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First-Time Buyers Make a Comeback

May 22nd, 2015 by Integrity Windows

Although the numbers have yet to fully recover, according to the Wall Street Journal, and as reported by the Professional Builder, First time and entry-level buyers are returning to the market after years of dormancy. In fact, first time buyers accounted for approximately 18 percent of new-home sales thus far in 2015. Even so, The Wall Street Journal does state that even though first time buyers are stepping off the sidelines, it doesn’t mean they’re fully back in the game.


The gradual return of the first-time buyers is welcome news to some housing economists, builders and realtors, given that the eventual return of first time buyers after several years of dormancy is often cited as key to boosting home-construction volumes and, subsequently, the economic recovery, repots Wall Street Journal.


Even with the upturn, obstacles such as tight credit restrictions and rising home prices make it difficult for first-time buyers to qualify for a mortgage or have enough save for a 10 percent or 20 percent down payment – making their return to the market a gradual one.


Nonetheless, The Wall Street Journal reports that the home builders association estimates, based on a survey of its members, that first-timers will account for 18% of new-home sales this year. That’s up from its recent low of 16% last year, but it’s also well short of 27% to 28% in the normalized market of 2001 to 2005.


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Return of the McMansion

May 20th, 2015 by Berit Griffin


Who remembers the McMansion? According to statistics from The Wall Street Journal, large modern houses considered ostentatious and lacking in architectural integrity may be making a comeback. Although, many economists seem to think the first-quarter high in the median size of newly built, single-family homes is a statistical blip given trends in broader housing market, including construction of a greater number if smaller, affordable homes.

The median size of a home built in the U.S. in the first quarter registered 2,521 square feet, up 76 square feet, or 3%, from the fourth quarter, according to Commerce Department data released Tuesday. It was the first increase for that measure after three consecutive years, reports the The Wall Street Journal.

Robert Dietz, an economist with the National Association of Home Builders, commented on the phenomenon stating, ““I think it is due to the fact that the total amount of quarterly single-family (construction) starts was lower than prior quarters, thus rolling back some of the market expansion that was causing median size to level off.” The Wall Street Journal goes on to say that Deitz also added that April’s 20% surge in the pace of U.S. home-construction starts, as well as expected gains in housing construction for the rest of this year, “should cause size to level off” going forward.

What do you think, has the McMansion made its return?

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Where is Gen Y Living?

May 15th, 2015 by Berit Griffin


It is often assumed that Millenials are living in the downtowns of large cities, and although that’s sometimes the case, new research sponsored by UDR, Inc. and published by the Urban Land Institute (ULI) shows that the demographic tends to live in less centrally located but more affordable neighborhoods. Many are making ends meet working jobs for which they may feel over qualified, and are living with parents or roommates to save money, reports ULI.

Of the 1,270 Millenials surveyed, 70 percent of those who do not yet own a home expect to become homeowners by 2020, and most expect to use the money they have saved for a down payment, reports REALTOR Mag – evidence that Generation Y is staying optimistic.

Neighborhoods with urban characteristics, such as those that feature walkability, transportation alternatives and easy access to shopping and entertainment are most appealing to Millenials when looking for housing. Yet, downtown areas don’t seem to be an option – likely due to high costs.

Key Findings as reported by Urban Land Institute:


  • Only 13 percent of Gen Yers live in or near downtowns; 63 percent live in other city neighborhoods or in the suburbs.
  • Fifty percent are renters, paying a median rent of $925.
  • Twenty-one percent currently live at home, and of those, 42 percent moved back home after living independently. Only 10 percent of those now living at home expect to still be there in five years.
  • Fourteen percent live in households with three generations of family members.
  • Eighteen percent of all Millennials and 27 percent who rent share housing with roommates. However, 58 percent of those with roommates would prefer to live alone.Sixty-percent work full-time; and an additional 15 percent work part-time; however, 27 percent feel they are underemployed.
  • Thirty-eight percent consider themselves savers; 30 percent, spenders; and 32 percent say they are both.
  • Eighty-three percent own automobiles (lowest percentage of owners, 74 percent, are in the Northeast; highest, 88 percent, are in the South)
  • Virtually all expect to own a home eventually, even though they are not necessarily convinced that housing is a good investment.
  • Nine out of ten expect to match or exceed their parents’ economic circumstances.


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Homeownership and Happiness

May 13th, 2015 by Berit Griffin


Can owning a home be linked to one’s happiness? According to data from the OECD Better Life Index – a study that gauges the quality of life worldwide by factoring in such things like housing, jobs and civic engagement – homeownership in the United States can lead to higher levels of subjective well-being. So the answer appears to be yes – homeownership can be linked to happiness.

RISMedia reports that, according to Aida Caldera Sanchez and Caroline Tassot, authors of a recent Index analysis, “At face value this assessment is dead on – most agents can attest to smiling faces when first-time buyers – but that heightened sense of well-being may be more closely tied to our basic need for shelter.” Homeownership is also suited for additional qualities covered by the analysis such as status and independence.

The Index also measures well-being indicators on a regional scale. Housing performs better than all other indicators in 75 percent of the states in the Midwest, says RISMedia. Similarly, housing in the South tops all other indicators in 70.6 percent of states in the region. Housing in the West outperforms indicators such as environment and education in 15 percent of states. In 55 percent of the Northeastern states, as well as major metropolitan areas, income trumps housing as the dominant indicator.

Use the OECD Regional Well-Being website to see how your home region performs in terms of housing and other well-being indicators.


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10 Cities Experiencing a Surge in Home Prices

May 8th, 2015 by Integrity Windows

According to CoreLogic’s March Home Price Index, and as reported on by Realtor Mag, 27 states, including the District of Columbia are now at or within 10 percent of their peak home prices. Colorado, Nebraska, New York, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, and Wyoming have reached new home price highs.


CoreLogic economists project that home prices, including distressed sales, will increase by 5.1 percent by March 2016, states Realtor Mag.


Pushing price levels in many states are tight inventories, job growth and the inexorable impact of demographics and household formation.


The following metros saw the largest price increases single-family homes in March in the last 12 months, as reported by CoreLogic’s March Home Price Index:


  1. Dallas-Plano-Irving, Texas: 9.9%
  2. Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land, Texas: 9.3%
  3. New York-Jersey City-White Plains, N.Y.-N.J.: 7.1%
  4. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif.: 6.7%
  5. Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, Ga.: 6.5%
  6. Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington, Minn.-Wis.: 4.7%
  7. Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif.: 4.1%
  8. Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz.: 3.7%
  9. Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, Ill.: 3.3%
  10. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-Va.-Md.-W.Va.: 1.6%


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Remodeling Trends

May 6th, 2015 by Integrity Windows

With May being National Home Remodeling Month, many homeowners are thinking about how they can improve their homes. But when there is work to be done, where should the focus lie? According to the results of the NAHB’s quarterly Remodeling Market Index (RMI), kitchen and bathroom remodeling remain the two most common types of projects. This trend has been fairly consistent – with kitchens and bathrooms occasionally exchanging leadership – since the NAHB started asking the question in 2001.


According to Eye On Housing, “Whole house remodeling continues to recover from its low point during the depths of the housing downturn.” Before the collapse whole house remodeling was a common project for over 40% of remodelers. That number then dropped by half. In 2014, the NAHB saw that number once again rise above 40%.


Do you have plans to remodel during National Home Remodeling month? In need of some inspiration? Have look at these Great Home Projects from Houzz.


The Most Common Remodeling Jobs in 2014, according to NAHB:

Bathroom remodeling 78%

Kitchen remodeling 77%

Windows/doors replacement 45%

Whole house remodeling 43%

Room additions 35%

Repairing property damage 30%

Handyman services 24%

Decks 25%

Siding 22%

Finished basement 22%

Roofing 21%

Bathroom additions 19%

Enclosed/added porch 19%

Second story additions 9%

Enclosed/added garage 9%

Historic preservation 8%

Finished attic 6%

Other 6%




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Booming Spring Market

May 1st, 2015 by Integrity Windows


According to the National Association of REALTORS®, and as reported by Realtor Mag, pending home sales have risen for the third consecutive month – hitting the highest level since June 2013.

Pending sales have experienced a steady moth to month increase of 1.1 percent, and are 11.1 percent above last March’s levels, says Realtor Mag. Numbers of which are taken from NAR’s Pending Home Sales index.

Metro areas with solid job gains and firm economic growth have seen a steady increase in demand, but with this demand has come a lack of availability. Lawrence Yung, NAR’s chief economist, states, “”Demand in many markets is far exceeding supply, and properties in March sold at a faster rate than any month since last summer. This, in turn, has pushed home prices to unhealthy levels — nearly four or more times above the pace of wage growth in some parts of the country. Simply put, housing inventory for new and existing homes needs to improve measurably to improve affordability.”


A countrywide look at Pending Home Sales Index as reported by Realtor Mag:

South: Contract signings rose 4 percent in March and are 12.4 percent above year-ago levels.

West: Contract signings increased 1.7 percent in March and are 15.6 percent higher than March 2014.

Northeast: Contract signings fell 1.5 percent for the fourth consecutive month but remain 0.6 percent above a year ago.

Midwest: Contract signings decreased 2.5 percent in March but are 11.3 percent above year-ago levels.


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Shifting Sense of Home Value

April 29th, 2015 by Integrity Windows

Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices recently released results of its first quarterly Homeowner Sentiment Survey, and results show that people’s perception of home value in the post-crash era runs much deeper than standard measures of price and location. According to Business Wire, Today’s property owners and prospective homebuyers define value in broader terms of personal confidence in their housing investment and how a property will meet their family needs now and in the future. Low interest rates and a strengthening economy have prompted this consumer optimism, reports Realtor Mag.

With an increasing economy and healing housing market, homeowner’s options are also on the rise. As reported by Business Wire, A large majority of owners (89 percent) expressed satisfaction with their home and current living situation; about a third said they’ve considered selling their home in the near future. Those thinking about selling are looking for properties that are better suited for, amongst various reasons, their changing lifestyles.

There does seem to be a bit of a discrepancy between generations’ reasoning behind ownership. Realtor Mag reports that Baby boomers and Gen Xers, tend to embrace home ownership first as a “smart, long-term investment.” Whereas millennials are “thinking in the now” about real estate and tend to place the highest priority on the “ease of a purchase decision,” including the ability to close quickly on the property, secure financing, and afford monthly payments.

Renovations continue to be a key focus for a vast majority of homeowners. 88 percent of those surveyed in the Homeowner Sentiment Survey said that updates and renovations are important in terms of enhancing long-term value. According to Realtor Mag, more than 60 percent of current homeowners said they favor “green” home improvements – even over kitchen, bath, and flooring projects.

Integrity_Wood-Ultrex_Insert_Double_Hung (1)

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RDA 2014 Winner – Lake Arrowhead Residence

April 24th, 2015 by Integrity Windows

With its expansive line of contemporary design styles featuring clean sight lines with narrow profiles and generous glass proportions to enhance the outside view and provide maximum day lighting, The Lake Arrowhead Residence was a natural selection for the 2014 Red Diamond Achiever Award.

Architect Bryan Jones was challenged with designing a contemporary style, energy efficient house with large windows to make the interior spaces feel as they’re part of the outside. To achieve such an effect, Jones chose Integrity® energy efficient Wood-Ultrex® and All Ultrex® Casement and Awning Windows and Wood-Ultrex Sliding Patio Doors. Although Ultrex windows and doors enabled significant energy savings, the fact that they, unlike vinyl, are fully paintable with no impact on material performance or the windows and/or door warranty coverage was a major factor in their selection. “Integrity windows and doors provided the flexibility to install large fixed windows mixed with triple glazing when needed, Simulated Divided Lite (SDL) mullions and a wood interior that could be stained or painted” Said Jones.

The final result is an exceptionally beautiful, clean and modern looking residence that fits perfectly within its natural surroundings.


Name: Lake Arrowhead

Location: Waleska, GA

Project Type: New Construction, Contemporary Design

Building Type: Residential

Product Series: All Ultrex and Wood-Ultrex

Product Type: Casement, Awning and Sliding Patio Door

Architect: Bryan Jones, Jones Pierce Architecture

Builder: Paul Gouin, Wisdom Properties


Incorporated Integrity Products:

Integrity All Ultrex Casement

Integrity Wood-Ultrex Casement

Integrity Wood-Ultrex Sliding Patio Door

Integrity All Ultrex Awning

Integrity Wood-Ultrex Awning


Learn more about the Lake Arrowhead Residence HERE.

Do you have a project worthy of the Red Diamond Achiever Award? Submit it HERE.


RDA2014_3 RDA2014_2 RDA2014_1

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So Much Space!

April 22nd, 2015 by Integrity Windows


In terms of commercial real estate news, the growth of the self-storage industry has been relatively quiet. Even so, it’s a booming business! As stated by Curbed, “To put it in perspective, the industry has 48,500 locations across the county, more than triple the number of McDonald’s (14,350) restaurants, and generates $24 billion in revenue every year.” Quoting Maurice Pagoda, an expert investor in the self-storage industry, Curbed goes on to say, “There is about 7 square feet of self-storage space nationally for each person in the United States.”

For homeowners seeking change, such as with the arrival or a newborn, moving to a smaller unit from an empty nest or looking to spread, self-storage is a popular option, reports Realtor Mag. But is this the right move? Realtor Mag suggests, “Savvy practitioners can help their clients take a pragmatic look at the issue.” Is the customer gaining or losing space? Help your client take a close look at cost per square foot if they’re thinking of renting pods or other self-storage solutions. “Remind them that money they put into self-storage has little return beyond hiding a problem and that being able to return that money to a household budget may give them more flexibility as they shop for their new home.” Realtor Mag.

Whether a client contemplating a move decides it is in their best interest to rent storage space or not, one thing is for certain: there is space to be had.


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