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Americans are spending more time looking for homes to buy — here’s why

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A lack of affordability is keeping many American homebuyers in the market longer, according to the latest Housing Trends Report by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

“Housing affordability is an increasingly serious problem in communities across America,” said Randy Noel, NAHB chairman, in a statement.

In the third quarter of 2018, 13 percent of adult Americans polled by NAHB said they were planning to purchase a home sometime in the next 12 months. And of that group, a little less than half were already actively engaged in the search.

Many respondents said that they are spending “significant amounts of time” looking. Some 54 percent of those prospective buyers actively looking for a home to buy have been searching for three months, or longer.

Nearly half of prospective buyers claimed that their home search was taking longer because they couldn’t find a home at a price they can afford.

This was followed by “not being able to find a home with the desired set of features” (40 percent) and “can’t find a home in the right neighborhood” (38 percent).

A separate survey by NAHB revealed that nearly three out of four American households believe that the US is suffering a housing affordability crisis — and the majority of respondents believe it is a problem at their local and state level as well.

Almost 70 percent of respondents believe housing affordability is an issue in their state and over half cite housing affordability as a concern in their neighborhood. Close to 60 percent said that if they were to buy a home in the near future, they believed that they would have trouble finding a home they could afford in their city or even in their county.

“This poll should serve as a wake-up call to policymakers at all levels of government to ease regulatory burdens that needlessly drive up the cost of housing and to enact policies that will encourage the production of badly-needed affordable housing units,” said Noel.

Since the housing bust, new construction has fallen off sharply while demand has continued to soar. As a result, home prices have skyrocketed in many of the country’s hottest markets and have begun to climb up in outlying markets as well as buyers expand their searches for affordable housing.

Demand for homes is high, but many builders are concerned about keeping overall costs down as supply dwindles.

“The skilled labor shortage is having the greatest impact on the slow growth rate of the industry. Housing could grow exponentially faster if there was more labor available,” Robert Dietz, NAHB chief economist, recently told Livabl.

The housing industry added between 80,000 and 100,000 new workers over the last year, but over 270,000 jobs still remain unfilled — a post-recession high.

Meanwhile, just over 60 percent of home shoppers say they will search as long as it takes until they find their dream home. Just over a third say they will expand their search and almost a quarter say they will buy a home older or smaller than planned — if necessary.

Only 18 percent of shoppers planned to give up if they are unable to find a home they can afford in the coming months, and just 16 percent said they would buy a pricier home if it came to that.

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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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