Housing: Meeting the needs of an aging population

Data from a new report released by the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies: America’s older population is in the midst of unprecedented growth, but the country is not prepared to meet the housing needs of this aging group. Also, learn more about the boomers in NAR’s Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report.

Click here to read the full report.



Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES®)
Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES®)
Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES®)


Best markets to rent to millennials in 2015

RealtyTrac issued a report on the best markets for buying rental property in 2015 based on fair market rents for the year set by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the most recent median home price data from RealtyTrac sales deed data. In the report RealtyTrac also focused on different single family rental market niches, and I wanted to focus on a few of those here in this blog. The first market niche is of course the much-talked-about millennials. Buying rentals where millennials are moving can be a great strategy because in the short term you’re going to have strong demand for your rental property, and in the long term as those millennials gradually convert from renters to home buyers you will have the option of selling and reaping some nice price appreciation profits.

For this niche we focused on counties where at least 22 percent of the population is in the millennial age range (born between 1977 and 1992) and where the millennial population grew at least 5 percent between 2007 and 2013. We then sorted those counties by the potential annual gross rental yield using the aforementioned fair market rents on a three-bedroom property and median sales price and cut the list off after the top 50 counties — all of which had a gross annual yield of 9 percent or higher.

The result was an interesting mix of counties at the top of the list: Baltimore City, Maryland (functions as a county) with a nearly 21 percent annual gross rental yield, followed by Richmond City, Virginia (also functions as a county) with a 20 percent annual gross rental yield. Those two were followed by Philadelphia County, Wyandotte County, Kansas in the Kansas City metro area and Richmond County, Georgia in the Augusta metro area, all three of which had annual gross yields above 15 percent. Among these top five, the county with the biggest increase in millennials was Richmond City, Virginia, where the millennial population swelled 32 percent between 2007 and 2013.

top 50 cities min RICHMOND

top 50 cities for min

The best markets to rent to Millennials are those with a gross annual rental yield of at least 9 percent where the percentage of Millennials is above the the national average of 22 percent and where the Millennial population increased at least 5 percent between 2007 and 2013. Full report at http://www.realtytrac.com/news/real-estate-investing/first-quarter-2015-residential-rental-market-report/

Sources: RealtyTrac, HUD, Census

Learn more, check out NAR’s Field Guide to Millennial Home Buyers.


New single-family home size increases at the start of 2015

The typical size of newly built single-family homes increased at the start of the year. The trend of increasing new home size leveled off in 2014, but new home size increased during the first quarter of 2015 with a decline in the volume of construction. As first-time buyers return to the market, typical home size is expected to trend lower.

According to first quarter 2015 data from the Census Quarterly Starts and Completions by Purpose and Design and NAHB analysis, median single-family square floor area increased from 2,445 in the fourth quarter of last year to 2,521 square feet. Average (mean) square footage for new single-family homes increased from 2,677 to 2,736 for the first three months of the year.


On a less volatile one-year moving average, the recent trend of leveling home size can be see on the graph above, although current sizes remain elevated. Since cycle lows and on a one-year moving average basis, the average size of new single-family homes has increased 13% to 2,678 square feet, while the median size has increased 18% to 2,477 square feet.

The post-recession increase in single-family home size is consistent with the historical pattern coming out of recessions. Typical home size falls prior to and during a recession as some homebuyers cut back, and then sizes rise as high-end homebuyers, who face fewer credit constraints, return to the housing market in relatively greater proportions. This pattern has been exacerbated in the last two years due to market weakness among first-time homebuyers.

In contrast to single-family patterns, new multifamily apartment size is down compared to the pre-recession period. This is due to the weak for-sale multifamily market.


10 predictions of where real estate marketing will be in 2020

The way in which real estate agents market properties and themselves has changed drastically even in the past 10 years. With information being more readily shared and buyers becoming savvier in the marketplace, it will become increasingly important for agents to cut through the clutter to get their message across. The days of putting a sign in the yard and a piece of cinnamon in the oven during an open house are behind us.

I have been involved in real estate sales and marketing for more than 10 years, serving as the director of marketing for the past three years with one of the top firms in Boston — Charlesgate Realty. Staying ahead of the curve in technology and marketing advances has always helped the firm and its agents have a competitive edge in the market.

In addition to daily tasks, I spend a great deal of time researching trends in the marketplace and analyzing what top firms do from a marketing perspective in markets such as NYC, Los Angeles, Miami and even internationally. By looking at these trends, and the changing preferences of buyers, sellers and renters, I think you will see some significant changes coming in real estate marketing.

This is what I believe you will see in the next five years:

1. The use of 3-D technology will become commonplace.

Virtual tours will become “so 2005.” With more accessible pricing on 3-D technology, these walk-throughs will replace tours that don’t allow potential buyers to “see” into the home. Check out one we just did for a luxury Boston property at Charlesgate Realty.

2. More interactive office spaces will become the norm.

Those boring cubicles and fluorescent lights will (thankfully) give way to spaces where clients want to go and easily interact with a sales professional. Think “coffee” shops, where people can casually chat about one of the biggest purchases or sales of their lives.

3. Neighborhood-level knowledge will become increasingly important.

People don’t want just to know what a house is like to live in; they want to know about the area around it. It will become vital for agents to explain the entire lifestyle of a property — not just the features.

4. Print collateral will become passe.

The money spent by companies on professional printing of property brochures, postcards, etc., will be redirected to digital items that see a higher return on investment and are more easily modified. This reallocation also lets agents get information to a consumer the way they want to access it.

5. Native advertising will see an increased presence in marketing budgets.

If you are not on board with native advertising, you might be missing out on some great opportunities to get your content in front of consumers and drive traffic to your website.

6. Location-based services will play a bigger role in marketing.

With advances in technology that better utilize location on mobile devices, you will see an increase in the ways companies use this information.

7. Agents will see social marketing make a bigger impact.

You have seen the growth of agents utilizing Facebook and Twitter more effectively to market their listings and business, and this will continue to grow with changes in these platforms. Additionally, services such as Instagram and Pinterest will become more incorporated into an agent’s social marketing plan.

8. QR codes will stop trying to be a thing.

These never took off in a big way and are slowly fading away in the public’s eye. Within five years, this technology will have seen the end of its day.

9. Zillow and Trulia will not be the consumer’s first choice for listing information.

As consumers continue to desire more personal information about lifestyle, not just a home’s features, you will see a trend of their turning toward local companies where they can find listings as well as information on the marketplace and neighborhoods.

10. Marketing will still be the most important piece of your business.

How you present yourself to your clients is the first and last step to success in real estate. The mentality will hold true, “If you can’t market yourself well, how will you market my home effectively?”

Marketing has always been one of the most important aspects of a real estate company’s value to their clients. Arguably, it tends to be less than cutting edge for many firms who stick to traditional methods. As you see these 10 changes in the marketplace, I think you will see a higher level of distinction between firms that focus their efforts on these things and those that do not.

Gregory Kiep is the director of marketing at Charlesgate Realty


Governor proclaims May 24-30 as hurricane and flooding preparedness week

Purchase supplies May 25-31 during the Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday

Virginians are at risk for the damaging effects of coastal and inland tropical storm systems and widespread flooding. To emphasize the importance of preparing for hurricane season, Gov. Terry McAuliffe has recognized May 24-30 as Hurricane and Flooding Preparedness Week.

Virginia’s Hurricane Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday May 25-31 will provide Virginians with an opportunity to buy emergency equipment and supplies tax-free. All Virginia retailers participate in the holiday. Among the items that are exempt from sales tax are batteries including cell phone batteries, flashlights and lanterns, bottled water of all types and sizes, first aid kits, coolers, NOAA Weather Radios, portable generators and many other useful items. For more on the sales tax holiday, including a list of tax-exempt items, visit www.vaemergency.gov.

Virginia state appHow to Prepare
Among the most important actions people can take toward disaster preparedness are:

  • Download the free Ready Virginia app for iPhone® and Android™. Features:
    • Weather warnings issued for your location by the National Weather Service
    • A customizable emergency plan that can be easily shared with family and friends
    • A checklist for gathering emergency supplies
    • “I’m Safe!” feature that allows you to quickly send a text message to let family and friends know you are safe
    •  Interactive map that allows you to find the maximum storm surge risk at your current location or an address entered in the search bar
  • Create a family emergency communications plan.
    • Decide how and where everyone will meet up with each other if separated
    • Choose an out-of-town emergency contact for your family and give that person’s phone number to each family member
    • Make a sheet of emergency contacts and post it in visible places in your home and workplace. Don’t rely on your smart phone or online contact lists.
    • Get a free emergency plan worksheet at www.ReadyVirginia.gov or www.ListoVirginia.gov or use the new Ready Virginia app.
  • Sign up for text alerts/weather warnings that may be offered by your locality.
  • Talk to an insurance agent about flood insurance.
    • Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover flooding; renters and business owners also can get flood insurance.
    • Just one inch of water in a mid-size home or office can mean $20,000 in repairs.
    • Go to www.floodsmart.gov or call 1-800-427-2419 for more information.
    • Typically, there’s a 30-day waiting period from the date of purchase before your policy goes into effect.

People with disabilities or access and functional needs may need to take additional steps. Plan how to handle power outages and/or being asked to evacuate. See www.vaemergency.gov/readyvirginia/getakit/disabilities


Realtors® Urge CFPB Grace Period for RESPA-TILA Integrated Disclosure Rule

The Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act and Truth in Lending Act integrated disclosure rule is set to take effect August 1. A trial period with restrained enforcement and liability would allow the industry and CFPB to address implementation issues and minimize costly home closing delays for consumers, said NAR President Chris Polychron before the U.S. House Financial Services Subcommittee on Housing and Insurance.

“As the leading advocate for real estate issues, NAR is supportive of CFPB’s efforts to harmonize RESPA-TILA regulations, as long as it benefits consumers and the real estate transaction,” said Polychron, executive broker with 1st Choice Realty in Hot Springs, Ark. “The implementation is going to be a learning experience for everyone, however, and we see the potential for significant bumps in the road that could cost buyers time and money, which is why Realtors® are asking the CFPB for this grace period.”

Beginning August 1, there will no longer be a Good Faith Estimate or Truth in Lending disclosure; those two forms will be combined into a single Loan Estimate, which must be given to consumers within three business days of applying for a loan. At the same time, the HUD-1 Settlement Statement and the final Truth in Lending disclosure will be replaced by the Closing Disclosure form. This form must be given to consumers at least three business days before closing, and any significant changes to the loan terms could reset a new three-day waiting period and delay closing.

On Tuesday, May 26 at 2 p.m. EDT the CFPB and Federal Reserve will host a 60 minute webinar to answer some frequently asked questions about the RESPA/TILA Integrated Disclosure rule (TRID). Click here to reserve your space.



Should You Pursue Drone Technology?

Drones are finding their places legally in a variety of settings across industries. Communications companies are using them to provide Wi-Fi signals to remote communities. High-end resorts offer unmanned aircraft that follow skiers and videotape them as they fly down the slopes. Some companies even offer drone-powered child-tracking systems for worried moms and dads. “It really gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘helicopter parent,’” joked Jim Williams, manager of the FAA’s Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration Office. Williams was among experts at the REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo this month, who shared their knowledge about the prospects for safely aligning drone technology and the real estate industry.

Also in attendance at the forum on drone use was the first REALTOR® to apply for and receive a Section 333 waiver, which allows him to use an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for commercial reasons under certain restrictions. Doug Trudeau, associate broker at Tierra Antigua Realty LLC in Tucson, Ariz., said when the FAA released preliminary guidelines in June 2014 restricting the commercial use of drones, he grounded his quadcopter, which he’d outfitted with a GoPro camera, and began looking into what it might take to get it off the ground legally. He eventually became the 13th person to obtain an exemption from the FAA to use drone technology in his business. As of May 15, the FAA had granted more than 300 exemptions.

A third panel member was associate counsel for the National Association of REALTORS®, Lesley Walker. Though the legal landscape will remain somewhat cloudy until the FAA issues its final rulemaking on drone use in commercial contexts (expected in 2016 or 2017), the panel discussion offered some guidance to help you decide whether pursuing an exemption makes sense for your business. Click here to read the complete story.

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This Old House partners with Homes For Our Troops (HFOT)

this old house graphic (video still)
Over three special episodes, This Old House is partnering with Homes For Our Troops (HFOT) to build a house—from the ground up—for one Army veteran and his family, as a way to highlight the heroes who have given so much for their country. In 2003, while on his first deployment to Iraq, SSG Matt Dewitt and his battalion came under attack, leaving Matt with devastating injuries that resulted in the amputation of both arms. We meet Matt and his family at his current home to understand the challenges of day-to-day and why a HFOT specially adapted home will be life changing. Kevin meets Buildings Project Manager Mike Duckett in Hopkinton, NH to see the plans for the DeWitt project. Norm, Tom and Kevin join builder Ken Dionne and his team to help with framing the exterior walls. Kevin meets the HFOT Chairman, Four Star General Richard Cody, to understand their mission. Kevin then travels to Florida to meet Justin Gaertner, another veteran who also received a specially adapted home from HFOT. Kevin rejoins the project in New Hampshire and finds that all the exterior walls are secured and the truss roof is going up. Click here for listings in your area.

Help the 2015 Virginia Leadership Academy of the Virginia Association of REALTORS® raise funds and awareness for Homes for Our Troops, a national non-profit organization founded in 2004. Homes for Our Troops is strongly committed to building specially adapted homes for the over 1,700 Service Members nationwide who have returned home with life-altering injuries post 9/11.

One of the greatest gifts we can give to these heroes is a safe and functional place to live. Click here to make your donation to our nation’s heroes today!

Homes for our troops VAR website


Disappearing shadow inventory

Do you know how “shadow inventory” is defined? Take a look at the following infographic, then click here to read the complete story.



Sign-up for the CFPB RESPA Webinar scheduled for May 26

On Tuesday, May 26 at 2 p.m. EDT the CFPB and Federal Reserve will host a 60 minute webinar to answer some frequently asked questions about the RESPA/TILA Integrated Disclosure rule (TRID). The new rule goes into effect on August 1, 2015 and there have been many questions raised by industry and consumers.  NAR has asked that the CFPB institute a trial implementation period from August 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015 in order to avoid issues that will affect consumer’s closing and to get data to help fine tune the rule. NAR President Chris Polychron will be testifying on the rule at a House Financial Services Committee Hearing on May 14. Sign up for the webinar below and get more info at Realtor.org/RESPA.