So far, it’s been quite a ride this year, and our nation has truly seen its fair share of hurdles. From COVID-19 to record unemployment and then the resulting recession, just to name a few, the second quarter of 2020 has had more than a few challenges. Amidst the many roadblocks, however, the U.S. homeownership rate rose again, signaling great strength in the recovery of the housing market and an indication that even in a time of crisis, Americans still feel confident about buying a home. Yesterday, the U.S. Census Bureau announced:
“The homeownership rate of 67.9 percent was 3.8 percentage points higher than the rate in the second quarter 2019 (64.1 percent) and 2.6 percentage points higher than the rate in the first quarter 2020 (65.3 percent).
There are many reasons why the homeownership rate in this country is rising, and one of the key factors is historically-low mortgage rates. Rates hovering at all-time lows are helping to drive affordability and enabling more potential homeowners to enter the market today. According to Ralph McLaughlin, Chief Economist for Haus:
“Mortgage rates are the icing on the cake for households that were thinking about buying…They found an unexpected opportunity during the worst economic downturn America has seen since the Great Depression.”
In addition, many potential homebuyers have been using their time this year to search for homes that offer more space than their current rental apartments. Many of these homebuyers are younger and, as noted by Odeta Kushi, Deputy Chief Economist at First American, are the buyers driving the homeownership rate in an upward direction:
“Big jump in the homeownership rate today, mostly driven by younger households. We saw a spike in the number of owners, and a decline in the number of renters. This is the highest rate of homeownership since 2008.”
This growth is outstanding news for the housing market and for those who have recently found their new homes. If homeownership is on your shortlist this year, maybe now is a great time to meet with a real estate professional to evaluate your current situation. Perhaps historically low mortgage rates can help you to become a homeowner too.
If you’re thinking of buying a home this year, contact a local real estate professional today to take your dream one step closer to reality.
Article courtesy of KCM
Thanks to KCM & NAR for this article.
By Eli Sherman, Wicked Local
Posted Feb 12, 2019 at 9:50 AMUpdated Feb 13, 2019 at 7:40 PM
Want to ruffle some feathers? Bring up the subject of 40B in Massachusetts.
The affordable-housing program, known technically as Chapter 40B, has existed for five decades and is the subject of endless debate across the Bay State.
*The subject, however, is often clouded with confusion surrounding the program, how it exists and why it creates so much friction in a state where affordable housing is so tough to find.
To try and clear up some of the confusion, here’s a breakdown of 40B:
What is Chapter 40B?
Chapter 40B is an affordable-housing program that allows developers to bypass some local planning and zoning regulations if at least 20 percent of the units in the development are deemed affordable. (Affordability differs based on location, but more on that later). Cities and towns have little power to deny 40B developments if fewer than 10 percent of homes in the community are not designated affordable. In Massachusetts, more than 80 percent of cities and towns do not exceed 10 percent.
Why was the program created?
The program was created in 1969 after the state Legislature determined there were too many local barriers to developing affordable housing. Prior to 40B, not much existed in the way of affordable housing incentive programs. Fifty years later, not much else exists besides 40B.
Does affordable housing mean low-income housing?
No. In reality, to qualify for affordable housing under 40B, residents must make no more than 80 percent of the area median income, which varies across the state and can be quite expensive in some areas. For example, a family of four living in the greater Boston area could make up to $78,150 in 2017 and qualify for affordable housing under 40B. That’s 5 percent more than the Massachusetts household median income of $74,167.
Does 40B work?
The program is responsible for creating more affordable housing than any other program in Massachusetts over the last 50 years. But most cities and towns are still a far cry away from the 10 percent threshold envisioned by lawmakers a half-century ago. More than eight of every 10 communities still fall short of 10 percent, and almost 50 percent have less than 5 percent affordable housing. Forty-two communities have zero affordable housing.
Communities with higher rates of affordable housing tend to include cities, such as Brockton, Cambridge, Framingham and New Bedford. Cities and towns with little to zero affordable housing typically include smaller and more rural communities in central and western Massachusetts.
The geographical disparity is partly because 40B is market-driven, and most developers want to build where housing demand is high -- cities and eastern Massachusetts. Communities on the bubble, hovering around the 10 percent benchmark, are typically suburban areas.
Contributing to the slow pace in some ways is the lack of a penalty against communities that don’t meet the 10 percent threshold, other than it becomes much more difficult to say no when a developer comes to town and proposes a 40B project.
Why does everyone get so worked up about 40B?
The law --– in some ways -- is well-designed because it incentivizes developers to build housing at no upfront cost to taxpayers. This type of incentive is rare in development, especially across the country in recent years when tax breaks and incentive packages are often part of negotiations between developers and governments.
Nonetheless, 40B has become something of a bogeyman -- build more affordable housing, or 40B will get you! The local pushback typically comes from a few areas of concern. One, municipalities worry back-end costs stemming from the influx of new residents will strain local budgets and infrastructure, making it more costly for current residents to live.
Second, a stigma hangs over affordable housing because of its association with low-income housing. In many cases, neighbors fear affordable-housing developments will transform a neighborhood and drive down housing prices.
Finally, local officials typically don’t like the idea of losing local control over development, especially in a state famously proud of its independence. 40B for some represents gross overreach of local laws.
Is there a better way?
Chapter 40B hasn’t changed much over the years, but some communities are trying to be more proactive about building affordable housing. Nearly 150 cities and towns have received state approval for “housing production plans,” which are essentially blueprints for community-wide developments that include affordable housing. Others have embraced the streamlined permitting process under 40B and are using it as a means to work more collaboratively with developers. The process is called “friendly 40B.”
The effort to build more affordable housing is often at the forefront of discussion in a state where the governor in 2018 announced a housing crisis, but not much has worked quite as well -- for better or worse -- than Chapter 40B.
Eli Sherman is an investigative and in-depth reporter at Wicked Local and GateHouse Media.
BY DEIRDRE JANNERELLI • Shared with Brook Realty by Bank5
Winter storms, hurricanes, Nor’easters; they can all wreak havoc on our power supply. And the truth is, a power outage can be a major headache. First off, when the power goes out you never really know how long it will be before it comes back on. Depending on the source of the blackout, you could be without power for hours, days, or even weeks. Then, there are all the various worries that come with a power failure. From a fridge full of spoiled food, to a freezing house with no heat, the bottom line is that power outages are no fun.
If you find yourself fearing power outages, you may want to consider buying a backup generator. A generator can provide power to your home, even when your community’s power source is down. There are two types of generators you can buy; a portable generator, or a permanent “standby” generator. Let’s take a closer look at each.
A portable generator can be moved from location to location, and is designed to only be used on an emergency or short-term basis. For example, portable generators are commonly used to provide power while camping. They can also be used to run power tools or appliances when electricity isn’t available. They typically run on gasoline or propane, but there are some solar-powered models as well. Portable generators are generally less expensive than standby generators, but their price can vary significantly depending on their size. The cost of a small or medium-sized portable generator could run anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to a thousand dollars, while a large version could easily cost you several thousand dollars. One of the most important things to note about portable generators is that most of them emit carbon monoxide. Because of this, it’s critical that a portable generator never be used inside your home, or near windows or doors.
A standby generator is sometimes referred to as a “whole-house generator”, or a “home generator”, and is permanently installed outside of your home. Generally considered a safer alternative to portable generators, standby generators turn on automatically when there is a power interruption, and they automatically shut off when the power comes back on. So, unlike a portable generator, there are no extension cords to plug in, and since you don’t need to turn them on or off, they can protect your home even while you’re away.
Depending on which size you choose, a standby generator can power all of your home’s critical systems and appliances including your cooling and heating, lights, refrigerators, and sump pumps. And unlike a portable generator, a whole house generator can run for several days.
If you’re interested in buying a standby generator, it’s important to have it installed by a licensed professional, as there are many separate components to the installation. The installation process for a standby generator typically involves the following steps:
No matter what type of generator you choose, a backup generator can be immensely helpful during a power outage. It can provide a sense of normalcy in a blackout, allowing you to keep the lights and heat on, prevent food from spoiling, and allow you to cook and charge your electronic devices. If you’re interested in learning more about affordable standby generator financing in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, visit https://www.bankfive.com/Personal/Borrow/Home-Energy-Loans/Generator-Loans.
And - Thanks to our lender partner at Bank5 Susana Neves-Coito
It’s been proven. Clutter is a bummer — literally. Dishes in the sink, toys throughout the house, stuff covering every flat surface; this clutter not only makes our homes look bad, it makes us feel bad, too.
At least that’s what researchers at UCLA’s Center on Everyday Lives and Families (CELF) discovered when they explored in real time the relationship between 32 California families and the objects in their homes. The resulting book, "Life at Home in The Twenty-First Century," is a rare look at how middle-class Americans use the space in their homes and interact with the things they accumulate over a lifetime.Our over-worked closets are overflowing with things we rarely touch.
It turns out that clutter has a profound affect on our mood and self-esteem. CELF’s anthropologists, social scientists, and archaeologists found:
Although "Life At Home" documents the clutter problem, the book offers no solutions. But there are some simple things you can do to de-clutter your home and raise your spirits.
Adopt the Rule of Five
Every time you get up from your desk or walk through a room, put away five things. Or, each hour, devote five minutes to de-cluttering. At the end of the day, you’ve cleaned for an hour.
Be Ruthless About Your Kitchen Sink
Pledge to clear and clean your kitchen sink every day. It takes a couple of seconds more to place a dish in the dishwasher than dump it in the sink. A clean sink will instantly raise your spirits and decrease your anxiety.
Put Photos Away
Return to yesteryear when only photos of ancestors or weddings earned a place. Put snapshots in a family album, which will immediately de-clutter many flat surfaces.
Unburden Your Refrigerator Door
Researchers found a correlation between the number of items stuck to the fridge door and the amount of clutter throughout the house. Toss extra magnets, file restaurant menus, and place calendars in less conspicuous places.
Test Whether You'll Miss It
Fill a box with items you don’t love or use. Seal the box and place it in a closet. If you haven’t opened the box in a year, donate it (unopened!) to charity.
Thanks HouseLogic by Realtors for posting this article!!
Awesome info-graphic. Check out the full article on HouseLogic by Realtors
We often get asked about schools. The only thing a Realtor can do is help you locate ways to research schools on your own. In Massachusetts you can review every public school's "report card" and TONS of information about each one. It is on a great section of the DESE site (Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.) There's a lot there - check it out! As a veteran educator in Massachusetts, I have visited this site myself MANY times. :)
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