South Florida Real Estate

What to Expect for "2018"

The housing picture is likely to improve in 2018. Why? Home prices are expected to climb, but not as fast.

Plus, more houses could be for sale toward the end of the year, giving homebuyers a greater selection to choose from, while homeowners will have more equity to borrow from.

Yet in other ways, 2018 might continue to be challenging, especially for homebuyers. Mortgage rates are likely to rise, reducing affordability.

Here are 10 housing and mortgage trends to expect in 2018.

1. Home prices decelerate

Good news for first-time homebuyers: Home-price appreciation is expected to cool down in 2018 after a torrid couple of years.

Home prices rose 6.3% in 2016, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency. They're on track to exceed 6% in 2017, too. But for next year, the median forecast among six industry and lender groups is for a 4.1% increase in existing home prices nationwide.

Why the slowdown? One factor is home construction. Economists expect the construction of single-family houses to rise sharply in 2018, based on building permit applications. The median estimate has single-family housing starts rising about 8% in 2018, to roughly 912,500 new houses.

2. More homes for sale

Homebuyers are struggling to find houses for sale. The shortages are especially acute for the kinds of homes that first-time buyers tend to get. Among the reasons for the tight supply:

·Many baby boomers are content to age in their homes instead of downsizing

·Investors bought millions of homes after the housing bubble burst, and they're making too much money as landlords to sell

·Home builders make more profit from expensive houses than entry-level houses, so that's what they're constructing

But there's some hope for 2018: Realtor.com predicts that the housing supply pinch will begin to ease late in the year.

"It looks like we could get to a point where we're seeing growth in inventory sometime in the fall of 2018," says Danielle Hale, chief economist for Realtor.com.

3. Home sales could rise

Resales of existing homes are expected to rise modestly in 2018. The median estimate is that existing home sales will rise 2.5%, to 5.6 million units.

Meanwhile, sales of new homes are expected to rise a median of 7%, to 653,500 newly built single-family houses.

According to Realtor.com, cities in the South will show the most sales growth in 2018. Hale says she expects 6% existing home sales growth, particularly in markets such as Dallas; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Little Rock, Arkansas; and Charlotte, North Carolina. Hale says those places are not as "regulation constrained," they have strong regional economies and developers have plenty of vacant land to build on.

4. Mortgage rates head up

Mortgage rates are expected to rise in 2018. CoreLogic, a data provider for the real estate industry, averaged six forecasts of mortgage rates, arriving at a consensus view that the 30-year fixed will average 4.7% in December 2018. In November 2017, the 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage averaged 4.07%.

"Not only are mortgage rates higher, but mortgage rates will be at the highest level since 2011," Nothaft said at the Urban Institute symposium. "So we're looking at an environment, going forward, where this era of cheap mortgage rates will largely be behind us."

Interest rates are notoriously resistant to prediction, though. At the beginning of 2017, most people expected mortgage rates to rise steadily throughout the year. And they did rise - for a few weeks. The average 30-year fixed peaked in mid-March 2017 at 4.58%, according to NerdWallet's daily survey. Then it declined, dipping slightly below 4% a few times in the summer, before moving upward slightly in the fall.

5. Affordability declines

If, as expected, home prices and mortgage rates go up in 2018, homes will be less affordable.

For example, if mortgage rates rise to 4.7% toward the end of 2018, and the median price of existing homes rises by 4.1%, then monthly mortgage payments for a typical house would rise substantially.

But according to an Urban Institute analysis, middle-class families in much of the country still have some financial wiggle room if rates and prices rise in 2018. Most home buyers don't appear to stretch to the limits of affordability, the Urban Institute wrote.

6. More equity, more HELOCs

As home values rise, homeowners gain equity. And banks expect millions of homeowners to borrow against that equity.

About 1.6 million homeowners are predicted to get new home equity lines of credit in 2018, a 16% increase over 2017, according to a recent TransUnion study. The credit bureau says 67% of homeowners have enough equity to get HELOCs, and 80% of those borrowers have high credit scores.

TransUnion forecasts that 10 million homeowners will get HELOCs from 2018 through 2022, double the number of new lines of credit in the five years before that.

7. Security headaches continue

Thieves are stealing down payments from homebuyers by combining email hacking with wire fraud. And there's no sign of it slowing.

Complaints of this type of wire fraud skyrocketed by 480% in 2016, according to the 2016 annual report (the latest available) from the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center. Lenders and title companies say the problem worsened in 2017, and that they fend off this form of fraud constantly.

The best way to avoid becoming a victim: When you receive emailed instructions for wiring money, call your agent to verify. The email may be a fake, designed to trick you into wiring money into a thief's account.

8. More options for people with credit issues

A few specialty lenders are focusing on nontraditional mortgages. For example, Angel Oak Mortgage Solutions in Atlanta targets the borrower 'who has had a life event, so they lost their house or had to file bankruptcy or things got really bad, but they've now got their feet back on the ground and they're ready to buy their next house,' says Tom Hutchens, the lender's senior vice president of sales and marketing.

Several lenders offer interest-only mortgages, and even loans with limited income documentation. These mortgages are dubbed 'non-QM' because they don't meet Fannie Mae's and Freddie Mac's plain-vanilla 'qualified mortgage' rules. One prominent non-QM lender, Impac Mortgage Holdings, plans to begin securitizing these loans early in 2018.

9. Lenders embracing automation

Mortgage lenders continue to pour money into automating the loan-application process. The best-known example is Rocket Mortgage by Quicken Loans. But Quicken isn't the only lender that embraces automation. Some lenders, such as loanDepot, cook up their own automation in-house, while software providers such as Blend and Roostify help large and small banks to automate applications. Now a few lenders want to use automation to guide borrowers to loan products that best suit them.

10. Tax reform could affect buyers and owners

Lawmakers were still working on tax reform as this article was being written. Preliminary House and Senate versions limited the number of home sellers who would benefit from the home capital gains exclusion, and they treated the mortgage interest tax deduction differently. It's too early to know how a final tax reform bill would affect home buyers and homeowners, but we will keep you posted.

Will Florida Real Estate Prices Fall? No Chance!

 Orlando and Tampa are among the large U.S. markets least likely to see home prices fall in the next two years, according to a report from Arch Mortgage Insurance.

The report finds that home prices have only a 2 percent chance of falling in Orlando and Tampa over the next two years, a low-risk level that tied 36 other U.S. markets.

At the other end of the spectrum, Fort Lauderdale and Nashville probably won't see prices rise over the next two years either, but they still have a noticeably higher risk with a 35 percent chance of that happening. Austin, Texas, has the third-highest probability, at 25 percent, followed by Miami's 17 percent and West Palm Beach's11 percent, according to Arch MI.

In explaining Fort Lauderdale's and Nashville's rates, Arch MI cites "home prices growing faster than incomes, which is hurting affordability."

Arch MI estimates that the average probability of home-price declines for America's 401 largest cities is 4 percent, which it calls "an unusually low number."

The report suggests that Florida will remain the best economic performer in the South for at least another year, led by tourism, residential and public construction.

The report also found that Orlando is one of America's 10 hottest housing markets, when looking at the country's 100 biggest metros. Orlando's home price index grew 12.5 percent in the past year.

Irma's Aftermath

More than 5.5 million homes and businesses in Florida remained without power at midday Tuesday after Hurricane Irma plowed through the state.

Food, water and gas deliveries were starting to return in Central and South Florida as the demand swells from returning evacuees. Airports started to provide limited operations. And the process of allowing people to return to homes was underway in most areas outside the storm-ravaged lower Florida Keys.

Irma is expected to cost the state and federal government billions of dollars.

Meanwhile, Florida Power & Light spokesman Rob Gould asked customers on Tuesday to be patient as they wait for restoration of electricity.

"We understand what it means to be in the dark. We understand what it means to be hot and without air conditioning," Gould said. "We are out there 24-7. This will not be just a daylight operation. We will be restoring power day and night."

The company, with more than 20,000 restoration workers, anticipates getting power back by the end of the weekend to most of its customers in eastern parts of Florida.

A deadline of Sept. 22 has been set for restoring power to customers in the company's western counties, which include all or parts of Manatee, Hardee, Sarasota, DeSoto, Charlotte, Lee, Hendry, Collier and Monroe.

The timelines don't include homes and areas that were completely destroyed by the storm, Gould noted.

Juno Beach-based FPL reported 2.8 million of its nearly 5 million homes and businesses were still without power on Tuesday.

St. Petersburg-based Duke Energy Florida had 1.27 million of its 1.8 million accounts in the dark on Tuesday. And Tampa Electric still had to reconnect 300,000 of its 750,000 accounts on Tuesday.

"Restoration will take days – but, thankfully, not weeks," Tampa Electric President and CEO Gordon Gillette, said in a prepared statement.

Tampa Electric said power had already been restored to about 20 percent of its customers who had been impacted.

Statewide, electricity has been restored to more than 1 million homes and businesses as the broader recovery process got underway from Irma, which hit the Keys and Southwest Florida on Sunday and traveled up the state before exiting North Florida on Monday.

"What you're going to see today all around the state, is you're going to see more resources," Gov. Rick Scott said Tuesday morning while at Jacksonville International Airport. "This impacted the whole state, so it's hard to pre-position all the assets you'd want to position if the storm just came from one coast or the other. But even with that, I think the number is over 30,000 individuals from out of state are helping us get our power on."

Scott had earlier in the day taken an aerial tour of Jacksonville with the Florida National Guard. The U.S. Coast Guard had provided Scott with a similar view of Key West on Monday.

Damage assessment continues in the Florida Keys, where engineers are determining if bridges can handle the weight of returning vehicles. Water and sanitation also remain issues, Scott said.

Problems in Jacksonville stem from flash flooding from the St. Johns River. The U.S. Coast Guard reported rescuing more than 100 people Monday in Jacksonville.

Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry, who put the number that needed rescuing from floodwaters at around 300 on Tuesday, expressed some frustration about people not heeding evacuation warnings.

"It would have been nice if there weren't people in the areas that were affected by the surge, but the first responders just stepped right up and did their jobs," Curry said.

Curry said he would have evacuated if he wasn't the city's mayor.

"We're not trying to be difficult. We're not trying to make people's lives inconvenient," Curry added. "I think the governor said it best leading up to this, evacuations are not about convenience, they're about safety."

Search and rescue operations continued in the Keys and Southwest Florida. Among other developments Tuesday:

  • More than 94,000 people remained in about 400 shelters still in use across Florida.
  • The Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee remained safe, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
  • The Florida Highway Patrol was escorting 44 tractor-trailers with relief supplies and 600 utility trucks into Southwest Florida.
  • Port Tampa, Port Everglades and Port Canaveral reopened for fuel trucks.
  • Florida reopened 20 state parks in the Panhandle, but 147 others throughout the peninsula remained closed Tuesday morning.
  • Lakeland-based Publix reported 22 of its 776 stores in Florida remained closed on Tuesday.

Source: News Service of Florida, Jim Turner

5 Ways to Invest in Real Estate

If you've ever had a landlord, you probably don't dream of being one: Fielding calls about oversize bugs and overflowing toilets doesn't seem like the most glamorous job.

But done right, real estate investment can be lucrative, if not flashy. It can help diversify your existing investment portfolio and be an additional income stream. And it doesn't always require showing up at a tenant's every beck and call.

The trouble is that many new investors don't know where or how to invest in real estate. So here are five options, ranging from high maintenance to low.

1. Invest in rental properties
Tiffany Alexy didn't intend to become a real estate investor when she bought her first rental property at age 21. Then a college senior in Raleigh, North Carolina, she planned to attend grad school locally and figured buying would be better than renting.

"I went on Craigslist and found a four-bedroom, four-bathroom condo that was set up student-housing style. I bought it, lived in one bedroom and rented out the other three," Alexy says.

The setup covered all of her expenses and brought in an extra $100 per month in cash – far from chump change for a grad student, and enough that Alexy caught the real estate bug. Now age 27, she has five rentals and is a broker and owner of Alexy Realty Group in Raleigh.

Alexy entered the market using a strategy sometimes called house hacking, a term coined by BiggerPockets, an online resource for real estate investors. It essentially means you're occupying your investment property, either by renting out rooms, as Alexy did, or by renting out units in a multi-unit building. David Meyer, vice president of growth and marketing at the site, says house hacking lets investors buy a property with up to four units and still qualify for a residential loan.

Of course, you can also buy and rent out an entire investment property. Find one with combined expenses lower than the amount you can charge in rent. And if you don't want to be the person who shows up with a toolbelt to fix a leak "or even the person who calls that person "you'll also need to pay a property manager.

"If you manage it yourself, you'll learn a lot about the industry, and if you buy future properties you'll go into it with more experience," says Meyer.

2. Fix up and resell properties
This is HGTV come to life: You purchase an underpriced home in need of a little love, renovate it as inexpensively as possible and then resell it for a profit. Called house flipping, the strategy is a wee bit harder than it looks on TV.

'There is a bigger element of risk, because so much of the math behind flipping requires a very accurate estimate of how much repairs are going to cost, which is not an easy thing to do,' says Meyer.

His suggestion: Find an experienced partner. 'Maybe you have capital or time to contribute, but you find a contractor who is good at estimating expenses or managing the project,' he says.

The other risk of flipping is that the longer you hold the property, the less money you make because you're paying a mortgage without bringing in any income. You can lower that risk by living in the house as you fix it up. This works as long as most of the updates are cosmetic and you don't mind a little dust.

3. Use a crowdfunding service
If you're familiar with companies such as Prosper and LendingClub which connect borrowers to investors willing to lend them money for various personal needs, such as a wedding or home renovation you'll understand the concept behind investing through a real estate crowdfunding site.

Companies including RealtyShares and RealtyMogul connect real estate developers to investors who want to finance projects, either through debt or equity. Investors hope to receive monthly or quarterly distributions in exchange for taking on a significant amount of risk and paying a fee to the platform. Like many real estate investments, these are speculative and illiquid you can't easily unload them the way you can trade a stock.

The rub is that you need money to make money. Real estate crowdfunding is generally open only to accredited investors, defined by the Securities and Exchange Commission as people who've earned income of more than $200,000 ($300,000 with a spouse) in each of the last two years or have a net worth of $1 million or more, not including a primary residence.

4. REITs
REITs, or real estate investment trusts, allow you to invest in real estate without the physical real estate. Often compared to mutual funds, they're companies that own commercial real estate such as office buildings, retail spaces, apartments and hotels. REITs tend to pay high dividends, which makes them a good investment in retirement. Investors who don't need or want the regular income can automatically reinvest those dividends to grow their investment further.

REITs can be varied and complex. Some trade on an exchange like a stock; others aren't publicly traded. The type of REIT you purchase can be a big factor in the amount of risk you're taking on, as non-traded REITs aren't easily sold and might be hard to value. New investors should generally stick to publicly traded REITs, which you can purchase through an online broker.

5. Rent out a room
Finally, to dip the very edge of your toe in the real estate waters, you could rent part of your home via a site like Airbnb. It's house hacking for the commitment-phobe: You don't have to take on a long-term tenant, potential renters are at least somewhat prescreened by Airbnb, and the company's host guarantee provides protection against damages.

Florida's Housing Market: Higher Prices and More Sales in June

Florida's housing market had more closed sales, higher median prices and more new listings in June, according to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®. Sales of single-family homes statewide totaled 28,205 last month, up 4.3 percent compared to June 2016.

"More homeowners decided it was time to sell in June, resulting in an increase of new listings in Florida by 4.2 percent," says 2017 Florida Realtors President Maria Wells, broker-owner with Lifestyle Realty Group in Stuart. "However, this slight increase in June is not easing the market and inventory remains tight. Homes continue to sell quickly, which resulted in an increase of pending sales, which rose 2.2 percent.

"Buyers must continue to be prepared to act quickly," Wells adds. "They need to find a Realtor to assist them to navigate the choppy waters of today's market. This will allow them to be ready to make an offer when the right property is available."

The statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes last month was $245,000, up 8.9 percent from the previous year, according to data from Florida Realtors Research department in partnership with local Realtor boards/associations. The statewide median price for townhouse-condo properties in June was $176,820, up 7.2 percent over the year-ago figure. June was the 67th consecutive month that statewide median prices for both sectors rose year-over-year. The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less.

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the national median sales price for existing single-family homes in May 2017 was $254,600, up 6 percent from the previous year; the national median existing condo price was $238,700. In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in May was $550,200; in Massachusetts, it was $385,000; in Maryland, it was $295,694; and in New York, it was $239,000.

Looking at Florida's townhouse-condo market, statewide closed sales totaled 10,996 last month, up 4.9 percent compared to June 2016. Closed sales data reflected fewer short sales and foreclosures last month: Short sales for townhouse-condo properties declined 30.0 percent and foreclosures fell 47.3 percent year-to-year; short sales for single-family homes dropped 31.5 percent and foreclosures fell 43.4 percent year-to-year. Closed sales may occur from 30- to 90-plus days after sales contracts are written.

"The median sale price among Florida single-family home sales in June was up 8.9 percent compared to last year; and the median sale price of condos and townhouses was up slightly less, increasing by 7.2 percent," said Florida Realtors Chief Economist Dr. Brad O'Connor.

"With sales and prices continuing to rise, it should come as no surprise that the dollar volume of sales throughout the state increased significantly this June compared to June of last year," O'Connor added. "Statewide, closed sales of single-family homes totaled about $9.3 billion, a year-over-year increase of nearly 12 percent. Closed sales of townhouses and condos rose by a little over 11 percent to about $2.8 billion."

Inventory remained tight in June with a 3.9-months' supply for single-family homes and a 5.8-months' supply for townhouse-condo properties, according to Florida Realtors.

According to Freddie Mac, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 3.90 percent in June 2017; it averaged 3.57 percent during the same month a year earlier.

Homebuyers: Don't Believe the Reality TV Show Myths

A lot of real estate reality TV shows air across the nation, but "like most programs billed as 'reality,' they are often misleading, and some are far from reality," says RE/MAX Complete Solutions Broker-Owner Jenniffer Lee.

Lee outlines 10 reality TV show myths:

1. Myth No. 1: Buyers on reality shows are shown three near-perfect homes.
Fact: "In reality, buyers look at many homes before finding the right one," says Lee.

2. Myth No. 2: A home can be completely gutted and redone in 2-4 weeks.
Fact: It can take a long time to totally redo a home due to permit pulling, coordinating different crews and the specific aspects of the job.

3. Myth No. 3: The homes buyers are interested in are still for sale and there is plenty of time to make a decision.
Fact: "Many homes that buyers are interested in are already under contract by the time they go to view them, or they go to contract before the buyer decides to make an offer. If you like a home, act quickly," says Lee.

4. Myth No. 4: Staging a home for sale takes power tools and lots of money for fancy furniture and accessories.
Fact: "You can go a long way towards staging a home by merely cleaning, touching up paint and removing clutter," says Lee.

5. Myth No. 5: Buyers make an offer on the home they want and move in a week later.
Fact: There is much more to the process, including pre-qualification by a lender, inspections, appraisals, escrow and title.

6. Myth No. 6: A house should sell after the first open house.
Fact: Very few homes sell at an open house. "Most sell after multiple independent showings," says Lee.

7. Myth No. 7: The buying process simply revolves around a buyer and a Realtor.
Fact: There are usually many parties involved, including a second Realtor, a lender, an escrow agent or title company, an appraiser and oftentimes an attorney.

8. Myth No. 8: The net from flipping a house is the sales price less the cost of the home repairs and real estate commission.
Fact: There are many other costs involved, including settlement fees for both the purchase and the sale, utilities and other holding costs, property tax and other prorations, doc stamps and transfer taxes, title insurance and other closing costs.

9. Myth No. 9: Any floor plan can be easily altered.
Fact: "Some items in a floor plan are structural and can't be moved easily," says Lee. "It takes an analysis by an architect or engineer to determine if some items can be moved at all."

10. Myth No. 10: Finding the right home is easy and fast.
Fact: "Buyers often look for several weeks and even months to find the right home," says Lee. "A reputable Realtor will skillfully guide you through the process and help you make the right decision."

What Appliances Stay and Which ones Go?

Question: We are in the process of buying a home and did the day-before-closing walk-through, only to find that the property is missing the appliances. The fridge, stove, washer, dryer and dishwasher are gone. We do not want to buy the house this way. Is there anything we can do? – Ali

Answer: I can understand your surprise. Most home sales include the appliances and fixtures. Your first step is to check your contract to see if any of the missing items are specifically mentioned. Most standard contracts have a section that speaks to what items are included.

The general rule is that anything permanently attached to the house when you went under contract – light fixtures, doors, stoves – should be included in the sale. And the item must be the exact one that was in the home when the contract was signed.

Most arguments I see on this subject involve washing machines and automatic pool cleaners. Some contracts don't include the washer and dryer, and buyers always should take note of any exclusions.

Sellers should be sure to specifically exclude any fixtures they want to take with them, such as an heirloom chandelier hanging in the foyer.

In your case, you may need to postpone the closing. If the missing items weren't excluded in the sales contract, the (seller) must replace them or provide a credit at closing.

South Florida has an Affordable Housing Crisis!!

Rising property values are pricing many new workers out of South Florida and creating an affordable housing crisis, Palm Beach County officials and real estate experts said during a summit convened Wednesday to address the issue.

“This is the most serious public policy issue we are dealing with here in South Florida along with rising sea levels,” said Edward “Ned” Murray, associate director of the Metropolitan Center at Florida International University.

The statistics show the extent of the problem, he said. While housing prices continue to climb, incomes have not kept up.

Palm Beach County’s median home price of $327,000 is unaffordable to 75 percent of households. The median home price is $330,000 in Broward County, while the median price in Miami-Dade County $320,000.

Palm Beach County’s median gross rent of $1,900 is out of the reach of 80 percent of renters, according to Murray’s research. Average rent in Broward County is $1,800, which is unaffordable for 78 percent of renters. The situation is worse in Miami-Dade County, where an average rent of $2,175 is unaffordable for 89 percent of renters.

About 56 percent of Palm Beach County renters are considered to be burdened, meaning they spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing. Almost a third are severely cost burdened, meaning they spend more than half their income.

In Broward County, 59 percent of renters are considered to be cost burdened and almost a third severely cost burdened. Almost 62 percent of Miami-Dade renters are cost burdened and 35 percent are severely cost burdened.

College graduates and entry-level hires willing to relocate turn down job offers when they find out the cost of housing, Palm Beach County officials and business leaders said.

The school system is facing a shortage of teachers because they can’t make it on an educator’s salary, and some families are even left homeless, forced to sleep in cars or the woods, Palm Beach County Mayor Paulette Burdick said.

A combination of high housing costs and relatively low incomes made South Florida home to the highest percentage of cost-burdened renters in the country, according to a recent report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University.

South Florida is losing out to other metropolitan areas because of the high cost of housing, Palm Beach County Administrator Verdenia Baker said.

The county invests in education, but graduates are moving to cities where housing is more affordable, she said.

“They are moving to Houston, Texas,” Baker said. “They are moving to Tampa, Florida. That is the investment in Palm Beach County that does not yield a return.”

More than 500 elected officials, business leaders and housing experts convened at Palm Beach County Convention Center on Wednesday to consider solutions.

Proposals included building transit-orientated developments that would allow workers to lower their costs by tapping into mass transit, waiving building fees and granting tax incentives for workforce housing projects and allowing increased density for new developments with price-capped units.

One speaker said turning shipping containers into homes could be an innovative way to lower the cost of housing.

“Look at them like Lego blocks,” said Craig Vanderlaan, executive director of Crisis Housing Solutions. “You can have fun with them. … Millennials absolutely love this stuff."

Container homes have already started popping up in South Florida, and some are posted for rent on the home-sharing website Airbnb.

County officials will gather the recommendations made at the summit and present proposals for county commissioners to consider.

Lumber Tariff to hit Housing Industry

The Trump administration moved Monday to impose a 20 percent tariff on softwood lumber entering the United States from Canada, escalating an intensifying trade dispute between the two countries.

The president announced the decision during a gathering with conservative media outlets at the White House Monday evening. Trump's initial comments were relayed by four people who were in the room and confirmed by an administration official.

On Twitter, Breitbart News White House correspondent Charlie Spiering quoted Trump as saying, "We're going to be putting a 20 percent tax on softwood lumber coming in – tariff on softwood coming into the United States from Canada."

The Commerce Department later announced it had reached a preliminary determination and would impose countervailing duties ranging from 3 percent to 24 percent on imported softwood lumber, with an average of about 20 percent.

One person in the room said Trump threatened that dairy could be next.

The U.S. and Canada typically enjoy a friendly trading relationship, but things have soured in recent months. Trump has been railing against Canada's decision to change its policy on pricing domestic milk to cover more dairy ingredients, leading to lower prices for products, including ultra-filtered milk. Trump has called the move "a disgrace" that's hurting U.S. producers in dairy states like Wisconsin.

"It has been a bad week for U.S.-Canada trade relations," said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a statement. "This is not our idea of a properly functioning Free Trade Agreement."

The Canadian government, meanwhile, rejected the assessment, calling the duty "unfair and punitive."

"The Government of Canada disagrees strongly with the U.S. Department of Commerce's decision to impose an unfair and punitive duty," said Jim Carr, Canada's Minister of Natural Resources, and Chrystia Freeland, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs, in a joint statement. "The accusations are baseless and unfounded."

They warned the action would have a negative impact on American families who will have to pay more to build or renovate homes. And they said they would sue, if necessary.

Florida is No. 1, When it comes to Mortgage Rejections

Florida stood out in the study for mortgage failures: Almost 1 in 5 mortgage applications (17.1 percent) get turned down, making it the top state in the study for frustrated mortgage applicants. West Virginia ranked second with 15.7 percent of mortgage applicants failing to get a loan.

On the flipside, Minnesota had the lowest rate of mortgage rejection at 7.7 percent, followed by Alaska with 8.2 percent.

Buying a home – and finding the right mortgage – is a journey that can test your grit and resolve. If you haven’t done the proper research and you don’t know what to expect from the process, it can be even more stressful. Your credit history, income, assets and savings will be under scrutiny, and what you don’t know about mortgages can hurt you.

Nationwide, 6 percent of survey respondents said they were denied a loan: 50 percent on their first try and 25 percent more than once:

  • 79% were told why their mortgage was denied
  • 41% thought the denial unfair
  • 33% thought it was embarrassing
  • 35% said it pushed them to improve their financial situation
  • 52% denied to a high debt-to-income ratio; 39% credit history/score and 25% insufficient income

“Borrowers who don’t understand the mortgage process or don’t know enough about their own credit history tend to hit obstacles or be rejected when applying for mortgages,” says Tim Manni, mortgage expert at NerdWallet. “They also tend to feel regret after their deal is done, even if they succeeded in buying a home. That tells me borrowers aren’t doing enough research – on themselves or the mortgage process – before applying for a home loan.”