DID YOU KNOW?
Top Headlines: Delivered by Leonard Steinberg
Third Week of September
01 U.S. homebuilders started construction on 1.615 million homes in August, up 3.9% from July 2021 and 17.4% higher than a year ago, according to a new report by the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Across the country, 1.728 million building permits were pulled, which is 6% above the revised rate from a month prior and 13.5% higher than the August 2020 rate. Additionally, 1.33 million homes were completed, a decrease of 4.5% from July 2021, but this is still 9.4% higher than a year prior. (Housingwire)
02 In 2019, FEMA said it will price flood insurance based on the particular risks facing each individual property, a change the agency called “Risk Rating 2.0.” After a delay in 2020, the new system takes effect next month for people purchasing flood insurance. Around 331,000 single-family homes around the US will face a rise in costs. More than 230,000 households will see increases of $120 to $240 in the first year; an additional 74,000 households will see costs go up between $240 and $360. For about 25,000 single-family homes, costs will jump between $360 and $1,200. Federal law prohibits FEMA from raising any household’s flood insurance rates by more than 18% a year, it will take years before current homeowners are charged their full rates under the new system. About 50% of policyholders won’t see the full increase in their rates for at least 5 years; some may not see it for nearly 20 years. (NYT)
03 August existing-home sales posted a 2% decline from July, the biggest monthly decline since April, the National Association of Realtors said Wednesday. Sales last month also slid 1.5% from a year earlier, the first year-over-year decrease since June 2020. (WSJ)
04 After a Labor Day week lull, demand for mortgages rose sharply last week from homeowners and homebuyers. Total mortgage application volume was up nearly 5% for the week. Mortgage interest rates, however, didn’t move, and haven’t for the past 4 weeks. The average contract interest rate for 30-year fixed-rate mortgages with conforming loan balances ($548,250 or less) remained unchanged at 3.03%, with points decreasing to 0.30 from 0.32 (including the origination fee) for loans with a 20% down payment. Applications for a loan to purchase a home rose 2% for the week but were still 13% lower than one year ago. That annual comparison, however, is shrinking. Homebuyers really pulled back over the summer, as soaring prices and record low supply made for a toxic mix. Purchase demand last week was the highest since April. (CNBC)
05 Foreign Buyers alert! The travel bans that had applied to the UK, Ireland, Europe’s Schengen travel area, China, India, Iran, Brazil and South Africa will all be dropped from early November. Instead, the US will demand that all foreigners are vaccinated before entering the USA, regardless of where they are coming from.
06 California is experiencing another kind of traffic jam....in the ocean. Hundreds of thousands of containers on ships await docking as the infrastructure struggles to keep up with the surge in demand for imported goods that land in Los Angeles and Long Beach from the Far East. The congestion this year has been caused by a surge in imports as consumer demand in the U.S. has shifted away from services to goods and home improvements and retailers have rushed to restock inventories that were depleted last year in the early months of the pandemic. The ripple effects of those months are pretty astounding! In 2020 Los Angeles and Long Beach ports handled the equivalent of 8.8 million loaded import containers, more than double the 3.9 million loaded boxes that arrived at the nation’s next busiest port at New York and New Jersey.(WSJ)
07 The top 1% — those earning $540,009 or more — accounted for 40% of the federal income taxes paid......but the picture looks a little different when talking about ALL federal taxes. The Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan research group, uses a different approach and makes estimates that calculate ALL federal taxes, including personal income taxes, payroll taxes, and the worker and shareholder shares of corporate taxes. Using these metrics 95% of all federal taxes are paid by households in the top two quintiles — those making about $98,000 or more.
08 The number of taxpayers with IRAs over $5 million tripled to roughly 28,600 from 2011 to 2019. (CNBC)
09 In July, mall foot traffic surpassed 2019 levels for the first time since the pandemic started. Mall visits overall were up 0.7% from July 2019, led by trips to outdoor malls, which were up 2.1%. (WSJ)
10 About 50 million more rounds of golf were played in 2020 compared with 2019.