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Study details how home features and mortgages differ regionally

A new NAHB study finds that home building and buying preferences differ greatly by region.

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From price and design features, to building materials and financing, significant differences are being seen across regions, according to a recent study from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly, a home builder and developer from Wilmington, Del., states, “this recent analysis really illustrates the many different types of homes built throughout the country; It is fascinating to see how newly built homes can vary significantly not only in design features and building materials, but also in terms of lot size, home prices and financing methods used, simply based on where a home is built.” 

The study looked at several different categories: financing, outdoor features, exteriors, number of stories and water supply, foundation, lot size and value, median sales cost, and finally, sales and contract prices.

Comparing sizes and prices

Of homes built for sale, the most expensive homes are in New England, where the median sales price of new single-family homes started in 2013 reached $400,000. The least expensive homes are in the East South Central and West South Central divisions where median sales prices reach $221,000 and $223,000, respectively.

There does not seem to be any correlation between home size and home price, as some of the most expensive homes were also the smallest in terms of square footage.

Design preferences vary

Three of the subcategories can be considered to be part of the heading “design preferences.”  This includes regional differences such as siding preferences, the number of floors in a home, and the type of foundation preferred. Far and away the favorite for siding in America is vinyl.

Approximately 31 percent percent of new single-family homes started in 2013, used vinyl. Brick follows in at a close second with close to 24 percent. There are regional variation here, of course, with vinyl being preferred in the Northeast and Midwest, whereas, brick is preferred in the South. For the West, the primary choice for exteriors is stucco.

As for foundations, preference seems to be linked closely to regional climate. The colder climates of the Northeast and Midwest have basements, unlike the warm South which are more likely to be built on a slab.

Also, each region differs in their preference regarding number of stories. Approximately 58 percent of the homes built nationwide last year had two or more stories, however half of the homes in the Midwest are single-story. The Northeast, West, and South vary quite a bit by division, but nearly half of all homes in each region are two stories.

The most popular outdoor feature is by far, porches. Patios, however, still dominate the West South Central and West regions.  And despite a somewhat surprising decline in national popularity, decks are still the choice for 63 percent of newly built homes in New England.

Financing also varies regionally

The SOC also provides information on type of financing that has been arranged for financing a new house. Since conventional loans have dropped significantly due to the recent housing crisis, alternative forms of financing have emerged. This is reflected somewhat in this study.

For new single-family homes starting construction in 2013, conventional loans account for about two thirds of the financing market. Mortgages insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and loans guaranteed by the Veteran’s Administration (VA) make up a less bit less than 13 and 6 percent of the market, respectively.

Cash purchases account for additional 11 percent. Other types of financing, including Rural Housing Service, Habitat for Humanity, loans from individuals, State or local government mortgage-backed bonds and other types of financing, account for 4 percent with availability, access, and usage of these types of financing varying greatly across the nine U.S. divisions (please see the study for the division map).

The takeaway

Regardless of which featured element of a home you look at, one thing is clear: regional differences make a big impact on building materials, price, size and even financing of new homes.

Methodology:


The NAHB study is based on data contained in the 2013 Survey of Construction (SOC), conducted by the Census Bureau. This survey (SOC)  is conducted by the US Census Bureau, which is partially funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and collects detailed information on physical and financial characteristics of newly-built single-family homes. The information comes from interviews of builders or owners of the selected new houses.

About one in 50 new single-family homes are selected for interviews based on a sample of building permits and a canvassing of areas not requiring permits. This sample is large enough to provide estimates for nine Census divisions. Traditionally, the Census Bureau provides detailed annual estimates for new homes completed and sold. NAHB Economics often prefers to analyze data for new homes started since starts occur before completions and therefore can detect changing trends a bit earlier.

Jennifer Walpole is a Senior Staff Writer at The American Genius and holds a Master's degree in English from the University of Oklahoma. She is a science fiction fanatic and enjoys writing way more than she should. She dreams of being a screenwriter and seeing her work on the big screen in Hollywood one day.

Politics

Evictions are mounting, affecting renters and landlords

(POLITICS) Eviction moratoriums both ending and extending are causing ripple effects of economic trouble for renters and landlords.

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The United States continues to struggle to find a balance between public health protections to slow the spread of coronavirus and economic measures to prevent Americans from bankruptcy as a result.

While eviction bans initially provided relief for renters who lost jobs and couldn’t afford rent payments, the effects bounced up to property owners who lost those payments. Though the first coronavirus stimulus package renter protections extended to landlords, property owners say banks are still expecting mortgage payments as the relief expires. Many worry the expiration of the additional $600 added to unemployment will exacerbate the problem.

In Texas, the statewide eviction moratorium ended in May. Unlike other major cities which chose to use funds from the federal coronavirus stimulus package to pay for legal representation for tenants, Houston let local protections for tenants expire with the moratorium.

In Houston, there is little recourse for tenants served with an eviction notice. Tenants only have five days to appeal, and there is no legal defense for a tenant who can’t pay at least one month’s rent to the court registry. As a result, tenants facing eviction often surrender and leave. Unfortunately, the result is tenants moving in temporarily with friends and family while they look for new housing, causing overcrowding and presenting a health risk to everyone involved. The CDC has specifically named “poverty and crowding” as a top risk factor for COVID-19.

However, not all evictions are the result of unpaid rent. Marie Baptiste, a landlord in Randolph, Massachusetts reported to the Boston Globe that she has lost recourse against a tenant who not only stopped paying rent long before the pandemic started, but caused water damage and a rat infestation. The tenant argues the structural problems were her reason for withholding rent.

Consequently, Baptiste says she is now $19,000 in the hole for this property, and can do nothing about it. In July, Governor Charlie Baker extended the eviction moratorium to mid-October. In a survey conducted by MassLandlords, one-fifth of landlords are uncertain how they will keep up with mortgage payments. Many fear they will be forced to sell or face foreclosure without relief.

Without protections for both tenants and individual property owners, the eviction moratoriums could have long-term consequences for housing in large cities. Urban centers, already struggling with rent inflation and lack of affordable units as large developers take over, could see this problem exacerbated for years to come. It is imperative that the next stimulus package consider how relief for both renters and property owners can be leveraged to prevent these challenges.

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Politics

COVID-19: NAR’s fight for independent contractor relief

(POLITICS) Economic relief is on its way for the self-employed and independent contractors like Realtors, with NAR pushing politicians to pay attention.

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Earlier this week the U.S. Senate passed an unprecedented $2 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package. The bill is now in the U.S. House and is expect to be signed by the President without any issues.

Self-employed and independent contractors have been anxious about the bill since talks began. It would not be the first time theses types of workers were left out of key economic legislation. As the majority of the nation’s realtors are self-employed or commission-based, they have been hit hard by the economic effects of COVID-19.

Just last week home buyer disinterest tripled; few are looking to buy a home right now and social distancing restrictions have made it difficult to attract new clients or show property.

Realtors want to do their part to stop the spread of the virus, but just like everyone else, they need support during this difficult time.

During the last several weeks, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) has been in constant discussion with lawmakers to ensure that these groups are taken into account for the economic relief package.

NAR Senior VP of Government Affairs, Shannon McGahn stated, “We have worked closely with Congressional leaders and the administration during the past several weeks to ensure all three bills bring relief to the self-employed, independent contractors, and small businesses. The real estate industry is responsible for millions of jobs and is key to our national recovery.”

The economic relief package includes $350 billion for the Small Business Administration 7(a) loan program. Under the terms, eligible small businesses, which in this case are those that have 500 employees or fewer, can receive up to $10 million toward mortgage interest, rents, utilities, and payroll costs. A portion of these loans will be forgivable.

In addition to relief through the loan program, self-employed and independent contractors will be able to take advantage of unemployment insurance benefits. This program could cover benefits for up to 39 weeks, a huge relief as many find themselves and their businesses suddenly devoid of cashflow.

This is the third relief package to be signed into law, with a fourth expected to be signed in the coming months. These are stressful COVID-19 times and no bill will ever be perfect, but some relief is on its way. 
 

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Politics

COVID-19: Senate passes the relief bill, now it’s in the House’s hands

(POLITICS) Many people heard that the Senate passed a relief bill, but don’t quite understand that it’s not a done deal. Now the House gets to add their input.

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The House can’t seem to agree on the COVID-19 relief bill. Yesterday, the Senate and the White House came to an agreement on a $2 trillion economic stimulus package. Today, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has publicly stated that the House will be reviewing the bill, but there is no commitment as to whether the bill will pass or not. The Hill reported that some House Democrats are concerned that they have not provided any input.

What’s in the measure?

According to CBS News, the actual text of the measure hasn’t been released, but they did get information from Minority Leader Chuck Schumer about some of the contents:

  • Expanded unemployment benefits to boost the maximum benefit and to give laid-off workers full pay for four months
  • Direct payments to individuals making less than $99,000
  • $130 billion for hospitals
  • $367 billion in loans for small business
  • $150 billion for state and local governments
  • $500 billion for large businesses
  • Creates an oversight board to govern large loans
  • Prohibitions to prevent President Trump and family from getting federal relief

Will the measure pass?

Pelosi has said that this relief bill is a big improvement over the Republican’s first proposal. It seems as if she is working hard to move the measure through the House, but given the current state of politics, it’s hard to believe that anything will be done without some debate. 

Many Democrats have pushed for a food stamp increase, which is not in the current measure. However, the Democrats did win on the oversight board that protects the employees of the companies who are getting loans. Money for states was another Democrat victory in the current measure.

If the bill can pass the House unanimously, lawmakers won’t have to vote on the floor.

If the House can’t agree, the House will need to reconvene and amend the Senate measure or pass their own measure.

Under the COVID-19 travel restrictions and quarantine issues, it might be difficult to get anything done quickly. The urgency is real, but so is the responsibility. Representatives want the money to do what Congress intends, not for CEO compensation or stock buyouts.

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