Askins Online Real Estate Blog

View Housing TrendsFollow Me@ My ProfileYouTube Channel

Askins Online Real Estate - From Tweets to Trends
        EMAIL ME        4740 Ingersoll # 107, Houston, TX 77027     Phone: (713) 942-9200     Fax: (713) 864-5423
I'm John Askins of Royce Realty in Houston, or text me directly at (832) on my blog I'll keep you updated on the latest trends and info about our local and state real estate market. Member - HAR Technology Advisory Group
Amenities can make or break a listing, but one seller in Telluride, Colo., isn't taking chances: The home, listed at $13.7 million, has features that will catch the eye of any buyer who enjoys wine. If that buyer happens to enjoy skiing, so much the better, and if that buyer happens to love the idea of setting these activities in a mining motif, it's time to talk money.

The 8,706-square-foot estate — 5 bedrooms, 6.5 baths — at 184 Butch Cassidy Drive features a 56-foot-long wine tunnel that holds 1,600 bottles; it comes with water mists, sound effects, and an actual steel ore cart on the rails to move your collection from spot to spot.

Skiers will appreciate the private steel funicular — an inclined cable-driven railway — that simulates an old mining car to bring up to four people and their ski gear to the Sundance, Colo., ski run.

The home also features six decks, one a 35-foot-high stainless steel tree deck with a private fire pit; a hot tub room with retractable windows; and a fiber-optic lighted glass bridge over the living room that connects the master suite with the rest of the house. Further details are available at the house's site.



More buyers are being lured to the idea of purchasing a second home thanks to competitive prices in many areas. But with the rising costs of travel and more cost-conscience buying habits, many of these buyers are bypassing typical vacation hot-spots and resorts and choosing to buy a vacation home closer to their primary residence.

The median distance between the buyer’s primary residence and vacation home shrank 19 percent from during the past few years. The median distance in the most current survey is 305 miles, according to National Association of REALTORS®’ housing data.

“The shift in buying habits partly reflects the changing portrait of the typical vacation-home buyer,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “In the recent past, the vacation-home market was led by families looking for places with attractions for children as well as adults. But a growing number of buyers are older and seeking vacation homes that transition into retirement homes.”

Furthermore, vacation home buyers are purchasing second homes with the idea to rent them out to help offset costs, which has also made staying close to their second home appealing.

"People want to stay within driving distance because they're more able to maintain the homes, they have better networks in place, and friends and family nearby to use and sustain the homes," Jon Gray, vice president of, told The Journal.

source:  Wall Street Journal

Buyers have expressed more preferences to walkable communities in home-shopping surveys. 

Walk Friendly Communities, a national recognition program, has recognized the top places in the country for walking, taking into account such factors as safety, space in communities devoted to pedestrians, as well as whether walking is integrated into the city’s overall urban planning process. 

Here is its list of their top 10 most walkable cities:

1. Seattle, Wash. 
2. Ann Arbor, Mich.
3. Arlington, Va.
4. Hoboken, N.J.
5. Santa Barbara, Calif. 
6. Charlottesville, Va.
7. Decatur, Ga.
8. Austin, Texas
9. Charlotte, N.C.
10. Flagstaff, Ariz.

source:  Forbes
Savvy home owners pine for lush, healthy trees and here's a few  facts and tips on how trees save energy and grow a home’s value.

1. Three properly placed trees can save home owners between $100 and $250 a year in energy costs, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Their shade cuts cooling costs in the summer. In winter, they serve as windbreak and help hold down heating costs.

2. The
National Tree Calculator estimates that a 12-inch elm in an Omaha yard can save $32.43 a year on homeowners’ energy bills; the same tree in Atlanta would save them $11.89 annually. The 12-inch elm adds $40.23 to the Omaha home’s value and $57.33 to the Atlanta home. As trees grow larger, they can add even more value.

For more helpful tips check out
HouseLogicthe NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS’® no-topic-left-uncovered consumer Web site geared to helping home owners make smart decisions to maintain, protect, and increase the value of their home.

source: NAR
Many reports have centered on the upswing in adult millennial children moving in with their parents. But as these young professionals finally move out and form their own households, they may find that their baby boomer parents may soon coming knocking with moving bags in hand.

The American Institute of Architects found that dedicated guest rooms, including in-law suites, have been surging in popularity over the last few years. In 2014, 39 percent of the AIA’s more than 500 residential architects surveyed said they were seeing more demand for in-law suites, which might include a second master bedroom suite with a bathroom or an attached apartment-like structure. By comparison, in 2012, the percentage stood at only 10 percent.

“As many households become caretakers for aging relatives, separate living suites have become popular options for accommodations,” says Kermit Baker, chief economist for the AIA.

The AIA also says that home features accommodating multiple generations and age-in-place features are growing in demand.

Six percent of U.S.-born seniors live with relatives, and the trend is even more popular among immigrants. Twenty-five percent of foreign-born seniors live with relatives, according to a survey conducted by the real estate site Trulia.

source:  MarketWatch


One in four home sellers are reporting they’ve had to lower their list price, according to a report released by the real estate brokerage Redfin. That represents the highest level since 2011, according to the Redfin survey. It also represents a far greater number than in the spring, when just one in seven sellers reduced list prices. 

More home buyers are showing a willingness to wait until the price is right, according to Redfin. 

Price drops for homes were most prevalent in Atlanta. Sacramento, Phoenix, San Diego, and Seattle also saw price reductions on homes for sale, according to Redfin. 

On the other hand, the area that saw the fewest price drops was Long Island, N.Y. Raleigh, N.C., San Antonio, Houston, and Philadelphia also saw some of the fewest price drops.

source:  Redfin

Continuing debate to phase out or revamp Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac may make 30-year fixed-rate mortgages harder to find, housing experts say.

A previous outline drafted by the Treasury Department, the Department of Housing and Urban Development have circulated over the last year calls for winding down Fannie and Freddie over the next five to seven years. Congress continues to debate the future of Fannie and Freddie, and how and whether it should move to phase out the government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs).

But housing experts warn that 30-year fixed rate mortgages a popular choice among buyers might become harder to find and more expensive without Fannie and Freddie to buy these loans. Banks may be less willing to extend credit at a fixed rate over such a long term, housing experts note, since investors often prefer loans with adjustable rates rather than loans with longer terms, which expose them to interest rate risk.

“Traditionally, banks have been less willing to keep 30-year fixed-rate mortgages on their balance sheets, so in the absence of a vibrant securitization market, banks would more heavily favor adjustable-rate products,” John Mechem, a spokesman for the Mortgage Bankers Association, told The New York Times.

There is a lot of uncertainty about the process of phasing out Fannie and Freddie and how it will affect mortgage products, Barry Zigas, the director of housing policy at the Consumer Federation of America, told the paper.

Alex J. Pollock, a former chief executive of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago, told
The New York Times that he believes 30-year loans would remain available regardless of a federal guarantee, but they might be more difficult to find and lenders might require larger down payments and better credit scores.

“One of the reasons that American housing finance is in such bad shape right now is the 30-year mortgage,” Pollock argues. “For many people, it’s not at all clear that that’s the best product.”

source:  New York Times
A wind turbine marketed by Honeywell is one idea that  could make generating electricity a home-based business.

The compact turbine resembles a 6-foot in diameter bicycle wheel that sits on a suburban roof. It can function at wind speeds as low as 2 mph, doesn’t make loud noises or vibrate excessively – two objections to competing turbines.

The average U.S. household uses about 10,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in a year. WindTronics, the Michigan firm that developed and manufactures the turbine, says their turbine on the roof of a close-in suburban home can be expected to generate about 20 percent of the electricity a household needs.

The installed cost of the turbine, including a connection to the local electric grid, averages about $8,000 to $9,000, WindTronics estimates, but that cost is offset by a federal tax credit of 30 percent. It may also be reduced by state and local tax credits.

To see it in action, click here.

source: Washington Post 
Home owners may be doubtful that the months of November and December will bring about a home sale. After all, aren’t potential buyers sidetracked with the holidays and likelier to postpone their house hunt due to bad weather and shorter days?  

But sometimes the “off-peak” time to sell can actually be the perfect moment for sellers. Several studies show that, on average, homes listed in November and December are more likely to sell, sell more quickly, and more closely approach the asking price, according to an article at

A 2011 study conducted by® found that 60 percent of real estate professionals advise their sellers to list a home during the holidays because they believe it’s an opportune time to sell. Nearly 80 percent of the real estate professionals surveyed said that more serious buyers emerge during the holidays, and 61 percent say less competition from other properties makes it an ideal time to sell.

Thanksgiving is particularly good, the article notes. Buyers may have held out through the busy summer months hoping to find a better deal, but now they may be searching with increased urgency. Some buyers may be motivated to close before the end of the year for tax purposes. They can purchase a home late in the year to deduct home purchase costs on their taxes, such as points, interest, and property taxes. Also, certain sellers who sold their homes during the summer season may be facing a capital gains tax. They may be highly motivated to buy in November to avoid paying capital gains tax (since closing on the purchase of another house is required within 180 days).


Of the 25 largest metro areas, which one is the most affordable to home owners? Minneapolis is the newly crowned champ, edging out Atlanta in this year's 2014 Home Affordability Study conducted by

The report takes an annual look at the cost of home ownership compared to income and expenses in the nation's largest metro areas, using data from the National Association of REALTORS®, Census Bureau, and credit-reporting agencies.

Minneapolis, which has a diverse economy with medical tech and several corporate headquarters, has a median income of $67,194, which is $15,000 more than the national average. The higher incomes are helping residents there afford the median home price of $212,900, according to the study.

"We have a big tranche of what I call middle-class, middle-priced homes," says Herb Tousley, director of real estate programs at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis.

In general, however, living in big cities is increasingly out of reach for many home owners. Middle-income families are unable to afford a median-priced home in slightly more than half of the nation's 25 largest cities, according to's analysis.

"Affordability would improve at a faster pace if wage growth would pick up," Adam DeSanctis, economic issues media manager for the National Association of REALTORS®, said in a story on the analysis. "We've seen an improvement in job growth, but wages have remained somewhat static."

So which big cities offer the highest affordability? According to's 2014 Home Affordability Study, the following are the top five most affordable big cities:

  1. Minneapolis
    Median home price: $212,900
    Median income: $67,194
  2. Atlanta
    Median home price: $166,200
    Median income: $55,733
  3. St. Louis
    Median home price: $140,900
    Median income: $54,449
  4. Detroit
    Median home price: $149,000
    Median income: $51,857
  5. Pittsburgh, Pa.
    Median home price: $143,690
    Median income: $51,291

On the other end of the scale, the least affordable big city continues to be San Francisco, where the median home price is $769,600, according to the analysis.