61% of us want smarter homes…

Homes Are Getting Smarter, More Connected

Daily Real Estate News | Thursday, January 09, 2014 | link

Sixty-one percent of consumers say they’re interested in learning more about home automation, according to recent market research from the Consumer Electronic Association. Home owners have an increasing number of options, too.

Smart-home technologies are growing, with everything from the ability to remotely control a home’s lights and temperature to sending text messages to appliances or monitoring a home’s security and energy consumption from a smartphone.

Several technology companies are showing off gadgets for the connected home during this week’s 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Mass adoption of smart home technology has been slow and is likely still 10 years away, said panelists at a Wednesday session called “Exploring the Future of the Connected Home.”

But smart-home technology has made strides in recent years with easier-to-use designs and more flexible products. The smartphone has been fueling that growth, said Matt Rogers, co-founder and vice president of engineering at Nest.

Smart homes can be trained to react to the owner and be automated based on the owner’s lifestyle: Lights can turn on when it senses the owner is a certain distance and can turn off as the owner leaves, said Mike Soucie, Revolv’s co-founder and head of marketing.

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What’s in store for 2014?

Experts Predict 2014 Housing Market

Huffington Post | January 27, 2014 | link

The U.S. real estate market made a robust comeback in 2013, surpassing expectations of many economists, as the combination of low inventories and historically low-interest rates caused home prices to rise and even helped fuel bidding wars in some markets, surpassing the expectations of many economists. While positive trends, such as increasing home values, are expected to continue into 2014, mortgage rates are also expected to rise in the coming year and could put a damper on home buyers’ abilities to afford new homes.

Looking back at some 2013 data can give us a hint of the year ahead:

1. Inventory Should Gradually Stabilize and Return to Traditional Seasonal Levels

The beginning of 2013 could be characterized as the “year of low inventory” as buyer demand ramped up and homeowners waited for further price increases and evidence of a solid economic recovery before putting their homes on the market. The year began with a significant shortage of inventory (reported by realtor.com), and then as early as February the level of shortages started to decline slowly. As 2013 comes to a close, inventory is approximately the same as a year ago. However, homes are selling faster than in 2012, with the median age of the inventory down by 11 percent.

2. More Homeowners Are Likely to Return to Positive Equity

Rising prices helped 2.5 million homeowners who were previously underwater regain positive equity status during the second quarter of 2013. However, approximately 7.1 million homes were still in negative equity at that time and an estimated 10 million homeowners, or about 21.1 percent of all homeowners with a mortgage, remained “under-equitied,” with less than 20 percent in home equity. The good news is that prices are expected to continue rising in 2014, which will lift more homeowners into positive territory. According to realtor.com, median list prices for homes in October rose 7.57 percent above the same month of 2012.

3. Mortgage Rates Are Expected to Rise

Mortgage rates increased approximately 100 basis points in 2013 and are likely to rise in 2014. The new chairman-designate of the Federal Reserve, Janet Yellen, is expected to continue the policies of Chairman Ben Bernanke, including keeping mortgage rates low by buying blocks of mortgage-backed securities. However, the Fed has considered tapering its bond-buying activity as the economy improves, which could lead to a slight increase in interest rates.

4. Foreclosure Activity Is Expected to Slow

Foreclosure sales are likely to play a minimal role in the housing market in 2014. September 2013 was the 36th consecutive month with a year-over-year decrease in foreclosure activity. Foreclosure inventory has dropped to multi-year lows, down nearly 33 percent since the end of 2012. Foreclosure starts were down 39 percent in the third quarter of 2013 to the lowest level since the second quarter of 2006.

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Good news, Sellers!

More Homebuyers Willing to Compromise

Daily Real Estate News | Monday, January 06, 2014 | link

Faced with tight inventories of homes for sale, more buyers are realizing they may have to bend a little in order to get the home they want.

According to a new survey by the real estate brokerage Redfin, 35 percent of real estate agents said that buyers are now “willing to pay more” to find a home compared to this summer. About 30 percent of agents also reported that buyers are more “flexible on features,” held “lower expectations” for how far their money would stretch, and were “looking to new construction” due to inventory constraints. Real estate agents also reported that homebuyers were more “prepared to waive contingencies” in order to win a bid.

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Boomerang buyers are back!

Boomerang buyers could be key to real estate market in 2014

Josh Salman | Herald-Tribune | December 30, 2014 | link

Like a boomerang, recession-battered borrowers are re-entering the home market in droves. (AP archive)

When real estate values began to drop in 2007, hundreds of thousands of Floridians were evicted from their homes through foreclosures or short sales — giving way to the deepest economic collapse in more than half a century.

Now those same delinquent borrowers who were seen as partially responsible for the prolonged slump will become crucial to sustain the real estate recovery into 2014 and beyond, a new survey suggests.

Like a boomerang, these recession-battered borrowers are re-entering the home market in droves after years of renting, nursing their credit and saving enough to buy again.

With investor and retiree purchases both generally expected to subside next year, these so-called boomerang buyers could become vital to propel housing demand and transition the market back to favoring middle-class families.

“Boomerang buyers have had a taste of homeownership, they have seen all of the benefits, and they’re ready to get back in,” said Jon Maddux, co-founder of LoanSafe. org and AfterForeclosure.com, websites designed to help distressed borrowers regain financial stability.

“We’re seeing in markets all across the country,” Maddux said. “These buyers will be the key to the recovery in 2014.”

Based on a poll of 140,000 LoanSafe. org members, a desire to rejoin the housing market is growing rapidly among buyers forced to leave their homes during the foreclosure crisis.

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Some serious eye candy…

7 Ridiculously Expensive Homes Of 2013 We Couldn’t Look Away From

Huffington Post | December 31, 2013 | link

Only time will tell if the real estate rebound will continue into the new year, though for well-heeled homebuyers now is as good a time as any to get in.

So where does one buy when money is no object? 2013’s ranking of the most expensive zip codes in the country is one place to start. But we thought we’d take our search even further and asked our friends at Zillow and Realtor.com for help. (We can dream, can’t we?) Here’s a compilation of some the most expensive homes for sale across the U.S. this year, including a residence that’s slated to be the largest single family home in New York City, a home where John and Jacqueline Kennedy spent part of their honeymoon and the famous Owlwood Estate being sold by a real househusband of Beverly Hills.

  • $150 Million, Holmby Hills, CA
    The Owlwood Estate. View the full listing at The Agency.
  • $140 Million, Greenwich, CT
    50.5 acre estate. 12 beds, 8 baths, 13,519 square feet. View the full listing at Zillow.com.
  • $135 Million, Dallas, TX
    Last January, the famed, 42,500-square-foot Crespi/Hicks Estate in Dallas was the most expensive home on the market in the country.

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