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Homeownership

What does the fed’s interest rate hike mean for home sales?

(ECONOMIC NEWS) As the Federal Reserve increases rates today, what will happen to home sales, and what must Realtors know?

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As expected, the Federal Reserve announced today their decision to raise interest rates, for the third time this year. The rate was bumped from 2.0 percent to 2.25 percent after a unanimous vote by policymakers.

Unemployment rates remain low, inflation is stable, and despite uncertainty surrounding trade policies, the economy is growing by leaps and bounds.

Chairman Jerome Powell stated, “Our economy is strong. These rates remain low, and my colleagues and I believe that this gradual returning to normal is helping to sustain this strong economy.”

Most are in support of the expected fourth rate hike in December, after a summer of disagreement on the subject. It looks like three increases are expected in 2019, and one more in 2020. The strategy is to slowly increase rates to avoid an overheated market, while avoiding rapid hikes that could push the economy into a recession.

Powell continues to assert that the current method is the optimal way to balance these risks.

Dr. Lawrence Yun, National Association of Realtors’ (NAR’s) Chief Economist, notes that the era of super low mortgage rates is over.

“These interest rate increases are occurring for the good reason of improving economy,” Yun said in a statement. “Therefore, the home sales should hold steady as the opposing forces of higher rates and more jobs neutralize each other.”

Yun said home price growth will slow and warns that higher interest rates will inevitably limit the stretching of home buyers’ budgets.

How should real estate practitioners fielding questions about the interest rate hikes respond?

Notifying consumers that the hike will impact home buyers’ buying power shortly is an honest way to express that there is some urgency in the market despite tight inventory levels (for both buyers and sellers).

Realtors should know that past and future client with adjustable-rate mortgages (ARMs) will be impacted as the rates slide higher. The average 20-year fixed-rate mortgage is 4.7 percent. Continuing to study lending trends makes any agent a better adviser.

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Homeownership

Startup can 3D-print 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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Homeownership

Which remodeling projects increase a home’s value the most?

(HOMEOWNERSHIP) Knowing which projects to tackle when a home is being put on the market can save a lot of wasted effort and money.

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If you’re looking to help your clients to identify which projects to tackle before putting their home on the market, look no further: the National Association of Realtors surveyed thousands of real estate agents, industry professionals, and consumers on interior and exterior house remodeling projects — these are the best projects for upping a home’s value before listing it on the market, ranked on the most value and cost recovery a homeowner can get.

  • Refinishing hardwood floors. Start from the bottom to earn top dollar. Refinishing floors transform a home from worn-out and aging to vibrant and inviting, and only costs about $2500 according to the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI). The project also increases a home’s value by that same amount, meaning a homeowner can recover 100 percent of the costs. Pretty sweet deal.
  • Upgrading insulation. Because it’s what’s inside that counts. This project costs about $2100 based on NARI Remodeler’s estimate, and increases a home’s value by $2000 according to Realtors surveyed. That’s a 95 percent cost recovery.
  • Adding new wood floors. If you don’t have wood floors to refinish, add them in! This costs about $5,500 according to NARI Remodelers, and the increased sales value is $5000–a homeowner can recover 91 percent of costs from a new wood floor addition.
  • Replacing HVAC system. A new HVAC system adds energy efficiency and refreshes the entire home, and NARI Remodelers estimate doing so costs $7000. The increased value for sellers is $5000 according to NAR REALTORS, meaning an easy breezy 71% cost recovery for homeowners.
  • Converting a basement into a living area. Not only is this cost and space efficient, it’s also undeniably trendy. A basement makeover costs about $36,000 according to NARI Remodelers estimate, and increases value for sellers by $25,000 according to Realtors surveyed. That comes out to a cost recovery of 69 percent.

Which projects are the most costly?

In case you’re curious, these are some of the most expensive remodeling projects:

  • New master suite. More like master $$$uite — this costs about $112,500 with a cost recovery of 53 percent.
  • Converting an attic into a living area. Cute idea, but also a $65,000 one with a 61 percent cost recovery. One might say the price is through the roof.
  • Complete kitchen renovation. This project costs an estimate $60,000 with a 67 percent cost recovery. Even more if you want to throw in a brick oven, and you probably do.
  • New bathroom. With an estimated cost of $50,000 and a 52 percent cost recovery, make sure you aren’t flushing money down the drain with your bathroom addition!

These trends change over the years, so make sure your knowledge is up to date locally since we all know local trends trump national. Hopefully today you’ve garnered some ammo to help clients better understand how to improve their home’s value!

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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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