As the holiday season arrived in November, housing activity began to slow down slightly from its torrid pace through the summer and early fall. But despite the seasonal change, home builders, home sellers and buyers remained largely optimistic because of the stable economy and continued low interest rates.
In Austin, the city council took on several controversial issues. One move will allow more homeowners to rent out garage apartments and other secondary dwellings. Meanwhile, the council put a temporary ban on new permits for short-term rentals for homeowners who rent their homes out on sites like Airbnb and HomeAway for most of the year, but do not live in the home themselves.
November saw the addition of new mortgage rules intended to make it easy for consumers to compare loan offerings in an apples-to-apples way. And, in a little celebrity news, former NBA basketball star Patrick Ewing put his New Jersey home on the market.
Let’s take a look at all the big real estate news in November.
More clarity in mortgage documents: A new law went into effect that will provide consumers with two new ways to ensure they understand the terms of their mortgages. It’s called the Loan Estimate and Closing Disclosure (or TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rule). It’s a big name for a fairly simple addition to mortgages. It means lenders will have to provide a loan estimate form within three days of submitting a loan application. It’s intended to make sure consumers know what they’re getting into in a simplified format. The second part requires lenders to disclose estimated closing costs. For most consumers, it will make it easier to compare loans, and that’s a good thing. You can find a breakdown of the laws right here.
Nationwide, housing sales flatlined in October: Housing sales didn’t budge in October, signaling a pause in the growth in home sales the nation has been seeing in recent months. Part of that is seasonal — colder weather translates to fewer moves. But slower growth in new listings across the country also played a role. Dig into other factors in this post by CNBC.
Homebuilders are happy, but a little less so: U.S. homebuilders expressed a little less confidence in new projects than they had been broadcasting in recent months. The latest figures show that single-family homebuilders confidence in new sales declined by a few points in November compared to October. While no one likes to see confidence decline, the figure is still high and is a result of a relatively strong economy and low borrowing costs. Learn more from this Bloomberg News story.
Housing starts declined in October, but it’s OK: The number of new houses being built hit a seven-month low in October. But, don’t worry just yet. With demand for housing strong and the economy marching forward, most experts say the slower amount of groundbreakings isn’t a major alarm.
Austin’s housing market is stable and growing: The monthly report from the Austin Board of Realtors showed that Austin area home sales in October outpaced sales from last October by 2 percent. And that happened while median home prices climbed by 5 percent year-over-year. Get a full rundown in our blog post about the new stats.
Austin eases rules on garage apartments: The Austin City Council just relaxed some rules that will now allow more homeowners to rent out garage apartments or granny flats on their property. The council’s move reduces the total lot size required to rent out a secondary dwelling and it eased the number of off-street parking spots required for each secondary dwelling. It’s a move to provide more affordable housing to Austin where prices have been climbing fast. It gives homeowners a new avenue for supplemental income and gives renters new options beyond apartments and house leases. See the Austin Business Journal’s coverage here.
New Jersey has several of the nation’s most expensive neighborhoods: Forbes’ annual list of America’s most expensive zip codes is chalk full of New Jersey neighborhoods. The top-ranking New Jersey area is Alpine, which is about 15 minutes north of Manhattan and across the Hudson River from Yonkers. The area’s median home price is about $4.8 million. New Vernon came in at number 76 on the list with a median price of about $2.5 million. All told, 24 zip codes in New Jersey were among the 200 most expensive areas in the nation. Austin’s 78735 zip code, which includes Barton Creek was the 200th most expensive, with a median price of $1.5 million.
Speaking of expensive homes, Patrick Ewing’s $6.9 million home is for sale: The former New York Knicks center and current coach of the Charlotte Hornets has listed his home in Cresskill, which is west of Yonkers, NY, for sale for $6.9 million. The home sits on a 1.8 acre property and has seven bedrooms, eight bathrooms and a pool. And, yes, it has a basketball court.