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.

Your Home May be Vulnerable to Termites

After one of the harshest winters experienced by much of the United States, we are ready to welcome spring with open arms.  However, the trifecta of Arctic cold, snow and ice may have left many homes battered and vulnerable to the most destructive pest – the termite.

As the weather warms, termites emerge from their overwintering spots in search of mates and new structures in which to establish their colonies.  Termites send out large number of swarmers and are often mistaken by homeowners as winged ants.  Some of the swarmers will mate and start new colonies.

While swarmers and their discarded wings are the most visible sign of a termite problem, here are other warning signs homeowners should know:

  • Mud tubes (used by termites to reach a food source) on the exterior of the home
  • Soft wood in the home that sounds hollow when tapped
  • Cracked or bubbling paint
  • Small pies of feces that resemble sawdust that may be evidence of a termite nest
  • Rotted tree stumps or landscaping timbers in close proximity to the house

InCide® Pest Control Insulation will kill termites upon contact with the insulation and is intended to prevent termite infestation anywhere the product is applied. InCide® is treated with a highly effective pesticide and fire-retardant.  It is recommended for use in new constructions and retrofit applications in attics, sidewalls and crawl spaces.

If signs of termites is found, contact a pest control professional to eliminate costly damage from termite infestation.  InCide® is an EPA registered product and may only be installed by a licensed pest control professional.

Spring—Just Around the Corner?

March 20 is the first day of spring and for many of us it cannot come fast enough. However, with the warmer weather comes those annoying pests like ants, cockroaches and termites. InCide® Pest Control Insulation can combat the warmer weather and help keep the pests out of your home.

InCide® is a unique cellulose insulation that provides pest control protection.  It works directly in the walls and attics where bugs and pests infiltrate and live.  Listed insects are killed upon contact with the insulation.

InCide® Pest Control Insulation is a superior product that provides permanent and continuous pest control protection.  The savings on heating and cooling costs plus the added pest protection make InCide® a great investment in your home.

InCide® works hand in hand with routine pest control maintenance. This EPA registered product may only be installed by a licensed pest control operator.

Energy Efficiency Top Priority for New Homes

This winter has been very long and cold and has impacted most of the country.  Heating costs have risen 28 percent and in some areas of the country doubled in cost.  While new homebuyers have been demanding energy-efficient homes for some time, it has become a top priority for homebuyers in 2014.

The demand for energy-efficient windows, programmable thermostats and highly efficient insulation has more than doubled over the past five years.  However, many homebuyers are evaluating the cost of the insulation and the payback.

I received a phone call from Jim Waldo who is building a custom home.  “I want my home to be energy-efficient and I have done my homework” he commented.  “Cellulose insulation is the best insulation on the market with highest return on my investment.”

Many professional insulation contractors offer a variety of insulation products.  They can provide expert advice on how to make your new or existing home energy-efficient.  Energy efficiency does not start and end with the insulation.  Caulking and sealing and proper attic ventilation play a very important role.

Whether you building a new home or have an existing home, contact a professional insulation contractor to discuss your energy-efficient needs.

How to Prevent Ice Damming

Ice dams are a pervasive and damaging winter roofing problem caused by poor roof ventilation and a warm attic space. Left untreated, ice dams can cause serious damage to your roof, gutters, paint, insulation, drywall, structure and even contribute to mold.

Ice dams form when melting snow on a roof runs off and refreezes at the edge of a roof. This condition occurs when the snow is melted by a warm roof, creating water running between the snow and the warm roof surface, then freezing and turning to ice when it gets past the exterior wall and hits a cold unheated roof edge or gutter. As the bottom of the snow pack continues to melt, water continues to flow down the roof surface until it hits the ice, thereby creating a larger and larger ice dam.

The best solution to stop the ice from forming on the roof is with proper attic insulation.  Cellulose insulation is one of the best performing products at extreme cold temperatures.  Cellulose insulation is easily installed over existing insulation preventing the removal of the current insulation in your home.

We highly recommend you contact a professional insulation contractor to inspect your attic for proper ventilation and to install sufficient amount of insulation as recommended by the Department of Energy.

Baby It’s Cold Outside

We all know the song “Baby It’s Cold Outside” and this sure describes this winter with the endless cold fronts and deep freeze throughout a large portion of the country.  However, if you are going around the housing signing “Baby It’s Cold Inside” you probably should be looking at how much insulation you have in your walls and attic. Insufficient or poorly installed insulation can cause high utility bills and a very uncomfortable living space.

InCide® Pest Control offers all the benefits of cellulose insulation combined with pest control protection.  This unique product guards against most common household pests and prevents the germination of mold and mildew.

InCide® may be installed directly over the top of existing attic insulation.  The loose-fill nature of InCide® fills all voids and gaps that other insulation products may leave exposed.  Walls may be insulated using the drill and fill method, eliminating the need for a total wall renovation or removal of old insulation.

Installing InCide® Pest Control Insulation in your home will create a comfortable living environment, reduce monthly utility costs and kill listed pests upon contact with the insulation.

Note:  InCide® is certified and approved by the EPA and may only be installed by a licensed pest management company.

Reduce Energy Costs and Unwanted Pests

As the cold temperatures continue to plague a large part of the country many of us are experiencing higher than normal heating costs.  While we seek shelter from the cold so do those unwanted pests.

InCide® Pest Control Insulation is the perfect solution to reduce your homes energy costs and at the same time help eliminate unwanted pests.  InCide® offers all the benefits of cellulose insulation but is specially formulated to kill listed pests upon contact and preventing infestations anywhere the product is applied.

InCide® Pest Control is made with high-density cellulose insulation and is easily installed over existing insulation.  The interlocking fibers provide a seamless layer of thermal protection in attics and walls.  Its loose-fill nature allows InCide® to completely fill all gaps around framing, plumbing, wires and other obstructions.  This tight seal inhibits air infiltration, a major cause of heat loss within a home.  By effectively controlling the transfer of heat and air movement through walls and ceilings, InCide® provides long-lasting comfort and significant savings.

InCide® is an EPA registered product and may only be installed by a licensed pest control company.  Contact your local pest control company today and ask them about the added value of InCide® Pest Control Insulation.

Subcontractors Essential to Home Building Industry

Subcontractors are an often over looked but essential part of the home building industry.  Many outside the industry do not understand how large a part subcontractors have in the construction of a home.  Home builders and remodelers subcontract a large portion of their construction work out to trade contractors who can more efficiently deliver individual pieces of the construction process.  Specialized subcontractors perform much or even all of the actual labor.

About 71 percent of those employed in the home building industry are subcontractors.  Total employment in the home building industry stands at 2.231 million with 647,000 consisting of builders and the remaining 1.584 million subcontractors.

During the past 40 years, the use of subcontractors significantly accelerated.  In 2012, 68 percent of home builders subcontracted 75 percent or more of the construction costs, whereas in 1959 on 31% was subcontracted.  A major reason for this trend is due to the increasing complexity, features and amenities supplied with new homes.

There continues to be a shortage of subcontractors. After the housing bust, many were forced to find other lines of work.  Some builders are seeing delays in construction up to 60 days due to the lack of skilled subcontractors.  However, home builders are hoping a stronger housing industry outlook will bring workers into the field in 2014.

Everything You Need to Know About Camel Crickets

During the change in seasons, camel crickets can become a nuisance to homeowners, especially in areas experiencing dry weather.  Camel crickets are common all over the world.

Camel crickets are light to dark brown with a hump-back appearance.  They have six legs including hind legs that are often as long as the rest of their body.

Adults are very small, only growing up 1.25” in body length.  Unlike other cricket species, camel crickets do not have sound producing structures on their back legs, and adults do not have wings.  Their only form of defense is to leap when frightened.

Outside, camel crickets are usually found in mulch, woodpiles or in wells.  They can make their way into a home and are usually found in such spots as damp basements, utility rooms, garages or crawl spaces.

One reason camel crickets are considered household pests is their habit of eating fabrics including curtains and clothing.  Homeowners have even reported crickets munching on clothing hung outside to dry.

InCide® Pest Control Insulation will kill camel crickets upon contact with the insulation and is intended to prevent infestations anywhere the product is applied.  InCide® is treated with a highly effective pesticide and fire-retardant.  It is highly recommended for use in new construction and retrofit application in attics, sidewalls and crawl spaces.

InCide® is authorized by USDA for use in federally inspected meat and poultry plants and is recommended for houses, apartments, offices, food processing plants, hospitals, restaurants, schools and hotels.  InCide® is certified and approved by the EPA and may only be installed by a licensed pest management company.