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Why White Kitchens Stand the Test of Time

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee, Uncategorized | Posted: August 23, 2015

006_Kitchen 1
Kitchen fads come and go (RIP, avocado and harvest gold), but when it comes to enduring value, the white kitchen is champ. Here’s why.

A white kitchen lets you put personal touches — artwork, accent colors, accessories — on display.

If you’re ready for a major kitchen remodel, then you’re about to drop some serious cash. The “Cost vs. Value Report” from “Remodeling” magazine says the average kitchen redo closes in on $57,000.

So how do you keep your expensive new kitchen from being the leisure suit of design, with an ROI that disappears faster than sour milk down a sink drain?

Two words: white kitchen.

“White has stood the test of time because it’s clean and fresh,” says award-winning designer Mick de Giulio, of de Giulio Kitchen Design in Wilmette, Ill. “And those two words — clean and fresh — are classic words for describing a great kitchen. There isn’t a better way to approach design.”

Roll back a few years to get a handle on white’s popularity. In the 1920s and ‘30s, white was about the only color offered by manufacturers. To paraphrase Henry Ford, you could have your choice of any color at all, as long as it was white.

That made sense. White was associated with sanitation and health, and to a population not far removed from a deadly worldwide flu epidemic, household cleanliness was all-important.

Times have changed, but white’s healthy glow endures. Dirt just can’t hide in an all-white kitchen.

White is Marketable

Since it began keeping records, the Home Appliance Manufacturers Association says white appliances have outsold all other colors.

Ditto cabinets. White regularly tops the list of the most popular kitchen colors in the National Kitchen and Bath Association’s annual survey. For 2013, 67% of respondents said that white was their first choice for cabinetry. It simply refuses to go out of style.

That’s good news when it comes time to sell your house. White’s universal simple beauty takes the worry out of marketability.

It Feels Good
Color therapists tout white’s positive vibes — it represents happiness, innocence, and purity.
As the brightest color, it reflects light and makes even small kitchens feel spacious.

White Has Inner Beauty

Think of white cabinets as monochromatic? Not so. Cabinet doors and trims create shadow details and layers of contrast that give white depth and lasting architectural interest.

It’s the ultimate neutral — every color looks great paired with white. Light fixtures, cabinet hardware, and tile accents come alive.

“It’s a great easel to build upon,” says de Giulio. “Artwork and accessories explode in a kitchen that’s white.”

It’s the Ultimate Design Tool

White is a charming shape-shifter, able to morph into any kitchen style.

“It’s popular with traditional, contemporary, and transitional clients,” says Jamie Gold of Jamie Gold Kitchen and Bath in Bonita, Calif., who consults for building professionals on kitchen trends.

And because it’s a standard color for any manufacturer, it’s your ally: You’ll find white cabinets, tile, counters, faucets, sinks, and appliances to fit any budget.

It Lets You Be You

Snowy cabinets, countertops, and appliances are the perfect backdrop for your favorite colors. Paint walls, add color on open shelves; all that stuff is easy to change out when your mood flips or fashion dictates.

You’ve Got Options

Appliances: Although stainless steel has been the finish of choice for more than a decade, white appliances are dominating again.

Manufacturers have responded by introducing variations of white, such as polished enamel that looks like white glass.

Or you could get rid of appliances altogether, concealing them with panels that match your cabinet door style. First, choose appliances that accept decorative overlay panels, then order the panels from your cabinet manufacturer.

Countertops: If you want to go white, you can’t go wrong with Carrara or Calcutta marble. It’s been looking great in homes for thousands of years; it’ll look good in yours.

Alternatives include:
Solid-surface and quartz-type countertops come in dazzling whites.
White laminates will save you 50% over stone and solid surface countertops.
Want one-of-a-kind? Unique white concrete is the choice of high-end architects and designers.

Cabinets: White cabinets come in every style, material, and price point imaginable. You’ll find them off-the-shelf at big-box home improvement centers, and at custom cabinet shops.

Should Everything Be White?

Not at all.

“You can have stainless steel appliances or even black in a white kitchen,” says Alan Zielinski, past president of the National Kitchen and Bath Association and owner of Better Kitchens in Niles, Ill. “The key is keeping everything in balance. You don’t want an oversized, non-white appliance to become this big punctuation mark in the middle of your kitchen. Scale your choices carefully so white predominates.”

You can mix in other finishes, too, especially time-honored neutrals:
Wood is a great companion for white. Wood flooring or wood butcher-block island countertops are top mixers.

Glass feels clean and gives a white kitchen pop without adding color. Glass-front upper cabinets are winners.
Stainless steel is color-neutral, but add it carefully. Today’s kitchens are open to living areas, so you don’t want to create an uncozy look. But a stainless range hood or pot rack adds a dash of glam that pairs well with white.

What are White’s Drawbacks?

“I can’t think of one bad thing,” says de Giulio.

Source: John Riha HouseLogic

Algonquin Library to host 2nd annual storytelling festival

Categories: New Homes Chicago | Posted: August 19, 2015

story telling

ALGONQUIN – An upcoming storytelling festival in Algonquin will provide stories, music and history for people of all ages.
The second annual Fox Tales Storytelling Festival will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 30 at Algonquin’s Main Library, 2600 Harnish Drive, Algonquin, according to a release from the Algonquin Area Public Library District.

Attendees will hear from storytellers Paddy Lynn, Sandi Sylver, Linda Gorham and Megan Wells – some of whom have local ties. The festival will include music from Susan Salidor, Bill Robinson, Hanes & O’Meara, and The Frothy Boys, the release said.

Local historical societies and living history reenactors also will be there to share some of McHenry County’s history. The James Bus will be on site, courtesy of the McHenry County Historical Society.

The free program is being held in cooperation with the Lake in the Hills Parks and Recreation Department, the Algonquin Area Public Library, and the Algonquin Events and Recreation Department.

Source: Northwest Herald by -Allison Goodrich

4 Reasons to Buy a Home Now

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee | Posted: August 10, 2015

blog aug 9
Is it still a good time to put your money in real estate? Here are four reasons why it might be a good idea:

Interest Rates Are Low
“Interest rates have been creeping up, but they’re still extremely low,” said Svenja Gudell, senior director of economic research at Zillow. Right now, mortgage rates across the nation are at about 4%. Gudell believes the Federal Reserve will begin raising short-term interest rates by the end of the year, but she expects them to stay relatively low.

According to Doug Lebda, founder and CEO of LendingTree, this historically-low interest rate environment can provide a compelling reason to lock into a real estate investment.
“At some point we’ll look back and say ‘wow, rates were really low,’” he said.

Home Prices Are Stabilizing
The latest S&P Case Shiller home price index shows prices increased less than analysts expected in May, but are still up almost 5% year-over-year, for residential real estate in 20 metropolitan regions across the U.S.
Some hot markets, like New York and San Francisco, are seeing record-high prices and bidding wars due to low inventory. But Lebda says builder confidence is growing, and as new homes are added to the market, price appreciation will slow down.
“Builders are buying big swaths of land and building homes, so supply will come up,” he said.
James Zboril, president of Tavistock Development Company, is one of those developers adding to the country’s housing supply. Zboril says his firm is on track to sell 475 new homes this year in the Lake Nona development near Orlando, Florida.
And in Manhattan, Leslie French, founder and CEO of East Egg Realty in New York, says while she’s seen record high prices, “new condos have been entering the market and there are many more slated for 2016, which should create a better balance between supply and demand, possibly slowing the rise in home prices.”

Owning Is Cheaper Than Renting
Zillow’s Gudell says buying is more affordable than renting. In fact, she says home buyers are spending about 15% of their monthly income on their mortgage payment, while renters are spending 30%.
“Currently, homebuyers can breakeven on a home purchase in two years or less in 23 of the top 35 housing markets,” she said.
Of course, there are barriers to owning, including difficulty saving for a down payment, especially with higher rents, Gudell said.

It’s Easier to Get a Mortgage
Lebda says financing is getting easier as lenders are taking on more risk than they had been following the financial crisis. He said while the average down payment is 15% of the purchase price, there are new rules that allow some people to buy with a down payment as low as 3%.
According to Holden Lewis, senior mortgage analyst at Bankrate.com in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, deciding whether it’s a good time to buy is personal.
“It’s not unsafe like it was in 2004 or 2005,” he said. “It has more to do with whether a person is ready and whether or not their job is secure.”

Source: Fox Business July 29th 2015 Kristin Bianco is a financial news anchor and FOXBusiness.com contributor

Fannie Mae makes it easier to buy a home!

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: July 17, 2015

http://jasonservais.onqpeoria.com/2015/07/14/fannie-mae-makes-it-easier-to-buy-a-house/fnma

What If I Wait Until Next Year to Buy?

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee | Posted: July 15, 2015

first time home buyers
First-time homebuyers are flocking to the housing market in greater numbers than any time in the last few years. Renters who are ready and willing to buy are now realizing that they are also able to as well. Many first-time buyers are Millennials (born between 1981 – 1997).

If you are one of the many in this generation who sees your friends and family diving head first into the real estate market, and wonder if now is the time for you to do the same, keep reading!

The Cost of Waiting to Buy is defined as the additional funds it would take to buy a home if prices and interest rates were to increase over a period of time.

Let’s look at an example of what the experts are predicting for the upcoming year, and what that really would mean for you. Let’s say you’re 30 and your dream house costs $250,000 today. Right now mortgage interest rates are at or about 4%.

Your monthly mortgage payment (principal & interest only) would be $1,193.54.

But you’re busy, you like your apartment, and moving is such a hassle. You decide to wait until next year to buy. CoreLogic predicts that home prices will appreciate by 5.1% in the next 12 months; this means that same house you loved now costs, $262,750.

Freddie Mac predicts that over this same period of time, interest rates will be a full point higher at 5.0%. Your new payment per month is now $1,410.50.

The difference in payment is $216.96 PER MONTH!

That’s basically like taking $8 and tossing it out the window EVERY DAY!

Or you could look at it this way:
•That’s your morning coffee everyday on the way to work (average $2) with $10 left for lunch!
•There goes Friday Sushi Night! ($50 x 4)
•Stressed Out? How about a few deep tissue massages with tip!
•Need a new car? You could get a brand new car for $217 a month.

Let’s look at that number annually! Over the course of your new mortgage at 5.0%, your annual additional cost would be $2,603.52!

Had your eye on a vacation in the Caribbean? How about a 2-week trip through Europe? Or maybe your new house could really use a deck for entertaining. We could come up with 100’s of ways to spend $2,603, and we’re sure you could too!

Over the course of your 30 year loan, now at age 61, hopefully you are ready to retire soon, you would have spent an additional $78,105.60, all because when you were 30 you thought moving in 2015 was such a hassle or loved your apartment too much to leave yet.

Or maybe there wasn’t an agent out there who educated you on the true cost of waiting a year. Maybe they thought you wouldn’t be ready. But if they showed you that you could save $78,000 you’d at least listen to what they had to say.

They say hindsight is 20/20, we’d like to think that 30 years from now when you are 60, looking back, you would say to buy now…

Source: July 14, 2015  First Time Home Buyers, For Buyers at simplifyingthemarket.com

Consumers’ Attitudes Bode Well for Housing Market

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee | Posted: July 13, 2015

housing market
The home sales market may be ready to trend upward, based on consumers’ responses in a recent Fannie Mae survey.

In response to a question about the timing of home sales, 52% of consumers in June said they believe now is a good time to sell. That’s the first time that figure has surpassed 50% in the history of Fannie Mae’s monthly National Housing Survey.

In a separate question about the direction of rental home prices, 59% of consumers in June said they expect rents to increase over the next 12 months. That’s an increase of four percentage points compared to May, and it’s also an all-time high in the Fannie Mae survey.

Combined, the two responses — higher rental prices and the belief that it’s a good time to sell — could portend well for the housing market, Fannie Mae said.

“These results point to a healthier home purchase market, with more renters likely to find owning to be more cost-effective than renting and more sellers likely to put their homes on the market,” Doug Duncan, Fannie Mae’s chief economist, said in a news release.

Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey polls 1,000 Americans each month to gauge their attitudes on the housing market, rental market, the economy, household finances and more.

In additional findings from the June survey, the number of consumers who said mortgage rates will rise over the 12 months increased by three percentage points to 50%. The average 12-month rental price change expectation fell to 4.2%.

Source: Andy Peters; NationalMortgageNews.com July 9th 2015

11 US housing markets, including Milwaukee, where it makes more sense to buy than rent

Categories: New Homes Milwaukee | Posted: July 11, 2015

Milwuakke 

Buying a house is a major commitment involving a lot of money.

But you have to live somewhere, and sometimes it makes more sense to buy than rent.

Realtytrac, a real estate information company, compiled data on 285 counties nationwide and analyzed the economics of buying versus renting a home. They found the average cost to rent or own a 3-bedroom house and determined the percentage an average worker would have to spend from their weekly income.

The report found something surprising. “The separate Buy-or-Rent analysis released today found that making monthly house payments on a 3-bedroom property is more affordable than paying fair market rent on a 3-bedroom property in 188 of the 285 counties analyzed (66 percent),” said the company.

We screened for the counties that had populations of more than 400,000 people and where a homebuyer would save at least 10% more than renters.

Check them out below in order from least to most savings

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/us-housing-markets-where-it-makes-more-sense-to-buy-than-rent-2015-7?op=1#ixzz3fc9KyJhS

Source: Bob Bryan Business Insider; July 9th 2015

Firetruck-themed playground proposed for Hampshire park

Categories: New Homes Chicago | Posted: July 8, 2015

hamp firepark
Fundraising efforts are underway toward bringing in new playground equipment for Ralph Seyller Memorial Park in Hampshire..

“Fundraising efforts began in May,” said Laura Schraw, Hampshire Township Park District executive director. “We are hoping to raise $15,000 for the playground equipment by May 2016. Originally, Little People Playtime Preschool in Hampshire was going to fundraise for a small playground that would be inside their play yard. It was then decided to work with the Hampshire Park District Foundation to fundraise for a larger structure that the whole community can use.”

The proposed fire truck themed playground equipment would be 36 feet by 20 feet with a safety zone area. It would be geared toward children ages two to five.

The proposed playground would be located on the east side of Seyller Park near the west parking lot of the preschool.

“Theming adds considerable play value when we let kids’ imaginations do a lot of the play,” Schraw said. “It was a natural fit to approach the Hampshire Fire Protection District and ask if they would like to add a memorial to the sitting area if we were to install a fire truck playground. The district will be celebrating its 85th anniversary in 2016. That is why the goal is to raise the money for the playground in one year. Both Little People Playtime Preschool and the Foundation thought it would be a great partnership to have a memorial in the park for the Hampshire Fire Protection District for all they do for the community.”

Schraw said the Foundation is currently in the planning phases with the district to host a draw down in the spring as the final push for the funds needed to purchase the playground equipment.

The current playground equipment at Seyller Park was installed in 1999.

“We will not be replacing the equipment already in the park at this time,” Schraw said. “Replacement of those structures will cost over $100,000.”

The removal of the current playground equipment is anticipated for 2017.

A fundraiser for the fire truck themed playground will be a community garage sale in the preschool parking lot from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, August 1.
Garage sale vendors can rent a 10 by 20-foot space for $30. They can register at either 390 South Avenue or 441 East Jefferson Avenue in Hampshire. Tables, chairs and tents must be furnished by the vendors. Electricity will not be available, but a porta-potty will be on site. Vendors will be responsible for their own set up and take down.

In addition to the garage sale, other fundraisers will include a Yankee Candle sale starting in September. It will be hosted by the preschool. There will also be a cookbook sale.

“The cookbook will be open to the public for purchase and can be pre-ordered,” Schraw said. ‘The recipes will be from the current students and teachers at the preschool and include student artwork. With over 100 students, we are sure to have lots of good recipes. The park district is putting the cookbook together. We are hoping these cookbooks will be great Christmas presents.”

For more information, contact the Hampshire Park District at (847) 683-2690; http://www.hampshireparkdistrict.org.

By Denise Moran Elgin Courier; July 7th 2015

$217,726: That’s What You’ll Save (Give or Take) If You Buy a Home Now

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee, New Homes Phoenix, New Homes Tampa | Posted: June 19, 2015

money
Buying a home costs money. Lots of money. There’s the down payment and the monthly mortgage payment and the maintenance and taxes and the insurance and… Are you overwhelmed yet?

It might seem like so much that you just want to put off the house hunt and sign that yearlong lease with your landlord (even though he upped your rent 25% and will likely do the same next year).

But this is going to blow your mind: Even with all of those costs, you still stand to save more than $200,000 over the next 30 years if you buy right now.

“But that’s over the course of 30 years!” you say. “I’m thinking about my money right now!” you say.

Well, get this: Wait just one year, and you throw nearly $19,000 in savings down the drain. The penalties are so high because mortgage rates are forecast to increase and because home prices are rising quickly, according to our chief economist, Jonathan Smoke.

Yep, that’s right. There’s a financial benefit—and, similarly, a financial penalty—for every single day you pay your landlord instead of your mortgage company. At a national level, the 30-year financial benefit of owning today is $217,726, according to our economic data analysts, who crunched the numbers to determine the relative merits of buying vs. renting. (Their work doesn’t capture qualitative advantages such as more control over your living situation, flexibility with pets, and, generally, more options—all things many potential home buyers would argue are equally, if not more, important when deciding whether to take the plunge.)

Postpone for one year, and you’re losing out on an estimated $18,672 in savings. Delay for three years, and that figure jumps to $54,879.

“We’re at a critical juncture: Rents, home prices, and mortgage rates are all expected to rise significantly over the next several years,” Smoke says. “That means the cost of delaying homeownership will go up even more sharply, if you wait three years or even one. It’s much like the decision to start contributing to a 401(k). Delay contributing, and you lose out on the compounding returns.”

‘Financial calculus’ confirms it’s wise to buy ASAP

Smoke and his team used a lot of factors to come up with these estimates, and they made quite a few assumptions as well.* For instance, they assumed that any money saved by renters would be invested, and that the investment would enjoy a compound annual growth rate of 5% (that’s consistent with conservative long-term expected market returns).

We know—these are some pretty big assumptions. How many renters are actually saving and investing? But we’re telling you about these assumptions, because the bottom line is this: Our data team stacked the deck against owning and still came out with eye-popping figures in favor of buying.

“The financial calculus confirms it’s wise to buy—and buy as soon as possible,” Smoke says.

That’s because no matter how you slice it, you can’t deny a few key facts that make the case for buying: Nationally, it’s cheaper right now to buy than to rent, home prices are expected to appreciate, and, while renting is subject to inflation, homeownership costs are locked.

In some markets, financial ‘penalty’ is over $1M

But, as always, it depends on where you go.

For example, in Bismarck, ND, the financial benefit of buying is actually negative. That means you’d spend $12,350 more over the next 30 years to buy instead of rent. That’s because in places such as Bismarck, rents are low, and while home prices have risen dramatically over the past few years, they aren’t expected to rise much in the future. That seems like an incentive to buy, right? Not necessarily. Think about this in terms of home appreciation. Because home prices may have peaked for the foreseeable future, you don’t stand to gain much from owning a house here.

The following markets have the least financial benefit over the next 30 years:

1. Bismarck, ND: –$12,350
2. Dallas–Fort Worth, TX: $830
3. Grand Forks, ND–MN: $4,999
4. Kahului–Wailuku–Lahaina, HI: $7,965
5. Houston, TX: $8,951

But travel west to California and you’ll see an entirely different picture. In Santa Cruz, for instance, you stand to save more than $1 million over the next 30 years if you buy today. That’s because both rent and home prices are skyrocketing, thanks to strong economic drivers such as job growth, population growth, and household growth.

But it’s still hard to get a foot in the door: A median-income household in Santa Cruz could afford less than 10% of the homes available for sale there.

In order to realize a positive financial benefit from buying a house, owners have to wait for “break-even time periods”—when the transaction costs of buying and selling cancel out. Nationally, that wait time is just over three years. In markets that have higher home price to rent ratios, such as San Jose, CA, and New York City, owners normally need to wait longer—as long as six to seven years.

“From a pure financial perspective, you have to be committed to staying longer term,” Smoke says about those high-cost markets. “That’s one of the reasons why rents are also high and getting higher.”

The 30-year financial benefit of owning in the following markets exceeds $500,000:

1. Santa Cruz–Watsonville, CA: $1,006,413
2. Santa Rosa, CA: $883,068
3. San Jose–Sunnyvale–Santa Clara, CA: $782,144
4. Urban Honolulu, HI: $714,748
5. Napa, CA: $712,192

So, in some places you win, in other places you lose. That kind of means it all balances out, right?

Nope, Smoke says: Nearly 90% of the markets (335 of ‘em) produce a financial benefit of at least $100,000 from owning over 30 years. In addition, almost a quarter of the nation’s markets reap a financial return greater than the national average.

We’re not exactly math majors, but we’re picking up what Smoke is putting down. It might feel challenging to come up with a down payment, but we never saw the savings spelled out in such plain language. So BRB—gotta go buy a house.

*Our data analysts used the following assumptions to calculate the relative merit of buying vs. renting:

They factored in a 20% down payment with a closing cost of 3%. Maintenance and annual improvement costs are 1%, and the opportunity cost of capital is 5% (average U.S. investors required return on equity investments).

They assumed a marginal tax of 25% and the cost of selling a house is 8% of the sale price. Capital gains tax is 15% beyond $500,000 (for married couples). Rent brokerage is 1% of first year’s rent and rent insurance is 1% of monthly rent.

Source: Rachael Stuls, Realtor.com May 28th 2015

Confidence Among U.S. Homebuilders Increases to Nine-Month High

Categories: New Homes Chicago, New Homes Madison, New Homes Milwaukee | Posted: June 17, 2015

Confidence among U.S. homebuilders rebounded in June to a nine-month high as warmer weather and a brighter economic outlook drew prospective buyers back to the market.

homebuilder confidence

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment gauge rose to 59 this month, the strongest since September and exceeding all projections in a Bloomberg survey, from 54 in May, figures from the Washington-based group showed Monday. The median survey forecast called for 56.

Activity in the residential real estate market has shown a slow rebound as the busier selling season takes hold, which could help the economy overcome weakness in manufacturing. Employment gains and rising wages are giving would-be home buyers reason to take the plunge.

The data show “a growing optimism among builders that housing will continue to strengthen in the months ahead,” David Crowe, NAHB chief economist, said in a statement. “At the same time, builders remain sensitive to consumers’ ability to buy a new home.”

Estimates in a Bloomberg survey of 48 economists ranged from 54 to 58. Readings greater than 50 mean more respondents report good market conditions.

Another report Monday showed factory production unexpectedly declined in May as the slump in energy output deepened. The 0.2 percent decrease at manufacturers followed a 0.1 percent increase in April, according to figures from the Federal Reserve in Washington. Total industrial production, which adds mines and utilities, also dropped 0.2 percent.

Current Sales

The builders’ index of current single-family home sales rose to 65 in June, the highest since November 2005, from 58 in the prior month. The homebuilder group’s gauge of prospective buyer traffic climbed to 44, the strongest in five months, from 39.

The measure of the six-month sales outlook advanced to 69, the best since October 2005, from 63 in May.

“Builders are reporting more serious and committed buyers at their job sites and this is reflected in recent government data showing that new-home sales and single-family construction are gaining momentum,” NAHB Chairman Tom Woods, a homebuilder from Blue Springs, Missouri, said in a statement.

Builder confidence climbed in all four regions, led by an 8-point gain in the Midwest, to 57. Sentiment rose in the South to 63, the strongest since September, from 59 in May.

Home Sales

April housing data showed industry momentum was spotty at the start of the spring selling period. Purchases of new homes rose more than projected, increasing 6.8 percent to a 517,000 annualized pace from a 484,000 rate the prior month, according to Commerce Department figures.

Sales of existing homes unexpectedly fell 3.3 percent to a 5.04 million annualized rate after a 5.21 million pace in March that was the strongest in almost two years, National Association of Realtors figures showed.

Warmer weather has bred optimism among Federal Way, Washington-based Weyerhaeuser Co.’s customers.

“We’re seeing some real pickup in terms of demand from a housing perspective,” Chief Executive Officer Doyle Simons said at a June 9 investor forum. “In this time of year things dry up quick and people can get in and build the houses.”

Persistent labor-market progress should help sustain expectations for a pickup in economic activity. Employers added 280,000 jobs in May, the most in five months, after a 221,000 April advance. An increase in the number of people entering the labor force caused the jobless rate to creep up to 5.5 percent from 5.4 percent, which was the lowest since May 2008.

Wage Pickup

Wage growth also has begun to show signs of life. Average pay for all civilian workers climbed 4.2 percent in the first quarter from the same period in 2014 to $22.88 an hour, Labor Department figures showed Wednesday. That compares with a 4 percent year-over-year gain in the fourth quarter and is the strongest since July-September 2006.

Average hourly earnings reported with the Labor Department’s monthly jobs figures accelerated in May to a 2.3 percent year-over-year pace, the fastest since August 2013.

Relatively cheap borrowing costs also are supporting homebuyers. The average rare on a 30-year fixed mortgage was 4.04 percent in the week ended June 11, according to data from Freddie Mac in McLean, Virginia. That’s still below the average 6.06 percent in the last five years of the economic expansion that ended in December 2007.

A report Tuesday is projected to show housing starts slowed in May from a seven-year high. Builders broke ground at a 1.09 million annualized pace last month, down from a 1.14 million rate in April, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed before figures from the Commerce Department. Starts averaged a 1 million pace last year.

Source: Bloomberg Business: Michelle Jamrisko, June 15, 2015

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