Freddie Still Bullish on New-Home Sales – According to Freddie Mac, new-home sales may have started 2018 by softening, but that hasn’t made Freddie Mac economists lose their optimism that the sector will be key to driving the housing market in 2018. “While existing home sales may struggle to top their best-in-over-a-decade 2017 performance, new home sales should provide enough growth to push total home sales in the U.S. modestly higher in 2018,” says Len Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist. “Housing construction continues to lag behind demand by a wide margin, so we expect to see housing starts increase in 2018.”
Tax Refunds Used for Down Payments – Based on the National Association of REALTORS®’ 2017 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, the median down payment was 10 percent last year. The average estimated tax refund is expected to be $2,840 this year, down slightly from $2,895 the previous year. Depending on the average prices in an area, a couple thousand dollars could make a significant dent in that amount. Tax time may be the perfect moment to remind clients that their refund may come in handy ahead of the spring market. However, many first-time home buyers don’t realize they can buy a home with less than 20 percent down. Twenty-five percent of first-time buyers said that saving for a down payment was the most difficult step in the buying process, according to NAR’s report. Seven percent of first-time buyers say they plan to use their tax return to go toward their down payment.
Hispanics Drive Rising Ownership Rates – According to the latest State of Hispanic Homeownership Report, the Hispanic population is driving growth in homeownership for the third straight year. Hispanics’ rising populations and household formation, as well as their increased workforce participation, is behind the uptick, according to the report released by the Hispanic Wealth Project and National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals. The Hispanic population in the United States increased by 1 million last year and accounted for 51 percent of U.S. population growth. Hispanics increased their homeownership rate slightly from 46 percent to 46.2 percent, or a net increase of 167,000 new-owner households in 2017.
HUD Gives $35M to Aid Low-Income Families – Based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s announcement, they are awarding $34.9 million to help low-income residents become more self-sufficient. The money will be allocated to public housing authorities, public housing resident associations, Native American tribes, and nonprofit organizations across the country. It will be used to hire or retain service coordinators to help low-income residents find jobs, educational opportunities, and achieve economic and housing independence. “It’s part of our mission to help connect public housing residents to better, higher paying jobs and critical services as a means of helping them move beyond public assistance and toward self-sufficiency,” says HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “This funding gives our local partners resources they can use to help residents become economically independent and achieve the dreams they have for themselves and their children.”