Tracy Tidwell Real Estate Commercial

Monday, April 17, 2017

10 Smaller Cities With Surging Markets

Big cities may grab most of the headlines when it comes to housing, but gains in smaller cities shouldn’t be ignored. 
One key behind many small towns' growth: a nearby college. Several smaller cities nabbing a spot in Smartasset’s top 25 list for rising housing values are college towns, such as Auburn, Ala.; Fayetteville, Ark.; and Bowling Green, Ky. “In many smaller cities, universities act as economic hubs supporting the whole community and keeping the economy growing,” the report notes.
Texas cities continue to dominate among smaller locales too, just like in Smartasset’s big cities list of rising housing markets. Texas boasted five cities in the top 10 list.
Smartasset researchers analyzed data on home values, incomes, population size, and housing units to identify the smaller cities with the highest rising housing markets. Researchers factored in data from 2011 and 2015 and then calculated the percentage change. Smaller cities were considered those with populations between 50,000 and 100,000.
Smartasset identified the following top 10 rising housing markets among smaller cities:
1. Pasco, Wash.
2. New Braunfels, Texas
3. The Villages, Fla.
4. Pharr, Texas (tie)
4. Auburn, Ala. (tie)
6. Cedar Park, Texas
7. San Angelo, Texas
8. Redmond, Wash.
9. Fayetteville, Ark.
10. Edinburg, Texas
View the full list of top 25 small cities at Smartasset.com.
Source: “Rising Housing Markets: Smaller Cities Edition,” Smartasset (March 28, 2017)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Homeowners Don’t Want Cookie-Cutter Lawns

Homeowners today are focused on making changes to their front yards so they're markedly different from their neighbors' yards and easier to maintain, finds the 2017 U.S. Houzz Landscaping Trends Survey.
Homeowners want their yards to look distinct. Only 6 percent of homeowners reported front yards that were nearly identical to those in the neighborhood after their outdoor project, compared to more than a third before the update (36 percent), the Houzz survey shows. Two in five owners say they wanted to make a statement with a new front yard that was “very” or “extremely” different from others in the neighborhood following their update.
More homeowners are turning to low-maintenance plants to enhance their front yards, along with native plants and those that attract insects and birds. More than half of those who updated their front yard say that beds or borders, shrubs, and perennials were the most important to improving curb appeal.
Some owners are removing their front yard lawns altogether, citing environmental considerations as a strong motivator, the survey also showed.
Lighting is also growing in popularity among outdoor upgrades, particularly LEDs, low voltage, solar, and wireless lighting. Nearly one in five homeowners reported installing lights that could be controlled from their mobile device.
“Home renovation activity is benefiting from the significant increase in home sales in 2015 and 2016, which is reflected in our findings on motivations for starting a landscape project,” says Nino Sitchinava, principal economist at Houzz. “Since housing inventory has remained low, recent home buyers likely consider their homes less than ideal, leading them to prioritize upgrades like outdoor projects more than ever, with emphasis on low maintenance.”
Source: “2017 U.S. Houzz Landscaping Trends Survey,” Houzz (March 29, 2017)

Monday, April 3, 2017

New Email Scam Can Trick Google Users

A new phishing scam can display what looks like a Google sign-in page if users click on attachments, which could end up sending account names and passwords to hackers.
Here’s how the latest scam works: A scammer will send an email to your Gmail account. The email likely will appear to be coming from one of your contacts and ask you to look at an attached file, such as a PDF or Word document. It may appear to be legitimate since it seems to be coming from one of your contacts, but when you click on the attachment to try to preview the attachment, a new tab opens and prompts you to sign in to your Gmail account.
If you do, the scammer now has access to your account. What’s more, they can use one of your actual email attachments and subject lines to try to dupe someone else on your contact list too.
How can you spot the scam? Always check the browser bar before you log in. The Google sign-in page that users are directed to appears legit, with the same logo, text boxes, and tagline. But the address bar is the tell-all: The page is a data URI with the prefix “data:text/html.” It’s not a URL that begins “https://.”
Google also has recently released a Chrome update to 56.0.2924 to help spot such fake forms. With the update, if you view a data URL, the location bar will show “Not Secure” to help users spot phishing scams more easily. Users on laptop and desktop computers can often hover their cursor over the attachment to check its URL before clicking.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Real Estate This Spring: The Early Bird Wins

Entering real estate’s traditionally busiest time of year, the housing market is being buoyed by a stronger economy and consumer confidence. Job creation is 30 percent stronger this year compared to a year ago, unemployment is near a 9-year low, and wages and incomes are growing at the largest levels in about eight years, notes Jonathan Smoke, realtor.com®’s chief economist.
Some buyers are in more of a hurry this season too. In the last two weeks, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose by nearly a quarter of a point. The Federal Reserve also has given strong indication that it plans to raise short-term rates later this week (even though mortgage rates aren’t directly tied to short-term rates, they do tend to have an influence). Smoke predicts three to four major increases in mortgage rates this year. He expects rates to rise by from 10 to 25 basis points in one- to two-week spurts, followed by some holding patterns.
“The upside of higher rates is that it is getting easier to get a mortgage,” Smoke says. Mortgage credit access has increased 6.5 percent since September, the Mortgage Bankers Association reports.
“Arguably the biggest challenge to buyers this spring will be simply finding a home to buy and getting it successfully under contract,” Smoke says. “That’s because the supply of homes for sale is at an all-time low, and yet demand is strong and getting stronger.”
In January, the nation saw the lowest inventory of homes available for sale ever at realtor.com®. Inventory did manage a 2 percent increase in February, but it's still down 11 percent compared to last year.
With lower inventories and higher demand, homes are selling faster. Twenty-seven percent of listings sold in less than 30 days in February, according to realtor.com®’s data.
“The early birds who decided to buy in the winter faced less competition and enjoyed lower rates than we are seeing now,” Smoke says. “It gets more expensive and more competitive going forward, but the early-ish buyer, at this point, is still likely to come out on top, when you consider that prices and rates are likely to be much higher later in the year.”
Source: “Forget the Snow: Spring Has Sprung in the Nation’s Housing Markets,” realtor.com® (March 13, 2017)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Home Price Expectations By State

REALTORS® expect modest price gains in home values over the next year. The median expected increase in home prices across the country is 3.5 percent, according to the REALTORS® Confidence Index January 2017 survey, based on the responses of more than 3,800 REALTORS® across the country.
“Looking at the values over time in selected states, the median expected price change appears to be increasing again from what was expected in the middle of 2016, indicating that respondents expect demand to remain strong,” according to the report. “In more than half of states, expected price change exceeds the price growth that was expected at the end of January 2016, even as home prices continue to rise.” The map below shows REALTORS®’ median expected price change over the next 12 months by state level.REALTORS® are most bullish about rising home price expectations in Washington, Oregon, and Colorado. Real estate pros in those states believe they will see 4 to 5 percent increases in values over the next year. Meanwhile, oil-producing states like Alaska, North Dakota, and West Virginia had the lowest median expected price changes over the next year.  

Source: “REALTORS® Confidence Index January 2017 Survey,” National Association of REALTORS® (Feb. 22, 2017) 

Monday, March 6, 2017

Where Buying Beats Out Renting the Most

More renters squeezed out by high rental payments may find that home ownership can be a more affordable option.
A new study by the National Association of REALTORS® finds several metro areas where renters earn enough to qualify to buy a home. Plus, with mortgage rates hovering near all-time lows, renters may find now is the perfect time to make their move into home ownership.
They identified the areas with employment gains above the national average that also have the largest share of renters who can afford to buy a home.Overall, housing affordability and the strength of the local job market can play a “pivotal role” in a renter’s decision on whether to buy a home or sign another lease to rent, according to NAR. The association recently reviewed employment growth, household income, and qualifying income levels in nearly 100 of the largest metro areas nationwide.
The top markets with the highest share of renters qualified to buy are all located in the Midwest and South, since home prices tend to be more affordable in those regions, NAR noted.
NAR identified the following 10 markets as having the highest share of renters who qualify to buy:
  1. Toledo, Ohio: 46%
  2. Little Rock, Ark.: 46%
  3. Dayton, Ohio: 44%
  4. Lakeland, Fla.: 41%
  5. St. Louis, Mo.: 41%
  6. Columbia, S.C.: 41%
  7. Atlanta: 40%
  8. Columbus, Ohio: 38%
  9. Tampa, Fla.: 38%
  10. Ogden, Utah: 38%
By REALTOR® Magazine

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Top Dates for Listing a Home Revealed

Home listings are most likely to debut on Thursdays and Fridays, with Fridays being the most common listing day by a slight margin, according to research by the National Association of REALTORS®.
The most popular month for new listings is April, followed by March, May, June, and July, according to NAR.What are the most popular dates to list? Half of all new listings in 2016 were first listed between March and July, which supports that the spring season is indeed real estate’s busiest time.
“While home closings exhibit a strong tendency to get done at the end of the month, listings are much steadier throughout the course of the month with a slight tendency to be posted earlier rather than later,” NAR researchers note at the Economists’ Outlook blog.
Source: “EHS in 2016 by the Numbers—Part 3—Popular Listing Dates,” National Association of REALTORS®’ Economists’ Outlook blog (Feb. 8, 2017)