[REN #373] Weekly Real Estate News Brief: October 23rd, 2017

image of computer for Real Estate News for Investors Podcast Episode #373

In this week’s Real Estate News in Brief… a new ranking of hot markets for single-family rentals, a call for better credit agency data security, and a look at what TV characters would have to pay in real-world rents.


 

Economic News

 

We begin with economic news from this past week

The National Association of Homebuilders released its monthly confidence gauge, and builders are feeling good about new home sales. The October reading jumped four points to 68. That’s the highest reading since May.

Contrary to that positive sentiment from home builders, the Commerce Department reported a drop in housing starts for September. They were down 4.7% for a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.13 million homes. That was a disappointment for analysts who expected a higher number. But even with lower numbers, starts for single family homes are up 9.1% so far this year.

Housing permits were also down for September which indicates that we’ll see slower home construction in the near future. They dropped 4.5%.

The latest report on existing home sales shows a .7% increase in September sales, after three months of declines, but The National Association of Realtors says that home sales are not keeping up with demand due to supply shortages and hurricane disruptions. The Association says they are down 1.5% from a year ago, and are running at their second slowest pace for the last year.

Interest Rates

Just when we think that mortgage rates might start an upward climb, they are delivering a pleasant surprise. The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage dropped 3 basis points this last week to 3.88%. The 10-year Treasury yield fell 6 basis points, which could lead to another dip in mortgage rates next week.

Other Real Estate News Making Headlines

 

Top Markets for Single-Family Rentals

Texas and Florida are the big winners in a new ranking of the hottest single-family rental markets. TenX says that San Antonio, Fort Worth, Dallas, Columbus, and Tampa earned the top five spots due to “continued demand, price appreciation, and economic growth.” Other top markets are Orlando, Indianapolis, Austin, Nashville, and Raleigh, North Carolina.

TenX executive vice president Rick Sharga said in a press release, “The cities at the top of our list have consistently seen the most favorable market factors.” But he also said, “It remains to be seen what impact Hurricanes Harvey and Irma will have on construction labor forces and housing inventory in Texas and Florida.”

The Cost of Protecting Your Credit

Consumers may be able to get a free year’s worth of credit monitoring from Equifax after that major data breach, but 38 states want the other two credit reporting agencies to do the same. The attorneys general sent a letter to Experian and TransUnion asking them to drop the fees for credit freezing. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to protect your account at just one agency, when data thieves can potentially process your information through the other two agencies.

The Equifax breach allowed thieves to gain access to sensitive information – including social security numbers — for 145.5 million people so the risk of identity theft is far reaching. Some states already ban the charging of fees for credit freezing, but in many states consumers have to pay $10 to place a freeze on their credit, and another $10 if they want to temporarily lift it.

The Attorneys General said in the letter, “For the most part, consumers do not choose to do business with credit reporting agencies yet they are at the CRA’s mercy for data security and accuracy of their credit report.”

Online Retail Sales to Hit Major Milestone

The importance of credit security is growing as more and more people do business online. A new forecast by business advisory firm FTI Consulting shows that online retail sales will more than “double” in the next ten years to more than $1 trillion a year.

The report says that internet sales will grow at a compound annual rate of 12% through 2020, and then slow a bit to 9% after that. As for Amazon’s share of the online business, FTI says it will likely devour 53% of the market by 2027. That’s up from 34% last year. If you compare that to total retail sales both on and offline, Amazon’s current 4% of the market would increase to 12% overall, according to this FTI report.

Real-Time Tracking of Shopper Searches

And when it comes to online shopping, you may have someone following you, but it won’t be a hacker. There’s word that Neiman Marcus store employees can see what customers have looked at online, and can follow-up with suggestions when customers come into stores.

The New York Post writes that employees have always been able to use data from store sales, but now they can use “online browsing” data as well. It is apparently not an automatic feature. The Post writes that customers can “opt in”.

Real Rents for Made-Up TV Characters

With all the talk about high rent in places like New York City, have you ever wondered what some of your favorite TV characters would be paying if they were real people? RentCafé did a little calculating on characters from a number of popular TV shows.

If you are a Seinfeld fan, the three main characters would all be paying much more than the recommended 30% rent-to-income ratio for a $3,730 apartment. RentCafé says Jerry Seinfeld would have to spend about 60% of his $75,000 paycheck as a comedian. Elaine would have to spent 88% of her paycheck as a writer. And, poor old George Costanza would probably be homeless. RentCafé estimates his income at $30,000. That puts his rent-to-income ratio at 149% so he couldn’t afford to live in his TV show apartment.

Other shows included in this rent review include Friends, Modern Family, and Sex in the City.

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