Hidden Under the Floorboards

The weather is finally getting warm enough for summertime pests to start emerging and becoming active.  Some pests such as termites wait for the warmer weather to start their search for a nesting site.

Termites are destructive pests that can easily go unnoticed by homeowners, eating a home from the inside out.  Unlike ants and wasps, most species of termites nest inside the structure they infest, so they are not often seen.  Termites typically eat through the building or tree they’ve infested 24 hours a day to sustain a growing colony.

Termite damage is often not covered by homeowners’ insurance policies, making prevention or early detection crucial for avoiding costly renovations.

InCide® Pest Control Insulation installed in the attic and walls of a home can help prevent the infestation of termites.  Termites are killed upon contact with the insulation.  InCide® will also reduce heating and cooling costs making it a dual purpose insulation.  It is an EPA registered product and may only be installed by a licensed pest control company.  If you think you have a termite problem, contact a pest professional and ask them about InCide® Pest Control Insulation.

New Home Inventory Growing

Sales of new single-family homes are rebounding with a 6.4% increase in April to an adjusted annual rate of 433,000 units, according to the Commerce Department reports. This is the first upswing in new-home sales following two consecutive months of decline.

Builders are showing signs of increasing their inventories of homes for sale.  New-home inventories reached a three-and-half-year high in April, with 5.3 month supply at the current sales pace.  Still, the stock of new houses for sale remains more than 50 percent below its pre-recession level.

“Builders are adding inventory in anticipation of further release of pent-up-demand,” says David Crowe, chief economist for the National Association of Home Builders.  “We are only about halfway back to what could be considered normal market, but relatively low mortgage rates and affordable home prices are other factors that should help keep starts and sales on a slow trajectory in the months ahead.”

With rising inventories, the median price of new home dropped 1.3 percent in April compared to a year ago, averaging $275,800 nationwide.

Regionally, new-home sales rose the most in the Midwest by 47.4 percent in April compared to March.  Followed by a 3.1 percent gain in the South and the West held steady and the Northeast posted a 26.7 percent drop.

Builders are gradually increasing sales, but tight credit for first-time home buyers are impeding a more robust recovery.

Pest-Free Home Prevents Asthma and Allery Symptoms

More than nine out of ten allergists believe a pest-free home is important step in preventing asthma and allergy symptoms. Many pest related asthma and allergy triggers can be avoided by practicing simple pest prevention measures.

Many common household pests, such as cockroaches and rodents contain potent allergen proteins that can cause reactions and symptoms for people with certain types of allergy and asthma.  It is estimated that 63 percent of homes in the U.S. contain cockroaches and their particles – saliva, droppings and decomposing body parts – so it is recommended that homeowners take steps to rid their home of these pests.

Asthmatic adults and children exposed to cockroach allergens experience symptoms when their airways tighten, inflame or fill with mucus.  Common symptoms include coughing, especially at night, wheezing, chest tightness or pressure, and shortness of breath.  Controlling allergies and asthma is a two-fold process, so it is important for a person suffering from these symptoms to see a doctor and contact a qualified pest professional to recommend a course of action to eliminate the problem.

InCide® Pest Control Insulation installed in walls can help eliminate the infestation of cockroaches.  Whether you are building a new home or have an existing home, InCide® can be easily installed.  Not only will InCide® Pest Control Insulation save you money on your monthly utility costs. But, will give you piece of mind knowing those pesky roaches will not survive the pest control properties not found in other types of insulation.

Unlike many household pests, cockroaches are prevalent year-round. Homeowners attempting to control cockroaches themselves may find this to be a difficult task.  You should contact a professional pest management company to eliminate a cockroach problem.

Since InCide® may only be installed by a licensed pest control operator, ask them how you can reduce the risk of cockroach infestation in your walls and save money on your monthly utility cost.

Termite Trivia

Termites are every homeowner’s nightmare.  They not only eat through the wood in walls and the foundation but also are difficult to detect.  However, there is much more to termites than you may think.  Here are just a few fascinating facts about these saw-toothed, silent property destroyers.

Not always underground

Colonies of termites are difficult to detect because most species build their colonies underground and move through subterranean tunnels.  However, there are some species such as Conehead termites, which forage over top of the ground, similar to ants. This allows these termites to spread easily and quickly if left unchecked.

Insatiable Hunger

It is not recommended to follow the typical diet of a termite colony.  They consume wood, flooring, and even wallpaper non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  To better put this in perspective, it is estimated that an established subterranean termite colony could consume the amount of wood equivalent to one cup of sawdust in as little as two hours.  Just imagine the damage that could be down over time if left undetected. Continue reading

Healthy Housing Industry Spurs Job Growth

The health of housing is key for the overall state of the U.S. economy and housing stands poised to serve as an engine of job growth with the right policies in place, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) told Congress.

Testifying before the Senate Banking Committee’s Subcommittee on Economic Policy during a hearing examining the drivers of job creation, NAHB economist Robert Dietz said that home building and remodeling have generated 274,000 jobs over the past 2 ½ years.

“This expansion has direct economic benefits,” said Dietz.  “Housing provides the momentum behind an economic recovery because home building and associated businesses employ such a wide range of workers.” Continue reading

Housing Market Continues to Grow

A growing economy, pent-up demand, competitive mortgage rates and affordable home prices will keep housing on an upward path through 2015.  However, several obstacles including tight consumer credit, shortage of lots and labor and rising material prices are hindering a more robust recovery, according to economists.

“Housing needs an improved economy,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe, adding that the economy is expected to respond as payroll employment continues to grow and the unemployment rate slowly declines.

Consumer confidence is back to pre-recession levels and the purchase of motor vehicles and home furnishings are on the rise, indicating that consumers are increasingly willing to buy big-ticket items such as houses.

Reflecting an increase in credit demand and economic growth, mortgage interest rates are projected to rise to 5 percent by the end of 2014 and 6 percent by the end of next year.  These rates are still low by historical standards and this would not be a significant deterrent to expansion in the housing market.

However, builders continue to face a number of headwinds.  Supply constraints related to lots and labor and rising lumber, gypsum and OSB prices are hurting the ability of builders to meet demand.  Moreover, creditworthy borrowers, particularly younger families and first-time home buyers, are having difficulties in getting home loans.


New-Home Construction Ramps Up in Midwest and Northeast

Groundbreaking on new single-family homes posted a 6 percent rise in March, showing a gradual strengthening in the sector — particularly in the Northeast and Midwest — according to new figures by the Commerce Department.

On the other hand, the volatile multifamily market saw starts fall 6.1 percent in March. Overall, housing production, which reflects both multifamily and single-family starts, rose 2.8 percent month-over-month. Starts were down 5.9 percent compared to March 2013, the largest year-over-year decline since April 2011.

Still, “we see improving signs of new-home construction as we move into the spring buying season,” says Kevin Kelly, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders. “The strongest recovery is in the Northeast and Midwest, where builders were hampered by severe winter weather earlier in the year.”

Single-family and multifamily housing starts rose the strongest in the Northeast and Midwest with gains of 30.7 percent and 65.5 percent, respectively. Starts fell in the South by 9.1 percent and by 4.5 percent in the West.

Builders remain cautious about demand, facing continued tight credit conditions for home buyers and erratic job growth, says NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe.

Construction permits, a gauge of future construction, dropped 2.4 percent to 990,000 units in March. Permits rose 33.3 percent in the Northeast and 26 percent in the Midwest, while declining 17.1 percent in the South and remaining unchanged in the West.

April is National Pest Management Month

Each day, and often behind the scenes, pest professionals are working to prevent or treat residential infestations, ensuring schools, hospitals, food processing facilities and our homes are free of pests.  Pest management is important to residential and commercial problems (rodents, ants, cockroaches, termites, etc.) as well as a nation as a whole to protect our food and health.

Pest infestations can trigger asthma and indoor allergies, especially in children and the elderly; contaminate food sources and food preparation areas; spread a number of dangerous viruses and bacteria; and damage homes.

With almost 18,000 professional pest management companies working each and every day to ensure the public has adequate protection against the diseases and dangers caused by pests.  In observance of National Pest Management Month, we hope you will join us in saluting pest management professional for the role they play in safeguarding us from the scary, disease-carrying, property-destroying pests.

First-Time Home Buyers Shrinking Share of Market

The National Association of Realtors reports first-time buyers are a shrinking share of the market, only 27 percent of buyers, compared to 40 percent in more normal market. It’s not that young households don’t want to buy.  It’s that desire is not matching up with their ability.  Many young households are saddled with student loan debt while job creation and wages have been heading up only slowly.  And the qualified mortgage rule that took effect this year to ensure lenders don’t make bad loans won’t help, since it tightens how much student loan and other debt loan applicants can carry.

This situation is worrisome, because all of the recent growth in household formation has been among renters.  Unless a healthy portion of today’s 40 million renter households become homeowners, the housing market will continue to struggle.

There are two issues to be tackled if first-time buyers are to get back to more normal levels.  First, we must monitor the impact of the Qualified Mortgage Rule to see if lenders are being to risk averse. There is reason to think they are, because mortgage default rates have been at historic lows in the last few years.  That suggests lenders have restricted underwriting too much.  Second, builders need to step up home building, bringing construction levels closer to historical norms.  More inventory helps tame price growth, and it gives buyers something they don’t have much of now: selection.

The housing market continues to struggle.  In 2000, when the market was rather boring, with no bubble and no crash, there were 5.2 million existing-home sales and 1.6 million housing starts.  Today, home sales are struggling to reach 5 million annually and new starts total only about 1 million, yet the country has 34 million more people and mortgage rates remain historically low.

High Expectations for Retirement Homes

Seventy percent of baby boomers say that they house they live in when they retire will be the best home they’ve ever had, according to a survey conducted by Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate.

What’s more, 57 percent say they plan to move out of their current home in order to search for their dream retirement home.

With approximately 77 million boomers in the U.S., it’s quite significant for our industry to see that this population has so much positive anticipation for the home in which they will be retiring and for the majority, their aspirations involve making a move.  Baby boomers are known for being a hardworking, trailblazing generation.  As they have done with every other major life event, they are marching head-on into retirement with big plans.  The survey found that boomers continue to surprise with nuances of what they care about and what they are prioritizing.

Additional findings from the survey:

  • About one in four boomers say they likely will buy a second home to use during their retirement years, such as a vacation or beach house.
  • Thirty-nine percent of baby boomers say they want to live in a rural community, such as a farm or small town; 27 percent say they desire a traditional retirement community, such as a 55+ exclusive neighborhood; 26 percent say they want to live in an urban community.
  • Of those who haven’t retired yet, 72 percent say they plan to retire in the same state that they currently live.
  • Of those who plan to move to a new house, 69 percent say they’re willing to make updates or renovations to their next home to make it fit their specific wants and needs.
  • Forty-two percent say the most important factor in choosing their next home is lower-maintenance home features and energy efficiency.