Colorado Springs is the eleventh most affordable large city in the US, according to a list compiled by Forbes magazine. The magazine released its 2015 list earlier this week, and Colorado Springs was the only city in the West to be included. The survey was compiled using a variety of different criteria, including a housing affordability index from the National Association of Home Builders in conjunction with Wells Fargo. Other factors included the prices of gasoline and food as well as typical expenses for transportation and healthcare. While inclusion in the Forbes affordable communities list won't necessarily drive companies to the city, officials are excited because it will likely get some companies to look at the city that might otherwise have not.
In compiling the affordability list issued this week, Forbes only considered the nation's 100 largest metro areas, so smaller cities such as Fountain and Pueblo were not considered. After compiling the data for the various cities, Forbes used a methodology similar to that used by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics for its consumer price index. Other than Colorado Springs, the majority of the other cities are either in the South or the Midwest. Topping the list was Birmingham, Alabama, followed by Knoxville, Tennessee. Buffalo, New York, Oklahoma City and Cincinnati, Ohio round out the Top 5.
Heavier than usual snowfall this winter had little impact on the Colorado housing market as more buyers and sellers were active than in previous winters. According to a report from REColorado, the state's largest multiple listing service, there were 4,537 new listings across the state in February, an increase of 14 percent over January's new listings. And it wasn't just sellers that were active, as home sales in Colorado rose 13 percent from January. The number of homes under contract jumped 15 percent as well, meaning the elevated sales trend should continue into March.
The Mortgage Bankers Association reported on Wednesday that demand for home loans ticked up as interest rates slid. Demand for home loans, whether purchase loans or refinancing, rose 0.1 percent in the week ended February 27. The increase was completely driven by a 0.5 percent surge in refinancing requests, which more than offset a 0.2 percent slide in requests for purchase loans. Despite the 2 measures heading in opposite directions, the refinance share of total applications held steady at 62 percent. According to the MBA, its weekly survey on home loan applications covers 75 percent of all residential retail mortgages in the US.
Over the last few years, it has become standard operating procedure for real estate agents to require a pre-approval letter from potential clients before they will show them homes. Getting pre-approved for a mortgage not only protects the agent and the seller, but often saves them time. In some cases, obtaining a pre-approval letter can save a buyer from the heartache of finding the home of their dreams, only to miss out because they had issues they needed to repair on their credit history or they simply couldn't afford it. Getting pre-approved allows a buyer to discover and repair any issues with their credit, and also lets them know exactly how much home they can afford. So when you're agent asks to see a pre-approval letter, it shouldn't be taken as an insult. Rather, it should be seen as a sign that the agent is an experienced professional and doesn't want to waste time with clients that are unable to buy a home in the first place.View More
US home prices continued to climb in December, though the rate of ascent is slowing, according to a report issued Tuesday by Irvine, California-based CoreLogic. Real estate insiders believe the report illustrates that the market is stabilizing, with not enough buyers around to drive rapid price gains seen over the last two years. A number of economists suggested that slower price increases could help boost sales this spring, particularly if interest rates stay below their historical averages. Of course, price growth is widely expected to pick up again when the spring home selling season gets underway as inventories shrink and new first-time homebuyers enter the market.View More
Students returned to classes Friday at the Pikes Peak Christian School in Northeast Colorado Springs after being sent home Thursday due to a carbon monoxide leak. Officials said that no one was hurt as a result of the incident, which was very lucky given the danger of carbon monoxide gas. Because there are no CO detectors in the building, it was only when students and faculty began smelling exhaust fumes that the problem was detected. According to the Centers for Disease Control, an average of 430 people each year die from inhaling carbon monoxide, a poisonous gas made even more deadly because it is completely odorless.View More
US home price growth picked up in October, according to a report issued this week by housing data tracker CoreLogic, bringing to an end a seven month streak of slowing price growth. Year-over-year, home prices rose 6.1 percent in October, compared to a 5.6 percent annual uptick in September. Despite the end of the streak, home values are still growing more slowly than they were earlier in the year, when year-over-year gains were coming in at nearly twice October's annual gain. Price growth began to taper off in the summer as more and more markets saw prices return to near record highs seen prior to the housing crash of 2007. This price growth has hindered affordability, largely because many Americans have not yet seen their incomes rebound to pre-recession levels. Sales have been impacted, meanwhile, by tight lending standards. After the crash, lenders raised their requirements for credit scores and down payments in response to millions of failed loans, and fear of another downturn have prevented a return to standards used prior to the meltdown.View More
Americans with large amounts of outstanding medical debt will soon get a boost to their credit score as FICO, the primary credit scoring agency used by lenders, has made changes to discount medical debt in its scoring system. The move is believed to be in response to a report issued earlier this year by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau that suggested consumer credit scores were being “overly penalized” by outstanding medical bills. That's because under the old system medical debts were weighed the same as credit card and other debts. Making matters worse, medical debt can stay on a credit report, lowering the score, for seven full years after being resolved. Under the newly revamped FICO 9 scoring system, medical debts will carry less weight than other types of debt, and will no longer affect credit score after being paid off. The change is not only good news for consumers with hefty medical bills, but also for the housing sector as a whole, since the higher scores that result from the change could mean more Americans able to qualify for a home loan.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported this week that pending sales of existing homes rose in September, hitting their highest levels since last August. The report fueled growing sentiment among real estate insiders that the market has come through a typical post-recession fast recovery phase and is entering a more normalized state. The NAR's Pending Home Sales Index, a measure of contracts signed to purchase previously loved -in homes, edged up 0.3 percent from August to September. The reading fell short of the consensus projection of economists in a recent Bloomberg survey, but at 105 is seen by experts as a healthy reading. (A reading of 100 indicates an "average" level of contract signings.