Privately-owned housing that’s built specifically for college students is proving to be a lucrative real estate investment in certain markets, according to new data from Axiometrics, commissioned by property management software company AppFolio. They conclude that these shifts could upend the dynamics in local real estate markets near major colleges and universities.

More than 47,000 new beds in privately-owned student housing are scheduled for delivery during the current semester, which is higher than any other year they examined. While the researchers expect more development to come online this time next year, they also suggest demand will remain high throughout 2017 and beyond.

“In all, more than 1,000 beds were added at each of 12 university markets. Of those, only two have more than 1,000 beds scheduled for 2017 delivery,” writes Alexis Hammond, manager of marketing communications at AppFolio. “But as more students go to college, more student housing will be needed, and the sector looks to continue to be profitable for developers and property owners.”

The report also finds that while enrollment is up at many universities across the nation, growth is highest in the South. In particular, Texas A&M is seeing a huge demand for student housing with enrollment up more than 15 percent.

Unlike colleges and universities in the northeast, many of these schools are located in smaller cities with populations between 100,000 and 200,000. Researchers say this means absorbing even a modest increase in student enrollment significantly impacts local real estate markets.

Source: “Where Students Live – The State of Off-Campus, On-Campus and Nearby Apartments,” (Appfolio blog, Oct. 18, 2016)

New research reveals that many buyers relocating to your area from across state lines may have never even visited before. Find out where real estate pros have the most educating to do.

Each year about 5 million Americans move across state lines. Often, the drivers of these moves are major life changes such as marriage, having kids, starting a new job, retiring, or exploring new educational opportunities. These types of relocation are even more stressful than the typical move, because they’re often done on tight deadlines and with little research, especially the job-related ones.

That is made all the more difficult by the fact that many Americans have very little first-hand knowledge about much of our nation. A recent study by and Ipsos Public Affairs looked at the average number of states Americans have visited and found that the typical adult has only traveled to 12 states. The study — which asked more than 2,000 adults about where they have lived, where they have visited, and where they would like to visit — breaks out the resulting data by various demographics as well as political affiliation with fascinating results that tell the story of our changing nation.

One interesting finding is that Americans today have seen less of the nation than previous generations. There are a number of trends that have contributed to this, including the rise in air travel, which has increased about 75 percent since 1988. This has led to fewer people being able to check off what were previously great road-trip states like those along Route 66. Between 1990 and 2009, “personal miles traveled” by car declined 12 percent, according to the National Household Travel Survey.

Americans’ concept of travel may be changing too; an article in the International Business Times put forth the notion that we’re a culture that prefers “purpose-built vacations that [are] more about destination and less about journey.” Couple that with a ongoing rise in service-related jobs (which are less likely to require an interstate move) and you get fewer long-distance movers and fewer Americans who are well acquainted with their nation as vacationers.

This also means that the movers you do have coming in from far away are less likely to have any first-hand knowledge about their new home town. So what does that mean for real estate professionals? You’re going to be more important than ever due to these five elements.

1. The freak-out factor

It’s one thing to move across town. It’s another beast entirely to pack up the moving van for an interstate haul. These are stressful events, but hopefully exciting, too.

Thing is, they’re made more stressful by the unknown. And because no single state has been visited by a majority of Americans according to the Public Affairs survey, that means more stress for those moving to places they know little about. Florida comes closest at 48 percent of adults saying they’ve visited for business or leisure. On top of that, only three states have been “seen” (in other words, lived in or visited) by the majority of Americans: Florida, California, and New York. Therefore, expect clients moving to states other than those three to be a little more freaked out than normal.

2. Excitement gap

Relocation clients might be excited about a new job. But if their new home state is one they haven’t even bothered visiting, how interested do you think they are in actually living there? Many of the states showing high rates of interstate moves (such as North Carolina and Texas) also show single-digit interest among potential visitors. Make sure you understand how likely it is that the average American has visited your state so you can be ready to help close this gap.

3. Opportunities for a shifting role

If you’re working in a market that people are less familiar with, you have the opportunity to differentiate yourself with service and education. Just as much as you’re a buyer’s agent, you’re also a local tour guide and cheerleader. Help clients feel like they’ve made a great decision and everything will be OK. Yes, it’ll take more hand-holding, but these movers will appreciate it.

4. Help those who are helping your state

In a study published in American Demographics in 1988, Alaska was the only state with fewer than 22 percent of Americans reporting having lived in it or visited. Nearly 30 years later, 40 percent of states fall below that threshold. As you know, the strength of the real estate market is linked to the strength of the local economy, which is in many ways tied to the strength of its economic development (talent attraction) and tourism industries. This study shows that there are some markets that will have a tough time with both of those efforts without a solid, continued marketing effort. Talk to your local chamber of commerce or convention and visitor’s bureau to see how you can help efforts to positively position the community as a whole.

5. Some of the freak-out factor is a good kind of freak-out

A separate study from Livability/Ipsos Public Affairs asked about what would motivate people to undertake an interstate move. Nearly half said “An income increase of at least 20 percent relative to cost of living changes.” That’s twice as many as another sample that were asked if a 10 percent raise would do the trick. So the people who are coming in might well be feeling financially confident and ready to upgrade their home and lifestyle.


“White is the new black for home electronics,” The Verge reports. And a rush of new product introductions is helping to confirm that.

The much-hyped Google Home, for example, is being released in white on Nov. 4. Google Wifi, which will be shipped in early December, will be offered only in white too. Amazon’s Echo and Echo Dot, which was traditionally sold in black, started being released with a white option in September. And many more companies are touting their white hued tech products, everything from SUB subwoofer to Microsoft’s Xbox One S.

Black was once the reigning color for home electronics. But our “living room gadgets are finally moving away from the mustachioed bachelor-pad look favored by classic rock-lovin’ playboys to something far more modern,” The Verge reports.

After all, white is one of the hottest colors in 2016 in home décor too, according to design experts.

Source: “First Click: White Is the New Black for Home Electronics,” The Verge (Oct. 12, 2016) and “Haven’t You Heard? Your Home Electronics Are the Wrong Color,”® (Oct. 12, 2016)

Higher interest rates this month may be spooking borrowers. Total mortgage applications for refinancings and home purchases dropped 6 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis for the week ending Oct. 7, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported Wednesday.

The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 3.68 percent last week, up from 3.62 percent the week prior, the MBA reports.

“As incoming economic data reassured investors regarding U.S. growth, and financial markets returned to viewing a December Fed hike as increasingly likely, mortgage rates rose to their highest level in a month last week,” says Michael Fratantoni, the MBA’s chief economist. “Total and refinance application volume dropped to their lowest levels since June as a result.”

Refinancings have been dropping for several weeks now, with an 8 percent drop last week. Mortgage applications for home purchases, on the other hand, posted a smaller drop at 3 percent week over week. Purchase applications are still 27 percent higher than a year ago.

Source: “Mortgage Applications Down 6% as Rising Rates Take a Toll,” CNBC (Oct. 12, 2016)

 hot mkt

Home owners entering the market are motivated to sell desiring either an upgrade or a downsized home, finds a new survey conducted by®. Home owners looking to move due to retirement or to lower their cost of living were the two biggest increases this year in®’s survey revealing sellers’ top motivations.

“This is a good sign that more home owners may be motivated in the year ahead to sell their homes,” writes Jonathan Smoke,®’s chief economist, in a recent column about inventory challenges plaguing markets. “A lack of inventory has been the biggest problem buyers faced for most of the past year.”

Indeed, in 2014, active inventory at® totaled 2.1 million residential listings. In August of this year, however, active inventories have plummeted to 1.7 million active listings, a drop of more than 8 percent.® recently identified the following top motivators for selling, including:

  • They want a different neighborhood: 42%
  • They need a bigger home: 21%
  • They need a home with different features: 21%
  • They need a smaller home: 19%
  • They want a location with better weather/view/lifestyle: 19%
  • They need to lower their cost of living: 19%
  • They are getting ready to retire or just retired: 15%

But even when home owners want to sell, they may not be able to. Home owners reported the top impediments to selling were their perception of having to make improvements to their home first and the concern over finding a new property to purchase before selling. Sellers expressed concern about the dearth of homes for sale that make it difficult to find a new home.

Source: “The Real Reasons Behind America’s Housing Inventory Dilemma,”® (Oct. 6, 2016)

As of Friday morning, Hurricane Matthew was nearing the coast of Florida, threatening to wipe out homes along the coasts of Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. CoreLogic, a real estate data firm, estimates that nearly 2 million homes in the path of the hurricane are at risk of storm surge damage. The hurricane has the potential to cause about $200 billion in damage in real estate from those four states.

Officials say Hurricane Matthew is now expected to make landfall as a Category 3 with maximum winds up to 120 miles per hour. Forecasters are predicting a storm surge in some areas that could top 11 feet as well as 15 inches of rain that could fall.

The National Weather Service issued a warning Friday morning that some areas could be “uninhabitable for weeks or months.”

View the chart below to see the estimated number and total value of residential properties by state that are at risk, broken down by different categories of the hurricane.

This chart below from CoreLogic highlights the metro areas most at risk. (Note: The charts reflect the potential damage from hurricane-driven surge flooding and does not take into account any potential damage that could come from wind and rain associated with the hurricane.)

Source: CoreLogic and “Hurricane Matthew Stalks Florida Coast,” CNN (Oct. 7, 2016)

The Department of Housing and Urban Development recently released new guidance that emphasizes the Fair Housing Act also protects home buyers who have limited English proficiency.

“Having a limited ability to speak English should never be a reason to be denied a home,” says Gustavo Velasquez, HUD assistant secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “Every family that calls this nation home has the same rights when it comes to renting or buying a home, regardless of where they come from or language they speak.”

Nearly 9 percent of the population in the U.S. has limited English proficiency (known as LEP), according to HUD. About 65 percent of those LEP individuals speak Spanish; 7 percent speak Chinese; 3 percent speak Vietnamese, 2 percent speak Korean; and 2 percent speak Tagalog.

The new guidance particularly flags mortgage brokers and lenders, emphasizing they must provide borrowers with limited English proficiency access to mortgage programs. HUD says it has become alarmed over cases where lenders have denied Hispanic and other non-English speaking borrowers’ requests to get loan documents translated.

Sara Pratt, a senior counsel at Relman, Dane & Colfax, told National Mortgage News that this is the first time HUD has told mortgage lenders that LEP borrowers are covered and protected by the Fair Housing Act.

“HUD is not requiring lenders to translate loan documents,” Pratt says. But lenders should not stand in LEP borrowers’ way from getting a translation on their own. Also, Pratt says lenders should allow borrowers to use an interpreter or translator before signing loan documents.

Source: “Lenders Need to Help Borrowers with Limited English Skills, HUD Says,” National Mortgage News (Sept. 19, 2016)

The average closing costs home buyers are paying nationwide in 2016 is $3,815 – an average of 1.8 percent of the median sales price, according to a new study by ATTOM Data Solutions and ClosingCorp.

They analyzed closing data in 414 counties and factored in some of the most common closing costs nationwide, including the title, settlement services, the appraisal, transfer taxes, recording fees and home inspection.

“When it comes to closing costs, there are many nuances,” explains Carol Crawford, senior vice president of marketing communications at ClosingCorp. “For example, the taxes based on the purchase price in most markets are typically paid by the seller, but there is one notable exception: the so-called ‘Mansion Tax,’ which is prevalent throughout New York and is paid by the buyer. The Mansion Tax of 1 percent applies when the purchase price is $1 million or more and it applies to the entire purchase price. Thus, a price increase of one thousand dollars from $999k to $1 million triggers a $10,000 Mansion Tax, which can be a big surprise if you are not a well-informed borrower.”

The following markets had average closing costs above $10,000, according to the analysis:

  • New York (Manhattan), N.Y.: $48,153
  • Kings County (Brooklyn), N.Y.: $20,832
  • Queens County, N.Y.: $15,908
  • District of Columbia: $12,898
  • Suffolk County (Long Island), N.Y.: $11,794
  • Alameda County (East Bay Area), Calif.: $10,798
  • Bronx County, N.Y.: $10,330

Meanwhile, the following markets with the lowest closing costs were all located in Missouri, including:

  • Jasper County/Joplin, Mo.: $1,720
  • Jackson County/Kansas City, Mo.: $1,730
  • Greene County/Springfield, Mo.: $1,738
  • Franklin County/St. Louis, Mo.: $1,740
  • Jefferson County/St. Louis, Mo.: $1,745

Source:  RealtyTrac

While spring is a popular time to tidy up a home, there is also summer cleaning to be done. Before summer winds down completely, home owners may want to tackle a few chores around the house, particularly before the cold weather makes these household chores more difficult.® recently featured a range of deep-cleaning chores to tackle before the end of the season, including:

1. Windows and screens: Dust and grime that accumulates daily can get below the surface of the glass and make windows appear cloudy. The problem can be accented if home owners often leave the windows open during the summer. “The quality of your glass will deteriorate over time with age and exposure to the sun,” Trevor Cook, owner of Shine Bright San Diego, a window cleaning service, told®. Try some dish soap or white vinegar and water with a squeegee to get the windows shining again.

2. Grill: Try rubbing the top rack of your barbecue with an onion – a method the experts recommend. Make sure the grill is off and disconnect it to the propane before you clean. You’ll also want to use cleaner specially designed for cleaning a grill’s surface. Be sure to remove the grates and metal plates beneath. Soak them in hot soapy water for up to 10 minutes.

3. Houseplants: Yes, your plants need cleaning too. Grime can pile up on leaves and even reduce a plant’s ability to photosynthesize light (remember, they need that to thrive!). Use a dry or damp cloth and clean each leaf, carefully.

4. Blinds: Wipe each slat of a metal or vinyl blind with a soft cloth moistened with warm water and dish soap. For wooden blinds, use a damp cloth instead. “Metal and plastic blinds are some of the most important household items people should take time to deep-clean, but they tend to be neglected because it’s a timely chore and is frankly a pain,” says Antonio Shellman, owner of Kelan Freaks, a residential and commercial cleaning service in New York City. “You’ll find if you don’t maintain dusting them on a regular basis, dust will start packing on, dulling the surface and blocking the light, which makes everything so much harder to clean.”

5. Kitchen cabinets: Use dish soap and water to give your exterior cabinets a good clean. Commercial-grade cleaners may be needed if the buildup is heavy (test first and look for ones made with orange oil). Don’t forget about the inside of the cabinets either. Use a cloth soaked in soap and water to clean, and then a damp cloth to collect any extra moisture. Leave cabinets open for two hours afterwards.

6. Refrigerator and freezer: Trash any expired items. Remove and soak drawers in warm, soapy water. Vacuum the refrigerator coil and grill. Be sure to clean the outside door too, with two tablespoons of baking soda mixed with hot water or for stainless steel use a stainless-steel cleaner and wipe in the direction of the grain.

Source: “12 Things You Shouldn’t Forget to Deep-Clean Before Summer Ends,”® (Aug. 17, 2016)

Note: The states that were considered swing states (and identified as “purple” in the study) were Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Priciest homes: Blue states

The median home value in blue states is $301,000, about 91 percent more than some of the more conservative areas of the country. Hawaii, Washington, D.C., and California have the most expensive homes in the country. Blue states tend to have higher incomes, which can help explain the higher home prices too. The median household income in blue-dominant states is $62,564, about 23 percent more than red states ($50,820) and 13 percent higher than in swing states ($55,524).

Most home owners: Red states

Home ownership rates tend to be highest in red states, where homes tend to cost less. Nearly 68 percent households in red-leaning states are home owners compared to 63.5 percent in Democratic stronghold states and 67.8 percent in swing states. “Owning a home is more attainable in red states, because the cost difference [in home prices] is substantially more significant than the income difference,” says Jonathan Smoke,’s chief economist. “[And] you also get more in terms of space.”

The biggest homes: Red states

Land tends to be cheapest in the South and in rural America, which tend to be red-leaning states. The median red-state listing is about 2,000 square feet, about 210 square feet larger than a blue-leaning state and 100 square feet bigger than in swing states.

The most second-home owners: Blue states

Residents in blue states are 14 percent more likely to own a second home as well as 9 percent more likely to own real estate as an investment.

Source: “Red vs. Blue States: What 8 Housing Differences Can Tell Us About the Election,”® (Sept. 26, 2016)