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Housing starts jumped 15.7% in July to its highest level since November, the Commerce Department reported this week. But where is new-home construction rising the most?

Many housing markets are seeing an increase in homebuilding activity. For example, Chicago posted an 87 percent increase in single-family housing starts quarter-over-quarter during the second quarter, and starts are up 30 percent year-over-year, according to housing data from Metrostudy.
According to Metrostudy, the following markets are seeing some of the largest increases in homebuilding activity year-over-year in the second quarter:
  • Reno, Nev.
  • Rio Grande Valley, Texas
  • Southern California
  • Atlanta
  • Chicago
  • Nashville
  • St. George/Mesquite, Utah
  • Sarasota/Bradenton, Fla.
  • Charlotte, N.C.
  • Naples/Fort Myers, Fla.
Metrostudy is projecting homebuilding to rise 18 percent next year for single-family housing starts, compared to a 6 percent increase expected for this year.

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Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Singles: Why We're Buying Now
75% of single home owners ages 25 to 50 say home ownership is important to them, according to a new Century 21 survey.
These are the top three reasons single home owners say they decided to buy: They viewed home ownership as an investment in their financial future; they were tired of paying rent; and they thought it was the right time to purchase a home.
“We are in the midst of a shift in the home-buying population,” says Rick Davidson, president and chief executive officer of Century 21 Real Estate LLC. “This survey shows that home ownership is a major life decision for singles and that it is just as important a part of the American Dream for them as it is for married couples.”
Nearly one-third of all real estate purchases in 2013 were made by single home buyers, according to data from the National Association of REALTORS®.
But single home buyers say it wasn’t easy to achieve home ownership because many were intimidated by the home-buying process, and they had to make several sacrifices in order to buy a home.
Nearly two-thirds of single home owners say they overcame a roadblock to buy their home. The most intimidating parts of the home-buying process, they say, included making an offer and negotiating a price (38%); obtaining a mortgage (36%); moving (31%); closing (30%); and searching for and locating a home (25%).
Singles also say they had to make several lifestyle sacrifices: 60 percent say they had to dine out less to purchase a home, and half say they had to cut back on entertainment. Fifty-one percent say they had to spend less on vacations.
What were their most important considerations in buying a home? Single home owners rated space and square footage (59%); the yard (57%); and proximity to work or school (47%) as the most important criteria in their house hunt, according to the Century 21 survey. Good cell service and proximity to public transportation tended to be more important to single home owners 25 to 35 years old than those 36 to 50 years old.
The younger set was also more likely to say they searched for real estate on their mobile devices.

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Property managers take note: online peer ratings and reviews matter. According to recent survey of more than 5,000 apartment seekers, nearly all – 96 percent – said that online reviews influence their decision when choosing an apartment.

Is your rental site mobile friendly? Are you listing rental properties on mobile-friendly portals? Property managers should factor mobile into their marketing strategy as nearly half (49 percent) of apartment hunters prefer to use their mobile device, according to the survey. And those mobile property hunters will take action: 45 percent will call and 42 percent will e-mail the rental office immediately from their mobile device. Of respondents who use their mobile device to shop for rentals, 49 percent will call the apartment community directly from the listing.

“The findings reinforce the importance of leveraging leading-edge online and mobile tools to reach apartment shoppers when they are actively engaged in their search process,” says Marcia Bollinger, president of Apartment Finder.
When it comes to making the final rental decision, cost was the biggest influencer, swaying 63 percent of respondents. Location was the deciding factor for 24 percent of renters, followed by neighborhood crime statistics at 7.3 percent, school system at 3 percent, and community amenities at 2.6 percent.
Giving context to why renters are moving, the top three reasons listed by survey respondents included a current lease expiring (42 percent), job relocation or a new job (22 percent), and moving out of parents’ home (18 percent).

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A lower credit score not only makes it hard to qualify for a loan: Some home owners are finding that after moving in, bad credit can make the costs of homeowners insurance higher, CNBC reports.
Home owners who have poor credit pay 91 percent more for homeowners insurance than those who have stellar credit.
Home owners with a fair or median credit score may pay 29 percent more for homeowners insurance than someone with stellar credit, according to the report.
"This is another example of why credit is such an important part of your financial life," Laura Adams, senior analyst with, told CNBC. "Maintaining a good credit history suggests that you're a less risky customer and can lead to several hundred dollars in annual homeowner's insurance savings."
How insurance companies weigh a person's credit score can vary greatly from company to company and even state to state. There is no standard for how insurers figure credit into insurance costs, according to the report.
Yet, "there is an undeniable correlation between credit information and insurance risk," says Anna Bryant, a spokeswoman for State Farm Insurance, which uses credit scores to determine individual homeowners insurance rates. "It is a correlation in terms of the frequency a person could have a claim and the severity of their claim."
Indeed, insurers began using credit-based insurance scoring in the early 1990s, when FICO studies found a correlation between a person's credit and his or her likelihood of filing a claim.
Bryant says that State Farm does not look at the entire credit score, but only aspects of it, to determine a person's homeowners insurance rate, but she declined to elaborate.
Just how much impact a lower credit score can have on premiums can greatly depend on what state you’re from, too. In the report, the following five states showed the greatest average premium increase to homeowners insurance when an excellent credit score was downgraded to fair:
  1. Montana: 65% increase
  2. Washington, D.C.: 60%
  3. Arizona: 55%
  4. West Virginia: 53%
  5. Virginia: 52%
"I'm pretty shocked that even with a so-called fair credit score, you could still wind up paying 50 percent more than someone in the excellent category," says Bob Hunter, former Texas insurance commissioner and current director of insurance at the Washington, D.C.-based Consumer Federation of America.

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