Rise of the Rentals

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Th e M Rep o RT | 53 O r i g i nat i O n s e r v i c i n g a na ly t i c s s e c O n da r y m a r k e t ANALYTICS Department local eDition ANALYTICS consumer confidence rebounds to 6-year High AmericAns Are feeling better About their spending potentiAl. NEW YORK // After drop- ping into the high 70s range in February, the Conference Board's gauge of consumer confidence moved back up to a six-year high in March, the group reported. According to a release, the Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index improved to 82.3 in the latest survey, up four points from February's reading. It was the strongest index value since January 2008. The increase stemmed from an improvement in the compo- nent Expectations Index, which increased to 83.5 from 76.5 the month prior—indicating an over- all improvement in Americans' economic outlook. "Overall, consumers expect the economy to continue improv- ing and believe it may even pick up a little steam in the months ahead," said Lynn Franco, director of economic indicators for the Conference Board. Speculating on the next six months, 18.1 percent of consum- ers said they expect business conditions to recover, up from 17.3 percent, while fewer expect conditions to worsen. The out- look for labor was also brighter, with 13.9 percent expecting more jobs to come, up slightly from 13.7 percent. Optimism about income growth wasn't as strong, on the other hand. The share of respon- dents expecting their incomes to grow fell almost a percentage point to 14.9 percent; at the same time, however, the share antici- pating a decline also decreased, dropping to 12.1 percent. Meanwhile, the Present Situation Index, a measure of consumer thoughts about cur- rent conditions, ended its four- month streak of increases with a slight fallback to 80.4. Asked about current business conditions, 22.9 percent of respondents said the environment is "good," while 23.2 percent said conditions are "bad"—marking increases for both responses. On the labor market, perceptions were largely unchanged: Those claiming jobs are "plentiful" decreased slightly to 13.1 percent, while those saying jobs are "hard to get" edged up to 33 percent. chicago ranks as nation's most affordable market the Windy city WAs once one of the nAtion's most expensive cities, but dipping home prices mAke it the plAce to be. ILLINOIS // As other reports harbor grim news about the state of housing affordability today, a new release from bro- kerage and tech firm ZipRealty finds there are still metros where homeowners can live without breaking the bank. The company released its list of the top 10 most affordable housing markets of 2014, ranking Chicago as the No. 1 affordable metro. Based on median home sales price data and estimated family income, ZipRealty calcu- lated an Affordability Index of 2.2 for the Windy City, meaning homes are available for just more than twice the annual average household income ($72,400 against a median price of $160,000). Among other areas surveyed, Philadelphia ranked second with an index of 2.4, followed by Orlando, Florida; and Richmond, Virginia, each at 2.6. Unsurprisingly, the country's most expensive markets can be found in California: Orange County, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Los Angeles topped the list. The average home in each of those areas sells for 11.8, 8.7, and 7.4 times the local family income, respectively. Prices in the region tend to range higher than the rest of the country, in part because of the desirable location and in part due to its far lower inventory. "While the cost of a home is still a very significant expendi- ture for families everywhere, it's interesting to see these regional differences in affordability," said ZipRealty CEO Lanny Baker. "The cities at the top of our list are far more affordable than other places, particularly the larger California metros." "Overall, consumers expect the economy to continue improving and believe it may even pick up a little steam in the months ahead." —Lynn Franco, Conference Board

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