The year at highest point

Just before the election, builder confidence held steady, holding the HMI level at 63.

“This notable rise in builder sentiment is largely attributable to a post-election bounce, as builders are hopeful that President-elect Trump will follow through on his pledge to cut burdensome regulations that are harming small businesses and housing affordability,” said NAHB Chairman Ed Brady, a home builder and developer.  “This is particularly important, given that a recent NAHB study shows that regulatory costs for home building have increased 29% in the past five years.”

Perhaps this is just the increase the industry needs to boost new home development for first-time buyers, something that First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming said will be a key player in 2017’s housing market.

“Though this significant increase in builder confidence could be considered an outlier, the fact remains that the economic fundamentals continue to look good for housing,” NAHB Chief Economist Robert Dietz said.

“The rise in the HMI is consistent with recent gains for the stock market and consumer confidence,” Dietz said. “At the same time, builders remain sensitive to rising mortgage rates and continue to deal with shortages of lots and labor.”

Derived from a monthly survey that NAHB has been conducting for 30 years, the index gauges builder perceptions of current single-family home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as good, fair or poor. The survey also asks builders to rate traffic of prospective buyers as high to very high, average or low to very low. Scores for each component are then used to calculate a seasonally adjusted index where any number over 50 indicates that more builders view conditions as good than poor.

All three components of the HMI increased in December. The component gauging current sales conditions increased seven points to 76, while the index measuring sales expectations in the next six months increased nine points to 78. The component measuring buyer traffic increased six points to 53, the first time it moved above 50 since October 2005.

Find popular homes for sale

The real estate website realtor.com recently tallied up all the clicks on their site for 2016 and discovered the top 10 most popular houses in 2016.

Many of these homes have ties to movies or significant events, while a few draw the curious for other reasons, according to an article by Eric Gunther on realtor.com. However, that attention did not always translate to a good selling price, or any sale at all.

The ‘Amityville Horror’ house, 108 Ocean Ave, Amityville, New York

Price: Listed for $850,000, entered into contract in November

Why: This home was the site of gruesome murders in the early 1970s, making the house famous for being “haunted.”

The Connecticut castle, 450 Brickyard Rd, Woodstock, Connecticut

Price: Listed for $39 million, pulled from market

Why: This home made the list of most popular homes for the third year in a row. It’s castle-like structure is enough to make anyone click on the home to see more.

The ‘Silence of the Lambs’ house, 8 Circle St, Perryopolis, Pennsylvania

Price: Sold for $195,000

Why: This home was featured in the film The Silence of the Lambs about a serial killer/cannibal, and sold at a significant discount from the listing price of $249,000.

The beer can hoarder house, 108 Freese Dr, Sanger, Texas

Price: Listed for $89,900, currently in sale-pending status

Why: This home featured photos of its owner’s love for beer as hundreds or even thousands of cans of Natural Light filled the floors.

Connection with murdered real estate agent

A few short days ago, a real estate agent in Abilene, Texas, was shot and killed inside his home. Now, the police have made an arrest in connection with the case.

Monday morning, 54-year-old real estate agent Tom Niblo [pictured below] was shot and killed in his home, an act which police believe wasn’t random.

Now, police arrested the agent’s brother-in-law Luke Sweetser on charges of theft of a firearm, according to an article by Jamie Burch for KXTS. However, police say that the arrest was in connection to Niblo’s murder. He is now being held on a $400,000 bond.

From the article:

According to the arrest warrant obtained by KTXS, police found several stolen firearms in a storage facility on Mesquite Street police say was used by Sweetser. KTXS spotted police back at the facility Wednesday afternoon.

KTXS later witnessed investigators unload 21 long guns, 4 pistols, several magazines and several boxes of ammo they had seized from the storage facility. The weapons are just some of the more than 100 pieces of evidence Police Chief Stan Standridge said his investigators recovered over the past two days.

Now, the Abilene Police Department acquired a search warrant to take a DNA swab from Sweetser, according to an article by Brian Bethel for Abilene Reporter. His DNA will be compared to the DNA found on the a stolen gun that was obtained in connection to the shooting.

Niblo’s wife, who was in the house when her husband was murdered, said she heard shots fired and managed to escape. She now told a friend that she heard as many as 10 shots, the article states.

HousingWire reached out to the APD for more details on Sweetser, however they declined to comment.

Housing predictions of forecasts

Housing will pick up to its fastest pace ever in 2017. No wait, it will see a slowdown due to affordability constraints. No, that’s not right, affordability is at its best point in years.

Are you having trouble keeping up with all the forecasts for 2017, or wondering which forecast is the most accurate? It’s easy to get lost this time of year, when economist everywhere begin pouring out their forecasts for the next year.

While I won’t tell you who to believe, I can show you the difference between the experts, and where their forecasts are coming from. From there, you’re on your own.

Redfin came out on Tuesday with its prediction that homes would begin flying off the market. It had a positive outlook of the economy and said the technology in 2017 would help sell homes at the fastest pace ever. Well of course Redfin would say that. It’s an online brokerage.

But, that’s not to say their predictions aren’t without merit. This year did break the record as the fastest market on record, and many technological improvements are taking place that could improve that for next year.

And not only that, but economists are predicting a coming surge in Millennial homebuyers, who will expect a quicker online experience.

Redfin still recognized the affordability constraints, but put existing home sales at a growth of 2.8% for 2017.

On the other hand, the National Association of Realtors was much more somber in their report. Could it be because companies such as Redfin are causing real estate agents to have to lower their commission, Redfin’s sixth prediction, in order to compete with the growing only brokerages?

Whatever the cause, NAR predicted an increase of just 2% in existing home sales due to affordability constraints. But these predictions are based on a consumer survey, which showed more consumers saying that now isn’t a good time to buy a home.

Less consumers said now is a good time to buy in the fourth quarter, after interest rates shot up.

Forecasts minimal gain in home sales

Existing home sales will show only a small gain in 2017 due to increasing mortgage rates and shrinking consumer confidence, according to the National Association of Realtors.

This prediction is a huge departure from the 2017 home sales projection release by real estate agent provider, Redfin.

NAR conducted its fourth quarter Housing Opportunities and Market Experience survey, which asked consumers about their confidence in the economy and their housing expectations in 2017.

While the majority still said now is a good time to buy a home, confidence retreated significantly among renters, 57% of whom said now is a good time to buy a home. This is down from 60% in in the third quarter and 68% last year.

Among homeowners, on the other hand, 78% say now is a good time to buy. This is unchanged from the third quarter but down from last year’s 82%.

“Rents and home prices outpacing incomes and scant supply in the affordable price range has been a prominent headwind for many prospective buyers this year,” NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said.

“Making matters worse, the unwelcoming reality of higher mortgage rates since the election is likely further holding back confidence,” Yun said. “Younger households, renters and those living in the costlier West region – where prices have soared in recent months – are the least optimistic about buying.”

NAR predicts existing home sales will close out 2016 with an annual increase of 3.3% and reach about 5.42 million, the best year since 2006.

Headed into 2017, existing home sales will still increase, but slightly less at 2% to around 5.52 million. Home prices will continue to rise, increasing 5% this year and 4% in 2017, according to NAR’s predictions.

NAR predicts the end of next year will bring interest rates of 4.6% and the Federal Reserve will raise rates several times to reach 1.25%.

“Although the economy is expected to continue to expand with around 2 million net new job creations, existing home sales are expected to see little expansion next year because of affordability tensions from rising mortgage rates and prices continuing to outpace income growth,” Yun said.

Murdered under mysterious circumstances

Early Monday morning a real estate agent was shot and killed in his own home in Abilene, Texas, according to an article by Joe Fry and Scott Martin for KTXS News.

The agent, 54-year-old Tom Niblo, was shot in his home, an act which police believe wasn’t random.

Abilene Police Chief Stan Standridge said the shooting wasn’t a random act. He also said Niblo wasn’t killed during a burglary or robbery.

“There is nothing new (that) APD is releasing tonight,” the Abilene Police Department said in a social media message late Monday afternoon. “No arrests. Investigation ongoing.”

Was Niblo targeted? If so, by who, and why? Police are still investigating.

Click here to see photos of the crime scene.

Niblo’s wife and dog were in the house at the time, but both managed to escape unharmed, according to the article.

From the article:

Earlier in the day, Niblo’s spouse told police she heard gunshots and was able to exit the house and escape. Her husband, she said, was unable to escape and was shot and killed.

According to Abilene police spokesman Rick Tomlin, Niblo’s spouse said someone had broken into the house.

Niblo’s wife was in protective custody and was to be among those questioned, he said.

The dog, while at first believed to have been shot, turned out to be unharmed. A vet exam showed the blood on the dog was from contact at the crime scene, and it had a preexisting limp.

Highest level Real Estate for November

“It’s difficult to explain why home sales were down in October but were so buoyant in November,” said Jack Kreider, executive vice president and regional director of RE/MAX Northern Illinois.

“It could be that many sales transactions which normally would have been completed in October were pushed back into November,” Kreider said. “Perhaps, it was related to the election, but whatever the reason, we’re delighted to see the housing market deliver such a strong November performance.”

The median home price increased 9% annually to $215,000 in November, and the number of days homes spent on the market decreased from 92 days last year to 88 days, the lowest market time since November 2005.

However, inventory continues to be a problem in the Chicago market. Inventory of homes for sale held steady at 10% below 2015 levels.

The home sales data used for RE/MAX’s analysis was collected by MRED, the regional multiple listing service. It covers detached and attached homes in the Illinois counties of Cook, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, Lake, McHenry and Will. Detached homes are typically stand-alone single-family dwellings. Attached homes include condominium and cooperative apartments along with townhouses.

The mark on estimating home prices

Homeowners are getting better about estimating their home’s value for the fifth month in a row, according to Quicken Loans Home Price Perception Index.

Homeowner perceptions were just 1% higher than appraiser opinions in November. This is after appraised home values increased by 0.42% from October and 5.28% from last year.

Homeowners have been narrowing the gap between their opinion and the appraised value since April this year.

“The HPPI compares the perceived gap between the homeowner’s and the appraiser’s opinion of home values and has provided an intriguing look into the psychographics of our housing market,” Quicken Loans Chief Economist Bob Walters said.

“The most recent HPPI indicates homeowners and appraisers are closer to agreeing at the end of 2016 than they were at the start of the new year,” Walters said. “It’s our hope that with this information the only surprises this holiday season are the ones wrapped under the tree.”

Though this year had its ups and downs, the overall trend showed an increasing home price, according to Quicken’s National Home Value Index.

“Home values pushed higher throughout 2016, largely driven by lack of supply in the hottest markets,” Walters said. “It’s yet to be seen if these increases will continue or wane as homebuilding grows, boosting inventory.”

Home that Come down off

Housing starts took a nose-dive in November as they dropped from October’s 10-year high, according to the new report from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Privately owned housing starts decreased 18.7% in November to 1.09 million, down from 1.34 million in October. This is down 6.9% from last year’s 1.17 million.

Of those, single-family housing starts totaled 828,000, a drop of 4.1% from October’s 863,000.

However, one expert pointed out that while the sudden drop was due to last month’s high in part, there were still other factors.

“Housing starts dropped in November, and the drop was due to more than October’s big increase,” Trulia Chief Economist Ralph McLaughlin said. “For context, housing starts in November were the second lowest since October of last year.”

“While starts fell in November, they continue to provide an important release valve for solid demand in the housing market, but still have much more room for growth,” McLaughlin said. “Starts in November were only 55% of their long-run average, but year-to-date they are up 4.8%.”

McLaughlin stated that he expected housing starts to increase throughout 2017, but not everyone was so positive. In fact, one expert said this is not only bad news for housing, but also for the economy overall.

“There’s little to cheer about regarding residential construction in November,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the National Association of Realtors. “The fall in single-family housing starts offers zero relief to the housing inventory shortage throughout the country.”

“Moreover, the collapse in multifamily starts assures continued robust growth in rents next year,” Yun said. “Housing costs are rising and this trend will nudge up the broad consumer price inflation enough to surpass 3% next year, which is easily above theFederal Reserve’s desired inflation target. The soft housing starts also assures continued sluggish expansion in the overall economy.”

Great predictions for housing

This year is nearly over, and 2017 will being in just a few short weeks. As the year comes to a close, predictions for next year are pouring in.

It’s hard to say what the new year will bring with the newly-elected President-elect Donald Trump. Zillow points out in its predictions how some of his policies could affect housing next year.

Here are Zillow’s six predictions for 2017:

1. Cities will focus on denser development of smaller homes close to public transit and urban centers.

2. More millennials will become homeowners, driving up the homeownership rate. Millennials are also more racially diverse, so more homeowners will be people of color, reflecting the changing demographics of the United States.

3. Rental affordability will improve as incomes rise and growth in rents slows.

4. Buyers of new homes will have to spend more as builders cover the cost of rising construction wages, driven even higher in 2017 by continued labor shortages, which could be worsened by tougher immigration policies under President-elect Trump.

5. The percentage of people who drive to work will rise for the first time in a decade as homeowners move further into the suburbs seeking affordable housing — putting them further from adequate public transit options.

6. Home values will grow 3.6 percent in 2017, according to more than 100 economic and housing experts surveyed in the latest Zillow Home Price Expectations Survey. National home values have risen 4.8 percent so far in 2016.

Other predictions for next year include this one from Redfin, predicting the fastest real estate market ever, this one from Kroll Bond Rating Agency, this one fromRealtor.com and this one from Bank of America.

Foreclosure filings show largest this month

The drastic drop from last month could be due, in part, to October’s unexpected increaseof 27% in foreclosure filings.

November’s decrease marks the 14th consecutive month with an annual decrease in foreclosure filings.

Most of the states, 32, posted annual decreases in foreclosure activity. Florida showed the largest decrease at 33%, followed by Michigan with 24%, Missouri with 17%, Washington with 16% and New York with 4%.

Foreclosure starts decreased by 19% month-over-month in November to 35,222, and by 15% annually. This marks the 17th consecutive month of annual decreases in foreclosure starts.

November also saw a decrease in real estate owned properties to 31,806. This is down 7% from last month and 21% from last year, marking the ninth consecutive month of annual declines in REOs.

Police found a real estate agent shot to death in an abandoned home in Atlanta, according to an article by Richard Elliot for WSB-TV.

Police found 32-year-old David Abbasi Friday afternoon after responding to a call about shots fired. The agent died in the house of two gunshot wounds.

The best part is that toward the end of February, Tony Robbins, a motivational speaker and author, turned up as a surprise benefactor.

According to CBS SFBayArea, Robbins stepped in to buy them a new spot – a $750,000 condo in the mission district.

But this surprise gift is turning out to be a lot more complicated.