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Category - Housing Industry News

Is virtual homebuying here to stay?

Categories: Homeowner Tips, Housing Industry News, News Highlights | Posted: May 14, 2020

Kettler Forlines virtual home buyingWhen the stay-at-home orders were issued, life changed. Homes instantly became offices for many workers and classrooms for families. It was rough going in the beginning, with everyone trying to figure out a system to work within the restrictions. Within a few weeks, we found a rhythm. Now, with businesses gradually reopening, we have to wonder how much of the temporary “New Normal” will continue in our lives. Is virtual homebuying here to stay?


What have you been accomplishing through online channels that you used to do in person? Grocery shopping is a big one. Whether ordering online and opting for curbside pick-up or relying on delivery, wandering aimlessly through the aisles of a grocery store was deemed too risky. 

Telemedicine—a video conference with your healthcare provider—is another task you might have experienced. And how many Zoom meetings have you attended since the pandemic sparked the shutdown?

As a local homebuilder in Maryland, Kettler Forlines Homes has accomplished what many other builders around the country have done. We’ve moved from a physical sales center and model home to a virtual one, to protect our buyers as well as our Kettler Forlines team. 

For the past two months, we’ve maintained communication with our customers. People who had a home under construction were able to keep receiving updates. Our construction crews have been able to keep working safely with social distancing and diligent sanitizing on the job sites.

Buying a home online

What we found interesting—and exciting!—is selling homes to buyers by using our virtual homebuying process. Yes, it’s not only doable, but been done!

Here’s how it worked:

  • The prospective buyer browsed the website of our Brightwell Crossing neighborhood in Poolesville, MD. They looked at the interactive site map to see which lots were available and then explored the floor plans. The virtual tours provided a 360° view. They also visited our online Gallery to see photos and videos of the homes, community, and area.
  • The interested buyers were able to get out and drive around The Reserve at Brightwell Crossing, to see first-hand the quality and distinction of the homes and neighborhood. 
  • The buyers contacted George Neill, Kettler Forlines Homes’ Sales Manager, who “met” with them on a video conference call. 
  • George then went through all the options for customizing their new home.
  • Convinced that The Reserve at Brightwell Crossing was the right place and Kettler Forlines Homes had the right skills, design, and reputation to build their home, they signed the contract, also done online using Docusign.

We eventually met face to face. They praised that the process was so easy!

And now we’re able to schedule private, in-person appointments so you can tour any of our homes. We’re adhering to CDC guidelines for proper safety, keeping everyone protected.

Why it’s a great time to buy a home

If you thought you had to put your plans on hold, think again. Right now, the mortgage interest rates are at a historical low. We looked back almost 50 years to compare interest rates for 30-year, fixed rate mortgages, and the closest we saw to the 3.31% rate last month (April 2020) was the end of 2012, when the market was coming back from the Great Recession.

As restrictions lift and more people are moving about (safely, we hope), the demand for new homes will rise. After coming out of confinement, homeowners have learned that their homes just didn’t meet their needs. Prices will likely go up as well, along with interest rates. Inventory is already low and with the limited amount of homes built over the past few months, your options will become more limited. 

We expect that many people will remain cautious about the spread of the virus, and will limit contact as much as possible. With virtual homebuying, you can shop, plan, purchase, customize, and close on your home with as much or as little distance as you choose. Talk to George Neill to get started on a unique homebuying journey!

3 Reasons to Buy Your New Home NOW!

Categories: Housing Industry News | Posted: April 20, 2017

There are so many amazing reasons for you to choose a Kettler Forlines home. And right now, one of the most crucial incentives is how much money you’ll save in a smart real estate investment.


  1. Interest Rates are on the Rise – Interest rates have gone up since the start of this year and likely will to continue to rise. The good news is that we’re offering a long-term interest rate protection program!


  1. Labor Costs are Increasing – According to Builder Magazine, when builders were asked about significant problems faced in 2016, only 48% of people voiced building material prices as a concern. In 2017, this number jumped to 60% – the most significant jump of any category including cost of labor, cost of lots, and development standards.


  1. Mortgage Rates are Still at a 30-Year Low – Although prices and interest rates are on the rise in the homebuilding industry, rates are still at some of the lowest we’ve seen over the last thirty years. Buyers should feel secure in knowing that this is a still a great time to purchase a home, especially in the upcoming short months.

If you’re looking to make a move sooner rather than later, check out our quick move-in homes that you can settle into within a few short weeks. Homes are available in our Brookfield on the Potomac community in Falling Waters, West Virginia and The Reserve at Brightwell Crossing in Poolesville, MD.


If you’re looking to build your home from the ground up with Kettler Forlines Homes, we’re ready to start now as well! No matter if you’d like a home on your own lot or on one of ours, we’re ready to help you find your new home before the next price hike.

Give Grandma & Grandpa a place of their own with the Family Guest Suite!

Categories: Blog, Brightwell Crossing Community News, Community News, Housing Industry News | Posted: September 28, 2015

The Reserve at Brightwell Crossing features six innovative designs our buyers just love – the Ashton, the Kensington, the Seneca, the Montgomery, the Kenwood and the Potomac.

Among these floorplans, the Kensington, the Kenwood and the Potomac feature something new and exclusive to Kettler Forlines Homes – a Family Guest House. This unique feature has proven to be very popular!

Designed to accommodate a multi-generational household, this attached guest house features its own living room, kitchenette, bedroom, bathroom, and laundry, plus a private entrance, as well as an entrance to the main house. It’s perfect for multi-generational living. Grandma & Grandpa can maintain their independence – cook their own meals, have their own privacy and space – yet still be steps from the rest of the family.

The Reserve offers a variety of home styles, with full front porches, stone and brick fronts, wrap-around porches, side-load garages, distinctive exteriors, and open, airy interiors. These homes range in size from 2,900 sq. ft. to over 7,200 sq. ft., and are priced from the $600’s. Interactive floorplans for all our designs are available at

The Model Home & Design Center is located at 17919 Elgin Rd., Poolesville, MD 20837, and is open daily 11am – 6pm. For more information about The Reserve at Brightwell Crossing, please contact Community Sales Manager George Neill at 301-208-2588 or

For nearly 40 years, the details have made all the difference in Kettler Forlines Homes and neighborhoods. Come visit and you will find award-winning, energy-efficient designs, the highest quality materials and craftsmanship, a genuine dedication to affordability and value, countless included features, and many ways to create a home that is truly unique. For more details about our homes, visit

Kettler Forlines Homes builds single-family homes, villas, and townhomes for families throughout Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.  Visit for more information!

Brightwell Crossing Featured In The Washington Post!

Categories: Brightwell Crossing Community News, Community News, Housing Industry News | Posted: September 22, 2015

“Andrew and Emily Gaughan relocated from Britain to the United States last year for his job and only had a week to find a new home for themselves and their three girls. After looking in Gaithersburg, Maryland, and other nearby areas, they settled on a lesser-known community in the western part of Montgomery County.

A picturesque drive down a country road led them to Poolesville, Maryland, a town of about 5,000 that seems to be stuck in time when it comes to neighborly fun.”

The Reserve at Brightwell Crossing has a huge sense of community. Poolesville, Maryland is a place where everyone seems to know each other on a first name basis. In addition to community, The Reserve at Brightwell Crossing offers homeowners access to great schools, big beautiful lots and spacious homes.

Read the full article on The Washington Post!

Kettler Forlines Homes builds single-family homes, villas, and townhomes for families throughout Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.  Visit for more information!   

What’s going to happen when the interest rates go up?

Categories: Blog, Housing Industry News | Posted: July 30, 2015

Interest rates rising

For months now, people have been watching the Federal Reserve to see what’s going to happen with interest rates. Since June ended with no rate hike, all eyes are on September for the first US interest rate hike in nine years. Which means that all the Nervous Nellies are clutching their pearls and wondering whether the economy is ready for it and how it will affect mortgage rates.

Fed Chair Janet Yellen acknowledged this week that “improving energy prices, more moderated dollar strength and a thriving labor market all suggest interest rates should be raised sooner rather than later.”

But timing a rate hike is hardly an easy task. As one economist noted, “This is a particularly tough one to do, because they could get it wrong either way. You get it right, and everyone ignores you. You get it wrong, and everybody blames you.”

Getting interest rates “right” would allow the economy to continue to grow, but would likely go unnoticed by everyday consumers. Getting it wrong, in a worst-case scenario, could restrict consumer spending and ultimately plunge the economy into another recession.

Bottom line for homebuyers? Even if a rate hike does take place, it’s not likely to send mortgage rates soaring. It’s likely the Fed will go with small increases to test the waters, so the affect on mortgage rates should be negligible. However, experts say that the expected long-term trend is for mortgage rates to begin going up, and keep going up. And since housing starts are up 27% since June 2014 – it looks like buyers aren’t wasting any time; they are ready to buy – before rates go up!

For over 35 years, the details have made all the difference in Kettler Forlines Homes and neighborhoods.  Come visit and you’ll find award-winning, energy efficient designs, the highest quality materials and craftsmanship, a genuine dedication to affordability and value, countless included features and many ways to create a home that is truly unique. For more details about our homes, visit  – See more at:

Baby boomers are changing the face of real estate!

Categories: Blog, Housing Industry News | Posted: June 23, 2015

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Baby boomers, who were the largest American generation until the Millennials took over, are either retired or quickly nearing retirement age. Born between 1946 and 1964 and numbering more than 76 million, they’re getting older, but are definitely not ready to head to the retirement home!

The waves of baby boomers are already having a big impact on residential real estate. They are more active than generations past, have a more sophisticated style, and want options and choices in their homes. Many of them prefer to stay in their homes and communities as they age, rather than relocate. They are choosing to alter their current homes to make them easier to navigate, rather than sell them and downsize.

Some features that homebuilders and remodelers are seeing as they begin to cater to the boomers include:

– Home Offices. Baby boomers are working longer or opting for “phased” retirements, in which they work at least part time after leaving their primary careers. As they transition from traditional 9-to-5 jobs, they want home offices for flexibility.

– Tech/Media Centers. Tech-savvy boomers want top-of-the-line amenities for their homes such as a media room with surround sound and central control systems. The house may include a wireless home network, remote control lighting and security features.

– Wider Doors and Hallways. Designing a home that is livable now but can transition and be functional as the occupant ages is important in ensuring that the home will be a good long-term investment. Wider doors and hallways are useful for moving larger furniture today, and will also be wheelchair accessible tomorrow.

– Better Lighting/Bigger Windows. The need for more lighting usually increases as we grow older. Builders are adding more & bigger windows to let in more natural light. They are also adding more light fixtures in areas including under cabinets and in stairwells. Multiple switches to reduce the number of trips and dimmer controls to eliminate glare are other options.

– First-Floor Bedrooms and Bathrooms. More than 40% of new homes have master suites downstairs – a trend fueled by boomers not wishing to go up and down stairs with bad knees and aching backs. The master bedrooms also have larger walk-in closets and bathrooms with a separate tub and shower and dual sinks.

– Easy to Maintain Exteriors/Landscaping. Yard work, painting, and other landscaping chores may not be enjoyable to aging homeowners. People who move to a new home when they retire may opt for a maintenance-free community. Those that choose to stay in their homes might make improvements to exterior surfaces such as installing stucco, brick or low-maintenance siding. Lawns are being replaced with outdoor rooms, featuring decorative landscaping or flower beds.

– Flex Space. Flex space has become more prevalent in both new homes and remodeling. Flex spaces are rooms that take on the purpose of the present homeowner’s needs but can adjust with changes as they occur. What may have once been a guest bedroom can be revamped to serve as a hobby room or library. This allows homeowners to stay in their homes longer as it continues to serve their needs throughout life’s stages.

For over 35 years, the details have made all the difference in Kettler Forlines Homes and neighborhoods.  Come visit and you’ll find award-winning, energy efficient designs, the highest quality materials and craftsmanship, a genuine dedication to affordability and value, countless included features and many ways to create a home that is truly unique. For more details about our homes, visit  

Montgomery Model Featured as New Home Source’s Home of the Week

Categories: Blog, Brightwell Crossing Community News, Community News, Housing Industry News | Posted: December 19, 2013

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We are proud, honored and excited to announce that our Montgomery Model was featured as one of’s Homes of the Week!  We, along with our homeowners, absolutely love this plan and hope you do, too!  Click here to read the NewHome Source article in its entirety, featuring beautiful photos and detailed descriptions.


In over 30 years, Kettler Forlines Homes has built 4,000 homes in 100 communities throughout Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.  Click here to visit our website!

Industry update from housing prophet Ivy Zelman

Categories: Blog, Housing Industry News | Posted: March 12, 2013

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“I think we’re in nirvana for housing” says Ivy Zelman, CEO of Zelman Associates.

Watch the video in its entirety here to see why housing prophet Ivy Zelman feels this way.

Why It’s Time to Buy – Wall Street Journal

Categories: Blog, Homeowner Tips, Housing Industry News | Posted: June 4, 2011


Back in June 2006, when the housing market peaked, the prospect of a five-year national housing bust seemed unimaginable to most people. And yet here we are, with the latest Standard & Poor’s Case-Shiller index showing that prices hit new bear-market lows, falling back to 2002 levels nationally and to 1990s levels in some battered regions.
Despite all the gloom, however, there are growing indications that it is a good time to buy. Mortgage rates, which fell to 4.55% for the week ending June 2, according to Freddie Mac, are near 50-year lows. Homes have become more affordable than they have been in years: According to Moody’s Analytics, the ratio of home prices to income is now 20.9% lower than the 15-year average through 2010, and 12.5% lower than the 1989-2004 average. A historic glut of homes, meanwhile, has created a buyer’s market: There were about 15 million vacant homes in the U.S. last year, according to John Burns Real Estate ConsultingInc.�some 3.1 million more than normal.

Such conditions might not last long. Moody’s Analytics predicts that the number of distressed sales will begin to fall in 2013, and that prices will begin to edge upward then. Home building is at a virtual standstill, so the supply overhang isn’t likely to get much worse. Meanwhile, demographic indicators such as “household formation”�the number of new households each year�are on the rise, and promise to take a bite out of the glut in coming years.

The upshot: “While we might not see rapid growth in the next couple of years, there are a tremendous number of positive signs that could lead to a rebound,” says Anthony Sanders, a real-estate finance professor at George Mason University.

The short-term outlook isn’t encouraging. Job growth remains weak, foreclosure sales are making up more of the market, and economists are predicting that home prices will fall more in the coming months.
But the long-term benefits of homeownership remain very much intact. For now, at least, you can deduct the mortgage interest on your taxes�a big perk for people in higher tax brackets. You get to paint your walls any color you wish, without having to clear it with a landlord. And assuming you can buy a home for about the same price as you can rent one, buying will give you the ability one day to live rent-free. Come retirement time, a paid-off mortgage means your monthly expenses are significantly reduced, and you have a chunk of equity to play with.
So what might the next five years look like? Once the foreclosure mess begins to clear up, say housing economists, the traditional drivers of the housing market�demographics, affordability, loan availability, employment and psychology�should take over.

Here is a glimmer of what the future may hold: While overall home prices fell by 7.5% in April over the same period a year earlier, according to CoreLogic, a Santa Ana, Calif., provider of real-estate data and analytics, if you exclude distressed sales, prices were off just 0.5%. So if you are in a market that isn’t battered by foreclosures, you may be close to a bottom already.
“The regular marketplace is hanging tough,” says CoreLogic chief economist Mark Fleming.
Here is a look at five key factors that will govern local markets over the next several years:

Household formation fell during the economic downturn as a weak economy led some people to stay in school, double up with roommates or move in with family members. According to Moody’s Analytics, the number of new households renting or owning a home dropped to 578,000 in 2008 from nearly 2 million in 2005, just before the peak of the housing boom.
But household formation increased to nearly 950,000 last year, says Moody’s, and should average 1.2 million over the next decade.
That, combined with increased obsolescence and higher demand for second homes, should begin sopping up excess inventory in much of the country over the next two years, Moody’s says.

“Whatever the excess supply of housing is, it is shrinking pretty fast,” says Thomas Lawler, an independent housing economist.
Some of the uptick in household formation is likely to come from the leading edge of the echo baby boomers, who have been waiting for the economy to recover before striking out on their own, says William Frey, a demographer with the Brookings Institution. That is likely to fuel an increase in demand for both rental apartments and starter homes.
The portion of people moving across the country has fallen to the lowest level since World War II, he adds. That is a sign that many people have put their lives on hold because of the weak economy.
“When things do pick up, there will be this pent-up demand for everything involved with starting a household,” Mr. Frey says.
Of course, when prices in healthier regions begin to rise, many would-be sellers who have sat on the sidelines could begin putting homes on the market, muting the price gains at first, says Susan Wachter, a professor of real estate and finance at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Even so, she expects home prices to stabilize and begin to strengthen over the next two or three years.
There also are some powerful demographic cross-currents worth considering. The first baby boomers turned 65 in January, an age when demand for new homes falls and many begin to think about downsizing. “The baby-boom generation pushed prices up as they got older,” says Dowell Myers, a professor of urban planning and demography at the University of Southern California. But in the coming years, “boomers will start flooding the market on the supply side” with larger homes, while fueling new demand for smaller properties with more services and amenities.

Rising home prices made renting cheaper than buying in many parts of the country. But that dynamic has begun to change: Housing affordability, as measured by the ratio of median home prices to median household incomes, has fallen below pre-housing bubble levels in just over two-thirds of the country, according to an analysis of more than 380 metro areas by Moody’s Analytics.
Renting is still cheaper than buying in most markets, but rising rents and falling house prices mean that, in some areas, this won’t be the case for long. Buying a home is already cheaper than renting in Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit and Orlando, Fla., according to Moody’s Analytics. In other markets, including Dallas, Las Vegas and Sacramento, Cailf., the equation is likely to soon turn in favor of homeownership if current trends persist, the firm says.
In Ann Arbor, Mich., where home prices fell 11.2% between 2007 and 2010, according to Fiserv Case-Shiller, housing affordability has risen well above historical levels, according to Moody’s Analytics.
That is good news for home buyers such as Steven Upton, a 42-year-old photographer, who in June will close on four-bedroom brick house on 10 acres in an upscale community in Ann Arbor. Mr. Upton paid $400,000 for the home, which previously listed for $600,000. “It’s a tremendous deal,” he says.
Before buying a house, it is wise to compare rental prices for similar properties. To be ultraconservative, wait until the monthly outlays, including taxes and insurance, are equal. You also could factor in the tax savings of owning, which would make buying more attractive even if the gross monthly outlay is slightly higher.

The strength of the housing market depends largely on the economy. Rising incomes and increased employment tend to give more would-be buyers confidence and buying power. For now, job growth remains sluggish: On Friday the Labor Department reported that just 54,000 jobs were created in May, far below expectations.
But signs of how a stronger job market could fuel housing demand are evident in the Dallas metro area, which added 83,100 new jobs in the 12 months ending in April�the largest gain in the nation, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Dallas never had a big housing boom or bust and has benefited from trade with Mexico, a strong telecommunications sector and a central location.
The opportunities for a job with more responsibility drew Duane and Linda Elmer to Dallas from Des Moines, Iowa, where Mr. Elmer was a banker for nine years. The couple has agreed to pay $415,000 for a four-bedroom, four-bath house with a Jacuzzi and pool. Their Des Moines home, purchased nine years ago for $410,000, is on the market for $390,000. “We are willing to take the loss for the opportunity to live in a more diverse community and to take a job with greater breadth of responsibilities,” Mr. Elmer says.
Borrowers like the Elmers who are relocating for job opportunities are a big driver of home sales in nearby Plano, Texas, says Harry Ridge, a real-estate agent. He says such sales accounted for 20% of his business last year.
A similar influx of job seekers is fueling housing demand in the Washington area, where 25,700 new jobs were added in the 12 months since April 2010. Washington was the only one of the 20 cities tracked by Standard & Poor’s and Case-Shiller that saw home prices rise both on a month-to-month and year-over-year basis.

Mortgage financing remains plentiful for borrowers with good credit scores and solid employment histories. But for borrowers who don’t fit traditional lending standards, getting a loan can still be nearly impossible. In the first quarter, about 10% of banks tightened standards for nontraditional loans, according to the Federal Reserve. Meanwhile, higher down-payment standards are locking some would-be buyers out of the market. Just 35% of renters have the minimum 3.5% down payment needed for an FHA loan on the median-priced home in their market, according to a recent survey by Zelman Associates.
Credit is likely to remain tight for at least the next six months, says Clifford Rossi, a former Citigroup Inc. consumer-lending executive who teaches at the University of Maryland.
But conditions should improve over time, he says: “There’s no question that it will gradually get easier.”
That will be welcome news to borrowers like Greg Silver. The 50-year-old real-estate developer would like to buy a second home, but hasn’t been able to secure a jumbo mortgage because his income consists of capital gains from sales of the properties he develops. Mr. Silver closed three sales in the past 12 months, netting him a total of more than $25 million, but didn’t record any capital gains in 2008 and 2009. Sure, he could use some of that cash to buy a home outright, but he would prefer to mortgage it, get the tax deduction and keep his cash free for business purposes.
“It’s a little devastating,” says Mr. Silver, who is living in Greenwich, Conn.

The long-term case for buying over renting remains in force. Yet nowadays, “People are simply scared,” says Aaron Galvin, chief executive of Luxury Living Chicago, which finds rental apartments for wealthy clients.
Mr. Galvin says he has seen a 30% increase in business in the last year, driven by would-be home buyers who can afford to purchase a property but are choosing not to do so.
The portion of Americans who believe homeownership is a safe investment dropped to 66% in the first quarter from 83% in 2006, according to Fannie Mae, the government-controlled mortgage company.
But it isn’t clear whether the fear will result in a prolonged change in attitudes, as during the Great Depression, or have little long-term impact, as was the case for the housing bust that shook California and the Northeast in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Eighty-seven percent of people surveyed by Fannie Mae said they preferred owning to renting, though access to schools, control over one’s environment and other quality-of-life issues now are seen as the key benefits of homeownership, with building wealth and other financial factors viewed as less important. In addition, 67% of renters surveyed by Zelman Associates said they planned to buy a home in the next five years.
Jeffrey Connor may be a bellwether for the future of the housing market. The 40-year-old finance director at a corporate law firm says he thought briefly about buying a house when he moved to Chicago from Washington in October. But he opted instead to rent a luxury two-story apartment in downtown Chicago for $3,559 a month. Mr. Connor says it will take substantial job growth and a sharp drop in foreclosures to convince him to buy.
“The market is clearly soft,” he says, “especially when we consider it good news that the unemployment rate is hovering around 9% instead of 10%.” Mr. Connor says he isn’t worried about missing out on today’s low interest rates and will consider buying once unemployment falls to 6%.
Other buyers are showing less willingness to wait for the absolute perfect time to buy. Doug C. Yearley Jr., chief executive of luxury builder Toll Brothers Inc., told investors in May that “some of our clients, after waiting so long, are starting to move off the fence and into the market, motivated by attractive pricing, low interest rates and, most important, the desire to take the next step in their lives. The family with elementary-school kids and a puppy when the housing debacle began five years ago now has middle-school kids and the dog weighs 80 pounds.”

8 Reasons Why Now Might be the Best Time Ever to Build a New Home

Categories: Blog, Homeowner Tips, Housing Industry News | Posted: April 11, 2011

by Scott Stroud, Selling More Homes Media

I should have bought stock in Google when it was first released. I knew it then, but I didn’t act. I was scared off by the nay-sayers in the media. I hesitated, and the ground floor opportunity didn’t wait. Within a year, Google’s stock was up 800%.

Today, the opportunity to build a new home is similar to Google’s initial stock offering-an excellent investment and a short window of oppportunity.

What…housing? A good investment? Is this a joke?

It’s no secret that the housing industry has been in a downward spiral for the past five years. Housing prices have fallen in most markets-some up to 40% or more from their 2005 values. Banks and mortgage companies that extended themselves with bad loans and unrealistic lending programs have restricted their credit standards, gotten out of the mortgage arena, or gone out of business. And, builders and contractors who were too busy to return phone calls are now looking for work, and grateful if they can get it.

It’s scary, we know. but, these very same factors make now an excellent time for those that can do so to act on building their dream home. Here are eight solid reasons, as expressed by housing expert, Ross Robbins, why those who take action now will save thousands and the construction of their new home, and what to do to take advantage of these favorable-that’s right-favorable-market conditions.

1. Housing is cyclical.
The period from 1987-2005 was one of the strongest housing booms since WWII. By 2004, it became obvious to many that housing starts were growing at unsustainable levels. Land, materials, and home prices were escalating and the term “housing bubble” was coined to describe the frightening pace at which new homes were being built. Like all bubbles, everyone knew it couldn’t last forever, but the economy had become so dependent upon the housing sector that it was hard to ease it back gradually. The “pop” came in late 2005, and by 2006 huge inventories began to erode builder profits and housing values began to fall. Just like 20 years before.

Historically, housing “booms” last 8-12 years. This one lasted for 18 years. But, these cycles typically run “hot” for about 10 years, then “cool” for 3-4 years. Then, the cycle starts again.

Today, new home inventories are being absorbed and markets are stablizing. Projections are that by mid-2011 the market will start heating up again as a new up-cycle begins. In fact, in some areas this has already begun. That growth, just like that of past upturns, will mean a reinvigoration of the market…and rising costs to go with it.

2. Interest rates are at historic lows.
As this is being written, 30-year fixed rates are under 5% and 15-year rates are well below that number. Those are the lowest rates in the past 40 years. True, credit is tighter than it was five years ago, but that only affects those with marginal credit. The vast majority of home buyers will not be impacted by more stringent lending standards. Low mortgage rates, combined with the lowest material and land costs we’re ever likely to see, mean that right now you can buld more house for the money than you will when the housing market recovers.

3. Materials costs are rising, and will continue to do so.
Higher fuel costs are being applied to building materials, as they are to just about everything. However, many building materials are very energy-intensive to produce, and so might be more impacted than most consumer goods. The largest cost in producing drywall, for example, is the energy to fire the kilns to dry it. Do you see energy costs going down in the near future? Neither do I.

4. Builders, Contractors and Tradesmen are available.
When housing is strong (and it will be again soon) there is a waiting list for contractors. At the height of the housing boom, one of the most discussed topics at builder meetings was the fact that fewer people were entering the trades and builders were having difficulties hiring enough experienced people to form crews. Today, there is a “window of opportunity.” When crews are available without long waits, homes are being built and finished is less time, requiring less interest on construction loans. This favorable situation is temporary-cyncical remember?

5. Land is available…while it lasts.
In boom times, bigger builders and developers monopolize the best land and lots, driving up costs and leaving scattered-site builders and home buyers to fight over their leftovers. Now, that large-volume builder are bogged down with excess inventories (homes they built and have all their cash tied up in), and many aren’t liquid enough to make land investments. that means that lot prices are about as low as they will be, and the choice and availablity are at there best.

6. Housing demand will soon outstrip existing inventory, and is on the rise.
This might be the biggest incentive to act now to build. New families are being formed in the U.S. at a record pace-far faster than new homes are being built to accommodate them. It seems nobody is looking ahead. By the end of this decade it is projected that there will be a need for nearly 2 million new homes per year to handle to population growth in this country. The housing industry has never produced homes at that rate, and with the labor issues that were felt during the past housing boom, it is questionable whether those quotas can be fillled.

Today, we’re on the brink of the next wave in housing. It will start with a trickle but will gain momentum as the demand for new energy efficient and sustainable homes continues to grow. When it happens (and no one is sure exactly when it will happen, just that it will)the door will close on individuals who are waiting for the media to give them the “all clear.” Housing costs will continue to rise, labor shortages will create long delays, interest rates will rise to try to control inflation, and homes will become less and less affordable.

What all this means is that buyers who sell their homes today might get 8%-10% less than they would have gotten back in 2005, but the cost of new construction is currently down by nearly 20% from those same levels (but already climbing.) Sure, when the market recovers existing homes will regain their previous value, but they won’t keep up with the rising costs of new construction.

7. Your needs have changed… And continue to change.
From the mid-1990’s through 2005, the theme of the housing industry was “bigger is better.” Today, as the economy has shrunk back and society in general is taking a more sensible approach to all products, from automobiles to applicances, that is no longer the case. Just as we’ve given up our Hummers, and SUV’s for more practical and efficient vehicles, the “McMansions” of the past decade no longer fit the needs of socially-and environmentally-friendly families.

As mentioned, homes built today are much more energy efficient that house built even a few years ago. But that’s not all. New “smart home” innovations make today’s homes more livable and comfortable. Wireless technology has changed the way we live, and current homes that incorporate charging stations, media centers and home office spaces have adapted to fit a new set of requirements. And, thoughtfuly laid-out floorplans are actually giving more livability and comfort in less space.

8. The sooner you build; the sooner you’ll enjoy your new home.
This may seem overly simplistic, but so many people are waiting for “permission” from the media and others that they are overlooking one of the fundamental reasons for building a new home: lifestyle. Today’s homes, more that at any time in the past, are extensions of how we live and who we are. For many of us, putting off the decision to build is tantamount to putting our lives on hold. And for those with the means and circumstances to move forward, acting now to build will return the highest value, financially and emotionally.

These points discussed here are common knowledge and common sense. No, there are no guarantees that the market will recover on schedule, or that some unforseen event won’t cause another recession next year, or that there won’t be an energy crisis, another terrorist attack, floods in the Midwest or another hurricane. We don’t know what the future holds, other than that housing is historically cyclical, that families are forming faster than houses are being built, that energy costs will never go back down, and that the term “affordable housing” may be something our children only read about.

And that, if you want to realize your dream of owning a new home, there may never be a better time to act on that dream than right now.

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