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Homeownership

Are home renovations necessary, or has HGTV artificially adjusted our thinking?

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Home renovations are as American as apple pie — but how necessary are the *really*?

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Home renovations after a certain amount of time may seem like a no-brainer — but is doing so really necessary, or has a culture of constant change created an artificial need to evolve despite situational requirements?

Here’s a hint: it’s the second one.

Much like replacing your phone or laptop after a couple of years, renovating one’s home has become a time-stamped activity.

Unlike replacing your phone or laptop, renovations can be incredibly expensive, and — unless someone is flipping a house — they’re also inherently self-serving.

Unfortunately, due to countless house-flipping shows and successful alarmist marketing, it can be easy to begin to view your house’s appearance as a chore rather than a hobby or investment.

The reality of the situation is much simpler than it appears. Conditions under which you absolutely should renovate your home include circumstances involving things such as non-compliant materials (get rid of the asbestos, Gary), outdated or hazardous construction, a Realtor says it won’t sell without them, and other quality of life updates — not because five years have passed and your neighbor sighed at your outdated shiplap.

In other words: if your house is objectively okay, it doesn’t need “fixing.”

That isn’t to say that renovations are unintelligent; if you’re looking for a way to increase both your property value and your home’s livability, updating the décor is a sure way to do so.

Residents with specific design tastes and money to spare shouldn’t refrain from adjusting as wanted, but the bottom line is that your house — despite its invariable quirks — doesn’t need a face lift if you don’t actually want to do the lifting.

There are other alternatives to consider as well. If renovations are extensive, they can easily reach six figures for a small home. In many cases, simply selling the house you own and putting that money toward one which fits your needs may be a better option. Ask your local Realtor.

Unless you’re simply touching up a room’s paint color or installing smart home technology in your ‘60s ranch, renovations are expensive, time-intensive, and generally unnecessary. If you’re hesitantly considering renovating your home, focus instead on the positive – for now, your house is intact, functional, and enough for you.

The American Genius' real estate section is honest, up to the minute real estate industry news crafted for industry practitioners - we cut through the pay-to-play news fluff to bring you what's happening behind closed doors, what's meaningful to your practice, and what to expect in the future. Consider us your competitive advantage.

Homeownership

Millennials ‘kill’ everything, but not the American dream of homeownership

(REAL ESTATE) Homeownership may come with anxieties, but Millennials aren’t giving up on it as part of the American dream. Here are the current sentiment studies.

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Is the American dream of owning a home still alive and well in 2019? Well, yes and no. The National Association of Realtors’ (NAR) latest Aspiring Home Buyers Profile survey revealed some surprising numbers.

NAR’s annual report uses information from its quarterly Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) surveys to take an in-depth look at the consumer preferences of Americans who don’t own a home, whether they pay rent or not. Those surveyed were asked to weigh in on everything from housing affordability to the American dream of homeownership to whether it’s a good time to purchase a home.

The 2019 Aspiring Home Buyers Profile found that while more than 90 percent of homeowners still believe that homeownership is part of the American dream, only about 75 percent of non-homeowners feel the same way. Why do nearly one-fourth of those non-homeowners think that way? The answer is simple: Affordability. Nearly half of non-homeowners in the third quarter of 2018 said the main reason they don’t currently own was they couldn’t afford it (up from 33 percent in Q2). Those blaming affordability for their non-homeownership dropped back to 43 percent in Q4.

The non-homeowners’ hesitation might be warranted. While no one can know exactly what will happen in the coming year, many forecasters predict home prices will rise again — at a minimum of 2 to 3 percent — in 2019.

Despite the financial obstacles ahead of them, a majority of non-homeowners remained optimistic last year. Millennials may not be buying diamonds or soap bars, and minimalism reigns supreme with the aging demographic, but homeownership remains part of the American dream, even if the dream is riddled with anxieties.

The number of them who still hoped to own a home in the future never dipped below 73 percent in 2018. Their main reasons they would buy? An improvement in their financial situation (28 to 31 percent) or a change in their living situation, e.g. starting a family or retiring (26 to 30 percent).

An interesting note: In the fourth quarter, the HOME survey added questions pertaining to friends and family moving in with the respondents in 2018. Nine percent of respondents reported an adult child moving in, with another 5 percent reporting another adult moving in during the past year. Nearly half of those respondents said it was planned to be a long-term or permanent move. However, the survey did not ask those respondents if affordability was a factor in this decision.

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Homeownership

Real estate continues to be a top wealth generating vehicle

(REAL ESTATE) From an investment perspective, real estate continues to be the top source of wealth in this nation, even after the economy suffered in past years.

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Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Real estate cannot be lost or stolen, nor can it be carried away. Purchased with common sense, paid for in full, and managed with reasonable care, it is about the safest investment in the world.”

Roosevelt died almost 75 years ago, but the sentiment remains true. Even after the Great Recession of 2008, real estate is regarded as a safe investment. But will it build wealth?

According to the Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Investor Pulse Poll, 77 percent of millionaire investors own real estate and 35 percent own related investments.

The poll asked about alternative asset classes and professional investment advice, but its findings that relate to real estate are especially convincing arguments to use when asking a person to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in real estate.

Why is real estate different from other investments?

The American Genius talks a lot about cryptocurrency, stocks and alternative investing, but real estate consistently has value, not only for high-dollar investors, but also for average Joes. Investorys buy in hopes that an item will appreciate to be able to sell it for a profit – gold, art, jewelry, and crytpocurrencies typically sit in a vault until you’re ready to sell.

Real estate, on the other hand, has the capability of pulling in money each month. Hopefully, the rent you can take from a property is more than the expenses. Unlike other investments, where you really taking a gamble on appreciation, with real estate, you can crunch the numbers to make sure your property *will* generate income.

You’re not betting on whether the price will rise. As long as the cash flow covers your expenses, you’re safe.

Real estate continues to have the best chance of building wealth. Most investments do appreciate, but it’s at the whim of the markets.

Real estate gives you options to increase the value of the asset without waiting for the market to improve. Fix and flip properties are a common method, but investors don’t have to buy a fixer-upper to add value to a property. Combining inflation, appreciation and equity improvement, it’s easier to see how real estate can give you big results.

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Homeownership

Austin startup crafts 3D-printed homes that are up to code in U.S.

(REAL ESTATE) The first ever 3D-printed home has been created that is up to code in America – it’s affordable, and could crush the elitist tiny home movement.

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This is America – you know it’s not cheap to build a house these days. In fact, HomeAdvisor reports that the current U.S. national average cost to build a home comes in at just under $300,000, or about $150/square foot for a 2,000-square-foot home.

Sadly, this price is out of reach for many Americans’ budgets, so what are those with limited funds supposed to do?

One answer in recent years has been the tiny/manufactured/prefab house industry, a trend toward homes with smaller footprints with roots in the minimalist and green-building movements. But this option is not without its obstacles, often pertaining to jurisdictions not keeping up with the code and zoning issues surrounding these smaller, sometimes off-grid homes.

And another issue has popped up: Some of these so-called “tiny” homes are still relatively quite expensive per square foot and can take a long time to build (for those going the custom route). In fact, many believe that tiny homes have become a badge of honor for elitists.

These limitations and obstacles seem to have left a wide-open hole in the market for fast-built, low-cost homes that could eventually be built on a mass scale. Enter ICON, a construction technologies company based in Austin, Texas, whose website says it is “leading the way into the future of human shelter and homebuilding using 3D printing and other scientific and technological breakthroughs.”

The company announced last year that it has built the first permitted, 3D-printed house on site in the United States.

The 350-square-foot home was created in approximately 48 hours of total printing time and for around $10,000 (printed portion only). ICON predicts that the production version of its printer, which they named the Vulcan, will be able to print a single-story, 600-800 square foot home in under 24 hours for less than $4,000.

But you won’t be able to buy your own 3D-printed home from ICON quite yet. The company currently isn’t working with individuals, choosing to focus on its partnership with the nonprofit New Story. Together, they plan to tackle housing shortages around the world. In fact, the Austin house serves as a prototype for the work they plan to do.

While there is some (understable) criticism of the tiny home movement — mostly due to the more elitist, ridiculously expensive trends making waves in the industry — what ICON is doing seems like a major step in the right direction.

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