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US Housing affordability slides to a 10-year low in the third quarter

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A modest bump in national interest rates coupled with rising home prices kept housing affordability at a ten-year low in the third quarter of 2018, according to the latest Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

And while home prices were up, a slowing in national home price appreciation may give buyers some breathing room as inventory continues to tighten amid lagging construction levels.

“Ongoing job and economic growth provide a solid backdrop for housing demand amid recent declines in affordability,” said Robert Dietz, NAHB Chief Economist, in a statement.

At the national level, home prices increased 5.6 percent year-over-year and are forecasted to rise at a more “moderate” pace of 4.7 percent over the next year. According to recent data from CoreLogic, the erosion of affordability in the highest cost markets has begun to slow home price growth.

The national median home price edged up from $265,000 in the second quarter of 2018 to $268,000 in the third quarter —the highest quarterly median price in the history of the HOI.

After adjusting for inflation, national home prices are still 13.3 percent below the 2006 peak.

In all, over 56 percent of all homes — including new and existing homes — sold between the beginning of July and end of September were affordable to families earning the national median income of $71,900. This is down 1.1 percentage points from the second quarter and is the lowest reading since mid-2008.

Average mortgage rates rose by a nominal 5 basis points in the third quarter to 4.72 percent from 4.67 percent in the second quarter.

For the second straight quarter, Syracuse, NY, was the nation’s most affordable major housing market. Over 88 percent of all homes — new and existing homes — sold in the third quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income ($74,100).

San Francisco, CA was the nation’s least affordable major market San Francisco for the fourth straight quarter. Only  6.4 percent of the homes sold in the third quarter of 2018 were affordable to families earning the area’s median income ($116,400).

Meanwhile, Dietz says one of the biggest threats to housing affordability isn’t tariffs, rising rates or home values — it’s inventory or lack thereof.

Over the last four to five years, many building slowdowns have been caused by a worsening labor shortage. Currently, there are over 270,000 unfilled construction jobs nationwide.

“The housing market could grow faster if there were more workers,” Dietz tells Livabl.

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New home? Prepare for the unexpected

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(NC) Buying a house, getting married or having your first baby are all major life events that are likely to affect your finances. But whether you’re in the midst of a major life event or not, it’s important to check in on your finances regularly to maintain good financial health.

Your financial health encompasses things like your spending, savings, borrowing and future financial plans. It also means dedicating a set amount of savings for unexpected future events. It can even include optional credit protection insurance, such as TD protection plans, to help cover your debt balances in case of death, a covered critical illness or total disability.

Even though it can be tough to think about the unexpected, life is unpredictable and it’s important to plan for the unexpected. Find more information at td.com.

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Mortgage pitfalls to avoid

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(NC) Throughout life, you may have moments where you’ll make a large purchase or invest in a costly item, like your family home. But whether you’re in the market for your first new property or already have a mortgage, leaving this asset unprotected can be costly.   

Insuring your housing financial debt, as well as debt for other big-ticket items like a new boat for your lakefront cottage or keepsake jewelry like an engagement ring, is a smart investment in your well-being.

To help protect your debt balances like a mortgage, your bank may have optional credit protection insurance products.

“Your home is one of your biggest assets, yet illness can happen at any stage of life. Worrying about your mortgage when the focus should be on health isn’t a situation anyone would wish for,” explains Shirley Malloy, vice president at TD. “Fortunately, we offer mortgage protection to provide coverage for your outstanding balance should you face a covered critical health event.”

Mortgage protection can be purchased whether you’re in the process of applying for a mortgage or already have a home financing solution. But what about protection options for credit card debt?

“Given the unprecedented circumstances of this year, many Canadians are trying to plan for the unexpected to protect themselves and their finances,” says Malloy. “TD balance protection plus is an optional product designed to help you deal with your credit card payment obligations in the event of a covered event, such as loss of employment.”

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Is your internet too slow? It’s probably not you

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(NC) We all know the aggravation of a school lesson that just won’t stop freezing or the family video call that looks more like a photo montage. And, as we adjust to the impact of COVID-19 on our day-to-day, that slow connection can have frustrating consequences.

Working from home and learning remotely, both need fast, stable internet, something not enough Canadians have yet. Even if you have fast devices in your home, if the infrastructure in your area is not optimal, your connection won’t be either.

Right now, cities have the infrastructure needed to ensure access. But rural and remote communities are hugely underserved, with fewer than half having high-speed internet, and fewer than a third of households on reservations have high-speed connections.

Fortunately, change is coming. The Universal Broadband Fund is backing projects across Canada right now to ensure the reliable, high-speed internet connections families need to work, study, access services online, and safely stay in touch with each other.

The fund existed before COVID, but as a response to the pandemic, its timetable has been moved up by four years to a target of 98 per cent of Canadians with high-speed internet access by 2026. With the faster pace, at least 90 per cent of us should be connected by the end of 2021.

The fund is focused on improvements in rural and remote communities across Canada to fix the disconnect between internet access for urban and rural households.  This means more remote work opportunities, better access to remote learning and safer access to healthcare, no matter where you live.

It’s not just for good connections at home, either. The improvements mean much better access to mobile networks on highways between remote communities. The result is better, safer navigation and access to emergency services for your family, even on the road in the middle of nowhere. Mobile projects will be focused on serving Indigenous communities and the roads leading to them.

The shape these improvements will take in your area will depend on where you live. Canada is huge, and its communities are hugely diverse, with diverse needs. Keep an eye out for local projects — they’re a small part of something much bigger.

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