Buffet and Gates, Housing, Home Prices

December 29, 2015

Tuesday – December 29

The world’s wealthiest few are a little less rich this year. The Bloomberg Billionaires Index showed the 400 wealthiest individuals shed $19 billion in 2015. U.S. investor Warren Buffett lost $11.3 billion and Microsoft Corp. co-founder Bill Gates fell by $3 billion. In contrast, Amazon.com Inc. founder, Jeff Bezos, more than doubled his fortune to $59 billion. Global stock market swings are to blame. A wilder ride is expected in 2016 due to emerging-market currencies and the U.S. election.

For the average American, builders across the U.S. are paying attention to the affordability issue in housing. Many are shifting focus from larger, luxury pads to more affordable models catering to first-time homebuyers, especially in more expensive regions of the country. Small yards, lower-grade building materials and shrinking square footage are characteristic of the affordable housing movement.

And home prices continue to rise. The S&P/Case-Shiller U.S. 20-city Home Price Index recorded a slightly higher year-over-year gain in October 2015 at 5.5 percent versus 5.4 percent reported in September. San Francisco, Denver and Portland continue to report the highest year-over-year gains among the 20 cities with another month of double-digit price increases of 10.9 percent for all three. Phoenix had the longest streak of year- over-year increases, reporting a gain of 5.7 percent in October 2015, the eleventh consecutive increase in annual price gains.