Builder Blog from Integrity Windows and Doors

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Sales of new homes outpace existing-home sales

February 27th, 2015 by Berit Griffin

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Sales of newly built homes are “going gangbusters” this year, but sales of existing homes aren’t keeping up with that same pace, according to a new report by the Wall Street Journal.

Why the discrepancy? One key reason may be that the inventory of existing homes listed for sale is low, according to the WSJ. And when taking a more holistic view of the housing market, economists and analysts say that recent builders’ reports “provide a reasonably sound sign that this spring season has gotten off to a solid start,” the WSJ said. Furthermore, investors are encouraged, as indicated by an increase in the Dow Jones U.S. Home Construction Index.

The New York Times, meanwhile, reports on one emerging trend in the new-home market: Builders are increasingly catering to more affluent buyers and higher-end homes.

Regardless of whether they’re seeking new or existing homes, other newly released data indicates that Americans are indeed eyeing a move. In fact, one in three U.S. households say they plan to move in the next five years.

That’s according to a survey from the Demand Institute. Citing the survey, RealtorMag.com pointed out what may be surprising statistics to some. For example, the survey found that the location of a home is the impetus for most people’s moving decisions, rather than just the attributes of the physical home itself.

The top motivations for moving: entering a safer neighborhood, being closer to family, a change of climate, being closer to work and moving for a new job. Read more here about the reasons people are pondering a move.



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Here’s some welcome news for potential homebuyers: One new report shows that mortgages may be becoming easier to obtain, while separate research found that housing affordability is edging upward.

First, the L.A. Times reports on The Mortgage Bankers Association’s latest credit availability index, a closely monitored measure that tracks the availability of mortgage credit. The index shows that requirements may be easing up, in the wake of increasingly tighter rules that were implemented after the housing bust.

In fact, in addition to modestly easing requirements, lenders are also expanding the types of mortgages they offer, the L.A. Times said.

And as we recently reported on MLuxe, the Federal Housing Administration announced a decrease in annual mortgage insurance premiums with the intent of making FHA loans more affordable for prospective buyers – another move that could potentially increase homeowner eligibility.

Meanwhile, the easing mortgage requirements come at a time when other research suggests that homes are becoming more affordable.

Slightly lower interest rates and lower home prices across the country led to an uptick in nationwide housing affordability during the fourth quarter, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index.

NAHB Chairman Tom Woods described the increased affordability as “a positive development” that’s “in line with what we are hearing from builders in the field that more prospective buyers are starting to move forward in the marketplace.”



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Education is the key to selling green upgrades

February 20th, 2015 by Berit Griffin

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Think about how often you read about or discuss green building a high-efficiency homes. Surely, these areas of focus are common knowledge to most homeowners…right?

Not even close. According to a survey by the advertising agency Shelton Group (Knoxville, Tenn.), only 38 percent of 2,009 Americans polled could define “efficient home,” while only 14 percent understood the meaning of “high-performance homes.”

So, how do you convince homeowners who are buying or remodeling to invest in green upgrades when they have little knowledge of the benefits? ConstructionDive.com has a few important talking points to help convey the value:

1. Green products make a home healthier. A well-insulated home with a highly efficient HVAC system, for example, does a better job of keeping allergens out of the house and improving indoor air quality.

2. Green might cost a little more to buy or install, but it will boost a home’s resale value. Homeowners are more apt to believe that aesthetic upgrades like granite countertops and hardwood floors will add more to a home’s resale value than invisible features like thick insulation or double-pane windows. In fact, in a study of 1.6 million home transactions, researchers at the University of California, Berkeley found that energy-efficient homes sold for an average of 9% more than other houses.

3. Green certifications are on the level. Homes that are certified as energy efficient by someone besides the builder—like Energy Star, LEED, the National Green Building Standard, or even a home-performance “auditor”—can push the price of a home upward, according to the Illinois Association of Energy Raters. Studies have shown that buyers paid 10% to 14% more for homes with green certifications. So be sure to let potential buyers know about all certifications.

4. Green is the right way to go. Appeal to the buyer’s conscience. Another recent report noted that con­sumers aren’t as committed to how much less a green appli­ance, plumbing fixture or even a home will cost to operate as they are to doing the right thing for the environment.



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How does relationship status affect home ownership?

February 11th, 2015 by Integrity Windows

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and Realtors recently looked into how relationship status affects the kind of homes people buy. 

Married couples unsurprisingly top that list of homebuyers at 65 percent, with single females in a far second at 16 percent. While single females consider their neighborhood’s convenience to family and friends a top priority, single males find proximity to entertainment/leisure activities as their most important neighborhood feature. Another fun fact: only 34 percent of single men considered a laundry room “very important” in their home. Better hit the dry cleaner’s before Saturday! 

For more, check out this infographic. Happy Valentine’s Day from Integrity!




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Housing markets across the United States are “improving at a consistent pace,” according to Tom Woods, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB).

In fact, more than 80 percent of all metros saw their “Leading Markets Index” – a measure based on factors such as average permit, price and employment levels – increase or hold steady over the fourth quarter of last year, a strong indicator that the overall housing market continues making headway, according to new data from the NAHB.

Another sign of substantial improvement is in the industry’s job market: The number of metros that reached or surpassed their employment norms rose by 23 in a year, according to the NAHB.

Meanwhile, amid the improving housing market, an unrelated study is calling into question many of the common beliefs about what led to the housing bubble. The Washington Post reports on the new study, which was recently published by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

The study “rejects or qualifies” much of the “received wisdom” about the bubble, according to the Washington Post column. For example, mortgage lending during the bubble that led to the Great Recession wasn’t aimed mainly at the poor, the study found. And borrowers were not saddled with progressively larger mortgage debt burdens, the study suggests.

“If these findings hold up to scrutiny by other scholars, they alter our picture of the housing bubble,” Washington Post columnist Robert Samuelson wrote. Read the full column here.



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Remodeling Market Has “Fully Regained Its Mojo”

February 4th, 2015 by Berit Griffin

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U.S. spending on home improvement may be poised to reach a record high in 2015.

That’s according to new research from the Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies.

Remodeling magazine reports on the new study, which forecasts that U.S. spending on remodeling this year could easily exceed the record $324 billion set during the peak of last decade’s housing boom.

While remodeling spending is expected to grow, the research suggests that the industry’s future won’t resemble its recent past. For example, Generation X and millennials have different home improvement priorities than baby boomers, the industry is repositioning itself in the wake of the housing crash, and high-income metro areas are re-emerging as leaders in home improvement spending.

The Wall Street Journal, which also reported on the new data, described the research as a clear indicator that the remodeling market has “regained its mojo.” The WSJ pointed out that, while 2015 might not bring as fast of growth as seen in previous years of the recovery, it is expected to be the richest year for remodeling spending of the past 15 years.

In other news, the outlook for commercial construction is also increasingly rosy: The sector is projected to see double-digit increases in spending in 2015, driven in part by “vigorous levels of demand” for hotels and office buildings, according to new data from the American Institute of Architects.



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Three trends from IBS 2015

January 30th, 2015 by Integrity Windows

 

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The International Builders’ Show and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas wrapped up last week, and a treasure trove of summaries and trend pieces have since been published. Before the building season ramps up, now is the time to get smart on all of the latest trends from the industry that will surely make your product stand out.

Here are three of the biggest trends that emerged at this year’s IBS according to RealtorMag.com:

Kitchens Will Evolve

Who wants two steam ovens when you can install a combi oven that offers both steam and convection in the same unit? Whether it’s high-temperature cooking options, functional surfaces or designated areas for activities like canning or brewing, the kitchen of tomorrow meets the needs of foodies and mainstream homeowners alike.

“Think about different questions to ask home owners about their food acquisition,” says Judith A. Neary, principal of Roadside Attraction Design Studio LLC in Vashon Island, Wash. “Do you have a garden? Do you do canning? Where do you store that? I have to have these conversations with them. We’re trying to plan a kitchen solution for that.”

Smart Home Tech Searches For Its Footing

Think back to the late 1990s and how personal computer brands flooded the marketplace. Consumers knew little about hardware, but they understood the necessity of owning a PC. As the years past, many of the lesser brands and their flawed products died off while juggernauts like Apple, Dell and IBM stayed the course.

Smart home tech is very similar to that era in personal computing. And that’s exactly why you should think twice before going all-in on products that may not be long for this world.

“Be careful about who you hitch your wagon to,” says Jacob Atalla, vice president of sustainability initiatives at KB Home. He notes that there are a lot of relatively unknown companies serving up new home technology products, and there’s no guarantee how long they’ll be around or how well their products will work. “There could be some disappointments in the future, so we shouldn’t rush into it.”

Gray Has Company

Like fashion, paint colors seem to be on a 20-year cycle. That’s why many aren’t surprised to see of-the-moment gray joined by the likes of browns and yellows. Even avocado green — a blast from the past — is back in the mix.

“I’m thinking, ‘Why are you so excited about this color?’” says Kay Green, president of Kay Green Design Inc. in Winter Park, Fla. She says she later realized that it was a generational thing: “It’s because they didn’t have a refrigerator that color growing up!”



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Millennials still planning for suburban life

January 28th, 2015 by Berit Griffin

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You can hold off on writing that eulogy for suburban living for now, because according to a new survey conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, millennials remain very much interested in moving on from city life in pursuit of spacious homes.

The NAHB revealed results of the survey at the 2015 International Builders’ Show last week in Las Vegas. A stunning 66 percent of 1,500 respondents born no later than 1977 claimed they want to live in the suburbs, while another 24 percent expressed interest in rural living. Only 10 percent indicated they wanted to live in a city center.

What gives?

It could be as simple as square footage. Eighty-one percent of respondents said they want three or more bedrooms in their home — an amenity as expensive as it is rare in any major U.S. city center.

“While you are more likely to attract this generation than other generations to buy a condo or a house downtown, that is a relative term,” said Rose Quint, the association’s assistant vice president of survey research. “The majority of them will still want to buy the house out there in the suburbs.”

The millennial cohort — estimated at 7o-80 million people — represents the largest population bulge since the baby boomers.



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VIDEO: Matt Risinger tours Integrity’s IBS booth

January 23rd, 2015 by Berit Griffin

And just like that, the 2015 International Builders’ Show is a wrap! A big thank-you goes out to all of the building professionals who stopped by to tour our booth. It’s truly a highlight of our year to meet those who choose Integrity.

Couldn’t make it to IBS this year or happened to miss visiting our booth? Don’t worry — Matt Risinger of Risinger Homes (Austin, Texas) has you covered. Risinger swung by our booth Wednesday morning to check out some of our latest offerings — including our new Wood-Ultrex Insert Replacement Casement and Awning windows and 4 Panel Wood-Ultrex French Sliding Door — as you’ll see in the video above.

We hope to see all of you again next year!



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See Integrity’s latest innovations at IBS

January 21st, 2015 by Berit Griffin

Whether you didn’t make the trip to the International Builders’ Show here in Las Vegas, or you’re here and just haven’t had the chance to visit our booth — it’s C5520, by the way! — here are just a few of the exciting new products we have on display.


 

4 Panel Wood-Ultrex® Sliding French Door

Let the outside in with Integrity’s new 4 Panel Wood-Ultrex Sliding French Door — the biggest, most beautiful door we have ever offered. Available in sizes as large as 16 feet wide by 8 feet tall, this door blends elegant aesthetics with simple ease of use. The 4 Panel Sliding French Door features warm, natural wood on the inside that can be painted or stained to match any home’s interior. Our tough Ultrex fiberglass exterior stands up to harsh outdoor conditions and is available in one of six standard colors.


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Integrity Wood-Ultrex replacement windows

Integrity’s industry-leading product line offers even more flexibility with the addition of our Wood-Ultrex Insert Casement and Awning windows. Both windows blend the toughness of Ultrex pultruded fiberglass exteriors with warm wood interiors, offering high-performance solutions for virtually any remodeling or replacement project.


 

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Integrity Northfield Collection door handles

Integrity’s new Northfield Collection door handles are now available for All Ultrex and Wood-Ultrex doors, offering even more design flexibility. The Northfield Collection handles come in five beautiful finishes with a split finish option available. Plus, all Integrity doors offer factory keyed-alike handle sets and corrosion-resistant PVD finish options — so now performance comes in any style you select.



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