New Homes Sales Fell In February 2011 To Lowest Leves Since 1963; Foreclosures Weigh On Housing Market

23 03 2011

  • New U.S. single-family home sales unexpectedly fell in February 16.9 percent to a seasonally adjusted 250,000 unit annual rate
  • This is a record low and prices were the lowest since December 2003
  • The Commerce Department said sales drop was to the lowest levels since records began in 1963
  • January 2011 sales were upwardly revised to a 301,000-unit pace
  • Economists polled by Reuters had forecast new home sales edging up to a 290,000-unit pace last month from a previously reported 284,000 unit rate
  • Compared to February last year sales were down 28 percent
  • An oversupply of homes exacerbated by an increasing flood of properties falling into foreclosure is frustrating recovery in the housing market
  • Data on Monday showed a steep drop in sales of previously owned homes in February, with prices tumbling to a near nine-year low
  • The median sales price for a new home tumbled 13.9 percent last month to $202,100, the lowest since December 2003
  • Compared with February last year, the median price fell 8.9 percent. Persistent price declines could dampen hopes of a pick-up in sales during spring

For more:  http://www.cnbc.com/id/42229611/





“FundMyRemodel.com” Housing Design Update: NPR Airs “In Japan, Living Large In Really Tiny Houses”

2 09 2010

CLICK ON RADIO TO HEAR NPR'S: "In Japan, Living Large In Really Tiny Houses"

The Japanese have long endured crowded cities and scarce living space, with homes so humble a scornful European official once branded them rabbit hutches.

But in recent years, Japanese architects have turned necessity into virtue, vying to design unorthodox and visually stunning houses on remarkably narrow pieces of land. In the process, they are also redefining the rules of home design.





“The Shrinking American Home”: Average New Home Size Is 2,135 Square Feet And Three Bedrooms

26 08 2010

After years of growth, the Census Bureau recently reported that median new home size fell to 2,135 square feet in 2009 after peaking at more than 2,300 earlier in the decade.

Now, the typical U.S. owner-occupied home has six rooms, with three of them being bedrooms, according to the Census Bureau’s annual American Housing Survey. The most common number of baths is two or more.

“Home buyers are asking for less, cutting back on options and reducing square footage,” said Steven Pace of the North Carolina-based Pace Development Group, which builds both custom and tract houses ranging in price from below $250,000 to more than $2 million.

“They’re saying, ‘Maybe we don’t need that 5,000 square footage;” he said. “‘Maybe our bath doesn’t need to be big enough for our whole family and all our neighbors to take a shower at the same time.'”

Kermit Baker, chief economist for the American Institute of Architects, pointed out that consumers don’t ask for as much for spaces devoted to single purposes, such as media rooms for watching videos and game rooms for shooting pool. Instead, the requests are for rooms with shared uses.

“We continue to move away from the ‘McMansion’ chapter of residential design,” he said.

For those who remember the days of long, hot summers. Those are over, too. Nearly 90% of all new homes now have central air conditioning. And 63% of all homes are now cooled.

For more:   http://finance.yahoo.com/news/The-American-home-is-cnnm-3515289332.html?x=0&sec=topStories&pos=8&asset=&ccode=





New Home Market: Builders Increasingly Using Incentives To Sell Homes With Price Reductions, No-Cost Upgrades And Payment Of Closing Costs Being Most Often Used

25 08 2010

 Within the top three, the main trend has been toward increased use of reduced home prices as a sales incentive. Ranking a distant third among incentives used by builders at the beginning of 2006, reduced home prices became more prevalent as the housing downturn continued, eventually rising to the top of the list as the sales incentive used more often than any other in 2009 and 2010..

The use of special incentives to help boost sales has been a relatively common marketing strategy among builders for some time. NAHB has sought to track this phenomenon by periodically including questions on incentives in the special question section of the monthly Builders’ Economic Council survey that is used to generate the HMI (hereafter, the HMI survey).[2]

In order to isolate the effect of the HBTC, the standard incentive questions were modified on the June 2010 HMI survey, so that builders were asked to place particular incentives they may be using into one of four categories:[3]

  • Currently using and will continue with no changes
  • Currently using & will continue, but with changes to compensate for not having the HBTC
  • Starting to use to compensate for not having the HBTC
  • Starting to use for reasons unrelated to the HBTC

Nearly three-fourths of all builders indicated that they were currently using and planned to continue their current use of at least one incentive unchanged; 15 percent indicated that they were altering at least one of the incentives they had been using to compensate for the expired tax credit; 12 percent indicated that they were adopting at least one new incentive to compensate for the expired credit; and 15 percent were adopting at least one incentive for reasons unrelated to the HBTC (see attached table).

Comparing the 2010 numbers to responses from previous surveys, which simply asked builders if they were currently using a particular incentive, is not completely straightforward. The best comparison is probably with builders who checked either category 1 or 2 in the 2010 survey, because each of these categories indicates current use of an incentive.

Common Types of Incentives

Some types of sales incentives are quite common among builders; others are comparatively rare. Figure 2 shows the incentives checked most often under category 1 (currently using and will continue to use with no changes) in June of 2010. In other words, Figure 2 shows the specific incentives which are still being used as they were before the HBTC expired. Discounting or reducing home prices, offering options or upgrades at no or reduced costs, and paying closing costs were the most common types of incentives in this category.

These same three have also scored consistently as the most commonly used incentives in past HMI surveys. Within the top three, the main trend has been toward increased use of reduced home prices as a sales incentive. Ranking a distant third among incentives used by builders at the beginning of 2006, reduced home prices became more prevalent as the housing downturn continued, eventually rising to the top of the list as the sales incentive used more often than any other in 2009 and 2010 (see the history provided in the attached table).

A question on green features (offered at no or reduced cost) was added in 2010, to align with the way builders perceive the market. In previous surveys, no matter how a general question on options and upgrades was worded, builders considered “green” a distinct category and listed it frequently in the space provided to describe “other” incentives. When included as an explicit category on the questionnaire, offering green features at no or reduced cost was the fourth most common incentive currently being used.

Another change in the 2010 questionnaire was to combine the infrequently used “free car” and “free trip” into a single incentive called “free give-aways,” citing cars and trips as examples. Although still far down the list of sales incentives in common use, builders checked the general give-aways incentive more often than they had checked cars and trips combined on previous surveys.

For more:  http://www.nahb.org/generic.aspx?sectionID=734&genericContentID=142380&channelID=311