Porches Are Making a Comeback
More new homes are coming equipped with front porches. Sixty-five percent of new single-family homes started in 2016 included a porch, according to a Census data analysis from the National Association of Home Builders. It’s only the second time since tracking began that new single-family homes with porches have moved back above 65 percent. For comparison, in 2005, 54 percent of new homes had porches.
Read more: The Fabulous Front Porch
Certain regions of the U.S. are showing higher preference for porches. For example, the East-South-Central region of the U.S. had the highest share of new homes started in 2016 with porches at 86 percent.
The Census data from the Survey of Construction report does not indicate much information about the look of the porches. However, the NAHB reports that the Annual Builder Practices Survey, conducted by Home Innovation Research Labs, shows that front porches on new homes tend to be more common than side porches. Also, most new home porches are open rather than screened.
The average size of a front porch on a new home is about 60 square feet, according to the report. The materials used often tend to be concrete and treated wood. However, some regions—like the Mountain and Pacific areas of the U.S.—tend to favor redwood over treated wood for their front porches.
Source: “Share of New Homes With Porches Back Over 65 Percent,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (Oct. 5, 2017)
For-sale-by-owners tend to sell their homes for lower prices than homes sold through traditional agents via the MLS, and in many cases below the average differential represented by the prevailing commission rate, according to a new study by Collateral Analytics.
The study examined the price differences between homes sold through traditional agents versus those sold by FSBOs from 2016 to the first half of 2017.
Some homeowners may be tempted to try to avoid commission costs to a broker and try to sell the home on their own. But that can backfire and turn into a much lower sales price, the study found.
Even successful FSBO sellers achieve prices “significantly below” those from similar properties sold more traditionally via REALTORS®, the study found.
The authors found that the differential in selling prices for FSBOs when compared to MLS sales is “remarkably close to average commission rates.” A FSBO sale, on average, nets nearly a 6 percent lower price than an MLS sale for a similar property.
“Assuming that both buyers and sellers pay the commission, one might have expected something less than this average,” the researchers note. “It appears that many sellers are avoiding commissions while netting home prices less than they would with an agent-represented MLS sale. They are avoiding commissions at any price, even one that exceeds a commission rate.”
Source: “Saving Real Estate Commissions at Any Price,” Collateral Analytics Research (Aug. 16, 2017)
Mortgage giant Freddie Mac has announced a new program allowing some home buyers to skip a traditional appraisal, which could lower the fees the buyers pay and speed up the closing process. Freddie’s Automated Collateral Evaluation (or ACE) will determine a property’s collateral risk by culling data from multiple listing services, public records, and historical home values, and then assess whether a buyer needs a traditional appraisal or an automated one. Borrowers who are refinancing may also be eligible for the program.
Those who qualify for an automated appraisal could save up to $500 in fees and make it to settlement up to 10 days sooner, Freddie says. “By leveraging big data and advanced analytics, as well as 40-plus years of historical data, we're cutting costs and speeding up the closing process for borrowers,” says David Lowman, Freddie Mac’s executive vice president of single-family business. “At the same time, we’re providing immediate collateral representation and warranty relief to lenders. This is just one example of how we are reimagining the mortgage process to create a better experience for consumers and lenders.”
Lenders will be able to assess whether a property is eligible for ACE by submitting data through Freddie’s Loan Product Advisor. The program will factor in credit, capacity, and collateral to assess the quality of the loan and determine whether the estimated value of the home provided by the lender is acceptable. ACE will be available for home purchases beginning Sept. 1; it has been available for qualified refinances since June 19.
Source: “Freddie Mac Extends Appraisal-Free Mortgage Program to Purchase Loans,” HousingWire (Aug. 18, 2017) and Freddie Mac
Builders are slowly switching focus from the $500,000-plus luxury market to more moderate price points, particularly when it comes to single-family move-up homes. And the shift is influencing the types of materials and upgrades becoming popular in new homes, according to Home Innovation’s 2017 Builder Practices Survey. It turns out that high-end materials aren't limited to construction of luxury real estate.
Source: “New Survey Predicts Market Shifts,” BUILDER (Aug. 4, 2017)
Lure potential buyers with a simple and clean palette. Shades of white and off-white are the top colors for a quick home sale, Jody Finglas of Finglas Painting in Ossining, N.Y., told USA Today.
Watch Out: The All-White Room Trap
“White is the foundation that anchors the home,” adds Friley Saucier, a broker-associate with Sotheby's International Realty in Naples, Fla. “This is absolutely what is most requested when I’m working with home buyers.”
Finglas says less is more. “We’re seeing a lot of requests for lighter, brighter colors,” he notes.
When working with a white backdrop, the trick is to add in color through the furnishings and accessories, Finglas says. He says selecting the right shade of white paint isn’t easy. “A white kitchen can mean 40 different colors,” Finglas says.
Homeowners should still bring home paint swatches, says Dwayne Bergmann of Dwayne Bergmann Interiors in Fort Myers, Fla.
“Whites can have a more blueish hue or more of a brown or even pinkish hue depending on the exact lighting,” Bergmann says. “Even a pure white is going to look different.”
Source: “Best Paint Color for a Quick Home Sale? White,” USA Today (July 12, 2017)