Financial Friday

April 27, 2018

New U.S. Home Sales increased 4% in March to a rate of 694,000. For the first three months of the year, sales are running 10.3% higher than a year ago. The March increase was driven almost entirely by a 28.3% leap in sales in the West. New-home purchases rose slightly in the South, fell in the Midwest and plunged in the Northeast.

The median sales price of a new home rose 4.8% from a year ago to $337,200.

Existing Home Sales increased 1.1% in March to a rate of 5.60 million. This sales rate is higher than the 2017 total, but March sales were down slightly over the past 12 months. However, this momentum shows that buyers are undeterred by the dwindling number of properties available on the market which is down 7.2% from a year ago to just 1.67 million homes nationwide. Existing home sales rose last month in the Northeast and Midwest, but they fell in the South and West.

Homes stayed on the market for 30 days in March, down from 34 days a year ago in a sign that the lack of inventory is prompting buyers to sign contracts quickly.

The median sales price of existing homes rose 5.8% from a year ago to $250,400.

Mortgage applications to purchase a home were unchanged for the week but 11% higher than a year ago as homebuyers focus on finding a home to purchase.

Interest rates for a 30-year fixed rate mortgage are at their highest average since January 2014, according to Freddie Mac. While this is not dissuading home buyers from purchasing, it is deterring homeowners from listing their homes for sale because it would also mean that they would likely have to pay a higher mortgage rate for any replacement home they bought.

Realtor’s Role In A New Construction Transaction

Buying a new home is often more complicated than a traditional real estate purchase. Here’s how your services are deeply important to smoothing out this type of transaction”

1. Identify timelines. Inform buyers of all the steps involved, including building permits, design selections, inspections, and walk-throughs.
2. Explain upgrades versus standard builds. Model homes often reflect the higher end of options available. The arched doorways, stone exteriors, window seats, and abundant fireplaces in a model home may not be part of a standard package. As you view new homes with clients, ask the builder’s sales agent to explain what features are upgrades in the home and what are standard.
3. Understand pricing. The base price quoted by the builder does not reflect all the upgrades buyers may want to add. So the cost may jump thousands of dollars depending on your buyer’s requests. Request an estimate of the home with some of the structural items your buyers are considering.
4. Account for comps. Buyers can add too many upgrades when selecting countertops, flooring, and lighting. Though they’re buying new, your clients still need to understand comparable homes in the area to ensure they make a wise investment.
5. Negotiation. While many builders resist lowering a home’s price so they can maintain their market comparables, they sometimes are willing to add an incentive if buyers use the builder’s lenders. Certainty Home Loans Builder Services department has relationships with many home builders, so please contact me if you are working with a client looking to finance a newly constructed home.
6. Remain part of the process or you could be out of the loop when it comes time to close. Regularly checking in with clients to help them feel less alone while their home is being built.

Certainty Home Loans has a dedicated Builder Services department that has many builder contacts. Please contact me if you would like to utilize their resources to expand this area of your business.

Should You Give A Listing Agent Showing Feedback?

When a listing agent asks you for feedback after you’ve shown a property to a buyer client, choose your words carefully. Listing agents understandably want to share buyers’ impressions with sellers, particularly when a home is slow to sell. But revealing your client’s thoughts about the home’s features, repair issues or listing price could compromise the buyer’s negotiating position.

If your buyer client has no intention of making an offer, you may have more freedom to be frank in sharing their opinions, but err on the side of discretion when necessary and protect your buyer’s information.

You also should keep in mind your duty to protect and promote your client’s best interests. To ensure you don’t betray clients’ trust, consider obtaining their consent up front with an “expectations contract” that includes a signed agreement about what kind of feedback—if any—your client will allow you to give.

Disaster Recovery For Home Builders

Rebuilding and repairing after natural disasters—fires, floods, high winds, earthquakes, mudslides—is different from new construction. It’s more like custom remodeling, with each homeowner having a different level of equity, insurance, budget, and commitment. And while there are exceptions, production builders often see their post-disaster roles as being more philanthropic than repair- or rebuilding-oriented.

As a result, small and midsize builders and contractors do the lion’s share of disaster rebuilding and repair, including helping displaced homeowners locate construction documentation for insurance claims and rebuilding permits, and dealing with adjusters whose rebuild cost estimates, say many builders, rarely reflect reality.

With the start of the 2018 hurricane season less than two months away. Here’s how home builders in three markets —Santa Rosa, CA, Houston TX, and Baton Rouge, LA— responded to these 2017 natural disasters, so you’ll be prepared to respond if one of your housing communities is affected by a natural disaster.

Brass Finishes Are Popular Again

Formerly dated metals like brass are no longer out of fashion as the finish has been making a comeback with new colors and finishes “that tone it down a bit.”

Brass is being reinvented to be more warm and subtle—a soft brushed gold rather than a hard, shiny surface. The look is showing up everywhere from lighting and bar stools to faucets and hardware.

To create a purposeful look with mixed metals, start with no more than two in just one room. Select finishes that complement each other in a way that emphasizes their individuality without being “too distracting.” To obtain balance, think of one as a base metal and one as an accent metal. A good combination is brushed nickel and a soft brass or different tones of the same metal, for example, antique brass with polished brass.

brass finishes



Information Courtesy of Jason Browning – Certainty Home Loans 

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