Table of Contents 2014

Editor's Notes

  • Don’t Delay the Pain

    Housing's healing—slowly—and it's painful to continue to have to work through its challenges, but delaying the pain only makes it worse.

     

Products

Sound Off

Crowe's Economy

Other Articles

  • The Long Tale of the Taper

    Wall Street Journal staffer Jon Hilsenrath reports that Federal Reserve officials will likely move closer to ending their purchases of mortgage and Treasury bonds at a policy meeting next week and discuss when and how to raise interest rates (paywall).

     
  • FHFA Pushes G-fee Input Deadline Back

    HousingWire's Brena Swanson reports that the Federal Housing Finance Agency extended its deadline for accepting industry input on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac guarantee fees to Sept. 8. The FHFA previously announced in June that it was seeking industry opinion through Aug. 4.

     
  • Down On the Border Bill

    MarketWatch's Robert Schroeder reports that the House's $659 million border-control bill falls far short of President Obama's $3.7 billion request. Immigration reform remains in Congressional gridlock limbo.

     
  • 1Q14 Sacramento Housing Market Analysis

    The first-quarter was a sales struggle in Sacramento. The first-quarter data from Metrostudy indicates that closings slumped in spring while prices continued to rise.

     
  • Top 10 Cities for Nuisance Floods from Rising Seas

    NOAA's report, Sea Level Rise and Nuisance Flood Frequency Changes around the United States, identifies the top 10 U.S. cities with the highest increase in nuisance flooding between 1957-1963 and 2007-2013.

     
  • Lowe's Touts On-Demand Delivery Program for Pros

    Light-duty trucks stationed at 200 stores have made deliveries since April.

     
  • Taylor Morrison Adds to Austin Pipeline

    Austin Business Journal staffer Jan Buchholz reports that Taylor Morrison continues its full court press in Austin with the announcement it has purchased 100 acres for another new home community—this one within the city limits of Dripping Springs.

     
  • Epcon Communities to build Courtyards at Hayden Run in Hilliard

    Columbus Business First staffer Brian R. Ball reports that Epcon Communities is about to break ground on a Hilliard condo project, and 23 of the 50 units already have been sold.

     
  • The 6 U.S. Markets With the Fastest-Emerging Home Equity

    A total of 9.1 million U.S. residential properties were seriously underwater in the second quarter of 2014, representing 17% of all properties with a mortgage. RealtyTrac's new report highlights where markets are the most equity-rich, where they're coming back above water the fastest, and where...

     
  • Pending Resales Notch Back

    National Association of Home Builders economist Stephen Melman comments on yesterday's release of the Pending Home Sales Index (PHSI), a forward-looking indicator based on signed contracts reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR). It decreased 1.1% in June to 102.7, after an upward...

     
  • Strong Towns: One Man's Fight to Fix the American Dream

    TIME's Leigh Gallagher profiles engineer Charles Marohn whose non profit Strong Towns spawned from the "insanity" he practiced professionally as a country planner and engineer.

     
  • America's 10 Fastest Shrinking Companies

    4/7 Wall St. reviewed the S&P 500 companies that had the largest revenue declines over their last 10 full fiscal years to determine their list of the country's fastest shrinking companies. See which public builders made the list.

     
  • How Buying an NYC Condo Stacks Up As an Investment

    Wall Street Journal staffer Stefanos Chen takes a look at how the commodities markets for hogs, crude oil, coffee and gold have performed when compared to returns on an investment in a condo (paywall).

     
  • The Return of the Mortgage Buy Down

    Real estate columnist Kenneth R. Harney wonders, if he were to pay money to your lender to lower your mortgage rate-permanently-would you make him a better offer on his house?

     
  • Getting a Grip on Why People Who Ought to Refinance Don't

    CoreLogic chief economist Mark Fleming looks at a paper by Benjamin J. Keys, Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago; Devin G. Pope, Booth School of Business, University of Chicago; and Jaren C. Pope, Department of Economics, Brigham Young University. Their "Failure to Refinance"...

     
  • Getting a Loan: Is There a Home Bank Advantage?

    New York Times small business columnist Robb Mandelbaum reports that banking officials say they give better terms to regular customers. But is that really the case?

     
  • What Amazon's Foray Into 3D Printing Means

    Amazon announced today that it's getting into the 3D printing industry. Here's what it means for the technology.

     
  • Risky Notes Stir Doubt Among Mortgage Investors

    Investors who piled into bets on some risky types of U.S. mortgage bonds are showing signs of doubt that the notes will extend their rally.

     
  • GDP Gets a Hand From Consumers, Inventory

    U.S. economic growth likely rebounded in the second-quarter from a winter-induced slump at the start of the year and will probably continue to gather momentum through the rest of 2014.

     
  • Services Sector Sustains Brisk Pace

    Activity in the U.S. services sector held at its highest level in 4-1/2 years in July, though readings for new business and employment growth weakened, a survey showed on Monday.

     
  • Home Is Where the Smart Is ... Or Wants to Be

    Gigaom's Stacey Higginbotham comments on how far the "smart home" industry needs to come if it wants to serve mainstream consumers.

     
  • Health Trends, Everywhere

    MarketWatch's Russ Britt taps into Bureau of Labor Statistics data to develop a new map that shows how health care has become the predominant employer in most U.S. states.

     
  • 2014's Most & Least Recession-Recovered Cities

    WalletHub analyst Richie Bernado compared the 150 largest U.S. cities to identify those that have experienced the most and least growth since the recession. We used 18 metrics-from the inflow of college-educated workers and number of new businesses to unemployment rates and home price...

     
  • ZipRealty's 5 Fastest-Moving Housing Markets at Mid-Year

     
  • What Zillow's $3.5 Billion Deal for Trulia Means

    New York Times staffer Michael J. De La Merced reports on Zillow's agreement on Monday to buy Trulia for about $3.5 billion in stock, creating a giant repository of online listings for real estate and home values.

     
  • Does Policy Give Big Banks an Edge?

    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is about to release a report on what economic advantages, if any, are enjoyed by banks considered "too big to fail." Here's Brookings Economic Studies Fellow Douglas Elliott's summary of what's in it.

     
  • If It Looks Like a Dead Market, and Smells Like a Dead Market ...

    Wall Street Journal staffer Nick Timiraos reports that it's been nearly seven years since the market for mortgage bonds that aren't backed by government-related entities dried up, and a top financial policymaker says there's more evidence at this point that those markets are dead--not dormant...

     
  • Pay-to-Stay Visas Take Off

    CityLab's Kriston Capps comments on a once-obscure program that provides permanent resident status in exchange for foreign investment in troubled places, which may have started to pay dividends in some U.S. cities.

     
  • Where Refugees to the U.S. Come From

    Pew Research Center analysts Christopher Inkpen and Ruth Igielnik plot the country of origin of more than 3 million refugees who have arrived in the United States since 1975.

     
  • The Typical Household, Now Worth a Third Less

    New York Times columnist Anna Bernasek cites data from a new study from the Russell Sage Foundation that reveals a stunning fact: inflation-adjusted net worth for the typical household fell 36% in the 10 years ended in 2013.

     
  • 1Q14 Columbus Housing Market Analysis

    The first-quarter data from Metrostudy shows a slight decline in the Columbus, Ohio housing market with a decrease in closings and a decrease in the cost per square foot. New-home sales will likely rise in the summer months.

     
  • Top 25 New-Home Price Hikes in 2014

    Where in the nation are new-home prices on fire? Here, BUILDER looks at the top 25 markets racing away from affordability.

     
  • Modular Homes Put Efficiency to the Test

    Test homes will compare three approaches to energy efficiency.

     
  • A Number of New California Projects Announced in July

    In July, builders and lenders announced a number of projects on the West Coast. Here is a brief run down.

     
  • 1Q14 Charleston Housing Market Analysis

    The first-quarter Metrostudy data for the Charleston-North Charleston housing market shows stable sales throughout 2013 and into 2014, and continued demand for new homes.

     
  • Assured ... Predictable ... Dangerous

    How come improving margins--the return on Sales--gets all the love and attention these days, when it's velocity--asset turns--are where home building companies can and should look for constant, sustainable improvement? SAI Consulting's Fletcher L. Groves highlights the benefits of focusing on...

     
  • Boy Meets Girl ... Later

    The White House wants to help you move out of your parents' basement. That was the message from Jason Furman, the chairman of the White House's Council of Economic Advisers, at the Zillow Housing Forum in Washington yesterday.

     
  • America's Safest Bike Cities

    Fox News contributor Catarina Cowden taps into data from the Alliance's 2014 Benchmarking Report, to help her compile this list of the 10 safest cities for bicycling. Bike-ability is the next best thing to walkability to generate instant value among young adult communities.

     
  • Zillow, Trulia, 'Checkmate'

    In Brad Inman's view, this is checkmate. Soon, Zillow will control the chessboard, like Amazon does the publishing industry. The only meaningful consumer destination, Amazon, after many savvy moves, now controls pricing, merchandising, the data and the market.

     
  • The Wealthiest States In America

    Movoto chief armchair economist Chris Kolmar looks at the sundry ways states compare--apples to apples--on wealth's scale, and determines that these 10 are "Scrooge McDuck rich."

     
  • Will Comps Tell You Enough? No, Create a New Path

    Newland Communities marketing guru Teri Slavik-Tsuyuki has one of the more provocative streams of thought, observation, discipline, and ideation going on in her blog. This one's about thinking different.

     
  • StanPac's Pet Suites Go Viral

    Associated Press correspondent Sue Manning reports that Standard Pacific decided to offer pet suites after conducting livability studies with homeowners. The rest is arf-arfin' history.

     
  • Evolutionary Home Builders' Brandon Weiss, Unplugged on Passive

    The availability and affordability of green housing is a concern for many eco-conscioius home buyers in the U.S. today. As green building technology continues to improve, more and more home buyers are realizing the long term benefits of building green....

     
  • Labor Pain

    Columnist Lew Sichelman taps into recent National Association of Home Builders data on one of home building's pain points, labor shortages. They're getting worse because the dollars involved in addressing the problem keep going up.

     
  • Will Zillow Supplant NAR as Real Estate Insight Beacon?

    Zillow and other real-estate Web sites are displacing the National Association of Realtors as the source of insight and information about the U.S. housing market.

     
  • Key Facts ... Your Homes' Locks are Vulnerable

    Leave your ring of cut-brass secrets unattended on your desk at work, at a bar table while you buy another round, or in a hotel room, and any stranger---or friend---can upload your keys to their online collection.

     
  • It's Goldman's Turn to Pay the GSE Piper on Securities Gone Bad

    A deal to resolve a U.S. regulator's claims against Goldman Sachs Group Inc over mortgage-backed securities sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac leading up to the financial crisis could cost the bank between $800 million and $1.25 billion, according to a person familiar with the matter.

     
  • I Plug the [Car] Body Electric: Top 10 Cities for Hybrids

    If you get a jolt out of electric cars, get your next charge in these cities.

     
  • Are First-Time Buyers Clocking In? Yes? No? Maybe

    Wall Street Journal staffer Kris Hudson reports that the return of first-time buyers to the housing market remains prone to fits and starts (paywall). This week, two leading home builders differed on whether first-timers are on their way back.

     
  • Condos Claw Back

    CoreLogic's Sam Khater takes a look what's afoot in condo land. In Q4 2013, condo construction completions in the U.S. reached 2,100 buildings, up 11% from 1,900 in Q4 2012 and up 90% from 1,100 in Q2 2012.

     
  • IMF cuts U.S. 2014 growth forecast to 1.7%

    The International Monetary Fund said it expects the U.S. economy to grow 1.7% in 2014, even more slowly than it predicted a month ago, as weakness in the first quarter offsets an expected pick-up in the second half of the year.

     
  • Now, If the Gov and the Private Sector Can Get it Together ...

    Wall Street Journal staffer Eric Morath has analysis of the most recent revisions to first-quarter GDP data: The economy had an unusual bright spot in the dreary first quarter--the federal government (paywall).

     
  • An Increasingly Important Segment of New Home Purchases: Cash

     
  • Lenders Note Impact of Higher FHA Fees

    National Association of Realtors economist Ken Frears notes that lenders say that as many as 5.7% of loan origination volume goes away due to increased Federal Housing Administration fees, which translates into as many as a quarter of a million home purchase loans.

     
  • Homes Near Good Schools in the Fastest-Growing Cities

     
  • Solar Multi-Tasking

    Fast Company's Adele Peters looks at OnTop, a solar panel design that comes from a student team in Germany that's developing roof-top systems that include a livable unit that can be leased.

     
  • Moving Trends: GenY, Babies, and Baby Boomers

    Trulia analyst Rebecca Clay taps into Trulia trends data to make exclusive observations about the migratory patterns of Millennials, babies, and Baby Boomers these days.

     
  • No Jobs? No Making Babies

    Pew Research Center analyst Drew DeSilver notes that preliminary data from the National Center for Health Statistics say that states that were hit the hardest by the Great Recession also saw the biggest birthrate declines.

     
  • Units In a Box ... D.C. Apartment Goes Up in 3 Days

    Washington Post reporter Michael Laris reports that a container apartment went up in three days this week in Washington.

     
  • Vice Magnets ... 10 Places to Try Not to Raise Kids

    MarketWatch's Quentin Fottrell taps into a hit list of places people may want to think twice about as they choose where to migrate with kids in tow. Here are 10 sin cities, each with a dubiously distinctive forte.

     
  • How to Grasp the EPA's Over-reach on Clean Water Act

    ProPublica contributor Naveena Sadasivam does an impressive job unraveling fact from spin in her account of how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been frustrated in its efforts to pursue hundreds of cases of water pollution because of legal fights about exactly what bodies of water it...

     
  • As Drought Persists, California Considers Policy Options

    Bloomberg/ BusinessWeek's James Nash reports that state and local officials in California are struggling to track water use as Governor Jerry Brown calls for a 20% drop in consumption to alleviate a record drought.

     
  • Fed Transparency Bill Due for House Panel Vote

    Reuters staffer Michael Flaherty reports that the House Financial Services Committee said on Friday that it will vote on a bill this week aimed at bringing more transparency to the Federal Reserve, including the controversial rules-based approach to its policy.

     
  • Fed Transparency Bill Due for House Panel Vote

    Reuters staffer Michael Flaherty reports that the House Financial Services Committee said on Friday that it will vote on a bill this week aimed at bringing more transparency to the Federal Reserve, including the controversial rules-based approach to its policy.

     
  • No Immigration Reform Necessary

    If you're a skilled technology worker or a poor laborer, it's getting harder to become a U.S. citizen. But, Fortune's Peter Elkind and Marky Jones report that for $500,000, it's another matter.

     
  • Great College Towns for Retirement

    Kiplinger's Sandra Block rounds up the top 10 towns for retirees looking to make a move. Most are in states that are tax-friendly to retirees. Most have home prices close to the national median (some far below), active restaurant scenes, and access to good health care.

     
  • From the 'Trick Question' Department ... What To Do Before You Turn 30?

    VIDEO: Life moves fast, and there's a lot to do. Try to fit these 15 things in before you turn the big 3-0. Or, better yet, try to persuade your under 30-year-old kids from trying them.

     
  • For Lennar, Multifamily and Student Housing Are Converging

    Phoenix Business Journal staffer Mike Sunnucks reports on Lennar plans for a 395-unit apartment complex east of Arizona State University in Tempe, according to city of Tempe documents. The location would "cater to" ASU students.

     
  • Horton Moves Fast for Share Leverage

    Wall Street Journal staffer Kris Hudson's focusing on the market's rough reaction Thursday to D.R. Horton's use of incentives to boost volume (paywall). Highlighted here is Wall Street investors' seeming intolerance for sound long-term strategy.

     
  • PSW Homes' Big Idea is Small and Urban

    Dallas Morning News real estate maven Steve Brown reports that Austin-based PSW Homes purchased land to build more than 150 Dallas houses in five communities.The strategy? PSW will be building smaller, more affordable homes in older Dallas neighborhoods.

     
  • Why it's Unusually Hard to Find a Newly Built Home

    Washington Post staffer Dina ElBoghdady reports that potential buyers are seeing a relatively greater supply of existing homes to new homes for sale than they would have before the market tanked.

     
  • What To Do with The Immigrant Children?

    As the number of unaccompanied children trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border has surged, the increase in apprehensions among children ages 12 and younger has been far greater than among teens, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of previously unreleased government data.

     
  • New-Home Slowdown Pressures Recovery

    Wall Street Journal staffers Eric Morath and Kris Hudson comment on the latest download of Census data on new home sales. They're ready to call it a downright housing recession with broader economic ramifications. We don't buy the headline.

     
  • How To Understand Millennials and Home Buying

    Wall Street Journal staffer Nick Timiraos questions why millennials aren't buying homes (although they are). A top White House economist weighs in (paywall).

     
  • How Tight is Mortgage Credit, Really?

    Wall Street Journal staffer Nick Timiraos looks into mortgage credit access for the you and mes of the world (paywall). He notes, It has become a common refrain: "It's too hard to get a mortgage." But is it true?

     
  • Multifamily For-Rent Demand Keeps Pressure on Pipeline

    Calculated Risk's Bill McBride takes a look at the latest National Multifamily Housing Council Survey of Market Conditions, which are rocking. For multifamily, the beat goes on.

     
  • Consumers Spending a Concern in Forward Economic Look

    Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta economists Dave Altig and Pat Higgins look at a four-part data divining rod in hopes of understanding the timing and trajectory of the gross domestic product figure. Consumer spending may be the wild card.

     
  • Should Congress Tell the Fed What to Do?

    And wouldn't that be nothing, like they do in Congress? Economist View blog meister Mark Thoma queries, What if the U.S. Federal Reserve Board had to implement monetary policy according to a specific rule that would require specific policy actions depending on the circumstances?

     
  • In Through the Poor Door

    A separate entrance for cheaper units--hardly unheard of in Manhattan real estate--is in part a consequence of the very inclusionary policies that New York is trying to enforce.

     
  • Zillow in Advanced Talks to Buy Rival Trulia

    Zillow is in advanced talks to buy rival online real-estate information service Trulia, according to people familiar with the matter, in a deal that could give their fast-growing websites more power.

     
  • Mortgage Rates Hold Steady

    Mortgage rates are lower than they were a year ago, having dipped recently after rising at the end of 2013.

     
  • Factory Activity Makes Progress

    The U.S. manufacturing sector expanded in July, though the pace of expansion eased as new orders and employment also grew at slower paces, an industry report showed on Thursday.

     
  • Jobless Claims Plummet as Economy Gains

    The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits fell to the lowest level in nearly 8-1/2 years last week, suggesting the labor market recovery was gaining traction.

     
  • Here's An Awesome Map Of All The States Ranked By Their State Pride

    Are you loud and proud about where you call home? Find out how your home ranked in state pride.

     
  • The One and Only Wrinkle Risk Rankings

    Sperling's BestPlaces, partnering with RoC® Skincare, unveils the RoC® Skincare Wrinkle Ranking Study, outlines the 50 most wrinkle-prone regions in the United States and identifies the underlying factors that may cause skin to age. Why? Because it's the last Friday in July, and because we're so...

     
  • America's Snobbiest Small Cities

    Movoto's Laura Allen has some fun heat-mapping "snooty cities," places where people are only content with the finer things in life.

     
  • Without Chinese Home Buyers, Markets Would be Hurting

    CNN/Money's Les Christie reports that Chinese buyers are now the biggest international players in the U.S. housing market and some states are seeing billions of dollars in real estate deals as a result.

     
  • Remodelers' Confidence Rebounds

    National Association of Home Builders economist Paul Emrath comments on NAHB's Remodeling Market Index (RMI), which rose three points to 56 in the second quarter of 2014; reclaiming the territory it had lost during what was likely a weather-related dip in the fist three months of the year.

     
  • A Porch By Any Other Name is Still a Porch

    Wall Street Journal staffer Amy Gamerman reports that, after decades in decline, the porch is making a comeback as an outdoor room for dining, lounging and connecting with neighbors (paywall). Just don't call it a deck.

     
  • Paging, Mr. Gadget Inspector

    New York Times staffer Jenna Wortham reports that the old gadgets are piling up. She asks, is there a way to deal with the formerly shiny new things being dumped in the back of closets?

     
  • 1Q14 St. Louis Housing Market Analysis

    Sales and average household income for buyers are both down in St. Louis. The first-quarter data from Metrostudy for the St. Louis housing market shows sales have slowed significantly in 2014. Despite the drop in closings overall, price appreciation in the market is still picking up pace hindering...

     
  • Uber-High-End Workbench

    Anything you build on this bench is guaranteed to be a piece of garbage-compared to the bench itself.

     
  • 1Q14 North Port Housing Market Analysis

    The first-quarter Metrostudy data for the North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton housing market shows slight cooling in the beginning of 2014, but overall stable conditions and growth in new-home demand.

     
  • Orders, Pricing Fuel Solid Q2 for Pulte

    PulteGroup reports second quarter 2014 financial results. Price-power factored into Pulte's margin growth, but painstakingly developed disciplines have also kicked into play as Pulte realized orders-per-community per month increases year-on-year and it has begun to step up community count growth as...

     
  • FourPlans: Outstanding New Homes Under 2,500 Sq. Ft.

    Here’s the best from the newest crop of not-too-big house plans. Look for head-turning exteriors, spacious kitchens, and thoughtful amenities.

     
  • Stellar Horton Q2 Tripped Up in Chi-Town

    MarketWatch's Anna Prior reports that D.R. Horton Inc. said its fiscal third-quarter profit fell despite strong home-building revenue and an increase in new sales orders, as the home builder recorded impairment charges tied to assets in the Chicago area.