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Bigger Pockets - Real Estate News Contributor

Monday, January 21

I would like to let anyone who has been following me here know that I have just started as a weekly contributor to the main Bigger Pockets real estate blog! I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to publish articles on the main site, and if you'd care to read it, my newest post on real estate MBAs went live today.

I'll be covering more of a newsy/market trends beat, and will be publishing articles at the opening of every week. For those of you who would care to access my author page, my article archive and biography can be found here

I would like to extend a special thanks to Brandon for reaching out and helping set up my place as a regular contributor, and for those of you who have read my posts and provided feedback. I look forward to connecting and discussing real estate topics in the future.

Harrison Stowe 
is a writer for NVR Inc., a prime developer of new homes in Ellicott City, MD. Addressing a range of real estate topics including investment, mortgages, and new construction, Stowe combines finance knowledge with additional experience working with Ryan Homes in the current real estate market.

Slow but Steady Gains Projected for 2013 Housing Market

Thursday, January 03

Both investors and homeowners are exhaling a collective sigh of relief now that our New Year fiscal cliff plunge has been averted. The post-holiday market indexes are up, and many weary investors are beginning to see their assets gain value across the board. Also, in reviewing the returns from the last two quarters of 2012, it’s clear the prior year was a turnaround success for the housing market. Taking all this into consideration, what’s the market outlook for this New Year?


According to a broad consensus, it seems we’re slated to witness gradual gains in the housing market, with home closings maintaining their gentle momentum in tandem with a rise in median home prices. As savvy property investors are keen to note, the health (or lack thereof) of the housing market is often regionally segmented, with macroeconomic trends being only one arm of the equation. Investors would naturally be well advised to not only keep an eye on promising housing regions, but to do their best to scrutinize factors which point towards long-term value maturation.

So, in scanning the upcoming year, there are a few fiscal indicators that paint a cautiously sunny picture for the American housing market. It’s become clear that commercial real estate is viewed as a stable investment, as urban property is gathering speculation from foreign finance players. Broadly categorized, it appears that the greater housing market will also see a gradual return to good health.

As reported by, the National Association of Realtors has recently made statements predicting that the recovery in the housing market will likely involve a gradual steadying throughout the rest of the decade. Exempting unforeseen financial catastrophe, current trends speak to a gentle rise in home sales and property values. This is likely comforting to many homeowners, as we’re still feeling the collective burn of a housing bubble that expanded and burst with reckless speed.

Some of the concrete indicators of momentum that the NAR singled out include a lessening unemployment rate and favorable interest rates and housing prices. Broadly surveyed, economic conditions are mortgage-friendly while housing prices remain affordable. Additionally, many homeowner hopefuls froze their assets during the early recession, and are beginning to come out of the woodwork en masse to reconsider property purchases.

As a second kick-start to the housing market, the current combination of low prices and newfound interest in home purchases will ultimately drive the national home inventory down. Ultimately, a lowering in the national volume of unsold homes will work with other emerging factors to slowly increase the value of homes on the open market. This pattern may work as a secondary motivator of the housing recovery, and perpetuate what is looking like a slow but steady recession.


It remains to be seen precisely how the housing market fares through the next four quarters, but it would be safe to bet that we’re looking at newly optimistic projections.

Harrison Stowe is a writer for NVR Inc., a prime developer of new homes in Clarksburg, MD. Addressing a range of real estate topics including investment, mortgages, and new construction, Stowe combines finance knowledge with additional experience working with Ryan Homes in the current real estate market.

Housing Market Continues Gaining Steam Through Close of Q4

Thursday, December 20

While confidence in the housing market has made a rebound since the close of Q3, it seems that sector recovery is continuing through the end of the fiscal year. Investors are naturally concerned about false stop-starts in the housing market, and with the disappointing fluctuations we’ve become accustomed to since the 2008 crash, market skepticism is understandable. Taking all this into consideration, we may be looking at a genuinely enduring recovery period.


To examine the market specifics, the sum of single-family home starts has increased roughly 25% from that recorded in FY2011. As USA Today reports, the adjusted volume of home sales from last year was effectively the lowest in the last half-century. The article further details that projection from the National Association of Home Builders forecasts FY2013 to return a 35% increase on the volume of home starts over this year as well. Nationally quantified, it seems we’re watching a mounting rise in single-family home purchases, which bodes well for the health of the housing sector.


There is a spread of demographic motives that may be spurring convalescence in the housing market. After the 2008 market crash, many prospective homeowners otherwise withdrew from the housing search or delayed purchasing altogether. The ‘freeze’ in purchases only managed to prolong woes in the sales field, but the nationwide return in consumer confidence is encouraging a bulwark of previously hesitant homebuyers to reconsider property buys. In tandem with this, major banking players are reporting a dip in mortgage defaults, bolstering the overall health of their lending capacities.


Another primary factor that will continue to motivate home purchases is the historic low of national interest rates. As I’d previously written in a post for The Niche Report, certain Federal Reserve policies may be actively beneficial for the housing market. Not only did Q3 disclosures from banking and lending players point towards health in the housing market, but the nationwide increase in home closings (and the dip in foreclosures) are validating that Federal Reserve policy may be spelling positive returns for the real estate sector in the immediate.


In collating the myriad relevant factors, the immediate outlook of the U.S. housing market seems broadly positive. Low interest rates make the opening of home loans more appealing, and a home buying public that has waylaid itself throughout four years of economic quagmire is slated to collectively return to property purchase. In addition to mounting confidence among U.S. homebuyers, foreign finance players are investing in American real estate as well, largely out of conviction that our property investments now represent growth holdings. While predictions beyond next year would likely be premature, current market factors point towards a healthy year for housing in FY2013.


Harrison Stowe is a writer for NVR Inc., one of the prime homebuilders in North Carolina. Addressing a range of real estate topics including investment, mortgages, and new construction, Stowe combines finance knowledge with additional experience working with Ryan Homes in the current real estate market.

Housing Market May Leave Millennials Behind

Friday, December 14

It has become abundantly clear that the housing market is turning a corner. With prospective homebuyers unfreezing their assets after four years of market uncertainty, the monthly rate of home closings has jumped substantially. Broadly tallied, the value of homes across the United States has risen with the monthly sum of home sales. Even seemingly peripheral economic factors such as a rise in the quarterly profits from home appliance sales validate the health of the housing market.


Consumer confidence and homebuyer confidence often run hand in hand, and it’s an enormous relief for property investors to see that the market is returning to good form. Demographically speaking, we’re seeing a broad array of hopeful homeowners making the transition into buying property. However, it appears one key demographic may still be stalled on their path to purchasing homes.


According to new reporting from Business Insider, Millennials may experience significant difficulty in transitioning to homeowners. Encompassing the demographic of young Americans between the ages of 22 and 30, this generation has made a name for itself as perpetual renters. As they continue to age, and as the economy makes a slow transition to stability, many of these young adults have expressed mounting interest in purchasing homes of their own.


Taking this into consideration, there are some possible obstacles unique to their generation. As Business Insider notes, the housing inventory has decreased in the previous months. This decrease in market-ready property coupled with a newfound demand for sales-ready real estate has worked to actively increase the median value of homes sold within the United States. However, there is a growing contingent of current homeowners looking to sell their property now that real estate prices are rising.


That being said, it appears that the homebuyer challenges particular to Millennials may persist beyond the recovery of the housing sector. The combination of a withered job market and overall market depression has left young adults with little capital and few assets. Many have been grateful with the comfort offered by a steady job and an apartment. However, they widely lack the windfall capital necessary to put down a loan or purchase a home.


Additionally, many young adults may be caught in the difficult position of entering the buyer’s market during a period of exceptionally low home prices and mortgage rate. While the long-term homebuyer prospects of today’s 20-somethings are far from determined, there are some definitive challenges to them becoming a demographic of homeowners.

Harrison Stowe is a writer for NVR Inc., a prime developer of new condos in Maryland. Addressing a range of real estate topics including investment, mortgages, and new construction, Stowe combines finance knowledge with additional experience working with Ryan Homes in the current real estate market.

Housing Market Seems Set to Revitalize Economy

Friday, December 07

While there has much open discussion since the close of Q3 about the sudden housing rebound, analysts are now coming forward with even more glowing predictions about the status of American real estate. While it’s basic knowledge that the health (or lack thereof) of any major sector can ripple heavily across the greater market, it seems that the U.S. housing market may become a new centerpiece of our economic recovery.


As The Washington Post reports, Charles Schwab’s chief investment strategist Liz Ann Sonders has come forward claiming that not only is the housing market in clear recovery, but that it will motivate broad economic growth well through FY 2013. Citing an array of broader market trends, Ms. Sonders maintains that the foundations are in place for the housing market to continue its growth trajectory. In fact, the analysis put forward by Charles Schwab is so optimistic that Ms. Sonders disclosed projections that the housing sector alone could add a full percentage point to growth next year.


On further examination, the factors that Schwab and other prominent investment voices highlight as validations of market strength are only growing. The confidence of the American homebuyer is the highest since before the housing bubble burst in 2008. Q3 home closings tallied at the highest quarterly rate since before the recession. Similarly, major banks are reporting a substantial drop in the quarterly rate of loan defaults. The mortgage market is sustaining new vitality in tandem with the rise in home sales.


In addition to domestic indicators of sector strength, we’re beginning to see major foreign investment in American property. Capital investment from major international players is an enormous vote of confidence in the health of the United States real estate market, and offers a degree of security (if more symbolic than concrete at this juncture). With the unemployment rate gradually diminishing, and the profitability of American exports on the rise, the housing market may well be the crucial third stabilizer that maintains and strengthens our rise from this recession.

Harrison Stowe is a writer for NVR Inc., a prime developer of new homes in Maryland. Addressing a range of real estate topics including investment, mortgages, and new construction, Stowe combines finance knowledge with additional experience working with Ryan Homes in the current real estate market.

Northeast Market May Rebound Fast After Sandy

Sunday, December 02

Hurricane Sandy’s unforeseen cataclysm caused both tremendous human tragedy as well as damage to property and infrastructure. Those of us who have friends living in New York City, or who have merely seen footage of the flooding and destruction, are well attuned to the toll the storm took on the northern stretches of the Atlantic Coastline. While certain concrete factors point to signs of a rebound, the lingering fragility of the housing market means that any fluctuations (whether caused by disaster or government action) could have the effect of stymieing chances of a market turnaround.


The American Northeast, along with California, is known for having some of the most active markets with the highest home prices. Following Hurricane Sandy’s sweep across New York and New Jersey, many lucrative or otherwise safe real estate investments suffered serious damage. There were even ongoing predictions of consumer hesitancy if such extreme weather events are likely to reoccur. Understandably, both prospective homeowners and property investors are feeling newfound unease around new homes for sale in the North Atlantic housing market.


That being said, some current signs point towards a swifter recovery in hurricane-afflicted areas than previous expected. According to a new report from, the local housing market may turn a surprisingly quick recovery. While Sandy destroyed about 70,000 homes in New Jersey alone, recent analysis from Federal Reserve Bank economists project that the housing market itself will not suffer protracted damage following Sandy’s passing.


The Federal Reserve released a regional brief last Thursday predicting that once the fiscal aftershocks have been mitigated, the market will likely rebound quickly. As the statement noted, it’s typical for consumer confidence and home prices to take a dip after a storm, but that rebound tends to occur shortly after the apprehension has passed. In fact, according to standing figures, only 2% of New Jersey’s housing stock was negatively impact. By comparison, the severely impacted New York state had only 4% of its housing stock damaged in any way by the weather.


However, certain actuarial concerns will remain for the long term. The cost of homeowner’s insurance and disaster coverage will rise dramatically along the most intensely affected areas of the New Jersey shoreline. Simultaneously,demand for shore property will decline, as cautious homebuyers will be apprehensive about future storm episodes. Despite these tightly segmented consequences, New Jersey and New York’s housing markets will likely keep pace with a national recovery. Once Sandy’s psychological impact has faded, the concrete areas of damage and concern appear quite restricted.

Harrison Stowe is a writer for NVR Inc., a prime developer of new homes in Maryland. Addressing a range of real estate topics including investment, mortgages, and new construction, Stowe combines finance knowledge with additional experience working with Ryan Homes in the current real estate market.