NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall released the following statement after the U.S. Senate vote on legislation extending flood insurance funding. The bill, which cleared the House last week, was signed into law by the President on July 31, 2018 prior to a midnight deadline.

“We applaud lawmakers for taking this needed action to prevent disruptions to closings in thousands of communities across the country. Although the National Flood Insurance Program will be extended through November 30... the NFIP is in desperate need of reforms that will make it solvent and sustainable in the long term. The National Association of Realtors will continue fighting for these reforms as the next NFIP reauthorization discussions loom later this year.”

According to new findings, the ideal age for most Americans to buy their first home is 28. A recent Bankrate study touted this number as the sweet spot that those surveyed seemed to gravitate to.

Of course, not everyone agrees. A quarter of men surveyed believe the ideal time to buy a first home is prior to age 25, but only 12 percent of women concur.

And region matters, too: Nearly one in five (18 percent) of Northeasterners thinks the ideal age is over 35, twice as many as any other region. This makes sense, as the cost of living in the Northeast tends to be higher, on average.

Income also impacts mindset. With so many millennials stuck under the weight of massive student loans, buying a home by 28 may seem a bit unattainable. Fifty-two percent of those making less than $30,000 per year think first-time homebuyers should be at least 30 years old, compared to 32 percent of those who make $50,000 or more per year.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 91 real estate-related deaths across the U.S. in 2016, 31 of which were the result of "violence and other injuries by persons or animals." Although 61 percent of REALTORS® in an RISMedia survey feel "very safe" day-to-day, there are risks when hosting open houses and showing homes, and REALTORS® must remain vigilant.

"My first personal meetings with potential clients take place at my office," says Sarah Gustafson, immediate past president of the REALTOR® Association of Central of Massachusetts and a broker associate. "If I am going to their home, I let an agent know where I am and the name, phone and address of the person I am meeting."

Gustafson doesn't risk her own safety, or that of her agents. If a fellow agent doesn't receive a text from her within 15 minutes of arriving to her client meet-up, she expects a phone call. If Gustafson doesn't answer, that agent is directed to call the police.

When New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Democrat Senate President Steve Sweeney recently reached an agreement on a budget deal, it was welcome news to many as it avoided another government shutdown. Governor Murphy signed the $37.4 billion bill into law on July 2, 2018.

Much of the negotiations centered on how much to raise taxes. Murphy wanted a tax on income over $1 million but lawmakers felt this would cause millionaires to flee the State. In the end Murphy agreed to an increase in taxes on income over $5 million at 10.75 percent. The other compromise was to raise the tax on businesses making more than $1 million by an average of 2 percent over four years, with the increase expiring after four years. The sales tax also remains unchanged.

So what do we know about how aspects of the deal will affect matters relating to New Jersey real estate?

Everyone loves to see a good before and after shot. Regardless of whether it's a personal weight loss journey or a newly painted piece of furniture, it's all about the dramatic reveal and being able to see change happen right before your very eyes.

So, why hasn't the real estate industry jumped on the #transformationtuesday bandwagon? It's the perfect opportunity for agents to showcase their real-life or virtual staging skills. On Instagram alone, the hashtag has appeared in 12.5 million posts. The best part? This specific hashtag makes the rounds on all major social media platforms. Agents can market their listing transformations on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and more.

The U.S Department of Labor has finalized its rule to expand the definition of “employer” to include “working owners,” allowing real estate professionals and other self-employed individuals to participate in association health plans. The ruling also makes AHPs available to independent contractors who are offered coverage through a spouse, the current source of coverage for roughly 40 percent of Realtors®.

BBQs, pools, fire pits and other features are often associated with double-digit price premiums

With summer heating up,® identified some of the hottest summer-related keywords currently being used in home listings to entice buyers and boost prices.

Whether it’s being able to enjoy a weekend barbecue, splash at a pool party or roast marshmallows in a backyard fire pit,® data shows that that homes with amenities geared toward summer activities appeal to buyers and often have significantly higher prices per square foot than similar homes that lack those features.

Frequently, those features are associated with double-digit home-price premiums when compared to other listings by square footage in each respective state.

A recent Realtors Confidence Index Survey released by the National Association of Realtors gathered information from REALTORS about local real estate market conditions, characteristics of buyers and sellers, and issues affecting homeownership and real estate transactions. The online survey was completed by 4,555 REALTORS from May 1-9, 2018.

Some of the highlights of the report showed that when a closing is delayed, the causes were obtaining financing (30 percent), home inspection / environmental (19 percent), appraisals (18 percent) and title issues (11 percent). Properties were typically on the market for 26 days (down from 29 days a year ago) and cash sales made up 21 percent of all sales (unchanged from 2017).

The average number of listings per agent was 3.2 and the average number of clients taken on a home tour by an agent was 5.1. When it comes to the age of buyers, 47 percent were age 35-55, 31 percent were age 34 and under, and 22 percent were age 56 and older.

For agents and brokers, Facebook is a key marketing spoke. Now, other platforms are on the rise—channels that Generation Z, the next home-buying wave, are flocking to in force.

Generation Z — teenagers today — are connecting not on Facebook, but on Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. Facebook has fallen out of favor with Gen Z, with 51 percent usage—a steep tumble from 71 percent three years ago. By comparison, 72 percent are on Instagram, 69 percent are on Snapchat, and 85 percent (the highest share) are on YouTube. When asked which channel they log onto most, Snapchat won with 35 percent of the vote, followed by YouTube (32 percent), Instagram (15 percent) and Facebook (10 percent).

Confidence in housing is at a new record, with the Fannie Mae Home Purchase Sentiment Index® (HPSI) outdoing its past peak. The boost was ignited by optimism from sellers, who are benefitting from increasing prices. At 92.3, the Index rose 0.6 percentage points month-over-month and 6.1 points year-over-year. 

"The HPSI edged up to another survey high in May, bolstered in part by a fresh record high in the net share of consumers who say it's a good time to sell a home," says Doug Duncan, chief economist and senior vice president at Fannie Mae. "However, the perception of high home prices that underlies this optimism cuts both ways, boosting not only the good-time-to-sell sentiment but also the view that it's a bad time to buy, and presenting a potential dilemma for repeat buyers."

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