The hottest housing markets come with smaller mortgages

Some folks believe Chicago is a good gauge of the nation’s housing market. And if they’re right, there seems to be an emerging trend: homebuyers are purchasing homes at the cheaper end of the market.

Crain’s Chicago Business reports that it evaluated 199 suburbs and discovered 13 where more homes sold, faster and at a higher median price than in the previous year. Of those 13 areas, 12 are places where homes generally sell for less than the regional median.

One reason for the strength in lower-priced markets, said Brian Kwilosz, president of the Mainstreet Organization of Realtors, a suburban professional association, is “that’s where the competition is.” The millennial generation is moving up into its first-time home buying years, he said, at the same time that baby boomers are downsizing, and members of both groups often shop for bargain-priced homes, the article states.

Other influences include investor purchases, whether for flipping or rental properties, which could also be fueling the surge in these markets.

It’s official, the economy is slowing down

Earlier this week, Up NEXT posted speculation that the economy was facing a slowdown. Now, that news is officially confirmed, as America’s economy grew at its weakest pace since Trump took office, according to CNN’s coverage.

In the fourth quarter, GDP grew at a tepid rate of 2.1%, according to the Commerce Department. Overall, the economy’s growth slowed throughout 2019. Although the first quarter of the year pushed ahead with more than 3% annualized growth, the remaining three quarters of the year were all around the 2% mark.

Deputy Chief Economist of First American and a speaker at #NEXTWINTER20 next month, Odeta Kushi tweeted: “GDP grew modestly in the fourth quarter of 2019. Residential investment made a positive contribution to GDP, reflecting the boost from low rates.  Slower growth in 2020, sure. But consumer spending remains strong enough to keep this expansion going.”

Startup wants to up the ante on data privacy

Signing up and signing in to online services may get less invasive if a new startup takes hold. Think about it. Seemingly simple apps, such as AirBnb and Lyft, often require a large amount of your personal data in order to access the service. When sites get hacked, this is precisely the information that potentially gets exposed.

But do companies really need to have access to all these pieces of information? Do they really need to have your social, your address, or any of a number of pieces of personal information?

Rick Song, co-founder of Persona doesn’t think so and wants to keep that info private, while not reducing access to these life amenities. “His startup aims to become a trusted middle man in securing transactions that use personally identifying information (PII), much in the same way that PayPal became a trusted intermediary between merchants and buyers in handling payments,” Forbes explains.

“Very often websites are built by engineers who don’t have a security background,” says Song, who was previously an engineer at Square, the payment solution. “Security and data privacy might not be top of mind for many engineers. Oftentimes I think benign actions can create opportunities for leaks and breaches.”

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