Housing Market Slows, as Rising Prices Outpace Wages

DENVER — By nearly any measure, this city is booming. The unemployment rate is below 3 percent. There is so much construction that a local newspaper started a “crane watch” feature. Seemingly every week brings headlines about companies bringing high-paying jobs to the area.

Yet, Denver’s once-soaring housing market has run into turbulence. Sales and construction activity have slowed in recent months. Houses that would once have drawn a frenzy of offers are sitting on the market for days or weeks. Selling prices are rising more slowly, and asking prices are being slashed to attract buyers.

Similar slowdowns have hit New York, Seattle and even San Francisco, cities that until recently ranked among the nation’s hottest housing markets. The specifics vary, but economists, real estate agents and home builders say the core issue is the same: Home buyers are reaching a breaking point after years of breakneck price increases that far exceeded income gains.

“The local economy is still fantastic, all the fundamentals are there, but obviously wages are not keeping pace,” said Steve Danyliw, a Denver realtor. “As the market continues to move up, buyers are being pushed out.”

Rachel Sandoval is one of them. An elementary schoolteacher in the Denver Public Schools, Ms. Sandoval earns about $50,000 a year, enough to afford a condominium or a modest house in most markets. But not in Denver, where the median sales price for all homes was $410,000 in August, and where even condos routinely top $300,000 — a price Ms. Sandoval calls “not even close to feasible.” She said she was scoping out jobs in Texas, where houses are cheaper and pay is higher, and considering leaving teaching in search of a higher salary.

For now, Ms. Sandoval, 41, is sharing a one-bathroom rental house with two roommates, a nurse and an adjunct professor. The three stick to a strict schedule to make sure they can all get to work on time.

“We are professionals, we have degrees,” Ms. Sandoval said. “This was not the plan.”

Nationwide, sales of previously owned homes fell 1.5 percent in Augustfrom a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors. Residential building permits were down 5.5 percent over the past year, according to the Department of Commerce. Many economists say the housing market may have turned into a drag on the gross domestic product.

The recent slowdown, however, is unlikely to give would-be buyers like Ms. Sandoval much relief. Prices in Denver are still up 8 percent over the past year, according to the S&P Case-Shiller index. That’s cool compared to the double-digit gains of a couple years ago, but well ahead of the 6 percent increase in average hourly earnings over the same period. Rising interest rates have also made buying homes more expensive.

View the full article here at The New York Times

 

The Greenest Places

Which American cities are the most energy efficient?

How do you measure energy efficiency? When it comes to individual homes, it’s a good bet that smart buildings equipped with Energy Star-rated appliances will consume less energy. But figuring out the energy efficiency of an entire city is more complicated, and requires factoring in things like local law and public policy.

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy tackles that onerous task every two years, ranking major American cities based on actions they are taking to conserve energy in five categories: transportation policies; energy and water utilities; buildings policies; local government operations; and communitywide initiatives.

The most recent City Energy Efficiency Scorecard, issued in 2017 — a hefty report of more than 200 pages — ranked Boston at the top, thanks in part to its very high score in the energy and water utilities category: The city’s utilities offer customers a number of programs to help reduce energy consumption and increase efficiency.

New York came in second, with a high score for local government operations — including policies that encourage improvements in new buildings and retrofits to old ones, and an upgraded fleet of energy-efficient municipal vehicles.

View the full article here at The New York Times

 

Where to Buy an Affordable Vacation Home, Based on Your Myers-Briggs Type

Once you’ve taken the Myers-Briggs test, you’ve got a four-letter passcode that reveals nuances of your personality and a deeper understanding of yourself. Just like you, cities around the United States have unique personalities, too—some secluded spots are natural fits for introverts while other museum-rich hubs will stimulate the busy minds of thinkers.

We already played matchmaker, finding the best affordable cities for each Myers-Briggs type and then gave decorating tips best suited for the 16 different personality types. Now, we’ve scouted out some of the most affordable cities to buy a vacation home, based on your Myers-Briggs type.

But, does it make sense to buy a vacation home? (We know you’re wondering, you practical ISTJs or ENTJs). The idea here is that these spots are coveted vacation destinations that could be rented out, generating some income when you’re not vacationing yourself. Plus, when you’re ready to go on vacation, you’re not subject to high hotel rates in busy seasons.

Based on your Myers-Briggs type, here’s 16 affordable vacation home markets that are bidding for your attention.

INTJ: Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Ever question T-Pain’s lyric: “I’ll put you in a mansion, somewhere in Wisconsin”? (Very creative rhyme scheme, btw). We’re guessing the hundreds of mansions dotting the shoreline of Lake Geneva were the rapper’s muse. Consider it the Hamptons of the Midwest: Lake Genevaboasts a 26-mile shoreline path looping the lake that will delight the active imaginations of this personality type. Plus, the Architects—best known for their strategic minds—will be wowed by the efficiency and grace of the mail jumpers, who deliver mail via boat during summer months by hopping on and off docks as the vessel keeps moving. Did we mention the median home value is only $193,000? Why yes, we’ll take a mansion in Wisconsin.

 

 

 

 

INTP: Healdsburg, California

House prices in San Francisco are some of the steepest in the country. But head about an hour north of the Golden Gate Bridge and arrive in Healdsburg, which is in the heart of Sonoma’s wine country and has unpretentious roots as a farming community. While on vacation, imaginative and original INTP types will feel right at home at Shed. The sun-soaked cafe and fresh produce market doubles as a venue for events like book talks and cheese workshops—it even won a James Beard award for design. Plus, INTPs are abstract thinkers who recognize the world as a complex machine, so they might have what it takes to understand what it takes to make some great vino. How does a career change sound?

 

 

 

 

ENTJ: Blue Ridge, Georgia

Commanders love long-term planning and goal-setting, so a vacation property with an especially good ROI should delight them. In a reportdone by Rented.com, Blue Ridge, Georgia ranked high on a list of best places to buy a rental vacation property. The report favors destinations in the South, where there isn’t a housing shortage and the cost of living is more affordable. Because of these criteria, Colorado and Utah cities don’t fare too well on the list. But thanks to Blue Ridge, you don’t have to rule out the mountains. The northern Georgia city boasts mountains, as well as other awesome amenities such as waterfalls, craft breweries, and a scenic railway.

 

 

 

 

 

ENTP: Austin, Texas

Bored by routine, the ENTP-types will find something fun and new to do every time they slip away to this Texas city, which embraces the motto “Keep Austin Weird.” While in town, skip a boring city pool in favor of swimming laps in Barton Springs, a beloved, three-acre spring-fed outdoor pool that’s 68 to 70 degrees year-round. Watch bats flutter about under the Congress Avenue Bridge just after sunset or marvel at street art murals at the HOPE Outdoor Gallery. Plus, a calendar full of public lectures and events at the University of Texas—Austin will satiate the intellectual curiosity of ENTPs, who are unwilling to give vacation days to their busy minds.

 

 

 

 

 

View the full article here at Apartment Therapy