A survey by American Lives, a consumer research firm in California, conducted a study for the trade magazine Builder to answer that question. Here are their conclusions:
They are young. Most are under 45. Half said they had annual household incomes of $75,000 or less. Two-thirds are married.
They are frugal. They consistently told surveyors they were eager to live a simple lifestyle.
They are concerned about their financial future. About 70 percent said the economy is “not so good” with 27 percent saying it was getting worse and 27 percent saying it was getting better, and two-thirds saying it would get better in a year. Some 55 percent said they were concerned that they might lose their jobs.
They see themselves as energy efficient but not necessarily “green.” About 32 percent said they’d pay extra for energy-efficient features but only 16 percent said they’d pay extra for recycled or renewable construction materials.
Neighborhood is important. Ninety-five percent said they thought the community was as important as the home itself. Seventy-nine percent wanted the most square footage they could afford, but 69 percent said they’d consider a smaller home in the right neighborhood.
Two housing experts called for public policies that emphasize urban living at the expense of suburban and exurban housing in an extensive proposal in the current issue of Washington Monthly.
Patrick C. Doherty, director of the Smart Strategy Initiative at the New America Foundation, and Christopher B. Leinberger, a professor at the University of Michigan, argued that neither Baby Boomers nor their children — together comprising half the population — want to live in suburbia.
“Demand for standard-issue suburban housing is going down, not up, a trend that was apparent even before the crash. In 2006, Arthur C. Nelson, now at the University of Utah, estimated in the Journal of the American Planning Association that there would be 22 million unwanted large-lot suburban homes by 2025,” the authors wrote.
Instead, the authors urge federal support for development of urban, walkable, and transit-friendly neighborhoods. “All this rebuilding could spur millions of new construction jobs,” they write.
Source: Washington Monthly, Patrick C. Doherty and Christopher B. Leinberger (11/01/2010)
Here are five steps to developing a great relationship with a remodeling contractor.
1. Let the contractor know if you are ready to remodel or just kicking the tires. Gary Palmer, a Charlotte, N.C.-based general contractor, says seeking multiple bids is fine, but don’t waste his or her time by letting the bidding process drag on for weeks.
2. Do your homework. Before seeking bids, develop two files. One should include information, including photos, of what you like. The other should include a list of what you don’t like.
3. Listen to the experts. A good contractor can tell you whether the project is feasible and what the pay off will be.
4. Communicate your budget. Let the contractor know up front how much money you intend to spend.
5. Be realistic and patient. Every remodeling project is messy and all of them are going to be frustrating somewhere along the way.
Source: Charlotte Observer, Barbara S. Russell (10/23/2010)
Real estate brokers marketing the use of a preferred lender, title company, or other settlement service provider should take care to avoid RESPA violations that can be incurred when marketing fees exceed the reasonable value of the services performed.
These services include signs inside or outside the sales office and homes up for sale; e-mail or direct mail campaigns; banner ads and preferred partner links on the broker's and agents' Web sites; and the use of the broker's name and logo in preferred partner marketing materials.
Brokers should request that the preferred partner use an independent marketing expert or system to value the marketing fee and ensure that service and activity levels are reviewed regularly.
Source: RISMedia, Mark L. Meyer (10/18/2010)
It’s important to pay attention to all the information you have available to you because it will help you avoid unpleasant surprises down the road.
Be sure to ask questions about the property before buying. Some questions you might want to ask the current owner and/or yourself include:
What kind of development plans are in the works for this neighborhood?
Is there a chance that a highway will be built in the home’s backyard five years from now?
Is this street likely to become a major street or a popular rush-hour shortcut?
All real estate agents work by an ethical rule that says they must act in the best interests of both the home seller and the home buyer. However, you cannot truly guarantee that your best interests are involved unless you have an agent on your side during the buying process. After all, the seller’s agent is there to represent the seller, not the buyer.
NEXT Mistake 10: Not thinking about the future.
Finding the perfect house may seem easy, but if you’re on a budget, you may not be able to afford that dream home. So, why not find a lower-quality home and, over the years, help it reach its true potential? Finding a house you can add value to allows you move up the property ladder.
Improving a lower-quality home brings many benefits. First, you most likely have the option to sell it for more than you spent on it. Secondly, you have saved money to live in a home that, once upgraded, is just as good as or better than the expensive homes. And finally, you have something to be proud of – you transformed a decent home into a wonderful home through your own work or work for which you were responsible.
NEXT Mistake 9: Not hiring your own agent.
Although you shouldn’t let cosmetic, surface imperfections steer you away from a home, you shouldn’t ignore large problems that could cost you big time down the road. Always be sure to inspect the home and understand what shape the house is in before closing on a sale.
Once you’ve fallen in love with a house, It can be easy to write off large problems as petty. However, try to keep your emotions and feelings in check during inspection. If you let your emotions get the best of you during inspection, you may regret it when a major problem occurs down the road and you may end up paying more while getting less.
NEXT Mistake 8: Being swept away.
Remember: it’s easier to make small changes through a contractor or by doing it yourself than it is to have the current home owner change things. If you find a home that’s perfect for you except for some ugly wallpaper or chipped paint, don’t automatically throw it out the window. It’s much cheaper to make changes yourself, whether that means hiring a contractor or actually making home repairs yourself.
If the current home owner does the upgrades for you, the home’s value increases and you will end up paying more in the long run. Therefore, don’t necessarily look for the most beautiful home, but rather seek the home that’s structurally sound and that has the most potential. Maintaining a visionary’s attitude when buying a home can save you a lot of money in the long run.
NEXT Mistake 7: Neglecting to inspect.