Single-family home prices across U.S. rose 12 percent in third quarter

Mortgage rates near record lows have fueled a surge in demand, pushing buyers to compete for a scarce supply of listings. Many are rushing to the suburbs, looking for extra space to quarantine in comfort — searches that are likely to intensify now as coronavirus infections soar to the highest levels in months. Unless borrowing costs fall much further, first-time buyers will increasingly get priced out of homeownership.

The nationwide median price of a single-family home in the quarter was $313,500, according to the Realtors group.

The 12 percent year-over-year increase was the largest since the third quarter of 2013, when prices jumped 12.4 percent.

Fairfield County, Conn. — home of tony enclaves such as Greenwich, as well as Bridgeport, one of the state’s poorest cities — had the biggest increase in prices, with 27.3 percent. Following were Crestview, Fla.; Pittsfield, Mass.; Kingston, N.Y.; Atlantic City; and Boise, Idaho.

Amazon to increase garage deliveries

Amazon is about to see whether shoppers wary of contact with package delivery drivers would rather let them into the garage instead.

The world’s largest online retailer said in a statement Thursday that it is expanding an in-garage delivery program for Prime subscribers to some 4,000 U.S. cities, up from 50 previously. (Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)

Amazon launched Amazon Key in late 2017, offering to deliver packages inside the homes of shoppers with smart front-door locks by equipping delivery drivers with a one-time code to place packages just inside. The company touted the service as a convenient way to limit theft and launched a companion indoor camera.

But the offer drew mixed reviews, and Amazon has since shifted the focus to garages, as well as car trunks, a service that was paused during the covid-19 pandemic.

Shoppers need to have the myQ garage-door-opener control app. Amazon said Thursday it would also start delivering groceries from Whole Foods Market or Amazon Fresh inside customers’ garages. That service will go live first in selected areas of Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle.

Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines on Thursday cautioned that the recent surge in coronavirus cases may have a negative impact on travel during the winter holidays, a period the sector had hoped would see improved bookings. “With the U.S. hitting a grim milestone of 10 million positive cases and outbreaks in Europe and other parts of the world, all signs point to a challenging winter ahead,” Delta chief executive Ed Bastian said in a memo to employees on Thursday. Earlier, low-cost carrier Southwest said an improvement in revenue in the past few months was losing steam in recent weeks.

Revlon said Thursday that enough bondholders had taken part in its debt restructuring program for the cosmetics maker to stave off bankruptcy. The company had warned this month that it may be forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection if a certain amount of its bonds worth $342.8 million were still outstanding by mid-November, as it would trigger the accelerated repayment of other debts. Holders of about $236 million, or 68.8 percent, of the company’s outstanding bonds that mature in February had been tendered into an exchange offer by the end of Tuesday, Revlon said.

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