Thursday, October 28, 2010

New Appraisal Guidance for New Homes

The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) welcomes the Federal Reserve’s new interim rule on appraisals.  The association has long worked for an appraisal process that provides transparency and flexibility for the unique challenges of valuing a new home.

“The interim rule makes it clear that home builders and others can ask an appraiser to consider additional information about a property, including information about additional comparable properties,” said Joe Robson, NAHB’s immediate past chairman.. “That’s critical to our members because in far too many cases we’re seeing appraisals based on inappropriate comparables," Robson added.

“Many appraisers do not understand the impact of new code requirements, new green building practices and other aspects of new construction that add value to a home,” Robson said. “It is particularly important that home builders be allowed to provide appraisers with information to assist in appraising new construction."

The rule will take effect 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register, with the Fed accepting comments during this period. Compliance is voluntary until April 1, 2011. The Fed’s action was required by the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which was signed into law on July 21, 2010.

If you have an interest in new home construction, in central New Jersey, Mercer County, and surrounding townships, call or email me.  I know the builders, the developments, and the buyer incentives waiting for you to buy a new home.

Joe Giancarli, SA
Real Estate Advisor

New Home Sales Jump in September

According to according to new market data released by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, sales of new single-family houses in September 2010 beat market expectations and were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 307,000.  This represents the second straight month of gains, but still well below the pace when a tax credit existed.

This is 6.6 percent (±16.9%) above the revised August rate of 288,000, but is 21.5 percent (±13.3%) below the September 2009 estimate of 391,000.

The median sales price of new houses sold in September 2010 was $223,800; the average sales price was $257,500. The seasonally adjusted estimate of new houses for sale at the end of September was 204,000.

There’s also still plenty of supply, with the government estimating supply of eight months of unsold homes, though that’s down from 8.6 months in August. The stock of unsold houses fell 1% from August and dropped 19% from Sept. 2009.

New-home sales won't be affected by foreclosure disputes and could benefit by virtue of purchasers getting “clean” title when buying new properties.

Contact me to find the builders and best buys for new homes in Mercer County and surrounding areas.

Joe Giancarli, SA
Real Estate Advisor

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What is a Smart Home?

Many listings now say "Smart Home Features" but what does that mean to you?  As reported by HowStuffWorks, Inc. via RISMedia, "There are really two sides to the 'smart' label. One side is smart in terms of a home’s resource consumption—water, energy, construction materials and so on. The other is smart in terms of intelligent systems that control the house. We can start on the resource side, because this is where a lot of the monetary benefit comes from.

"When you think about owning a home and the costs of owning it, there are two places where the money can really add up fast: energy, which has to get paid every month, and upkeep, which often comes in big, expensive bursts. There has been a lot of advancement on the energy side because of the improvements in solar energy technology.

"A smart house can use solar energy in three ways. First, it can be designed to take advantage of passive heating and cooling. This usually involves the placement of windows with heat-absorbing materials to capture the sun’s heat in the winter, and to provide cooling ventilation in warmer months. Second, a smart house can actively collect solar energy with solar panels for heating, hot water and electricity generation. There are even solar air conditioners available now. Instead of using electricity and a compressor to drive the refrigeration cycle, they use the sun’s heat to drive it. A smart house can lower its net energy consumption toward zero, or even create net positive energy that is sold back to the grid, by making intelligent use of the sun.

"Even if using more traditional technologies, it is possible to save lots of energy. For example, heat pumps can now use geothermal technology to radically improve efficiency. Instead of using outside coils exposed to the air, the outside coils are buried in the yard or in a well, where temperatures are steady year round. Heating and cooling costs can in some cases be cut in half.

"Another place where a house can save on resources is in terms of water consumption. A good example of how far water technology has come can be seen in the smart house at Duke University. First, the house collects water off the roof and stores it in six 350 gallon containers in the basement. This water is filtered, purified with UV light and then used for things like flushing toilets, washing dishes and doing laundry. The house also collects water from the roof and stores it in two massive 1,000 gallon tanks outside. This water is used for landscape irrigation. Some smart houses also reuse greywater, defined as wastewater produced by everything but toilets. Greywater can be treated and used for irrigation or flushing toilets.

"Many smart homes are also starting to incorporate green roofs—rooftop landscapes that can provide significant energy savings indoors while also cutting runoff and heat pooling in urban areas.

"The intelligence side of smart houses comes through a home’s awareness of the people living inside it. This awareness can come in the form of biometric locks, heating and lighting systems that recognize if rooms are empty, advanced security systems and camera systems that record everything happening in a home. A smart house can also track energy consumption in real time and suggest ways to save energy.

"With intelligent systems like these, a smart house can detect when no one is home. It goes into hibernation mode, cutting its energy consumption to the bare minimum. The house also secures itself against unwanted intruders. When people return, the house senses this though biometric locks, motion detectors and cameras. It wakes back up to provide lighting, heating and cooling in the areas where it is needed."

Sounds like a smart home is not just the wave of the future but the goal of energy use and home building today.  Contact me to find Smart Home Builders in central New Jersey, Mercer County, and the surrounding areas, so you can start saving on your energy bills.

Joe Giancarli, SA
Real Estate Advisor

Builder Confidence Climbs in October

According to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) for October, builder confidence in the market for newly built, single-family homes rose three points to 16. This was the first improvement registered by the HMI in five months, and returns the index to a level last seen in June of this year.

"Builders are starting to see some flickers of interest among potential buyers, and are hopeful that this interest will translate to more sales in the coming months," said NAHB Chairman Bob Jones. "However, because most builders still have no access to credit for building homes, there is a real concern that we will not be able to meet the pent-up demand when consumers are ready to get back in the market. This problem threatens to severely slow the housing and economic recovery."

Echoed NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe, "Builders have seen a slight increase in consumers who are considering a home purchase. The toughest obstacles really come down to financing - the scarcity of construction credit for builders along with tougher mortgage requirements for consumers."

All three of the HMI's component indexes registered gains in October. The index gauging current sales conditions rose three points to16, while the index gauging sales expectations in the next six months rose five points to 23, and the index gauging traffic of prospective buyers rose two points to 11.

Builder confidence improved across every region in October. The South and West each posted four-point gains, while the Northeast and Midwest each posted single-point gains.

Contact me by phone or email to find the best areas in Mercer County for new home developments.

Joe Giancarli, SA
Real Estate Advisor

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Housing Choices for N J Seniors - Remodeling Specialists

There's a new home building specialty now available to builders, the Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist (CAPS).  Those receiving this education are trained to help homeowners adapt their homes for easier accessibility and improved functionality.  Aging in place has been a popular theory for several years, but the reality has not caught up with the demand.  Remodelers trained in this type of home design will bring positive change to the options available for New Jersey seniors, as they have learned about aging-in-place home design as well as partnering with other professionals to create a more comfortable home.

Actually, Oct 11-15 has been Aging-in-Place week, organized by NAHB (National Assn of Home Builders).  According to AARP, most seniors prefer to stay in their home rather than move due to health and independence concerns, and the CAPS courses were developed in partnership with AARP.  There are now more than 3,500 certified CAPS nationwide to choose from when considering home modifications. Remodelers, designers, occupational therapists, and other professions working with seniors and people with disabilities have become CAPS certified to assist with aging-in-place plans.

Aging-in-place solutions are tailored for each individual, but home remodels frequently include installing grab bars to minimize falling, adding comfort-height toilets, building no-step showers, and widening doorways to allow for mobility-assistance equipment such as wheelchairs.  Universal design features can be easily incorporated into aging-in-place changes.  Creating no-step access from a patio to a home’s interior, constructing raised-bed planters for easier gardening, changing the height of door knobs and electrical outlets, all can combine fashion with accessibility.

Visit the NAHB page for Aging in Place, for more information, and contact me to help you find a local Mercer County builder who has received the CAPS certification, if you need this type of home modification.

Joe Giancarli, SA
Real Estate Advisor

Friday, October 8, 2010

Joe Giancarli Now Offers Mobile MLS Search

You can now find homes for sale using my new mobile app. Just text JOEG to 87778 and you will be sent download instructions.

Once installed on your device, you will be able to do searches and see complete listing details including photos and prices.

If your device is GPS enabled you will also see the listings on a map.

(data rates may apply)
Joe Giancarli, SA
Real Estate Advisor

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