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US for-sale inventory posts first positive gain in nearly four years, but will it continue to grow?

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Inventory may be finally growing in some of the hottest US housing markets, but home prices remain on an upward trajectory, according to a new report by the listing site Zillow.

“In yet another sign that the housing market is cooling, we’re finally starting to see inventory return after several years of annual declines,” said Aaron Terrazas, Zillow senior economist, in a statement.

Compared to last year, there were 3 percent more homes for sale in October nationwide. Inventory had fallen annually for 44 straight months before posting positive growth.

In October 2017, inventory fell at a 10.2 percent annual pace. And a slight uptick in September (0.1 percent) led to stronger growth in October — a “possible sign of future increases in available inventory,” reads the report.

“The combination of tight supply and strong demand have pushed up home values in recent years, but markets always ebb and flow and there is no doubt that the tides that have buoyed sellers are shifting,” says Terrazas.

Many of the country’s hottest markets saw some of the biggest gains in inventory in October.

San Jose, California, saw the biggest annual increase in inventory — adding about 1,500 homes to the market, increasing inventory by 93.1 percent year-over-year. San Jose’s for sale inventory reached its lowest level on record last year.

Three other pricey housing West Coast housing markets — San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle — also recorded big gains in the number of homes for sale in October.

“While there are more homes for sale, rising mortgage rates are quickly eating into what they can afford to pay,” says Terrazas.

Meanwhile, the median home value nationwide rose 7.7 percent year-over-year to $221,500 in October.

San Jose and Las Vegas saw the strongest annual price appreciation in October at 17.9 percent and 14.7 percent, respectively. These two housing markets have led the nation’s largest metros in price growth for the last 12 months.

About half of the nation’s 35 largest metro areas recorded slower home price growth in October 2018 compared to October 2017.

Rising home prices have proven to be challenging for many homebuyers, who have opted to stay in the rental market. But rising prices in the for-sale market could have a boomerang effect on the rental market.

“First-time buyers have benefited from flat or falling rents over the past year, making it somewhat easier to save for a down payment, but the decline in rents could be short-lived if higher buying costs push some people back toward the rental market,” says Terrazas.

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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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