Supply of lots is down across the board
In a recent survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), new home builders say there is a shortage of “buildable lots,” particularly in desirable areas, which they say is among one of the key factors “holding back a more robust housing recovery.”
NAHB Chief Economist, Dr. David Crowe reports 59 percent of builders claim the supply of lots in their market was low or very low, a relevant spike from the 43 percent in September of last year.
Dr. Crowe calls it the “largest low supply percentage we’ve seen since we began conducting these surveys in 1997,” adding that a shift in the sector is to blame. “One reason is that many residential developers left the industry, abandoned certain markets or simply stopped buying land and developing lots during the downturn.”
The 59 percent includes 39 percent who characterized the supply of lots simply as “low” and 20 percent who said the supply of lots was “very low.” Another 22 percent said the supply of lots was “normal,” 10 percent said it was “high” and four percent said “very high.” Six percent said they didn’t know or weren’t sure.
Desirable land is hard to find these days
The survey found that lot shortages tended to be especially acute in the most desirable, or “A,” locations. Thirty-four percent of builders said that the supply of A lots was very low, compared to 18 percent for lots in B and 12 percent for lots in C locations.
The shortages have also translated into higher prices for builders who are able to obtain developed lots to build on. In the same survey, 34 percent of home builders said the price of developed A lots was somewhat higher than it was a year ago, and 26 percent said the price was substantially higher. In comparison, 15 percent of builders said the price of B lots was substantially higher than a year ago, and 11 percent said the price of C lots was substantially higher. Ultimately, higher lot prices are passed on to buyers in the form of higher house prices.
The shortage of buildable lots has emerged against the backdrop of a housing recovery that is still modest by historical standards. To this point, housing starts have recovered from a low of 550,000 in 2009 to an annual rate of just fewer than 900,000 in the Census Bureau’s latest release. Historically, starts averaged more than 1.5 million a year from 1960-2000, without ever plunging below 1 million until 2008.
“There is still a substantial pent-up demand for housing waiting to be unleashed as the overall economy and labor situation improves,” said Dr. Crowe. “Lot shortages are one of several barriers that have arisen, restraining builders from responding completely to increased demand. Other barriers include a shortage of labor in carpentry and other key building trades, limited availability of loans even for credit worthy home builders and home buyers; and, more recently, an uptick in interest rates.”
Austin tops the list of best places to buy a home
When looking to buy a home, taking the long view is important before making such a huge investment – where are the best places to make that commitment?
Looking at the bigger picture
(REALUOSO.COM) – Let us first express that although we are completely biased about Texas (we’re headquartered here, I personally grew up here), the data is not – Texas is the best. That’s a scientific fact. There’s a running joke in Austin that if there is a list of “best places to [anything],” we’re on it, and the joke causes eye rolls instead of humility (we’re sore winners and sore losers in this town).
That said, SelfStorage.com dug into the data and determined that the top 12 places to buy a home are currently Texas and North Carolina (and Portland, I guess you’re okay too or whatever).
They examined the nerdiest of numbers from the compound annual growth rate in inflation-adjusted GDP to cost premium, affordability, taxes, job growth, and housing availability.
“Buying a house is a big decision and a big commitment,” the company notes. “Although U.S. home prices have risen in the long term, the last decade has shown that path is sometimes full of twists, turns, dizzying heights and steep, abrupt falls. Today, home prices are stabilizing and increasing in most areas of the U.S.”
Average age of houses on the rise, so is it now better or worse to buy new?
With aging housing in America, are first-time buyers better off buying new or existing homes? The average age of a home is rising, as is the price of new housing, so a shift could be upon us.
The average home age is higher than ever
(REALUOSO.COM) – In a survey from the Department of Housing and Urban Development American Housing Survey (AHS), the median age of homes in the United States was 35 years old. In Texas, homes are a bit younger with the median age between 19 – 29 years. The northeast has the oldest homes, with the median age between 50 – 61 years. In 1985, the median age of a home was only 23 years.
With more houses around 40 years old, the National Association of Realtors asserts that homeowners will have to undertake remodeling and renovation projects before selling unless the home is sold as-is, in which case the buyer will be responsible to update their new residence. Even homeowners who aren’t selling will need to consider remodeling for structural and aesthetic reasons.
Prices of new homes on the rise
Newer homes cost more than they used to. The price differential between new homes and older homes has increased from 10 percent traditionally to around 37 percent in 2014. This is due to rising construction costs, scarcity of lots, and a low inventory of new homes that doesn’t meet the demand.
Are Realtors the real loser in the fight between Zillow Group and Move, Inc.?
The last year has been one of dramatic and rapid change in the real estate tech sector, but Realtors are vulnerable, and we’re worried.
Why Realtors are vulnerable to these rapid changes
(REALUOSO.COM) – Corporate warfare demands headlines in every industry, but in the real estate tech sector, a storm has been brewing for years, which in the last year has come to a head. Zillow Group and Move, Inc. (which is owned by News Corp. and operates ListHub, Realtor.com, TopProducer, and other brands) have been competing for a decade now, and the race has appeared to be an aggressive yet polite boxing match. Last year, the gloves came off, and now, they’ve drawn swords and appear to want blood.
Note: We’ll let you decide which company plays which role in the image above.
So how then, does any of this make Realtors the victims of this sword fight? Let’s get everyone up to speed, and then we’ll discuss.
1. Zillow poaches top talent, Move/NAR sues
It all started last year when the gloves came off – Move’s Chief Strategy Officer (who was also Realtor.com’s President), Errol Samuelson jumped ship and joined Zillow on the same day he phoned in his resignation without notice. He left under questionable circumstances, which has led to a lengthy legal battle (wherein Move and NAR have sued Zillow and Samuelson over allegations of breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duty, and misappropriation of trade secrets), with the most recent motion being for contempt, which a judge granted to Move/NAR after the mysterious “Samuelson Memo” surfaced.
Salt was added to the wound when Move awarded Samuelson’s job to Move veteran, Curt Beardsley, who days after Samuelson left, also defected to Zillow. This too led to a lawsuit, with allegations including breach of contract, violation of corporations code, illegal dumping of stocks, and Move has sought restitution. These charges are extremely serious, but demanded slightly less attention than the ongoing lawsuit against Samuelson.
2. Two major media brands emerge
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