The average size of single-family homes completed last year fell 3 percent, the National Association of Home Builders announced last week at the International Builders’ Show. The average size of homes completed in 2010 was 2,377 sf, down from a peak of 2,521 sf in 2007.
Home buying activity is on the rise to open the new year. The Mortgage Bankers Association reported that the number of applications for home mortgages crept up 2.2 percent last week. However, when the index isn’t adjusted for the New Year’s holiday, the numbers are 47.5 percent higher compared to the previous week.
Mortgage rates are low and home prices aren’t showing signs of going up anytime soon. And now state and local governments are stepping in to help many home buyers with their down payments. SmartMoney provides a rundown of seven different down payment assistance programs across the country.
Fannie Mae has started testing a foreclosure-prevention program in Florida that is designed to bring banks and troubled borrowers together earlier. The idea behind the program is to get banks and borrowers to negotiate mortgage modifications and other alternatives before foreclosure becomes the only option. The program gets borrowers meeting with the banks four months after falling behind on late payments.
NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe is forecasting 575,000 single-family home starts in 2011, a 21 percent bump over an estimated 475,000 units started in 2010, according to his annual state of the market report at the International Builders’ Show in Orlando last week. Crowe and other economists at the show agreed that the housing market will see steady improvements in activity this year, followed by considerable gains in 2012.
Many homeowners who put off remodeling and repairs last year due to the economy are now ready to make the investment, a new survey reported.
Construction spending rose slightly in November, increasing to a seasonally adjusted rate of $810.2 billion, according to Census Bureau data. The rate is 0.4 percent higher than the revised October rate of $806.7 billion. Construction spending for the first 11 months of 2010 totaled $753.9 billion, 10.6 percent less than the same period in 2009.
The troubled real estate market affects homes both large and small—but when mansions need a sale price reduction, the discount can jump into the millions. Zillow.com, a real-estate listing and data website, found that some of the biggest sales in 2010 also had the biggest price cuts, the Wall Street Journal reported.
A recent survey found that outcome and design were the most important factors in determining project satisfaction for a home remodel. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) poll found that 49 percent of homeowners said outcome and design were the most important. Twenty-two percent said having their needs met was most important for their satisfaction, while 20 percent said accessibility and timeliness of the remodeler took precedence. Only four percent said finishing on time was the top consideration for satisfaction. Six percent safety and cleanliness were most important.
For the second straight year, real estate stocks ended the year with gains twice as high as the general stock market, The Wall Street Journal reported. According to Dow Jones, REITs were up 27 percent as of Dec. 28. And while that figure is down slightly from last year’s gains of 28.5 percent, it more than doubled the Dow Jones Industrial Average.