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Real Estate News

ICYMI: California Leads Way Toward Environmentally-Conscious Homes

Energy efficiency is the name of the game in new construction. Being environmentally conscious is trending in resale homes, as well. Although many green homes exist, with energy-efficient appliances such as programmable thermostats, low-water usage washing machines and dishwashers, and low-energy lightbulbs, a powerful exterior addition is about to become a permanent solution in California’s new construction market: renewable energy in the form of solar panels.

California is the first state to order the installation of solar panels on nearly all new homes built after Jan. 1, 2020, as part of the 2019 Building Efficiency Standards set by the California Energy Commission.

“Under these new standards, buildings will perform better than ever at the same time they contribute to a reliable grid,” said California Energy Commissioner Andrew McAllister in a statement. “The buildings that Californians buy and live in will operate very efficiently while generating their own clean energy. They will cost less to operate, have healthy indoor air and provide a platform for ‘smart’ technologies that will propel the state even further down the road to a low emissions future.”

The solar industry has been growing, with U.S. installations surging to 15,000 in 2016, compared to 7,000 in 2015, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association® (SEIA). In addition, solar has provided increasing job opportunities. Close to 250,000 Americans work in solar—a number that has nearly doubled since 2012. With California’s mandate, more jobs in solar will become available.

Nevertheless, critics are worried that California’s crumbling housing infrastructure will not be able to support the influx of jobs and the impact of the mandate. While a boon to investors of renewable energy and solar panel businesses, California is already one of the most expensive housing markets in the country, facing a challenging housing crisis stemming from inflated prices and an inventory shortage.

What will this mandate do to current home prices? Experts say consumers will have to pay more for these homes, even though homeownership is already out of reach for many Californians. The Commission estimates that this mandate and other energy-efficiency requirements would add $9,500, on average, to the cost of building a home in California. Although an average of $40 would be added on to homeowners’ monthly mortgage payments, the commission estimates they would save $80 per month on heating, cooling and lighting bills.

As more homes install solar, prices for installation and services may drop, helping to ease inflation. In fact, history shows solar power is becoming more affordable. According to the SEIA, the cost to install solar has decreased by over 70 percent since 2010—even with a slight uptick in the second half of 2017 to $1.50 blended average per watt, solar has become much more accessible to the masses since it first began to gain ground in 2009 at $7.50.

The question is: Will this get the ball rolling for other states to follow suit? If California can reach its goal—reducing greenhouse gas emissions by an amount equivalent to taking 115,000 fossil fuels cars of the road—the state may be paving the way toward a national, and perhaps eventually global, environmentally-conscious housing industry. Critics will be watching closely, as any challenges could have a severe impact on California’s market, and would make other states wary of adopting similar eco-strategies.

“With this adoption, the California Energy Commission has struck a fair balance between reducing greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously limiting increased construction costs,” said California Building Industry Association CEO and President Dan Dunmoyer. “We thank the Commissioners and their staff for working with the building industry during the past 18 months and adopting a set of cost-effective standards that ensures homebuyers will recoup their money over the life of the dwelling.”

Dominguez_Liz_60x60_4cLiz 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.

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Rod Messick, Regina Coia and Pete Slaugh: A Dynamic and Strong Culture

The Homesale Family of Companies, which includes Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty, is a leading real estate company serving the Baltimore, Md., and South Central and Southeastern Pennsylvania real estate markets, and last year finished second among all Berkshire Hathaway companies nationwide. The six-person ownership team includes Rod Messick, COO; Regina Coia, president of Realty Operations; Pete Slaugh, managing director; Brad Dimmig, president, Homesale Mortgage; Rick Doyal, managing director; and Ron Landis, managing director. Here, the team talks about market trends and the importance of strong culture.


How would you characterize your market during the first quarter of 2018?
Rod Messick:
In general, it’s strong and healthy, with a lot of demand and activity. We do have an inventory shortage, and anything that’s attractive and priced properly is getting multiple offers right out of the gate. The higher you go, the more normal the offer curve and base of marketing is going to be.

What sort of challenges are you dealing with?
One big headwind we’re dealing with in Central Pennsylvania is the cold winter we experienced. We’re also in the middle of an MLS transition. People are just getting comfortable with how the system functions and making sure it works the way it’s supposed to.
Regina Coia: It was a significant transition.

Studies show that millennials are buying a greater percentage of houses than ever before. How are you reaching out to this demographic?
The biggest thing we’ve been doing to try and be more appealing to the millennial generation is to migrate more of our marketing toward social media channels by using Facebook and Instagram for both target advertising and brand awareness.
RC: The other piece is to educate millennials about new products available to get them into a home sooner. It’s not like their parents’ day when you had to have 10 percent or 20 percent down to get a mortgage. We have these young folks who can get into a first-time home for a few thousand dollars, and they just don’t realize that.

What attracts agents to your firm?
Our culture is pretty dynamic. We have a set of core values and that’s an important part of our story. It’s really about removing obstacles and helping people achieve their dreams. People who describe our culture talk about a family and a trusting environment. It’s not enough just to be excellent or to be caring; we’re a culture of both. That has driven our growth in a significant way.

How is the firm unique, and what separates it from others in the area?
Pete Slaugh:
We have all company-owned profit centers all the way to closing—mortgage, title insurance, property insurance, property management and investment. It’s an attraction because there’s a huge amount of support company to company by doing that. The agents really feel the difference. We’re also known as a very philanthropic company and we put back into the community every chance we get.
RC: I’d also say our training program and how we help people become productive and the tools and services we provide.

Let’s talk about that training. Tell me what you offer and how important it is to you as a firm.
It’s critically important. We have “success centers” in each of our regions in Central Pennsylvania and Baltimore, Md., and we have a dedicated trainer and coach in each. We’re about to make a leadership change and appoint a vice president of career development, a brand-new role in our company, and that person will be charged with taking all the best of what we have in our curriculum and putting it on steroids and ensuring we have every type of program available to help agents start with a business plan. We want them to see us as their accountability partner.

Talk about your growth strategy for 2018.
We feel like growth is critically important. Already, we’ve opened a new office that’s between two markets we’re already servicing; we massively expanded our Westminster, Md., operation with a great new hire and the market is really responding to our presence there; and we also moved our Lancaster County office, with a substantial improvement in the quality of our space. We’re trying to leverage the strength of the Berkshire Hathaway brand to do some market infill and some geographic expansion.

Vitals: Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Homesale Realty
Years in Business
: 21
Size: 28 offices, 1,300 agents
Regions Served: South Central Pennsylvania, Southeastern Pennsylvania and the Greater Baltimore Metro
2017 Sales Volume: $3.1 billion
2017 Transactions: Approximately 15,000 units
No. 52 in sales volume in RISMedia’s 2018 Power Broker Report

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

The post Rod Messick, Regina Coia and Pete Slaugh: A Dynamic and Strong Culture appeared first on RISMedia.

Industry Challengers: Here Come the Incumbents

Real estate is an industry that I love. My family, our agents, and the customers we serve motivate me every day. Like many of my peers, I have watched many disruptors come and go. They come into our industry with bags full of investment capital, only to learn that real estate is a tough business that operates on very slim margins. For the most part, these industry challengers never turn a profit, run out of money, and fade away.

We have plenty of industry challengers today, including venture-funded companies and some public companies that are competitors. It is hard to compete when you are going up against industry challengers who measure success in growth, not profitability. For decades, investment bankers and venture capitalists have been calling to get our opinion about the latest upstart. Try as we may to explain, they still have a hard time understanding our industry.

Recently, however, we’ve begun to understand the value that these upstarts can bring. Matt Harris, a sharp managing director at Bain Capital Ventures, gave a presentation at a real estate tech conference earlier this year about this topic. Bain has watched many industry challengers burn out—not just in real estate, but in other industries, as well.

Based on Bain’s research, industry challengers can make us better. I could not agree more. Sometimes Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers partners with industry challengers, while other times we stay clear. Regardless of our position, though, we take in as much as we can so we can best understand how to react to the challenge.

Harris hearkened back to an old philosopher in the late 1700s who used the dialectical method—thesis, antithesis, and synthesis—to describe the triad of evolution. If you are soft on your philosophy references, join the crowd. The industry challenge—the thesis—enters the market. The market reacts—the antithesis—and then the synthesis happens as the market absorbs the challenger and incorporates their idea into their business practice.

After nearly a quarter of a century and hundreds of attempts by brilliant innovators backed by billions of investment dollars and countless people hours, two things remain pretty much the same. First, the vast majority of the real estate incumbents that exist today still enable the vast majority of all home sales. Second, the size of the residential real estate market has remained pretty much the same: None of these investments have made our pie any bigger, but have simply redistributed the pie’s slices among new players entering the business. They are mostly gone, and we are here, working hard to help our agents and consumers transact.

Now It’s Our Turn
Today, too many of our real estate agents spend hundreds—even thousands—of dollars a month with online advertising companies for very little return. Agents believe they must feature their listings on third-party sites even though they don’t always see business come out of it. Our agents will tell you they feel like they have no choice because there was no other option available.

That’s why the incumbents, Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers and many other leading firms and MLS partners got together and started the Broker Public Portal (BPP). We believed that both consumers and professionals deserve better. There must be a better way, and we must collaborate in delivering it. Why should agents be working with companies who were doing things that were working against them, like not following Fair Display Guidelines?

Broker Public Portal with Homesnap emerged last year. It was the industry’s turn to speak and provide an agent-centric, industry-first, pro-consumer way to secure listing exposure and leads for agents as an alternative to what advertising companies offered. As we succeed, they will disappear, and we will continue to operate.

Built for the Synthesis Phase
Broker Public Portal with Homesnap is a collaborative effort owned and operated by real estate brokerages and MLSs—industry incumbents—to deliver, with Homesnap’s technology, a better home search experience. Our customers get the same comprehensive, real-time MLS data used by our agents—the people who list and sell homes, not ads.

The market is responding. Today, 145 MLSs representing 865,000 agents are offering an alternative way for their members to promote their listings and their personal brands online. Agents love the idea that brokers and MLSs have gotten together to provide a vast marketing network to offer nationwide listing exposure and lead generation.

Harris at Bain Capital explained that companies who support efforts (like BPP with Homesnap) are the firms that will dominate “the new phase real estate is entering: the Synthesis Phase.”

Harris said we are moving away from the Challenger Phase, where companies “wake up in the morning and say, ‘How can we displace, disrupt and destroy the existing industry structures, leveraging technology to do things differently?’ That is squarely ending.”

In the Synthesis Phase, it’s all about collaborating with incumbents—brokers and MLSs working together, asking how we can leverage new technology to defend themselves against industry challengers and evolve as an industry.  Harris said that this is great for the real estate ecosystem, but maybe not so much for the Challengers. Who is in their corner: Wall Street, or the hard-working professionals?

Follow the Money
Where is the market going? As far as early stage investments are concerned, there has been dramatic shrinking. Just 20 percent of funding is going to Challengers; the largest group being funded is those supporting the incumbents.

In fact, Harris said, “Money is going to next-gen technology. It’s actually back to next-generation listing marketplaces that serve REALTORS®—that serve the industry by providing and facilitating more traditional types of transactions, but doing it in new school ways.”

Doesn’t that sound a lot like BPP with Homesnap to you? Who is coming over the hill now? It sure looks a lot like us, working smarter, with more collaboration. Our firm, along with our peers, support the effort to reimagine how our industry can deliver a national search portal on our terms, with our listings and our buyers agents to serve them. It’s good to be an incumbent!

Craig McClelland is COO of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Metro Brokers and on the Board of Managers for the Broker Public Portal.

For more information, please visit www.brokerpublicportal.com or www.homesnap.com/bpp.

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

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Existing-Home Sales Fizzle

After early gains in the season, April existing-home sales fizzled, with every region sputtering, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) reports. Activity in April declined 2.5 percent to 5.46 million, down 1.4 percent from the prior year. Inventory increased 9.8 percent to 1.8 million, but, by comparison, was 6.3 percent lower than the prior year.

“The root cause of the underperforming sales activity in much of the country so far this year continues to be the utter lack of available listings on the market to meet the strong demand for buying a home,” says Lawrence Yun, chief economist at NAR. “REALTORS® say the healthy economy and job market are keeping buyers in the market for now, even as they face rising mortgage rates; however, inventory shortages are even worse than in recent years, and home prices keep climbing above what many home shoppers are able to afford.”

Currently, inventory is at a four-month supply. In April, existing homes averaged 26 days on market, three days less than the prior year. All told, 57 percent of homes sold were on the market for less than one month.

“What is available for sale is going under contract at a rapid pace,” Yun says. “Since NAR began tracking this data in May 2011, the median days a listing was on the market was at an all-time low in April, and the share of homes sold in less than a month was at an all-time high.”

In April, the metropolitan areas with the fewest days on market and most realtor.com® views, according to realtor.com®’s Market Hotness Index, were Midland, Texas; Boston-Cambridge-Newton, Mass.; San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, Calif.; Columbus, Ohio; and Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif.

The median existing-home price for all house types (single-family, condo, co-op and townhome) was $257,900, a 5.3 percent increase from the prior year. The median price of an existing single-family home was $259,900, while the median price for an existing condo was $242,500.

“With mortgage rates and home prices continuing to climb, an increase in housing supply is absolutely crucial to keeping affordability conditions from further deterioration,” says Yun. “The current pace of price appreciation far above incomes is not sustainable in the long run.”

Existing-home sales in the single-family space came in at 4.84 million in April, a 3 percent decrease from 4.99 million in March, and a 1.6 percent decrease from 4.92 million the prior year. Existing-condo and -co-op sales came in at 620,000, a 1.6 percent increase from March, and no different than the prior year.

Twenty-one percent of existing-home sales in April were all-cash, with 15 percent by institutional investors; 3.5 percent were distressed.

Across the country, existing-home sales fell or remained stagnant, declining 4.4 percent in the Northeast to 650,000, with a median price of $275,200; declining 3.3 percent in the West to 1.19 million, with a median price of $382,100; declining 2.9 percent in the South to 2.33 million, with a median price of $227,600; and unchanged in the Midwest, at 1.29 million, with a median price of $202,100.

Additionally, first-time homebuyers comprised 33 percent of existing-home sales in April, up from 30 percent in March.

“Especially with mortgage rates going up in recent weeks, prospective buyers should visit with more than one lender to ensure they are getting the lowest rate possible,” says NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall. “Receiving a rate quote from multiple lenders could lead to considerable savings over the life of the loan. Ask a REALTOR® for a few recommendations of lenders to contact to get a quote.”

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

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

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Gen Z—The Next Wave of Consumer Game Changers?

Generation Z, loosely defined as the generation born anywhere from 1995 or 1998 to 2016, is predicted to hit the post-college marketplace in much the same way as millennials—managing considerable debt. Yet, simultaneously, they’re gaining traction as the next consumer powerhouse, representing billions of dollars for retailers and more.

Regarded as the most diverse and inclusive generation yet, Gen Z represents those around 19 years of age and younger. Perhaps most significant to real estate professionals, Gen Zers are expected to account for about 40 percent of all consumers by 2020. According to the New York Times, they represent “billions in spending power.” Here’s a look into this post-millennial next generation.

They’re more conscientious. According to the Times, members of Gen Z are generally conscientious, hard-working and mindful, if not anxious about the future. For real estate professionals, this generation could be seeking more than just a home—they could be looking for a positive and secure living experience where they’re actively engaged with their neighborhoods and communities.

Technology is more than just influential. Members of Gen Z are the first generation born in the age of smartphones. According to a profile featured in Business Insider, technology doesn’t just play a key role in their lives; it shapes their entire worldview. This could mean future homebuyers from this generation are looking for smart homes, complete with appliances and systems that enhance their daily routines with just a voice command or a tap.

Early starters are the norm. According to an analysis, Gen Z may be considered more self-starting and entrepreneurial than previous generations. This could mean members are looking to enter the workplace sooner, or start their own businesses out of high school. For the housing market, it could also mean a new generation looking toward homeownership earlier than Gen Yers (millennials).

For a generation conscious of safety and security, a home warranty may be a perfect complement to a new home purchase. American Home Shield® offers a range of plans and packages to help protect the homes and budgets of customers at every step of the homeownership journey.

For more articles like this, please visit www.ahs.com/home-matters.

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

The post Gen Z—The Next Wave of Consumer Game Changers? appeared first on RISMedia.

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©2018 BHH Affiliates, LLC. An independently owned and operated franchisee of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of HomeServices of America, Inc.® Equal Housing Opportunity. Licensed in Virginia.

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