What do today’s buyers want in a home?

NEW YORK – Aug. 5, 2015 – What building materials are trending in new-home construction? The latest Annual Builder Practices Survey, conducted by Home Innovation, reveals what buyers can expect to see in the new-home market.

1. Garages: The garage door is getting more enhancements, including windows, insulated doors, and doors made of composite or plastic materials. In 2014, 32 percent of all new single-family homes had bays for three or more cars – the most ever recorded in this study’s history.

2. Flooring: Carpeting continues to be the most popular flooring option for new construction, included in about 83 percent of all new-home bedroom installations. However, only about 40 percent of living rooms now have carpet. Hardwood flooring – both solid and engineered– is the second most popular type of flooring included in 27 percent of all new-home installations. Ceramic tile (which appears in 72 percent of all bathroom floor installation) follows in third place, making up 20 percent of all new-home floor installations.

3. Countertops: For kitchen countertops, granite continues to reign in two out of three homes (64 percent of new-home installations). Quartz/engineered stone is gaining popularity while laminate, solid surfacing and ceramic tile are losing appeal.

4. Appliances: Cooktops and wall oven combinations are gaining in popularity and make up about 24 percent of the market, compared to freestanding ovens (45 percent). Freezer-on-bottom refrigerators are gaining in popularity at 19 percent, while side-by-side has fallen to 28 percent of the share.

5. Kitchen sinks: More buyers are paying attention to their kitchen sink, with the single basin kitchen sink making a comeback, growing from 5 percent to 20 percent of all new single-family homes in the past decade. Also growing in popularity are granite/stone kitchen sinks (at 8 percent). One-piece cultured marble lavatories are continuing to decline in demand.

Source: “Material World: The Hottest Trends From the 2015 Builder Practices Survey,” BUILDER Online (July 29, 2015)

© Copyright 2015 INFORMATION, INC. Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

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4 Florida cities tops for seriously underwater homes

IRVINE, Calif. — July 30, 2015 — RealtyTrac released its second quarter (Q2) 2015 U.S. Home Equity & Underwater Report, which listed four Florida cities at the top of the list for homes seriously underwater – properties where the homeowners owe at least 25 percent more than the home’s current market worth.

Areas (population greater than 500,000) with the highest percentage of seriously underwater properties included Florida markets such as Lakeland (28.5 percent), Cleveland, Ohio (28.2 percent), Las Vegas (27.9 percent), Akron, Ohio (27.3 percent), Orlando (26.1 percent), Tampa (24.8 percent), Chicago (24.8 percent), Palm Bay(24.4 percent) and Toledo, Ohio (24.3 percent).

In addition, RealtyTrac looked at underwater homes that are also in the foreclosure process.

In the same Florida cities, over half of the homeowners going through foreclosure were seriously underwater:Lakeland (54.8 percent of foreclosures seriously underwater), Tampa (51.7 percent), Palm Bay (51.5 percent) and Orlando (51.2 percent).

Statewide, 23.6 percent Florida of homeowners with a mortgage were seriously underwater in the Q2 2015 – a drop from 23.8 percent in the first quarter and 30.3 percent year-to-year.

On the flipside, RealtyTrac found that 17.6 percent of Florida owners with a mortgage were “equity rich” with at least 50 percent equity. That’s a slight drop for the first quarter’s 17.8 percent but an increase from 15.9 percent year-to-year.

Looking only at homes in foreclosure, 62.8 percent in Florida were seriously underwater, while 18.6 percent, even though going through foreclosure, were equity rich.

“Strong South Florida price increases over the past few years have moved many homeowners from negative to positive equity. We would encourage the remaining distressed homeowners to ask for a Broker Price Opinion (BPO) regarding the value of their property – many may be surprised at their improving value,” says Mike Pappas, CEO and president of Keyes Company in South Florida.

National numbers

Nationwide, 13.3 percent of all properties with a mortgage were seriously underwater in Q2, an increase from 13.2 percent of all homes in the first quarter. However, they dropped from 17.2 percent year-to-year. At the peak of the foreclosure crisis in 2012, the percentage was 28.6 percent.

“Slowing home price appreciation in 2015 has resulted in the share of seriously underwater properties plateauing at about 13 percent of all properties with a mortgage,” says Daren Blomquist, vice president at RealtyTrac.

“However, the share of homeowners with the double-whammy of seriously underwater properties also in foreclosure is continuing to decrease and is now at the lowest level we’ve seen since we began tracking that metric in the first quarter of 2012,” he adds.

© 2015 Florida Realtors®

Home Improvement Trends

Home improvement trends

CHESTER, Pa. – March 19, 2012 – Continuing uncertainty in the real estate market has homeowners asking a major question as the market warms this spring: Is it smarter to move or to improve?

Cost is the driving factor behind home improvement projects again this year, and many owners want to choose projects that provide the biggest return on investment. Power Home Remodeling Group, one of the nation’s largest home remodeling companies, empowers homeowners to get the biggest bang for their home-improvement buck this spring, whether updating a home to increase its resale value or infusing the place with some personality to create your dream home.

“Giving your home some added curb appeal with an exterior makeover will automatically boost the resale value of your property,” says Jeff Kaliner of Power Home Remodeling Group. “If you plan to stay put, focus on cost-effective renovations that make your home more comfortable, functional and low maintenance for your family.”

Cost-effective home improvements

• Energize the exterior. Exterior home improvements are still king when it comes to return on investment this year. Projects like updating siding, window replacement and refreshing entry doors have a dramatic effect on a home’s curb appeal for a relatively low cost. Seven of the top 10 home improvement projects for 2012 are exterior projects garnering anywhere from 69 to 78 percent return on investment – the highest of any other projects this year.

• Choose bold and bright finishes. Fiberglass entry and garage doors are a popular alternative to their pricey wooden counterparts in 2012. A fiberglass door is weather resistant, durable and, above all, maintenance free. The material allows owners to achieve the stylish look of an elegant craftsman or rustic design with decorative glass at a fraction of the price. Bright, bold exterior colors are also popular this year. Make curb appeal pop by choosing a shade of tangerine, yellow or deep purple for an entry door.

• Energy efficiency is still supreme. The top green home trend for 2012 is renovating to reduce a home’s heating and cooling costs. Making the most of empty attic space by adding a bedroom, or at least finishing it with insulation, is a way to keep conditioned air from escaping through the roof. Updating the attic is this year’s third most cost-effective home improvement, garnering a 72 percent return on investment.

© 2012 Florida Realtors®

Rental market helps South Florida housing

An improving rental market is helping South Florida’s residential sales market, according to Zillow.com. The Zillow Rent Index showed rental rate growth in each of South Florida’s three counties in January compared to the same period in 2011, the Sun Sentinel reported. “A thriving rental market will stimulate home sales as investors snap up low-priced inventory to convert to rentals,” said Stan Humphries, chief economist at Zillow. [Sun Sentinel]