May 2019

Friday, May 31, 2019

The number of homes available for sale continues to slide in Kentucky. That figure sits at a near-record low of 3.5 months, which is the time it would take to sell off all listed homes if no others were added to the market. This fact hasn’t seemed to slow down sales just yet, however. April 2019 saw 4,581 homes sold which is up half a percent over April 2018’s figure of 4,552. Year-to-date, homes sold stands at 14,903 across Kentucky, a slight dip of half a percent.

Nationwide, pending home sales declined in April, a modest change from the growth seen a month before, according to the National Association of Realtors®. Only one of the four major regions – the Midwest – experienced growth, while the remaining three regions reported a drop in their respective contract activity. The Pending Home Sales Index, a forward-looking indicator based on contract signings, fell 1.5% to 104.3 in April, down from 105.9 in March. Year-over-year contract signings declined 2.0%, making this the 16th straight month of annual decreases.

Lawrence Yun, NAR chief economist, said the sales dip has yet to account for some of the more favorable trends toward homeownership, such as lower mortgage rates. "Though the latest monthly figure shows a mild decline in contract signings, mortgage applications, and consumer confidence have been steadily rising,” he said. “It’s inevitable for sales to turn higher in a few months."

April’s days-on-market figure fell nearly ten percent to 104 days, down from 115 days in April of last year. The year-to-date number is slightly higher at 113 days, which is a six percent drop over this time last year.

Rip Phillips, President of Kentucky REALTORS®, said that dwindling inventory continues to be the trend. “Kentucky needs to experience an increase in new construction.”, he said. “What can fuel this? We need the Commonwealth to continue putting in pro-business policies that help increase wages. We also need more affordable housing with programs such as first-time homebuyer tax credits being used in other states to meet the demand”.

While the median home price rose only a fraction in April to $136,053, it still bests last April ($136,019) to reach the all-time high for this month. This marks the fourth straight month of year-over-year gains in home prices for the Commonwealth. 

April Stats     April YTD

 

Friday, May 10, 2019

OPINION

Steve Stevens, Kentucky REALTORS C.E.O.
Steve Stevens, C.E.O. Kentucky Realtors

As an advocate for businesses of all sizes for approximately three decades now, there has been one issue that has remained consistent for me to hear about from business owners across the board.  It has been their concerns and difficulties in finding affordable health insurance coverage for themselves and their employees.

Over the decades, health care reform attempts have been plentiful, with solutions being sought at many levels.  States and the federal government have made attempts to address a multitude of components and cost-drivers each have identified in their health care systems.  Former Administrations and Congress have made efforts to fix our ailing system, but most of these have only added to the cost of health care in America.  Health care, unfortunately, due to a complexity of factors, does not react or behave like other traditional markets or types of businesses.

REALTORS® are real estate professionals who are members of the local, state and National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).  In Kentucky, more than 11,300 Realtors are members of the state association and involved in all aspects of real estate.  Each is part of the 1.3 million members of NAR which is America’s largest trade association.  The overwhelming majority of these individuals are not employees of realty offices, but independent contractors who operate autonomously from their affiliated real estate companies.  Thus, for most of them, their business expenses and health insurance coverages are paid for out of their own pockets and not by their employers.  

A longstanding method of gaining lower cost health insurance has been to leverage group buying power.  The opportunity to spread insurance risk across a large pool of insureds through multi-employer plans offered through business or trade associations has worked to achieve reduced rates for many businesses who employ people for decades.  Left out until only recently when new federal laws were adopted, however, were independent contractors.  Just two years ago, these businesspeople have been given the ability through federal legislation to participate in association health plans (AHPs).  Both federal and state governments jointly regulate AHPs, so before this could happen, each state had to conform its insurance laws to the federal law.  During the 2019 General Assembly, we were in full support of actions taken by Kentucky’s Legislature to make this happen.

Multiple states across the country have successfully begun AHPs for their members through sponsoring associations.  Despite all the progress, 12 states (including Kentucky) and the District of Columbia filed suit to stop the final rules of the Department of Labor on AHPs.  A recent ruling of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia struck down provisions of the Department of Labor’s final rule clarifying the definition of “employer” (under ERISA for the purposes of establishing an AHP).  The states argued the DOL exceeded its authority in issuing the rule, which would circumvent protections put in place by the Affordable Care Act. This action has had a chilling effect on insurers who have been working in states who have not yet had the chance to offer AHPs to independent contractors. As our association has worked with major insurers to evaluate the viability of implementing an AHP, these providers have put us on hold as a result of uncertainty regarding the court ruling and appeal process.

The National Association of REALTORS® supports the appeal of this ruling and has encouraged the Department of Justice to protect the AHP rule that would provide working owners of all types of businesses with new cost-effective health insurance plans.

While we wait for a decision on the court ruling, federal lawmakers are working another angle to solve the problem.  In April, Senators Enzi (R-WY), Alexander (R-TN), and others introduced the “Association Health Plans Act of 2019.” The bill would codify the DOL rule, to protect the expansion of association health plans to small businesses and the self-employed.

The Kentucky REALTORS® and a host of other organizations who represent independent business people remain optimistic that these efforts will result in an outcome that would allow these hard-working Americans the freedom and flexibility to have another option for their health insurance and be able to choose a plan that best suits their needs.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Kentucky REALTORS® (KYR) announces that Jenny Dixon has been hired as the Education and Real Estate Industry Coordinator. Her first day with KYR will be May 6th. She brings with her a strong background in customer service and event coordination.

Jenny DixonJenny comes to KYR from Dean Dorton in Lexington, KY where she worked most recently as a Human Resources Specialist. In this role, she conducted reference checks and benefits orientations for new hires, maintained personnel records, and coordinated meetings. She also maintained the department’s budget and ran weekly productivity reports.

Jenny also previously worked as special events coordinator for Alltech in Nicholasville, KY, and as assistant Registrar for Sullivan University in Lexington. She received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Marketing as well as a master’s degree in Human Resource Management.

“We are delighted to welcome Jenny to our team”, said Steve Stevens, Kentucky REALTORS® C.E.O. “She brings many talents and new energy that will benefit our organization greatly as we continue to expand our work to more areas of the real estate profession, as well as our continuing strong support of Realtor members.”

Jenny’s role at KYR will be to report to the Director of Education on Kentucky Realtor Institute-focused duties and to assist with allied industry collaborative projects and as coordinator for a new commercial real estate program.