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America’s 30 hottest real estate markets, where houses sell in less than two months – at prices above local home values

U.S. real estate markets are strong right now, but a handful of cities are on fire, with rapidly rising home prices and short sale windows.

A new report by GoBankingRates ranks America’s 30 hottest housing markets by the average number of days a home stays on the market, based on Zillow data from 2017 and 2018.

Researchers said that rising home prices tend to reflect shifting dynamics in a city – often signalling growing employment, rising wages or other factors. However some markets can get ‘overheated’ – when list prices significantly exceed median home values.

A cluster (eight) of those super-hot markets are in California, and many more are in the American West and Southwest.

This map illustrates the top 15 hottest housing markets in America - cities where homes are purchased in less than two months, on average

Sunnyvale, California had the hottest market in America, with the average home selling in 38 days and a median list price of $1.5 million – the highest of any market on the list. The Silicon Valley community has seen home prices soar 23.7 percent in two years.

San Jose, California ranked second, with homes sitting on the market a short 42 days, on average. The median list price for homes in the Bay Area community is $929,000, with home prices rising 24.7 percent since the beginning of 2017.

Fremont, California – nestled between Silicon Valley and San Francisco – has a 43 day average window for houses to sit on the market before selling. The median listing price is just over $1 million.

San Francisco follows, also with a 43 day window on sales. The city is one of three on the list with a median home price above $1 million ($1.2 million).

Oakland, California, ranked fifth on the list, with median list prices of $650,000 on homes that sell in an average of 44 days.

Seattle is the first city outside of California on the list. Homes there sell in an average of 44 days and the median list price is $678,265.

Newark, New Jersey comes in seventh on the list, with a 45-day average window before a home is sold in that market. The median list price in Newark is $249,450 – and home values have risen 53 percent over two years, likely due to the city’s proximity to New York City.

Boise, Idaho ranked eight on the list, with a 47-day window for homes to sell. The median list price is $330,000 – highly affordable compared to most other cities on the list. Prices in Boise are up 32.8 percent over the past two years.

Arlington, Texas followed, in ninth place, with a median list price of $249,900 – up 21.9 percent compared to two years ago. Homes there sit on the market for an average of 47 days.

Colorado Springs, Colorado rounds out the top 10, with homes typically staying on the market 48 days before selling, and a median list price of $319,000. Prices are nearly 50 percent lower in Colorado Springs than in nearby Denver, which could be driving the market’s growth.

Aurora, Colorado ranked eleventh on the list, with a median listing price of $359,450. Homes are on the market for an average 48 days before selling.

Denver follows, with a median list price of $469,000 and an average 50-day window before homes are sold.

Mesa, Arizona ranked thirteenth, with a median list price of $260,000. Homes typically sell in 51 days in this Phoenix suburb.

Gilbert, Arizon, also outside of Phoenix, came in fourteenth, with a $340,000 median list price. Homes sit on the market an average 51 days in this city.

Rounding out the top 15 was Raleigh, North Carolina, a city where list prices (with a median of $330,000) are more than 21 percent above the current median home value of $271,700.

This table shows the ranking of America's hottest real estate markets, based on the duration homes stay on the market (on average) and recent rices in listing prices

 

Source: DailyMail

One Million Social and Affordable Homes Needed to Combat Rental Stress

Australia needs to build more than a million social and affordable houses over the next 20 years to keep pace with the growing number of people struggling to pay their rent, new analysis shows.

UNSW City Futures Research Centre’s latest report said the number of Australians in rental stress – paying more than a third of their income on rent – meant there was a need for an extra 728,600 social housing properties and 295,000 affordable rental homes by 2036.

The research showed it would cost governments $8.6 billion a year to deliver these properties working with the not-for-profit sector, which is $3 billion a year less than current negative gearing and capital gains tax subsidies.

Lead researcher Laurence Troy said to cover the backlog of unmet need and future need over the next 20 years, two in 10 new homes would need to be social housing while a further one in 10 would need to be affordable rental homes.

“Our analysis shows that the sheer number of households in rental stress across the country means that if we’re going to meet the need, at least 12 per cent of all our housing by 2036 will need to be social and affordable housing… a very reasonable ambition in global terms,” Troy said.

One third of these homes – 316,766 – are needed in New South Wales, but regional Tasmania and South Australia need to see the highest growth rate in social housing.

Troy said based on their modelling, the best and cheapest way for governments to deliver on unmet housing needs was to fund it through a combination of upfront grants and low interest government supported financing.

“Delivering below market rental housing through the not-for-profit sector, as opposed to the private equity model, will save $3 billion a year by removing developer mark-ups and shareholder returns,” he said.

This costing analysis was commissioned by the community housing sector.

Community Housing Industry Association NSW chair John McKenna said the data would help the sector and governments plan housing where it was most needed.

He said the number of homes needed was clearly enormous but could be delivered if all levels of government worked together and recognised that subsidised housing was not possible without some form of government support.

“State and local governments need to step up to provide the housing their communities need – either through capital grants in cash or government land, and planning mechanism that recognise housing as critical local infrastructure,” McKenna said.

The report comes as more than 2,400 community leaders and members from almost 200 organisations prepared to fill Sydney Town Hall on Thursday night to fight for concrete political commitments on housing affordability ahead of the NSW and federal elections.

Everybody’s Home campaign spokesperson Kate Colvin said these new figures highlighted that Australia’s housing crisis was a major concern for everyday people.

“It shows the housing system is far more broken that we first thought – but it also shows that delivering the scale of new homes for people who need them is entirely doable with political will and commitment,” Colvin said.

The Everybody’s Home campaign has called for governments to develop a national strategy to provide 500,000 social and affordable rental homes, increase rent assistance to reflect increased housing costs, and create a plan to end homelessness in Australia by 2030.

“The massive turn out for the Sydney Town Hall Assembly tonight shows that housing and cost of living is a key issue that’s biting deeply in the electorate, particularly for millions of Australians locked out of the housing market [or] struggling to pay the rent,” Colvin said.

“We need to rebalance the budget and really redirect the funding for housing to where it’s needed most so that everybody in Australia has a home.”

Source: Probono

Affordable housing tops list of concerns in Marin resident survey

Marin County’s lack of affordable housing topped the list of concerns in a new survey of county residents.

Marin County supervisors reviewed results at their meeting Tuesday. National Research Center Inc., the firm the county paid $38,610 to conduct the survey, randomly sampled 3,200 residents, both in the incorporated and unincorporated areas of the county. Of that group, 695 responded, about 22 percent.

The survey consisted of 68 categories of questions with allowable multiple choice responses provided in each case. There was only one open-ended question in the survey to which respondents had to write their answer: What do you think is the single biggest priority Marin County government should focus on in the next two years?

The top response, submitted by 27 percent of respondents, was affordable housing. Close behind were traffic improvements at 25 percent and climate change/disaster preparedness at 22 percent.

“My feeling is we really do need to focus on that going forward,” said Supervisor Judy Arnold, regarding affordable housing.

Arnold noted that in previous resident surveys residents typically ranked traffic congestion as the county’s biggest challenge, except during recessionary periods when the economy eclipsed concern over traffic.

Arnold speculated that the launch of the Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART) service may have eased concerns about traffic somewhat. She said getting the SMART train running was a difficult task that took years of work, and she said that the Board of Supervisors needs to put the “same amount of bravery and thought” into addressing the housing issue.

Affordable housing also ranked high when those surveyed were presented with five issues facing the county and asked to rate their importance. Forty-eight percent of respondents ranked preserving affordable housing as essential. Addressing climate change and disaster preparedness received virtually the same ranking on that question, while 56 percent of respondents said investing in county roads and other infrastructure is essential. The question did not explicitly ask respondents which of the five issues they consider paramount.

Sixty-six percent of respondents reported having an annual household income of $100,000 or more; 24 percent reported an annual household income of $250,000 or more. Sixty-percent of respondents said they are working full time, 48 percent outside of Marin County, and 24 percent said they are fully retired.

Eighty-seven percent of those who completed the survey listed their race as white. Fourteen percent said they were Spanish, Hispanic or Latino. Only 1 percent said they were African-American.

After surveys were mailed to randomly selected households in November 2018, Marin County also made available a web-based survey to residents. This “opt-in” survey was made available in English, Spanish and Vietnamese and an outreach effort was mounted through the county’s community partners. Assistant County Administrator Daniel Eilerman said a total of 3,068 opt-in surveys were received, and the results closely match those of the random sample.

Concern over housing affordability appeared to vary depending on income. One hundred percent of respondents with an annual income of $250,000 or more said they were not under housing cost stress while 65 percent of those with an annual income between $100,000 and $250,000 said they were unstressed. Only 22 percent of respondents earning less than $100,000 annually said they were not experiencing housing cost stress.

Sixty-five percent of white respondents said they are not under housing cost stress while only 41 percent of respondents who are Hispanic or a race other than white said they are not stressed by housing costs.

Twenty-seven percent of respondents said their monthly housing costs amount to $4,000 or more. Sixty-seven percent of respondents said they own their own home while 33 percent said they rent.

Asked to rate the quality of service provided by Marin County, state government and the federal government, 22 percent of respondents rated Marin County’s services as excellent. Only 4 percent rated state government services as excellent and 3 percent rated federal government services as excellent.

Supervisor Damon Connolly said while the survey provided useful new information, “It also reinforced that we’re focused on the right issues.”

Both Connolly and Supervisor Kate Sears said they were impressed by the fact that 97 percent of respondents said they talk with a neighbor more than once a month and 88 percent said they do a favor for a neighbor more than once a month.

Connolly said the county needs to factor that sense of community into its wildfire preparedness efforts.

Marin County conducted similar resident surveys in 2005, 2007 and 2009 by phone. The latest survey was done primarily by mail due to increased difficulty reaching people by phone. Only 14 percent of respondents to the new survey said they consider a landline their primary telephone number.

Source: Marinij

The uncertain future of north Atlanta’s most affordable cities

Jerry Margolis removed the drawers from a wooden desk, a scraping sound piercing the empty in Margolis had just sold his work desk to a pair of customers.
As they moved it through an open door in the back of the antique shop and into a pickup truck, a piano version of Killing Me Softly played.

February brought the final days of business at Way Back When Antiques, Margolis’s shop in downtown Chamblee. The property, housed in an olive-green building on Peachtree Road, has been sold to real estate developer Selig Enterprises.

As Margolis prepared to close at the end of the month, his shop had only a smattering of furniture, books, and knickknacks remaining.
Selig reps tell Curbed Atlanta they’re “very bullish on the area,” and the property is part of a long-term strategy with no immediate plans to redevelop. They aren’t alone in their bullishness.

“I’m sure the rent will go up enough that I couldn’t afford to run my antique business,” Margolis says, adding that Chamblee has changed significantly in the 31 years he’s operated in the area.
“It’s grown up, and it’s gotten expensive, so the properties that you used to be able to get for just about nothing have doubled and tripled.”

Price hikes in what’s traditionally been a bastion of relative ITP affordability stretch beyond downtown Chamblee’s Antique Row, a longstanding concentration of antique stores.

Development of potentially regional impact has spread into neighboring Doraville, with the most visible example being Assembly Yards, a 165-acre mixed-use project on the site of the former General Motors plant.
Across the northern arc of intown Atlanta, Chamblee and Doraville are—or were—anomalies. Compared to high-rent neighboring cities Dunwoody, Brookhaven, and Sandy Springs, Chamblee and Doraville until recent years have both seemed downright reasonable.
While Atlanta’s average rent is $1,379, Doraville’s is $1,053—23.6 percent lower. Chamblee, which has seen more development in recent years, now has average rents of $1,319, or 5 percent cheaper than Dunwoody and 8.5 percent cheaper than Brookhaven.
Median home prices in Doraville and Chamblee are similarly lower than their neighbors. Doraville’s median list price per square foot is $176, compared to Dunwoody’s $201, and Brookhaven’s $242. Chamblee has crept up and is now $200.

Though communities as disparate as Hapeville, Scottdale, and Whittier Mill Village are also relatively affordable and ITP, Chamblee and Doraville have greater transit connectivity than most of metro Atlanta. Both lie on MARTA’s gold rail line, in addition to having MARTA bus transit.
The Royal, a privately owned bus line, services Buford Highway, too. These amenities, as government officials stress, make the cities more attractive than ever.

With desirability comes cost, and concerns abound over rising prices—an issue echoed around the country and indeed the world in recent, post-recession years. But in Chamblee and Doraville, the changes of today and tomorrow could be particularly drastic.
These DeKalb County cities have much in common. Both initially prospered as agricultural communities strategically located on major rail lines. In 1917, Chamblee’s dairy land was transformed into the now relocated Camp Gordon, a military installation home to 40,000 personnel that spurred a building and retail boom.

At the end of World War II, the cities looked to industry. Doraville’s GM plant opened in 1947, spawning population and housing growth in the city.
This brought jobs to Chamblee as well, with corporations such as Frito-Lay, Kodak, and General Electric building plants. Chamblee and Doraville were places where industrial workers could afford to live and raise families.

In the 1980s, Chamblee’s plants downsized or closed. Doraville’s GM plant, the project that had sparked progress for both cities, shuttered in 2009.Today, Chamblee and Doraville have higher percentages of Hispanic and Asian people than Atlanta’s average, and this manifests in the local stores, services, and restaurants.
When you call many businesses in Doraville, they answer the phone in Spanish. Many residents call such diversity a plus.

As it did a century ago, large-scale development has come to Chamblee first. This time, instead of a military installation, it’s upscale housing and retail.
In Doraville, officials say, Assembly Yards is the first in a slate of high-end projects that could bring an economic boom but indirectly displace low- and middle-income residents—and change the fabric of the cities.
In Downtown Chamblee, a charming historic area next to a MARTA station where freight trains frequently roll by, there isn’t a blending of old and new. It’s more like the new is poking through the old. Though downtown has considerable open space, it goes for a premium. Land is cleared for The Bristol townhomes, advertised as starting at $600,000.
Signs touting space for lease are ubiquitous, and on a recent weekday afternoon, people strolled sidewalks and indulged in ice cream at a business shaped like a red train caboose. On one end of Peachtree Road, the main thoroughfare, there’s an aged barbershop, with a classic barber’s pole and weatherworn shop sign.
A five-minute walk down the street, three customers entered a newer, more polished version of the barbershop—same pole as the first—with gleaming barber chairs.

The flipside to all of that is the new Chamblee.

In recent years, Chamblee development has exploded. In addition to hundreds of high-end apartments, condos, townhomes, and office space that is finished or planned, there’s now a Whole Foods. The Peachtree Creek Greenway, a walk and bike path and another selling point, is planned to eventually connect Chamblee and Doraville to the Beltline.

“Within the built environment, you’re seeing a lot of changes that are taking shape based on plans that have been in the works for over 20 years,” says Chamblee Mayor Eric Clarkson, who has lived in the city since the mid-1990s.
Clarkson says planning began in the early 2000s to tie land use to transportation.
Chamblee installed zoning codes to require more density and mixed-use development in order to encourage walkability.

“Chamblee is still relatively affordable,” he says. “But with all the development that’s coming and with folks wanting to be in a very walkable environment, the rents and the outright purchase of housing continually goes up at a pretty rapid pace.”

Over the past two years, average rents in Chamblee have jumped 16 percent, double the rate of Atlanta. Median home prices have climbed 8 percent in the past year.

“You’d rather have real estate appreciation than going down,” Clarkson says. “Heck, I lived through the Great Recession. I think most folks around here did. We don’t want our property values going down.
You want them continually going up, but to this point, we’re still seeing certain pockets as relatively affordable.”

Amy Holmes, a Chamblee resident since 2002, enjoys living in a small city in a large metro. She’s impressed by the city’s planning—and how adding social activities such as summer concerts has helped Chamblee develop an identity.
“We’re really kind of thinking as a city,” she says. “We’re just all stunned by the sudden rise in housing prices, both cost of people’s houses but then the impact of that on rent.”

At the same time, Holmes says she and her neighbors can’t help but notice surging prices.
“We’re just all stunned by the sudden rise in housing prices, both cost of people’s houses but then the impact of that on rent,” she says.

Holmes is president-elect of the Peachtree Gateway Council on Schools, an organization of DeKalb public school parents. She says people at Huntley Hills Elementary School, where two-thirds of kids qualify for free or reduced-price lunches, are shocked by rising rents.

“I feel a real panic around in the air about just what is our future in terms of affordability of housing,” she says. “I know that for people who are thinking, ‘I’m going to retire and sell my house and it’ll be worth a lot,’ that’s true that that’s a good thing for you.

But if people are planning to stay here and really have this be their home and would like other people to be able to move into the area, especially families that are going to have kids, it feels like a real catch-22 that has no great solution.”

Losing proximity to Chamblee’s MARTA line has been particularly detrimental for middle- and working-class families, observes Mary Hall, who works in Chamblee and lives nearby.

“It’s pretty clear that there’s been a shift in the kinds of folks that can afford to live within walking distance of Chamblee MARTA Station,” Hall says.
Half a mile from Assembly Yards, Doraville’s Mozart Bakery is nestled between two chicken restaurants, one serving KFC (Korean fried chicken, that is) and the other Mexican grilled chicken.
The Buford Highway bakery is a quiet place, where frosted cakes topped with fruit rest behind a glass counter, breads and cookies sit neatly packaged, and menus are in English and Korean.

Welcome to Doraville City Councilmember Stephe Koontz’s de facto office.
“What really makes this area unique is that it’s kind of been preserved, and it hasn’t been gentrified yet,” says Koontz, a longtime Doraville resident.” We have the opportunity to set the tone of what the development here will look like.”

In addition to Assembly Yards and the Peachtree Creek Greenway, there are talks in city council to develop a city center around Doraville MARTA Station.
The city owns a whole block there, so its leaders are considering moving civic services to make way for a dense town center. (Those plans are really a return to the past, as Doraville’s old downtown was leveled to make way for MARTA, which opened in 1992.) This filming hub was created in the Assembly project’s first phase.

Following Chamblee’s lead, Doraville is trying to update its image by dropping the word “industrial” from Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, though most people still refer to the road by its original name.It’s a symbol for how changes from Chamblee could spill north into Doraville.

“There’s people that would like to see this area get gentrified, the prices of everything go up and basically what happened in Decatur,” Koontz says. “When I talk to people that moved to Decatur 10 years ago, they moved there because there was a mix of ethnicity.
There was a lot of quirky little shops like you see on Buford Highway now, a lot of interesting restaurants and places where you could buy different kinds of things, shops you didn’t see in other parts of Atlanta.”

Hundreds of new apartments have been built in the core of Decatur in the past few years, but Koontz says Doraville, as is, doesn’t have enough rental properties to accommodate everyone.

“We’re being affected by other parts of metro Atlanta destroying their affordable housing,” she says, before referencing Beltline areas in particular. “As old-stock apartments are torn down in metro Atlanta and replaced with $3,000-a-month luxury apartments, those people are being displaced, and they’re coming here.”

Sandy Chavarria has lived in Doraville since 1998, when she was a child. As a teenager, she worked in the cafeteria at the Buford Highway Farmers Market.
The stores she frequents, the carnicerías she goes to for her meat, are all there. She says Doraville isn’t known for splashy city development like Dunwoody or Brookhaven, but she sees the city changing.
“People don’t see it physically, but I know that we are growing. I see it. I see more people walking on the streets. I see a lot of people in the MARTA station.”

Nonetheless, Chavarria feels that development could benefit Doraville, in terms of making a physical and infrastructural statement. But having rented in Doraville since moving out of her parents’ house, she says finding somewhere affordable has become tougher.

“Being raised here in Doraville, I want to continue living in Doraville, but until I can afford to buy a house…it’s really hard to stay within the Buford Highway corridor,” she says.

Though some apartments are renovated and have improved living conditions, landlords sometimes charge higher prices without making needed repairs, says Rebekah Cohen Morris, an English literature teacher living in Doraville and housing equity director at Los Vecinos de Buford Highway advocacy organization.

Meanwhile, other housing is being redeveloped. A new elementary school will replace Shallowford Gardens apartment complex. Carver Hills, a black neighborhood created by GM, is slated to be redeveloped into single-family houses and townhomes. (Residents were in unanimous support of selling their properties and moving.)

Cohen Morris says displacement issues are both obvious and not.
“We’re seeing a lot more people just kind of open their homes and their apartments and allow [in] families that lost their homes due to it being torn down for a new condo or townhome,” she says.
“We’ve seen other people start living together, like two or three families in a one, two, or three-bedroom unit. It kind of masks some of the displacement.”
Chamblee’s history as an industrial area has perhaps worked in affordable housing’s favor.
So far, development has taken former industrial property, not touching any affordable or older housing, according to Mayor Clarkson.
“Now, unfortunately,” he says, “a lot of that affordability hasn’t aged well and more than likely will need to be replaced in the not-too-distant future.”
“I don’t know why thinking about executives living in your neighborhood isn’t considered diversity. I think you need all walks of life.”
Clarkson is interested in exploring incentives for housing affordability through federal opportunity zones—economically distressed communities where new investments could be eligible for tax benefits. One of these opportunity zones is near Chamblee’s MARTA station.
“That area’s where we have a lot of aging multifamily [housing],” Clarkson says. “I think there’s going to be some real good opportunity, no pun intended, to look at what that opportunity zone means as a vehicle for helping us.”
So far, the area around Chamblee MARTA Station has seen the addition of affordable housing exclusively for seniors.
Developed by the nonprofit Mercy Housing Southeast, Senior Residences at Mercy Park, a 79-unit apartment complex, rents one-bedrooms for $550 to $681 monthly to people at least 62 years old.
Ronit Hoffer, project developer at Mercy Housing Southeast, notes the Walmart and Whole Foods nearby.
“If it’s a transportation-oriented development, if it’s right next to MARTA, then the idea is you don’t necessarily need a car, which is good for low-income folks,” says Hoffer. “Chamblee’s got a lot going, and we’re sort of getting in on it on the ground floor.”
Conversely, Clarkson is pleased that Chamblee has seen more executive move-up housing built, as most of the city’s housing has traditionally been affordable but smaller.
“It was a perpetual moving in, moving out. And so with the advent for infill housing, more infill subdivisions, some larger homes, you get a greater diversity,” says the mayor.
“I don’t know why thinking about executives living in your neighborhood isn’t considered diversity. I think you need all walks of life, all socioeconomic levels, all ethnicities. I think it’s very healthy.”

But to make affordability work, Chamblee needs density, Clarkson says.

Councilmember Koontz also wants density for Doraville. She says the city should look at how to incentivize mixed-income housing that’s a combination of high-end larger units and more basic smaller units, with uniform exteriors.

Koontz says the city council is beginning to explore how to attract these housing options, discussing measures such as bonuses for developers and reduced parking requirements near the MARTA station.

“If we displace the current residents that live here and lose the diversity and the population that live in this area, not only is that going to change the whole housing market, it’s going to cause all the businesses up and down this corridor to fail,” Koontz says. “If we wait five years, it’s going to be too late.”

Chamblee resident Holmes says she worries about her neighbors being forced to move because of cost.

“Part of the reason that all of us have liked our neighborhoods in Doraville and Chamblee is because there’s a wide variety of people. When I moved into Huntley Hills, there’s plumbers and electricians and there’s also lawyers, etcetera,” she says. “That’s a normal cross-section of American society to live in, which is a cool thing.”

Hall feels that planners need to study and take things slowly in order to avoid unintended consequences.

“Growth is necessary and important,” she says. “But it shouldn’t come to the detriment of the cultural mix that makes this a really strong area and the families that have raised their kids.”

Cohen Morris, who is running for Doraville City Council in November, says the city needs to preserve affordable housing and develop mixed-income housing in high-density areas, especially near the MARTA station.

“We need to be really intentional so that we don’t overlook people and so that everyone gets to share in the new successes that the cities are experiencing,” she says.

 

At Way Back When Antiques, a faint smell of wood in the air, Margolis reflected on the changes he’s seen in Chamblee over the decades.

“If it goes like the city wants it to, I think it’ll be really neat. It’ll be a walkable city,” he says. “The properties that antique shops are sitting on become too valuable to the owners to just rent out to an antique shop, and if they need to raise the rent, antique dealers can’t do high-end retail. And that’s what Chamblee is becoming—high-end retail.”

Outside, a MARTA train pulled out of the Chamblee station and passed an increasing number of upscale stores and homes. Traveling on an elevated track behind Way Back When Antiques, the train bent into the distance and out of sight.


Source: Adina Solomon

Rethinking Housing Finance

Water pass garri is a very apt way to describe the housing finance situation in Nigeria. The Managing Director of the Federal Mortgage Bank at a recent industry event mentioned that since inception in 1973, the FMBN has funded 18,935 mortgages at a total cost of N193.4 billion.

To put things in context, Nigeria has a mortgage to GDP ratio of circa 0.6%, which is puny, compared to our regional nephew; Ghana which stands at 2%, and very abysmal when viewed against south Africa with a 31% ratio. Clearly, while the mortgage industry has been around for nearly half a century, it has not shed its nascence.

The obvious question then is; if the mortgage industry is so underdeveloped, how have Nigerians been acquiring homes?

Available data suggests that over 90% of homes in Nigeria are acquired by incremental building. This is analogous to buying a car in parts; one tire today, a carburetor in six months and a pair of seat belts a while later.

However, as grossly inefficient as this method of home acquisition is, given the very high interest rates for mortgages, it is by far the more practical, and affordable option open to most Nigerians.

In light of the pittance that the FMBN brings into the housing finance pool, the effective mortgage interest rates in Nigeria which ranges from 15% – 22% will make even soulless loan sharks in more advanced economies drool with longing. So, why isn’t capital flowing, as it should in the direction of the greatest return?

Why isn’t the Nigerian mortgage sector awash with patient international capital in pursuit of the clearly higher returns that can be made?

There is a long list of reasons but these three are perhaps most critical. Firstly, the significant foreign exchange risk associated with volatile frontier markets; secondly, the fact that capital is mostly sector agnostic, and so even if it comes into Nigeria,

it would probably go into sectors with less risk, and greater asset liquidity; and thirdly, the often ignored fact that in spite of the touted housing deficit figures, the high poverty rate in the country means that there is actually very little effective demand for housing.

Since pulling oneself up by the bootstraps is in reality a rare miracle or a freak accident, how else might we succeed at the more practical matter of attracting capital into the mortgage sector?

Apparently, our current macro-economic and policy environment makes it difficult to pull in patient institutional capital.

Consequently, it will be useful to explore other avenues for attracting capital that are relatively cheap, and somewhat patient.

One such vein of capital can be diaspora remittances. Most recent data indicates that annual remittances through formal channels amounts to about $25billion.

A useful backdrop against which to view this figure is the total mortgage loans generated by FMBN in its nearly half a century of operation; 193 Billion i.e$0.5billion.

Clearly, given the right policy, and legislative framework, and a conscientious marketing programme, the Nigerian Diaspora can with a tiny fraction (2%) of their annual remittances, equal FMBN 50 year performance.

Source: Wole Olabanji

Opportunity for developers as demand for short-let apartments rises

A recently conducted research into short-let apartments in the commercial real estate space of property market in Lagos indicates that the need for short-let apartments has maintained an upward trend in spite of the current challenging economic situation in the country.

This increased demand has spurred savvy business operators to accelerate their expansion plans in 2018 by seeking out strategically located residential buildings or vacant apartments in prime areas to be converted into short-let apartments to meet the flexible needs of people who require such accommodation.

Rethinking and re-ordering of priorities by multi-national corporations who now prefer to keep their expatriate workers in short-let apartments instead of full-scale residential accommodation, is a major driver of this rising demand.

“One factor that has led to the increase in this sector is the upsurge in demand by corporates who would rather pay for short-let apartments for their expatriate staff as opposed to paying annual apartment rentals,” Erejuwa Gbadebo, CEO, International Real Estate Partners, IREP, confirmed

Another major driver of this new trend is tourism, especially religious tourism which is growing in multiples in Nigeria with people looking for ‘miracle’ trooping into major cities, especially Lagos, on daily basis. The new trend, therefore, presents investment opportunity for real estate investors and developers.

The rental range for short-let apartments is wide and depends on the quality, branding, unit size and location of the offer.   Rents can go as low as N25,000.00 for a studio apartment to as high as N140,000 per day for a three-bed apartment.

“The commercial outlook for short-let apartments remains attractive in light of positive market fundamentals, expansion possibilities and strong levels of profitability.

We believe this market presents unlimited opportunities and is a sector likely to spur increased investor interest,” Gbadebo posited.

At global level, the hospitality industry is said to be one of the world’s largest. A new report estimates the value of the industry to be in excess of $7.6 trillion in 2016 and is expected to reach $11.5 trillion by 2027; 32 per cent of projects under development in Africa are in the Western countries, currently home to just seven per cent of the existing supply.

Most of these projects are in Nigeria, primarily in Lagos and Abuja, where projects spend longer in the pipeline phase than in most other African countries.

The new report notes that the economic recovery in Nigeria saw the number of room nights sold in Lagos increase by 17.6 per cent with the tourism sector contributing $2.2 billion to the state’s GDP in 2017.

Despite the security challenges in many quarters, hoteliers continue to consider Nigeria an important market for the West Africa region, seeing that supply remains grossly unrepresentative in comparison to population and perceived demand.

Across the nation, more infrastructure projects were awarded to Asian firms, increasing the number of Chinese consultants, workers and family members who need to shuttle between home and Nigeria.

This also increased the demand for hotel accommodation, guesthouses and relaxation spots, creating investment opportunities for space providers.

Source: VanguardNG

How housing microfinance in Africa can improve quality of life

Access to adequate housing for low-income earners is a critical development issue globally. A safe and stable home is the first step to a productive, healthy life. Yet owning a home is beyond the reach of the vast majority.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the poor have very limited access to long-term financing for housing, which is almost invariably limited to commercial banks offering formal, multiyear mortgages.

Only 2.4 percent of the Kenyan population, for example, is able to afford typical loan rates. At the end of December 2018, there were only 26,187 active conventional mortgages in the whole country — the majority of which were granted to urban professionals.

In Uganda, which has a population of 42.8 million, the number was just 5,000 in 2018.

We are continuously exploring and innovating our approach to address additional dimensions of the housing crisis and encourage others to do the same.

Housing microfinance allows low-income families to improve their housing incrementally, as they can afford it. Through access to housing microfinance, households in sub-Saharan Africa can improve their housing and their quality of life.

That is the key finding of evaluations of a recently concluded six-year project in Kenya and Uganda.

Microfinance at work

Building Assets, Unlocking Access

The partnership between Habitat for Humanity and the Mastercard Foundation is aimed at making an impact on housing in Africa by enabling existing financial service providers to design housing microfinance products and housing support services that can be accessed by low-income families to use in the incremental improvement of their homes.

The objective of the project was to develop scalable and innovative housing microfinance to be replicated by other financial service providers in sub-Saharan Africa.

The project has enabled over 70,000 households to access housing microfinance products improving their shelter, living conditions, and social well-being.

The Building Assets, Unlocking Access project helped financial service providers to develop housing microfinance products for people living on $5-10 per day.

The participating institutions offered loans of $30-10,000 for improvements such as adding an extension, toilet or running water; finishing a roof; adding insulation; as well as for constructing a new home.

These products were designed for the vast majority of the population who live in substandard accommodation and are locked out of formal housing finance.

These households may possess a firm desire to improve their living circumstances and prospects, but can only afford to do so incrementally.

In Kenya, a study found that low-income women who took up the Nyumba Smart Loan offered by the Kenya Women Microfinance Bank used it to improve roofs and walls.

Nearly 30 percent expanded their homes, and around 9 percent built separate kitchens, As a result, overall housing satisfaction rose by almost 15 percentage points over just a one-year period.

In Uganda, the study found that the existing quality level of housing was already comparably higher than in Kenya. However, a 20 percentage point increase of clients used their loans to build separate kitchens. Overall housing satisfaction rose by 30 percentage points.

In addition, the improvements made by Uganda borrowers were not confined to their own homes, but frequently applied toward development or improvement of rental units.

These rental units contributed to increased income for borrowers — an unanticipated dynamic in our study and a fact that addresses the key concern many have that housing microfinance diverts funds and resources away from income-generating activities.

Improved homes mean better health outcomes too. In children younger than 6 in Kenya, significant decreases were found in vomiting, sore throats, and rashes, all illnesses associated with allergies and poor environment.

In Uganda, however, these health improvements were not observed, with evaluators noting that it can take time for health indicators to become evident.

Janet Maritim, a farmer in Bomet, western Kenya, said: “It has been a huge relief not to worry about the health of our children. In the old house, the cold air that ran through the rooms always made me fear that a flu would turn into a serious illness like pneumonia. It makes me happy to see the children thrive.”

Jane Migare-Miluka waited seven years for new housing to be completed. When it finally was, her name was not on the list of residents.

This is part of our six-piece Failed Aid series, which investigates citizen reports on failed or unfinished aid projects in Africa.

Improved housing can have a positive effect on children’s education, offering more space in which to study and making them less likely to miss school due to sickness.

Though it was too early for such factors to show up meaningfully in the survey, many respondents expressed delight with the impact their home improvements were having on their children.

A construction worker starting the walls of a house in the region of Machakos, Kenya. Photo by: HFHI

The business case for housing microfinance

Not only does housing microfinance align with the social mission of many microfinance institutions, it also makes financial sense, with 47 percent of institutions saying such loans have relatively the same profitability as more conventional microfinance loans, such as those for business or farming.

At Habitat for Humanity, we believe housing microfinance can reach far greater numbers of people.

The sustainability of these products will carry the impact of improved housing forward and the market is demanding more progress in this sector, as indicated by the recent announcement of $26 billion in investment pledges for housing in Kenya.

Two of the key partnering banks — KWFT and Centenary Bank — are posed to disburse an additional 50,000 housing microfinance loans or so over the next 12 months.

There are obstacles, of course. Other financial institutions will need long-term funding and guidance as they learn how to develop, market, and manage housing microfinance products for their markets.

To expand the product, institutions will need to identify adequate sources of long-term funding. Each market is different, and attention will need to be paid to designing loan products that suit local characteristics.

Also, awareness of the housing microfinance concept is still low. With skeptical looks, people ask me what this small-loan, incremental approach looks like in practice.

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The findings of these evaluations are a great step forward in addressing the skepticism and understanding the real impacts.

We are committed to sharing the opportunity that these products present for improvements in low-income housing. I am convinced this can become a major sector in the continent and do a great deal to relieve frequently poor housing conditions.

When I discuss what we have done in Uganda and Kenya at conferences and forums, I realize that this is but one part of a larger housing market dilemma.

We are continuously exploring and innovating our approach to address additional dimensions of the housing crisis and encourage others to do the same.

Source: Kelvin Chetty

More Support For Rental Flat Dwellers To Become Homeowners

The new Homeownership Support Team will assist tenants in handling homeownership policies and processes.

Households living in HDB rental flats can look forward to getting stronger and personalised support from the Housing Board, which plans to create a team dedicated to helping such families become homeowners, reported Channel NewsAsia.

“We agree that public rental should only be temporary for tenants who are work-capable.” Hence, the government is increasing support to help tenants become homeowners, said Senior Parliamentary Secretary for National Development Sun Xueling on Tuesday (5 Mar).

To be established later this year, the Homeownership Support Team (HST) will assist tenants in handling homeownership policies and processes. The help on offer may include guiding them through the transaction, help in choosing a home that can meet their budget and needs, as well as monitoring cases to ensure households get their keys.

The support team aims to help 1,000 families in the next four to five years, said a HDB representative, adding that the agency currently counsels tenants to consider buying a flat instead of renting one when they renew their tenancy.

Moreover, Sun revealed that HDB gained a “better understanding” on how to provide better assistance to tenants thanks to the Fresh Start Housing Scheme, whereby families can obtain a grant of up to $35,000. Implemented in 2016, this programme assists second-timer rental families with kids purchase a two-room flat.

“We have learnt that having someone to consult, and more importantly, to provide the human touch, is important for our tenants.”

For example, some families needed advice on budgeting to be able to buy a flat, while others said they were grateful for the face-to-face support provided by the Fresh Start team.

In February, Sun noted that 74 families enrolled in the scheme, of which five have already collected the keys to their flats.

“These numbers may seem small, but for those who benefit from the scheme, the help provided means a lot and we want them to succeed in their home ownership journey,” she explained.

Sun added that the number of rental households moving up the property ladder has increased steadily over the last few years, with around 1,300 rental households successfully levelling up to homeownership in 2018.

4 benefits of married couples jointly owning property

In addition to making an informed decision, property buyers are also working out the best mode of acquiring their immovable assets.

Whether it’s choosing the best financing option for tax benefits or directly dealing with the seller to avoid brokerage, Indians are leaving no stone unturned.

One such smart way is the decision to register the property jointly, with the spouse.

There are intangible benefits of joint registration of property like elevating the status of the wife in a patriarchal society, better bonding, long-term commitment, and trust between spouses. However, not many are aware of the financial advantages.

Loan options for couples

The budget to purchase property is determined by the loan eligibility, which has a specific limit depending on the income. In case of a joint registration, spouses can opt for a joint home loan.

It shares the debt burden between two people and paves the way for a higher loan amount as two incomes will be considered

A joint home loan can be obtained by an applicant along with their spouse, parents or siblings.

Tax benefits for co-borrowers

According to Suraj Nangia, partner, Nangia & Co., “From a taxation point of view, a joint home loan is beneficial to all co-borrowers who can claim a tax deduction of Rs 1.50 lakhs for principal repayment under Sec 80C and Rs 2 lakhs for interest payment under Sec 24.

In the case of two or more people taking a joint home loan, each of them can enjoy tax benefits under the Income-tax Act, in respect of the principal and interest paid during a year, on proportionate basis.”

Under section 80C, each joint owner is allowed a deduction of Rs 1,50,000 for principal repayment. They can also claim deduction on the registration charges and stamp duty charges that they have paid for, with total deduction not exceeding Rs 1,50,000.

Additionally, they can also apply for deduction of housing loan interest from house property income, up to Rs 2,00,000 each. However, the deduction should not exceed the interest.

Stamp duty benefits for women

Delhi, UP, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, offer relaxations in stamp duty for women buyers. Punjab reduced the stamp duty charges from nine per cent to six per cent in 2017, for a limited period.

It maintained that from April 1, 2019, urban areas would again invoke a stamp duty charge of nine per cent and the same would be six per cent in rural areas.

The stamp duty rate in Maharashtra, which was recently increased to six per cent from the previous five per cent, is uniform for both, men and women. However, the other states where stamp duty rates are lower for women include:

StateFor menFor women
Jharkhand7%Only Re 1
Delhi6%4%
Haryana6% in rural8% in urban4% in rural6% in urban
UP7%Rebate of Rs 10,000 on overall charges
Rajasthan5%4%
Punjab6%4%
Maharashtra6%6%
Tamil Nadu7%7%
West Bengal5% in rural6% in Urban

(Plus 1% if property cost >Rs 40 lakh)

Same
Karnataka5.6%5.6%

Note: List is not exhaustive – charges are indicative and subject to change.

Additionally, many banks such as SBI, HDFC, ICICI, etc., offer discounts on home loan interest rates to women as compared to men. This varies from bank to bank and goes up to nearly one per cent.

 

In the case of single ownership, transfer of property can be lengthy and time consuming.For instance, after the death of a New Delhi resident, his family members found that the flat they lived in, was solely owned by the deceased. The procedure to get the documents in the successor’s name involved excessive conformation to regulations and rules.

“Many people suggested shortcuts involving unethical practices. Finally, my sister took possession of the property after extensive paperwork, mental torture and time,” recounts the brother-in-law of the deceased.

If only the property was jointly owned, these hassles could have been avoided.

“Joint registration of property is always advisable as the spouse is always the successor. This will prevent unwarranted problems in the future after the demise of any person,” explains advocate Narendra Vishnu Sankpal, RV Sankpal & Associates

Source: ANURADHA RAMAMIRTHAM

Should you invest in a retirement home?

Retirement homes, earlier looked upon with disdain, are now gaining greater acceptance. Children of aged parents often, live away from their family.

They are happier to have their parents living in safe retirement homes, in the company of people of the same age group, and where many of their daily needs are taken care of.

The family’s original home can be sold off to generate cash to buy a smaller retirement home, and to fund the parents’ living expenses. However, the decision to buy a retirement home should be taken with due care. Here is what you need to know:

 

Choose the right developer for a retirement home

Invest with a developer who has prior experience of running such a complex. “Running a senior living complex involves both, hard and soft issues,” points out Vishal Gupta, managing director, Ashiana Housing.

“Developing the real estate and selling it is the easy part. The hard part is providing all the promised activities: a high standard of service and removing the myriad irritants in the residents’ lives.

This is where the challenge arises because there is not so much money to be made in the maintenance and service aspects of such a project,” Gupta adds.

Sometimes, builders rebrand their projects in remote areas that are not selling. “Such developers, who are not committed to the concept, may not be able to offer the high level of service and maintenance standards required in such a complex,” warns Gupta. Therefore, avoid developers who are undertaking one-off retirement projects.

Location of a retirement home

Most retirement homes are situated on the outskirts of cities or in remote locations. Land is cheaper there and hence, the developer can buy the vast tracts of land necessary for such a project.

Such areas also offer the necessary peace and quiet. However, make sure that the place is connected well to the city by a highway or some form of public transport.

This will make it easier for you to travel to the city whenever the need arises, and for your relatives to visit you. A large hospital should be situated within half an hour’s drive to take care of health-related emergencies.

Payment modes for retirement homes

The first and most common option is an outright purchase. The advantage of such an option is to be able to pass on the home to your children, though they may only be able to live there after they are 50 or 55.

You can also sell the home if you move out and take advantage of the accrued capital appreciation.

However, this is an expensive option and a large portion of your retirement savings could get locked up in the purchase of the house. This could lead to a cash crunch in later years.

Under the upfront deposit model, you pay 60-80% of the cost of the house. You live in the house for a certain period after which you move out. When you do so, the deposit is returned after deducting certain charges. Under this model, your upfront costs are lower.

So, you have more cash in hand to manage the day-to-day expenses. However, a premature exit before the specified time may be difficult.

The original house

Keeping the original house offers the flexibility to return, if you don’t happen to like living in a retirement home. However, as Vishal Dhawan, chief financial planner, Plan Ahead Wealth Advisors, points out,

“Sometimes, the decision to keep two homes means that you become asset rich but do not have enough money to meet your day-to-day expenses.”

 

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