Posts tagged with "Affordability"

Montana boomtown jumps to #1 on WSJ/Realtor.com Emerging Housing Market Index

July 22, 2021

Billings, Montana, is the new number one on The Wall Street Journal/Realtor.com Emerging Housing Markets Index—boosted by its affordability and appeal to remote workers.

The index reflects how the housing boom has ignited homebuying activity in smaller to midsize cities nationwide. The top 20 cities in the ranking have an average population size of just over 300,000.

In the latest index rankings published on Tuesday, July 20, smaller cities dominate. The number two metro area is Coeur d’Alene, the lakeside Idaho city that held the top position when the index premiered in April.

Rounding out the top five are Fort Wayne, Indiana; Rapid City, South Dakota; and Raleigh, North Carolina.

The index identifies the top metro areas for home buyers seeking an appreciating housing market and appealing lifestyle amenities. This quarter’s version added the new criteria of real-estate taxes, which caused some areas in the Northeast, Midwest, and Texas with higher property taxes to fall in the rankings.

The strengthening U.S. economy also played a role—rewarding cities where employment and wages grew the most. Rapid City and Raleigh each jumped by about 100 spots from the previous quarter.

Billings is the biggest city in Montana, with a metro-area population of about 184,000. This quarter, Billings rose from the fourth spot to the first, due to its low unemployment, affordability and booming housing market. Billings had a 3% unemployment rate in May, or about half the national rate.

Much of the strength in the Billings housing market has been driven by out-of-state buyers—from coastal states, from California and Washington to Kentucky and Texas, says Deb Parker, broker owner of Parker & Co. Real Estate Services in Billings. Many move to the area because they have the flexibility to work remotely, she said.

“I believe Montana’s truly been discovered,” Parker told The Wall Street Journal. “I’ve never seen so much cash in our market.”

About 65% of page views on Billings property listings came from outside the metro area in the second quarter, up from about 57% a year earlier, according to Realtor.com.

Smaller markets in Montana, including Bozeman, also saw an influx of buyers during the pandemic. Some of the top reasons out-of-state buyers chose Montana were safety and security, concerns about COVID-19, and the state’s smaller population, according to a survey of Montana real-estate agents by Montana State University .

The average single-family home-sale price in Billings and the surrounding area was $376,248 in June, up 32% from a year earlier, according to the Billings Association of Realtors.

Research contact: @WSJ

Bigger isn’t better: Why a smaller engagement ring may signify a longer marriage

September 21, 2018

When you are trying to “size up” a woman’s relationship, don’t calculate in the size of her diamond ring. Recent research shows that couples who spend shrewdly and realistically on their engagement ring and wedding reception are more likely to have long-lasting marriages, according to a report by NBC News.

The ‘“A Diamond Is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales” study—co-authored by Andrew Francis-Tan, a visiting associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore and Hugo M. Mialon, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Economics at Emory University— examined the association between wedding spending and marriage duration using data from a survey of over 3,000 “ever-married adults” in the United States.

The researchers said that their goal was to establish whether spending a fortune on a ring and a wedding, (as we’re frequently inclined to do, often to our own regret) impacts the longevity of a marriage.

“Wedding industry advertising has fueled the norm that spending large amounts on the engagement ring and wedding is an indication of commitment or is helpful for a marriage to be successful,” Mialon told NBC News. “In either case, the general message [put out by the wedding industry and eagerly accepted by couples worldwide] is that wedding spending and marriage duration are positively correlated.”

But that’s not the case. In fact, there’s a sweet spot for how much a ring should—or shouldn’t—cost.  Through their research, Francis-Tan and Mialon found that men who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring had a higher rate of divorce (of about 1.3 times) than men who spent between $500 and $2,000.

But the pendulum swings the other way, too. Spending less than $500 on an engagement ring was found to be associated with higher divorce rates in the sample of women surveyed.

However, the academics assert that these findings  “[do]not prove that high expenses on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony cause divorce;  only that high expenses on the engagement ring and wedding ceremony are positively correlated with divorce, holding constant a number of demographic and relationship characteristics, including income.

Their overall recommendation: It’s not about the price tag; it’s about what you can afford, NBC News reports. Do not spend your whole bank account on one day in your life, no matter how special. Your focus should be on the long-term health and vitality of your relationship.

“What could explain the observed negative association between wedding expenses and marriage duration? Perhaps those couples who tend to have lavish weddings are simply those couples who tend not to be the best match for each other,” Mialon told NBC.

“On the other hand,” he points out, “it is also possible that having an expensive wedding burdens [a couple] financially in a way that may later strain their marriage”

Research contact:  sppamft@nus.edu.sg