Market Trends

10 Home Amenities Contractors Love

Rising numbers of creative artists, freelancers and contractors are working from home. The numbers are expected to increase. Leasing agents, employers and manufacturers of home amenities aren't the only people who have to accommodate for shifts that America's changing workforce will bring. Real estate agents, home builders, mortgage lenders and home buyers may also have to adjust to the changes.

Home amenities must keep up with changing times

The shifts that may have far reaching impact are expected to see half of America's workforce earning income from the contractor and freelancer ranks. According to Forbes, 53 million workers in the United States already freelance. By 2020, that number is expected to double. Many of these workers will work from home.

Add in telecommuters, and don't be surprised if members of the gig and freelance economy start looking for home amenities and home floor layouts that fit their work-from-home needs. Following are 10 home amenities that contractors may start looking for more and more in home designs.

  1. Open floor plan - Houses that are designed with an open floor plan make it easier for contractors to multi-task. Whether they are working from their home office, the living room or the kitchen island, contractors can keep an eye on young children, pets or a meal that's cooking in the oven while they work.
  2. Solar energy - Homes built with solar energy panels help to cut down on utility expenses for work-at-home professionals, and who doesn't love opening a utility bill and seeing that the costs has dropped?
  3. Great outdoor views - Of all home amenities, this one is tops. Great views can keep freelancers from feeling isolated. Outdoor views help contractors feel connected to the world around them, even as contractors work for 8 or more hours a day from home.
  4. Built-in bookcases - Apartment management companies are already designing apartment units with built-in bookcases. Not only are built-in-bookcases visually attractive, they are space savers.
  5. Large home office - A large home office is a contractor's bread and butter. Contractors may start asking real estate agents to only show them houses that have a large home office. These rooms need to be big enough to fit a desk, chair, two filing cabinets, a printer and computer inside. The space shouldn't be cramped.
  6. Indoor exercise space - A large extra room or a basement could serve as an indoor exercise space. Because contractors tend to be independent thinkers, they value and take care of their health.
  7. Wifi access - This is a must when it comes to home amenities. Even houses in the country may need Wifi access to land a sale with freelancers.
  8. Stylish home lighting - Task, accent and general or natural lighting are winners. Home offices should be designed with at least task and general lighting.
  9. Wall computer stands and monitor stands - Similar to built-in bookcases, these home amenities computer and monitor stands are attractive space savers. Houses designed with these two home amenities also keep contractors from having to spend money on separate computer and monitor stands.
  10. Finished basement - Documents, videotapes, artist equipment and supplies and additional filing cabinets can be stored in a finished basement. A portion of a finished basement could also serve as a home office, especially if both people buying the same house are contractors.

Location is also important to contractors and freelancers. Homes that these workers, particularly full-time contractors, live in come with real advantages if the homes are located within walking distance of public train and bus stations. If the houses are not within walking distance, contractors should not have to drive more than 10 to 15 minutes to reach public transportation facilities.

Until the shifts change, these home amenities may seem far fetched. Manufacturers, home builders and real estate agents who see and prepare for these shifts now, may find themselves ahead of the curve now and in the future.

Building An Eco Friendly Home

Are you looking for eco-friendly, money saving methods and materials for building your new home? Do you want a comfortable and stylish home with all the latest smart home gadgets, yet wish to construct it in a way that has as little negative impact on the environment as possible? Not to worry, with planning and a close working relationship with your architects, builder, and interior designer, you can reach your goals of good stewardship of the earth’s assets while knowing you are building an energy-saving home with materials and products that do not negatively impact the environment.

Prevent Frost Heaving With Frost-Protected Foundations Climatic conditions in North America result in high levels of spring frost that settle down on and around the house. Many energy-efficient focused builders follow a practice of installing frost-protected shallow foundations (FPSF) that raise the frost depth by directing heat loss towards the foundation. Talk to your builder and consider the benefit of this practice for your building situation.

Advantages Of Pre-Cast Wall Panels Using pre-cast wall panels is also a financial sound, eco-friendly option. These panels make homes look beautiful and are thermally efficient: made of insulating foam and concrete. Thermal panels deliver superior quality insulation, enhancing thermal efficiency. Additionally, they are resistant to moisture, highly durable, non-combustible, and even provide soundproofing through walls – which means no more worrying about the neighbor’s barking dog! Another option, CarbonCast insulated wall panels and claddings provide stellar insulation, enhance ambiance, and provide decades of energy-efficient sound proofing from outdoor traffic noise. SIPs or Structural Insulated Panels also serve as a highly effective option, replacing conventional framing material and differ forms of insulated wall panels. Sips are pre-assembled and do not contain concrete. They are, in fact, made of polystyrene foam fit between oriented strand board to serve trifold functions of sheathing, insulating and framing – all in one! Mostly used as support for roofs, walls and flooring, SIPs are very energy efficient and offer an R-value improvement of 15-40 percent.

Energy - Efficient Windows For The Home How to plan your house is directly related to how energy efficient and eco-friendly. Placing operational skylights and savvy window panels help improve the natural ventilation, reduce heating and air conditioning use and also trap the sunlight during winters, keeping the house warm. Low-e window coating or low-emissivity window coating employs a thin metal or glass coating that lets the majority of the sun’s light radiation enter the room while blocking the harmful radiation. They boost the R-value and reduce the U-factor. Technological advancements enhance operational skylights, wind turbines, and windows with rooftop monitors – all accessible via an app and functional on the go.

Keep The Pipes From Freezing Heat tape with automated temperature controls installed under sidewalks and driveways eliminate the need for snow removal – saving a lot of time and sparing a lot of labor. If geothermal energy is an option, the pipelines beneath the concrete could heat up the garage floor, basement, and other areas, causing the snow to melt. Again, at the touch of an app: a relatively inexpensive “fix” for a chronic problem.

 

What Buyers Are Looking For

Did you know 57% of home buyers purchased a house with a fireplace?  78% of home buyers purchased a house with a garage. The rooms that had the highest dollar value that buyers were willing to pay more for were a basement and an in-law suite.

The National Association of REALTORS has posted the 2013 Home Features Survey offering a lot of information on what home buyers are looking for and what they are buying

Click HERE to view more home buyer choices.  For more extensive information, contact your Coldwell Banker Upton-Massamont REALTOR, our realtors have complete information and an vast array of tools to help you sell or buy your home.

Pioneer Valley Agents see brighter market!

We continue our search for local real estate agents opinion on the state of our Pioneer Valley market.  Our recent post, "Real Estate Market Brighter in 2013", shared the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS's recent agent opinion survey.  Agents across the state see positive movement in the market.

I just heard from Davitt Team and they see,  "A better balanced market, a lot of bad inventory has been absorbed.  Prices are beginning to stabilize.  I think prices will continue to stabilize over the first half of the year, we may see some slight price appreciation in certain price ranges." -Paula & Rick Davitt

You may contact Paula at (413) 896-7659 or email her at: PDavitt@DavittAssociates.com.   Rick may be reached by calling (413) 687-7269 or emailing RDavitt@DavittAssociates.com

Thanks to all the Coldwell Banker Upton-Massamont  agents  who shared their opinion on the state of our local market this week.

Real Estate Agents Watching the Market

We continue our search for local real estate agents opinion on the state of our Pioneer Valley market.  Our recent post, "Real Estate Market Brighter in 2013", shared the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS's recent agent survey.  Agents across the state see positive movement in the market.

 I took the opportunity to ask our Coldwell Banker Upton-Massamont REALTORS what they think is happing in our local markets.

"What a fantastic market for both Buyers and Sellers.  We usually see one or the other, but this is a good time for both.  Interest rates remain low with stable home prices for the Buyers and for the Sellers we are seeing signs of market recovery; plus the inventory is low, prices look to be slowly ticking up again and most importantly there are a lot of Buyers looking to buy now!"  -Tami Gaylor & Joanne McGowan of the Gaylor & McGowan Team

This award winning team may be contacted through our South Deerfield, MA Office at (413) 665-3771 x103 or x109 or feel free to email them at gam@cbumr.com  Click HERE to check out their profile.

Gretchen O'Neil from our new Amherst, MA office said, "The current market is full of buyers ready to pounce.  There is a shortage of inventory and buyers are tired of the same stale listings.  As a result, when sellers have put their homes on the market within the past month, slightly ahead of the spring market and priced right, buyers have snapped up these homes quickly.  I think home prices will be up just a little over the next year."

Contact Gretchen at (413) 626-8653 or email her at Gretchen.ONeil@cbumr.com

 

 

Real Estate Market Brighter for 2013?

The Massachusetts REALTOR® Market Confidence Index (RMCI) and Price Confidence Index (RPCI) results were released this week.  (More Information from MAR)

All the information gathered clearly show sales have been up and inventory down.  I took the opportunity to ask our Coldwell Banker Upton-Massamont REALTORS what they think is happing in our local markets.

"I think the housing market is off to a strong start and prices have stabilized.   It is too early to predict, but thinking we might see less homes on the market than we have in previous years.   If this happens you will see house prices increase starting 2014." - Wanda Mooney

Speak to Wanda directly at  (413) 337-8344 x1 or email her at Wanda@MooneyandRoberts.com  or check out her website.

 Carol Bolduc said, "We are moving out of recovery and returning to good health".  She sees our market over the next year as stable and more balanced supply and demand.

Contact Carol at (413) 625-6366 x102 or email Carol@cbumr.com

It is Time to Buy?

Is it time to buy a home? According to a Gallup poll done on 1/17/2012, 67% of people polled say yes!

According to Gallup, "Overall, there is good reason for most Americans to think now is a good time to buy a house. Interest rates remain near historic lows. Home prices are down sharply, providing many incredible buys."

According to the November 2001 National Housing Survey conducted by Fannie Mae, buyers cited their major reasons for buying a home. Here are the results:

  • 80% Having a good place to raise children and provide a good education
  • 79% Having a physical structure where you and your family feel safe
  • 75% It allows you to have more space for your family
  • 69% It gives you control over what you do with your living space 69

So despite what has been a negative sentiment towards the housing market, buyers and the general public still think that homeownership is the way to go.  When looking for you next home in the Pioneer Valley, calll one of our Coldwell Banker Upton-Massamont agents to assist you.

If you are looking for a home in Franklin County click HERE for a direct listing of all homes available.

If you are looking for a home in Hampshire County click HERE for a direct listing of all homes available.

 

It is Cheaper to Buy a Home

For the past several years there has been some confusion over whether it has been a better deal to rent or buy a home. Buying has always been the best long term investment. With the changes in the market it is now clear that in almost any situation buying is the best bet.

Rents over the past few years have been on the rise and the demand for rental housing has been shrinking rental availability raising the rents and the competition for acceptable units. Rents have been increasing at about a rate of 2.5 percent a year while home prices have been dropping at about 3.1 percent a year. This makes buying a much better option.

Lately, there has been an uptick in the home buying market and in some price ranges inventory is low for prospective buyers. Because prices and mortgage rates remain at all-time lows this is a perfect time to get out of a rental and into your own home.

If you are looking for some hard numbers on your own personal financial picture the New York Times has an easy to use calculator that will help you determine how much you will save by buying a home. Click here to use the calculator.

To search single-family homes in Franklin County click HERE.

To search single-family homes in Hampshire County click HERE.

Why You Should Buy a House NOW

It's time to buy a home! That is right you heard it here, no more doom and gloom for the real estate market. The time has come to go out and buy some real estate. The only thing holding buyers back has been consumer emotion but a look at the facts should help buyer feel more confident in opening up their wallets for a great opportunity in today's housing market.

JP Morgan's Market Insights report has outlined why people looking to buy a home have never been in a better position. Here are just three important points from the JP Morgan report.

The Price is Right

One measure the report looked at was the ratio of personal income to home prices.

"Since 1966, the median price of an existing single family home in the U.S. has varied between 150% and 251% of personal income per household. However, roughly three-quarters of the time it has been in a relatively narrow band between 185% and 230%. In September 2011, the ratio was just 153%, implying that to get back to an average price to income ratio, home prices would have to rise by about 27%."

Mortgage Rates are Right

Mortgage interest rates are at historic lows as compared to personal income.  The report notes, "During the week of October 7, Freddie Mac reported that mortgage rates had fallen to an average annual level of 3.94%. Assuming the use of a fixed rate mortgage with 20% down, this would make the median mortgage payment on a single family existing home just 6.9% of per household personal income, compared with an average of 14.4% since 1966."

What this means is that it is a buyers perfect storm. Buyers who buy now will likely reap a long term financial gain by buying a home at a lower than average cost and financing it for a lower than average cost. It is a win-win situation.

Home Ownership Beats Renting

The report goes on to look at the cost of renting versus owning. JP Morgan predicts that by the "third quarter of this year, we estimate that the implied median mortgage payment had fallen to just 78% of the median asking rent. In other words, at current mortgage rates, home prices would have to rise by 35% just to get back to their average relationship to rents."

Home buying is now more affordable than it has been in decades. Home prices are at all time lows, mortgage rates are at rock bottom and income levels remain steady. Despite what you may hear on the nightly news home ownership has never been more affordable.

What Buyes and Sellers Really Think

Each year the National Association of Realtorsdoes a study of home buyers and sellers. They ask home buyers and sellers across the country why they bought or sold, how they made decision and who they are. Here are just a few of things they found out:

WHAT SELLS

The typical home purchased was 1,780 sq ft, was built in 1990, and had three bedrooms and two bathrooms, according to NAR's 2010 survey of buyers and sellers.

APPEALING TO BUYERS

44% of sellers offered incentives, like home warranties and help with closing costs, to attract buyers, according to NAR's 2010 survey of buyers and sellers.

THE PRICE IS RIGHT

Recent sellers typically sold their homes for 96% of the listing price; 57% reduced the asking price at least once, says NAR's 2010 survey of buyers and sellers.

GENDER GAP

There are more single female buyers than single males. But single male buyers grew by 2 percentage points between 2009 and 2010; single female buyers.

COST OF LIVING

The median price buyers paid for homes was $179,000, according to the latest NAR survey of buyers and sellers.