Housing prices aren’t coming down anytime soon according to realtor.com. In its latest housing report, the take-away is housing prices around the country remain at record highs as we move towards year-end. The U.S. median home price hit $350,000, a 12.9 percent year-over-year increase. Consider that’s the largest annual price growth since 2017.

Climbing prices have not kept buyers away. “This an unusual Fall market because it’s October and we are still seeing lots of buyers. The low-interest rates mean buyers can qualify for higher-priced homes which drives up market prices,” notes Danielle Hale, chief economist for realtor.com. “It does not appear prices are coming down anytime soon,” Hale adds.

The numbers showed 21 continuous weeks of median listing prices rising. Inventory declines were slightly down. This is a small sign “sellers may be staying in the market”, according to Hale. Yet year-over-year inventory is down significantly—38 percent. Look to that key market indicator, Days on Market and you’ll find homes are selling 13 days faster than they were in the first week of October 2019. “Sellers continue to get the message that buyers are actively participating in the market.” The national market is stronger now than in the pre-COVID days of January.

Realtor.com’s proprietary, Housing Market Recovery Index (Housing Market Recovery Index,) rang in at 110.4 for the first week of October. Today’s market is 10.4 points stronger than before COVID. Hale’s advice for buyers in today’s market. “Buyers should be as prepared as possible with as much professional help as possible. Because those buyers will need to be able to make quick competitive choices.”

Here’s what’s happening in metros around the country defined by year-over-year median listing prices, total listings and, median days on market. The Charleston-North

NUTLEY, NJ — Frauds being run on Nutley residents isn’t a new phenomenon; local police have been warning about them for years. But despite police officers’ attempts to stem the tide of shady scams, they keep happening, authorities say.

Last week, the Nutley Police Department issued an advisory about one of the latest frauds being reported in the township.

According to Police Director Alphonse Petracco and Chief Thomas Strumolo, a phone scammer pretending to be a law enforcement officer targeted a Nutley resident in an attempt to get money.

Fortunately, the resident checked with police before sending any funds, Petracco and Strumolo stated. But another victim wasn’t so lucky when, earlier this month, they sent a scammer gift card codes based on a false claim they were with the Lyndhurst Police Department.

Strumolo said the scams often work by using phone applications (spoofing) that make the incoming number appear to be legitimate. For example, when the resident viewed “Nutley Police” on their caller ID, they believed it was actually the Nutley Police Department.

Strumolo said that with the use of the internet, pay-per-minute convenience store phones and wire transfers, police are unable to track or trace callers, making them more common.

“Our only defense is public awareness and letting our family and friends know that these crimes are occurring, and to be wary when sending money,” Strumolo said.

He added that no police department would ever ask a resident or put someone on the phone to request money.

Petracco said there are hundreds of frauds, each with different story, however all with same objective: to wire, transfer, send and provide money or other personal information.

Most people are aware of these scam artists, however – once they add a sense of urgency – a little validation such as a name

TCL 6-Series 2020 Roku TV 65R635

David Katzmaier/CNET

Let’s talk TVs. You know where I stand: A lot of lower-end models are perfectly good — and definitely easier on the wallet. But what do you sacrifice when you choose a cheap TV instead of a high-end model from, say, Samsung or Sony?

For answers, we brought in CNET TV guru David Katzmaier. Trust me, if you’re in the market for a new screen, you do not want to miss this discussion.

Also in this episode: My new-favorite coffee maker costs a measly $16. We’ll be doing a much deeper coffee dive soon, but for now, here’s the gadget to get.

You can listen to the episode (and past ones) right here:  

Looking for all the links and other info we referenced in the show? You can find them in the show notes, which are available in the embedded player (above). Just click Description.

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Amid Hong Kong’s retail sales slump since last year’s social unrest, statistics have not shown favor to the city’s economic conditions, owing to the lack of tourism and continued political economy divide. The Census and Statistics Department revealed the total retail sales for August 2020 declined by 13.1% year-on-year, whereby the first eight months of the year saw a 30.2% negative in sales.

The largest category affected was of food and alcoholic drinks due to the third wave’s social distancing measures and dining regulations, which in effect spurred supermarket sales by 10.8% inspiring an additional uplift of 10.1% in electrical and other consumer durable goods for stay-at-home cooking. 

Yet, retailers and landlords have shown resilience as they had become well accustomed to the inevitable waves of Coronavirus cases causing suspension in several trades. Harbour City, the largest shopping mall in Hong Kong, felt the cold absence of Mainland Chinese tourists ever since the protests and the barring of overseas visitors due to COVID restrictions. Being a hot holiday destination for many, Hong Kong saw a staggering drop of 99% in tourism, causing many tourist-dependent locations and retail stores to shutter.

Localization Done Right

To tackle this, Harbour City turned its position around, shedding its tourist reputation with a new ‘Always Rewarding’ shopping campaign targeting residing Hong Kongers. Local shopping malls have had always initiated many promotions to encourage spending, but Harbour City’s strong discount offering was so incentivizing it had drawn over 360,000 shoppers over a weekend and all 2,200 parking lots filled – a figure that is acute to the shopping ambiance of the Christmas holidays.

(Bloomberg) — South Korea’s government has found a tool to keep the retail investors that are increasingly dominating the stock market happy: A short-selling ban that’s turning into one of the world’s longest and broadest.

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In August, the government extended the ban the country imposed in March for another half a year, much to the consternation of institutional investors needing to short sell to manage risks. That ban was prolonged even though the benchmark Kospi has soared more than 60% since its March swoon. The extension makes the ban one of the longest by any major market in the wake of Covid-19.

The rationale for this continued ban lies with the increasing importance of individual investors, who make up 70% of the stock market now, according to analysts and regulators.

The dilemma for Seoul is that with so many mom-and-pop investors entering the market this year, reintroducing short selling could cause a crash and upset an electorate that’s increasingly invested in the stock market’s performance.

Korean regulators are now discussing a partial lift of the extended ban when it expires on March 15: Only blue chip-stocks could be allowed to be sold short, a senior official who isn’t authorized to speak publicly told Bloomberg. The Financial Services Commission, a regulator overseeing Korea’s short-selling rules, declined to comment on the issue.



chart: South Korea's stock market rose while others with short-sell bans fell


© Bloomberg
South Korea’s stock market rose while others with short-sell bans fell

The ban has frustrated institutional investors, both local and foreign, who have been put off from investing in South Korea. Their trading value has dwindled to just 35% of the Kospi’s total versus 52% at the end of 2019, according to the Korea Exchange. Institutional investors also have to battle a perception that short-selling can be used to manipulate the market, especially after the government