All your homes are belong to us

From Reuters:

Spiders, sewage and a flurry of fees – the other side of renting a house from Wall Street

The rental home seemed so beautiful when McKayla Ferreira first laid eyes on it. The roof had three gables, fruit trees grew in the backyard, and the front porch gleamed with a fresh coat of paint.

Then Ferreira moved in.

First, she noticed water leaking through the bathroom and kitchen ceilings. Then she found a furry black mold spreading across the walls and raw sewage sluicing through the crawl space. Worst, to her, were the black widow spiders swarming her kitchen cupboards and linen closets. “Those spiders were so big you could hear them,” Ferreira said. “They sounded like fingernails scraping a table.”

Ferreira called her landlord, Invitation Homes Inc, a creation of private equity giant Blackstone Group LP. The spiders were a “housekeeping issue,” the company representative told her, and she should “clean the place up.” Invitation Homes wasn’t enthusiastic about fixing the leaks, either. Two months passed before it sent someone to cut through the ceiling and fix the pipes, Ferreira said. Then the company took seven more months to patch it all up.

Invitation Homes pitches itself as a singular landlord providing unprecedented ease and comfort for renters of its tens of thousands of single-family homes. But in interviews with scores of the company’s tenants in neighborhoods across the United States, the picture that emerges isn’t as much one of exceptional service as it is one of leaky pipes, vermin, toxic mold, nonfunctioning appliances and months-long waits for repairs.

Tenants also complain about excessive rent increases and fees that can add up to hundreds of dollars a year. In a proposed class-action lawsuit filed in May in the U.S. District Court for Northern California, renters accuse the company of “fee-stacking.” They allege that Invitation Homes charges tenants $95 if their rent is one minute late – even if the late payment is due to the company’s own nonfunctioning online payment portal – and then files an eviction notice to add more fees, penalties and legal costs if the tenant wants to stay in the home.

As a Blackstone vehicle, Invitation Homes led Wall Street’s charge into the single-family-home rental business, snapping up houses at fire-sale prices. After its merger last November with Starwood Waypoint Homes, another private-equity-backed foray into the market, Invitation Homes became the largest landlord of single-family homes in the United States by number of rental units.

Today, Invitation Homes manages 82,000 properties, most of them entry-level three- and four-bedroom houses in 17 metropolitan areas concentrated in the Sun Belt. Its portfolio – though still less than one percent of the overall single-family rental market – is 58 percent larger than that of its nearest competitor, American Homes 4 Rent.

Affordable-housing advocates, real estate professionals and other critics of Wall Street’s push into the rental market say the tenant complaints suggest that rapid growth has stretched Invitation Homes’ ability to manage its properties. They also assert that there’s a deeper problem: Invitation Homes, like some of its Wall Street-backed peers, adheres to a business model that pressures it to lean hard on tenants to satisfy investors.

These companies have financed their growth by selling billions of dollars in bonds – the rental-market equivalent of the mortgage-backed securities that led to the financial crisis – to pension funds and other big institutions. Industry critics say that to keep payments to bond investors rolling, companies like Invitation Homes must minimize maintenance costs and maximize rents and fees.

Among those tenants is Contrell Wethersby in Atlanta, who told Reuters she had to go for more than a year without heat or a functioning refrigerator, stove, microwave or garage door – not to mention having to endure a leaky ceiling and black mold.

Some renters, like Willie Jean Brister in Los Angeles, have seen their rent increase by as much as 50 percent over three years. During that time, Brister has filed work orders for an exterminator and repairs on a bathtub, faucets, bathroom door, cabinet doors, fence, hot water and garbage disposal – all of them reviewed by Reuters on the company’s web portal. The grandmother with five children in the house said the portal keeps saying “ ‘work completed,’ but the work is never completed. You get worn out, like you are paying all this rent and not getting any services.”

Invitation Homes has been raising rents by as much as an average of 10 percent a year in places like Oakland, California – nearly double the norm in that market – according to the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment (ACCE), an advocacy group. At the same time, the company has been adding to the types of fees it charges tenants – not just for late payments, but for things like rent paid on debit cards, which incurs a $30 charge.

Fees have helped lift earnings by 20 to 30 percent a year. In a recent earnings call, the company attributed rising profits in part to its “system” to “track resident delinquency on a daily basis.” This system allows the company to start charging fees and penalties the minute a tenant fails to pay on time.

Posted in National Real Estate, Unrest | 84 Comments

Where rents have gone up the most

From the Star Ledger:

Rent prices are skyrocketing in these 15 N.J. real estate markets

It’s not a renter’s market in New Jersey. The state has the fifth-highest median rent in the nation, along with high housing costs that force tenants to stay in their apartments rather than purchase a home.

But there’s a bright spot for renters out there: New Jersey’s median rent fell slightly in the past year, by 1.1 percent, while the rest of the nation increased 1.3 percent. Those slight differences might add up in the coming years.

Other towns are seeing a boom in rent prices, particularly by the Shore. Most of the towns on this list also have a median rent above the New Jersey median of $2,014.

1. Berkeley Heights, Union County
Median rent: $3,177
Change: 19.75 percent

2. Point Pleasant Beach, Ocean County
Median rent: $2,540
Change: 19.53 percent

3. Bay Head, Ocean County
Median rent: $6,561
Change: 18.3 percent

4. New Providence, Union County
Median rent: $3,163
Change: 17.85 percent

5. Cedar Grove, Essex County
Median rent: $2,443
Change: 16.33 percent

6. Hardwick, Warren County
Median rent: $1,893
Change: 13.69 percent

7. Readington, Hunterdon County
Median rent: $2,642
Change: 13.39 percent

8. Lavallette, Ocean County
Median rent: $2,135
Change: 11.02 percent

9. Caldwell, Essex County
Median rent: $2,367
Change: 10.45 percent

10. Fairfield, Cumberland County
Median rent: $1,360
Change: 10.39 percent

11. Raritan, Hunterdon County
Median rent: $2,532
Change: 9.52 percent

12. Madison, Morris County
Median rent: $3,248
Change: 9.47 percent

13. Seaside Park, Ocean County
Median rent: $1,965
Change: 9.17 percent

14. Bethlehem, Hunterdon County
Median rent: $2,440
Change: 9.12 percent

15. East Amwell, Hunterdon County
Median rent: $2,438
Change: 8.74 percent

Posted in Demographics, Economics, New Jersey Real Estate | 65 Comments

Will affordable housing make NJ unaffordable for the rest of us?

From the Star Ledger:

N.J. needs to build 155,000 affordable housing units. No one can agree on how or where

As New Jersey reigned as one of the most expensive places in the country to live, the state agency tasked with regulating and implementing affordable housing guidelines failed to do so from 1999 to 2015.

While some say the state is lacking 80,000 affordable housing units and housing advocates say it’s lacking 200,000 units, everyone agrees: New Jersey does not have enough affordable housing.

And in an overflowing room at the Statehouse on Wednesday, people from all over New Jersey said just that.

How to fix that problem clearly divided the room during a public hearing in front of the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee.

“This is an incredibly complicated issue,” Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen) said after nearly four hours of testimony from local officials, community leaders and residents.

Earlier in the week, Schepisi wrote that affordable housing and the process surrounding it “might be the most urgent issue in our state.”

Nearly every person who spoke Wednesday, whether it was a local mayor or a concerned citizen, prefaced their testimony with “I support affordable housing, but ….”

What came after “but” often varied.

Many people were worried about how hundreds (or in some cases, thousands) of new units would affect the school system, the municipality’s infrastructure or how a town with no access to a water or sewer system, like Hopewell, which settled with Fair Share on 653 units, could meet these numbers.

“We believe in affordable housing,” Hopewell Deputy Mayor Julie Blake said. “We are friends of everyone here. We believe in that cause, but it is too much on our property owners.”

Another concern is that more housing than just the court-mandated number of affordable housing units would probably have to be built. If a municipality chooses to have a for-profit developer plan and build the housing, those developers will often set aside the state standard of making 20 percent of the units for low- and moderate-income residents and the rest of them market-rate units.

This means if a town like West Windsor, which still needs to plan for 500 affordable units, used a for-profit developer, that would most likely mean 2,500 total units.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, New Development, New Jersey Real Estate | 93 Comments

“Uh Oh”s keep coming

From CNBC:

Southern California home sales crash, a warning sign to the nation

Southern California home sales hit the brakes in June, falling to the lowest reading for the month in four years. Sales of both new and existing houses and condominiums dropped 11.8 percent year over year, as prices shot up to a record high, according to CoreLogic. The report covers Los Angeles, Riverside, San Diego, Ventura, San Bernardino and Orange counties.

Sales fell 1.1 percent compared with May, but the average change from May to June, going back to 1988, is a 6 percent gain.

The weakness was especially apparent in sales of newly built homes, which were 47 percent below the June average. Part of that is that builders are putting up fewer homes, so there is simply less to sell.

“A portion of last month’s year-over-year sales decline reflects one less business day for deals to be recorded compared with June 2017,” noted Andrew LePage, a CoreLogic analyst. “But affordability and inventory constraints are likely the main culprits in last month’s sales slowdown, which applied to all six of the region’s counties and across most of the major price categories.”

The median price paid for all Southern California homes sold in June was a record $536,250, according to CoreLogic, a 7.3 percent increase compared with June 2017. While part of that is due to a mix shift, since there are fewer lower-priced homes for sale, it is becoming increasingly clear that fewer buyers are able to play in the higher price ranges.

“Sales below $500,000 dropped 21 percent on a year-over-year basis, while deals of $500,000 or more fell about 3 percent, marking the first annual decline for that price category in nearly two years,” said LePage. “Home sales of $1 million or more last month rose just a tad – less than 1 percent – from a year earlier following annual gains of between 5 percent and 21 percent over the prior year.”

In the past, California, one of the largest housing markets in the nation, has been a predictor for the rest of the country. Home prices have been rising everywhere, amid a critical housing shortage. Prices usually lag sales by several months, and sales are beginning to crumble, even as more inventory comes on the market. The supply of homes for sale increased annually in June for the first time in three years, according to the National Association of Realtors, but sales fell for the third straight month.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Housing Bubble, National Real Estate | 329 Comments

Uh Oh

From CNBC:

Existing home sales fall for third straight month

U.S. home sales fell for a third straight month in June as a persistent shortage of properties on the market pushed up house prices to a record high, likely sidelining some potential buyers.

The National Association of Realtors said on Monday existing home sales fell 0.6 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.38 million units last month. May’s sales pace was revised down to 5.41 million units from the previously reported 5.43 million units.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast existing home sales gaining 0.5 percent to a rate of 5.44 million units in June. Sales rose in the Northeast and Midwest, but fell in the West and populous South.

Existing home sales, which make up about 90 percent of U.S. home sales, fell 2.2 percent from a year ago in June. They have dropped on a year-over-year basis for four consecutive months and declined 2.2 percent in the first half of 2018. Sales are being stymied by an acute shortages of homes on the market.

Rising building materials costs as well as shortages of land and labor have left builders unable to bridge the inventory gap, pushing up house prices. Supply constraints have largely accounted for the sluggish housing market but there are growing concerns that the higher house prices together with rising mortgage rates will slow down demand.

Supply has been especially tight at the lower end of the market, which accounts for a large portion of the housing market. There were 1.95 million previously-owned homes on the market in June, up 4.3 percent from May.

Inventory increased 0.5 percent in June from a year ago. That was the first year-on-year increase since June 2015. Supply still remains very tight.

At June’s sales pace, it would take 4.3 months to exhaust the current inventory, up from 4.1 months in May. A six-to-seven-month supply is viewed as a healthy balance between supply and demand.

The median house price increased 5.2 percent from a year ago to an all-time high of $276,900 in June. That was the 76th consecutive month of year-on-year price gains.

Posted in Economics, Housing Bubble, Housing Recovery, National Real Estate | 128 Comments

Can we afford to fight national politics on a local level?

Norcross this morning in the Star Ledger:

N.J. Congressman: Murphy wants $15 min. wage by year-end. Let’s do it

The best social program is a good job with fair wages and the dignity that comes with it.

Last week, Governor Murphy reiterated that raising the state minimum wage to $15 an hour is one of his top three legislative priorities this year, and I not only applaud his strong stance, but urge my friends in the state legislature and my colleagues in Congress to heed our shared call to raise wages.

I’ve spent my life fighting for good pay for workers, and spent years working as an electrician installing and restoring power for New Jersey homes, businesses and industrial sites. Raising wages for hardworking families is the first issue I talked to the governor and the new team in Trenton about. In fact, we brought together Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney, D-Gloucester, and Assembly Leader Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, for their first joint public appearance after last year’s election to call for a $15 minimum wage.

Today, the wage floor is $7.25 an hour nationally and $8.60 in New Jersey, leaving Americans who work full time living in poverty. Families are coming up thousands of dollars short each month just trying to meet basic living standards — asking if they should pay for heat or for medicine. Food or rent. Those types of choices shouldn’t have to be made — not by an American with a full-time job. That doesn’t reflect our country’s values. But until wages rise, economic anxiety will continue to be the norm.

It’s illogical that our nation’s workers are more productive than ever, but profits are all going to CEO bonuses and offshore accounts instead of actual paychecks. And while everyone deserves a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work, our policies are not addressing the needs of everyday Americans — the many of us without trust funds, yachts and private jets. Trumpism favors the wealthiest among us — it doesn’t match American ingenuity or productivity.

To make matters worse, President Donald Trump and his Republican accomplices passed a heinous tax scam that gives 83 percent of the tax cuts to the wealthiest 1 percent. They rewarded billionaires, prioritized corporate profits and hurt working families — particularly in New Jersey — by gutting critical state and local tax deductions that Americans depend on.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, Employment, New Jersey Real Estate | 202 Comments

Sometimes it pays to play the long game

From Bloomberg:

U.S. Homeowners Are Lingering Longer, and the Wait Is Paying Off

Homeowners in the U.S. are holding on to their houses longer than they have in at least 18 years, and when they do sell, they’re reaping gains that haven’t been seen since before the housing crisis.

Those who sold in the second quarter did so after owning their homes for an average of 8.09 years, the longest stretch since Attom Data Solutions started tracking the statistic in 2000. The wait appears to be paying off: Second-quarter sellers recorded gains averaging $58,000 — the most since the third quarter of 2007.

Seller gains reached their peak in the fourth quarter of 2005, when they averaged $89,780. They bottomed out less than four years later, in the first quarter of 2009, when the average seller lost $58,735.

Posted in Demographics, Economics, National Real Estate | 73 Comments

NJ’s future of smaller, taller, more expensive apartments

From ROI NJ:

Rutgers Real Estate Center releases landmark study on school-aged children in multifamily properties

The number of school-age children in multifamily housing units increases with the number of bedrooms, regardless of the residents’ income level and building product type. And, if income and bedrooms are fixed, it can be shown that denser properties will have fewer school-aged children.

Those are just two of the conclusions drawn from a white paper released Thursday by the Center for Real Estate at Rutgers Business School, the institute’s effort to answer one of the most pressing questions in the industry.

Here are the key takeaways from the landmark paper, the center’s first:

  • Across all income levels and building product types, the number of school-age children increases with the number of bedrooms;
  • For any given number of bedrooms and product types, the number of school-age children decreases as renters’ household incomes rise;
  • Holding income and the number of bedrooms fixed, the number of school-age children has an inverse relationship with density (e.g., garden apartments, with fewer units per building, have a greater number of school-age children, and mid- and high-rise buildings, with a greater number of units per building, have a lesser number of school-age children);
  • Buildings with an average income of less than $50,000 per year have a similar number of school-age children, regardless of whether the buildings include affordable units or market-rate units;
  • Buildings constructed before 2000 have a significantly higher number of school-age children living in market-rate units than do buildings built after 2000; and
  • On average, the number of school-age children per 100 affordable units is significantly higher than the number of school-age children per 100 market-rate units.
  • The collaborators feel the study provides an unprecedented level of context for the oft-contested issue of the effects of development on generating school-age children by controlling for a number of important variables, including: household income; whether the units were market-rate or designated affordable housing; the number of bedrooms in each unit; and building type and age.

    “The issue of school-age children in new multifamily development is frequently a contentious debate, and one that can benefit immensely from robust, hard data that takes into account a multitude of variables,” Davis said.

    Posted in Demographics, Economics, New Development, New Jersey Real Estate | 81 Comments

    Buy ’em out, tear ’em down.

    From the Star Ledger:

    These N.J. properties flood over and over again, costing taxpayers like you millions

    More than 3,300 homes and business in New Jersey have been repeatedly flooded and rebuilt at taxpayer expense — some as many as 20 or more times — since the 1970s, raising questions about whether the government should force more people to elevate or relocate.

    Repairs to the properties — covered under the National Flood Insurance Program, which provides low-cost flood insurance to a quarter-million New Jersey property owners — cost a total of about $700 million, according to new data published this month.
    About 70 percent of the New Jersey properties have been repaired five or more times, with the median payment for each flood claim topping $25,000, according to the data.

    New Jersey has the third-highest number of repetitive loss properties under the federal program, behind Louisiana and Texas.

    Part of the problem with the program is the way it’s set up, said Joel Scata, an attorney for Healthy People Thriving Communities program at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

    “It places a great deal of emphasis in rebuilding in place and not mitigating flood risks,” Scata said. Alternatives include buying out the property so that property owners can move higher ground or elevating the property, he said.

    In addition, unlike private insurance, there’s no limit on the amount of claims property owners can make on the same property in the same location, Scata said.

    “And so they’re trapped in a cycle of flooding and rebuilding,” he said.

    For example, one business in Pleasantville is located in a building that has flooded and received payments to rebuild 32 different times since the 90’s. There’s a single-family home in North Wildwood that has been flooded and rebuilt 23 times.

    Many of the repetitive loss properties are found in low-lying, flood-prone communities along the Passaic River. Wayne Township is home to 429 such properties with the federal government paying a grand total of $84 million over 40 years, according to the data.

    The neighboring communities of Lincoln Park, Pompton Lakes and Little Falls have a combined total of 483 repetitive loss properties.

    The Jersey Shore’s also a hot spot. The zip code with the second-largest amount of repetitive loss properties is 08260, which includes the beachside communities of Wildwood, Wildwood Crest, North Wildwood and West Wildwood.

    Since 2008, Wayne has secured a total of over $90 million to purchase about 400 homes in the township from FEMA through the Severe Repeated Loss and Hazard Mitigation Grant Program and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Blue Acres program.

    Little Falls is nearly done with 70 home buyouts along the Passaic River funded by a combination of Blue Acres and local organization funds.

    However, the process of buying homes and moving residents moved is slow, often taking years to occur after a particular disaster strikes.

    Posted in Economics, National Real Estate | 101 Comments

    Blue states throw Republican strategy right back in their face

    From Above the Law:

    States Are Suing For Their SALT Deductions Back Under The 16th Amendment

    The Republican tax bill famously capped the deductions for state and local taxes (SALT) at $10,000 for the purposes of federally taxed income.

    The move, orchestrated by Republicans from low-tax, low-population states, represented a flashpoint in our growing system of political apartheid. It was an attack on high-tax “blue” states that provide services to their people, by flyover country that has gotten used to living without Medicare or education.

    The blue states are fighting back, such as they can. A lawsuit was filed by New York Governor (for now) Andrew Cuomo against the federal government, joined by Connecticut, Maryland, and New Jersey. They argue that the Republican tax bill interferes with state’s rights to make their own fiscal decisions.

    But the states also argue that federal government is violating the original meaning of the Sixteenth Amendment… and I am all here for that. Blue states are making an originalist argument about the 16th Amendment and that is goddamn fascinating!

    Of course, “originalism” isn’t really an honest attempt to interpret Constitutional issues, it’s a cynical attempt to promote the polices of the Republican party. Right now, the policy of the Republican party is to napalm the SALT deduction.

    I expect judges picked by the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation to dance with the party that brought them. “Federalism” concerns or evidence of original intent mean nothing to these people when there is a preferred Republican policy up for review.

    Still, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood is making a great argument here. Even if she loses, she’s sure going to make conservative judges show themselves to be inveterate hypocrites.

    Posted in New Jersey Real Estate, Politics, Property Taxes | 88 Comments

    76% of CPA’s say the new budget is bad

    From Accounting Today:

    New Jersey CPAs criticize state budget

    More than 75 percent of CPAs in New Jersey say the Garden State’s recently enacted budget would have a negative impact on the economy, according to a new survey by the New Jersey Society of CPAs.

    The NJCPA polled 921 CPAs for the survey and found that 39 percent predicted the state economy could get “marginally worse” under the 2019 state budget signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy on July 1, while 37 percent predicted it would get “significantly worse.” Another 14 percent felt the new budget would have no impact, while 10 percent believe the economy would get “marginally better” or “significantly better.”

    New Jersey’s $37.4 billion spending plan raises taxes on large corporations and wealthy individuals (see Murphy signs N.J. budget after last-minute tax deal averts shutdown). Under the new budget, taxes would increase from 8.97 to 10.75 percent on taxpayers earning more than $5 million. The budget also included some notable corporate business tax changes, including a surcharge of 2.5 percent for the next two years and 1.5 percent for the subsequent two years for corporations with income of $1 million or more, along with a new combined reporting system. No change was made to the sales tax rate, although a tax will be levied on e-cigarettes and short-term lodgings, such as Airbnb.

    The CPAs polled by the NJCPA pointed to several reasons why the budget plan won’t help New Jersey’s economy over the long term. Some respondents believe that taxing millionaires could lead to more residents in high-income brackets leaving the state. One CPA lamented, “The outward migration of wealth will continue, and the long-term effect will be disastrous.”

    Posted in Economics, New Jersey Real Estate, Politics | 126 Comments

    Will we ever get through the backlog?

    From NJ101.5:

    NJ still the worst state for foreclosures

    As we move further away from last decade’s housing crisis, its lingering impacts on the real estate market are dwindling.

    But the Garden State still can’t escape its role as the No. 1 state in the nation for the percentage of properties in the foreclosure process.

    The foreclosure rate was higher in New Jersey than in any other state in the first half of 2018, the second quarter of 2018, and the month of June, according to the newest figures from real estate tracker Attom Data Solutions.

    Their analysis of June 2018 found over 5,700 properties in New Jersey with a foreclosure filing — default notices, scheduled auctions or bank repossessions. That means one in every 624 housing units was somewhere in the foreclosure process.

    New Jersey’s rate is actually down 2 percent from a year ago, but the foreclosure picture has been so nasty over the last few years, the decrease isn’t enough to erase New Jersey’s unfortunate distinction as the foreclosure leader.

    Through the first six months of the year, foreclosure filings hit 26,667 New Jersey properties — one out of every 125.

    Forty-seven percent of New Jersey’s foreclosures are linked to loans that originated between 2004 and 2008, the data show.

    “I do think that it can’t be blamed anymore on just the legacy foreclosures,” said Daren Blomquist, senior vice president for Attom Data Solutions.

    Posted in Economics, Foreclosures, New Jersey Real Estate | 100 Comments

    Here comes the bubble? Or still too early?

    From CNBC:

    The housing shortage may be turning, warning of a price bubble

    The most competitive, tightest housing market in decades may finally be loosening its grip, and that could put pressure on overheated home prices. The supply of homes for sale in the second quarter of 2018, the all-important spring market, rose at three times the rate of the same period in 2017, according to Trulia, a real estate listing and research company.

    The inventory jump was the largest quarterly improvement in three years and could be signaling a slight thaw in today’s housing market. But it is just a start.

    “This seasonal inventory jump wasn’t enough to offset the historical year-over-year downward trend that has continued over 14 consecutive quarters,” according to Alexandra Lee, a housing data analyst for Trulia’s economics research team.

    The supply of homes for sale is still down 5.3 percent compared with a year ago. Still, all real estate is local, and some markets are seeing greater relief. Thirty of the nation’s 100 largest cities, including New York City, Miami and Los Angeles, now have more supply than a year ago.

    Of course, the increase is a double-edged sword. Supplies are increasing because sales are slowing, and sales are slowing because prices are so high. In New York City, the median household must spend 65 percent of its income to buy a home, according to Trulia. In Los Angeles, it takes 59 percent.

    Posted in Demographics, Economics, Employment, Housing Bubble, Housing Recovery, National Real Estate | 27 Comments

    No exodus?

    From The Real Deal:

    No exodus from California despite pressure from new fed tax plan: real estate pros

    While homeowners in high-tax states like New York and New Jersey may be packing their bags to move to Florida and Texas, real estate professionals in California say they are not seeing an exodus spurred by changes to the federal tax code.

    But the new rules could have a “chilling effect” on asking prices for homes in the state, and lead many residents to decide to rent instead of own their homes, one private wealth manager said.

    For the moment, agents and real estate executives interviewed by The Real Deal say they aren’t seeing a substantial number of buyers making plans to sell their million-dollar homes and leave the state.

    California’s tight housing market has fueled soaring prices in both Northern and Southern California.

    “All high-end sales are up,” said Nick Segal, president for Southern California of Pacific Union International. “Our biggest problem in that market is inventory. If sellers aren’t willing to put their houses on the market then I guess they’re not looking to leave.”

    The new federal tax changes bring added pain to California residents already frustrated by the state’s high cost of living and some of the highest state income taxes in the country. Those state taxes have caused many residents, especially ones on the lower-end of the earnings spectrum, to migrate in recent years to Nevada, Texas, Florida, and other states with lower taxes.

    In January, home prices in Southern California posted the largest year-over-year rise in 44 months. The median price rose to $507,000, reflecting an 11.4 percent hike since the year prior.

    “Sure, we have seen a lot of people over the years move from here to Las Vegas, from here to Arizona, from here to Texas, Utah and Wyoming,” said Beth Styne, chief operating officer at Coldwell Banker in Los Angeles. “That is about state taxes. But our state taxes have been exorbitant for a long time.”

    Posted in Demographics, Economics, National Real Estate, Politics, Property Taxes | 86 Comments

    Why millennials aren’t buying

    From HousingWire:

    Here are 5 reasons the Millennial homeownership rate is low

    For years, several factors have been tossed around such as high home prices, fear over the last housing crisis, delays in family formation and even student loans as reasons why the younger generation is holding out.

    But now, the Urban Institute released a study that shows the actual data behind these factors, revealing what is really holding Millennials back.

    The generation’s homeownership rate was 37% in 2015, about 18 percentage points lower than the rate of Gen Xers and Baby Boomers when they were ages 25 to 34.

    Here are five factors that Urban Institute found have kept Millennials out of the home-buying market longer than previous generations:

    1. Delayed marriage: Yes, delaying family formation is, in fact, a hindrance to homeownership. As it turns out, being married increases the probability of owning a home by a full 18 percentage points, after accounting for other factors such as age, income, race/ethnicity and education. If the marriage rate in 2015 had been the same as it was in 1990, the Millennial homeownership rate would be about five percentage points higher.

    2. Greater racial diversity: White households have the highest homeownership rate by-far, therefore the increasing diversity within the Millennial population also contributes to the lower homeownership rate. If the racial composition remained the same in 2015 as it was in 1990, the Millennial homeownership rate would be 2.6 percentage points higher.

    3. Increased education debt: Student debt has been a growing problem, and could even be turning into a crisis. But how much does it affect homeownership rates? The Urban Institute’s data shows a 1% increase in student debt decreases the likelihood of owning a home by 0.15 percentage points.

    4. Increased rents: Nationwide, rent just jumped to a new all-time high, surpassing an average $1,400 per month. And now, data shows that a 1% increase in a household’s rent-to-income ratio decreases the likelihood of homeownership by 0.07 percentage points.

    5. Delayed child bearing: Not only are Millennials taking longer to get married, but they are also spending more time before having children. For those who are married, having a child increases the probability of owning a home by 6.2 percentage points.

    Another important factor to Millennial homeownership includes parental wealth and homeownership status. For any generation, a child’s likelihood of being a homeowner increases by nine percentage points if their parent is a homeowner. Also, a 1% increase in parental wealth increases the child’s likelihood of being a homeowner by 0.016 percentage points.

    Posted in Demographics, Economics, National Real Estate | 68 Comments