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14 January 2011

Week in Review: What We Liked From the Week That Was

Where are young people flocking to live? With a reputation of being a hip place, Austin attracted the largest number of 25-34 year olds between 2007 and 2009. Generation Y-ers are good at predicting the next hottest neighborhoods. If you want to stay ahead of the curve next time, learn how to predict the next Austin.

Call it a helping hand. To assist would-be homebuyers who are struggling to come up with a decent down payment and boost homeownership in depressed markets, state and local governments are introducing low- and no-interest loans and grants as part of “down payment assistance programs.” The number of options has increased 3{0a8e414e4f0423ce9f97e7209435b0fa449e6cffaf599cce0c556757c159a30c} to 5{0a8e414e4f0423ce9f97e7209435b0fa449e6cffaf599cce0c556757c159a30c} in the last six months to over 1,000 such programs nationally.

Martha Stewart is considered the queen of home and garden, cooking, entertaining and decorating. The media darling now hopes her influence will popularize green ‘netzero’ homes. She has teamed up with home builder KB Home to offer environmentally friendly homes which include solar panels on the roof, kitchen composting bins, a rainwater-collection system and an optional electric-car charging station. What do you think?

Slowly but surely… Fannie Mae this week released its prediction that home prices will rise 0.6 percent this year, an increase that will begin in the third quarter. Estimates from some of the industry’s largest groups, including the Mortgage Bankers Association and NAR, predict that home sales and construction will rise in every quarter and housing demand will stabilize as affordability increases and inventory declines. So what states are predicted to recover the quickest? The Dakotas, Iowa, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

The White House

It may be hard to believe, but eight housing markets in the country– including the suburbs of New York City, Los Angeles and Portland– are overpriced, according to Local Market Monitor. From overpriced to undervalued, the Los Angeles Times reported this week that the White House has lost 23.6{0a8e414e4f0423ce9f97e7209435b0fa449e6cffaf599cce0c556757c159a30c} in value since the Housing Boom.

Could higher property taxes and transportation costs cause the demise of the country’s iconic suburbia? As fuel costs skyrocket– expected to increase 6.3 percent in 2011– and local governments look for ways to make their budgets, residents of suburban America are quickly noticing the cost of living may cost too much.

Vacation home, anyone? Due to deep discounts and gains in the stock market, sales of second homes in vacation communities like Hilton Head and Palm Beach soared last year.

Finally, thanks to everyone who came up and said hello at the Inman Connect Conference in New York City this week.  It was great seeing so many friends and making new ones.  You could feel the energy throughout the conference as everyone looks forward to the challenges and opportunities of a new year!

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