Increased Activity in the Real Estate Sector Will Lead To Additional Employment Generation

It is the most important financial exercise to set the course of India’s economy for an entire year. Union Budget 2017 has been declared – and it has impacted the real estate sector in a big way.

It is no secret that the sector has been going through challenging times for the past couple of years. It was in dire need of proactive policy changes to take it out of the red zone. The sector’s importance cannot be over-emphasized – it is the second-biggest employment generator after agriculture, and contributes between 5-6% to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Without a doubt, the Indian realty sector deserves attention, for its health has a direct impact India’s economic health. The recent budget announcements have created a lot of excitement in the sector, largely for the right reasons. Let us examine the major policy decision before understanding their impact on the market:

 Increased Activity in the Real Estate Sector Will Lead To Additional Employment Generation
  • Obviously, the most important announcement was the fact that affordable housing – the mainstay and backbone of the Indian real estate sector –  has finally been given infrastructure status
  • The Government has affirmed its intention of constructing 1 crore rural houses by 2019
  • Allocation to Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana increased from Rs. 15,000 crore to Rs. 23,000 crore
  • For affordable housing, the carpet area of 30 and 60 sq meters will be applicable instead of built-up area of 30 and 60 sq meters
  • Developers will get tax relief on unsold stock, as they will need to pay capital gains only in the year when the project is completed
  • Also, the holding period for capital gains tax for immovable property has been reduced from 3 years to 2 years
  • Developers can avail tax break of 1 year after the receipt of completion certificate for the unsold stock
  • A new FDI policy, which is under consideration, will help the sector get access to a considerably larger pool of funds than it had so far
  • The National Housing Bank (NHB) will refinance Rs. 20,000 crore loans
  • Fund allocation for development under AMRUT and Smart Cities projects has also been increased to Rs. 9,000 crore

Now, to examine the role of and impact on various stakeholders of the real estate sector:


The Government’s intention is to spur the real estate sector – and even if it has not exactly gone all the way on this, the steps taken are commendable. To accord the housing sector industry status has been a long-standing demand. Though only the affordable housing has been given this much-coveted and all-important status, it is definitely a shot in the arm for the sector. Suddenly, the Government’s objective of providing Housing for All by 2022 looks very much achievable.

Also, increased activity in the sector will lead to additional employment generation, which is good for the economy. Tax breaks and other sops will help builders cut their cost, improve their bottom-lines and get additional liquidity to improve efficiency. These steps, along with other impending regulatory breakthroughs such as RERA and GST will not only fuel demand, but make the sector more efficient and organized.

Even though the Government’s move to demonetize high-value currency affected the secondary housing market, the primary market with genuine players did not see much of a negative impact and is, in fact, now showing clear evidence of revival.


Builders of budget housing now have access to cheaper sources of funds, thanks to the newly-granted infrastructure status. As per statistics, the shortage of housing currently stands at around 1.87 crore homes, and nearly 95% of the shortage is in the affordable segment. Now, developers can and will focus more on launching projects in this segment, where most of the demand lies.

The refinancing by NHB will also help the sector, and the tax incentives coupled with these other benefits, will result in additional supply being pumped in the market. All in all, developers – who were just a couple of months ago severely affected by demonetisation – can now look forward to healthy growth and improved balance sheets. This will have a snowball effect on related industries, and on the overall economy.


The end-user is the biggest beneficiary out of this budget. While individuals falling in the lower income slab of up to Rs. 5 lakh have been given tax benefits, the massive push to affordable housing also ensures that the dream of owning a home will soon become a reality for many more.

After demonetisation, there have been talks of interest rates reducing, and some downward action has already been recorded. With banks flushed with funds, the rate of interests might fall further, making home loans more attractive. Coupled with the push towards affordable housing, the consumers will get homes at lower cost as builders will be able to pass on the savings accrued due to long-term finance at lower rates of interest.

The NHB refinancing, especially if it comes in the form of subsidy, can push home loan rates down by a significant 200 to 300 basis points. This would have a positively dramatic impact on consumer demand. This will provide the final missing link to revive the real estate sector decisively across segments.

The budget missed out on giving industry status to entire sector, gave no clarity on single-window clearances for housing projects, and provided no additional tax incentives to first-time house owners. Nevertheless, it has visibly more positives and negatives. From here onward, momentum in the realty sector can only rev up – benefitting everyone directly or indirectly related to it

The Massive Push For Infrastructure Will Benefit The Real Estate Sector

I would term it as a reform oriented budget where the expenditure was well directed towards economic growth and development, especially in the rural areas. It also reflected the government’s concern and priority to improve the investment climate with a view to stimulate growth. The massive push for improvement in infrastructure including record capital expenditure for roads, railways will indirectly benefit the real estate sector in the long run.

The Massive Push For Infrastructure Will Benefit The Real Estate Sector

We welcome the move to grant infrastructure status for affordable housing as it will act as an catalyst to the government’s vision of “Housing for All by 2022”. This will lead to higher participation by private players in this segment as they can have access to institutional funding and other government subsidies. Along with tax rebates for the salaried class which will lead to higher disposable income and interest subventions this can be a potential winner in the long run. However, the government should redefine affordable housing clearly keeping in view the different geographies in India.

Similarly, the decision to increase the qualifying unit area for affordable housing from built up area to carpet area will lead to an increase of around 20% per unit for the end user. Also, increasing the time frame for completion to 5 years indicates that the government acknowledges the practical and operational difficulties faced by developers in this category.

 The decision to tax capital gains on Joint Development Agreement upon completion of the project is a significant move. However, more clarity is required to avoid litigation which is bound to happen given the current ambiguity. The tax break of 1 year post receipt of the completion certificate, for the unsold stock, and reduction of long term capital gains to two years will provide respite to investors and developers alike.

While these initiatives are noteworthy we need to remember that Deregulation will be the key to the success of various government initiatives. A major impediment to real estate development in India remains the approval process. While the government has done a lot to ease the functioning of the real estate sector and protect the consumers, it must get the statutory authorities responsible for clearing the projects within the purview of law.

The other major concern remains that corporate taxes and dividend distribution tax remains the highest in the world. We hope this is addressed in the future to attract more investments in the corporate sector

March is the Last Chance to Prune Edmonton Elms

It is vital to get elms pruned in March before they start to bud, according to the International Society of Arboriculture. Professional pruning helps specimen grow stronger and more resilient to diseases, but there are some things you need to know about tree pruning in Edmonton first. The purpose of trimming is to remove broken, diseased, and dying branches. These branches allow insects and diseases to build a home there and infect the whole organism. During high winds and storms, these limbs will be the first to come down. When that happens, the branches can cause serious property damage.

Often, the Ulmus americana can naturally develop more than one central leader. When this happens, the plant’s height can be stunted. Removing codominant stems lets more sunlight through the leaves, and sunlight helps keep elms healthier. Choosing the right central lead will enhance the beauty of any specimen. It is the reason that most professionals will study the subject from many different angles before starting to prune.

Another reason to prune is thinning scaffold branches. When these branches rub against each other, they can rub sores on themselves. These sores also allow in insects and diseases. Furthermore, when these branches are allowed to rub, it causes the elm to split. The splitting can go much further than just the branch that needs to be removed. In fact, if left untreated, the splitting can kill the organism.

Pruning trees in Edmonton, especially those that have been left untended for several years, can be dangerous. Large branches coming down in unexpected places can cause property damage. Unfortunately, 200 people die a year in North America while doing the work of an arborist. Beyond safety, pruning correctly requires several pieces of expensive equipment and expert training. Typically, it’s more affordable to hire a certified arborist to help than it is to buy or borrow the necessary equipment.

Tree pruning in Edmonton is important, but it must be done properly. When homeowners attempt to trim their own canopies, they often make flush cuts or leave stubs behind. Look into tree care tips from the pros before doing anything on your property. Both flush cuts and stubs can cause the elm to get sick. However, when they are cut properly, they form callouses over the area where the branch was pruned. These callouses look like doughnuts and stop insects and diseases from entering at that point. Remember that once damage starts, it can be difficult and costly to stop.

One of the tips from Edmonton’s Chipps Tree Care is to know your seasons and your bylaws. Due to the highly contagious nature of Dutch elm disease, this species can only be trimmed between October 1st and March 31st. This means March is your last chance to trim without acquiring a special permit from Pest Management. Unless the beetles that transmit the disease are dormant, cutting branches can cause them to migrate. Chipps Tree Care’s arborists are experts in minimizing the spread of DED. Get your last minute maintenance in with the professionals.

The ‘Full House’ Reboot Is Coming Soon—Check Out the Home’s New Look

Full House cast

Many a fan of the ’80s sitcom “Full House” has made the pilgrimage to the San Francisco home where the three men and three young girls had their misadventures. (Actually four young girls, but that’s counting both Olsen twins who, you’ll recall, played one person. But you knew that, right?) Ah, the memories…. Remember when Stephanie got chicken pox and spread it to Jesse and Joey? Or when D.J. was freaking out about the SATs and Uncle Jesse stuffed a walkie-talkie into a breakfast burrito so he could feed her the answers? We’re still chuckling over that one.

The upcoming Netflix spinoff series, “Fuller House,” has reunited most of the cast (sans the Olsen twins, sadly) and, more importantly, brought the iconic home back into the spotlight—and with a new, colorful paint job, it looks better than ever. On Thursday, “Full House” and “Fuller House” star Candace Cameron Bure posted a photo of herself in front of it, with these words: “Welcome to my childhood home.”

A lot of viewers mistakenly thought the original house was one of San Francisco’s famous Victorian homes known as the Painted Ladies,” but the real house used for the exterior shots, at 1709 Broderick St., is a less elaborate building in Lower Pacific Heights. At the time of the show, it was painted all white, with a red door.

Mary Hart’s Montana Ranch Offers a Tranquil (and Exclusive) Getaway

Mary Hart

Photo by Rachel Murray/Getty Images for VISIONARY WOMEN

There are vacation getaways for those who want to avoid the stress of humdrum life, and then there are vacation getaways for those who want to escape the prying eyes of the paparazzi.

The 13,600-acre Yellowstone Club in Montana sits solidly in the latter group, a private retreat for successful folks who want to return to simpler times when they could relax with family and friends in a casual (albeit majestic) outdoor setting.

Former “Entertainment Tonight” anchor Mary Hart and her television producer husband, Burt Sugarman, have put their 160-acre Elk Horn Ranch in the club on the market for $19.5 million. You won’t find the property on the multiple listing service, because this exclusive club isn’t for everybody, explains Bill Collins, vice president and director of sales with the club.

New owners will be invited to join the club, which adjoins a 254,000-acre national forest. The Sugarmans’ ranch includes a 6,000-square-foot home with six bedrooms and a loft, along with seven bathrooms and a powder room. There’s also a one-bedroom wranglers’ cabin and a detached garage with an apartment above it.

Main house

Karl Neumann

Hart ranch front

The living room in the main house features a vaulted ceiling and opens to a large outdoor deck. The kitchen, which includes wood cabinetry and top-of-the-line appliances, leads to a bar area, which in turn connects to the living room. “It’s rustic,” says Collins, “but it’s also sophisticated.”

The residence, one of only 500 currently built in the club, was created as an equestrian property and is ideal for anyone who enjoys horses and wants to keep them on the property, Collins notes. Wildlife abounds in the area, making it perfect for nature lovers, too. “You see deer, elk, bear, bald eagles, fox,” Collins adds.

Living room

Karl Neumann

living room

The Elk Horn Ranch sits on the western edge of the club. Its entrance roadway is crossed by one of the many hiking trails in the club, and the area features other activities such as skiing Pioneer Mountain, biking, and fishing. The club includes many families with children, so family activities are a large part of the lifestyle there, Collins notes.

Nature everywhere

Karl Neumann

hart ranch entrance

Despite the grandeur of the club, there’s little pretense among members, Collins notes. “The people who come up here are sort of anti-Aspen,” he says, joking about the renowned ski town in Colorado that attracts the glitterati. “The people who are up here are here to get away. Members who are celebrities want to be treated the way they were before they were celebrities. They want to be part of the community.”

Hart was America’s sweetheart for 30 years as host of “ET” and grew up in South Dakota, so it’s understandable why a place like the Yellowstone Club was an attraction for her.

Former Mariners Manager Lloyd McClendon Is Selling Indiana Townhome

Lloyd McClendon

Former Seattle Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon is unloading his large three-bedroom townhome in Chesterton, IN, located near his childhood home of Gary.

The Mariners hired the former Pittsburgh Pirates skipper to lead their team back to respectability. Fired after a disappointing 2015 season, the feisty manager lasted only two seasons in the Northwest.

McClendon’s open-layout home—listed for $324,500, with a recent price drop after five months on the market—offers “lots of natural light,” says listing agent Katie Phillips of McColly Real Estate. In the spacious great room, a wall of windows stretching from the floor to the vaulted ceiling brings in the sun and overlooks the natural wetlands behind the home.

Sunny great room

The cheery, sunny great room.

Step into the master suite, with a built-in entertainment center and en-suite bathroom, and you’ll never guess you’re in a townhome.

Townhome exterior

Outside the surprisingly-large townhome.

And while the home may look small from the outside, the exterior of the 3,183-square-foot residence is deceptive. “From the front, you don’t have any idea it opens up as beautifully as it does,” says Phillips.

Homes as ATMs It’s starting again

As home values rise, homeowners are gaining more equity on paper — and they’re taking it out in paper. Cash-out refinances jumped 68 percent in the second quarter from a year ago, according to Black Knight Financial Services. This is the highest volume of this type of refinance in five years.

“People realize that refinancing these funds is extremely inexpensive and that rates will eventually rise, so they’re capitalizing on the strength of home price appreciation,” said Ben Graboske, senior vice president at Black Knight Data & Analytics.

House and money

Mortgage holders have gained about $1 trillion in home equity collectively over the past year. On an individual basis, borrowers doing cash-out refinances are taking an average $65,000, which is comparable to what borrowers did in 2006, the height of the last housing boom. While the jump is significant, the volume is still nowhere near where it was back then. In fact, volume is still 80 percent below where it was at the peak in 2005.

That is not the only difference. Today’s refinancer is in a far more solid equity position in his or her home, compared with borrowers then, who used their homes like ATMs, pulling out every available dollar. Even after tapping equity, the average resulting loan-to-value ratio for today’s borrowers is 68 percent, meaning the borrower has only leveraged 68 percent of the home’s current value. That is the lowest level in a decade.

“That reflects real strength of price appreciation and consumer sentiment,” said Graboske.

The jump in cash-out refinances could be behind the strength in auto sales and home remodeling. The lack of homes for sale has caused many potential buyers to stay where they are, even though they have the equity to move up. In turn, they are using that equity to not only enhance their home but to add to its value.

Anecdotally, remodeling contractors have been swamped this year, with many putting off new projects for months just to keep up. Remodeling by owners is expected to grow about 10 percent next year, according to a new study by John Burns Real Estate Consulting. It could grow even more if interest rates rise more than expected.

Manhattan developer Zeckendorf confident $130M penthouse will sell

“This is because more homeowners will choose to stay in place and remodel rather than abandon their current low rate mortgage by moving,” according to researchers in the study.

Cash-out refinances were most popular in California, accounting for 30 percent of all volume, according to Black Knight. The next closest was Texas, accounting for 7 percent. These states have seen the most home value appreciation. Should home value appreciation slow or even flatten, those hearty loan-to-value ratios will shrink, but it is unlikely today’s highly cautious, litigation-leery lenders will allow borrowers to take out more cash than is prudent.

Housing today A ‘bubble larger than 2006’

Home prices are gaining steam again, fueled by tight supply amid growing demand.
Nationally, home prices were nearly 7 percent higher in August compared to a year ago, according to a new report from CoreLogic. That is a bigger annual gain than we saw during the spring market in May and June. Other monthly reports have shown the same phenomenon.

“It is clear that house price growth has picked up recently,” noted analysts at Capital Economics, comparing August’s annual gain to a 4.8 percent rise in February. “Indeed, with the months’ supply of homes close to a 10-year low, if anything, both CoreLogic and Case-Shiller are reporting slower growth than might be expected.”

Sold sign on house real estate

While home prices nationally have not yet returned to their peak of the last housing boom, some local markets have surpassed it. Now, some claim the housing market is in a bubble far worse than the devastating one in 2006. The argument: Housing is far less affordable today than it was back then, and the home price gains are driven not by healthy, end-user demand but by a lack of construction, artificially low interest rates, and institutional and foreign all-cash buyers.

“In the days of ‘anything goes,’ ninja financing caused housing prices to lurch higher, which forced people to rush in and buy, which in turn pushed prices higher, thus increasing volume more, and so on. But when it comes to the new-era, end-user buyer, that can’t happen any longer, as buyers actually have to fundamentally ‘qualify’ for the mortgage for which they apply,” wrote housing analyst Mark Hanson in a note to clients.

Hanson, often criticized for being a housing bear, points to the institutional and foreign buyers who have flooded the market since 2012, buying up distressed and lower-priced homes, as well as some new construction, all with cash. He calls it an exact replay of the last housing boom, “when unorthodox demand with unorthodox capital would pay any price it took to hit the bid.”

California-based real estate analyst John Burns, of John Burns Real Estate Consulting, called Hanson’s premise “ridiculous.” He said you cannot compare affordability today to the heady days of the housing boom when anyone could get a loan with no money down and artificial — now illegal — teaser rates.

“That was an awkward, unusual period that is not coming back,” said Burns, who claims 90 percent of the nation’s local markets are “affordable” when home prices are weighed against income.

He also pointed to low down payment FHA loans. “All you have to do is show up with that down payment and prove your income,” he said.

That said, rising mortgage rates are a concern, Burns said, admitting home prices have been inflated in part by artificially low rates.

“We will have a problem if rates go up,” he added.

First-time homebuyers, who are having a very hard time getting back into the housing market, say they are often outbid by all-cash buyers. In markets that were particularly hard-hit by the housing crash, like Phoenix, Las Vegas and Atlanta, they simply cannot compete with investors.

Investors put a floor on prices during the recession, but they also drove them far higher than expected. Institutional investors may make up a small percentage of overall homes purchased since 2012, but they make up a huge share of buyers of distressed, low-priced properties. Also, the impact of individual investors and foreign buyers is largely underplayed. They, too, come bearing cash.

“In short, end-users today are being handed a red-hot potato market already in a bubble larger than 2006,” noted Hanson.

The argument is founded in basic mortgage math. The majority of regular, owner-occupant homebuyers today need to get a mortgage to finance the purchase. Unlike during the last housing boom, when money was basically free, they have to have a down payment, good credit and enough income to qualify for the debt.

Even with interest rates today considerably lower than they were during the housing boom, housing today is far more expensive. Buyers can’t just pay interest on the loan, they have to pay principal as well. They have to put at least 3 percent down, and if they are using that low a down payment, they have to pay mortgage insurance. The income needed to qualify for a loan today is also far higher than it was then.

Wall Street appears to believe that housing is going gangbusters right now, because prices are jumping and demand is returning. Home construction, however, while improving from the depths of a pit, is still dramatically lower than it was not just during the housing boom but even during more normal housing cycles. That is the disconnect.

“Four years in, I would think the housing market would be further along. I think it means we’re going to have a longer, slower recovery,” said Doug Yearley, CEO of luxury homebuilder Toll Brothers,on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” last week.

In the same interview, Yearly claimed housing is more affordable today than it was during the last housing boom. That may be because prices have not returned to those peaks.

But as with everything in real estate, affordability often has to do with location. For young adults in big cities and hot real estate markets, homebuying can be a challenge.

A caller into C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” on Tuesday morning identified herself as Rachael, a married, working millennial who pays $1,600 a month to rent her one-bedroom apartment in Northern Virginia, but, “would love to buy a condo.” She said she cannot afford the sky-high prices.

“It gets really expensive for a first-time homebuyer,” she said.

Chinese money flows into US housing

Asian couple and house

From sunny suburban developments in Irvine, California, to shiny new condominium towers overlooking Manhattan’s skyline, Chinese buyers are sinking cash into U.S. residential real estate. Chinese are now the top foreign buyers of domestic properties, according to the National Association of Realtors, and nearly half of them are paying cash, according to RealtyTrac, a real estate sales and analytics company.

Forty-six percent of Chinese buyers paid cash for their U.S. homes so far in 2015, up 229 percent from a decade ago. Compare that to a 33 percent cash share for buyers overall, up 65 percent from a decade ago.

“Cash buyers across the board are playing a much bigger role in the housing market now than they were 10 years ago, and that is particularly true for Chinese Mandarin-speaking cash buyers, who are more likely to be foreign nationals,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac. “Foreign cash buyers have helped to accelerate U.S. home price appreciation over the past few years given that these buyers are often not as constrained by income as local, traditionally financed buyers.”

Recent instability in China’s economy and stock market has driven even more buyers to the U.S. — so much so that Long & Foster, a Virginia-based real estate agency, recently began working with Juwai, a China-based real estate listing site.

“We’re seeing demand from Chinese buyers with children of all ages — some as young as 1 year old — and they’re relying on our team for insight into the local areas and their educational offerings, from elementary to university level,” said Pandra Richie, president of Long & Foster’s corporate real estate services. “Access to quality education is one of the top priorities for Chinese buyers, and from Philadelphia to Richmond, our market areas offer some of the best school districts and universities.”

Asian buyers accounted for 35 percent of all international purchases of U.S. real estate for the 12-month period ended in March 2015, spending more than $28 billion. They have been very active in high-end markets, especially in California and New York City.

Kathy Sloane, a real estate agent with Brown Harris Stevens in Manhattan, recently returned from a real estate conference in China.

“Many Chinese signed up to come. Many New York developers signed up to find out what these Chinese buyers wanted,” said Sloane. “The Chinese buyer that was there, often brought their children. They are affluent. They want to know how to get their children into school and how to get health care for their parents. It’s a package.”

Some want trophy apartments in New York, but certainly not all. There is an appetite for everything. They do tend to like new construction, as is evidenced in Irvine, California, where homebuilders are selling and even designing for Chinese buyers.

“These people are not about flight capital. They are about changing their lives and moving out of China for a variety of reasons,” added Sloane.

Education, health care and the promise of price appreciation are all enticing to Chinese buyers. While demand has been on the higher end until now, it is likely that more affordable markets like the mid-Atlantic will start to see increased demand. Cash is a distinct advantage in today’s tight housing market, and clearly Chinese buyers know that.

Zombie foreclosures lurk locally but largely vanish

They were one of the worst blights of the housing crisis.
Zombie foreclosures –abandoned homes in some state of foreclosure but not yet repossessed by banks and put up for sale.

In some neighborhoods there were so many, they took up half a block. In others, they stood out, grass un-mowed, trash in the yard, glaring, often dangerous reminders of the worst housing crisis in history.

Now, thanks to rising home prices and streamlined foreclosure rules, they are half of what they were just a year ago.

Foreclosure house

Zombie foreclosures now account for just over one percent of the 1.5 million vacant homes in the United States, according to RealtyTrac.

States with the most vacant “zombie” foreclosures were New Jersey (3,997), Florida (3,512), New York (3,365), Illinois (1,187) and Ohio (1,028), and some markets, such as Boston, St. Louis and Philadelphia, have seen an increase in their zombie population.

That increase is likely due to an increase in default notices in states with a very slow foreclosure process that can drag on for years; with backlogs so big for so long, banks waited to file.

Now, as those backlogs ease, the banks are filing, but the new default notices are on homes that have been delinquent possibly for years, so they are more likely to be vacant when they finally get to foreclosure.

“The overall inventory of homes in the foreclosure process has dropped 36 percent over the past year so it’s not too surprising to see a similarly dramatic drop in vacant zombie foreclosures,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

“What is surprising is there are so many vacant homes where the homeowners do not appear to be in financial distress.”

The majority of vacant homes, 63 percent according to RealtyTrac, are owned outright with no mortgage.

“The fact that the homeowners are not selling, given the recovering real estate market in most areas, indicates that many of these properties are in poor condition and in neighborhoods that have been left behind by the housing recovery,” said Blomquist.

The problem is particularly prevalent in cities such as Chicago and Detroit, where distressed homes are highly concentrated in certain neighborhoods. 5.5 percent of Detroit homes are currently vacant, according to the report.

“Some single family homes stay vacant because they’re in the wrong place, in markets where population isn’t growing and demand is weak. But the big question is whether some owners are holding vacant houses in strong-demand areas off the market, hoping to sell higher if prices keep climbing,” said Jed Kolko, Senior Fellow, at the TernerCenter at UC-Berkeley.

Nationally, the supply of single-family homes for sale is extremely tight, and yet a lot of single-family homes remain vacant and off the market. The overall vacancy rate for single-family homes is still near its recession-level high, when you include homes held off the market, according to Kolko.