Pros And Cons: Older Homes Versus New Construction

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on October 5th, 2018

Pros And Cons: Older Homes Versus New ConstructionOpinions differ about whether home buyers are best served by purchasing an older home or new construction.

New homes enjoy that “new home” smell and the idea that you are the very first occupant can be very appealing. On the other hand, older homes resonate with nostalgia and many architectural design elements are no longer commonly used.

While some people feel strongly one way or the other, it’s a lot like comparing apples and oranges. The right home for any home buyer is the one that fits your lifestyle. Consider these pros and cons of new and older homes when making your decision.

Construction Differences

Home builders often tout the state-of-the-art aspects of new construction. Perhaps the biggest pro to new construction is the integration of smart and energy efficient technologies.

Today’s homes often come tech-ready with the ability for homeowners to control the environment through mobile apps. Solar panels are more common than ever, and new kitchen, HVAC and other necessities benefit from the latest advancements. Aside from being tremendously convenient, many of the new technology and materials can save you a significant amount of money.

On the flip side, older homes often require updating to include smart technologies. Gaining those conveniences could mean laying out a substantial amount of cash.

But don’t think for a moment that new construction somehow outpaces older homes in terms of energy efficiency. Materials used to build houses decades ago tend to be more durable. Items like thick, hardwood flooring were once commonplace. Today, they are considered high-end materials.

The Bottom Line: New construction offers modern conveniences while older homes showcase vintage materials.

New And Older Construction By The Numbers

One argument for buying new construction leans on the cost of upkeep.

An American Housing Survey reportedly pointed to new construction homeowners spending less on maintenance than their older construction counterparts.

The report promulgated by the Census Bureau indicates that 73 percent of people who owned a home four years old or less spent under $25 monthly on monthly maintenance. Only 11 percent spent upwards of $100 while 26 percent of older homeowners topped this cost. When routine maintenance exceeds $1,000 annually, that’s significant.

On the other side of the coin, older homes often come at a discounted price.

New home listing prices reportedly exceed those of similar older homes by upwards of $100,000 or 30 percent on average. This initial cost should be a strong consideration when doing the long-term math on homeownership. At $1,000-$1,200 additional cost annually, an older homeowner may have to live in the home for a very long time before it became less cost-effective.

The Bottom Line: Homeowners either pay on the front or the back end.

Homeowners Insurance Coverage

One of the common misconceptions about coverage stems from the idea that higher-priced new homes cost more to insure. This is often not true.

When taking out a policy, homeowners often insure the home based on the purchase price. This may satisfy the lender, but it may not be adequate to rebuild in the event of a total loss. New construction estimates tend to be fairly accurate because materials and labor costs haven’t changed significantly.

On the other hand, older homes are often made from materials that are considered specialty of high-end on today’s market. That means rebuilding an older home to its former luster could far exceed the current value. If that nostalgic feel is important, homeowners may need to insure the structure at a higher replacement cost.

The Bottom Line: Both types of homes could require similar coverage.

Regardless of what experts say about new and older construction, it’s important to consider a wide range of pros and cons and determine the home that’s right for you. Speak with an experienced real estate professional for detailed information on the properties that you are considering.

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New Home Construction Boom Expected

Posted in Real Estate by Michigan Real Estate Expert on August 30th, 2018

New Home Construction Boom ExpectedThe housing market has been trending in a positive direction and economic indicators point to new home construction going vertical.

Following the housing bubble and sluggish post-recession economy, construction companies largely turned their attention away from new homes. Diminished values, high regulatory and materials costs served as deterrents to home-building.

But the economic revival the country is experiencing – coupled with a housing shortage – has builders poised to jump back into the single-family home game. Here are three reasons new home construction is expected to boom.

1: First-Time Buyer Lifestyles

Consider that the last big new construction boom occurred 12-16 years ago. Those so-called “new” homes are well lived in these days. The trickle of actual new homes since cannot come even close to meeting the demands of Millennials entering the housing market. This demographic also tends to look for vastly different things than the traditional buyers before them.

Millennials grew up immersed in technology. Smart-home and Green features rank high on their check list. Items such as solar panels, automation and being able to manage a living space from a phone app simply were not part of the previous housing boom equation. Simply put, young first-time buyers want a type of home that fits their life experience.

2: New Home Economics

The inventory shortage has driven many people to rent. Many would rather invest that monthly housing cost into equity and gain tax write-off benefits. Also, a high number of military service members are returning to civilian life as the War on Terror winds down. That means you have a growing number of people with the ability to secure friendly VA mortgages that require no down payment.

Stateside, tech and career schools are turning out graduates that are entering good paying jobs. This all adds up to a large number of first-time homebuyers with the economic temerity to reach above traditional starter homes.

3: Rising Mortgage Rates Matter

Some economists forecast economic shrinkage when the Fed raises rates. The president recently voiced his displeasure over the move.

But the rate increase remains a natural phenomenon in an economy enjoying historic positive measures. Record-low unemployment and a GDP that posted 4.1 percent growth are touchstones that everyday Americans are doing better and can afford a little more.

While naysayers may claim the modest interest rate increase will result in economic contraction, it could have exactly the opposite effect in the new construction market.

Consider that home-builders who shifted to other niche markets see a window for improved revenues given the tight home inventory. The uptick in rates means that people will likely be prompted to buy sooner, rather than wait for the next hike. That could be another reason a new construction perfect storm is brewing.

The winds appear to be blowing in the right direction for construction companies to jump back into the new home game. These homes are likely to sell quickly, and builders could see tremendous pre-sale interest. If you are interested in buying a newly built home or one still on the drawing board, your trusted real estate professional is sure to be one of your very best assets.

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Questions to Ask When Buying New Construction

Posted in Home Buyer Tips by Michigan Real Estate Expert on May 3rd, 2018

Questions to Ask When Buying New ConstructionBuying a new home is exciting. Buying a brand new home can be even more so with the realization of being the first owner and possibly being able to choose your own layout and finishes. The prospect of owning new construction is definitely exciting, but it doesn’t come without its own set of questions.

If you’re in the market for a new home, and considering new construction, make note of the questions below when you begin your property search.

What Are The Long Term Plans For The Community?

Unless you’re looking at custom homes on acreage, it’s likely new construction in your area will be located in a new development or in a master planned community. With this in mind, feel free to ask about the plans for the community.

If it’s a large area, find out if any subdivisions are planned. If there are only a few houses built so far, it’s likely to mean lots of construction in the months to come – which means a lot of noise and construction traffic.

Also ask about the builder – if they’re well known and respected, it’s unlikely they’ll lose funding and the community will likely continue on as planned.

What Are The Homeowners Association’s Rules And Regulations?

Many new developments and master planned communities come with a set of rules and regulations set by a homeowners association. If you’ve never lived in a community with an HOA, it’s important to find out the rules before investing in it.

The bylaws and the CC&Rs will let you know what is and isn’t allowed in the community (especially when it comes to the exterior of your home). You’ll also want to find out when the HOA fee begins – in some communities, it can start before the home is even finished.

Are There Any Buyer Or Financial Incentives?

If the community or development is still in the early stages, there might be incentives (like a buyer discount, builder upgrades or other financial incentives or freebies) for buyers.

Sometimes these offers come with a catch – where something is expected from the buyer in return for the incentive – but it’s important to ask about any offers that may be available, especially if the community is still up and coming.

Are Warranties Provided?

New homes often come with different warranties. Ask if a workmanship and structural warranty come with the home.

A workmanship warranty (or builder’s warranty) is a warranty for newly constructed homes that offer limited coverage on workmanship and components of the home like windows, siding, roofs, doors, plumbing, electrical and HVAC. Traditionally, a workmanship warranty will cover a one or two year period; another likely warranty is a structural warranty, which covers the structure of a home.

If a warranty is provided, make sure you know exactly what is and isn’t covered and how much you’re responsible for in case of any issues.

Can you connect me with some current homeowners?

Just as you would check reviews before buying an item online or booking a service, the same can be said for a home builder. Just because the product is a shiny new home doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your due diligence and check references before making a large investment.

While it’s likely that the builder will provide glowing reviews, checking reference and review websites and even knocking on the doors of current homeowners will provide additional information and give you a wider understanding of the builder and its practices. Talking to current homeowners will provide information about the actual community.

New construction is exciting, but you want to make sure you have all pertinent information before you go through with a home purchase. Your real estate agent will be able to help navigate the waters of new construction. Reach out to your agent with any questions you may have about buying new construction in your area.

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What’s Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week – March 21, 2016

Posted in Financial Reports by Michigan Real Estate Expert on March 21st, 2016

What's Ahead For Mortgage Rates This Week - March 21, 2016Housing Starts Up in February

Shortages of available homes are a major factor in rising home prices; shortages also make it more difficult for buyers to find homes they want. Housing starts in February rose, which is good news for the peak spring and summer home buying season. Other housing related news released last week included the Fed’s decision not to raise the target federal funds rate and Housing Starts and Building Permits reports issued by the Commerce Department. Consumer Sentiment was also released along with regularly scheduled releases on mortgage rates and weekly unemployment claims.

Builder Confidence Holds Steady, Real Estate Pros Call for More Construction

According to the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index for March, home builder confidence held steady at a reading of 58. Analysts expected an uptick to 59 based on February’s reading of 58. Any reading above 50 indicates that more builders have confidence in housing market conditions than those who do not. The overall HMI reading is based on three components including builder perception of current market conditions, market conditions within the next six months and buyer foot traffic in new home developments.

Builder confidence in current market conditions held steady at a reading of 65. Builder confidence in market conditions within the next six months dropped three points to 65. Builder confidence in buyer foot traffic increased four points to a reading of 43. Confidence in buyer foot traffic has not topped a reading of 50 since 2005.

High demand for homes coupled with a short supply of affordable suburban single family homes compelled NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun to comment, “Imbalances in supply and demand and unhealthy levels of price growth in several metro areas have made buying a home an onerous task for far too many first-time buyers and middle class families.” Mr. Yun called for builders to double their focus on building single family homes.

Housing Starts Hit 9-Year High in February

Reports on housing starts and building permits issued indicate good news for the shortage of available homes.

The Commerce Department reported that housing starts rose from January’s reading of 1.120 million starts to an annual level of 1.178 million starts. Analysts expected a reading of 1.153 million starts. Building permits also increased from January’s reading of 1.120 million permits to 1.167million permits issued. Analysts forecasted a reading of 1.210 million in February.

Mortgage Rates Rise, Fed Holds Interest Rate Steady

The Federal Reserve announced its decision not to raise the target federal funds rate on Wednesday. The current rate is 0.250 to 0.50 percent. Policymakers cited concerns over global economic developments as a reason for their decision. This decision quickly showed an impact on Thursday. Freddie Mac reported average rates rose across the board. The rate for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage rose five basis points to 3.73 percent. 15-year mortgage rates averaged 2.99 percent, which was three basis points higher than the prior week’s reading. The average rate for a 5/1 adjustable rate mortgage rose by one basis point to 2.93 percent. Discount points averaged 0.50, 0.40 and.50 respectively.

Weekly jobless claims rose to 268,000 against expectations of 268,000 new claims and the prior week’s reading of 258,000 new jobless claims.

Consumer sentiment dropped to 90.00 in March against an expected reading of 92.10 and February’s reading of 91.70. Consumer outlook is important to housing markets as the decision whether or not to buy a home is typically based on potential buyers’ evaluations of job stability and affordability of available homes.

What’s Ahead This Week?

This week’s scheduled economic releases include reports on new and existing home sales as well as usual weekly releases on mortgage rates and new jobless claims.

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