Builders were surveyed on how frequently they implemented seven categories of green building practices, whether the home was certified green or not. The leading practice in new homes was energy efficiency at 91%, followed by water efficiency at 52%, and healthier indoor living environments at 49%. For remodelers, the top three practices were energy efficiency (86%), healthier indoor living environments (51%), and water efficiency (49%).

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency was the most commonly used category. Builders reported on specific energy efficiency practices they used in more than 50% of homes. The top practices included the installation of green efficiency products, blower door testing, above-code energy programs, installing ducts in conditioned spaces, and targeting air leakages.

Renewable Energy

Builders were also asked about their use of renewable energy sources in more than 50% of their projects. Overall, renewables were not frequently used. Geothermal systems were the top renewable energy solution at 11%, followed by onsite solar energy at 10%. Regional differences were notable, with 31% of respondents from the West using solar energy systems, compared to 21% in the Northeast, and only 3% in the Midwest and South.

At the utility level, renewable energy use was more promising. Over half of the builders (55%) sized electrical panels to accommodate EV chargers, and 40% provided a charging outlet in more than half of their homes. Additionally, 25% of respondents built more than half of their homes to be all-electric, and nearly 19% designed all their homes for eventual all-electric use. There was no significant difference in the level of green engagement for all-electric homes.

Water Conservation

Water conservation was another top category for green building practices. The most common practice used in more than half of homes was installing water-conserving plumbing fixtures and faucets (87%). This was followed by water-conserving appliances (74%), tankless water heaters (65%), and efficient plumbing techniques (64%). Water conservation practices outside the home, such as drip irrigation, drought-tolerant landscaping, and rainwater collection and reuse, were used less frequently, with each below one-third.

Conserving Materials and Resources

Sustainable construction also involves conserving materials and resources. Builders were asked which material and resource conservation practices they used in more than 50% of their projects. Minimizing construction waste during design and construction was the most popular response at 78%, followed by using prefabricated components (such as panels and trusses) at 64%. Diverting construction waste from landfills was used less frequently at 35%.

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A black-framed glass door suggests a transition from the exterior to the interior space, blending classic and modern design elements.

 

When planning a move, it’s normal to wonder where you’ll end up and what your future home will look like. You might have a specific vision in mind, but unless you started out knowing you want a newly built home, you may not have considered new home construction. Here are two reasons you might want to reconsider:The patio opens up to a backyard bordered by natural greenery, enhancing the outdoor living experience.

1. Adding Newly Built Homes Could Give You More Options

There are two types of homes on the market: new and existing. A newly built home refers to a house that was just constructed or is under construction. An existing home is one a previous homeowner has lived in. Currently, the inventory of existing homes is tight, but there may be more options for you among new homes.

Data from the Census Bureau and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that newly built homes make up a larger part of today’s housing inventory than usual. From 1983 to 2019 (the last normal year in the market), newly built homes constituted only 13% of the total inventory of homes for sale. Today, that number has climbed to over 33%.

Rest assured, despite an increase in new construction, there’s still a significant housing shortage overall. But for you, the uptick in new builds means more options in your home search.

2. Newly Built Homes May Be More Affordable Than You Think

You might wonder if a new build could really be an option for you, especially if you’ve previously dismissed them as too expensive. However, the price gap between newly built homes and existing homes is shrinking. Here’s why.

Builders are responding to current market demands, focusing on constructing smaller, potentially more affordable homes.

“In the past, newly built homes have been much more expensive than existing homes, but that gap has been getting smaller recently. In some places today, the cost to build versus buy is roughly the same.”

An article from CNBC supports this:

“While new builds are still sold for slightly more than existing homes, the price gap has significantly narrowed.”

Moreover, some builders are offering price cuts and mortgage rate buy-downs to make new homes more attractive. There are many reasons why new builds may be worth considering today. As Freddie Mac notes:

“As the supply of existing homes for sale remains low and home prices continue to rise, more buyers are choosing to purchase new homes than in previous years.”

However, buying a newly built home isn’t the same as buying an existing one. Builder contracts come with different fine print. Partnering with a local real estate agent who knows the market, builder reputations, and contract details ensures you have an expert on your side.

If you want to find out what builders are doing in your area, connect with a real estate agent. If you’re open to expanding your search to nearby towns, your agent can help you explore even more options.

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If you’re planning to buy a home this spring, you’re likely facing the dual challenges of affordability and limited inventory. However, there might be a solution that addresses both issues: newly built homes. Here’s why you should consider this option.

New Home Construction: An Inventory Bright Spot

When searching for a home, you have two main choices: existing homes (those already built and previously owned) and newly constructed ones. Despite a slight increase in the number of existing homes for sale this year, the inventory is still lower than in more typical years like 2018 or 2019. If you’re looking to expand your options, newly built homes can provide a viable alternative. Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at Realtor.com, notes:

“The shortage of existing homes for sale has opened up the possibility of new-home construction to more buyers who may not have once considered it.”

The good news is that there are currently more newly built homes available. Recent data from the Census Bureau shows a significant increase in both housing starts (homes where construction has just begun) and completions (homes that builders have just finished). This means you have a broader range of options, whether you want a move-in ready home or prefer to customize a build from the ground up.

Builders Are Offering Incentives to Help with Affordability

To make new homes more attractive, builders are offering various incentives, such as mortgage rate buy-downs and other perks for homebuyers. These incentives can help mitigate today’s affordability challenges and get you into your dream home. Mark Fleming, Chief Economist at First American, explains:

“Builders aren’t rate locked-in. They would love to sell you the home because they’re not living in it. It costs money not to sell the home. And many of the public home builders have said in their earnings calls that they are not going to be pulling back on incentives, especially the mortgage rate buy-down, so that will help the new-home market continue to perform well in the spring home-buying season.”

An article from HousingWire also highlights the trend:

“. . . the use of sales incentives still shows some momentum as 60% of respondents reported using them, up from 58% in February.”

Partner with a Real Estate Agent

Buying from a builder is different from buying from a homeowner, and it’s crucial to partner with a local real estate agent who can guide you through the process. Builder contracts can be complex, and a trusted agent will advocate for you at every step. They’ll provide valuable insights on construction quality and builder reputation, help you review and negotiate contracts, advise on worthwhile customizations and upgrades, and much more.

If you’re struggling to find a home due to today’s affordability challenges and limited inventory, consider newly built homes. They might be the solution you need. Connect with a local real estate agent to explore this option and see how it can benefit your home-buying journey.

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As you enter retirement, reassessing your expenses and finding ways to save money becomes increasingly appealing. One long-standing and popular strategy for doing so is downsizing to a smaller home.

When you think about cutting down on your spending, you might first consider everyday expenses like groceries and other goods. However, downsizing your house can lead to significant savings on bigger-ticket items such as mortgage payments, energy costs, and maintenance. According to Realtor.com:

“A smaller home typically means lower bills and less upkeep. Then there’s the potential windfall that comes from selling your larger home and buying something smaller.”

This financial windfall is primarily due to your home equity. If you’ve lived in your home for several years, you’ve likely built up a substantial amount of equity. This equity can be a significant asset in retirement, as Daniel Hunt, CFA at Morgan Stanley, explains:

“Home equity can be a significant source of wealth for retirees, often representing a large portion of their net worth. . . . Retirement planning can be complex, but your home equity shouldn’t be overlooked.”

When you’re ready to tap into your home equity to fund your next move, a real estate agent can guide you through the process. They will help you set the right price for your current home, find a new home that better fits your evolving needs, and understand what you can afford with today’s mortgage rates.

If you’re contemplating downsizing, here are a few questions to help you determine if it’s the right move:

1. Have Your Needs Changed?
– Do the original reasons you bought your current house still apply, or have your needs changed since then?

2. Do You Need the Space?
– Do you really need and want the space you have right now, or could a smaller home be a better fit?

3. What Are Your Current Housing Expenses?
– Assess your current housing expenses and determine how much you want to save by downsizing.

Once you’ve answered these questions, meet with a real estate agent to explore your options. A local agent can provide insights into how much equity you have in your home and how it positions you for a successful downsizing move.

If you’re looking to save money in retirement, consider downsizing. It can significantly reduce your expenses and provide you with the financial flexibility you need to enjoy your retirement years. When you’re ready to take this step, connect with a local real estate agent to discuss your goals and explore the housing market. Downsizing could be the key to a more comfortable and financially secure retirement.

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The serene backdrop of lush greenery and the adjacent boat dock create an inviting and tranquil outdoor oasis.

In a surprising turn of events, sales of existing homes in the U.S. jumped 9.5% in February from January, reaching 4.38 million units on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis. This significant increase, as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), defied housing analysts’ expectations of a slight drop, showcasing an unexpected resilience in the housing market.

Despite a year-over-year decrease of 3.3%, this February marked the largest monthly gain since the previous year, highlighting a robust recovery in certain regions. The West experienced the most dramatic increase with a 19.4% surge, followed closely by the South with a 16.4% rise. The Northeast, however, saw no change, indicating regional disparities in housing market dynamics.

Lawrence Yun, the chief economist at NAR, attributed this growth to an increase in housing supply which is beginning to meet the rising market demand fueled by steady population and job growth. “The actual timing of purchases will be determined by prevailing mortgage rates and wider inventory choices,” Yun noted, pointing out the critical factors influencing future market trends.

Inventory levels also saw an uplift, with a 10.3% increase from last year, bringing the total to 1.07 million homes available for sale at the end of February. Despite this growth, the supply remains tight with just a 2.9-month supply at the current sales pace, underscoring the ongoing imbalance between supply and demand in the housing market.

The median home price continued its upward trajectory, increasing by 5.7% from last year to $384,500. This marks the eighth consecutive month of annual gains, fueled by high demand and competitive market conditions where 20% of homes sold above the listing price.

Interestingly, the rise in home sales did not translate to increased participation by first-time buyers, who represented only 26% of purchases, a decline from 28% in January and well below the historical norm of around 40%. The prevalence of all-cash purchases, which increased to 33% from 28% the previous year, suggests a significant influence of wealthier consumers and possibly those relocating from more expensive states like California to more affordable markets such as Florida or Georgia.

Yun also speculated that factors like the stock market’s performance and the acceptance of higher mortgage rates as a ‘new normal’ might be influencing these trends. With the 30-year fixed mortgage rate now over 7%, the dynamics in the housing market continue to evolve, influenced by broader economic factors.

This surge in existing home sales provides a complex picture of a housing market that is simultaneously grappling with tight supply, rising prices, and shifting consumer behaviors. As the market continues to adjust to economic pressures and demographic shifts, the landscape of U.S. housing remains a critical area to watch.

Click Here For the Source of the Information.

As 2024 dawned, there was a palpable sense of optimism among homebuyers and borrowers, fueled by falling inflation and the anticipation of subsequent interest rate cuts. While initial hopes were somewhat dashed by less-than-stellar inflation reports for December and January, the consensus remains that rate cuts could be on the horizon, possibly as early as May or June.

This prospect is particularly significant for homebuyers who faced soaring interest rates in 2023—the highest since 2000. As they eagerly await potential decreases in the benchmark interest rates, and subsequently mortgage rates, prospective buyers are advised to prepare strategically to navigate the expected influx of competition in a new rate environment.

One crucial step buyers can take right now is securing mortgage pre-approval. While not a guarantee of securing a property, pre-approval does signal to sellers that a buyer is serious and financially vetted, providing a distinct advantage especially before rates drop and the spring real estate market heats up. In the current unique mortgage climate, being pre-approved can offer a significant competitive edge.

Mortgage pre-approvals typically last for two to three months, which perfectly positions buyers to concentrate on finding the ideal property without the pressure of concurrently shopping for lenders. Keeping your credit score high during this period is essential; a dip can complicate the re-approval process and potentially worsen the terms on offer.

Maintaining a strong credit profile isn’t just about ensuring easier pre-approval. A high credit score can also secure better terms and rates, reducing the overall cost of a mortgage. In contrast, a lower score might lead to more required documentation and slower approval processes, which could cost you a desired property.

Financial prudence extends to the size of the down payment. A 20% down payment not only eliminates the need for private mortgage insurance (PMI) but also strengthens a buyer’s offer by showing substantial financial backing. In today’s market where cash is king and contingencies can be deal-breakers, demonstrating financial readiness is crucial.

For those who need to sell their current home to finance a new purchase, consider listing your property sooner rather than later. This move reduces buying contingencies and enhances your appeal to sellers by showing readiness to proceed quickly.

While mortgage pre-approval doesn’t ensure home buying success, it significantly enhances a buyer’s profile in a competitive market. With rate cuts likely on the way this year, enhancing your buyer profile by obtaining pre-approval, maintaining a robust credit score, making a significant down payment, and minimizing contingencies is more critical than ever. These steps will not only position you favorably in the current market but also set you up for success when you find your ideal home in the future.

Click Here For the Source of the Information.

The serene backdrop of lush greenery and the adjacent boat dock create an inviting and tranquil outdoor oasis.

In a surprising turn of events, sales of existing homes in the U.S. jumped 9.5% in February from January, reaching 4.38 million units on a seasonally adjusted annualized basis. This significant increase, as reported by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), defied housing analysts’ expectations of a slight drop, showcasing an unexpected resilience in the housing market.

Despite a year-over-year decrease of 3.3%, this February marked the largest monthly gain since the previous year, highlighting a robust recovery in certain regions. The West experienced the most dramatic increase with a 19.4% surge, followed closely by the South with a 16.4% rise. The Northeast, however, saw no change, indicating regional disparities in housing market dynamics.

Lawrence Yun, the chief economist at NAR, attributed this growth to an increase in housing supply which is beginning to meet the rising market demand fueled by steady population and job growth. “The actual timing of purchases will be determined by prevailing mortgage rates and wider inventory choices,” Yun noted, pointing out the critical factors influencing future market trends.

Inventory levels also saw an uplift, with a 10.3% increase from last year, bringing the total to 1.07 million homes available for sale at the end of February. Despite this growth, the supply remains tight with just a 2.9-month supply at the current sales pace, underscoring the ongoing imbalance between supply and demand in the housing market.

The median home price continued its upward trajectory, increasing by 5.7% from last year to $384,500. This marks the eighth consecutive month of annual gains, fueled by high demand and competitive market conditions where 20% of homes sold above the listing price.

Interestingly, the rise in home sales did not translate to increased participation by first-time buyers, who represented only 26% of purchases, a decline from 28% in January and well below the historical norm of around 40%. The prevalence of all-cash purchases, which increased to 33% from 28% the previous year, suggests a significant influence of wealthier consumers and possibly those relocating from more expensive states like California to more affordable markets such as Florida or Georgia.

Yun also speculated that factors like the stock market’s performance and the acceptance of higher mortgage rates as a ‘new normal’ might be influencing these trends. With the 30-year fixed mortgage rate now over 7%, the dynamics in the housing market continue to evolve, influenced by broader economic factors.

This surge in existing home sales provides a complex picture of a housing market that is simultaneously grappling with tight supply, rising prices, and shifting consumer behaviors. As the market continues to adjust to economic pressures and demographic shifts, the landscape of U.S. housing remains a critical area to watch.

Click Here For the Source of the Information.

Louisiana homeowners have faced a harsh reality recently: skyrocketing insurance rates, primarily due to the increased frequency of hurricanes. This uptick in natural disasters has led some insurance companies to withdraw from the state altogether, while others have hiked their premiums significantly. However, Baton Rouge’s own Dex Gonzales, a seasoned producer at Bayou Insurance Services, advises not to panic. There are strategies homeowners can employ to mitigate these rising costs.

1. Raising Your Deductible

A higher deductible can lead to lower annual premiums. While this means higher out-of-pocket costs in the event of a claim, it could make financial sense in the long run. Consulting with insurance professionals like those at Bayou Insurance can help you make an informed decision.

2. Tailoring Coverage

Insurance is not one-size-fits-all. By adjusting your coverage levels with the help of an expert, you can ensure you’re not overpaying while still protecting your most valuable assets.

3. Thinking Twice Before Filing Small Claims

Not all claims are equal. While natural disaster-related claims are typically unavoidable, smaller, less significant claims can lead to rate increases. It’s wise to evaluate the cost of repairs versus the potential premium hike before filing a claim.

4. Improving Your Credit Score

Insurance companies often consider your credit history when setting rates. A better credit score can lead to lower premiums, making good credit habits more important than ever.

5. Bundling Policies

Combining your home and auto insurance with the same provider can unlock savings on both policies. Independent agencies like Bayou Insurance can shop around for the best bundle deals.

6. Upgrading Your Roof

The condition of your roof can significantly impact your insurance rates. Upgrading to a new roof, particularly before disaster strikes, not only provides better protection but can also reduce your premiums.

7. Fortifying Your Roof

In Louisiana, upgrading to a fortified roof can not only better protect your home from severe weather but also lead to discounts from insurers. The state even offers grants to help cover these upgrades.

8. Installing Alarms

Security and fire alarms are not just about safety; they can also lead to insurance discounts. Ensure your provider knows about any protective devices installed in your home.

9. Regularly Reviewing and Comparing Rates

Insurance markets are dynamic, and rates vary between providers. Regularly comparing rates and discussing your current policy with your agent at renewal time can uncover potential savings.

10. Choosing the Right Agent

A local, knowledgeable agent can make all the difference. Bayou Insurance, led by Gonzales and the Jones family, offers personalized service that national chains can’t match. Their local insight and dedication to Louisiana residents can guide you through the state’s complex insurance landscape.

Gonzales, a Thibodaux native with deep roots in customer service and a clear understanding of the local insurance market, emphasizes the importance of community and personalized service. Since partnering with Bayou Insurance and opening the Baton Rouge office, he’s committed to providing local, personalized insurance solutions.

In an era where faceless national agencies dominate, Bayou Insurance stands out by prioritizing customer needs and employing Louisiana locals, ensuring jobs stay within the community. With a range of A-rated insurance products, they are equipped to tackle the unique challenges faced by Louisiana homeowners.

In summary, while rising insurance costs can be daunting, Louisiana residents have options. By taking proactive steps and working with local experts like those at Bayou Insurance Services, homeowners can find ways to manage and even reduce their premiums, all while keeping their homes and families protected.

Click Here For the Source of the Information.

Family room in the hardwood flooring.

As a builder, your relationship with buyers doesn’t end when plans are drawn or foundations poured; it extends into ensuring they can secure financing for their dream home. Financing troubles can unravel deals and strain buyer relationships, but with the right guidance, you can steer clients towards successful homeownership. Here are strategies to support your clients in navigating the maze of home financing.

1. Unveiling Homebuyer Assistance Programs

Misconceptions about down payments can deter potential buyers. Many believe they need 16% or more down, yet options with much lower requirements exist. Highlighting programs like FHA loans, which require as low as 3.5% down, can open doors for buyers unsure about their financial standing. Educate them about federal, state, and local assistance programs to broaden their possibilities and alleviate down payment concerns.

2. Demystifying Mortgage Finance

The world of mortgage financing can be overwhelming for many buyers. Break down the basics: explain the different types of home loans – from conventional loans suitable for a wide range of buyers to specific ones like VA and USDA loans, designed for military personnel and rural homebuyers, respectively. Clarify how interest rates work and the impact they have on monthly payments. Emphasize that despite recent hikes, rates remain below historical averages, which might make the present a favorable time to buy.

Educate them on the significance of pre-approval. It not only solidifies their budget but also enhances their standing with sellers. This understanding can set realistic expectations and streamline the home shopping process.

3. Fostering Lender Relationships

Having a network of trusted lenders can be invaluable. Directing clients to knowledgeable lenders ensures they receive accurate, timely information tailored to their specific situations. This partnership can expedite the loan approval process, keeping your construction schedule and their move-in plans on track.

Keller Home Loans, for example, provides an online platform, My Agent Station, that offers real-time updates on loan status. Tools like this can keep everyone informed and prevent last-minute financing issues from derailing home purchases.

Building More Than Homes: Building Trust

As a builder, you’re not just constructing houses; you’re helping build futures. By guiding buyers through the financing process, you’re not only ensuring smoother transactions but also cultivating long-term relationships. Educated, satisfied clients are more likely to refer others and return for future needs. Your role in their financing journey is a testament to your commitment to their satisfaction and success in homeownership.

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The image shows an open, covered area beneath a house, supported by numerous sturdy metal and brick columns.

If you’re in the market to buy a home, understanding the impact of mortgage rates on your purchasing power and monthly expenses is crucial. Recent trends in the housing market bring promising news: according to Freddie Mac, the rates for 30-year fixed mortgages have dipped below 7%, marking a significant decrease since the end of October. This shift represents a substantial change for potential buyers, making it a timely topic for anyone looking to step into the housing market.

The recent decline in mortgage rates is a breath of fresh air for prospective homeowners. As highlighted by a recent Bankrate article, this “rate cool-off” is beginning to alleviate the housing affordability crunch many have been experiencing. With lower mortgage rates, your monthly payments become more manageable, enabling you to afford a more expensive home or save money on a less expensive one.

Edward Seiler, the AVP of Housing Economics and the Executive Director of the Research Institute for Housing America at the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA), supports this optimistic outlook. He suggests that “affordability conditions will continue to improve as mortgage rates decline.” This prediction offers a ray of hope for those feeling priced out of the market in recent times.

To put things into perspective, consider how mortgage rates influence your budget. If your monthly home payment budget ranges between $2,400 and $2,500, even minor fluctuations in interest rates can significantly impact the price of the home you can afford. Lower rates mean higher borrowing power without increasing your monthly outlay.

However, navigating the complex world of mortgages requires more than just an understanding of current rates. It’s essential to work closely with professionals who can guide you through the intricacies of the home-buying process. Local real estate agents and trusted lenders can provide invaluable advice, helping you explore various mortgage options and understand the factors that influence rate changes. Their expertise can demystify the process, allowing you to make informed decisions based on the latest data and market trends.

Adjusting your home-buying strategy in response to today’s mortgage rates can position you for success. By staying informed and working with seasoned professionals, you can navigate the market more effectively, ensuring that you’re ready to buy a home when the conditions are right.

In conclusion, the recent downtrend in mortgage rates presents a golden opportunity for potential homebuyers. By partnering with a knowledgeable real estate agent and a reliable lender, you can devise a plan that capitalizes on the current market conditions. This strategic approach can lead you to find the home of your dreams while ensuring your financial stability.

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