Home Affordability & the American Dream

NAR Poll: Home Affordability and the American Dream
Do you dream of owning a home someday? If so, you’re not alone. The desire to put down roots and invest in a home is a common one.

And this dream is still strong across North America. The problem is, many can’t afford it.

To many, the dream seems elusive as a result of the significant cost not just of purchasing a home but also in carrying it. Many who would like to and can pursue the dream never will due to fears associated with the lack of affordability (“Will I be in over my head?” “Will I lose money?”).

According to the 2017 National Housing Pulse Survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 84% of Americans view owning a home as “a good financial decision.” And 80% of respondents see homeownership as a way of building equity toward their retirement. As well, 50% believe homeownership is an avenue to a secure neighborhood and a stable family environment. However, the positive sentiments don’t necessarily mean all of these respondents will be home-shopping this year.

Affordability is a concern

Why? Some 60% of those responding to NAR’s survey identify affordability as one of the top five challenges of homeownership. Many also believe the myth that they need significant savings (more than 15%) for a down payment on a home. According to the survey, 69% felt a “reasonable” down payment was 10% or less, while more than 40% believe lenders require down payments of 15% or greater.

That said, the survey itself supports a willingness for people to learn, wait and save – if it means the culmination of their dream.

NAR President Bill Brown, quoted in an article in RISMedia, says: “Despite the growing concern over affordable housing, this survey makes it clear that a strong majority still believe in homeownership and aspire to own a home of their own.”


Your Visiting Ghosts and Goblins Have Quite the History

Have you ever wondered why large numbers of kids show up at your door on October 31, dressed in crazy clothing and demanding candy? It does seem a bit bizarre. But while it’s always been part of our lives, the trick-or-treat tradition traces its roots way back.

In fact, trick-or-treating is the modern version of several practices that began in ancient times, with indications of both pre-Christian Celtic and Christian traditions:

Celtic: More than two millennia in the past, Celts celebrated the festival of Samhain on October 31. They believed the dead returned to earth on this day, and gathered to pay homage to the deceased with food offerings. Some villagers dressed in costumes to drive away unwelcome spirits, and from this grew the tradition of dressing as scary creatures and performing antics for food or drink.

Christian: Once Christianity spread to Celtic regions, traditions blended and new practices emerged. The church declared November 2, All Souls’ Day, as a time to honor the dead. However, the October 31 traditions of Samhain, such as bonfires and costumes, continued with the added practice of “souling.” In souling, the poor visited the wealthy and received soul cakes for praying for the homeowners’ dead relatives. However, when children took up this practice, they asked homeowners for gifts in exchange for their prayers. In some regions, souling became “guising,” when guising children dressed in costume and performed tricks to collect treats.

Today, we don’t make children perform tricks for their candy. Apparently, looking adorable is more than sufficient.


Celebrate All Things Feline on Oct. 29 – National Cat Day

Did you know there are days devoted to our feline friends and designed to raise awareness of the number of cats without homes?

National Cat Day, which has a strong focus on adopting out homeless cats into loving homes, will be celebrated this month on October 29. And for those with good memories, this is the second such celebration this year: International Cat Day was observed earlier this summer on August 8.

There’s no question we love our pets: The American Pet Products Association estimates that we will spend $69.4 billion in 2017 on everything from pet food and vet bills to other services, such as grooming and cat toys.

As well, many cat owners are building “catios” – screened-in patios for those catnaps in the sun – or buying cat condos that match their homes’ decors.

So, how will you celebrate National Cat Day?

Possibly with cuteness overload, by watching the massive number of cat videos online. Or by adopting a kitty for yourself. Or volunteering at a local animal shelter. Or donating food, toys, and blankets to the many cats still waiting for their forever homes.

If you’re already a proud cat parent, you can make it a purr-fect day by baking some homemade treats for your own cat. Or give Fluffy or Garfield a relaxing massage, followed by a comb-out session to get rid of all that excess fur (and hairballs).

But if you’re not a cat person? Well, you may want to avoid the Internet altogether on October 29.


Wondering How Much Your Home Is Worth?
How has the price of your home changed in today’s market? How much are other homes in your neighborhood selling for?

If you’re wondering what’s happening to prices in your area, or you’re thinking about selling your house, I’ll be able to help.

Click the market report below or select San Antonio Real Estate Market and complete the requested information about your home!


Family Living in the Sky: North America’s Newest Reality
As land available for new construction shrinks in urban centers across North America, governments, builders, and families are looking upward. Living high in the sky isn’t how many young families would have envisioned the family home, but for many, it’s a reality.

This new reality is playing out in Toronto, Canada, where family-sized condo units are rare. Some 80% of new housing built in the past decade are buildings of five or more stories. Yet fewer than 10% of high-rise homes in the city have three or more bedrooms. And this is presenting a problem for young families who want to live and work there.

According to a recent story in Citylab.com, Toronto is on its way. Guidelines generated in a 2015 study by the city’s Planning Division were adopted this summer by its City Council and will be used in evaluating current and future projects. The guidelines, points out CityLab contributing writer Mimi Kirk, “are not only applicable to Toronto, but to cities across North America and beyond …”

Among the recommendations: 15% of units should include two bedrooms and 10% should include three, with these larger units located on lower levels, close to each other, and adjoining outdoor spaces.

Meanwhile, in New York City, where raising kids in high-rises is nothing new (but not particularly family-friendly), some existing buildings are currently updating and repurposing their amenities, thanks to the growing number of New Yorkers choosing to raise their families in the city.

Maybe life in the sky isn’t such a hardship after all.

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Black Bean and Orange Chili
Serves 4 as a tasty Halloween night dinner
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
5 teaspoons chili powder
3 teaspoons ground cumin
1-1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
3-15.5 oz. cans black beans, drained
2-14.5 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
2 oranges, zested then juiced
Salt and pepper
Cayenne to taste (optional)
Directions
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté until softened and translucent. Add garlic and spices and continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes or until fragrant.

Stir in black beans, tomatoes, and half the orange juice. Lower heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the zest. If chili is too thick, add some or all of the remaining orange juice.

Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne if desired.

Serving suggestions: Spoon over rice or tortillas with sour cream, cilantro, and orange segments.


Ask the Agent: This Month’s Question
Which is better, a new house or an older one?

When choosing between purchasing a newly built home and an older one, know that there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” answer. Choosing new or old may be more about understanding what you want. Here are some points to consider.

Older homes tend to be closer to downtown amenities, like restaurants and entertainment. They’re usually in established neighborhoods with mature trees and large backyards. But older houses can be expensive to maintain, and may have small rooms with little storage space.

Newer homes typically offer larger rooms, trendy finishes and usually require less maintenance. But new builds are often farther away from the excitement of downtown living. Commuting may also take longer and cost more.

Your real estate agent can help, but it comes down to one thing: Old or new, the home that feels right for your family is the one to buy.

This newsletter and any information contained herein are intended for general informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal, financial or medical advice. The publisher takes great efforts to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this newsletter. However, we will not be responsible at any time for any errors or omissions or any damages, howsoever caused, that result from its use. Seek competent professional advice and/or legal counsel with respect to any matter discussed or published in this newsletter. This newsletter is not intended to solicit properties currently for sale.
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