In an analysis of 54 metropolitan areas, RE/MAX National Housing Report has conveyed the largest inventory increase in a decade. Although home sales themselves have scaled back by 11% on an annual basis, the increase in inventory has averaged 6% year-over-year. This greatly improves the market as there was a multi-year scarcity of homes for sale. Compared to just last year, January which is typically a slower month for home sales, had an improvement of .5 overall.

Baby Boomers continue to retire in waves without adequate savings to support themselves and their family during their golden years. It is becoming extraordinarily clear that the country is on the brink of a retirement crisis. As health care costs continue to skyrocket and pensions dwindle, Social Security is simply insufficient for the longevity of this generation. This all sounds doom and gloom, until it’s pointed out that many Americans are literally sitting in a pile of cash; their homes. Capitalizing on the equity of one’s home can solve many later in life money issues.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced its plan for awarding $10 million in “sweat equity” grants to nonprofit organizations. The funding is sourced from HUD’s Self-Help Home-ownership Opportunity Program. The actual money in combination with the labor from both volunteers and home-buyers will lower the overall cost of home-ownership. A minimum of 50 hours is required for a single ownership household, and the hours are doubled for a household of two. Community service is another requirement for eligibility. During the initial round of grants awarded more than half of the capital, around $5.3 million is going to Habitat for Humanity.

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While inventory is at a decade high, the affordability of homes for sale on the market is at a decade low. With only 56.6% of homes being affordable for the country’s median income, the National Association of Home Builders is calling on policymakers to make some changes. The Chief Economist of the NAHB, Robert Dietz indicates that wage growth is under performing while home appreciation continues to rise.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent American Community Survey reported homeowners are currently spending more money per month than renters in all 50 states. This data was compiled tracking the median housing costs from 2013-2017. Costs such as mortgage payments, home insurance, property taxes and maintenance are making it far more expensive to own a home. However, experts say while renting saves money month to month it will not pay off in the end. Investing in a home can increase the home’s equity and look to put cash back in your pocket.  A mortgage is a major expense, but once it is dropped off the monthly spending homeowners can expect a significant increase in their savings.

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