City Burbs

The housing market continues to experience mixed results, depending on the area of the country and demographics. For example, while the homeownership rate for seniors is 80 percent, about 40 percent of those over 65 were still making house payments in 2010, according to a 2014 report from the joint center for housing. While many seniors prefer to stay in their own homes, those that are moving tend to seek out homes located near urban centers. Recent trends lean toward walkable city areas with a multigenerational population rather than retirement communities.

However, as the job market improves, real estate insiders believe more young adults will enter the first-time homebuyers market. For 2015, some of the hottest projected residential markets include Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis and Des Moines, Iowa. The latter two boast large populations of millennials attracted by job growth and affordability.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Older Americans a Pillar of Housing Market with High Ownership Rate,” from Bloomberg, Dec. 8, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “10 Hottest Housing Markets for 2015,” from CNN Money, Dec. 7, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Top Metro Areas Poised for Uptick in Baby Boomer Home-sales,” from the National Association of Realtors, Dec. 10, 2014.]

Urban centers are on the rise. The Brookings Institution reports that urban counties are growing more quickly than a decade ago, while suburban growth has slowed. The housing market in suburbs has suffered most notably due to the tightening of mortgage lending standards and fewer jobs. Young adults are staying in larger cities longer because they boast better job opportunities, and they cannot yet afford to buy a home — a situation that should rectify itself as the economy improves.

[CLICK HERE to read the essay, “A Planet of Suburbs,” from The Economist, December 2014.]

One problem with city dwelling is finding a safe place to live at an affordable price. In New York City, some developers are taking a sustainable green approach by repurposing stackable shipping container as living quarters. The steel containers take up a smaller carbon footprint and offer an affordable option that can be located in basically any area that gets approved. The idea stems from an effort to create structurally sound, temporary dwellings for displaced victims after Hurricane Sandy a few years ago. Since many New Yorkers are used to living in small quarters, the idea is to retrofit the cargo containers into apartments and join them together to create a high rise or village. One couple purchased six shipping containers and designed a 1,600-square-foot, energy-efficient home connected by an interior staircase.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “NYC Developers Team up to Boost Shipping Container Housing and Retail in the City,” from Inhabitat.com, Dec. 12, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “NYC is Preparing Shipping Container Homes for Future Hurricanes and Disasters,” from Inhabitat.com, Nov. 23, 2012.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Brooklyn Couple Moves into Stacked Shipping Container Home in Williamsburg,” from Inhabitat.com, March 4, 2013.]

Immigrants have had a significant impact on America’s housing market as well. Between 2012 and 2013, larger cities lost about 5.4 million inhabitants but gained 3.3 million migrants from other areas of the country. Many of them were foreign immigrants, attributed with saving some cities from “outright depopulation.”

While some immigrants look to legislative permission to live in the U.S., others simply buy their way in. In the last fiscal year, 10,928 foreign families applied for a little-known federal visa program known as EB-5. This program allows foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in U.S. projects to become eligible for a temporary visa. If the project is found to have produced the pledged 10 jobs per investor, the investors and their immediate families become eligible for green cards. More than 80 percent of applicants typically receive approval, and their numbers are increasing. In the previous fiscal year, 6,346 foreign investors applied — a significant increase over only 486 in 2006 — according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the program’s administrator.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Hot Source of Property Financing: Visa Seekers,” from The Wall Street Journal, Dec. 9, 2014.]

Obviously, home ownership is part of the American dream and not to be taken for granted. Remember too that homes are an asset and, for many, a significant portion of their net worth. If we can help you leverage your assets to help you feel more confident in your financial future, please give us a call.


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