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Connecting with Today’s Homebuyer

March 13th, 2015 by Berit Griffin


According to the recent release of National Association of REALTORS®’ Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report 2015, Millennials are quickly moving out of their parent’s basements and into homes of their own. In fact, those 34 and younger made up 32 percent of all buyers in 2014 and 31 percent in 2013 – representing the largest share of recent buyers, as stated by REALTOR® Mag.

The increase in those within the tech-savvy generation buying homes does raise some questions for real estate professionals – a group that, according to Aol Real Estate, is considerably older than the home buying generation that they serve. Fears of younger consumers bypassing traditional home buying routes in favor of the Internet have been debunked by REALTOR® Mag’s survey, which shows although Millennials go online to search for homes, 90 percent purchase through their real estate agent.

What can generationally removed realtors do to better connect with a younger demographic? Aol Real Estate suggests that many Millenials prefer emails and texts to phone calls, apps for checking listings as well active social media engagement are essential, and quick responses to questions are a must.

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Industry News Roundup: March 9, 2015

March 9th, 2015 by Berit Griffin

New, but Far From Perfect
New York Times
A building boon in Brooklyn leads to accusations of shoddy construction. Do you see the same in your area?

7 Ways Biophilic Design Can Enhance Indoor Environments
Custom Home
“First made popular by scholar Edward O. Wilson in the 1980’s, biophilia is the urge for humans to affiliate with other life. More recently, the biophilia hypothesis has been directly incorporated in architecture and interior design, improving the performance and well-being of people occupying indoor spaces. Biophilic design improves both physiological and psychological health, which is especially important as people spend an average of 90% of the day indoors.”

Dept. Of Energy Set To Release New Building Science Translator
Housing Zone
“The U.S. Department of Energy is set to unveil a new Building Science Translator, a glossary of “power words” to replace the industry jargon about green building features that can confuse homeowners and potential buyers.”

More than just a contractor: How to stand out
For Residential Pros
A good overview of how to make yourself stand out in the market.

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Building an award-winning home is an impressive feat no matter its location, but add in the many considerations that come with building along a coast and the challenges really pile up. With Storm Preparedness Week upon us, we turned to Luke Perisich, owner of Blue Sky Building Company. The winner of two Red Diamond Achiever Awards, we caught up with Perisich to talk about the rigors of coastal building, his favorite trends and if Blue Sky Building Company has its sights set on a third Red Diamond Achiever Award.


Blue Sky Building Company has won not one, but two Red Diamond Achiever Awards. What has been the key to your company’s award-winning success?

LP: We were very excited when we one our first Red Diamond Achiever Award a few years back. When we were notified of receiving it a second time we were sure there had to be a mistake. Our understanding is that no one has ever received two of them. And this second time we were the only project in both North Carolina and South Carolina to be recognized. We owe all of our success and recognition to our clients. You can have the most talented team in the world but without a client that recognizes what you are capable of, it is of no use. Our clients put an extreme amount of the faith and trust in us. Our only choice is to provide them a first class home with best-in-class products.


As a coastal builder, there is always the possibility one of your projects will be in the path of a major storm. What are the most important considerations for building a safe and sturdy coastal home? 

LP: It’s not even a matter of the possibility of being in a storm path, it’s simply when

it will happen. We take an aggressive approach to waterproofing our homes with the most complete flashing details and the best products we can find. Most of our coastal construction, especially waterfront and water view projects, are built and certified according to the Fortified Home standards set out by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. Most of our Fortified projects meet the Gold Standard level of certification. We incorporate construction standards into all projects that allow us to sleep better while it’s pouring and blowing hard outside.


What is the one building trend right now that most excites you?

LP: We’ve been very blessed to build some fantastic projects for the best clients in the world. Our typical project had been getting increasingly larger and more complex. That type of first class custom project is exciting to build and provides a great amount of satisfaction upon completion. But frankly, what we are most excited about, intrigued more really, is the tiny house movement. We think there is a tremendous opportunity to incorporate some phenomenal design features into these intimate, yet livable, spaces.


Why do you choose Integrity products?

LP: Have you seen the product demonstration videos for Integrity? After you watch those, really anything else in a coastal exposure application is second rate.


Fill in the blank: Five years from now, coastal building will be different because _____________.

LP: …The nature of what we have learned through our collective mistakes, the products and techniques we will employ, will ultimately force this industry to a build a better home.


What is the one building tool you would most hate to lose?

LP: We have made extensive use of the BuilderTrend project management system. What a great tool that has been for us in keeping our trade partners and clients on the same page with online job schedules, document storage, up-to-date pictures of the project and keeping track of the myriad selections that need to be made when building a custom project. When I look back at how we built homes using landline phones at night and no computers I cringe. Of course life was a lot calmer too.


Is there any chance we might see Blue Sky Building Company pick up a third Red Diamond Achiever Award this year?

LP: We would love to have another winner, winner, chicken dinner! But we are going to modestly say no. We hope that another high quality and deserving builder in our industry is able to enjoy the limelight this year.



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Sales of new homes outpace existing-home sales

February 27th, 2015 by Berit Griffin


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, 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


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? 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




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


Marvin Windows and Doors

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

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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