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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
Welcome to the AskinsOnline current Housing Trends eNewsletter.

This eNewsletter is specially designed for you, with national and local housing information that you may find useful whether you’re in the market for a home, thinking about selling your home, or just interested in homeowner issues in general.

The Housing Trends eNewsletter contains the latest information from the National Association of REALTORS®, the U.S. Census Bureau and reports, videos, key market indicators and real estate sales statistics, a video message by a nationally recognized economist, maps, mortgage rates and calculators, consumer articles, plus local neighborhood information and more.

For the latest information, click here.
American’s thirst for smart home technology is growing, with more home owners seeking greater control of their home’s appliances, lighting, and systems. Indeed, more than 70 percent of about 2,000 adults recently surveyed say they wish they could just control something in their home from their mobile device, according to Lowe’s 2014 Smart Home Survey.

What do they most want to be able to do? The survey showed respondents wanted to be able to adjust the thermostat, turn on the lights, or start the coffee pot before they get out of bed.

Besides added convenience, 40 percent of adults surveyed say they believe a smarter home would help them trim costs and save money on their utility bills. Sixty-two percent said they find smart home systems are most beneficial for monitoring safety and security.

So with the technology pool in the smart home arena ever-expanding, what’s holding back adoption rates? 

The top considerations holding back respondents from purchasing such products were cost or fees (56 percent); ease of use (13 percent), and security (11 percent). Americans are more than twice as likely to prefer a do-it-yourself solution, without a monthly fee, over a professionally installed/monitored system with a monthly service fee, according to the survey.

“In general, Americans feel positively toward products that will make their homes safer, more energy efficient, and easier to manage,” says Kevin Meagher, Lowe’s vice president and general manager of Smart Home. Lowe’s offers Iris, a single user interface that allows home owners to control several aspects of their home from connected devices. “People want DIY solutions that are simple and affordable,” Meagher said about the survey results.

source:  Lowe’s

When new-home sales were down drastically during the recession, the changing demographics and tighter lending standards were influencing buyers’ purchasing decisions when home-shopping and changing their priorities, home builder industry experts say. 

“There is a lot of pressure today to retool,” says Steve Brooks, CEO of Grand Homes. “We have to redesign houses and figure out what kind of product people would want to buy.”

For example, more younger buyers are bypassing the typical suburban tract of homes and showing a stronger preference for urban-style homes closer to the city.

“Trying to keep doing the same cookie-cutter houses is going to be increasingly difficult,” says James Gaines, an economist at the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M University. “Home builders worry that the demand pool for the suburban home with the quarter-acre lot and the fenced back yard will be shrinking.” 

Younger buyers also are saying they don’t need a ton of extra space in a home and that they want spaces configured differently in homes, builders say. 

For example, the living room is on it’s way “out,” builders say, as more home owners instead show a preference toward a game room or media room. Plus, more home owners are finding they don’t need a fourth bedroom, which was once in high demand. 

However, not all builders believe the “buying small” trend will last. 

“With our typical single-family buyers, we’re not seeing them willing to give up much room,” says Bill Darling, a builder in Plano, Texas. “We have seen them willing to put fewer bells and whistles in the homes.”

Some builders are focusing on ways to cut maintenance costs of home ownership too by setting out to build more homes that are more energy efficient. 

source:  RISMedia
The price of insuring a property can raise the cost of ownership significantly.

There are various factors that affect the cost of insuring a home:

· Location. A home near a fire hydrant or protected by a professional fire department, as opposed to volunteers, will cost less to insure.

· History of claims. Previous claims push up the cost of insurance. Ask the seller to provide a home’s insurance claims history report. This information is available from the sources:
The CLUE report can be purchased at:
The A-Plus report is available at:

· Need flood or earthquake insurance? Policies for both of these perils are sold separately and can be pricey.

· How old are the systems? Electrical and plumbing systems that are less than 10 years old cost less to insure.

source: Associated Press 
In the aftermath of the housing crisis, Americans still remain overall optimistic when it comes to confidence in the housing market. Home ownership remains a highly desirable goal for most Americans, according to the latest Country Financial Security Index survey. Eighty-nine percent of about 1,000 Americans surveyed say buying a home is an important part of achieving the American Dream.

Those surveyed also view home ownership as a more attainable goal than they have in previous years. Sixty-four percent say they believe owning a home is an attainable goal for a typical middle-income family, according to the index. In 2013, that percentage stood at just 41 percent.

The biggest obstacles identified in the survey by those who don’t yet own were centered around financial limitations, mainly a low credit score, lack of down payment, and the price of homes in the area.

Still, “we’re very encouraged that so many Americans feel optimistic about home ownership and view it as a realistic and achievable goal,” says Joe Buhrmann, manager of financial security support at Country Financial. “This is a dramatic increase from last year, when less than half felt like home ownership was attainable for a middle-income family. An improving economy and labor market might be helping to lift Americans’ spirits and place buying a home closer within reach.”

source:  Country Financial

Nationwide housing starts plunged in August, mostly attributed to a 31.7 percent decline in the multifamily market, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and U.S. Census Bureau reports.

Overall, housing starts – reflecting both multifamily and the single-family construction – were down 14.4 percent in August, reaching a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 956,000 units.

Single-family housing starts posted a more modest drop at 2.4 percent in August to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 643,000 units.

The HUD and Census data follows a report that showed builders’ confidence in the new-home market had reached its highest level since 2005, as more builders reported greater optimism with home sales and sales expectations for the next six months as well as an uptick in potential buyer traffic.

The builders’ tradegroup is calling August’s drop in single-family housing starts a “monthly blip,” and that starts are still 8 percent above last year’s level.

"While single-family starts registered a slight decline, low mortgage rates, affordable home prices, and pent-up demand will keep single-family production moving forward in 2014,” says David Crowe, chief economist of the National Association of Home Builders.

As for the drop in starts on the multifamily side, it’s “not too surprising, given how volatile the numbers have been the last 18 months,” Crowe notes.

Housing starts fell across the country, with all regions posting drops in August.

Housing starts month-over-month by region:

  • Northeast: -12.9%
  • Midwest: -10.3%
  • South: -10.9%
  • West: -24.7%

Building permits – which reflect future building activity – also fell 5.6 percent in August. Multifamily permits dropped 12.7 percent while single-family permits decreased 0.8 percent.

“Homebuilder confidence had risen to a 9-year high but that is not being matched by what is actually happening on the ground,” notes Lawrence Yun, the National Association of REALTOR®’ chief economist, in a recent blog post. “The current pace of new home construction is woefully low – only about 60 percent of the norm. If new home construction activity does not pick up sizably in the upcoming months then the housing market will again encounter an inventory shortage.”

source:  National Association of Home Builders and National Association of REALTORS® Economists’ Outlook blog


Despite the headlines about hot real estate markets, your home showings have started to slow, interest from potential buyers is waning, and your home seller is getting worried.

 What should you do?

Time to update your listing photos. The listing may benefit from having new photos taken of the home to post on the Internet, which may help to renew interest online and get more potential buyers to the front door, according to real estate professionals in a recent article in The Chicago Tribune.

“Does the home still look as good as it did in the listing photos or does it look more lived-in now, a few months later?” The Tribune article also notes. 

Many real estate pros have also opted for staging homes to try to renew interest: Decluttering, make sure the home is in neutral colors, washing the windows, and paying attention to the smell of the home (particularly if there are pets) to make sure the home is more inviting to potential buyers.

And if the home continues to linger, agents may need to revisit comparable sales in the neighbor and have a frank talk with sellers about the price they’re asking for the home.

"At the end of the day, it's going to come down to the price," Kevin Tatum, an @properties broker in Chicago, told the newspaper. 

"That's what we try to have (sellers) keep in mind."

source:  Chicago Tribune


In an effort to prevent blight, municipalities increasingly are imposing ordinances that require mortgage servicers to cough up fees, post bond for repairs, and register homes headed toward foreclosure.

The number of laws mandating registration of vacant or foreclosed property has surged more than 50 percent over the last few years, with California and Florida each approving more than 100 such ordinances. The trend could burden banks, investors and the housing government-sponsored enterprises with millions and possibly even billions in extra costs.

source:  American Banker


Sales of existing homes, which represent the bulk of the residential housing market, declined in August from July but new-home sales rose.

Existing-home sales, which include single-family homes, townhomes, condominiums, and co-ops, declined to 5.05 million units on an annualized basis in August, after rising for four consecutive months. Although sales were at the second-highest level of 2014, they represented a 1.8% decline from July and a steeper 5.3% decline from August 2013. The National Association of Realtors reported that sales gains in the Northeast and the Midwest were outweighed by less activity in the South and the West. Even though the pace of recovery for sales of previously owned homes has been uneven, the median price rose almost 5% above August 2013 and represented the 30th consecutive month of year-over-year price gains.

Separately, the Commerce Department reported that sales of new single-family homes in August rose 18% from July and 33% compared with August 2013. The higher-than-expected monthly growth was led by the West, but units sold increased in all regions except the Midwest, which was flat. Analysts welcomed the good news but cautioned that new-home sales data can be volatile and the pace may not be sustainable: For example, some of the gain could represent sales deferred from June and July. The number of months that new homes remain on the market was relatively unchanged.

The economic week ahead

A full slate of economic reports is scheduled for release this coming week, including personal income, The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index, construction spending, the ISM Manufacturing and Nonmanufacturing Indexes, factory orders, the employment situation, and international trade.

source:  Vanguard Group

Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta were the most popular moving destinations of this summer, according to United Van Lines' Summer Long-Distance Moving Trends Study. The moving company giant found that more Americans this summer left cities in the Sun Belt and West Coast to move to Midwestern and Northeastern cities.

"Bucking recent trends, more people are moving to cities in the Northeast and Midwest," says Michael A. Stoll, economist, professor, and chair of the Department of Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles. "Popular metropolitan destinations driving city-to-city migration are those with a highly educated labor force and that have growing or mature business, financial, and insurance services. In addition, strong technology and health care industries are driving migration, sectors where recent job growth has been relatively robust in the broader economy."

The most popular metro areas for U.S. family moves during the peak moving season (based on United Van Lines' summer moving volume data) are:

  1. Chicago
  2. Washington, D.C.
  3. Atlanta
  4. Boston
  5. Los Angeles
  6. Dallas
  7. Phoenix
  8. New York City
  9. Minneapolis
  10. San Diego

What had people moving this summer? Seventy-one percent moved for a new job or corporate transfer; 13 percent moved because of retirement; and nearly 10 percent moved for health or other personal reasons, according to the United Van Lines survey. Dallas/Fort Worth, Atlanta, and Los Angeles were the most popular destinations for new jobs and corporate transfers, according to the survey.

source:  United Van Lines