The LA Times published a succinct, but informative piece offering some tips to increase curb appeal. Laura Morton of Laura Morton Design shares some valuable insight into—some simple, and some not so simple—upgrades to increase a home’s attractiveness. She also has a clear aversion to treating the walkway and driveway like an airport runway.
Forbes has updated their annual list of fastest-growing cities in America. Austin has regained its position at #1, after being usurped by Houston in 2015. The rest of the list closely resembles the lists of years past, with one surprise being Salt Lake City, which is up 7 spots from last year.
Debt and high home-prices are motivating factors for millennials to move away from cities, and into suburban areas. While rates remain near an all-time low, opportunities abound for more space at affordable prices. This CNBC article with accompanying video details the results of a recent survey.
OK, everyone knows that there’s still discrimination. In fact, there probably always will be. But in a slightly weird piece of data, from a slightly weird source (phys.org), it would seem that the big discrimination still happening in the mortgage industry comes down to responding slowly, or not at all. The research claims that being African American basically results in the same effect as if you had a 71 point lower credit score. So, I promise you this here and now — if you’re African-American, I’ll respond to you with the same speed I would anyone else.
This is slightly off-topic for this blog, but I think it has some relevance, and I think that for those of us who think long-term, it might be very important to the industry. The New Yorker has a piece on the play, which focuses on the challenges of longer life, and the strange blight that seems to be affecting middle-class, white Americans. What got me thinking was how the incredibly good state of the housing market doesn’t seem to be doing anything for consumer confidence. Now I’m starting to think in terms of existential angst, and the long-term impact on the housing market. Keep your eyes open: I predict demographic shifts afoot.
I’m not an investment advisor — so don’t take this as advice; this is just me thinking out loud. Berkshire-Hathaway’s shareholder letter came out last week. As always, it’s well worth the read, if for no other reason than to be well humored by the Oracle of Omaha. But it did get me thinking: Warren doesn’t believe in selling — he believes in buying good investments when they’re cheap. And given my article from Monday, about the amount of equity people are putting into their homes, I’m beginning to wonder if now isn’t the time to take some of that equity out, and look at putting it to work in some other investment.
Crystal balls are great. Averaging everyone’s crystal ball together makes them even better. That’s kind of the way I look at polls about the future. Kind of a meta crystal ball. And to make things even more meta, Reuters has gone and looked at more than one poll! So, never mind a pinch, take this prediction with a giant box of salt: housing prices are likely to go up 5% in 2016. Actually, with so many analysts pointing that way, I’m tempted to lean contrarian, but I actually do think this will be a pretty good year for housing (based on my own crystal ball).
MarketWatch reporter Andrea Riquier wrote a great article last week, covering the New York Fed’s quarterly report. She makes a lot of great points, and the article is well worth the read. But my question is, where’s the debt? Overall debt is down from $12.68 to $12.12 trillion. But mortgage debt is down from $10 to $8.74 trillion. So, my question is, where’s the extra $700 billion in debt? It can’t be all in student loans, and I don’t think it’s in credit cards, but, wherever it is, while Americans may be building equity in their homes, they’re building debt somewhere else. And that might represent a liquidity problem in the not too distant future.