We received the horrific news that 19 children and 2 teachers were killed in a shooting at a Texas elementary school. I could not let this news go unremarked, but I recognize that there are no words to salve the hurt, anger, sadness and shock we all surely feel.
Perhaps at this reading, you can take a moment of silence for the innocent lost souls and, if you are inclined, a prayer for the grieving family members. It is a jarring and tragic reminder to hold our loved ones a little closer and to offer a little more kindness to those around us.
The impact of our shifting economy continues to garner our attention.
Sales of new single-family houses in the U.S. dropped in April to the lowest level in two years, falling well below expectations. It was the fourth straight month of declining sales.
The drop is 26.9% lower than a year ago, and the lowest since April 2020. The National Association of Homebuilders cited rising mortgage rates and home prices for the decline. The industry also has been battered by increases in construction costs and supply chain issues.
As with existing home sales, affordability remains a big concern. A year ago, 25% of new homes were priced below $300,00. In April this fell to only 10%. At the same time, the median sales price rose to $450,600.
Related, reluctant would-be buyers also are pulling back on day-to-day spending amid record inflation, forcing Wall Street sell offs of major retailers this week. Some economists speculate the U.S. Federal Reserve may need to be more aggressive in their efforts to slow inflation than they have signaled, something to watch as they approach their June meeting.
In other adjustments, home buyers are attempting to balance higher mortgage rates and high home costs by using adjustable-rate mortgages. Experts at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s recent conference expect ARMS to be the paper of choice for purchasing mortgages in coming months. There may be long-term implications for this choice worth watching.
Last week we discussed various innovations of some of the nation’s largest brokerages. This week Zillow, Opendoor and Compass all made debuts on the Fortune 500 list, ranked by revenue. The only other dedicated brokerage firm on the list was Realogy (now Anywhere). Despite a cooling marketing, we can expect each of these firms to find ways to stay on top.
Close to home, we are pleased that legislation supported by REALTORS® across Florida has been backed by Gov. DeSantis. The Hometown Heroes program budgets $100 million to support homeownership for people such as healthcare workers, law enforcement and teachers. This means people in vital roles can continue to live, work and thrive in the communities they serve.
In additional good news, state lawmakers are reviving My Safe Florida Home that could give homeowners up to $10,000 to harden their homes, an attempt, legislators hope, to curb skyrocketing homeowners’ insurance rates. There is more work to do in insurance reform, but this is a positive start.