Massive solar project for Central Florida

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OUC and 11 municipal utilities from across the state are teaming up to build three massive solar farms.

The groundbreaking agreement allows for 900,000 solar panels that will provide energy for as many as 45,000 . The three solar sites on 1,200 acres in rural Orange and Osceola counties will provide 223.5 megawatts. OUC will be the largest tenant, purchasing 108.5 megawatts of solar energy, or enough for more than 20,000 residential customers.

“OUC could have done this on its own, but by partnering with other municipal utilities, we can make a dramatic difference not just in Central , but really throughout the entire state,” said Clint Bullock, OUC’s general manager, and CEO. “We can leverage the economies of scale to bring the price of solar down to a point where a dozen municipal utilities can afford to sign on.”

The solar farms are expected to be completed by 2020, and exact locations in Orange and Osceola are still being finalized through a permitting process.

Luxury apartments in the pipeline for I-Drive-area project

A 64-acre mixed-use development near International Drive is gearing up to tackle its multifamily component. The whole mixed-use project will cost more than $350 million to develop and should be completed by 2019. More here.

Fun Spot debuts new Orlando ride

Fun Spot America, which opened a new Orlando ride called HeadRush 360 on May 1, now plans to spend $2 million to add a new multi-level go-kart track dubbed Samson Monster Track at its Atlanta property. More here.

Here’s how Orlando ranks for diversity

With immigration policy remaining a hot-button issue in 2018’s political landscape, WalletHub released its report on 2018’s Most Diverse Cities in America. To determine the cities with the most mixed demographics, WalletHub compared more than 500 of the largest cities across five major diversity categories: socio-economic, cultural, economic, household and religious. Orlando came in at No. 68.

Cruises from Port Canaveral to Cuba start Monday

The Norwegian Sun embarks on the first regularly scheduled cruise from Port Canaveral to Cuba on Monday, Florida Today reports. The cruises, which will depart from the port every Monday this summer, will include stops in Havana, as well as in Key West.

After weeks of jumping, mortgages rates take a modest dip

U.S. mortgage rates fell last week after rising to their highest level in four years, according to Freddie Mac. The 30-year fixed mortgage averaged 4.55% for the week ending May 3, down from 4.58% the previous week. Favorable mortgage rates have helped drive U.S. home sales, as well as the refinance market.

Tracking Spring Housing Trends

 

Things always warm up in the spring, but experts are detecting record-breaking heat this year—at least in the . Inventories are low, are flying off the market, and prices continue to rise, according to Realtor.com’s Monthly Housing Trends Report for April.

The report deemed this “the hottest spring housing market on record,” and a cool-down does not appear imminent.

“The dynamics of increased competition and buyer frustration are unlikely to change this spring,” according to analysts at Realtor.com. “In fact, the direction of the trend is pointing to a growing mismatch between the pool of prospective buyers and existing inventory.”

The hottest market in the nation is Midland, Texas, according to Realtor.com, which compared the 300 largest metro areas. Midland was followed by Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Massachusetts-New Hampshire; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, California; Columbus, Ohio; and Vallejo-Fairfield, California. Four of the 10 hottest housing markets are located in California.

Nationally, the median list price was up 8 percent over the year in April and 3 percent since March. The national median listing price in April was $290,000.

Of the 300 largest metros in the nation, 180 posted yearly price gains in April, leading Realtor.com to say, “the damage has been done and the majority of markets are unlikely to see improvements any time soon.”

Homes continued to sell with increasing speed in April, with a 5 percent drop in the median age of inventory from last year and a 9 percent drop from the previous month. The median age of housing inventory in April was just 59 days.

On the other hand, the market experienced a hint of relief from the pervasive heat in April’s inventory count. While inventory declined 6 percent over the year in April, Realtor.com noted this was a slower pace than previously charted. Month-over-month, the market actually posted an increase in inventory, up 5 percent from March.

At the metro level, fewer markets are experiencing declining inventory, and fewer markets posted double-digit price gains in April.

The number of markets that have the “deadly combination” of double-digit price gains and declining inventory dropped from 115 in April 2017 to 62 in April 2018.

“Local dynamics show the heat is being spread out more broadly than before, lighting the spark in more areas but stopping the fire in others,” according to Realtor.com.

Homes sold fastest in San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California, where the median age of inventory is just 19 days. The median age of inventory was shorter than 30 days in San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward California; Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue, Washington; Salt Lake City, Utah; and Ogden-Clearfield, Utah.

The oldest inventory is in Bangor, Maine, where the median age of inventory is 159.5 days.

10 Markets Where Home Prices are Stable

 

 

While most of the country’s housing market fight rising prices due to low inventory, several U.S. cities remain outside the trend, with home prices remaining flat, or in some cases even falling. According to Trulia, cities such as Austin, Texas; Sacramento, California; and Denver, Colorado have seen home prices stay flat or even fall year over year. Other cities in Trulia’s list of “10 Markets Where Home Prices Aren’t Rising” are San Antonio, Texas; Honolulu, Hawaii; Camden, New Jersey; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Houston and Dallas in Texas; and Sarasota, Florida.

San Antonio sits at the top of the list, with median home prices pegged at $269,499, a 5.4 percent decrease year over year, even with a job growth rate of 4.2 percent compared to the national average of job growth rate of 1.7 percent. Trulia estimates that despite job growth, home prices have fallen due to decreased wages in San Antonio by 2.6 percent, or simply, that are cheaper which hit the market within the last year.

Including San Antonio, Texas has four other cities on Trulia’s list: Dallas, Austin, and Houston. Austin saw a 3.4 percent decrease in the median home price year over year, down to $336,995. In Dallas, the median home price fell by 0.5 percent to $356,999. Houston, has the cheapest housing, with the median price at $299, 520, a 0.4 percent decrease year over year.

Other cities, such as Honolulu and Sacramento, despite being known for their notoriously high home prices, saw their market stabilize in the last year. Honolulu’s median home price was the highest on the list, at $630,000, but this is a 1.4 percent decrease from the previous year. Meanwhile, Sacramento, with a median home price of $429,000, saw no real change year over year, implying a stabilized market.

With a median listing price of $ 229,900, that remained unchanged over the past one year, Milwaukee was the only Midwest market on the list.

Now Is the Best Time to Sell … or Is it?

 

 

Rising home prices and a squeeze on inventory has more millennial homebuyers and potential sellers looking at upgrading their home admitting to being obsessed with timing the market to increase their gains, according to a recent study by ValueInsured.

The study found that among all homeowners surveyed who were interested in selling their home 69 percent said that they were concerned with trying to time the market, an increase of 13 percentage points from 56 percent during the same period last year.

Among those wishing to buy a home this season, the study found that 60 percent said they were concerned with trying to time the market, again reflecting a 13 percentage points increase over last year.

The pressure to time the market was most acute among millennials with 65 percent potential millennial homebuyers admitting that they were more market-timing conscious, up from 45 percent last year. Among millennial homeowners too, ValueInsured’s study found 73 percent millennial homeowners who wished to upgrade but were waiting for better prices admitting that timing the market was key to a better deal.

The study revealed that an eroding preference for owning over renting was one of the many factors that coincided with rising concerns over timing the market due to home prices and rising rates. “Americans, homeowners and non-owners, far prefer owning to renting if given a choice. However, that preference is sliding steadily, even among homeowners,” the ValueInsured study said.

While 68 percent non-homeowners believed that owning a home was better than renting, the data revealed that this was still a 4-point drop from 72 percent expressing the same sentiment last year. The percentage dropped among homeowners too, with 87 percent homeowners believing that it was better to own than rent, compared with 90 percent during the same period last year.

The study found that non-homeowning millennials were more confident that the housing market was moving in a direction that was more favorable to renters than owners, with nearly three in four (72 percent) millennial homeowners surveyed now believing that the housing market favored renting over buying.

 

Federal Open Market Committee Examines Economic Outlook

The Federal Reserve announced that interest rates remained unchanged after the end of the two-day policy meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC). The Fed had last increased rates in March. The committee voted unanimously to keep the rates unchanged and said that it would monitor labor market conditions and the movement of inflation before announcing further rate hikes.

“In view of realized and expected labor market conditions and inflation, the Committee decided to maintain the target range for the federal funds rate at 1-1/2 to 1-3/4 percent,” the Fed said in a statement after the meeting. “The stance of monetary policy remains accommodative, thereby supporting strong labor market conditions and a sustained return to 2 percent inflation.”

The Central Bank had stated that it was targeting an inflation rate of 2 percent at the beginning of the year, and after the meeting, it said: “On a 12-month basis, both overall inflation and inflation for items other than food and energy have moved close to 2 percent.”

The stability in rates this month will bring some respite to homebuyers who have been challenged by rising mortgage rates after the hike in overall interest rates by the Fed in March. Mortgage rates climbed to their highest level in over four years last week with the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage increasing for the third consecutive week to 4.58 percent. This according to the Freddie Mac Primary Mortgage Market survey that showed average mortgage rates had continued their upward march, continuing a trend seen since the beginning of 2018.

So should the market expect another hike in June? The committee said that the committee would assess realized and expected economic conditions relative to its objectives of maximum employment and 2 percent inflation. “This assessment will take into account a wide range of information, including measures of labor market conditions, indicators of inflation pressures and inflation expectations, and readings on financial and international developments,” the Committee said in its statement.

Worries Climb Over Rising Home Prices

U.S. home sales have slowed to a crawl this quarter, mostly due to an entrenched combination of low inventory and consistently rising prices. The latter was true again in March, according to the latest Home Price Index report from CoreLogic. The HPI for March found that over the last year, home prices nationally rose 7 percent.

From February, prices were up 1.4 percent, but in year-over-year comparisons, CoreLogic found that all 50 states saw prices escalate since March of 2017.

“Home prices grew briskly in the first quarter of 2018,” said Frank Nothaft, Chief Economist at CoreLogic. “High demand and limited supply have pushed home prices above where they were in early 2006. New construction still lags historically normal levels, keeping upward pressure on prices.”

The largest annual gains happened in Washington and Nevada, where, CoreLogic found, home prices grew by 12.6 percent since last March. What’s more, CoreLogic expects prices to keep climbing and expects U.S. home prices to be 5.2 percent higher by next March. Prices are expected to rise 0.1 percent in April.

Of the 100 largest metropolitan areas, based on housing stock, 37 have an overvalued as of March, the report stated.

“Additionally, as of March 2018, 28 percent of the top 100 metropolitan areas were undervalued and 35 percent were at value” it stated.

When looking at the top 50 markets, CoreLogic found that half were overvalued. Seven were undervalued and 18 were at value.”

CoreLogic president and CEO  Frank Martell called this dynamic a clearly “unsustainable condition that can only be remedied by aggressive and coordinated public/private sector actions.”

According to Martell, rising home prices would remain a sober reality facing a lot of would-be buyers until it was “straightened out.”

“The dream of homeownership continues to fade away for the average prospective buyer,” he said. “Lower-priced are appreciating much faster than higher-priced properties, making the crisis progressively worse.”

Limited Options Holding Homebuyers Back

Inventory is still holding sales back, according to the latest pending home sales data from the National Association of Realtors (NAR). The Pending Home Sales Index by NAR indicates that despite a 0.4 percent increase in pending home sales in March, numbers still aren’t as high as they were last year. With the increased activity in March, pending home sales are still down three percent year over year.

“Healthy economic conditions are creating considerable demand for purchasing a home, but not all buyers are able to sign contracts because of the lack of choices in inventory,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “Steady price growth and the swift pace listings are coming off the market are proof that more supply is needed to fully satisfy demand. What continues to hold back sales is the fact that prospective buyers are increasingly having difficulty finding an affordable home to buy.”

Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.com agreed: “The slight increase in March is still not enough to push the pending index above year-ago levels. It marks the third consecutive year-over-year decline suggesting that unless more come to the market , we’re unlikely to see a major breakout above the 5.5 million sales pace that has dominated since mid-2015.”

Yun also noted that winter storms during the “unseasonably cold” winter in the north contributed in part to the decline in contract signings. Additionally, Yun stated that increasing prices coupled with decreasing incomes would push some people out of the market, as mortgage rates hit a four-year high.

“Much of the country is enjoying a thriving job market, but buying a home is becoming more expensive,” said Yun. “That is why it is an absolute necessity for there to be a large increase in new and existing homes available for sale in coming months to moderate home price growth. Otherwise, sales will remain stuck in this holding pattern and a growing share of would-be buyers—especially first-time buyers—will be left on the sidelines.”

“While many buyers will be able to successfully adjust to higher mortgage rates, first-timers with a lot of debt and little cash are more likely to get tripped up,” Hale said.

Overall, existing home sales are still expected to increase year over year. Yun predicts existing home sales to be around 5.61 million in 2018, over 5.51 million in 2017.

The 5 Toughest Housing Markets for Millennials

More than any other age group, millennials are feeling the one-two punch of tight inventory and consistently climbing housing prices. Realtor.com, in fact, calls the current state of the market  “the toughest home buying season in history” in a new look on which metros are the hardest for millennials to buy into.

“Millennials want to buy, but record-low inventory is making it extremely difficult,” said Danielle Hale, Chief Economist for Realtor.com. “Our analysis shows millennials are facing challenges in both established markets such as San Jose and Seattle, as well as more recently popular areas like Omaha and Salt Lake City.”

Minneapolis is in the top five too. According to the report, in these five cities are increasingly out of reach for millennial buyers, despite that this group of buyers is flocking to them for their strong economies and high-paying jobs.

“As a result, millennials make up a higher share of the population, at 14.6 percent, compared to 13.4 percent for the U.S.,” the report stated. “Household income among 25- to 34 year-olds in these five locations is also significantly higher, at roughly $79,000, compared to the U.S. median of $59,800.

And millennials are definitely interested in buying. Realtor.com said that in the first quarter, millennials accounted for 25 percent of views, higher than any other age group.

But the economic hopes for San Jose, Seattle, Salt Lake City, Omaha, and Minneapolis are meeting with the economic realities of living there. While the median U.S. home price is $280,000, the median price in San Jose is $1.24 million. The report stated that the Bay Area is “replete with young students and scholars” chasing tech salaries—the average millennial salary in San Jose is $102,000 a year—at companies like Google and Apple. The competition for houses, therefore, is intense, and non-tech workers are increasingly getting shoved to the outskirts of the city.

The same story is occurring in the other four cities, just with different numbers. Millennials average $78,300 a year in Seattle, where the median home price is $533,000; they average about $68,000 a year in Salt Lake City, where the median home is almost $400,000; $73,600 a year in Minneapolis, where the median house can cost $283,000; and $63,500 a year in Omaha, where the median home price is the same as in Minneapolis.

All that combines with especially low inventory. Nationally, inventory is 35 percent lower than the spring of 2012, the report found. Compared to this time last year, active listings in these five metros remain 8 percent lower, the age of inventory is 7 percent lower, and list prices are 8 percent higher.

“Supply is nearly three times lower than the rest of the country, at 5.7 listings versus 16.1 listings per 1,000 households,”: the report stated. “Additionally, listings in these areas are scarcer and selling faster for more money. In these five metros, active listings are 9 percent lower, the age of inventory is 13 percent lower, and list prices are 14 percent higher from a year ago.”

Home Price Index February 2018

February 2018 National Home Prices

Home prices nationwide, including distressed sales, increased year over year by 6.7 percent in February 2018 compared with February 2017 and increased month over month by 1 percent in February 2018 compared with January 2018 (revisions to public records data are standard, and to ensure accuracy, CoreLogic incorporates the newly released public data to provide updated results).

 

Forecast Prices Nationally

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast indicates that home prices will increase by 4.7 percent on a year-over-year basis from February 2018 to February 2019, and on month-over-month basis home prices are expected to be flat from February 2018 to March 2018.

 

The CoreLogic HPI Forecast is a projection of home prices using the CoreLogic HPI and other economic variables. Values are derived from state-level forecasts by weighting indices according to the number of owner-occupied households for each state.

In an analysis of the country’s 100 largest metropolitan areas based on housing stock, 34 percent of cities have an overvalued housing stock as of February 2018, according to CoreLogic Market Conditions Indicators (MCI) data. The MCI analysis categorizes home prices in individual markets as undervalued, at a value or overvalued by comparing home prices to their long-run, sustainable levels, which are supported by local market fundamentals such as disposable income. Also, as of February, 30

Home Prices rise again

 

 

U.S. home prices in February were up 0.6 percent from the previous month nationwide, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s latest House Price Index. Prices for sales guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were up 7.2 percent compared to last February, according to this report.

The month-to-month numbers from FHFA were slightly higher than those reported in the latest S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, released on Tuesday, which said that February prices were up 0.4 percent from January; they were up 6.3 percent from a year earlier.

“Home prices continue to rise across the country,” said David Blitzer, managing director and chairman of the Index Committee at S&P Dow Jones Indices while commenting on the S&P Case-Shiller HPI. “Year-over-year prices measured by the National index have increased continuously for the past 70 months.”

That’s since May of 2012. In that time, Blitzer said, prices have averaged a growth rate of 6 percent a year.

At nearly 13 percent, Seattle saw the largest growth in the past year in major markets. Home prices were also up by double digits in Las Vegas and San Francisco on the S&P Indices. Washington, D.C., and Chicago saw the lowest growth rate over the past 12 months, each less than 3 percent.

“In San Francisco and Los Angeles, home price gains ranked much higher than what would be expected from their employment increases, indicating that California home prices continued to rise faster than might be expected,” Blitzer said. “In contrast, Miami home prices experienced some of the smaller increases despite better than average employment gains.”

Despite rising prices, Realtor.com data shows in these markets are going fast,” said Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.com. “In February, time on market for the typical property in Seattle was 29 days, Las Vegas 42 days, and San Francisco 21 days vs. 83 days nationally.”

Days on market sped up seasonally in March with properties disappearing after only 23 days in Seattle, 39 days in Las Vegas, and 22 days in San Francisco, Hale said.

“Potential sellers, aware of local market conditions, are listing homes priced accordingly. Realtor.com listing prices in March were up 16 percent in Seattle, 11 percent in Las Vegas, and 6 percent in San Francisco, suggesting that high prices will continue to be the norm this spring,” she said.

According to FHFA, home price growth was uneven across different sectors of the country in February. While prices remained flat in the West North Central division, they went up 1.6 percent in the East South Central division.

Year-over-year, home prices grew in every section of the country, ranging from 4.8 percent growth in the Middle Atlantic to 10.3 percent growth in the Pacific.

FHFA also revised it’s previous January totals. Prices that month were up 0.9 percent from December, as opposed to the previously reported 0.8 percent.