contract than there are for sale, they may be pleasantly surprised at how little they have to do to sell it on the MLS.  Negotiable listing costs, multiple contracts and buyers willing to buy “as is” make this the perfect market for sellers who know their home is not so perfect.  To find out if your property lands in a frenzy zone, feel free to reach out to us via email or phone call!

Sept. 9, 2019

Older millennials are driving home prices higher again

  • Home price gains had been shrinking over the last year, but the increases turned higher again this summer. Home prices were up 3.6% in July compared with July 2018, according to CoreLogic.
  • That is stronger than the 3.4% gain in June. CoreLogic is now predicting an even larger 5.4% annual rise by July 2020.
  • More than a quarter of the nation’s largest generation said they were interested in buying a home in the next 12 months, according to a survey conducted by CoreLogic with RTi Research during the first half of this year

Older millennials are driving home prices higher again

GS: Realtor and prospective buyer for house 090602

A real estate agent shows a home to a prospective buyer in Miami.

Getty Images

They may have waited longer than previous generations, but millennials are now showing a strong desire to become homeowners, especially older millennials. That is strengthening overall demand for the limited supply of homes for sale, and consequently reigniting the fire under home prices.

Home price gains had been shrinking over the last year, but the increases turned higher again this summer. Home prices were up 3.6% in July compared with July 2018, according to CoreLogic. That is stronger than the 3.4% gain in June. CoreLogic is now predicting an even larger 5.4% annual gain by July 2020.

“Sales of new and existing homes this July were up from a year ago, supported by low mortgage rates and rising family income,” said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at CoreLogic. “With the for-sale inventory remaining low in many markets, the pick-up in buying has nudged price growth up. If low interest rates and rising income continue, then we expect home-price growth will strengthen over the coming year.”


The housing market cooled significantly last fall, after mortgage rates surged higher. The supply of homes even began to rise slightly during the winter and spring, and then rates began falling again. That brought buyers back to the market, especially older millennials.

More than a quarter of the nation’s largest generation said they were interested in buying a home in the next 12 months, according to a survey conducted by CoreLogic with RTi Research during the first half of this year. The problem is there is still precious little for sale, and supplies are falling once again. At the end of July, the inventory of homes for sale was nearly 2% lower compared with a year ago, according to the National Association of Realtors. There was just a 4.2-month supply of homes for sale. A six-month supply is considered a balanced market between buyers and sellers.

“A growing number of millennials are expressing an interest in buying homes, reinforcing the theory that this cohort is continuing to engage within the housing market,” said Frank Martell, president and CEO of CoreLogic. “But, with so few homes available for sale, the imbalance has created an affordability crisis that is getting worse every day. Demand exceeds supply and we’re unsure of when the two will balance out.”

Aug. 19, 2019

Home buyers are taking advantage of falling rates, says housing market analyst Ivy Zelman

While Wall Street panics about falling rates, Main Street is benefiting, especially in the housing market, according to housing guru Ivy Zelman.

She says every quarter-point cut in mortgage rates is equivalent to a 3 percent drop in the price of a home.

“Right now housing prices are down for the consumer more than 10%, so it makes it much more affordable,” Zelman, told CNBC’s Diana Olick on Wednesday. “We are seeing very good activity, especially in the low end of the market.”

Zelman is known for predicting the 2005 housing peak and the 2012 housing bottom. She is the founder or Zelman & Associates, a research firm that surveys housing market experts for institutional investors and corporate executives.

Interest rates have been falling in the U.S. and abroad as worries about a trade war and a global slowdown cause investors to ditch riskier plays and buy into bonds, a historically safer trade. The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note was at 1.623% on Wednesday, below the 2-year yield at 1.634%, causing a key yield curve inversion that sent markets tanking.

Although stock market investors are worried tumbling rates and an inverted yield curve mean recession, Zelman said home buyers are not as “laser focused” on market headlines.

“Main street is actually doing very well. Consumers have jobs, they’re seeing wage inflation, and I think overall confidence is still strong,” she said.

Aug. 9, 2019

LOWEST number of New Listings Posted in last 18 years

Contracts in Escrow Up Over 15%!

For Buyers:
It’s slim pickings for buyers in Greater Phoenix these days unless your budget is over $500,000.  Overall supply is 14% lower than last August while contracts in escrow are 15.5% higher!  There are a plethora of zip codes considered “frenzies”, where there are literally more properties under contract than there are active for sale; all of them with an average sale price below $400,000.  This is unusual for August, which is typically a much softer month. Buyers will have a slightly easier time in more expensive areas such as Central Phoenix, Ahwatukee, South Tempe and the Northeast Valley, but not much unless they’re willing to go further out or increase their budget.  Any projections of prices flattening out or coming down in Greater Phoenix this year have been obliterated.

For Sellers:
As supply plummets, fewer sellers are deciding to sell.  July was THE lowest month for brand new listings going all the way back to the year 2001.  That’s significant because the population today is 50% larger and the number of housing units is 63% higher than it was 18 years ago.  19% of all MLS sales and 26% of sales between $100K and $250K sold over asking price last July.  Coincidentally (or not), 32% of sales within that same price range still included some form of seller-paid closing cost assistance.  Despite the frenzy market, the annual appreciation rate for Greater Phoenix is just 6.4% and sales between $225K-$500K are clocking 3.5-4.0% on average.  This may seem surprising given the widening gap between supply and demand; but appraisers remain conservative in their valuations and with at least 80% of buyers needing a loan, they’re riding the brakes on runaway appreciation thus far.

Commentary written by Tina Tamboer, Senior Housing Analyst with The Cromford Report
©2019 Cromford Associates LLC and Tamboer Consulting LLC

Posted in Real Estate News
Aug. 5, 2019

This is the ‘fastest growing trend’ in the housing industry, and investors are rushing in

Demand for single-family rental homes is surging, and homebuilders are now stepping in, redesigning and reimagining the sector — and becoming landlords themselves.

While builders have always sold some of their new homes to investors as rentals, the strong demand has some moving into the space exclusively.

AHV Communities, partnering with Bristol Group, is putting up 250 new detached homes in fast-growing San Antonio. Pradera is a gated community with three- and four-bedroom homes, renting from about $1,800 to $2,300 per month. The community includes luxury amenities, like a pool, fitness center, community kitchen and party space, as well as a dog park and dog-washing station.

“We basically took an apartment and went horizontal instead of vertical,” AHV founder and CEO Mark Wolf said. “About 93% of the apartment stock consists of studios, one and two bedrooms, very few three bedrooms. We saw a growing need coming out of the downturn, to provide three- and four-bedroom homes to the renter society.”

Wolf, who has experience in the multifamily apartment market, saw a need for more single-family homes after the housing crash, and he says that demand has not fallen off. While the homeownership rate has risen from its historic low in 2016, it is now starting to slip again.

“We think there’s a major shift in the demographics. Empty nesters are done taking care of their homes. They want to downsize, they want portability, mobility in the lease. The millennial household formation, they’re not really dialed into taking care of a home, they want to go out and do the same thing that the boomers are doing, which is enjoy life, not work hard for their house,” said Wolf.

Last year, about 43,000 single-family homes were built for rent, the largest number in nearly 40 years according to National Association of Home Builders analysis of U.S. Census data. The built-for-rent share of housing starts is also rising, nearly double its recent historical average (from 1992-2012).

Millennials Taylor Walters and Paree Dilkes want to get out of their rental apartment and into a larger single-family home.

“So we’ve been looking online for months now, whether to buy or whether to rent, and this is definitely up our alley,” Walters said as the two toured the amenities at Pradera. They are not married and have no children, but they do have a big dog.

“That’s really the biggest thing. It’s very inconvenient to have to take him out every time he needs to go. Having a yard would be awesome, just let him out, and also a little bit more space. We have a pretty good-sized apartment right now, but just kind of the feeling of being in a house,” said Dilkes.

Renting used to come with a social stigma, since homeownership was touted as the American Dream. The average annual household income of tenants in Pradera, however, is over $100,000, meaning many of them can afford to buy a home but simply choose not to.

Walters and Dilkes considered buying, but didn’t like the way the math worked out.

“I’ve done research, read different articles on millennials buying houses, and I think the biggest thing is the hidden costs that we might incur,” said Walters.

Stephanie Dixon and her husband recently sold their San Antonio home and moved into the rental community. Their children are in college or graduated, and they wanted an easier lifestyle.

“If the water heater breaks, you know, I don’t have to replace it. I just call them. I mean, even the air filters, they came and changed my air filters yesterday. I don’t have to worry about all that, that’s extra expense,” said Dixon.

CNBC: Builders as landlords renting housing developments

Builders are becoming landlords by renting their housing developments.

Diana Olick | CNBC

Builders are struggling right now to put up the entry-level homes that are most in demand. The high costs of land, labor, materials and regulation make low-priced homes more difficult to profit from. That partly explains the shift toward rental properties and communities.

“Our business is booming right now with build-to-rent feasibility work,” said John Burns, founder and CEO of John Burns Real Estate Consulting. “We are discussing new projects with clients almost daily. The market has become so hot that we are already having conversations about when we will conclude the market is overbuilt.”

Burns says equity money is flowing in fast, and learning quickly that they need to partner with an experienced builder. That is why homebuilders Lennar and Toll Brothers have recently started building homes specifically to sell to investors as rentals.

“Most publicly traded builders are talking about building it for others rather than taking the risk themselves, while private builders are looking at taking more risk,” Burns said.

Wolf sees the build-for-rent market as less risky, especially in the short term.

“We believe in the long-term cash flow game. So if you hold these properties for 10-plus years, or even seven-plus years, the residual cash flow is worth more than the sale one time,” said Wolf.

AHV is building another rent-only community, in New Braunfels, Texas, in partnership with American Homes 4 Rent, a single-family rental REIT. The single-family REIT space grew out of the foreclosure crisis and has now consolidated to a few big players. They own several thousand homes, but they are spread out across communities, so management is more complicated and more expensive.

“They see the, I think, the benefit and the beauty of this model to complement what they already have,” said Wolf.

Posted in Real Estate News
Aug. 2, 2019

Seven cities see home prices heating up again, but Seattle sinks, according to S&P Case-Shiller

  • Nationally, home prices rose 3.4% annually in May, down from the 3.5% annual gain in April, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price indices.
  • The 10-city price composite rose 2.2%, down from 2.3% the month before.
  • The 20-city composite showed a 2.4% annual gain, down from 2.5% in April.
  • Home prices moved higher, and while the gains were shrinking in May on a national level, some markets are seeing stronger price appreciation yet again.

    Nationally, home prices rose 3.4% annually in May, down from the 3.5% annual gain in April, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller home price indices. The 10-city price composite rose 2.2%, down from 2.3% the month before. The 20-city composite showed a 2.4% annual gain, down from 2.5% in April.

  • “Nationally, year-over-year home price gains were lower in May than in April, but not dramatically so and a broad-based moderation continued,” said Philip Murphy, managing director and global head of index governance at S&P Dow Jones Indices, in a release.

  • Other more recent indexes have shown price gains growing. This particular read is a three-month running average ended in May, so it is less current.

  • Home prices in some major markets have been heating up due to tight supply of houses for sale. Inventories had been rising at the start of this year but are now flat nationally and lower in some cities, compared with a year ago. Inventory is also most slim on the low end of the market, where demand is strongest.

  • The median existing-home price in June reached an all-time high of $285,700, up 4.3% from June 2018 ($273,800), according to the National Association of Realtors.

    The seven cities with home prices seeing bigger annual gains are Los Angeles; San Diego; Washington, D.C.; Detroit; Minneapolis; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Cleveland.

    Las Vegas, Phoenix and Tampa, Florida, reported the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities in the Case Shiller Index. In May, Las Vegas saw a 6.4% annual price increase, followed by Phoenix with a 5.7% increase, and Tampa with a 5.1% increase. Seven of the 20 cities reported greater price increases in the year ended in May 2019 versus the year ended in April 2019.

    “Though home price gains seem generally sustainable for the time being, there are significant variations between YOY rates of change in individual cities,” noted Murphy in the release. “Seattle’s home price index is now 1.2% lower than it was in May 2018, the first negative [year-over-year] change recorded in a major city in a number of years. On the other hand, Las Vegas and Phoenix, while cooler than they were during 2018, remain quite strong.”

    The report shows substantial diversity in local price trends. Given that seven cities experienced stronger annual price gains in May than they did in April, if the inventory of homes for sale shrinks further, more cities could see that same turnaround in prices.