Urban homes are now worth more than suburban homes, as Americans place a greater value on living in cities and in high-rise condos, according to Zillow. The average urban home is now worth 2% more than the average suburban home, Zillow said. Urban homes were worth 1.2% less than suburban homes in 2013. Cities in high demand with young people are seeing the biggest boost to the spread between the value of urban homes and suburban homes. Still, suburban homes outpace urban homes, in terms of average total value in many locales and other cities are seeing their suburban homes rise in value faster than urban homes. Home buyers' preferences are changing, "as they seek amenity-rich, dense and walkable areas that are often closer to their workplace," Svenja Gudell, Zillow's chief economist, said in a news release. Source: National Mortgage News

Unit size on new residential construction is on the rise as more home buyers desire extra space. But it's also coming with a much steeper price tag. The average size of a new home rose to about 2,720 square feet in 2015, up from 2,660 square feet in 2014, the National Association of Home Builders reports. Nearly half of the homes constructed last year had four or more bedrooms. A quarter of homes also had garages that would hold three or more vehicles. In 2015, the average price of a new-home rose to $351,000 – up $100,000 from 2009, NAHB reports. Some of the increase is due to builders catering more to the luxury market and moving away from building homes for first-time buyers. “They haven’t made more starter homes in recent years mainly because of land prices, construction costs, and lack of available loans for less-affluent buyers,” The Wall Street Journal reports. First-time home buyers tend to bring the average size of new homes down since they tend to live in smaller homes than move-up buyers. The average new-home size was 2,360 square feet during the 2008 financial crisis. It then started climbing sharply, leveling out in 2014, and now back on the rise again in 2015. “Last year I was expecting, and I wasn’t alone, that the average size of homes would actually fall … because there were new measures that were supposed to bring in a wave of first-time home buyers,” says Rose Quint, assistant vice president of survey research at NAHB. “That didn’t happen.” Source: The Wall Street Journal

It could be a good year for women looking to buy real estate, particularly in cities where their incomes are rising faster than those of single men. For decades, single women played an important role in the U.S. housing market, buying more homes than single men. But after the housing crisis, the percentage of single female buyers dropped from 21 percent of purchasers in 2009 to 15 percent in 2015. Now they may be poised to make a comeback. For more than a year, the majority of respondents to a prospective home buyer survey by real estate brokerage Redfin have been women—this according to more than 17,000 surveys completed on its website since 2012. Rising incomes may be especially important because single female home buyers have traditionally stretched their budgets to buy homes, said Jessica Lautz, managing director of survey research for the National Association of Realtors. Many of them are single mothers or widows, said Lautz: "They are making sacrifices financially because they have a really strong desire to be a part of a community." Beyond higher wages, here's another factor that could bring single women back to the market: Because of their lower household incomes, single women often shop in the same price range as investors looking for rental properties, Lautz said. Such investors played a smaller role in many local housing markets in 2015 than in previous years. Source: HousingWire