Even though statistics show a lull in new home building permits and starts, new home sales are still going strong. Both May and June have seen a positive outcome for the housing market and new home buyers.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Commerce Department reported that nationwide housing dropped 11.1% in May, but building permits rose 11.8% (the highest it has been since August 2007).  This1-1 Polo Farms Exterior-1 almost equal fall and rise was predicted by economists because of lack of inventory in the housing market. Current new home starts are down, but building permits are up because builders are getting geared up for a big push because of this lack of inventory.  It has dropped to around a 4-month supply, the lowest it’s been since the Recession. “The uptick in permits shows our builders are optimistic that more consumers are returning to the housing market,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods.

June’s readings are the highest since September 2014. NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) reported that single-family homes rose 5 points to a level of 59 (a score of over 50 indicates a good housing market).

“The HMI indices measuring current and future sales expectations are at their highest levels since the last quarter of 2005, indicating a growing optimism among builders that housing will continue to strengthen in the months ahead,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.

The National Builders Association of Home Builders (NAHB) developed the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) by taking the monthly survey they have been conducting for 30 years and estimate the builder’s 2-lot-199-bedic-creek-exterior-front-2insight of the current housing market.  The survey asks the builder to rate the sales expectations and current single -family home sales for the next 6 months as good fair or poor, and the traffic of prospective buyers as high to very high, average or low to very low.  They take these scores and calculate the index.

“Builders are reporting more serious and committed buyers at their job sites and this is reflected in recent government data showing that new-home sales and single-family construction are gaining momentum,” said NAHB Chairman Tom Woods. This is great news for those who are looking to buy a newly built home and for builders who are in the business of new home building or custom home building. This coupled with an increase in pending home sales, new home sales and mortgage applications make it a great time to purchase a new home.  In St. Tammany Parish, in Louisiana, if you are interested in building a new home for your family in Mandeville, Madisonville, Covington, or Abita Springs, Contact Ron Lee Homes to begin discussing designing your floorplan to either build on your lot or buy a lot in an existing subdivision.  At Ron Lee Homes, we strive to make your new, custom home building dreams reality!  Call 985-626-7619 or E-mail Info@RonLeeHomes.com.

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Good news for those who are looking for a job in the construction industry, unfilled construction jobs are on the rise in 2015, making the construction labor market a great place to start looking if you are unemployed.  Typically jobs in the construction field usually decline from March to April, but this year, the open positions in March were the highest since July 2007, and in April they were the third highest since the Recession. Mark Vintner, senior economist at Wells Fargo Securities comments that “home building will be one of the economy’s largest upside surprises in 2015.”

According to the BLS (Bureau of Labor Statistics) survey, “employment in home building/remodeling stands at 2.453 million, broken down as 696,000 builders and 1.757 million residential specialty trade contractors.” To sum it up builders and remodelers added 149,000 jobs on a net basis. Many experts believe that housing and construction jobs are the fastest jobs to bounce back after a recession because of expansion.  In fact, the constructions industry was responsible for 20% of employment created in April 2015.

The unemployment rate is not only falling in the residential industry but in the real estate industry as well which will boost the national housing market. According to the National Association of Realtors, “Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed last month, increased 0.9 percent to 112.6, the highest level since April 2006.”

This is still a great time to purchase a new home because all fears of another recession are pacified while they are still not strong enough to cause the Fed to raise interest rates sooner than September 2015.  Household formation is going strong, and Americans are ready to become homeowners which is paving the way to the construction of new homes both single-family and multifamily. We can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel in the housing industry job market.

 

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How do you remodel with a tight budget when it comes to home improvement? Need to find ways to stretch the dollar when it comes to your remodeling plans? Here are five remodel ideas that will enhance the value of your home.

First and foremost, we start with the heart of the home – the kitchen. Whether you are remodeling for your personal enjoyment or for the resale of your home, it is best to keep a happy medium in your design ideas – unless you never plan on selling your home. A good way to keep remodeling costs down is to use your existing kitchen layout. A little makeover on countertops and cabinets can go a long018 way. Re-facing your existing cabinets can refresh the overall look of your kitchen. If your cabinets are just too old or not worth keeping, go with ready-to-assemble cabinets which cost half of what new custom cabinets will run you. Countertops can also eat up your budget. Using two different surfaces in your kitchen can keep the cost low. A good way to do this is to use a solid surface on your countertops while using butcher block on your island top. A great benefit for you as the homeowner as well as a potential buyer (if you are looking to sell) is to add Energy Star® appliances. This will not only help with the aesthetic look of the kitchen, but it will also lower your utility bills.

Second, you can never go wrong with adding more square footage to your living space. This will increase your home’s value as well as the quality of your living space. When adding living space, keep in mind the cost can add up. You will need to think about the cost of removing existing walls, moving / adding electric and or plumbing, adding to your foundation, adding a new roof, adding windows, and adding new exterior siding. A word to the wise, a successful addition looks like part of the original structure. Keep this in mind when planning the location, choosing materials, and adding to the existing roof line.

The third thing on the list is curb appeal. First impressions go a long way. The first thing anyone sees is your home’s exterior. There are many solutions to creating a great look for both your home’s exterior and landscape. Make sure your yard is clean and neat by cleaning out overgrown plants, bushes and trees. Painting your home’s exterior can update your home’s look by giving it a nice facelift. If the 027budget does not allow for a new paint job, a good pressure wash to your siding will dramatically change the outside appearance of your home. To take it one step further, you can add a new entry door, change out old windows, add a front porch, or add dormers which will give your front elevation a new look without completely renovating the whole exterior.

Fourth but oh so important, is the master suite. Anyone buying a home will tell you that their sleeping quarters are very important. If you already have a master bedroom, an update will boost its appearance, making it a more inviting space to spend time in. By doing a few simple things such as painting, replacing the flooring, adding new accessories, and changing the lighting you can create a whole new look to your master bedroom. However, be careful with the choice of paint colors. Muted but distinct colors fit best in a master bedroom for resale purposes. If you do not have a master suite, consider adding one. Things to contemplate when adding a master suite are the location of your new room, if you would like a sitting area, window and door placements, what kind of ceiling you would like, and your lighting.

The last remodel area is where we spend a great deal of time – the bathroom. If your budget is a concern, the focus should go to the powder room and master bathroom remodel first. Stick to the old floorplan. Removing walls, moving bathtubs, sinks and toilets can be a huge cost. Go for cosmetic changes. New paint, new plumbing fixtures, new tile and lighting can enhance your existing bathroom. A great way to stretch your dollar is to use a flat mirror with two lighted sconces instead of a mirrored cabinet with a row of lights. Use plain simple white tile in your shower with a glass colored border which gives it an updated look without spending huge bucks. Regarding paint, this is one area where big, bold colors are a great way to make a huge impact.

If you are considering remodeling your home in St. Tammany Parish, Ron Lee Homes now offers a complete remodeling service.  Contact Ron Lee Homes today to learn more about our remodeling process.  Call 985-626-7619 or E-mail Info@RonLeeHomes.com.

 

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In order to be able to upgrade your existing home to a second or even new third home buy, you will need to be able to sell your existing home with home staging techniques.  It can be a hassle to constantly have your home “show-ready,” so you in order to get as quick a home sale as possible, you will want to use the following advice on tips and tools to prep your home for sale.

Every detail, no matter how small, is important when staging your home.  Buyers want to be able to picture living in the space. When deciding to list your house for sale, remember, you will sell your house faster, and for moreRon Lee Homes offers remodeling and renovation services in St. Tammany Parish money, if you add interior decorating techniques that will make a home buyer visualize each room of your home’s space.

When selling a home, first begin with the basics and begin with one of life’s necessary chores – cleaning.  A dirty house is not inviting to anyone. Wild paint colors can be a distraction.  You may love your home decorating skills but others may not. Repaint with neutral colors for a nice clean slate. One thing to think about before adding your new paint job is to make any necessary repairs to damaged walls or trim.

De-clutter your home. Think sensory overload – this is not what you want to create for your potential new home buyer. Small knickknacks create clutter which creates chaos. Simple clean lines create a calm inviting feel. Depersonalize your home for sale.  Remove all family photos, or collectables – you want a blank canvas for the buyer to fill in with their ideas to personalize the space and make this their new home. A clean, newly painted, de-cluttered and depersonalized house for sale will give you an edge over some of your competition.

Now, to win over all your competition you must go the extra mile. You want to “wow” your buyer in the first five minutes. If they walk through the door and think to themselves, “I don’t see it,” you have lost a potential buyer.  The following tips will help you stand out from the other houses for sale in your neighborhood.

    1. Ever hear the old saying, “Home is where the heart is”?  You want to entice your buyer to visualize the good life they would live in that space. Set up a board game in the family room or stage a potential garden party in the backyard with margarita glasses and festive linens.  You want your buyer to feel like they can sit down and relax in the space.
    2. Use the “Rule of Three” when redecorating for the sale of your home.  Remember, you want your home to look natural and flow.  Decorators will tell you that an odd number will give you a good balance.  Too much symmetry makes a space look too stale and too cold, basically uninviting. Barb Schwarz, owner of Stagedhomes.com suggests, “When arranging tablescapes, go with three items of three different heights, in a triangle.”
    3. Keep your buyers focused on the space, not what’s in the space.  Do not leave any interesting reading material out for them to browse through, taking their mind off the task at hand.  If you choose to display any reading materials, a great idea is to use decorating, gardening or home magazines. Make sure any books or magazines that are displayed are appropriate and will not offend anyone, turning the buyer off.
    4. The master suite is one of the more important spaces in the house. Play the angles of a room and tastefully accessorize the space with stylish, if minimal decorations.  Putting furniture at an angle can break up a stagnant room.  Spruce up the master bed with decorative pillows. Think about how a luxury bathroom or spa is set up.  Take new thick bath towels and display them in the bathroom.  Tie the towels on the towel racks with raffia, tulle or thick ribbons.  Also place the towels on the edge of the bath with new soap and a loofah on top of them. Clean out your cluttered closets.  Only leave seasonal garments with matching non-wire hangers. Organize your shoes and have absolutely no dirty laundry visible.
    5. Another very important room is the kitchen.  You want the kitchen to feel clean and open.  You can do this by removing a lot of the stuff you normally use on your kitchen counters and just have basic decorative pieces such as plants, towels, some canisters, and maybe a cookbook. Clean out and organize your refrigerator, pantry, shelves and drawers; your goal is to have some empty space.  This gives the illusion that there is room to spare. Schwarz suggests, “My go-to touch is a white rectangular plate with three pieces of the same fruit spaced evenly on it–peaches, pears, apples.”  Let the buyer envision themselves cooking in the space with an open cookbook placed on an easel.

Remember you do not have to completely do an overhaul by renovating your home for sale or remodeling your home for sale.  By following the guidelines mentioned, you can accomplish a new look to your house. As a seller you want to master the “lived-in-without-looking-lived-in” look. Sellers can expect to experience stiff competition with other home sellers, so they should put their best and most creative “foot forward” when staging their home for sale.

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As credit requirements and down payment requirements become more feasible for first-time home buyers as well as conventional loan buyers, new home buyers can make more flexible and informed mortgage decisions about the type of loan that they would like to use making their purchase.  First-time home buyers can enjoy the benefits of using a loan offered by Freddie Mac or Fannie Mae or even an FHA loan.  These loans typically reduce the amount of money that must be brought to the table and make it more affordable to buy a home.

Other home buyers can also use an FHA loan if they meet the time period requirements between the purchase of their existing home and the purchase of a new home.  Also, for the veterans, the VA loan is an incredible opportunity to become a homeowner and start establishing home equity.  Regardless of the type of loan you use when you buy your home, you still have to make a decision about the terms of your loan.  Interest rate, purchased points, ARM vs. standard, and time periods come into play when you are making your decision.  Below are some of the reasons that using a 15-year loan vs. a 30-year fixed loan can be beneficial to your long-term financial situation.

15-Year Home Loans:

1. Pay Off Your Home More Quickly:  If you are in a position to make a higher monthly payment (you have a lot of residual income each month, you have no financial responsibilities for multiple children’s expenses, you have a really low loan amount because you had a lot of equity when you purchased your home, etc.), you will want to consider using a 15-year loan.  Even though the payments will be higher each month, you will save 10’s of thousands of dollars in interest.  If you are near retirement age, you may want to pay off your home quicker so that you don’t have to make loan payments with a social security benefit check.

2. Faster Equity Accrual:  Because the way that a 15-year mortgage is structured, you are making a huge dent in your principal and interest for every loan payment that you make.  Because your payments are higher, you are also paying off more principle, more quickly, thereby creating “instant” home equity by being in a shorter-term loan.

3. Pay Less Interest Overall: Have you ever looked at a Federal Truth in Lending page and wondered how in the world you ended up with $120,000 interest on a $200,000 loan?  With a 15-year mortgage, you pay significantly less interest over the life of the loan because you are cutting the time in half and increasing the amount you pay.

4. Lower Money Up Front: 15-year loans can require less money up front because they require a less stringent loan-to-value (LTV) ratio – 95% vs. 80%.  This means you can finance up to 95% of the value of your loan.  Also, 15-year mortgages typically have better interest rates because they deem the buyer more financially stable and responsible to make higher monthly payments.

5. Multiple Loan Types From Which to Choose: You can get many different types of 15-year loans – FHA loans, conventional loans backed by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, and VA loans.  You can pretty much select to turn any type of loan into a 15-year mortgage vs. a 30-year fixed mortgage.
If you are in the market for a new home for sale in the St. Tammany Parish area, you may want to consider building a new custom home in the cities of Mandeville, Madisonville, Covington, and Abita Springs on the Northshore of Lake Pontchartrain.  For more information about building a new home and using a 15-year loan, Contact Us at 985-626-7619 or E-mail Info@RonLeeHomes.com.

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It’s time to sell your home because you are ready to move on, move up, or move out of state and relocate.  Since real estate has been on the steady track to recovery, chances are good that your home will sell relatively fast in this emerging market.  However, there are ways to maximize your home’s marketability to be able to compete against all of the other home owners who are having the exact same hopeful thoughts as  yourself.  Take note of the concepts below when you are preparing your home for sale.

Keep it Simple:

The way to sell a home successfully to a potential home buyer is to help them imagine their furniture, children, pets, friends, and life in your currently occupied space.  You may want to consider going ahead and packing away the items in your home that make you “uniquely you,” which could include African animal heads on the wall, an extensive doll or teddy bear collection, or a series of books from a particular author alphabetized on your bookshelves.  You never know what people may find strange or offensive, so you want to minimize their exposure to these types of personal belongings.  In the kitchen, living room, and even your master bedroom, get rid of the clutter and clean up the surfaces to allow buyers to “fill up” the spaces with their imaginary lives.

reduce-clutter

Keep it Clean:

This may be a common sense concept for many home sellers, but your definition of clean and a potential home buyer’s concept of clean may be totally different.  Don’t take any chances: go from the outside in and the floor up.  You don’t necessarily have to hire someone to pressure wash the exterior of your home to clean it up, although, here in Louisiana, homes can accumulate mildew in less than 2 year’s time, so it might be time for a thoroughhome-exterior-cleaning cleaning.  If you want to put some elbow grease into it, you can actually just mix up buckets of lightly bleached water and using a long-handled scrubbing tool for those stubbornly stuck-on spots, you can “wash” the exterior of your home to make the paint look fresh and almost new.  More work can be done by washing your windows both on the outside and the inside, making your floorplan more light and airy while also making the glass sparkle.  Vacuum and MOP your floors on the inside of the home – this will make your home smell fresh as well.  You can either rent a steam cleaner with a scented deodorizer in it or use a powder deodorizer in your vacuum cleaner for your carpets.  Once you have scrubbed every inch of every surface in your home, cover up any remaining odors and put your best foot forward by buying plug-in’s for each room.  They are very powerful and will probably last for the hopefully 30 – 45 days it will take to sell your home.  You never get a second chance to make an excellent first impression.

Keep it Maintenanced

There is a good chance that it will rain in Louisiana while you are trying to sell your home – a chance that it may even rain very hard.  You will want to make sure that your home is kept in good repair throughout the entire selling process.  Before you even start the cleaning process, make sure you REPLACE damaged parts of your home – this includes dents in the walls, water leaks, cracked door or window frames, broken windows, and chipped formica or granite.  If you are not selling your home as a KNOWN, as-is renovation project, you don’t want a buyer to bypass purchasing your home because they see that work will have to be done as soon as they move in.  When selling a previously-owned home, there may be an understanding that it has already been lived in by other people, but you want to give them the illusion that they are buying a home that is in superior condition and will need little to no work at all.

Keep it Exposed

If you use the Internet for professional or personal use, you know that there are websites out there which maximize your home’s marketability through the use of social media.  You can be your own online agent for your home by taking excellent pictures (or having your really talented photographer friend take pictures) of your home and then posting to your personal social media pages.  If you do not yet have an online presence, ask one of your tech-savvy friends to help you by posting the listing for your.  In addition to social media, you can also sign up for real estate websites for free such as trulia.com, zillow.com, activerain.com, and redfin.com to post just your house for sale on the Internet.  Remember, the more pictures and descriptive information that you add, the more your listing will show up in the search results.

After all of your hard work, and your new home sells; you may be interested in building a new custom home on a lot in one of the excellent subdivisions in St. Tammany Parish.  You can Contact Ron Lee Homes at 985-626-7619 or E-mail Info@RonLeeHomes.com to get started on building your new home.

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According to all of the statistics from many corners: housing research firms such as Zelman Associates, investors in the stock market, the National Association of Realtors, and the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), involvement in the new home market is beneficial on many different levels.  Investors are significantly pleased with the robust returns of national publicly held home builders such as Meritage Homes Corp., Toll Brothers Inc., Taylor Morrison Home Corp. and Standard Pacific Corp.  The U.S. Home Construction Index of the Dow Jones Involvement in the New Home Market is Beneficialhas seen a 10.8% gain excluding dividends for its investors.  Toll Brothers Inc. celebrates a 13% increase in orders year-over-year compared to 2014 as well.

Builders are reporting the sales of new homes have gotten off to a tremendous start in January and February of 2015.  The NAHB is also in line with this assumption, so the only downward impactful news out of all of this is that the sale of existing homes is faltering.  However, for once, there is good news associated with this negative trend.  Because of the real estate market recovery after the Recession, the inventory of homes that are on the market to be sold that can immediately be bought is 4.7 months.  This means that it would take only 4.7 months to buy every home that is currently for sale in the United States.  During the Recession, the inventory of homes reached almost 2 years, so this low amount of inventory is an indicator that the housing recovery has truly taken a positive turn.  However, during a healthy housing market, the inventory normally stands around 6 months.  So, existing home sales have slowed to their slowest pace in 9 months because of this and other factors.

Last year, both builders and Realtors alike suffered through the numerous and overwhelming polar fronts that came sweeping down from not just Canada but the Arctic itself.  These weather patterns last year literally had the housing market at a standstill during the 1st quarter of 2014.  While not as bad this year, the weather has affected people’s home shopping habits and kept them indoors.  Also, January and February are not normally booming months for real estate sales, so it’s definitely not time to panic and start liquidating all of the assets just yet!

003_mlsWhile the two factors above may be slowing down existing home sales, overall, home sales are set to increase during the spring which is typically the “busy season” for real estate because of three factors: the economy (GDP), job growth, and interest rates.  The GDP has been increasing each quarter for the past 1.5 years.  However slight, these increases seem to be “piling up” so that even some economists are surprised by the growth each quarter of the GDP.  Unemployment has been dropping for many months in a row and showing a consistent increase in available jobs each quarter as well.  The job market is getting so robust that people that had been on long term unemployment are once again entering the job market.  Finally interest rates for mortgages are still unbeatable at lower than 4%.  They do climb over 4% every couple of weeks, but even at those rates, they are still lower than an average interest rate in a “normal market” of 5.5% to 7%.

Investors, builders, researchers, and economists are sure to have their eye on the real estate market for both new homes and existing homes moving into the spring quarter (and hopefully the busiest quarter), so they will be able to predict if this sales phenomena is merely a lull or an actual trend.  In the mean time, new homes are for sale throughout the United States, and at the moment, buyers are interested in purchasing them.

 

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Ron Lee Homes is currently in the process of building a St. Tammany Parish Parade of Homes house located on Lot 297 in TerraBella Village in Covington, Louisiana.  Each year, builders in St. Tammany Parish have the opportunity to showcase their custom home expertise and innovation by building a unique and exceptional homeBuilding a Parade of Homes House for sale for the St. Tammany Parish Home Builders Association’s (now called the Northshore Home Builders Association) Parade of Homes.  Residents and visitors of St. Tammany Parish and the Southshore come out in droves over 2 full weekends of touring new homes, custom homes, and homes for sale.  This is when home buyers get an idea of the type of home amenities, both interior and exterior alike, that they would like to use in the homes that they build or the homes that they buy in St. Tammany Parish.

2015 St. Tammany Parish Parade of Homes Information for Ron Lee Homes

 Terra Bella Site Plan for 2015 Parade of Homes

 Lot-297-Terra-Bella-2015-Parade-of-HomesTerra Bella Village
Lot 297
924 Chretian Pointe Avenue
Covington, LA 70433

Buying a custom home is a lot of fun because at every step along the way, you get to make choices about the materials – countertops, cabinetry, flooring, paint colors, millwork, appliances, and fixtures – that you want to see carefully crafted into your new, custom home.  Our goal at Ron Lee Homes is to set your imagination free!  The sky’s the limit when you hire Ron Lee Homes to design your floorplan and assist you with making custom amenity  selections.  We want to dream with you and help your vision come to life and build you the type of home where you and your family will spend many happy hours.

During the St. Tammany Parish HBA’s Parade of Homes, we build a new, custom home that includes a myriad of tasteful and exceptional selections of custom interior and exterior amenities that we want to showcase to potential home buyers.  Our floorplan designs come from over 24 years experience of building new homes on the Northshore.  We have had feedback from hundreds of our customers as to the style and type of floorplan that they like and what is efficient and workable for almost every type of household.  You won’t want to miss this year’s Parade of Homes house in Terra Bella Village.  This French Country Style floorplan design has two-story front porches that overlook Terra Bella Lake.  The home is a 3 Bedroom (with either a 4th bedroom or Gameroom), 3 Bathroom floorplan with approximately 3,550 living square feet and 5,431 total square footage.  Most of our floorplan features are a secret until the big unveiling on the Parade of Homes Weekends, but in addition to a spectacular design, must-see master suite, and alley access, 2-car garage, this home also features outdoor living areas for entertaining and cooking.  You won’t want to miss the preview of this new home for sale by Ron Lee Homes in Covington, LA!  For More Information, Call 985-626-7619 or E-mail Info@RonLeeHomes.com.

When the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) announces statistics regarding overall housing starts in the national real estate market, they are talking about both single-family home starts and multi-family homes which can include apartments, condos, townhomes, etc.  The overall housing starts in the United States total for 2014 hit 1.089 million which was the highest housing starts have been in 7 years (since 2007) with single-family home starts rounding out at 728,000 for 2014 which was a 7.2% increase.

Economists not just from the NAHB or the National Association of Realtors (NAR) are projecting the real estateLot 350, The Sanctuary, Front Exterior market to continue to grow back towards normal starts and home sales numbers throughout both 2015 and 2016.  They expect the market to have a 90% recovery from the crash nationwide by the end of 2016.  The reason for this is because of the growth of the economy which saw a 4% growth in 2014 and the positive job forecast which in actuality continues to be higher in job growth each month than the projections.  Job growth will eventually “trickle down” to college graduates who, during the Recession, were not able to go out and “get a job” once they graduated.  The job market should expand to allow these young professionals to embark upon their career path thus creating new households across the U.S. that had, up until this point, been living either with relatives or roommates to save money.
With a booming economy, lower unemployment rates, and higher housing starts and sales, the NAHB has every reason to believe in their projections for the real estate industry in 2015.

  • 2015 Projected Housing Starts: 804,000 (a 26% increase from 2014)
  • 2015 Projected Multi-Family Housing Starts: 358,000 (a 2% increase from 2014)
  • 2015 Projected Residential Remodeling Activity: 3% Gain Overall from 2014

In 2014, total single-family home sales were at 564,000 which is an almost 30% increase from 2013’s home sales.  Locally, in St. Tammany Parish, Ron Lee Homes has personally experienced a huge jump in interested and custom home sales for our new homes.  We managed to stay moderately busy during the Recession, but with builder optimism on the rise, unemployment numbers dropping locally in the Greater New Orleans area, and interest rates once again dipping lower than 4%, the volume of calls and e-mails has enabled us to grow our team and our services.

We have added several staff members including Cheryl Murphy, formally with Floor to Ceiling.  She is handling the renovation and remodeling section of our company and can make recommendations for, design plans, for, and handle project management for the following types of renovations and remodels: kitchen, bath, mother-in-law suite, apartment-over-the-garage, home additions, expansions, and much more.

So, if you are in the market for a new custom home or a complete renovation or remodeling job, Contact Ron Lee Homes in St. Tammany Parish at 985-626-7619 or E-mail Info@RonLeeHomes.com.

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Economists, the National Association of Home Builders, and the National Association of Realtors all seem to agree upon one thing at the moment – the real estate market is definitely improving.  There just seems to be a lot of disagreement as to how fast the market is improving or will improve in 2015 and which buyers will get the most benefit from this improvement.  The Wall Street Journal’s parent company which just purchased Move, Inc., the owner of Realtor.com, went straight to the horse’s mouth to hear from Jonathan Smoke, the chief economist for Realtor.com to get his take on the current projections.  Below are the results:

National Association of Realtors: Predicts a 41% increase in new home sales
National Association of Home Builders: Predicts a 28% increase in new home sales
Jonathan Smoke, Economist Realtor.com: Predicts a 25% increase in new home sales

Smoke has a few reasons why he takes a cautiously optimistic viewpoint of the current and future real estate market.  One reason is that there is still a 4.5 – 5 month inventory of vacant new homes to be sold, and prices for these homes have not yet stabilized.  The second reason is that even though employment numbers have grown, new households which would have been established by college graduates may not materialize the way that economists think because of down payment requirements on tight credit home loans and student debt costs which have still not been resolved by Washington D.C.  In other words, these potential home buyers would not have the capital on hand to invest in purchasing a new home.  The last reason why Smoke thinks that the percentage of new home sales will be smaller than both the NAHB and the NAR is because builders will not be able to “ramp up” and start building new homes at a rapid pace.  Most builders divested themselves of empty lots during the Recession because of the cost of keeping them and paying taxes was a drain on their finances.  Therefore, they are not ready to begin building multiple homes at once like they once were as production builders.

However, even the cautiously optimistic increase of 25% for new home sales is still good news for the real estate market.  Another piece of good news is that economists think that the first-time home buyer market may be making a comeback.  News has been filtering out of Washington D.C. that there are programs being created for low-income and moderate-income buyers that will give them down payment assistance once again.  The rumor also is that mortgage companies are going to loosen up on the credit requirements in 2015 as well, but there have been no definite indicators of that just yet.  Because of the positive unemployment numbers that have been reported over the last two quarters, home buyers with good or excellent credit who have savings are now able to go ahead and buy a home because they also now have steady income.  All of these factors have been progressively building builder confidence and increasing the permits, starts, and production of new homes especially in the Greater New Orleans area.  For More Information about buying a new home, Contact Ron Lee Homes at 985-626-7619 or E-mail Info@RonLeeHomes.com.

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