New home sales rise 6.8 per cent
April saw a 6.8 per cent increase in sales of single-family homes. The seasonally-adjusted figures from the US Census Bureau and HUD show 517,000 units were sold. There were large regional variations with a 36.8 per cent rise in the Midwest and a 5.8 per cent increase in the South; sales declined by 5.6 per cent in the Northeast and by 2.3 per cent in the West. National Association of Home Builders’ chief economist David Crowe noted: “Following an unusually low sales report in March, the numbers are consistent with other data we’ve seen recently and indicate a continuing, gradual improvement in the housing market.”
Criminals steal data to gain fraudulent credit lines
A service that is often used by mortgage applicants has been targeted by cyber-thieves. The Internal Revenue Service confirmed Tuesday that its website had been used by a “sophisticated” gang of criminals to steal data on 104,000 American taxpayers. The breach manipulated a vulnerability in a feature called “Get Transcript” which allows users to download multiple tax forms which is often used to gather information when applying for a mortgage. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told CNN that he believes that the main purpose of the attack was to gain financial information that could be used to open lines of credit and bank accounts.
Moderate gains expected for commercial real estate
The commercial real estate sector should continue to see moderate gains according to the latest outlook from the National Association of Realtors. The vacancy rates for offices and industrial units are expected to decline (by 0.1 and 0.3 per cent respectively) while vacancies in apartment developments will be up 1 per cent with increased supply. With increasing wages and low mortgage rates the apartment sector has seen strong growth and NAHB chief economist Lawrence Yar sees continued growth there. However businesses are still reluctant to make significant investment in workspaces: "The commercial real estate sector is on the path to recovery, but subpar economic growth, lack of financing available to small investors and the industry trend towards squeezing more employees into existing spaces will keep demand from meaningful acceleration” Yar said.
Florida governor signs real-estate legislation
Three bills have become law in Florida which should mean good news for homeowners and realtors. Governor Rick Scott signed the legislation Tuesday on household insurance and real estate brokers with all three laws taking effect from July 1 2015. One of the laws will allow insurers to offer more flexible flood insurance policies as an alternative to the National Flood Insurance Program, while another extends the time insurance companies have to pay assessments to the Flood Insurance Guarantee Fund. The other law enables the Florida Real Estate Commission to reinstate licences in the event of hardship and to allow brokerages to appoint a broker of record in emergency situations.