array(2) { ["ItemsNewsletters"]=> array(5) { ["item_id"]=> string(5) "98362" ["newsletter_id"]=> string(5) "26373" ["section_id"]=> string(10) "Section_01" ["item_type"]=> string(4) "item" ["zone"]=> string(7) "Stories" } ["Item"]=> array(7) { ["id"]=> string(5) "98362" ["subject"]=> string(21) "Housing Starts Soften" ["authors"]=> string(17) "By RISMedia Staff" ["data"]=> string(2415) "February's home-building receded, with housing starts softening 7 percent and totaling 1.24 million, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Notably, single-family starts increased 2.9 percent to 902,000. Multifamily starts (five units or more) came in at 317,000.
 
The decline is a departure from January, when groundbreaking soared some 10 percent. 
 
"Some multifamily pullback is expected after an unusually strong January reading," said Robert Dietz, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), in a statement. "Multifamily starts should continue to level off throughout the year. Meanwhile, the growth in single-family production is in line with our 2018 forecast for gradual, modest strengthening in this sector of the housing market."
 
"The fall in housing starts in February is a movement in the wrong direction," said Lawrence Yun, chief economist of the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), in a statement. "The key to economic prosperity at this juncture of economic expansion is to produce more new homes. That will help with job creation and reduce the swift price appreciation in several markets.
 
"A total of 1.2 million homes were constructed last year, which was vastly inadequate," Yun said. "Last month's annualized rate of 1.24 million is only a hair above 2017's figure. It's not enough. While relaxing regulations on small-sized community banks may spur more construction loans for building, labor shortages in the industry continue to stunt overall activity." /
 
Approvals for builds fell, as well, 5.7 percent from January to 1.3 million permits, according to the data. Approvals for single-family starts were down 0.6 percent, to 872,000 permits, while approvals for multifamily starts came in at 385,000.
 
Completions kicked up, however: 7.8 percent to 1.32 million. Completions for single-family units totaled 895,000 (up 3 percent), while completions for multifamily units totaled 418,000." ["preview"]=> string(490) "February's home-building receded, with housing starts softening 7 percent and totaling 1.24 million, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Notably, single-family starts increased 2.9 percent to 902,000. Multifamily starts (five" ["link"]=> string(65) "http://rismedia.com/cs/{ID}/{AffiliateID}/{SubscriberID}/{ItemID}" ["type"]=> string(4) "item" } } array(2) { ["ItemsNewsletters"]=> array(5) { ["item_id"]=> string(5) "98361" ["newsletter_id"]=> string(5) "26373" ["section_id"]=> string(10) "Section_01" ["item_type"]=> string(4) "item" ["zone"]=> string(7) "Stories" } ["Item"]=> array(7) { ["id"]=> string(5) "98361" ["subject"]=> string(36) "Backtracking: Mortgage Rates Retreat" ["authors"]=> string(17) "By RISMedia Staff" ["data"]=> string(1339) "For the first time this year, the average 30-year, fixed mortgage rate has retreated, back to 4.44 percent this week after rising for nine straight weeks, according to Freddie Mac's recently released Primary Mortgage Market Survey® (PMMS®). The average 30-year, fixed mortgage rate was 4.46 percent the week prior. 
 
Mortgage rates are moved by Treasury yields, which dipped following an inflation update this week, says Len Kiefer, deputy chief economist at Freddie Mac.
 
"Tuesday's Consumer Price Index report indicated inflation may be cooling down; headline consumer price inflation was 2.2 percent year-over-year in February," Kiefer says. "Following this news, the 10-year Treasury fell slightly. Mortgage rates followed Treasurys and ended a nine-week surge."
 
The average 15-year, fixed mortgage rate also reeled in, at 3.90 percent, down from 3.94 percent the week prior. The average five-year, Treasury-indexed hybrid adjustable mortgage rate, however, was at 3.67 percent, an increase from 3.63 percent the week prior.
 
Source: Freddie Mac" ["preview"]=> string(306) "
For the first time this year, the average 30-year, fixed mortgage rate has retreated, back to 4.44 percent this week after rising for nine straight weeks, according to" ["link"]=> string(65) "http://rismedia.com/cs/{ID}/{AffiliateID}/{SubscriberID}/{ItemID}" ["type"]=> string(4) "item" } } array(2) { ["ItemsNewsletters"]=> array(5) { ["item_id"]=> string(5) "98360" ["newsletter_id"]=> string(5) "26373" ["section_id"]=> string(10) "Section_01" ["item_type"]=> string(4) "item" ["zone"]=> string(7) "Stories" } ["Item"]=> array(7) { ["id"]=> string(5) "98360" ["subject"]=> string(45) "How to Coexist With Real Estate Giants Online" ["authors"]=> string(14) "By Zach Parker" ["data"]=> string(4963) "Editor's Note: This was originally published on RISMedia's blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin' now at blog.rismedia.com: If you have a real estate website, you know how difficult it can be to compete in today's digital real estate space. The Zillows and Trulias of the world have grown at a feverish pace, and it can feel overwhelming to come up with a strategy to stay relevant and visible. Don't think for one second that all hope is lost. Here are strategies you can employ to earn your slice of the pie:
 
Keyword Research
Keyword classification can be broken down into two categories: main keywords and long-tail keywords. Main keywords are the terms that are most often searched by users in a certain area. High traffic searches such as "Brooklyn apartments" and "Brooklyn real estate" are good examples of main keywords. Long-tail keywords are search phrases that receive less search volume, such as "studio apartments in Williamsburg" or "Brownstones for sale in Brooklyn."
 
As you could guess, the keywords with the most traffic are also the most competitive. You can bet that all of these main keywords are the most difficult to rank for, because all the big players are targeting these. Do a search for any of these main keywords and you'll see page one on Google full of all the major real estate websites.
 
A great strategy you can use is to target less competitive keywords within your niche. You'll have a much easier time ranking for long-tail keywords in your market than trying to go up against Goliath for that one high traffic keyword. A great tool you can use to research search volume trends and traffic is Google's Keyword Planner, as well as Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
 
Go Hyper-Local
One distinct advantage you have over the giants of the industry is your local knowledge. A great strategy you can use to gain visibility in your location is to write content catered to that specific area. This is something that the larger websites still haven't perfected at scale, and it's a great way for you to position yourself as the expert of your market.

Some good examples of localized content could be a "best of" post. Video content showcasing your listings is always a great idea, and you can even go as far as mounting a dash cam on your car and creating neighborhood drive-through videos.
 
In any digital marketing campaign, your content is your cornerstone. Focus your content around your core market, and you'll be able to gain an edge.
 
User Interface
The big companies only became big companies because of the amazing product they produce. They did something better than others, and for that reason they were able to grow to the size they are now. Utilize this idea to your own advantage.
 
When designing your website, make sure to do a ton of competitor research on all of the major sites and pick out the things that look most intuitive and user-friendly, then adapt them to your own site. There's no shame in copying here—they've built the blueprint; you can adapt it.
 
Competing in today's digital real estate industry is certainly no walk in the park. It will take some careful planning and ingenuity on your part to have a seat at the table, but with the right strategy and execution, it is possible. Follow these tips, and you'll be well on your way to getting a piece of the action!
 
Zach Parker is a professional golfer and real estate enthusiast, currently working as the marketing director for Boston Pads, one of the largest real-time database of apartments in New England. His marketing specialties are in web development and search engine optimization, helping build out one of the country's largest local web portals for apartment listings. He is also owner and CEO of ProSource Media." ["preview"]=> string(298) "
If you have a real estate website, you know how difficult it can be to compete in today's digital real estate space. The Zillows and Trulias of the world have" ["link"]=> string(65) "http://rismedia.com/cs/{ID}/{AffiliateID}/{SubscriberID}/{ItemID}" ["type"]=> string(4) "item" } } array(2) { ["ItemsNewsletters"]=> array(5) { ["item_id"]=> string(5) "98359" ["newsletter_id"]=> string(5) "26373" ["section_id"]=> string(10) "Section_01" ["item_type"]=> string(4) "item" ["zone"]=> string(7) "Stories" } ["Item"]=> array(7) { ["id"]=> string(5) "98359" ["subject"]=> string(32) "Builder Confidence Dips Slightly" ["authors"]=> string(17) "By RISMedia Staff" ["data"]=> string(1190) "Builder confidence in the construction of new, single-family units dipped slightly in March, but is still strong, according to the latest National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI). The Index reading for March was 70—an above-50 reading indicates more builders have a positive outlook than a negative one.
 
"Builders' optimism continues to be fueled by growing consumer demand for housing and confidence in the market," said Randy Noel, chairman of the NAHB, in a statement. "However, builders are reporting challenges in finding buildable lots, which could limit their ability to meet this demand."
 
"A strong labor market, rising incomes and a growing economy are boosting demand for homeownership even as interest rates rise," said Robert Dietz, chief economist of the NAHB. "With these economic fundamentals in place, the single-family sector should continue to make gains at a gradual pace in the months ahead."
 
Source: National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) " ["preview"]=> string(304) "
Builder confidence in the construction of new, single-family units dipped slightly in March, but is still strong, according to the latest National Association of Home" ["link"]=> string(65) "http://rismedia.com/cs/{ID}/{AffiliateID}/{SubscriberID}/{ItemID}" ["type"]=> string(4) "item" } } array(2) { ["ItemsNewsletters"]=> array(5) { ["item_id"]=> string(5) "98358" ["newsletter_id"]=> string(5) "26373" ["section_id"]=> string(10) "Section_01" ["item_type"]=> string(4) "item" ["zone"]=> string(7) "Stories" } ["Item"]=> array(7) { ["id"]=> string(5) "98358" ["subject"]=> string(35) "HUD Announces Controls for Finances" ["authors"]=> string(17) "By RISMedia Staff" ["data"]=> string(2703) "The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced an effort to enhance its financial processes, aiming to improve outdated protocols. According to the agency, HUD intends to: "We simply need to do better," said HUD Secretary Ben Carson in a statement. "An updated system of internal controls will provide our agency with greater certainty that the dollars we spend are spent in a manner that satisfies all laws and regulations, and, most importantly, the American people. We will approach this as any business would by increasing transparency and accountability. In the end, we will also support a culture that respects the fact that HUD funds belong to the public."
 
Heading the initiative is HUD CFO Irving Dennis, who will devise plans and supervise a taskforce. According to an agency release, Dennis' duties include establishing "new processes and controls, empower[ing] employees, and strengthen[ing] compliance and enforcement-related functions at HUD."
 
"These new internal controls and management practices must be embedded into our organization to help prevent misuse and misappropriation of assets," said Dennis. "The goal is to create more robust processes and systems of checks and balances to ensure our expenditures not only meet all of our requirements, but pass a common-sense 'smell test.'"
 
The announcement comes after the agency's confirmation that it is considering changing its mission statement, eliminating "free from discrimination" from the text. Additionally, the announcement coincides with controversy: Carson bought—and later, cancelled—a $31,000 dining set for HUD's executive dining room. Emails have since been made public that suggest Carson and his wife selected the set, despite Carson denying involvement in the purchase. 
 
Stay tuned to RISMedia for more developments." ["preview"]=> string(258) "
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced an effort to enhance its financial processes, aiming to improve" ["link"]=> string(65) "http://rismedia.com/cs/{ID}/{AffiliateID}/{SubscriberID}/{ItemID}" ["type"]=> string(4) "item" } } array(2) { ["ItemsNewsletters"]=> array(5) { ["item_id"]=> string(5) "98357" ["newsletter_id"]=> string(5) "26373" ["section_id"]=> string(10) "Section_01" ["item_type"]=> string(4) "item" ["zone"]=> string(7) "Stories" } ["Item"]=> array(7) { ["id"]=> string(5) "98357" ["subject"]=> string(35) "How to Lower Your Oil Heating Costs" ["authors"]=> string(13) "By Megan Wild" ["data"]=> string(7010) "Editor's Note: This was originally published on RISMedia's blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin' now at blog.rismedia.com: Even though it'll soon be spring, you should still consider how to lower your oil heating costs. A modest home of roughly 2,500 square feet burns up to five gallons of oil daily. The more you can decrease the oil you burn, the less you'll pay. 
 
Lower costs can be achieved with better management of your oil usage and your furnace and oil consumption. Here are some tips on each:
 
How to Manage Your Home's Oil Usage
Monitoring your oil usage can help you track how much you are using and when.
 
1. Perform an Energy Audit
The less energy your home needs, the less oil you will use. Local utilities will often come out to your home and do an energy audit for you. They will tell you of any areas that need to be sealed or caulked to prevent air from entering from the outside—or escaping from a warm inside, for that matter. An audit can ensure that you utilize the energy from oil at maximum efficiency.
 
2. Make Any Necessary Changes 
Make any changes an energy audit indicates, such as if you have patio doors or windows that need to be weather-stripped. If you have an attic that needs to be insulated, have it insulated. If your vents need to be cleaned, have them cleaned. If any areas need to be sealed or caulked, have them sealed or caulked
 
You may want to install new windows if they've become warped and let in a lot of air. Some energy audits will note that drafts come in if there is a gap between the bottom of the door and the floor. You can install a new door or place towels or blankets over the gap in cold weather.
 
3. Install a Programmable or Smart Thermostat
The lower your thermostat is set, the less oil you’ll use. A programmable thermostat will allow you to keep the temperature low during the day and higher when you get home. Many smart thermostats can be turned on or off from your smartphone. 
 
4. Wear Warm Clothes
While you don't want to be uncomfortable in your house during the winter, there are many ways to keep the heat set to a minimum while still maintaining warmth. Wear warm clothing indoors as well as out. Dress in layers and wear natural fibers, like wool, because they keep heat in more than synthetics. Wool sweaters and socks will go a long way in keeping you warm. Don't forget to pile on the afghans as you watch television.
 
5. Manage Your Home to Be as Warm as Possible
Manage your home to keep it warm and conserve energy. First, move furniture away from any radiators or vents to ensure maximum circulation of the warm air. Second, take advantage of the sun. Open any drapes and window coverings. Prune trees or bushes in front of large windows and congregate in areas in front of them. Third, if you have a fireplace, use it for heating. Fourth, if there are any major rooms or areas you no longer use, seal them off so energy isn't lost through them.
 
6. Turn Thermostats Down at Night
Remember, blankets and comforters are your friends at night. If you use them, you can turn your thermostat down just enough so the pipes don't freeze. You can use your programmable/smart thermostat to turn the heat back up before you have to rise and shine.
 
How to Manage Your Furnace and Oil Consumption 
Managing your consumption will keep heating bills low, and it's a relatively easy thing to do.
 
1. Maintain Your Furnace Annually
Furnaces need to be cleaned and maintained annually to perform at their best. You can reduce your overall energy consumption by making sure your furnace has regular maintenance appointments. The professionals who come out can advise you if the furnace needs any repairs before anything goes wrong. They can also let you know when a new furnace is needed. 
 
2. Review Your Pricing Options
Shop for the best deal on oil pricing. It is sometimes possible to order oil at a fixed price for the year or to buy with a price cap. A fixed price is just what it sounds like: Your oil deliveries will cost the same for the duration of the agreement. A cap means your cost will never go above a maximum agreed-upon price for the season.
 
3. Buy Oil Off-Peak
Purchasing your oil during the winter often means it will be priced higher, as that's the time when demand is highest. If you can buy oil in an off-peak season, the price will often be lower. If the capacity of your home allows you to buy a lot of oil at once, you can benefit from buying off-peak.
 
4. Ask for Any Relevant Discounts
Some oil companies offer discounts if you can buy in large quantities or are a senior citizen. If either or both of these apply to you, it's worth asking about.
 
Lowering your oil heating costs can be done with two steps: managing your home's energy consumption and managing your furnace and oil supply. Doing these things will help you stay warm and comfortable year-round.
 
Megan Wild is a home improvement specialist who loves fixing up old homes and making them beautiful and functional again. When she's not writing, you can find her hiking in the great outdoors or tweeting housing information @Megan_Wild" ["preview"]=> string(484) "Even though it'll soon be spring, you should still consider how to lower your oil heating costs. A modest home of roughly 2,500 square feet burns up to five gallons of oil daily. The more you can decrease the oil you burn, the less you'll pay. Lower costs can be achieved with better management" ["link"]=> string(65) "http://rismedia.com/cs/{ID}/{AffiliateID}/{SubscriberID}/{ItemID}" ["type"]=> string(4) "item" } } array(2) { ["ItemsNewsletters"]=> array(5) { ["item_id"]=> string(5) "12392" ["newsletter_id"]=> string(5) "26373" ["section_id"]=> string(10) "Section_10" ["item_type"]=> string(4) "item" ["zone"]=> string(6) "Footer" } ["Item"]=> array(7) { ["id"]=> string(5) "12392" ["subject"]=> NULL ["authors"]=> string(0) "" ["data"]=> NULL ["preview"]=> string(327) "

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" ["link"]=> string(0) "" ["type"]=> string(4) "item" } } Today's Real Estate News - Monday, March 19, 2018
Today's Top Stories
Housing Starts Soften
Backtracking: Mortgage Rates Retreat
How to Coexist With Real Estate Giants Online
Builder Confidence Dips Slightly
HUD Announces Controls for Finances
How to Lower Your Oil Heating Costs
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General Inquiries:
Toll Free: (800) 724-6000
Local: (203) 855-1234

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