The Top 10 Features for New Homes

The outdoor kitchen and two-story foyers are starting to lose favor among new home shoppers, while energy efficiency and bigger closets are gaining in popularity, according to a new survey from the National Association of Home Builders. NAHB asked builders to rank home features from 1 to 5 on how likely they were to include them this year in single-family homes they build this year.

An increased interest in energy efficiency is decreasing interest in two-story foyers and rooms, Rose Quint, NAHB’s assistant vice president for survey research, told MarketWatch. “Consumers consider those spaces to be energy inefficient,” she says.

Here are some of the least likely features that builders say they will include in new homes this year:

  1. Outdoor kitchen (cooking, refrigeration, and sink)
  2. Laminate countertops in kitchen
  3. Outdoor fireplace
  4. Sunroom
  5. Two-story family room
  6. Media room
  7. Two-story foyer
  8. Walking/jogging trails in community
  9. Whirlpool in master bathroom
  10. Carpeting as flooring on main level

On the other hand, these home features, builders say, are most likely to be included in a new home this year:

  1. Walk-in closet in master bedroom
  2. Laundry room
  3. Low-e windows
  4. Guest room (kitchen-family-room-living room)
  5. Energy-star rated appliances
  6. 9-foot ceiling or more on first floor
  7. Energy-star rated windows
  8. Programmable thermostat
  9. Two-car garage
  10. Granite countertop in kitchen

courtesy of:

New Homes Increasingly Offer Efficiency, Sustainable Features

During New Homes Month in April, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) is showing how new homes increasingly offer the energy-efficient features home buyers seek. Surveys indicate that efficiency is among the most-wanted features of home buyers and that builders are responding to this demand.

“Our builder members are telling us that more and more buyers are looking at new homes for their efficiency in design and functionality,” said NAHB chairman Tom Woods, a home builder from Blue Springs, Mo. “Whether it’s improved insulation or sustainable building materials, today’s new homes can reach higher energy performance and greater durability than was possible even 20 years ago. And programs like the National Green Building Standard help consumers achieve their efficiency needs.”

As more Millennials enter the housing market, they are sharing what features are most likely to affect their home buying decisions. An NAHB survey revealed that Energy Star certifications are a priority for these home buyers. In fact, 84 percent of this group is willing to pay 2-3 percent more for an energy-efficient home as long as they can see a return on their power bills.

NAHB also surveyed home builders about the features they are most likely to include in new homes they build this year. Four of the top 10 features focused on energy efficiency: low-E windows, Energy Star-rated appliances and windows and programmable thermostats.

Some home buyers are looking for even more sustainable features, prompting an increasing number of single-family and multifamily builders to deliver green homes. Green builders incorporate energy, water and resource efficiency; improved indoor environmental quality and sustainable and locally sourced products into their projects.

An NAHB survey of single-family home builders revealed that nearly 25 percent of builders installed alternative energy-producing equipment in new construction. This includes geothermal heat pumps and photovoltaic solar panels. The current 30-percent tax credit available for homeowners who install this equipment is set to expire at the end of 2016, which makes this a good time for interested buyers to consider purchases.

Home buyers can access home buying and home building information and resources at

courtesy of:

Shopping For A Home? Have Your Financial Ducks In A Row

Houses may be more expensive than they were a year ago, but they are selling faster. Residences listed on real estate marketplace Zillow sold in September spent just 86 days on the site—a full 30 days faster than a year earlier.

The reason is no mystery: The supply of available properties is down more than 7 percent year over year, while demand has risen, according to the National Association of Realtors.

“The declining inventory of for-sale homes over the past year naturally creates pressure for buyers to more quickly snap up the inventory that is on the market,” said Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow. “This demand has been fueled by huge resets in home prices since [the] market peak, historically low mortgage rates and a slowly improving broader economic climate,”

Mortgage rates, though low, are rising and expected to rise further. The average rate on the 30-year fixed conforming mortgage rose to 4.35 percent this week from 4.16 percent, the second straight week of increase, according to Freddie Mac.

“Fixed mortgage rates increased this week following stronger than expected economic data releases, said Frank Nothaft, chief economist at Freddie Mac.

Of the 30 largest metro markets covered by Zillow, homes moved fastest in the San Francisco Bay Area in September, selling in an average 48 days. Sacramento, Calif., and Dallas followed with 59 and 60 days, respectively. Markets where homes are sitting the longest include New York, at an average 151 days; Kansas City, Mo., at 136 days; and Cincinnati, at 125.

Another factor adding to buyer urgency is that affordability is dropping for both existing and new homes. In the third quarter, 64.5 percent of homes sold were deemed “affordable” by the National Association of Home Builders, down from 69.3 percent in the second quarter. Buyers are rushing to get into the market before houses become even more out of reach.

“Housing affordability is being negatively affected by a ‘perfect storm’ scenario,” said NAHB Chairman Rick Judson, a Charlotte, N.C.-based builder. “With markets across the country recovering, home values are strengthening at the same time that [building costs are] rising because of tightened supplies of building materials, developable lots and labor.”

30 yr fixed 4.30% 3.37%
30 yr fixed jumbo 4.49% 3.25%
15 yr fixed 3.41% 2.79%
15 yr fixed jumbo 3.80% 2.89%
5/1 ARM 3.54% 2.58%
5/1 jumbo ARM 2.88% 2.31%
Find personalized rates:

The competitive nature of this market means those looking to buy a house must have all their financials lined up before they ever hit an open house.

“Home shoppers in today’s environment need to be prepared to move quickly, with preapprovals in place and an established sense of what they’re willing to pay,” Humphries said.

Buyers should resist the urge to enter bidding wars or pay prices out of their comfort zone, he said, adding that he expects the “need for speed” to abate in the new year as higher mortgage rates move many out of the market.

More inventory should also be coming on soon, Humphries said, as some potential sellers cease to be underwater on mortgages and construction picks up heading into the usually strong spring season.

courtesy of:, Diana Olick.

Crown Molding – Your Home’s Crown Jewels

For those who want a regal look in their homes, or simply love classic styling, crown molding is a popular choice. Homeowners’ desire for crown molding has been on the rise for the past decade, according to a survey released in 2013 by the National Association of Home Builders.

Crown molding is a design element that smooths the intersection of wall and ceiling by masking the otherwise harsh lines where the two meet. The molding is made of wood or wood compounds and installed at the top of the walls of any room – but it’s especially popular in highly visible areas such as living and dining rooms, according to Kathy Ziprik, public relations representative for manufacturing company Fypon, in Maumee, Ohio.

Crown molding’s popularity has grown in part because people are now willing to spend more money on the look they want. “We’re seeing a gentle swing from the really tight, belt-buckling times that we’ve experienced over the past decade or so,” Ziprik says.

The majority of people, 62 percent of NAHB survey respondents, prefer crown molding to fireplaces, window seats, kitchen seating and exposed beams. In fact, the survey indicates that crown molding is rated the third most desired decorative feature in the home, behind ceiling fans and built-in shelving.

Another reason for crown molding’s increased demand is because people are buying smaller houses and focusing on the finer details, says Dean Johnson, host of PBS home improvement show “Hometime.”

While “Hometime” is a do-it-yourself series, Johnson does not recommend installing crown molding on your own unless you have considerable experience with home improvement projects. On a scale of difficulty from one to 10, Johnson gives crown molding a six.

Just choosing the type of crown molding best for a particular house can be a difficult task to take on solo. The height of crown molding can range from one inch to 14 inches, Ziprik says. A variety of designs and styles allow the homeowner to create a personalized feel. However, be aware of what works best for your home.

For example, avoid crown molding with a shape that feels too large for the room is “kind of like wearing pants that don’t fit – they might be nice, but they’re just too big,” says Mark Clement, licensed contractor and co-host of the national radio show MyFixitUpLife.

Clement also contributes to do-it-yourself blogs and has been a guest on the DIY Network. He, too, warns against self-installing crown molding without previous experience.

If, however, you feel confident in your ability to tackle the project, be sure to conduct plenty of research beforehand. Watching how-to videos in addition to perusing books on home improvement will help ambitious DIYers prepare. Practice with one or two pieces before committing to an entire room, Clement suggests.

courtesy of: