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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

Home buyers who want a walk-in closet, but didn’t get one in their home, say they’re willing to spend $1,350 for one. That’s just one of the important findings in a Buyer's Preferences report compiled by the National Association of REALTORS®.

Buyers who wanted new kitchen appliances but didn’t get them say they’re willing to spend $1,840 for them. Those who wanted air conditioning are willing to spend $2,520.

The report looks at 33 home feature preferences based on what a representative sample of U.S. households that bought say they value. Just over 2,000 households participated.

Among the findings: Households in the South tend to want the biggest and newest homes, and they like wooded lots. Those in the Northeast are most likely to like hardwood floors. First-time buyers and single women are big buyers of older homes. Households with children and move-up buyers like larger homes.

The report also contains these tidbits on buyer preferences:

· Among buyers 55 and older, 42 percent want a single-level home, compared to just 11 percent of buyers under age 35. Single women also tend to place importance on single-level homes.

· Single men want finished basements.

· Single men and married couples place importance on new kitchen appliances.

· Among all 33 home features in the survey, central air conditioning is the most important to the most buyers; 65 percent consider this very important.

· The next most important feature is a walk-in closet in the master bedroom; 39 percent considered this very important.

· Also important — buying a home that’s cable-, satellite TV-, or Internet-ready.

· Thirty-two percent of buyers say they’re willing to pay a median of $5,420 more for a residence that also has waterfront property, and 40 percent say they’re willing to pay a median of $5,020 more for a home that’s less than five years old.

source:  REALTOR® Magazine


There's a perception that listing a home for sale over the winter months in a northern state is foolhardy. However, recent research has pointed to the opposite: Listing during the "off-peak" selling season can actually be the perfect moment for sellers to get attention from serious buyers in less time than usual.

How would you convince potential sellers of this? 

Well, according to sales associates at the Knoll Team in Denver, it might not be as hard as you think. Mike Reff, a broker-associate at Madison & Company Properties and member of the Knoll Team, says he's often asked by sellers about whether winter is a bad time to list a house, so the team decided to ask consumers. Lucky for us, they brought their video camera...just click the following link.

source:  Realtor magazine


Some housing experts say a “mega-boom in home ownership” is brewing as Hispanic Americans look to join in home ownership. Indeed, Movoto, a real estate brokerage in San Mateo, Calif., predicts Hispanics will make up half of new home buyers nationwide by 2020.

The growth in that time frame is expected to be big, considering that currently 75 percent of first-time home buyers are white and only 11 percent are Hispanic.

But observers say that with Hispanics’ birth rates and purchasing power drastically increasing, Hispanics are expected to be a powerful force in real estate in the coming years.

More than half of all infants born in the United States last year were minorities or multiracial, according to U.S. Census data. Hispanics account for 8.9 births for every death, while whites have 1.1 births for every death. The Hispanic population in the United States has more than tripled since 1980, according to the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals’ data.

“In general, Hispanics hold fast to the American dream,” states a recent article at Forbes. “According to national housing surveys, despite worries over jobs and the economy, they are more eager to become home owners for both emotional and financial reasons.”

source:  Forbes


Some analysts are concerned that as home prices rise, investor and all-cash demand will start to shrink. 

Who will step up in their place? 

Robert Dietz, an economist with the National Association of Home Builders, notes in a recent article for U.S. News & World Report that “missing households” in today’s market who have delayed home ownership will eventually play catch up. 

Notably, recent college grads who delayed home ownership by moving in with their parents or renting are expected to increase their homebuying activity. Also, surveys show a growth in the number of Americans living together as roommates who are not relatives. Americans have doubled or even tripled up in rental residences to help cut costs. But as more people get married and start families and jobs stabilize, household formation will likely grow, Dietz notes. 

The nation’s population has grown, but the number of independent households of renters and owners has not kept pace. The Census Bureau’s American Community Survey shows that the population from 2006 to 2011 grew by more than 4 percent, but there was only about a 3 percent growth in the number of households. 

Dietz expects that homebuying demand will come strongly from rental households that were created over the last seven years. In that time, the number of rental households in single-family homes grew by 2.5 million, or 22 percent. Traditional renting households in multifamily units increased by nearly 7 percent, Dietz notes. 

Dietz says the “real demand for housing is on the sidelines, particularly among younger Americans. ... For these younger prospective homebuyers, policy debates concerning the future of the housing finance system and home ownership programs like the mortgage interest deduction will have real impacts on their housing and wealth status in the years to come.”

source:  U.S. News & World Report


Hawai'i home owners tend to take on the most debt in their home purchases with an average home loan amount of $677,299, according to a study by, which revealed the average loan amounts on residential real estate purchases.

That means the average home owner in Hawai'i would have a monthly payment of about $3,234 for a 30-year mortgage, before taxes and insurance, according to LendingTree data. 

Meanwhile, in Mississippi, home owners take on the lowest loan amounts at $137,182or $655 monthly mortgage payments, on average. 

The national average for a home loan is $222,261 with a $1,061 average monthly payment for a 30-year mortgage at 4 percent, according to LendingTree. 

The following are the top states with the highest loan amounts, including the average closed home loan, according to LendingTree: 

  • Hawai'i: $667,299.33
  • Washington, D.C.: $393,453
  • New Jersey: $344,240.85
  • New York: $340,124.50
  • Maryland: $328,650.89
  • Connecticut: $326,416.85
  • Virginia: $312,930.83
  • California: $310,676.35
  • Utah: $276,211.67

source:  LendingTree LLC


When it comes to mortgages and home improvement, many consumers have some complaints, according to a survey by the Consumer Federation of America, which reveals the top consumer complaints.

Among its list of top “worst” consumer gripes: mortgage-related problems, home improvement, timeshare sales and resales, Internet sales, and fraud.

Many of the mortgage complaints have stemmed from the foreclosure crisis and home owners who owe more on their loans than their homes are currently worth, according to the study.

Home improvement and construction complaints remain a top complaint, mostly centered around “shoddy work” or “failure to start or complete the job,” according to the study. Consumers also complained about a surge in telemarketing and mail solicitations for home repairs “disguised as offers to perform free energy audits.”

Landlord and tenant complaints mostly centered on “unhealthy or unsafe conditions, failure to make repairs or provide promised amenities, deposit and rent disputes, and illegal eviction tactics,” according to the report.

Other real estate-related complaints involved timeshare sales and resales, retirement communities and assisted living facilities, and real estate fraud.

source:  Consumer Federation of America


Home owners trump renters when it comes to finding someone to date, according to a new survey of 1,000 single people. More than a third of women and 18 percent of men would rather date a home owner than a renter, according to the survey, which was conducted on behalf of Trulia.

On the other hand, only 2 percent of women said they’d prefer to date a renter, while 3 percent of men said they’d prefer a renter. 

Not only do both sexes prefer home owners, but they also prefer you live alone. Sixty-two percent of the singles surveyed said they prefer to date others who live alone and have no roommates. 

And while the number of young adults who have moved back in with their parents has skyrocketed in recent months due to economic hardships, less than 5 percent of the singles surveyed said they would date someone living in their parents' home. 

What home qualities are the many singles who prefer ownership to renting most drawn to?

The top vote-getters were the master bath, walk-in closets, and gourmet kitchens. They also gave high ranks to hardwood floors, outdoor decks, and home theaters. 

source:  CNNMoney


Home buyers have high expectations for their purchases, the most critical of which may be a really great deal. In addition to more bang for the buck — and the bragging rights that go along with a superior bargain — today's house hunters also are looking for incentives, such as gift cards that they can use to decorate their new home or financial assistance at the settlement table. 

Another important desire of buyers is that the property be well-maintained. "I'm not working with too many people who want a fixer-upper," says Pat Vredevoogd Combs, vice president of Coldwell Banker AJS Schmidt in Grand Rapids, Mich., and past president of the National Association of REALTORS®. 

Former NAR President Ron Phipps agrees. More often than not, he explains, "buyers have limited amounts of cash. Even if they want to do a fixer-upper, they don't have the money to do it." 

That is true even for buyers of bank-owned properties, says real estate broker Joan Pratt of RE/MAX Professionals in Castle Pines, Colo. "They want the short sales and the foreclosures, and they want them to look like they're owner-occupied," she says. "They don't want to paint. They don't want to put carpet in. They don't want to clean." 

Modern buyers also favor open kitchens; open floor plans; and outdoor living components, such as screened porches, exterior kitchens, and two-way fireplaces. Additionally, the environment is increasingly important, with today's prospects seeking out elements such as triple-glazed windows and energy-efficient appliances. 

Repurposed materials matter, too. "We're seeing lots of different materials and lots of reusable materials, which is interesting," Phipps notes. "Also a lot of unusual uses of hardwood — like pine flooring (reclaimed and) reused for counters," or terra cotta slabs for countertops. Buyers are indicating a preference for smaller homes, but they like them nicely appointed. Luxurious elements such as coffee bars in the master bedroom are gaining popularity, as are expensive finishes in not-so-expensive homes. 



Thursday and Friday are the most common days of the week when real estate professionals list a home for sale, according to 2014 existing-home sales data analyzed by the National Association of REALTORS®. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday follow in popularity in that order. The least popular days to post a new listing are Saturday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, the most popular months for new listings are in spring, with two-fifths of all new listings in 2014 coming on the market between March and June, according to NAR's analysis.

Also, "while home closings exhibit a strong tendency to get done at the end of the month, listings are much steadier throughout the course of the month, with a slight tendency to be posted earlier rather than later," researchers write at NAR's Economists' Outlook blog.

The following were the most popular home listing dates in 2014:

  1. Thurs., May 1
  2. Tues., April 1
  3. Thurs., May 15
  4. Fri., April 11
  5. Fri., May 30
  6. Thurs., April 10
  7. Fri., May 16
  8. Fri., June 6
  9. Fri., May 2
  10. Fri., May 9

source:  National Association of REALTORS® Economists’ Outlook Blog


Wulfe & Co. projects just over 3.7 million sf of new retail shopping center space will be built and opened in the greater Houston area this year. According to the locally based real estate firm's 22nd annual retail survey, this represents a 56 percent increase over the previous years’ 2.37 million sf.

Supermarkets will dominate new retail construction, representing 43 percent of the year's growth. Thirty-two new stores are planned. HEB will open seven; Kroger will open four and expand two; Walmart will open four neighborhood market stores; Whole Foods and Sprouts will each add two; Fiesta and Trader Joe’s will each open one; and relative newcomer ALDI will add eleven 18,000-sf stores to the market.

The survey also indicated that there will be a new 180,000-sf Walmart Superstore, 165,000-sf Gallery Furniture and a Lowe’s home improvement center. There will also be five new theaters, three new Academy stores and two new Ross stores.

“With this high activity of new retail growth, we project that higher retail occupancy rates will exceed a seldom achieved rate of 92 percent this year," said Wulfe & Co. CEO Ed Wulfe. "Retail rental rates will also continue to increase driven by limited availability of shopping center space, higher land costs and higher construction costs for materials and labor to build or remodel new retail facilities."

source:  Wulfe & Co.