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Real Estate News

Brace for Impact: A Look at Real Estate After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma

Hurricanes Harvey and Irma left devastation in their wake in areas of Florida and Texas. Residents are struggling to adapt after weeks of cleanup to remove debris from the streets. Roads are heavily damaged from flooding and homes are destroyed. What does this say for the real estate market in these areas?

“We need to keep our friends and neighbors in Houston and Florida in our prayers and thoughts,” said Ron Peltier, chairman and CEO of HomeServices of America, at RISMedia’s 2017 Real Estate CEO Exchange earlier this month. “Just in our business alone, a lot of transactions will fall out; there will be a lot of lost revenue for agents and brokers. I don’t think it will right itself any time soon.”

Houston was hit particularly hard. Mark Woodroof, partner at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene Realtors®, described the cleanup logistics in Texas as overwhelming. Houses are flooded, and furniture and drywall insulation are out on the curb waiting to be picked up.

While brokerages offered support for agents affected by the storms, it will be a long road to recovery. Sixty-two agents from Woodroof’s office alone were impacted.

“We had eight of our own team members severely affected, yet our whole firm, community, business leaders, friends and family came together to assist in rebuilding,” says Nimesh Patel, owner and managing partner of RE/MAX Fine Properties in Sugar Land, Texas. “As for future business, we are very confident in our agents and our community; we will be on our feet and on top very soon.”

Immediately following the storm, the majority of Florida dealt with downed trees and roof leaks. The Florida Keys took the brunt of the damage, while inland regions are already recuperating. Rei Mesa, president and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty, has 40 offices throughout Florida, all of which are up and running at normal capacity. Other than scheduling delays due to evacuations and dangerous weather conditions, transactions are mainly on track to close, if they haven’t already.

“Florida is resilient,” says Mesa. “There were delays due to repairs, re-appraisals and re-inspections, but we’ve become very good at forecasting the impact [of hurricanes].”

Texas business continued on, as well. Woodroof’s offices closed on over 500 homes in September despite flooding caused by Harvey.

Other Florida brokerages relied on the Force Majeure and Risk of Loss sections of their standard contract to protect both sellers and buyers during their transactions.

“Our mortgage and title teams were essential in communicating about the federally mandated re-inspection guidelines and working with vendors to schedule them as soon as possible,” says Drayton Saunders, president of Sarasota, Fla.-based Michael Saunders & Company.

Contract protection and homeowner’s insurance may not be enough, however, for sellers that did not have any or a sufficient amount of flood insurance. Many are looking to FEMA for financial aid. Over 200,000 applications in Texas and Florida have already been approved for individual assistance.

While the impact of these storms may discourage some individuals from moving into hurricane-prone areas, Saunders predicts a bigger focus on new construction or homes equipped to handle hurricane-force winds.

“We expect there will be more emphasis put on homes (new and old) that have upgrades such as impact windows and other hurricane-related construction features. Sellers will also have to understand that buyers will be factoring these into their perception of value in addition to location and overall property condition,” says Saunders.

Mesa is also optimistic that Harvey and Irma did not drive buyers away.

“It’s a destination state with no state income tax, great diversity and high employment. Net migration to Florida will continue to be positive,” says Mesa.

However, if new construction or weather-proofing upgrades are the key, buyers may not have these options for a while. Harvey and Irma slowed down the new construction market and building plans by overextending an already dwindling quantity of construction workers.

“As recovery efforts move forward, the pre-hurricane shortage of construction workers will likely hamper the process of rebuilding efforts, and further limit the pace of new-home construction, as the limited labor supply shifts away from new-home construction to rebuilding efforts,” says First American Chief Economist Mark Fleming.

National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) Chief Economist Robert Dietz doesn’t believe this shortage in labor supply will correct itself anytime soon.

“The rebuilding efforts will require tens of thousands of additional construction workers, heightening the existing issues regarding access to labor,” says Dietz. “Estimates from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal the number of open, unfilled construction sector jobs increased to 232,000 in July, nearly reaching a post-recession high.”

It may be too early to tell the long-term effects, but Fleming says the impact on the housing market will be considerable.

“The Houston metropolitan area and the impacted Florida counties alone accounted for 8.0 percent of all U.S. existing-home sales in 2016,” says Fleming. “We expect existing-home sales to decrease in the short-run, as loan closings are rescheduled and some borrowers with pending contracts withdraw their bids on damaged homes.”

The Federal Reserve says past experience has shown these storms will not affect the national economy over the medium term. Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), also believes there will be more of a short-term impact, with lost business returning next year.

“Sales will be impacted the rest of the year in Houston, as well as in the most severely affected areas in Florida from Hurricane Irma; however, nearly all of the lost activity will likely show up in 2018,” says Yun.

According to the Houston Association of REALTORS® (HAR), the monthly housing market indicators produced varied figures because of Harvey. Single-family homes fell 25.4 percent—the first decline this year. Housing inventory, however, grew from a 4.0-months supply to 4.4 months, which may lower if residents in need of housing come out in full force to buy repaired or undamaged homes.

“Hurricane Harvey dealt a severe blow to the Houston area and Texas Gulf Coast, and it will probably be several weeks until we can gauge the storm’s full impact on our housing market,” says HAR Chair Cindy Hamann. “Home sales were humming throughout the first three weeks of August, but the moment Harvey struck the region, everything came to a screeching halt.”

Past real estate market behavior in Florida suggests that long-term impact on home-buying desirability is unlikely.

“Our part of the West coast of Florida has also seen very few hurricanes, but having tracked the market very closely after the last major storm in 2004, we did not see long-term changes in buyers’ desire for the Florida lifestyle,” says Saunders.

The latest hurricane in a string of immensely powerful storms—Maria—has left Puerto Rico in a state of chaos and desolation. While hurricane season may be winding down, natural disasters are cropping up all over the world. Their impact on real estate markets may be uncertain, but Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® (LeadingRE) Chief Economist Marci Rossell remains optimistic about the economic effects of these events.

“The economy’s true strength comes not only from its physical capital, but from its human capital, and natural disasters tend not to have an effect on that,” says Rossell.

The proof is in our response to these events.

“Out of what was a devastating situation for hundreds of thousands of people, what stood out was the number of Houstonians that were out rescuing people in their boats and helping people get out of their homes,” says Woodroof.

Stay tuned to RISMedia for more developments.

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s associate content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at ldominguez@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Brace for Impact: A Look at Real Estate After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma appeared first on RISMedia.

Share the Message of REALTORĀ® Safety

NAR_Safety_Logo_2015NAR PULSE—Share the message of safety with your members this month. The Little Red Book: Safety Rules to Live By for REALTORS® is the perfect tool for your new or seasoned agents to use as they create and update safety protocols for their businesses. Click here to receive 15 percent off the print version until Sept. 30—no code needed!

REALTORS® Relief Foundation – Benefitting Those in Need
Help support and rebuild communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey, Irma and other storms by donating to the REALTORS® Relief Foundation today! Every dollar you donate to the REALTORS® Relief Foundation goes directly to victims of disaster. Thank you to all those who have donated—your support matters more than ever in this extraordinary year of need. Donate here.

Help Clients Find You
Grow your business by making it easier for clients to find you online. Leverage the trust and exclusivity of the REALTOR® brand with the .realtor™ tools, including a .realtor™ domain and email address. This, along with actively using social media and updating the content on your website, can result in increased SEO for your brand, keeping you top-of-mind with current and potential clients. Learn more.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Share the Message of REALTOR® Safety appeared first on RISMedia.

Tackling Disruption From the Inside Out

Editor’s Note: This was originally published on RISMedia’s blog, Housecall. See what else is cookin’ now at blog.rismedia.com:

As the challenges facing the real estate industry continue to increase in volume as we move toward the future, being backed by a strong National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is paramount to setting both the industry—and its practitioners—on a clear path to success.

“Our biggest challenge is that we’re perceived as being in an ivory tower,” said NAR CEO Bob Goldberg during RISMedia’s 2017 Real Estate CEO Exchange Networking Luncheon.

A widely held misconception that according to Goldberg is often perceived as reality, Goldberg took to the stage to portray a different NAR—one with a focus on becoming a more proactive organization that takes the time to listen to its members and engage. “I’m tired of listening to why we’re going to get defeated,” said Goldberg of the rapidly changing industry. “We can’t sit around and wait to see what will happen. We have to change now. We need to make it happen.”

Tackling challenges head-on tops the list for Goldberg and his team as they help make change happen by taking the time to talk to members, attend events and listen to what’s out there.

“We’re all fearful of disruptors,” said Goldberg, “but we have to be the ones to help disrupt ourselves. We have to be fearless when looking at what’s happening, and embrace the change we see.”

While NAR’s strategy in the past consisted of keeping major players out of their sandbox—forcing them to create their own—the organization’s focus path forward will revolve around proactively going out and mentoring/advising those who have their minds set on coming into the industry. “We can no longer close our eyes, not look at them and believe they won’t think of us,” noted Goldberg, who is fully committed to exploring different ways of bringing everyone under the tent that is organized real estate.

“NAR doesn’t sit at the top of the pyramid,” said Goldberg. “But how do we flip the pyramid the other way around so that we’re all in this together?”

Working together for the betterment of the industry, NAR will also continue to expand its influence on Capitol Hill, lobbying on behalf of each and every one of its members.

“Our team wants to be responsive and listen to key issues, making sure we help clear the path for all of you to be successful and more profitable,” concluded Goldberg.

Stay tuned to RISMedia for continuing coverage of this year’s CEO Exchange sessions:

Paige Tepping is RISMedia’s managing editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at paige@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Tackling Disruption From the Inside Out appeared first on RISMedia.

Your Fall Produce Guide

Do you like to eat locally? While the summer has an abundance of fresh produce for you to grab at your local farmer’s market, as fall hits, many wonder what local produce is still available. Below are the top five things to eat this autumn, available in most regions in the country.

Apples! All hail fall, the season of apples! From apple pie to applesauce, apple slaw and more, there are hundreds of ways to enjoy this crispy sweet (or tart!) treat. Look for local apples in your grocery store or drive up to a nearby farm to pick yourself.

Broccoli. Although it does grow in the warmer months, broccoli lingers into the fall. Roast up some spears with garlic and olive oil, or pull out your wok for a quick stir-fry.

Blackberries. Most of us think of summer as the season for berries, but blackberries are available in some regions well into the early fall. Great for pies, smoothies, muffins and fruit salads, these juicy berries are packed with antioxidants—great for fighting colds as the “sick” season approaches.

Cabbage. Stuffed cabbage, baked cabbage, stewed cabbage, coleslaw! This cruciferous veggie is very versatile, and extremely inexpensive. Grab a head or four and get to munching.

Cauliflower. Many mistake cauliflower as being void of nutrients due to its pale coloring, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Packed with vitamins, this veggie is great raw, steamed or baked. Some are even getting creative by making cauliflower “rice” and pizza crusts. Hit up Google for some innovative cauliflower recipes.

Zoe Eisenberg is RISMedia’s senior content editor. Email her your real estate news ideas at zoe@rismedia.com.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post Your Fall Produce Guide appeared first on RISMedia.

NAR: Homebuyers, Sellers Stuck in Neutral

Homebuyers and sellers are confident in the housing market, but there are few sales to show for it, according to recently released findings from a survey by the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR).

NAR’s quarterly Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) report reveals homebuyers and sellers are stuck in neutral, despite a record 80 percent of homeowners surveyed for the report believing now is a good time to sell and 62 percent of renters believing now is a good time to buy. Low inventory is behind the stall, says NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun.

“The housing market has been in a funk since early spring because of the ongoing scarcity of new and existing homes for sale,” Yun says. “The pace of new-home construction has not meaningfully broken out this year, and not enough homeowners at this point have followed through with their belief that now is a good time to sell. As a result, home shoppers have seen limited options, stiff competition and weakening affordability conditions. Buyer demand is robust this fall, but the disappointing reality is that sales will continue to undershoot their full potential until supply levels significantly improve.”

Buying a home is already a pipe dream for many renters—and pushed even further out of reach by rising rents, the report shows. Fifty-one percent of renters expect their rent to increase in the next year, but 42 percent would renew their lease, rather than buy a home, if their rent did go up. (Only 15 percent would buy a home.)

“Even though the typical down payment of a first-time buyer has been 6 percent for three straight years, two-thirds of respondents indicated that saving for one is difficult right now,” says Yun. “Rents and home prices have outpaced incomes in the past few years, and this is undoubtedly impacting their ability to put aside savings for a home purchase, even if they increasingly believe it’s a good time to buy. Heading into next year, higher home prices and limited inventory in the affordable price range will likely continue to hold back a share of renters who would prefer to be homeowners.”

More of those surveyed (57 percent) believe the economy is improving, however—optimism that could potentially translate into more earnings, and, by extension, more housing opportunities. The survey’s Personal Financial Outlook Index, which gauges respondents’ sentiment on their financial situation over the next six months, leapt up to 62.0 in September.

“Jobs are plentiful, wage growth is finally showing signs of life, home values are up considerably in the past five years and the stock market is at record highs,” Yun says. “The economy is not perfect, and growth overall is still sluggish, but the financial health of the typical household looks as healthy as it has since the recession.”

For more information, please visit www.nar.realtor.

For the latest real estate news and trends, bookmark RISMedia.com.

The post NAR: Homebuyers, Sellers Stuck in Neutral appeared first on RISMedia.

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Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Premier, REALTORS
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