Tag Archives: US Real Estate

7-Step Process for Finding Great Contractors for Home Renovations

To be blunt, most contractors are terrible. As a landlord, I deal with it all the time. 

They don’t answer their phone. They don’t show up when they said they would. They don’t do what they said they are going to do.

But there ARE gems to be found in the rubble. The problem is most people have no idea how to identify that great contractor from all the bad ones out there—until long AFTER they’ve already hired one.

I want to share with you my seven-step process to identify a great contractor before hiring them. Whether you’re remodeling your own home, a rental property, flipping houses, or need a contractor for something else, here’s how to land a great one.

How to Find a Great Contractor

  1. Build your contractor list

What I mean by this is you need to get the names and phone numbers of a lot of different contractors in your area. I mean, if we’re searching for a needle in a haystack, we have to first get a haystack.

You can find potential contractors in a number of ways, but my three favorite are: 

  1. Referrals, meaning ask people you know who they have used
  2. Referrals, so yeah, asking people you know who they have used
  3. You guessed it! Referrals.

Human nature is to generally do what you’ve always done. It doesn’t guarantee success, but when you know a contractor has done great work in the past, it’s likely they’ll do it again.

So get in the habit of asking your friends and family often—even when you’re not looking for a contractor. “Who did this work for you?” Then, keep track of those referrals.

There are a few other ways to find contractors, as well. I like to talk to other contractors and ask who they like working with.

Rockstars tend to party with other rockstars, and good tradesmen tend to work with other good tradesmen.

For example, I have a great finish carpenter, so I can ask him, “Hey, do you know any great plumbers?”

You can also build your list by snapping a photo every time you see a contractor sign on the side of a work truck, or by searching Yelp, or by asking the employees in the pro department of your local home store who they like.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Finding an Incredible Contractor

  1. Pre-screening on the phone and in person

Just as with tenants, our opinion of the contractor begins the moment we start talking with them, whether over email, phone, or in person.

Do they carry themselves professionally? Do they respond well to questions?

Ask them some general questions, such as:

  • How long have you been in this line of work?
  • What skill would you say you are the best at?
  • What job tasks do you hate doing?
  • In what cities do you typically work?
  • How many employees work for you? (Or “work in your company” if you are not talking to the boss.)
  • How busy are you?
  • Do you pull permits, or would I need to?
  • If I were to hire you, when could you start knocking out tasks?

Then, set up a time to meet and show them the project, if you have one. Set an appointment and be sure to show up a few minutes early, just to see exactly what time they arrive.

Are they on time? Late? Early? Do they look professional? How do they act?

If everything feels OK after this first meeting, move on to the next step.

man sitting at desk working on a computer

  1. Google them

The first thing we do now when looking for information on a certain contractor is to simply search Google for their name and their company name. This can often unearth any big red flags about the person.

You’ll also want to add your city name and some other keywords to the search, such as “scam” or “rip off” or “court.”

For example, if we wanted to find out more about First Rate Construction Company in Metropolis, we would search things like:

  • First Rate Construction Metropolis
  • First Rate Construction scam
  • First Rate Construction sue
  • First Rate Construction court
  • First Rate Construction evil

These terms can help you discover major complaints about a contractor. But keep in mind, not all complaints are valid. Some people are just crazy.

What this will do, however, is give you direction about what steps to take next.

  1. Ask for references

Next, ask the contractor for references from previous people for whom they have worked. Photos are nice, but names and addresses are better.

Then, do what 90 percent of the population will never do and actually call those references!

You may want to ask the reference several questions, like:

  1. What work did they do?
  2. How fast did they do it?
  3. Did they keep a clean job site?
  4. You are related to [contractor’s name], right? (If they are, they will think you were already privy to that information and will have no problem answering honestly!)
  5. Any problems working with them?
  6. Would you hire them again?
  7. Can I take a look at the finished product? (This could be in person or via pictures.)

These questions will help you understand more about the abilities and history of the contractor. Then, if possible, actually check out the work the contractor did and make sure it looks good.

Another tip recently given to us by J Scott was to ask the contractor to tell you about a recent big job they’ve done. Contractors love to brag about their big jobs, so he or she will likely regale you with the story of how much work they needed to do and how great it looked at the end.

Find out the address, and then go to the city and verify that a permit was pulled for that project. If not, the contractor did all the work without a permit, which is a good indication they are not a contractor you want on your team.

  1. Verify

It’s okay to be trusting, but make sure the contractor is worthy of your trust first! To do this, first verify that they truly do have a license to do whatever work you intend for them to do.

If they are an electrician, make sure they have an electrical license. If they are a plumber, make sure they have a plumbing license. If they are a general contractor, make sure they have a general contractor’s license.

Next, make sure they do actually have the proper insurance and bond. As we mentioned earlier, you could ask them to bring proof, but you can also simply ask the name of their insurance agent and verify it with that agent. Either way, just make sure they have it.

Remember: this protects you.

  1. Hire them for one small task

Before hiring the contractor to do a large project, hire them to do just one small task, preferably under $500 in cost. This will give you a good idea of what kind of work ethic they have and the quality of work that they do.

If the work is done on time and on budget, and if it meets your quality standards, consider hiring them for more tasks.

Even if the contractor has passed through the first several steps of this screening process, 75 percent of them will still likely fail at this step, so don’t settle with just one contractor. Hire multiple contractors for multiple small jobs and see who works out the best.

Related: 14 Killer Questions to Ask Your Contractor

  1. Manage them correctly

Ninety percent of the time, when I have a disastrous situation with a contractor, the blame lies on no one but myself. If I had managed the job correctly, I wouldn’t be caught in the positions I’ve been in.

Here’s an example. I hired a contractor to paint a bedroom. He says $500. I say, “Great.”

He calls me, tells me he’s done, and I send him the $500.

Now, I go check out the property and what do I see? He didn’t paint the ceiling, despite the obvious need for it. And there are a couple paint splatters on the floor that are easy to clean—but now I have to do it.

I call the contractor and he says, “Well, you didn’t say I needed to do the ceiling,” and “No, the floor was perfectly clean when I left. Someone else must have made the drips on the floor.”

Now, you might be saying, “But that’s ridiculous! It’s clearly his fault.”

But it’s my responsibility to manage him correctly. Therefore, when you work with a contractor, always get a detailed scope of work that clearly lays out 100 percent of what is going to be worked on, what’s included, and what isn’t.

Then, never pay anything until you’ve inspected the work. On larger jobs, be sure to spread out payments over the course of the job, so they don’t get too much money up front. You always want them hungry for the next paycheck.

To help with this, I put together a really simple “Contractor Bid Form” over in the BiggerPockets FilePlace—100% free—so you can fill this out every time you work with a contractor. Just go to BiggerPockets.com/bigform.

The Bottom Line

Whether you’re a real estate investor like myself or not, you’re going to need to deal with contractors in the future. By following this seven-step process, you’ll save yourself time, stress, and a lot of money.

Source: BiggerPockets.com by

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Fix & Flip Overview: How is the current economic environment impacting the market?

 

Deciding on whether or not to invest in fix-and-flip properties can be tricky, as significant benefits and challenges can influence an investor’s decision. The determinants of a good investment in fix-and-flips include the price you pay for the purchase of the property and the cost of the renovation. An investor must also be aware of the general health of the economy and the location of the property, according to a blog post by Allen Shayanfekr at Sharestates.

Understanding how the current economic environment impacts the market can help you get the most out of your investments. If the economy is bad, people resist purchasing homes, often opting for rentals instead. If the economy is too good, the competition for fix-and-flip increases, diminishing profits. If a property is in a bad neighborhood, it will be hard to sell while the cost to renovate could outweigh the investment in the property, risking the loss of some or all of the profits.

To better recognize the potential of a fix-and-flip, Shayanfekr establishes three metrics for ideal conditions when deciding whether or not to move forward on this type of investment property.

The availability and changes in housing inventory can significantly influence decision-making. Low housing inventory is perfect for house flippers, as home buyers have fewer good options, especially with new homes, creating a higher demand for rehabilitated properties. While some have seen higher housing inventory levels in 2019, others see inventory still in decline. It depends on the location. Either way, keep an eye on inventory levels in 2019.

Changes in the rate of home purchases also have a strong impact on investment decisions. The market is seeing an influx in homebuying, specifically with first-time home buyers. Though millennials have waited longer than any previous generation to buy homes, we are seeing millennials now buying or planning to buy homes. This upward trend is a good sign that the market will remain steady.

Fluctuation in the cost of homebuying puts additional pressure on the outcome for investors. Home prices rose 5.6% from January 2018 to January 2019, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The increase in the cost of purchasing homes creates a challenge for many families, often displacing families with few options in future home buying.

While these metrics may not look great, Shayanfekr recognizes the value of the location as a key to finding a good investment property. CNBC Home Hacks writer Shawn M. Carter establishes the following markets as the top 10 states to invest in:

  • Tennessee
  • Pennsylvania
  • New Jersey
  • Louisiana
  • Colorado
  • Maryland
  • Virginia
  • Florida
  • Illinois
  • Kentucky

These states have an average ROI of 83-155% and an average flip of 180 days, making them ideal markets for fix-and-flip investments.

With the market in constant flux, it’s important to keep in mind that just because one market goes south, it doesn’t mean that another location or market can’t offer good opportunities. If fix-and-flip isn’t looking like a sound investment, rental properties are another area that is growing. Whichever direction you choose, remember to asset class diversification is key to building a profitable investment portfolio.

Source: Mortgage Professionals America – Ryan Rose 04 Jun 2019

 

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How Much You Need to Earn to Buy a Home in America Today

Seven years after the U.S. housing market bottomed in February 2012, the market has staged a dramatic recovery. U.S. housing prices are now about 11 percent higher than their 2006 peak, according to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. National Home Price Index data.

National Averages

While that surge in home prices is great for homeowners, it’s made it difficult for homebuyers, particularly younger buyers in large cities where the real estate market is hottest.

To make matters worse, rising interest rates have pushed mortgage rates higher than they’ve been in years, creating yet another obstacle for buyers. HSH.com recently compiled a list of the most- and least-affordable U.S. metro housing markets. The list incorporates median housing prices, interest, taxes and insurance payments and is ranked by the salary a homebuyer would need to afford the average home in each market.

On a national level, the salary needed to comfortably afford a home is $61,453, according to HSH.com. That estimate is based on an average mortgage rate of 4.9 percent on a median home price of $257,600. That average home price is up 3.95 percent from a year ago. The average monthly mortgage payment is around $1,433.

Least Affordable Markets

Of course, some markets are much pricier than the national average. The following are the top five most expensive housing markets:

San Jose, California

  • Median home price: $1.25 million
  • Year-over-year change: -1.5 percent
  • Monthly payment: $5,946
  • Salary required: $254,835

San Francisco, California

  • Median home price: $952,200
  • Year-over-year change: +3.5 percent
  • Monthly payment: $4,642
  • Salary required: $198,978

San Diego, California

  • Median home price: $626,000
  • Year-over-year change: +2.6 percent
  • Monthly payment: $3,071
  • Salary required: $131,640

Los Angeles, California

  • Median home price: $576,100
  • Year-over-year change: +4.1 percent
  • Monthly payment: $2,873
  • Salary required: $123,156

Boston, Massachusetts

  • Median home price: $460,300
  • Year-over-year change: +2.6 percent
  • Monthly payment: $2,491
  • Salary required: $106,789

Most Affordable Markets

If these numbers are enough to make the average American earner dizzy, there are also plenty of metro housing markets around the country that are much more affordable. The following are the five most affordable cities to buy a house, according to HSH.com:

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

  • Median home price: $141,625
  • Year-over-year change: +4.9 percent
  • Monthly payment: $878
  • Salary required: $36,659

Cleveland, Ohio

  • Median home price: $150,100
  • Year-over-year change: +6.9 percent
  • Monthly payment: $943
  • Salary required: $40,437

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

  • Median home price: $161,000
  • Year-over-year change: +5.3 percent
  • Monthly payment: $964
  • Salary required: $41,335

Memphis, Tenessee

  • Median home price: $174,000
  • Year-over-year change: +4.3 percent
  • Monthly payment: $966
  • Salary required: $41,400

Indianapolis, Indianapolis

  • Median home price: $185,200
  • Year-over-year change: +7.4 percent
  • Monthly payment: $986
  • Salary required: $42,288

Millennials Getting Burned

In addition to paying higher prices for homes, a recent survey by Bankrate suggests that millennials are being too hasty about jumping into the market. One in three millennials under the age of 35 own a home, but 63 percent of those young homeowners admitted to having regrets about the home they purchased.

The biggest source of buyer’s remorse for millennial homeowners is underestimating the amount of hidden costs associated with owning a home. Insurance costs, property taxes and closing costs can add up to between 2 and 5 percent of the total value of the home, but many buyers don’t consider these fees when shopping for homes.

Homeowners should also set aside at least 1 percent of the value of the home each year for repairs and maintenance, according to HGTV.

In addition to paying too much, nearly 1-in-5 (18 percent) of millennial homeowners regret not buying a larger house.

 

Source: News Republic – March 11, 2019 

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12 most affordable cities for millennial first-time homebuyers

Affordability stands in the way for millennials as one of the main barriers to homeownership.

But not all housing markets are created equal, and many cities offer this generation plenty of options within a price range they can afford.

“Millennials who dream of owning a home will have better luck if they move inland to places like St. Louis, Columbus and Pittsburgh,” Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather said in a press release. “These cities used to have economies that relied heavily on manufacturing, and during the recession a lot of young people moved away in search of jobs.”

With home price growth currently plateauing, the time for millennial buyers to strike could be now before that changes.

“However, now these cities have more diverse economies based on education, healthcare and technology, and there are open jobs with salaries that are high relative to cost of living. But millennials may want to move as quickly as possible because even in most inland cities the share of homes affordable to the typical millennial is shrinking as housing prices go up,” Fairweather said.

From just below the Mason-Dixon Line to the gateway to the West, here’s a look at the 12 housing markets with the highest percentage of homes affordable to millennial purchasers with median incomes.

Redfin calculated the share of homes in each housing market that were affordable during 2018 to households making the median income for millennials in that metro area, assuming a 20% down payment, an interest rate of 4.64% and a monthly mortgage payment no more than 30% of gross income.

 

12. Baltimore, Md.

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Median list price: $308,595
Median millennial salary: $85,562
Homes affordable to millennials: 81.3%

11. Raleigh, N.C.

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Median list price: $298,081
Median millennial salary: $76,729
Homes affordable to millennials: 81.4%

 

10. Oklahoma City, Okla.

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Median list price: $198,000
Median millennial salary: $60,462
Homes affordable to millennials: 82.8%

9. Indianapolis, Ind.

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Median list price: $190,000
Median millennial salary: $62,054
Homes affordable to millennials: 83.5%

 

8. Cleveland, Ohio

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Median list price: $164,900
Median millennial salary: $56,151
Homes affordable to millennials: 84%

7. Minneapolis, Minn.

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Median list price: $284,900
Median millennial salary: $83,933
Homes affordable to millennials: 85.1%

 

6. Kansas City, Mo.

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Median list price: $225,000
Median millennial salary: $71,313
Homes affordable to millennials: 85.2%

5. Hartford, Conn.

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Median list price: $249,900
Median millennial salary: $76,235
Homes affordable to millennials: 85.7%

 

4. Cincinnati, Ohio

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Median list price: $199,900
Median millennial salary: $68,511
Homes affordable to millennials: 85.9%

3. Columbus, Ohio

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Median list price: $215,500
Median millennial salary: $71,181
Homes affordable to millennials: 87.1%

 

2. Pittsburgh, Pa.

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Median list price: $179,900
Median millennial salary: $70,169
Homes affordable to millennials: 87.5%

1. St. Louis, Mo.

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Median list price: $189,900
Median millennial salary: $68,805
Homes affordable to millennials: 88.1%
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Source; National Mortgage News – Paul Centopani February 12 2019
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The 4 Key Trends Home Buyers and Sellers Should Watch in 2019

 | Nov 28, 2018

We’re entering the home stretch of 2018, when you can actually say, “See you next year!” to someone you’ll see in just a few weeks. It’s a time to look ahead, to make new plans, to achieve new dreams.

And if those dreams include buying your own home, you should keep an eye on the ever-changing tides of the housing market. Now, markets are like the weather: You can’t entirely predict how they will act, but you canget a sense of the forces that will push things in one direction or another.

The realtor.com® economic research team analyzed a wealth of housing data to come up with a forecast of what 2019 might hold for home buyers and sellers—and it looks like both groups are going to be facing some challenges.

Here are the top four takeaways. For more information, see the full realtor.com® 2019 forecast.

1. We’ll have more homes for sale, especially luxury ones

We’ve been chronicling the super-tight inventory of homes for sale for several years now. Yes, homes have been hitting the market, but not enough to keep up with the demand. Nationwide, inventory actually hit its lowest level in recorded history last winter, but this year it finally started to recover. We’re expecting to see that inventory growth continue into next year, but not at a blockbuster rate—less than 7%.

While this is welcome news for buyers who’ve been sidelined, sellers must confront a new reality.

“More inventory for sellers means it’s not going to be as easy as it has been in past years—it means they will have to think about the competition,” says Danielle Halerealtor.com‘s chief economist.

“It’s still going to be a very good market for sellers,” she adds, “but if they’ve had their expectations set by listening to stories of how quickly their neighbor’s home sold in 2017 or in 2018, they may have to adjust their expectations.”

Although next year’s inventory growth is expected to be modest nationwide, pricier markets will tell a different story. In these markets—which typically have strong economies (read: high-paying jobs)—most of the expected inventory growth will come from listings of luxury homes.

We’re expecting to see the biggest increases in high-end inventory in the metro areas of San Jose, CASeattle, WAWorcester, MABoston, MA; and Nashville, TN. All of those metro markets, which may include neighboring towns, could see double-digit gains in inventory in 2019.

2. Affording a home will remain tough

It’s no secret that home sellers have been sitting pretty for the past several years. But is the tide about to change in buyers’ favor?

“In some ways, life is going to be easier for home buyers; they’ll have more options,” Hale says. “But life is also going to be more difficult for home buyers, because we expect mortgage rates to continue to increase, we expect home prices to continue to increase, so the pinch that they’re feeling from affordability is going to continue to be a pain point moving into 2019.”

Hale predicts that mortgage rates, now hovering around 5%, will reach around 5.5% by the end of 2019. That means the monthly mortgage payment on a typical home listing will be about 8% higher next year, she notes. Meanwhile, incomes are only growing about 3% on average. That double whammy is toughest on first-time home buyers, who tend to borrow the most heavily and who don’t have any equity in a current home to draw on.

3. Millennials will still dominate home buying

Just a few years ago, millennials were the new kids on the block, just barely old enough to buy their own homes. Now they’re the biggest generational group of home buyers, accounting for 45% of mortgages (compared with 17% for baby boomers and 37% for Gen Xers). Some of them are even moving on up from their starter homes.

As we mentioned above, things will be tough for those first-time buyers. But the slightly older move-up buyers will reap the benefits of both their home equity and the increased choices in the market.

And regardless of whether they’re part of that younger set starting a career or the older set that’s starting a family, “they’re going to be more price-conscious than any other generation,” says Ali Wolf, director of economic research at Meyers Research.

That’s because they typically are still carrying student debt and want to be able to spend on experiences, like travel. That takes away from the funds they can put aside for a down payment, or a monthly mortgage payment.

“They want to maintain a certain lifestyle, but they still see the value in owning a home,” Wolf says.

So they might compromise on distance from an urban center, or certain amenities, or space—70% of millennial homeowners own a residence that’s less than 2,000 square feet, Wolf notes.

There’s plenty of time to expand those portfolios, though, as millennials’ housing reign is just beginning: This group is likely to make up the largest share of home buyers for the next decade. The year 2020 is projected to be the peak for millennial home buying—the bulk of them will be age 30.

4. The new tax law is still a wild card

At the time of last year’s forecast, the GOP’s proposed revision of the tax code was still being batted around Congress. While there was talk that it might discourage people from buying a home, no one really knew how it might affect the real-estate market.

This year … well, we still don’t really know. That’s because most taxpayers won’t be filing taxes under the new law until April 2019. And while some people might have a savvy tax adviser giving them a better idea of what’s in store, for many, the reality check will come in the form of a bigger tax bill—or a bigger refund.

Renters are likely to have lower tax bills, but might not be tempted to buy while affordability remains a challenge, and with the new, increased standard deduction reducing the appeal of the homeowner’s mortgage-interest deduction.

“I think the new tax plan will affect mostly homeowners and home buyers in the upper parts of the distribution,” says Andrew Hanson, associate professor of economics at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. “Those who either own or are buying higher-priced homes are going to pay a lot more.”

Sellers of those pricier homes will also take a hit, as buyers anticipating bigger tax bills won’t be as willing to pony up for a high list price.

The biggest change resulting from the new tax law, Hanson predicts, will be in mortgages, since people will be less inclined to take out large mortgages.

“If anyone is going to be upset about the tax plan, it’ll be mortgage bankers,” he says.

Source: Realtor.com  –  and Allison Underhill | Nov 28, 2018

Cicely Wedgeworth is the managing editor of realtor.com. She has worked as a writer and editor at Yahoo, the Los Angeles Times, and Newsday.
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The 10 Best Big Cities to Live in Right Now

You don’t have to empty your savings account to afford city living in America—at least not in these locations.

Urban areas offer a gateway to culture or a medley of activities, but they typically come with a high price tag. That’s why MONEY crunched the numbers to find big cities—those with a population of 300,000 or more—with the best of all worlds: attractions, iconic neighborhoods, a relatively low cost of living, and promising job growth.

Here are our top 10 picks for best big cities to live in. (See MONEY’s full 2018 ranking of the Best Places to Live in America.)

1. Austin, Texas

  • Average Family Income: $87,389
  • Median Home Price: $326,562
  • Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 10.9%

Texas’s delightfully bohemian capital nabs the list’s top spot because of the thriving job scene, coupled with memorable food, music, and a startup culture.

Not only is Austin projected to see a whopping 10.9% increase in jobs over the next four years, but the current unemployment rate of 3% also sits below the national average. The city’s median family income is $87,389, and the median home sale price is $326,562, according to realtor.com. Much of its job growth comes from small businesses and the tech sector—Dell, IBM, and Amazon are some of the biggest employers. Entrepreneurs, take note: CNBC ranked Austin as the No. 1 place to start a business, while Forbes named it one of the top 10 rising cities for startups.

Once you do land a job, you won’t have to worry about how to entertain yourself. Dubbed the Live Music Capital of the World, Austin is bursting with talent and more live music venues per capita than anywhere else in the nation. Visitors flock to the annual South by Southwest festivals, featuring concerts, speeches, and comedy showcases.

And then there’s the food. Restaurant-rating powerhouse Zagat named Austin the second-most-exciting food city in the U.S. last year, thanks to mainstays like Franklin Barbecue and new favorites such as ramen restaurant Kemuri Tatsu-ya, which combines Texan flavors and Japanese techniques for a meal as distinctive as the city itself.

2. Raleigh, North Carolina

  • Average Family Income: $82,021
  • Median Home Price: $263,000
  • Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 9.6%

Part of North Carolina’s tri-city university hub, called the Triangle, along with Durham and Chapel Hill, Raleigh is home to a relatively young, diverse, and educated population.

Like Austin, Raleigh is a hotspot for employment seekers: Moody’s Analytics projects the area’s jobs will grow 9.6% by 2022. Forbes this year ranked Raleigh among the top 10 cities for jobs, owing in part to its 17.25% job growth over the past five years. And people are listening: There’s been a 13% increase in population since 2010, according to MONEY’s Best Places to Live database.

Your wallet will feel the benefits too: With an average sales tax of about 7.25% and average property taxes at $2,632, the city’s cost of living is relatively low compared with our other big cities.

As the historically significant birthplace of Andrew Johnson, Raleigh is host to dozens of museums, earning it the nickname Smithsonian of the South. The North Carolina Museum of History reaches back 14,000 years into the state’s past, and at the massive North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, general admission is free.

There’s a strong sense of community as well. Every fall, the North Carolina State Fair draws 1 million visitors to Raleigh for a 10-day festival featuring rides, music, games, and crafts from local artists. Tickets cost about $10 for adults and $5 for children.

3. Virginia Beach, Virginia

  • Average Family Income: $82,927
  • Median Home Price: $255,000
  • Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 2.6%

The living is easy in Virginia Beach, also named one of MONEY’s best beach destinations last year. The area’s unemployment rate is about 3.1%, below the national average, and crime, relatively low among the big cities here, is also well below the national average. Despite an only 4% increase in population since 2010, the area is booming for retirees: The number of people age 50 and over grew 22% over the past eight years. But perhaps best of all, there are 213 clear days a year, giving residents plenty of time to enjoy six major beaches over 35 miles of coastline.

There’s a sandy stretch for nearly everyone, starting with the family-friendly First Landing State Park at Chesapeake Bay Beach. For surfing, head to Virginia Beach Oceanfront, or for a quieter, picturesque view, go to Sandbridge Beach.

The Sandbridge area is also home to Back Bay National Wildlife Refuge, where you can learn about the region’s snakes, frogs, and turtles during a guided nature hike on Bay Trail. Nearby is First Landing State Park, the most visited state park in Virginia, named after the arrival of English colonists in 1607. First Landing offers outdoor activities as well as cabins, a boat launch, and swimmable waters.

Culture vultures won’t feel left out: Renowned symphony orchestras play the Sandler Center for the Performing Arts, and comedians headline at the Funny Bone Comedy Club.

4. Mesa, Arizona

  • Average Family Income: $64,455
  • Median Home Price: $246,000
  • Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 8.1%

Seeking a sunny city with easy opportunities to escape to the outdoors? It pays to head west.

Mesa, just 20 miles outside Phoenix, has experienced a 12% growth in population over the past eight years and is projected to see jobs increase 8% in the next four years. The majority of new job offerings here, unlike in Austin, are in the investment and manufacturing sectors rather than tech.

Local government leaders say businesses are moving to Mesa, as well as the surrounding East Valley area, for its low tax rate and relative affordability. Average property taxes are around $1,444, the second lowest among MONEY’s big cities, and the median home sale price is $246,000 as of March.

Once you’ve settled in, you won’t have to look far for an outdoor retreat. Mesa gets an impressive 296 clear days a year, and a whopping 115 campsites surround the area. Camping reservations for county parks can be made online as early as six months in advance. You’ll pay $32, including a reservation fee of $8, for a developed camping site with electricity and restrooms or, if you’re a bit more daring, $15 for a site with no amenities.

To learn about the area’s history, visit the Mesa Grande Cultural Park, which preserves ruins believed to be the religious center of the ancient Hohokam civilization, dating back to 1100 A.D. Admission to the ruins costs $5 for adults and $2 for children. For more insight into the Hohokam ancient people, you can check out the Park of the Canals, which features 4,500 feet of an extensive canal system used to farm corn, beans, squash, and cotton.

5. Seattle, Washington

  • Average Family Income: $112,211
  • Median Home Price: $676,889
  • Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 7.5%

The Emerald City enjoys a growing job market and vibrant cultural attractions but at a cost—the median home sale price, $676,889 as of March, is the most expensive among the cities on this list. But the high price tag might be offset if you could score a lofty job at Amazon, which employs more than 40,000 Seattle residents across its 8.1 million square feet of office space. The company’s dominance has spurred other major tech giants to build their own offices—and poach local employees.

Despite the relatively high cost of living, the area provides plenty of affordable attractions. Nearly 200 wineries cover the region and are ideal for visits. Check out the Charles Smith Wines Jet City tasting room for offerings from one of the state’s largest wine producers. Be sure to also try the famous cream cheese–covered Seattle-style hot dog at Monster Dogs.

To live like a tourist, get a two-in-one ticket to Seattle’s iconic sites: the towering Space Needle and the glass-sculpture garden at Chihuly Garden and Glass. They happen to double as ideal date spots. If you’re young and looking for love, Seattle is the perfect match. MONEY named it one of the best places for millennials and singles.

6. San Diego, California

  • Average Family Income: $91,199
  • Median Home Price: $555,000
  • Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 4.4%

With 1.4 million residents, San Diego is the most populous city to make the list. It’s also one of the more racially diverse cities in the country, with 40% nonwhite residents.

Head to the east side, and you’ll find mountains and canyons perfect for hiking, mountain biking, and fishing. The area also boasts Las Vegas–style casinos and resorts, including Viejas Casino, home to 2,200 slot machines and an outdoor concert venue. California beaches outline the city’s west side, from mile-long La Jolla Shores, perfect for children and seal lovers, to bonfire-friendly Pacific Beach, often referred to as “the Strand.” And don’t forget to visit the rare giant pandas at the world-renowned San Diego Zoo.

7. Colorado Springs, Colorado

  • Average Family Income: $75,795
  • Median Home Price: $285,000
  • Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 7.1%

About 70 miles south of Denver, Colorado Springs was recently ranked one of the country’s best tech hubs by the Computing Technology Industry Association. The city will see projected job growth of 7% by 2022, and the cost of living is relatively low among big U.S. cities, according to PayScale.

Skiers enjoy the region’s proximity to major ski getaways like Aspen and Vail, as well as the area’s surrounding resorts, including Eldora Mountain Resort, which offers 680 acres of terrain and 300 inches of snowfall a year.

Here’s a summit for the courageous: the 2,000-foot-high, one-mile hike up the Manitou Incline. Climb all 2,744 steps, and you’ll be rewarded with gorgeous views of the city below. Nonathletic types are welcomed too. The annual Labor Day Lift Off features hot-air balloons and a festival with live music, skydiving demonstrations, and a doughnut-eating contest.

8. Lexington, Kentucky

  • Average Family Income: $74,531
  • Median Home Price: $131,000
  • Projected Job Growth (2017–2022): 4.3%

Good news for potential residents: Lexington has some of the lowest taxes among the cities on this list, with a sales tax of 6% and average property taxes nearing $1,921.

Moving to Lexington means embracing equestrian culture. Nicknamed the Horse Capital of the World, Lexington was the first U.S. city to host an FEI World Equestrian Games, in 2010, drawing half-a-million attendees. Residents and visitors alike can ride horses and ponies at the Kentucky Horse Park.

For a crash course in bourbon distilling, the Town Branch Distillery offers tours and tastings, and one of the South’s best bourbon bars, The Bluegrass Tavern, is home to Kentucky’s largest bourbon collection.

If you’re looking to root for the Wildcats, the University of Kentucky’s basketball team where NBA All-Stars Anthony Davis and John Wall got their start, head to Winchell’s Restaurant for 25 TVs and passionate fans.

9. Jacksonville, Florida

  • Average Family Income: $63,735
  • Median Home Price: $196,000
  • Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 7.7%

As the largest metro area by landmass in the continental U.S., Jacksonville, like many other cities on our list, claims a growing job market and population. In the past eight years, the city’s population increased by nearly 9%, with a projected job growth of 7.7% by 2022. Those seeking employment, specifically in the tech industry, should head to the area’s growing job market, say ZipRecruiter and Indeed.

Visitors can support the home team by attending a Jacksonville Jaguars game at TIAA Bank Field. The coastal city also features 22 miles of mostly public and dog-friendly beaches. Learn to surf at Atlantic Beach, or brave souls might try a taste of alligator at nearby Mayport’s historic fish camps.

For a combined farmers’ market and artists’ hub, head to the Riverside Arts Market, which attracts thousands of people every Saturday. You’ll listen to live musicians, eat local bites alongside the St. Johns River, and support local artists, all in one day.

10. Columbus, Ohio

  • Average Family Income: $61,513
  • Median Home Price: $185,000
  • Projected Job Growth (2017-2022): 5.7%

Columbus is one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S.—and in the Midwest—with a population increase of nearly 11% in the past eight years and job growth of 14% in roughly the same period.

Big 10 Ohio State University is the city’s biggest employer, and you can take advantage of the college town’s vibrant culture by attending a football game at Ohio Stadium, which seats over 100,000 people. Following the game, head to the Thurman Cafe and indulge in its massive, double-patty Thurmanator burger for $21.99.

If college athletics aren’t your thing, check out one of the area’s 96 museums, such as the hands-on Center of Science and Industry, or the Columbus Museum of Art, featuring modern and contemporary works.

Methodology

To create MONEY’s Best Big Cities ranking, we looked only at places with populations of 300,000 or greater. We eliminated any city that had more than double the national crime risk, less than 85% of its state’s median household income, or a lack of ethnic diversity. We further narrowed the list using more than 8,000 different data points, considering data on each place’s economic health, cost of living, public education, income, crime, ease of living, and amenities, all provided by research partner Witlytic. MONEY teamed up with realtor.com to leverage its knowledge of housing markets throughout the country. We put the greatest weight on economic health, public school performance, and local amenities; housing, cost of living, and diversity were also critical components.

Finally, reporters researched each spot, searching for the kinds of intangible factors that aren’t revealed by statistics. To ensure a geographically diverse set, we limited the Best Big Cities list to no more than one place per state.

Source: TopBuzz.cum November 19, 2018 6:12 AM

 

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Here’s how much money you have to make a year to afford an ‘average’ home in the hottest US cities

Business district area of downtown San Jose, California.

Mark Miller Photos | Getty Images
Business district area of downtown San Jose, California.

The median U.S. household now earns about $61,372 a year, up nearly 2 percent from 2016. Still, in order to afford to buy a home in one of the country’s hottest and most expensive cities, like San Jose, California, you’d need to make more than four times that amount.

That’s according to financial website How Much, which crunched numbers from the National Association of Realtors and mortgage-information website HSH.com to determine where it’s most expensive to buy an “average-sized home.”

Researchers found the median price of homes in the 50 most populated metro areas across the country and “calculated monthly principal, interest, property tax and insurance payments buyers have to pay for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage,” says How Much.

They then calculated what salary would be needed to afford each home, assuming a 20 percent down payment and that the total housing payment would not make up more than 28 percent of gross income.

How Much: Annual income needed to buy a home

Based on the data, here are the top 10 cities where you to earn the most money to buy a typical home:

1. San Jose, California

Annual income needed to afford a home: $274,623

2. San Francisco, California

Annual income needed to afford a home: $213,727

3. San Diego, California

Annual income needed to afford a home: $130,986

4. Los Angeles, California

Annual income needed to afford a home: $114,908

5. Boston, Massachusetts

Annual income needed to afford a home: $109,411

6. Seattle, Washington

Annual income needed to afford a home: $109,275

7. New York, New York

Annual income needed to afford a home: $103,235

8. Washington, D.C.

Annual income needed to afford a home: $96,144

9. Denver, Colorado

Annual income needed to afford a home: $93,263

10. Portland, Oregon

Annual income needed to afford a home: $85,369

“Median household income across the United States recently reached a record high, which is great news for workers,” says How Much. “The bad news is that isn’t enough to afford a typical home in 25 out of the 50 cities on our map.” That’s especially true on the West Coast.

“Our map reveals three tiers in annual income workers need to earn to afford a median home. First, the West Coast stands out as by far the most expensive market in the country,” the report says, “with four out of the top four markets in California alone.”

In Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco and San Jose, California, median homes range in value from $618,000 to more than $1.3 million, according to real-estate site Zillow. The U.S. national median home value, by comparison, is just above $216,000.

“Median household income across the United States recently reached a record high, which is great news for workers. The bad news is that isn’t enough to afford a typical home in 25 out of the 50 cities on our map.”-HowMuch.net

“The second tier of expensive locales is along the East Coast,” How Much reports, “led by the familiar hot spots of unaffordable housing like Boston, New York and Washington, D.C.

In Portland and Denver, meanwhile, homes aren’t as expensive as they are in California or New York, but workers would still need to make about $85,000 a year to afford to buy.

Some lower-profile American cities do still offer professional opportunities and good deals. In these three up-and-coming metro areas, for example, jobs are plentiful yet housing is affordable.

No matter where you fall on the map, though, living within your means and employing common-sense budgeting tactics can help you save in the long run. If you’re looking to buy a home, be sure you’re ready to transition from renting and if you’re going to continue to rent, check out these savings hacks and other ways to make your money stretch further.

 

Source: CNBC.com –  

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