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Construction Spending at Post-Recession High

Construction spending surged to the highest level in more than seven years in July, as the homebuilding industry continues to post improvements, according to the Commerce Department. Both residential and nonresidential construction reached new post-recession highs in July.

Construction spending was up 0.7 percent month-over-month, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $1.083 trillion. That marks the highest level since May 2008.

“The overall impression from the past few months is that the construction sector overall is the strongest part of the economy, with spending up at a remarkable 26 percent annualized rate in the three months to July,” says Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. Source: “  The Wall Street Journal

On the local front New Construction is moving at a slow to moderate rate. I have a friend who works as a lumber salesman for a major lumber company in Redding. He states that business is OK but not gang busters. Believe me when I say he knows his business and the company he works for is the major lumber supplier in the North State and beyond. Through all the years I’ve known him I learned that when he’s selling I’m selling too.

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9 Markets With the Highest Share of Equity

As home prices rise, more home owners in some parts of the country are seeing gains in equity.

Nearly 20 percent of all properties with a mortgage are considered “equity rich,” according to RealtyTrac’s second quarter U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report. The number of equity-rich home owners with a mortgage has risen by 1 million compared to a year ago.

“Some are leveraging that equity into a higher LTV refinance or a move-up purchase, some may be downsizing into an all-cash purchase and some may be cashing out of home ownership altogether,” says Daren Blomquist, RealtyTrac’s vice president.

Not surprisingly, the highest equity places tend to be in areas that have seen the largest increases in home prices. RealtyTrac reported the following major metro areas had the highest percentage of equity-rich properties:

  1. San Jose, Calif.: 43.8%
  2. San Francisco, Calif.: 38.3%
  3. Honolulu, Hawaii: 36.7%
  4. Los Angeles, Calif.: 32%
  5. New York: 30.7%
  6. Pittsburgh, Pa.: 29.4%
  7. Poughkeepsie, N.Y.: 28%
  8. Oxnard, Calif.: 27.5%
  9. San Diego, Calif.: 26.9%                   Source: RealtyTrac

It’s nice to see areas once devastated by the “Bubble Burst” recovering their home equity. Unfortunately the recovery needs to extend itself across America to many more cities big and small. California fared well in this study however for me personally I wouldn’t live in any of the cities mentioned. Except may be for Honolulu. Aloha from Frank.


Sellers Remain Hesitant to List Homes

Consumers remain optimistic about the long-term prospects of the housing market, but home owners say they’re hesitant to list their home for-sale, according to Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices’ Homeowner Sentiment Survey.

The most common obstacles cited by home owners for not yet listing their home are due to inventory concerns, including “waiting for the right opportunity” and “haven’t found my ideal home yet.

What’s more, of consumers considering selling their home but who have not yet listed, 73 percent say that home prices have not recovered from pre-recession levels enough for them to sell. Sixty-eight percent of current home owners surveyed said underwater mortgages remain a big barrier to them. Sixty-one percent say they’re uneasy about the economy, which has kept them from selling.

“Though home prices around the country have recovered much of the ground lost during the downturn, contemplators are telling us they want more confidence in the decision to list,” says Gino Blefari, CEO of HSF Affiliates. “They’re also telling us they need more information about their markets, pricing, and specific home improvement in order to list.”

Indeed, 55 percent of home owners contemplating selling said they’d be more likely to do so if they had additional information on the home selling process.

“The stage is set for real estate professionals to connect with consumers, learn their needs and concerns, and determine the best way for sellers and buyers to capitalize on the opportunities that exist today,” Blefari says.

Overall, 71 percent of the more than 2,500 current home owners and prospective home owners surveyed said they were confident the housing market was heading in the right direction. However, respondents cited concerns over their credit score, stringent lending guidelines, and the competitive landscape for homes as the top barriers facing the housing market today. Source: Brookshire Hathaway.

On the local front Redding’s housing market is moving at relaxed pace. When compared to other California cities Redding’s housing market is weak. Sellers who need to sell obviously will list their home asap. What I see more of are Sellers who want to “test the market”. That translates into listing at higher than market value. The two reasons why Agents take overpriced listing are 1). The Agent is new and doesn’t know any better.  2). The Agent takes it and plays the beat down game. That being the Agent beats down the Seller with price reductions until the property sells.


The Top Home Decor Resources Online

I thought this article has some great tips and information to share regarding home decor.

There’s an overwhelming number of online resources devoted to architecture and home decor. The good news is with this wealth of information, your clients will be able to find a design site that is geared towards their specific needs.

From do-it-yourself resources on a budget, to real estate trends popping up in specific cities, to design tips aimed solely at apartment dwellers, there is truly something for everyone online.

However, there is one thing to keep in mind. Many of these home decor sites are a free-for-all of ideas, and haven’t been curated by a design expert, so they may showcase a range of options, from “brilliant to banal,” says Chicago architect Stuart Cohen of Cohen & Hacker Architects. Often it takes awhile to wade through the variety of design options to find one that’s the right fit. So how do you know which site is best for your clients?

These are our picks for the ten best architecture and design resources on the web. Be sure to share this information with your buyers and sellers so they can find the right inspiration for their home decor needs.—REALTOR® Magazine


Court Puts More Pressure on Zillow in Move, NAR Lawsuit

A Seattle judge has ordered senior Zillow employee Curt Beardsley and an expert witness hired by Zillow to sit for additional depositions this week as a result of growing concerns regarding evidence destruction in the ongoing legal dispute between Zillow, the National Association of REALTORS®, and Move Inc., which operates®.

The lawsuit started shortly after former® President Errol Samuelson and Beardsley resigned from Move in March 2014. The two reportedly communicated with senior Zillow personnel for more than four months in the midst of confidential events at Move and NAR, after which both accepted positions at Zillow.  NAR and Move allege that Samuelson and Beardsley engaged in deceptive and unlawful conduct by passing highly sensitive information to Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff and others at Zillow using cloud-based e-mail accounts, text messages, and telephone calls on a self-described “burner phone” mobile device. The information related to a then-confidential potential transaction between Trulia and Move, as well as multiple business initiatives being undertaken by Move in support of®.

Move and NAR have repeatedly alleged in the lawsuit that Zillow and its personnel have hidden and destroyed evidence to cover up unlawful conduct. In its decision to enter a preliminary injunction in June 2014, the Court drew “negative inferences” against Samuelson, concluding that he deleted data from electronic devices as he left Move.

Recently, it was revealed that Beardsley disposed of a number of electronic storage devices that were connected to Move computers in the days before he and Samuelson left and that file erasure programs were run on Zillow and personal computers used by Beardsley during the course of the lawsuit.

The Seattle court has ordered Beardsley to refrain from any further file deletion or discarding of potential evidence. The court is evaluating a request from Move and NAR seeking permission to have their forensic expert participate in a court-ordered forensic review of certain Zillow computers and cloud storage accounts as a result of ongoing concerns about evidence destruction by Zillow personnel, including Samuelson and Beardsley.

In a whistleblower letter received by Move and NAR in April, former Zillow Vice President Chris Crocker stated, among other allegations, that Zillow had stolen® databases and was hiding stolen intellectual property in cloud storage accounts. A database was thereafter located and produced in the case by the defendants. The metadata from the database confirmed it was indeed created and maintained by Move but was accessed by a user identified as “Curt” before and after the date Beardsley joined Zillow in March 2014.

After the whistleblower letter was made public, Zillow countersued Move and NAR, claiming that the letter contained falsehoods as well as trade secrets and that its release hurt Zillow’s reputation and its competitive position. NAR last week filed a motion to dismiss the counterclaims, citing both Washington law and common law privilege for fair and accurate reports of judicial proceedings.

The Zillow trial is scheduled for June 2016. The parties are currently engaged in the discovery process, and NAR attorneys say they expect a decision this month on the forensic protocol. —REALTOR® Magazine

It would not be fair to point the finger to Zillow regarding alleged illegal business practices without knowing all the facts. The courts most likely will render judgment in the matter. There is a chance it will be handled out of court but the likelihood is questionable.

Realtor vs. Zillow. What I can tell you about my personal experience with Zillow is that Zillow’s data base is inaccurate and misleading in most situations. I’ve butt heads with numerous clients regarding home values, MLS listing statuses whether active, pending sale or closed and housing market facts. A realtor’s MLS is fact not fiction. MLS data is accurate and seldom incorrect. The is nothing more detrimental to the real estate industry when the client believes in Zillow rather than trust and believe in their Realtor.