Real Estate in Brief: Underwater properties down, the most popular remodeling projects and more

by Claire Brennan

As of the first quarter of the year, over 5 million properties were underwater with a mortgage at least 25 percent more than the property’s estimated market value. 

The 5.2 million properties account for 9.5 percent of all U.S. properties with a mortgage — up from 9.3 percent last quarter, but down from 9.7 percent (291,000) from the first quarter of 2017.

“We’ve reached a tipping point in this housing boom where enough homeowners have regained both sufficient equity and sufficient confidence to tap into their home equity — resulting in a noticeably slower decline in seriously underwater properties and slower growth in equity rich properties,” Daren Blomquist, senior vice president at ATTOM Data Solutions, said. 

Other recent real estate news:

  • Bathrooms have become the most popular remodeling project — 81 percent of remodelers reported doing bathroom remodeling on a home in 2017. “Small-scale renovations are slowly becoming just as popular as large-scale projects, as seen with bathroom remodeling becoming more common than kitchens,” said 2018 NAHB Remodelers Chair Joanne Theunissen. Following bathroom renovations, kitchens were the next most common remodel, at 78 percent. Full-house remodels, room additions, and door and window replacements rounded out the top five at 49 percent, 37 percent and 30 percent, respectively. 
  • Ricoh Innovations Corporation has launched a subscription based, 360-degree virtual property tour platform called Ricoh Tours. Access will cost $45 a month and is available on both Apple and Android operating systems. Headquartered in Tokyo, Ricoh specializes in cutting edge technology ranging from cameras to computer software. “It is a marketing tool not only for sellers but also for buyers,” says Martin Shock, Ricoh Tours’s sales and marketing lead. 
  • Across the country, rents have increased 1.4 percent year-over-year. Five of the top ten most expensive rental markets in the country are in California, according to Zumper. San Francisco has the highest rent, with a one-bedroom apartment costing $3,440. San Jose, Los Angeles, Oakland, and San Diego were the other five California cities in the top 10.
  • ONE Sotheby’s International Realty (ONE SIR) has chosen Contactually for its CRM. “Contactually immediately impressed us with the way they understood the communication needs of our industry and our specific associates,” said Karina Lopez, Vice President of Marketing & Operations at ONE SIR.