8/30/2021 Housing and Economic Update from Matthew Gardner

 

This video is the latest in our Monday with Matthew series with Windermere Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. Each month, he analyzes the most up-to-date U.S. housing data to keep you well-informed about what’s going on in the real estate market. 


Hello there!  I’m Windermere Real Estate’s Chief Economist, Matthew Gardner, and welcome to the latest episode of Mondays with Matthew.

Today I wanted to take a look at the several housing related data releases that came out in August, and I am going to start off with the new home sector and the July numbers for housing permits and starts.

 

 

New home permits – and here I am referring to single-family permits – fell by 1.7% (or roughly 18,000 units) in July to an annualized rate of 1.048 million units and have been heading backwards since March.

But I always like to put things into perspective and you can see here that although we have seen a pullback over the past few months, the trend has actually been heading higher since we emerged from the financial crisis in 2011.Of course, COVID had a very pronounced impact on permit activity, but it bounced back rather impressively, that is until the parabolic increase in lumber and other costs really started to hit builders hard. 

 

A bar graph and a line graph, both titled "Single-Family Home Starts." The bar graph show number of starts in the thousands on the y-axis, from 600 to 1,400 and dates on the x-axis from July 2019 to July 2021. Year-over-year in July, the number of starts went from 887,000 in 2019, to 995,000 in 2020, to 1.11 million in 2021. The line graph shows the number of starts in the thousands from 0 to 2,500 on the y-axis and years 2005 - 2021 on the x-axis. In 2005, the number of starts was around 4 million, hitting a low point in 2009 at around 500,000, returning to over 1.5 million in 2021.

 

And the slowdown in permits obviously impacted housing starts which dropped by 4.5% – or 52,000 units – to an annual rate of 1.11 million.

Starts fell across most regions, with the exception of the west which rose by 0.9%. Declines were led by the Northeast (-6.3%), followed by the Midwest (-2.3%) and the South (-2.0%).

But again, for perspective, you can see that the longer term trend is still improving, but I am afraid not to the degree needed to address the massive housing shortage that the country faces.

If you have watched these videos for any length of time you will know that I like to look at homes under construction as opposed to housing starts – which many do not – as I believe it offers a better gauge of the market that permits or starts data. And for those who might not be aware of the difference between housing starts and houses under construction, a home is technically started if a foundation has been poured, but it does not mean that vertical construction has started, but homes under construction show just that.

 

A bar graph and a line graph, both titled "Single-Family Homes under Construction." The bar graph shows the number of homes in the thousands the y-axis, from 400 to 750 and months on the x-axis from July 2019 to July 2021. The bar graph shows that in July 2019 there were 524,000 homes under construction, 517,000 in July 2020, and a peak of 689,000 in 2021. The line graph shows homes under construction in the thousands on the y-axis, from 200 to 1,200 and years on the x-axis from 2004 to 2021. In 2004, there were 800,000 homes under construction, a low of roughly 200,000 in 2012, and back up to over 600,000 in 2021.

 

And the number of homes actually being built rose by 1.5% in July to an annual rate of 689,000 units, and that is 33% higher than the same time a year ago.

All regions other than the Northeast – which dropped by 1.6% – saw the pace of vertical construction rise versus June with the South leading the way with a 2.7% increase. This was followed by the Midwest which rose by 1.1%, and the West saw a more modest increase of 0.5%.

Again, when we look at a longer timelines, the growth is actually rather impressive, but, again, it still falls well short of demand.

So, what I see in this data is that the pullback in housing starts was not a surprise, given that permitting activity (which is a leading indicator for starts) having fallen in each of the prior three months. But despite this, the overall pace of new homebuilding actually remains relatively healthy, with the six-month moving average of homes under construction above the pre-pandemic trend at a little more than 655,000 units.

Although rising material costs, a significant shortage of qualified labor, and affordability challenges are all still keeping builders awake at night, I believe that the fundamentals for homebuilding remain solid, thanks mostly to an improving labor market backdrop and still exceptionally low inventory levels.

Additionally, a recent easing in mortgage rates, and a significant pullback in lumber prices which have fallen sharply since peaking in mid-May and are now back to pre-pandemic levels, also provide support to growing new construction activity.

 

Two line graphs, titled "Single-Family New Homes For Sale in the U.S." and "U.S. Single-Family New Home Sales." The "New Homes For Sale" line graph shows the number of homes in thousands on the y-axis, from 240 to 380 and months on the x-axis from July 2019 to July 2021. In July 2019 there were roughly 330,000 new homes for sale, while in July 2021 there was a high of over 360,000. The "New Home Sales" line graph shows the number of homes in the thousands on the y-axis from 400 to 1,100, and months on the x-axis, from July 2019 to July 2021. In July 2019, there were around 600,000 new home sales, a low of under 600,000 in April 202, and a high in January 2021 of nearly 1 million.

 

Moving on to new home sales in July and it was a bit of a mixed bag. As you can see here, the number of new homes for sale continues its upward trend – which bottomed out last Fall – and rose by 5.5% versus June and is up by over 26% from a year ago.

Now, this may sound to be great news but as I dug though the data, I saw a different story. You see, the jump in listings was driven by a record rise in homes for sale that have yet to be built.

In fact, the number of houses for sale that have yet to break ground accounted for almost 29% of total inventory. Why is this? It’s because many builders are very cautious about the market given expensive raw materials as well as limited land supply and construction workers.

 

A map showing the single-family U.S. home sales by region. In the west, there were 215,000 homes sold, a 14.4 % one-month change. In the midwest, there were 71,000 homes sold, a negative 20.2% change. In the northeast there were 22,000 homes sold, a negative 24.1 % change. In the southeast, there were 400,000 homes sold, a 1.3% one-month increase.

 

On the sales side of the equation, contract signings were up by 1% versus June to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 708,000, but that is down by 27% from a year ago.

Last month’s gain in new home sales was driven by a 1.3% rise in the populous South and a 14.4% jump in the West, but sales plunged 24.1% in the Northeast and were 20.2% lower in the Midwest.

There can be no doubt that affordability is becoming an increasing issue in the new-home market. The median sale price is up almost 18% from its pre-pandemic level, which is a touch lower than the run-up in sales prices in the existing-home market, but still enough to deter potential homebuyers.

And cost is another factor – in addition to COVID-19 – that is accelerating the migration to suburban markets and metro areas in lower-cost states such as Arizona, Utah, Texas and Florida. But, by contrast, new home sales have weakened in areas where population growth has slowed, in part due to an outflow of residents seeking more affordable real estate, lower taxes and other lifestyle advantages. It will be very interesting to see if this is a trend that continues as we head into 2022.

 

Two line graphs titled "NAHB U.S. Housing Market Index" ad "Components of the HMI." The housing market index graph shows numbers from 0 to 100 on the y-axis and months from August 2019 to August 2021 on the x-axis. The index was at just below 70 in August 2019, dipped to a low of 30 in April 2020, hit a peak of 90 in November 2020, and was back to roughly 75 in August 2021. The HMI line graph shoows numbers from 0 to 100 on the y-axis and months from August 2019 to August 2021 on the x-axis. There are thrre lines: single family sales in orange, expectations in grey, and traffic in navy blue. All three follow the same shape, though traffic has stayed roughly twenty points below sales and expectations, bottoming out in April 2020 and peaking in November 2020.

 

Moving on – the National Association of Homebuilders published their Index of Builder Sentiment in August, and the data rather echoes the numbers that we have just been discussing.  You can see that sentiment in the single-family market has been easing gradually in recent months, but it remains well above the 50 level, suggesting that more builders are seeing the market as good, rather than bad, even if the current index is at its lowest level in 13 months.

And when we look at the components of the index, sales conditions fell five points to 81 and the component measuring traffic of prospective buyers also posted a five-point decline to 60. But the gauge charting sales expectations in the next six months held steady at 81.

As we have talked about, builders are facing significant obstacles and this is impacting the pace of new development. According to Freddie Mac, the U.S. housing market is 3.8 million single-family homes short of what is needed to meet the country’s demand and in order to catch up, builders would need to construct between 1.1 million and 1.2 million single-family homes a year to meet long-term demand but, in truth, the start rate would need to be even higher to shrink the existing deficit that we are currently experiencing.

And with more demand than new supply, what happens? That’s right, buyers turn their attentions to the existing home market and that is a neat segue into the final dataset that dropped this month, and that’s the existing home sales numbers for July.

 

Two line graphs titled "Inventory of Homes For Sale in the U.S." and "Y/Y Change in New U.S. Listing." The inventory graph shows the number of homes for sale in the millions on the y-axis, from 1.0 to 4.5 and each December from 1999 to 2020 on the x-axis. Inventory was around 2 millin i nDecember 1999, peaking at nearly 4 million in December 2007, and down to just above 1 million in December 2020. The Y/Y graph shows the percentage changes on the y-axis from negative 100 percent to 60%, and months from March 2020 to July 2021 on the y-axis. In March 2020, the year-over-year change was around +10%. It dipped to below negative 40% in April 2020 and didn't resurface above 0% until December 2020. Peaking in April 2021 at +40%, the y/y change is hovering close to zero as of July 2021.

 

It was pleasing to see that, for the 5th month in a row, Inventory levels ticked higher and, unadjusted for seasonality, were measured at 1.32M units, but I like to look at the seasonally adjusted number and that came in at a still respectable 1.0246M units.

I also like to look at the number of new listings which gives a better view on the market – and as you can see here, they are up year-over-year and that is allowing sales to accelerate.

You see, the inventory number that NAR puts out represents the number of homes for sale at a set date in the month; however, new listings show the total number of homes that came on the market during that month and if a sale is agreed upon in the same month that it comes to market, then it is not included in the overall inventory number.

 

Three line graphs, titled "Existing U.S. Home Sales," "U.S. Single-Family Home Sales," and U.S. Condo/Co-op Home Sales." The existing sales graph shows the number in millions on the y-axis from 3 to 7 and months on the x-axis from January 2012 to March 2021. Sales were at roughly 4.5 million in January 2012, bottomed out at roughly 4 million in May 2020, and peaked at nearly 6 million in October 2020. The single-family home sales graph shows sales from 200,000 to 550,000 oon the y-axis and months from January 2019 to July 2021 on the y-axis. Sales were at just above 350,000 in January 2019, dipped to 300,000 in May 20-20, and returned to nearly 450,000 in July 2021. The condo / co-op sales remained around 50,000 from January 2019 to January 202, dipped to below 30,000 in May 2020, and rose to roughly 60,000 by September 2020, staying consistent until a slight drop off in July 2021.

 

And because new listing activity is still pretty robust, it has allowed sales to tick back up as you can see here. On a seasonally adjusted, annualized basis, sales came in at 5.99M – up for the second month in a row but still well below the numbers we saw last Fall.

On a month-over-month basis, single-family home sales rose by 1% to almost 442,000, but multifamily sales dropped by over 10%, but were still up by 15% from a year ago.

 

Three line graphs titled "Median Sale Price of U.S. Existing Homes," "Median Sale Price of Single-Family Homes," and "Median Sale Price of Multifamily Homes." The median sale price graph shows prices from $180,000 to $380,000 on the y-axis and January dates from 2015 to 2021 on the x-axis. From January 2015 to January 2021, the median sale price has increased from roughly $200,000 to $359,900. Over those same dates, the median sale price of single-family homes graph shows an increase from roughly $200,000 to $367,000, while the multifamily homes graph shows an increase from roughly $200,000 to $307,100.

 

Home prices took a little breather in July – dropping by 0.8% month over month – but are still 17.8% higher than seen a year ago.

Single-family home prices also dipped by 0.8% to $367,000 – but are up by 18.6% from a year ago and multifamily sale prices dropped by 1.3% to $307,100 but were up 14.1% from July of 2020.

 

Three line graphs titled "Months of Inventory" The first one shows single-family and multifamily units. From January 2012, to January 2021, the graph shows an overall decrease from roughly 7 months of inventory to 2.6. The second graph shows just single-family homes decreasing from roughly 6 months of inventory to 2.6 over those same dates, while the third graph showing condo and co-op homes shows a drop from over 7 months of inventory in 2012 to 3.0 in January 2021.

 

Even though we saw modest increases in listing inventory, the market is still far from balanced. At the existing sale pace, there is only 2.6 months of supply, well below the 4-6 months that is considered balanced, but certainly better than the 1.9 months we saw back in January.

The same was seen in the single-family arena which also showed 2.6 months of supply and things were slightly better in the condo and co-op world where there is currently 3 months of inventory.

As I went through the report in more detail, there were a few more nuggets worthwhile mentioning. Although it is true that inventory levels are somewhat higher – which is certainly a good thing – but the market remains remarkably tight.

For example, for every offer accepted on a home in July, there were 3.5 additional offers; half of all offers made in July were above the list price and, because the market remains highly competitive, the number of all-cash offers rose from 16% a year ago to 23% in July. And with 89% of homes going pending in the same month that they were listed, and the average days on market coming in at just 17, we are still quite far away from experiencing a normal housing market.

Well, I hope that you have found this month’s discussion to be interesting. As always if you have any questions or comments about this topic, please do reach out to me but, in the meantime, stay safe out there and I look forward the visiting with you all again, next month.

Bye now.

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What is a Cape Cod Home?

Today, the Cape Cod architectural style is synonymous with waterfront property, windy beaches, and vacation getaways. Known for its distinct exterior features and cozy interior spaces, the Cape Cod home has become an American classic.

History of the Cade Cod Home

The original idea behind the Cape Cod home was to bring a bit of across-the-pond familiarity to the early English settlers in New England. The design of the home was conceptually similar to an English cottage, except with certain modifications to fit the harsher Northeast climate. These homes were built throughout the region during the 19th century, then experienced a surge in popularity in the early-to-mid twentieth century, due to a renewed interest in colonial-era architecture and their affordability in a post-World War II economy.

 

Image Source: Getty Images – Credit: OlegAlbinsky

What is a Cape Cod Home?

The Cape Cod style uses simple lines and shapes that recall the English cottages they’re inspired by. They are typically one or two stories, square or rectangle in shape, with steeply pitched roofs, shingled exteriors, window shutters, and a central chimney. The steepness of the roofs was designed to reduce snow buildup, thereby reducing the risk of a roof collapse from bearing too much weight. The characteristically low ceilings were meant to prevent heat from escaping, while the shutters served as a wind block against the cold New England breeze.

There are multiple styles of Cape Cod homes. The easiest way to tell the difference between styles is to count the number of windows on either side of the front door. If there are two windows on one side of the door, it is what is known as a “half cape.” A home with two windows on each side of the front door is known as a “full cape.”  Regardless of which sub-category a particular Cape Cod home falls under, they all share a flat front façade, which creates their square or rectangular shape. Over time, designers have updated the Cape Cod design to accommodate the needs of modern life, but their unmistakable aesthetic remains timeless.

 

Visit our Architectural Styles page to learn more about the history behind certain styles of home design, from A-Frame to Victorian. For more information on home design, remodeling, and decorating, visit the Design page on our blog.

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Windermere Living: Summer Parties Made Simple

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of Windermere Living.

By Amanda Zurita

Summer, especially this summer, is meant for barbecues, outdoor movie nights, garden gatherings, and rooftop cocktail affairs. Keep the focus on reconnecting with friends and family by opting for unfussy, minimalist decor and clean color palettes. It’s about time we have something to celebrate, isn’t it?

Backyard Barbecue

Upgrade the summertime tradition of the backyard barbecue with stylish and simple tools.

Image Credit: Jayme Burrows / Stocksy

 

The most time-honored summertime gathering takes place in your own backyard, and a lineup of modern tabletop grills and tools means you can feed a fête without much fret. For example, BergHOFF’s sleek tabletop grill has a compact design that can easily transport to a balcony or the beach—simply add charcoal, and you’re ready to take orders. Or switch it up with one of this year’s most popular cooking contraptions, a portable pizza oven, like the one made by Ooni. With models powered by gas or by wood fire, these ovens can cook a 12-inch pizza in as little as 60 seconds and will work for meats and vegetables, too. Focus on main courses, and ask your guests to bring sides or desserts to share. Complete the ambience by piping a playlist through portable outdoor speakers like the Move by Sonos, which are equipped with voice control and Bluetooth tech, so you can play DJ with ease.

Elevate Your Grill Game Without Going Too Crazy

  • Burgers on the menu? Stuff them with gourmet cheeses, like bleu or mozzarella, before throwing them on.

  • Sitting down together? Time your steaks right by searing them first and finishing them just before serving.

  • Make it a pizza night—with or without a pizza oven. Load pies with your favorite fixings, roll them out on a pizza stone, and cook them over the open flame.

  • Don’t skimp on fruits and veggies. Grilled vegetables are summer’s side dish; peaches and pineapple make for a sweet and juicy dessert (make it á la mode!).

Garden Party

Elevate your outdoor space with basic romantic elements.

A group of people sit around a large table at a backyard party.

Image Credit: Trinnette Reed / Stocksy

 

A garden party is a glorious way to gather with friends for an elegant afternoon. Start by creating a special space in the yard by laying down some outdoor rugs or erecting a temporary canopy to provide shade. To illuminate the celebration, surround the table with candlelit lanterns, or string outdoor lights between overhead branches. Then, it’s all about the tablescape. Select durable (and unbreakable) dishware like sustainable bamboo plates and bowls from Fable New York, which come in a range of colors like soft blush, buttery yellow, and eggshell blue. The same goes for glasses, which can be as durable as they are chic in fluted acrylic designs from West Elm. To distribute your chosen refreshments, fill a cheery pineapple-shaped beverage dispenser from Nordstrom with punch or lemonade, or stock bottles of bubbly in a sleek Permasteel rolling patio cooler. Once you’ve covered the dining and decor, add extras that keep your guests comfortable, like classic paddle fans, supplied by party stores and wedding suppliers like The Knot. Keep mosquitoes at bay with a discreet Patio Shield repeller by Thermacell, which creates a 15-foot zone of protection around your gathering.

Add a touch of natural beauty by creating simple flower arrangements based on what’s in your yard—or the local farmers market. Seasonal blooms like tulips, peonies, and ranunculus come in many shades and have a textural, wild appearance. To step outside the expected, add branches from cherry or olive trees or fresh fruits from trees on your property. Take your time adding and subtracting elements until you achieve a look you love. A flower frog or stretch of lattice can help hold everything in place. For a minimalist spray, choose a monochromatic color palette, or keep it light with just a few blooms.

Sunset Soirée

Watch the sun set from your rooftop, porch, or balcony at an elegant yet restrained affair. 

A man and a woman attend an outdoor party during sunset.

Image Credit: Jovo Jovanovic / Stocksy

 

To set a classic (and classy) mood, make a portable record player the center of attention, and invite guests to bring a favorite album. Many options, like the turntables from Crosley, have Bluetooth capabilities, so you can link speakers and switch to digital music with ease. To keep the evening chill away, set up a portable fire pit (Solo offers wood-burning, smokeless options in a number of sizes). Citronella candles, like Pottery Barn’s artful candle, help maintain the romantic ambience while keeping the buzz kills away.

Cheers to You

A polished party deserves an equally upscale signature drink, but you don’t want to spend all night playing bartender. A Champagne punch you can batch in advance is easy to make but elegant enough to fit the vibe. This recipe for a berry satsuma sangria will fit the bill and please a crowd, especially when served in shatter-resistant stemware from Williams Sonoma. Prepare about an hour before your party to preserve the bubbles.

Ingredients

  • 6 satsuma oranges
  • 1/2 pint strawberries, sliced
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • 1 bottle of chilled dry Champagne or sparkling wine
  • 6 oz Grand Marnier liqueur
  • 4 oz club soda
  • 2 oz cherry brandy
  • Fresh mint for garnish

Recipe

Place the segments of two oranges and all of the strawberries and raspberries into a large punch bowl or drink pitcher. Juice the remaining oranges for about . to ⅔ cup of orange juice, and add to the bowl along with the remaining liquid ingredients. Stir together and taste, adding simple syrup if it isn’t at your desired sweetness. Serve over a large ice cube and garnish with mint.

Movie Night

Everything you need to get cozy under the stars.

 

A man and a woman watch a movie on a projector from their driveway.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Pump Up Your Popcorn

Toss plain popcorn with a variety of seasonings: try butter, salt, and truffle oil; crispy bacon, a few tablespoons bacon drippings, butter, and chopped chives; butter, sriracha, and lime—or bake popcorn on a tray with a few cups of your favorite cheeses for a crunchy-melty treat.

It’s lights, camera, action with a backyard movie night to rival any drive-in. If you’ve spent the last year watching everything Netflix has to offer from the comfort of your couch, this change of scenery is (literally) a breath of fresh air. Opening your own outdoor theater is easy with movie screens, like Pottery Barn’s streamlined option, that set up in no time and come with a portable storage bag. Upgrade from blankets or lawn chairs to specially made outdoor bean bags from Jaxx, line the aisles with IKEA’s romantic solar lanterns, and you’re ready for showtime under the stars.

Project: Projector

When choosing a projector, consider brightness levels in your yard. If you have any light pollution, you’ll likely need a projector that puts out 800 lumens for an 80-inch screen size. A short throw projector, placed three to eight feet from the screen, is ideal. Epson’s EF-100 Mini Laser Projector is a good bet, and it’s both powerful and light, weighing just under six pounds. As for audio, most projectors that do have built-in speakers won’t offer the cinematic sound quality you’re looking for, so a set of well-placed Bluetooth speakers will round out the full experience. A pair of Anker Soundcore Motion Boom speakers placed at the back corners of your viewing area can create rich surround sound. And be sure to let the neighbors know about movie night so they aren’t surprised—better yet, why not extend an invite?

Read the full issue here: Windermere Living – Summer 2021

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What is a Barndominium?

What is a Barndominium?

A barndominium is a combination of a barn and condominium and is typically custom built from metal pole barns or other similar structures. Due to the metal structuring, barndominiums require less maintenance than a traditional home. They are also less susceptible to deterioration and damage. The popularity of barndominiums has taken off in recent years due to their multi-functionality as a home, a workspace, a shop, etc. Designs can range from one-story steel structures to contemporary barn homes. Chip and Joanna Gaines from HGTV’s “Fixer Upper”, aired an episode about barndominiums in which they converted a barn with horse stalls and hay storage into a stunning five-bedroom, two-bath home.

Customizable

When designing a barndominium, the floor plan is very flexible. Due to their uncommon framing and design, you have carte blanche to decide which layout is ultimately best for you. Choose to have an open floor plan with designated spaces for each room, or put-up dividing walls that provide more separation. Some barndominium models include energy-efficient windows, engineered concrete slabs, spray foam insulation, plumbing, high ceilings, and much more. There are several companies that offer custom barn home kits which include both the plans and building materials.

Affordable

Inevitably, the cost of building your barndominium will increase depending on the materials and the complexity of its design. However, most barndominiums are relatively affordable to build. According to metalbuildinghomes.org, many large high-end builds begin at $250,000. Other builders will generally charge around $85 per square foot for a complete build-out. On the other hand, a basic barndominium shell with a living quarters can fetch prices as low as $20 per square foot. A basic shell would include the bones of the structure: the slab, building, plumbing, metal or wood, electrical stub outs, vents, sinks, showers, and washrooms. Due to the simplicity of construction, a barndominium can be finished in a matter of weeks. The initial purchase price and the cost of maintenance are considerably lower than a traditional single-family home. Saving money on the necessities allows you to dedicate more funds toward personalizing the space.

Multi-Purpose

Barn Pros in Monroe, Washington explains the different uses of their customizable barns. As they explain, the uses their clients have found for their barndominiums run the gamut from primary homes to yoga studios, to barns for growing plants, as animal sanctuaries, educational facilities, and wedding venues. According to Barn Pros, roughly 40 percent of clients use them for agricultural purposes. The owners of these structures say that there is something appealing about a design that can be used as a standalone home yet has the flexibility to house something more intricate like a winery or a brewery.

Check out these resources to get inspiration from some popular barndominium floor plans:

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The Difference Between a Comparative Market Analysis and an Appraisal

It can be difficult for sellers to distinguish between two methods of finding the value of their home: a Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) and a home appraisal. Though they share many similarities, there are key differences in how the two approaches ultimately arrive at a listing price for your home.

The Difference Between a Comparative Market Analysis and an Appraisal

Comparative Market Analysis (CMA)

A CMA is conducted by an agent using their knowledge of the local market in conjunction with information available to them on the multiple listing service (MLS), which contains data on sold homes and market trends. A CMA helps to price the home more accurately, keeping the property competitive in the current market. For those who are thinking of selling their home For Sale By Owner (FSBO), it’s worth noting that you will not be able to conduct a CMA on your own, since, among other things, access to the MLS is exclusive to real estate agents.

Your agent’s analysis accounts for the various factors that influence home prices to arrive at an accurate estimate of your home’s value. A CMA compares your home to others in your area that have either recently sold, are currently on the market, or had previously listed but have since expired, typically using data from the past three-to-six months. Comparable homes, or “comps,” are homes whose characteristics are similar to your own, such as the housing type, condition, and the square footage and property size. A thorough CMA will provide information on what homes in your area are selling for, how long they were on the market, and the difference between their listing and sold price, and will list a low, median, and high selling price for your home.

Appraisal

The main difference between an appraisal and a CMA is the personnel involved. Whereas a CMA is conducted by a real estate agent, an appraisal is carried out by a licensed appraiser on behalf of the bank. Once a buyer applies for a loan to purchase your home, the bank will order an appraisal of the property. Though appraisers use methods of comparison similar to an agent’s CMA, unlike a real estate agent, bank appraisers have no vested interest in the sale of the home. The goal of an appraiser’s visit is to determine your home’s fair market value to ensure that the bank isn’t lending more money to the buyer than needed.

For more resources on the selling process and to use our free home value calculator, visit the selling page on our website here:

Windermere – Selling

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How to Choose the Best Flooring

Flooring is a key component of a home’s design and can often be the centerpiece of a renovation or remodel. Because it covers such a large surface area it will significantly impact the look and feel of your home, so choosing the right material can be stressful. Weigh your options before making a decision. Learn about the different types of material, assess your budget, and form a plan for installation.

How to Choose the Best Flooring

Room Function

How you spend time in any given room will help you decide which type of flooring is best. In your home office, choose the flooring that best accommodates your working needs. Carpet can be comforting while hardwood and laminate are more durable. Entryways, mudrooms, playrooms, and pet rooms will undoubtedly see their fair share of dents, cracks, and dings, so a resilient material is best for these areas. Consider materials that are strong and easy to clean, such as tile. The kitchen is a high-traffic area that is constantly being cleaned and re-cleaned. Explore solid yet easy to clean materials like vinyl, hardwood, and ceramic tile. If these common flooring materials aren’t to your liking, certain alternative flooring options may appeal to you, including bamboo, cork, and concrete.

Budget

Your budget will be a major deciding factor in which type of flooring you ultimately install. Are you replacing your flooring as part of a larger, full-scale remodel? If so, there may be other projects that will warrant a larger share of your budget. Are you looking to make the flooring a selling point of the home? If so, you’ll likely dedicate more money towards the material and installation. Talk to your agent about which types of flooring have the best resale value and what buyers in the area are looking for. For example, if you live in a climate that experiences cold temperatures, heated flooring may give your home a competitive advantage over other listings when it comes time to sell.

Installation

There are two approaches to a flooring installation: DIY or professional. Installing your flooring on your own is a great way to save money on the project, but it’s also a lot of added responsibility. Before making the decision to install on your own, understand the risks involved with the project and the time it will take to complete it. Vinyl and laminate flooring tend to be easier to install DIY. Hiring a professional will come with increased costs, but you’ll be paying for higher quality work that will increase the value of your home. More involved flooring installations such as hardwood are usually best handled by a pro.

Style & Color

After your budget has been set and you’ve decided on how to install, then comes the fun part. When choosing the style of your flooring, think about how it will interact with the space. Will the flooring be the focal point of the space? Will it compliment the features of the room and the surrounding décor? Knowing these answers will help to sort out the fine details, such as the specific shade of tile or the grain of wood.

Maintenance

At the end of the day, you may simply be looking for flooring that’s easy to take care of. In that case, explore common low-maintenance materials like vinyl and laminate. Vinyl flooring—whether it’s tile, sheet, plank, or peel-and-stick—requires little care compared to high-maintenance flooring such as solid or engineered wood.

 

For more information on home design, visit our Design page. To learn more about interior design, visit our Design Styles page.

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Preparing Your Home for Summer Heat and Wildfires

Summer is the season for spending long days in the yard, taking dips in the pool, and sitting in the shade to beat the heat. In the midst of these sun-filled adventures, though, lies the potential for heat waves, smoke, and wildfires. Every homeowner should be ready for these emergencies as well as the damaging effects they can have on their home. The following information will help you prepare your home for the hottest days of the year.

 

Preparing Your Home for Summer Heat

As temperatures soar, it’s important to make sure that your methods of cooling your home are as effective as possible. Adding insulation may not be the first thing that comes to mind when prepping your home for the summer heat, but it will help prevent cool air from leaking outside and hot air from entering. If your insulation is out of date, now is the time to make replacements as needed. Windows are another culprit for air leaks, which commonly form between the window frame and the frame of the house. Fill these cracks with caulking between the frame and the exterior siding. If your windows are exposed to prolonged periods of direct sunlight, consider placing an awning or screen shades above the exterior side to provide some relief from the radiating heat.

Air conditioning can be a lifesaver during summer. There are two main options when it comes to air conditioning: either a window unit or central cooling. Window units are the least expensive option and offer portability. It’s important to choose a unit that is the right size for your home or the room you’re trying to cool. One that’s too big will quickly cool your space and then shut off completely. This can increase your energy bills and put unnecessary wear on the unit. An undersized unit simply won’t cool your home and will constantly run to try to reach the target temperature. With central air conditioning, homeowners can expect much higher startup costs. But once installed, central AC provides short- and long-term comfort and adds to your home’s value.

Summer is a good time to check your HVAC unit’s air filters. Turn the unit off before performing any maintenance. If any devices that give off heat are close enough to the thermostat that regulates the AC, they could generate an incorrect reading, which could throw off your air conditioning efficiency. For maximum efficiency, place these devices away from the thermostat.

 

Preparing Your Home for Wildfires

The first step in preparing your home for wildfires is to have an emergency plan. Make sure everyone in your household is aware of what to do in the event of a wildfire. Pack an emergency kit to bring with you in the event of an evacuation. For homeowners who live outside a fire zone, consider buying an air purifier to protect yourself from smoke.

To give yourself the best chances of keeping wildfires from getting too close to your home, keep all flammable objects away from the house, preferably at least thirty feet. Clear your gutters of debris such as leaves, twigs, sticks, and the like. These materials are tinder for fire. Any flammable vegetation within five feet of the home should be cleared away, and any trees that overhang close to the home should be cut back to a distance of ten feet. Remove any dead plants or vegetation from your yard and keep your lawn short. Install mesh screens over exterior vents to prevent embers from entering your home. 

This may seem like a daunting list, but these preparatory measures are worth it to protect your home and loved ones this wildfire season. Once you’ve taken these steps, you can enjoy your summer days at home knowing you’re prepared.

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Q2 2021 Montana Real Estate Market Update

The following analysis of select Montana real estate markets is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere Real Estate agent.

 

Regional Economic Overview

Along with the rest of the nation, Montana’s job market was significantly impacted by COVID-19, losing 63,300 jobs statewide. However, as of the end of the second quarter of this year, Montana has recovered all but 10,000 of them. Although this puts employment levels 2% lower than the pre-pandemic peak, the momentum of jobs returning has slowed. Employment levels dropped by 1,800 jobs in the second quarter. The June unemployment rate in the state was 3.7%, well below the national rate of 5.9%. Unemployment numbers ticked up one tenth of a percent between May and June. In the counties contained in this report, the lowest jobless rate was in Billings at 3.3%. Great Falls’ rate was 3.4% and Missoula came in at 3.5%. I am hopeful that the economy will pick up speed as we move through the balance of 2021, but I remain mindful of the uptick in new COVID-19 cases and their potential to undermine the state’s recovery.

montana Home Sales

❱ In the second quarter, a total of 1,169 homes sold in the markets contained in this report, representing an increase of 2% compared to the same period in 2020. Sales were up 4.3% compared to the first quarter of this year.

❱ Even with greater choice and an increased number of sales in five counties, sales were lower in four counties. Compared to the first quarter of this year, sales were higher in Missoula, Ravalli, Lake, Gallatin, and Park counties, but lower in the other areas covered in this report.

❱ It was pleasing to see sales pick back up after the drop in transactions in the first quarter. This can be attributed to the 156% increase in the number of homes for sale from the first quarter to the second. Clearly, supply was the limiting factor, not demand.

❱ The growth in sales is a good sign, and with pending sales up 34.3% compared to the first quarter, it is likely that third quarter numbers will be positive.

montana Home Prices

A map showing the real estate market percentage changes in various counties in Montana.

❱ Year-over-year, home prices rose 6.5% to an average of $473,959. However, they were 10.8% lower than in the first quarter of the year.

❱ Sale prices can be frenetic—especially because many of the counties contained in this report have low sales activity—so I am not overly concerned at the present time.

❱ Average sale prices rose in all but one county. The outlier—Madison County, where average sales price dropped from $1.33 million to $924,000—dragged the regional average price lower.

❱ Last quarter I said I wouldn’t be surprised if prices dropped further in the second quarter, and it appears I was right. What I said then was that after a significant period where price growth far exceeded the long-term trend, the market is trying to find balance—and this remains true.

A bar graph showing the annual change in home sale prices for various counties in Montana.

Days on Market

❱ The average number of days it took to sell a home dropped 38 days compared to the second quarter of 2020.

❱ Homes sold fastest in Broadwater County and slowest in Ravalli County. All markets other than Ravalli (+19 days) and Lewis & Clark (+2 days) saw market time drop year over year.

❱ During the quarter, it took an average of 74 days to sell a home in the region.

❱ Relative to the first quarter of this year, market time dropped in Lake, Missoula, Broadwater, and Jefferson counties, but rose in the rest of the areas covered in this report.

A bar graph showing the average days on market for homes in various counties in Montana.

Conclusions

A speedometer graph indicating a seller's market in Montana.

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

Montana’s economy is performing better than a vast majority of the nation and does not yet appear to be suffering significantly from the rising COVID-19 infections that are hitting many other states.

With mortgage rates set to remain very competitive for the foreseeable future, I believe the housing market will come out of this unique period in the positive despite some of the numbers in this report. Price growth and sales should pick back up, but I think we are seeing the early signs of a more balanced market. That said, we’re not there yet.

Well-positioned and well-priced homes continue to attract buyers, but the slowdown in certain aspects of the market have led me to leave the needle in the same position as in the first quarter.

About Matthew Gardner

Matthew Gardner - Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

The post Q2 2021 Montana Real Estate Market Update appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Q2 2021 Big Island of Hawaii Real Estate Market Update

The following analysis of the Big Island real estate market is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere Real Estate agent.

 

Regional Economic Overview

The recovery in jobs on the Big Island has been, shall we say, frenetic. After the return of 7,000 jobs in the final quarter of 2020 and 1,000 jobs in the first quarter of 2021, total employment dropped by 650 jobs in the second quarter. The Island’s economy remains fragile. As of early July, travel restrictions have been relaxed for some fully vaccinated travelers. Hopefully this will bring more visitors, which will certainly help the labor market. As of the end of the second quarter, Hawaii County has recovered 12,100 of the 21,850 jobs lost due to COVID-19. There is a long way to go, and the pace of improvement may face additional headwinds with the rise of the Delta and Lambda variants of COVID-19. Only time will tell. Even with the slow return of jobs, the county’s unemployment rate in June was 7.9%, down from 8.5% in March and well below the 13.8% level of a year ago. The state unemployment rate was 7.7% in June, down from 9.1% in March.

big island of hawaii Home Sales

❱ In the second quarter, 1,189 homes were sold on the Big Island, more than doubling the number of sales that occurred a year ago, and 7.1% higher than in the first quarter of the year.

❱ Sales were higher across the board compared to a year ago, with the number of transactions more than doubling in three markets. Compared to the first quarter of 2021, sales rose in all areas other than Puna, North Kohala, and South Kona, but the drop in sales in these markets was minimal.

❱ The growth in sales came even though inventory levels were 32% lower than in the first quarter, suggesting that homes are selling very quickly.

❱ Pending home sales fell 7.7% compared to the first quarter of the year. This is likely a function of low supply levels and may lead total sales to drop modestly in the third quarter.

big island of hawaii Home Prices

A map showing the real estate market percentage changes in various counties on the Big Island of Hawaii.

❱ The average home price on the Big Island rose by a very impressive 54.4% year over year to $884,759, but prices only managed to increase by a modest .7% from the first quarter.

❱ Home prices were up in five markets compared to the first quarter, but were lower in North and South Hilo, Hamakua, and North Kona.

❱ Year-over-year, prices rose by double-digits in all but one market, with significant growth in South Kona, North Kohala, and North Hilo.

❱ I would say that the housing market is performing as well as can be expected given current circumstances. The Big Island remains supply starved, but despite this, price growth appears to be strained.

A bar graph showing the annual change in home sale prices for various counties on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Days on Market

❱ The average time it took to sell a home on the Big Island dropped 14 days compared to the second quarter of 2020.

❱ The amount of time it took to sell a home dropped in all but two markets, with North Kohala remaining unchanged and Hamakua rising by 27 days.

❱ In the second quarter, it took an average of 78 days to sell a home, with the fastest sales occurring in South Kona and slowest in North Hilo.

❱ Due to the drop in available inventory, it took 58 fewer days to sell a home in the second quarter of 2021 than in the first.

A bar graph showing the average days on market for homes in various counties on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Conclusions

A speedometer graph indicating a seller's market on the Big Island of Hawaii.

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

Without a doubt, supply levels are not meeting the very strong demand. The modest uptick in mortgage rates in the first quarter was not maintained and rates have lowered again, which undoubtedly has influenced rising demand.

Even with the economic recovery stalling—and COVID-19 cases spiking again—the housing market is still on solid footing. I would be very surprised to see a significant uptick in the number of homes for sale in the coming months, which will clearly favor home sellers. Given these factors, I am moving the needle more in their favor.

About Matthew Gardner

Matthew Gardner - Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

The post Q2 2021 Big Island of Hawaii Real Estate Market Update appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.

Q2 2021 Maui, Hawaii Real Estate Market Update

The following analysis of select Maui real estate markets is provided by Windermere Real Estate Chief Economist Matthew Gardner. We hope that this information may assist you with making better-informed real estate decisions. For further information about the housing market in your area, please don’t hesitate to contact your Windermere Real Estate agent.

 

Regional Economic Overview

I mentioned in the first quarter Gardner Report that Maui’s job recovery, which was doing well in the fall of 2020, had started to lose steam. I am afraid this trend continued through the second quarter. Maui added 1,050 jobs in the second quarter, down from 1,100 in the first quarter and significantly lower than the 11,000 jobs that returned in the final quarter of 2020. The Islands’ economic recovery remains fragile. As of early July, travel restrictions have been relaxed for some fully vaccinated travelers. Hopefully this will bring more visitors, which will certainly help the labor market. As of the end of the second quarter, Maui has recovered 13,600 of the 28,850 jobs lost due to COVID-19. There is a long way to go, and the pace of improvement may face additional headwinds with the rise of the Delta and Lambda variants of COVID-19. Only time will tell. Maui’s unemployment rate remains elevated at 10.9% in June, down from 12.7% in March. The state unemployment rate was 7.7% in June, down from 9.1% in March.

maui, hawaii Home Sales

❱ In the second quarter, 879 homes were sold, a huge increase of 146.2% compared to a year ago when COVID-19 was in full force. Sales were up by a very solid 28.5% compared to the first quarter of this year.

❱ Closed home sales rose across the board, with very large increases in the South Maui, North Shore, and Westside neighborhoods. It’s also worth noting that closed sales were also higher across the board compared to the first quarter of this year.

❱ The number of homes for sale remains woefully inadequate to meet demand, with the average number of listings down 58.3% compared to a year ago and 39.1% lower than in the first quarter of 2021.

❱ Pending home sales dropped 19.7% compared to the first quarter, suggesting that closings in the third quarter may not be as impressive as this one.

maui, hawaii Home Prices

A map showing the real estate market percentage changes for various areas of Maui, Hawaii.

❱ The average home price on the island rose 41.6% year over year to $1.38 million and was 11% higher than in the first quarter of the year.

❱ Affordability issues persist, but with financing rates still remarkably favorable and persistently low levels of inventory, I still think prices will continue to rise at above-average rates as we move through the second half of 2021.

❱ All markets saw significant increases in year-over-year price growth, and all but one (North Shore) saw higher prices than in the first quarter.

❱ Limited inventory has created bullish sellers and rising prices, but the market is showing some signs of resistance. Clearly, the pace of price growth is unsustainable, and this will lead to a softening in appreciation—the question is when.

A bar graph showing the annual change in home sale prices for various counties in Maui, Hawaii.

Days on Market

❱ The average number of days it took to sell a home on Maui dropped 16 days compared to the second quarter of 2020.

❱ The length of time it took to sell a home dropped in the Central, North Shore, and Upcountry market areas compared to a year ago, but rose in South Maui and the Westside.

❱ It took an average of 53 days to sell a home, with transactions occurring the fastest in the North Shore area and slowest on the Westside.

❱ When compared to the first quarter, market time dropped in all areas covered in this report.

A bar graph showing the average days on market for homes in various counties in Maui, Hawaii.

Conclusions

A speedometer graph indicating a seller's market in Maui, Hawaii.

This speedometer reflects the state of the region’s real estate market using housing inventory, price gains, home sales, interest rates, and larger economic factors.

Without a doubt, supply levels are not meeting the very strong demand. The modest uptick in mortgage rates in the first quarter was not maintained and rates have lowered again, which undoubtedly has influenced rising demand.

Even with the economic recovery stalling—and COVID-19 cases spiking again—the housing market is still on solid footing. I would be very surprised to see a significant uptick in the number of homes for sale in the coming months, which will clearly favor home sellers. Given these factors, I am moving the needle more in their favor.

About Matthew Gardner

Matthew Gardner - Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate

As Chief Economist for Windermere Real Estate, Matthew Gardner is responsible for analyzing and interpreting economic data and its impact on the real estate market on both a local and national level. Matthew has over 30 years of professional experience both in the U.S. and U.K.

In addition to his day-to-day responsibilities, Matthew sits on the Washington State Governors Council of Economic Advisors; chairs the Board of Trustees at the Washington Center for Real Estate Research at the University of Washington; and is an Advisory Board Member at the Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies at the University of Washington where he also lectures in real estate economics.

The post Q2 2021 Maui, Hawaii Real Estate Market Update appeared first on Windermere Real Estate.