Survey: Renters Rely Heavily on Web Reviews of Landlords

Consumers largely depend on online reviews and ratings websites when deciding where to rent a property, according to the 2019 Renter Insight & Digital Engagement survey, based on a survey of more than 1,000 adults who are searching for a rental.

“It is imperative that U.S. property owners and managers carefully monitor and evaluate their online reputation if they wish to remain competitive in today’s dense real estate market,” says Aaron Clifford, senior vice president of marketing at Binary Fountain, an online reputation management platform, that commissioned the study.

Sixty-four percent of renters said they used online reviews to search for a rental property at the beginning of their search, the study found. Most read between one and 10 reviews before making a decision on a rental property. Further, 85% of respondents said they looked at online ratings and reviews even after a friend or family member recommended a property.

Source: Binary Fountain and “More Renters Going Online to Rate Their Landlord,” Real Estate Weekly (June 28, 2019)

New-Home Sales Plunge

While housing affordability has been getting a hand from lower mortgage rates, it didn’t lift new-home sales last month.

Sales of newly built single-family homes under performed in what is traditionally the busiest time of year in the housing sector. New-home sales dropped 7.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 626,000 units in May, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Tuesday. The number represents signed contracts, not closings.

Overall, the “May numbers are a big surprising given lower mortgage interest rates and solid builder confidence data,” says Robert Dietz, NAHB’s chief economist. “Based on these conditions, we expect June new home sales figures will show a rebound.”

Supreme Court Rules Landowner Can Sue Over Government Access

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Friday that property owners can challenge government access to their land, which some view as a major victory for property rights.

The court’s ruling stemmed from a case involving a Pennsylvania woman, Rose Mary Knick, whose land the town of Scott Township used in 2013 to access an old burial ground. Knick didn’t grant the town permission to come on her property, and she sought damages in court for what she viewed as an invasion of her privacy. Local rules, however, require property owners to allow access to private cemeteries discovered on their land.

Supreme Court justices ruled, in a 5-4 opinion, that the woman can now seek compensation in federal court. “A property owner has a claim for a violation of the Takings Clause as soon as government takes his property for public use without paying for it,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the ruling. “The property owner may sue the government at that time in federal court.”

Flood Insurance Extension

The Financial Services Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a five-year extension to the National Flood Insurance Program, the nation’s largest flood insurer. The bill also includes a mandate to improve the country’s flood maps.

Federal law requires the purchase of flood insurance for a federally backed mortgage in special flood hazard areas designated by FEMA. Private flood insurance is also available in many high-risk areas, but the NFIP may be the only option for some.

The bill will now go before the full House for approval. The Senate must be then approve it to bring it to President Donald Trump.

‘New Frontier’ for ‘Healthy’ Homes

Indoor air quality is one of the top five environmental risks to public health, researchers say. After all, most people spend 90% of their time indoors, whether in homes, office buildings, or other structures. Ventilation is the “new frontier for making houses healthy,” Carl Seville of SK Collaborative, a green building consulting and certification firm, told Forbes.com in a recent article.

There’s reason for the added attention. Recent studies have shown indoor air is polluted with lead, dust mites, radon, pests, carbon monoxide, pet dander, mold, and secondhand smoke, according to the National Environmental Education Foundation. Ventilation in the form of bathroom fans and kitchen range hoods can help remove some of the bad air from homes. Older homes, however, may be prone to leaks of these pollutants.

Source: “Why You Should Take Home Ventilation Seriously,” Forbes.com (May 28, 2019)

Planning for Home Ownership?

When is the right time to purchase your first home? The answer differs across age groups, family pressures and life goals.

One in five parents say they expect their child to own a home by age 25, yet this doesn’t match up to reality. Younger adults tend to feel the most pressure to own a home, but they’re still waiting on their own time terms, according to a new survey from Porch.com, a home remodeling website. Porch.com surveyed nearly 1,000 individuals, ages of 18 to 81.

“Purchasing a home is one of the most complex and expensive decisions most of us make, so it’s easy to see how not choosing the right style, location, or size can invoke criticism from relatives,” the report notes. “Of the three generations, millennials felt the least amount of pressure from relatives when it came to housing choices, whereas both baby boomers and Gen Xers felt slightly more judged.”

Source: “Exploring Generational Differences in Life Goals,” Porch.com (June 4, 2019)

Home Buyers: Going to the Exurbs

In their search for affordability, home buyers are taking their house hunts further out from the city limits. Exurbs are the outskirts of major metro areas that lie beyond the suburbs. Many offer more land and greater affordability in new-home construction.

Single- and multifamily activity in the exurbs makes up only a small share of permit activity across the country, but their quarterly growth rates reached a new high in the first quarter of 2019, according to the National Association of Home Builders’ new Home Building Geography Index. Single-family permit activity has posted a 5.6% year-over-year growth rate, which is higher than that for large metro areas and suburbs, the index reveals.

Source: “Exurbs Grow During a Weak First Quarter per NAHB HBGI,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (May 28, 2019)

Consider Adding a ‘Granny Flat’

Home improvement professionals say they’re fielding more inquiries from homeowners about adding accessory dwelling units—often nicknamed “granny flats.” A fifth of remodeling contractors say they undertook projects over the last year to create an ADU by converting an existing space, and a similar number say they created an ADU by building a new addition to a property, according to a new survey released by the National Association of Home Builders.

ADUs are smaller units added to a property, and they can be pricey to build. Only 6 percent of remodeling contractors report completing an ADU project for less than $25,000. Three-fourths say ADU projects cost at least $50,000, and 28 percent report projects costing at least $150,000.

Source: “Many Remodelers Are Now Creating ADUs,” National Association of Home Builders’ Eye on Housing blog (May 22, 2019)

Who Needs to Downsize?

A growing number of baby boomers are choosing not to downsize in retirement. Instead, they’re opting to remain in the homes where they raised their children, USA Today reports. But their reluctance to move is contributing to low inventory across the country, says realtor.com® Chief Economist Danielle Hale.

Baby boomers “have refused to follow what the traditional expectations were,” Barbara Risman, a sociology professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, told USA Today. Baby boomers, mostly between the ages of 54 to 73, are working longer and, therefore, putting retirement off longer than previous generations. Their millennial children increasingly are living at home with them and staying well into adulthood.

For baby boomers who do plan to move, 43% say they want their next home to be the same size as their current one. Twenty-two percent say they want their next home to be even larger, according to a January surveyof 50- and 60-year-olds by Del Webb.

Homeowners’ Top Neighborhood Gripes

The wrong neighborhood can make for an unhappy homeowner.

A new survey from Porch.com, a home remodeling website, surveyed about 1,000 consumers to find the biggest neighborhood turnoffs. Noise, traffic, and crime were the chief concerns of buyers. Noise topped the list of neighborhood turnoffs, with 41% of respondents citing it as their top gripe, according to the survey. In fact, noise proved to be an even bigger deterrent than a high crime rate.

More details on illustrations at source: “Moving Matters,” Porch.com (May 2019)