Bold predictions for real estate and housing

by Dan Krell
DanKrell.com
© 2012
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fortuneWe survived the “Mayan Apocalypse” of 2012, so what’s in store for the housing market and the real estate industry in 2013?

The “Long Slog:” Although analysts disagree about the date of the housing market bottom, most agree that the national housing market bottomed out sometime time in 2009-2010.  Many looked forward toward 2012 to be a phenomenal year for housing and a return to normalcy.  Certainly 2012 housing figures were better than those of 2011, but in many areas of the country (including locally), the market fell short of outperforming 2010.

Unlike the occasional Pollyanna story about the local housing market, analysts expect “the long slog” or “the long grind” that will take years (emphasis on the plural) to get back to normalcy.  No matter how you articulate it, and barring future economic setbacks, experts describe the climb out from the bottom as a long, slow trudge that will have high and low points along the journey.

Home sale prices: When real estate fell into a seemingly endless downward spiral in 2008, some sectors continued to do well.  Homes priced at and above one million dollars continued to outperform other sectors of the housing market through 2011.  The “upper bracket” sector began to show weaknesses in the early part of 2012; as luxury home sales slowed, mid-range home sales picked up momentum.  However, activity flipped toward the end of 2012; as upper bracket activity increased significantly, while activity in other price sectors decreased.  Until fiscal cliff, debt ceiling, and other government budget debates are resolved; local upper bracket home sales will be inconsistent during 2013.  This market bifurcation can skew local monthly average home sales figures, as well as possibly distorting monthly marketplace snapshots.

Hyper-local real estate: Regional and local variances in home sale prices will require home buyers and sellers to continue to focus on hyper-local data to determine selling prices.  One of the best ways for you to clarify neighborhood sales trends is to consult a local real estate agent for recent neighborhood comparables.

Mortgages & Appraisals:  Getting a mortgage may become be increasing difficult in 2013.  Recent reports of FHA losses and a possible bailout could force new guideline changes to help the venerable mortgage program.  Because of increased foreclosures and delinquencies, there is talk about FHA becoming increasingly credit score reliant, and increasing mortgage insurance premiums for riskier borrowers.

Appraisals will continue to be a lightening rod of criticism and a source frustration.  Since its inception, the Home Valuation Code of Conduct was confusing to everyone, and eventually became a scapegoat for many seemingly inconsistent valuations.  However, a low sales volume due to lack of resale inventory will also create issues with appraisals.

Pent-up demand: No need to worry about interest rates – yet.  Keeping mortgage interest rates low, the Federal Reserve has commented on continued purchases of mortgage backed securities as part of a larger stimulus program.  However, continued low mortgage interest rates may not be the reason for home buyer activity as much as pent up demand.  However, home buyers waiting on the sidelines to purchase a home have been met with low resale inventories during 2012.  For many home owners, the general lack of home equity remains the major reason to not sell a home; and it’s also a reason for low resale inventories to continue through 2013.  Continued low inventory environment will create a competitive environment for home buyers.

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of January 1, 2013. Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.

Todays Luxury Home Trends are Tomorrow’s Home Standards

by Dan Krell
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What comes to mind when you think of a luxury home? When asked, many people first think a luxury home is a very large and expensive home. However, a luxury home does not have to be the largest or the most expensive home in the area; in fact a luxury home could be a townhome or condominium.

Although price alone does not signify a luxury home, luxury homes are more expensive than the average home. Regardless of price, luxury home ownership is on the rise. Consider the Joint Center for Housing Studies (Harvard University) report from 2004 indicating that homes costing over one million dollars are the fastest growing market segment in the country such that the United States Census Bureau had to change the top census category of home value from “$500,000 or more” in 1990 census to “$1,000,000 or more” in the 2000 census.

So what makes a home a “luxury home?” It is mostly about the home owner’s lifestyle, which is typically a combination of: personal expression, house amenities, construction quality, and physical location. A typical luxury home buyer will pay the price to create their perfect home and to make it express their lifestyle.

Lifestyles and homes have changed a lot over the years; consider that in the United States, the average home in the 1950’s was about 980 square feet while today the average home is over 2,400 square feet! As lifestyles change, trends in luxury home building will change to fit the luxury home buyers’ personality and routine. Most luxury home buyers are willing to pay more for a home in the perfect location with customized amenities.

Luxury homes usually have many state of the art amenities including the latest in appliances and recreation facilities. State of the art kitchens are usually standard in a luxury home. Current trends in high end kitchens include prep-kitchens inside the main kitchen so as to keep the main kitchen clean, as well as high tech appliances connected to the internet so you can either order groceries from your fridge or cook a turkey while at work (via phone commands). Additional luxury amenities include walk in closets (closet sizes rival the average bedroom) that are well appointed with center islands and dressing areas. Other amenities depend on the owner’s personal interests and hobbies. You might find these indoor facilities in a luxury home: theatre, basketball court, bowling alley, or swimming pool.

Luxury home construction is distinct from other construction because of the customization and materials used (such as exotic woods, imported marble, and custom fixtures). Luxury homes are now being designed for room flexibility and continuous room flow. The price of a luxury home is higher than the average home because of these design and construction features.

Do you like what you see in some of today’s “dream homes?” Today’s luxury home trends tend to become tomorrow’s norm. For example, the washer/dryer, dishwasher, air conditioning, microwave oven, granite counters, and stainless steel appliances (the list goes on) were once considered to be a luxury- but are now the norm in many homes: So, who knows? Maybe your next home will have that indoor basketball court!

This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published in the Montgomery County Sentinel the week of April 21, 2008. Copyright © 2008 Dan Krell.