Suburban Housing: Increased Trend or Permanent Shift?

Posted on November 16, 2020 by Jorie Helms

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, certain patterns and trends have begun to emerge in the housing industry — in particular, higher demand for housing in lower-density areas. How much of these trends, though, are actually a change in demand or behavior, or just a continuation of existing trends that may have been accelerated through COVID?

“When we think about the conversation around suburban and urban development, it’s really thinking about the extent the trends are on the curve, or if this is really a shift,” moderator Richard Gollis observed during NAHB’s recent The Future of Urban and Suburban Housing in the Wake of COVID-19 webinar. Gollis was join by panelists from NAHB, CoStar, Zillow and Toll Brothers Apartment Living, who presented information from various segments of the industry to highlight growing trends.

According to NAHB Chief Economist Dr. Robert Dietz, increased construction activity in lower-density markets was already occurring as part of the housing affordability crisis, with the COVID-related shift to telecommuting accelerating the trend as people have more flexibility to live outside of large metro areas. Supply can respond better in lower-density areas as well because of the lower cost to build, and may affect the size and design of single-family homes and types of multifamily projects being built in these areas as well.

The same can be said for demand for multifamily rentals, according to John Affleck, vice president of market analytics at CoStar. Supply and demand have geared toward the suburban markets — a trend already in progress pre-COVID — with suburban multifamily products comprising all the rental demand in the second quarter of 2020.

This has impacted rents, as historically expensive markets such as San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle and Boston have seen double-digit decreases in asking rents since their March peak. Meanwhile, smaller suburbs and cities such as Inland Empire, Calif. (a bedroom community of Los Angeles), Norfolk and Richmond, Va., and Memphis, Tenn., have seen rents increase between 3.6% to 5.3%.

Not every suburb is the same, though, noted Charles Elliott, president of Toll Brothers Apartment Living — both in terms of performance as well as mindset.

“The meaning of suburbs is very relative to people,” he stated, providing Toll Brothers’ success in the urban core of New Jersey — which can be considered a suburb of New York City — as an example.

Elliott predicts the urban and walkable suburban markets will come back strong because of rising interest among Gen Z, and also noted increased interest in second homes as a result of the increased flexibility of working from home.

Gen Z and millennials are key drivers in the real estate market, observed Svenja Gudell, chief economist for Zillow Group, as many millennials are reaching or have reached 34 — the median age of first-time home buyers. Those with the means to buy are facing an increasingly competitive market, however; although interested home buyers have been active, sellers have been apprehensive to put their properties on the market, leading to tight inventory and quick sales. Low interest rates are helping buyers, she added, but they aren’t going to make up for the extremely high prices.

Other trends to watch include the size of single-family homes, which had been on a decline but is likely to increase as people look to expand their available space. Flexible design will play a key role in that as well. Higher unemployment rates among younger age groups is also likely to have a lasting impact on the rental market, with an increased number of young adults moving back in with their parents as a result.

A replay of the webinar is available at nahb.org, and is free for members of the Multifamily Council and Housing Credit Group.

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Younger generations want to become homeowners – Here’s how the housing industry can help

Posted on November 3, 2020 by Jorie Helms

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Despite what many believe, Gen Z and Millennials do want to become homeowners and they’re excited by the prospect. However, they face different obstacles than their parents and grandparents did. These challenges include lack of mortgage education, lack of suitable housing supply, and an unprecedented amount of debt that limits buying power and makes them fearful of taking on more. Any long-term effects on the attitudes and intentions due to COVID-19 are still unknown, but we have yet to see indications of major changes in sentiment. 

Younger homeowners

In a 2019 Fannie Mae survey of homebuyers aged 18-34, 88% said they are confident they will achieve homeownership someday. But contrary to previous generations, their desire to be homeowners is more emotionally driven than financial. 80% say homeownership is the best way to make it on their own, and less than 50% say they want to use their home as an asset.

As for what they desire in a home, 69% say they are open to a smaller home as long as it meets their needs. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies, between 2018 and 2023, there is expected to be a 7% rise in homebuyers who are single and a 6% increase in those who are married with no children, which may signal the need for smaller homes. Smaller homes, however, are in short supply, in comparison to the larger homes that previous generations sought. 63% also say that they are open to fixer-uppers but, despite their flexibility, only 31% believe they would be able to find a home in their price range.

Younger homeowners

Among their biggest struggles is the high amount of debt that plagues these generations, in part, due to the rising costs of higher education. According to Northwestern Mutual’s 2019 Planning and Progress Study, U.S. adults aged 18+ report having an average of $29,800 in personal debt, exclusive of mortgages. This could be one of the many reasons that 55% of those surveyed believe homeownership is out of reach financially.

Younger homeowners

There is also a considerable lack of education preventing younger homebuyers from taking the next step. For instance, 73% were unaware of affordable down payment mortgage options, as low as 3%. Fannie Mae findings also indicate a low awareness of affordable housing solutions that go beyond traditional site-built models. Only 39% of respondents were aware of manufactured homes as a more affordable option. And when shown what the newest generation of manufactured homes looks like, the number of respondents who were interested increased by 31%.

Younger homeowners

The silver lining, however, is that housing professionals have an opportunity to help reach these generations simply by understanding their needs. 64% said that they expect lenders to educate them about the mortgage process, and many future homebuyers can benefit from housing counseling from a HUD-approved nonprofit housing counseling agency. As an industry, if we are willing to step into that advisory role, we can be more successful in helping prospective homebuyers become homeowners. 

Learn more about housing affordability at FannieMae.com/Affordable

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Ideal Homes names Shoemaker president

Posted on September 8, 2020 by Jorie Helms

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Steve Shoemaker, new president of Ideal Homes of Norman. [PHOTO PROVIDED]

NORMAN — Ideal Homes has promoted Steve Shoemaker from vice president of sales and marketing to president of Ideal Homes.

Shoemaker has led marketing for the company since 2003. He is the first company president to be named from outside the original ownership group.

“Steve and I have worked closely together for the last 16 years. He loves this company and its people,” said Vernon McKown, founder and CEO. “While his primary strategic focus has been on the sales, marketing, and design center side of our organization, he has a great strategic mind for the big picture and has played a vital role on our senior management team as we’ve set big goals for growth and leadership development.”

McKown remains as CEO and chairman of the management team. As part of the ownership group that started the company in 1990, he has led the company’s sales, marketing, land development and day-to-day operations.

Going forward, he plans to focus on setting the stage for Ideal’s future growth. Shoemaker will continue to guide sales, marketing and the design center while taking on IT and company leadership development initiatives.

Shoemaker holds a Bachelor of Science degree in mass communications/public relations from Oklahoma Christian University and holds the MIRM designation — Master in Residential Marketing — from the National Association of Home Builders. He has served on the Oklahoma Occupational Licensing Advisory Commission since 2018.

He and his wife, Jama, have three sons.

Ideal Homes has developed and builds in 18 neighborhoods in the Oklahoma City metro area, including Blanchard, Choctaw, Deer Creek-Edmond, Guthrie, Moore, Mustang, Norman, Piedmont and Yukon, and in Stillwater.

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Made in Oklahoma - Malarkey Roofs New Home Builders Association

Posted on September 8, 2020 by Jorie Helms

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‘The Perfect House’

Posted on September 2, 2020 by Jorie Helms

Only a developer as seasoned as David Yost could pull this off

Richard Mize

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Living room of “the Perfect House,” 12209 Grand Cedar Lane. [BRYAN TERRY PHOTOS/THE OKLAHOMAN]

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Developer David Yost and designer-real estate agent Joyce Brown worked together to build “the Perfect House” at 12209 Grand Cedar Lane in Yost’s Stonemill Manor neighborhood, a small enclave next to his larger Stonemill addition a quarter-mile west of Coltrane Road on the south side of NE 122.

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Developer David Yost and designer-real estate agent Joyce Brown in “the Perfect House” at 12209 Grand Cedar Lane.

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Kitchen at 12209 Grand Cedar Lane, which David Yost has dubbed “the Perfect House.”

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A view of the multipurpose utility room at 12209 Grand Cedar Lane.

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A view of the master bedroom at 12209 Grand Cedar Lane. [BRYAN TERRY PHOTOS/THE OKLAHOMAN]

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A view of the master bathroom at 12209 Grand Cedar Lane.

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Park and trails at Stonemill Manor, a quarter-mile west of Coltrane Road on the south side of NE 122.

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Pergola in the park at Stonemill Manor, a small enclave next to the larger Stonemill neighborhood by developer David Yost.

A couple of years ago, seasoned developer David Yost hit upon an idea to stimulate interest in one of his neighborhoods: A show house, but more than a show house: “the Perfect House.”

It took a couple of years to build: 4,720 square feet, two bedrooms down and two bedrooms up, three baths, a half-bath, a study, formal dining room, casual dining area, big game room and a multipurpose utility room at 12209 Grand Cedar Lane in Stonemill Manor, a small enclave next to his larger Stonemill neighborhood a quarter-mile west of Coltrane Road on the south side of NE 122.

It took a village to put bricks and mortar and style and finish to the vision that Yost and Joyce Brown brainstormed. Brown is a real estate agent, designer and Yost’s sometimes business partner. Lots are available in Stonemill Manor. The idea was to literally set the standard for what is expected of custom builders.

“We came up with a novel — maybe crazy — idea: Why couldn’t a developer with 35-plus years’ experience working with luxury homebuilders, and a multiple winner of the Realtor Readers’ Choice Award, who is a gifted interior designer, who studied design in Paris, build a perfect home? A home that would showcase the quality that we demand in Stonemill Manor?” he wondered. “My close relationship with the best-ofthe-best subcontractors would assure excellent craftsmanship.

“There would be no financial or time constraints, Joyce would have the time and budget to give full expression to her superb interior design and staging talents, and I could obtain a retired builder/ subcontractor to oversee and manage all phases of construction. The idea, once germinated, became an obsession and we dived in. Well, 22 months later, we have finished the epic endeavor, and darned if it doesn’t seem, to us, like it is ‘Perfect.’

What makes it perfect? That takes some telling, as well as photography.

“The house is a perfect balance of form and function. The performance of the house makes you feel comfortable, and the beauty of the house makes you want to stay, to linger,” Brown said. “A home should be designed in such a way to make everyday living easier and more enjoyable. This house manifests those principles into tangible elements that embrace you and draw you in.

“We wanted the style of the home to stand the test of time. Our inspiration was an old-mansion look mixed with modern elements.”

How did they get to “perfection”?

“Caveats aside, I think we were able to build the house to the highest standards because we had no timetable for completion and no budget constraints,” Yost said. “We were convinced that if we treated each aspect of the building process as if it were the most important of all, and not accept the result until it was flawless, we could build the ‘perfect’ house. And from building the pad and footing, to hanging the mirrors, and final paint touch-up, that’s what we did.

“Of course the key to that being possible was to have the most talented and experienced subcontractors available and willing to work for us, and I believe we were able to do that.”

Drawing upon experience

A less seasoned developer wouldn’t dare, and probably couldn’t.

“For the past 45 years, I’ve been totally immersed in the world of land development, and have known the great builders from Henry Coffeen, Earl Austin, J.W. Mashburn and Mark Dale to name a few, through our present group of highquality, young builders,” Yost said. “I have worked with their architects and designers, their engineers and subcontractors and have developed friendships and working relationships with many of the best of them. I knew the subcontractors I wanted to actually build our house, and I had to be very patient when scheduling them.”

Yost is perhaps known best for his commitment to natural resource conservation, especially tree preservation. He has his own tree farm. A builder in one of his neighborhoods has to be willing to sculpt a lot from the woods, surrendering any trees only to the footprint of the house itself. Choosing the best lot for that, with big, mature trees, was the first step toward the “Perfect house.”

“I worked with Tim Johnson, my engineer, to establish a pad elevation that would take most runoff away from the house and to the street, which fits the overall neighborhood drainage plan. This involved a good amount of fill (dirt), which was carefully compacted to avoid settling,” Yost said. “Raising the pad elevation gave the facade of the house a more imposing look from the street and provided a superb view of the adjacent park with the waterfall and stream, and made them not only visible, but audible, as well.”

Then, a highly sought after foundation contractor was brought in to build an oversize footing and stem wall for extra support; a framing contractor recommended by Don Chesser used upgraded 2-by-6’s for outside walls, heavier-duty trusses at closer spacing than is typical, and erected one especially long clear span requiring a Glulam beam (glued laminated timber) specified by a structural engineer, who also double checked other loading.

The ‘Perfect house’ has Grand Manor roofing shingles by CertainTeed, more expensive but worth it, Yost said, open-cell spray foam insulation instead of typical blown-in insulation, for extra energy efficiency and quiet, and three Carrier heatand-air units.

Yost drew on decades of relationship and experience: A-list plumbing contractor, electrician, drywall installer, painter, a tile contractor “who turned out to be a true artiste” and did “stunning” work, heat-and-air contractor Don Hawkins, whose father installed the HVAC in Yost’s first rental project 45 years ago.

“Joyce and I couldn’t be happier with our Stonemill Manor show home,” Yost said. “As the developer of the neighborhood, I wanted it to represent my commitment to be the best upscale neighborhood in our market area.”

A virtual tour of the home is available at www.stonemillmanorshowhome.com.

Brown explained what makes the rooms and spaces “Perfect.”

Kitchen

“Is it possible to have a love affair with your kitchen? The allure of this kitchen attracts you to spend time in it, whether you’re cooking or not,” Brown said. “The reason you may feel a seductive attraction to the space is the perfect balance of form and function. The form is shaped by floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, sparkling lighting, quartz exterior countertops, designer backsplash and a skillfully crafted built-in china hutch,” Brown said.

“The function is attained by way of a carefully planned appliance layout, which makes everyday cooking & social gatherings a breeze.

“To help keep everything clutter-free, a working pantry provides space to stow the unsightly countertop appliances, while providing additional work space. Joining form and function together is a large 5-by-9-foot island, crowned with a gorgeous slab of granite to become the focal point of the space. The island is free from built-in appliances to create an unobstructed centerpiece, and provide uninhibited space for party layouts and work space.”

Living room

“The living room has a cathedral ceiling with wood beams and the cast-stone fireplace has a mirrored focal wall above. All the main living areas are open and flow one space to another — even out to a 600-square-foot outdoor living area. Three large sliding glass doors open from the indoor living to the outdoor living. Remote control Phantom screens enclose the tiled patio, with fireplace, making it useable year-round and doubling the entertaining space,” Brown said.

Dining area

“The spacious formal dining area sparkles from the light of a crystal chandelier, against the backdrop of a hand-painted focal wall ... the ‘final touch,’ (using) the other areas and colors of the home as inspiration so the wall would feel like an organic part of the overall design. A traditional coffered ceiling, columns and chevron wood floor frame the space,” she said.

Utility room

“Every woman dreams of this space,” Brown said. “To begin with, the room is beautiful, with vintage marble floors, glass pendant lighting, quartz counters and shiplap feature wall with open shelves. If you’re enjoying a game or HGTV in the outdoor living area and feel a little thirsty — no problem. The multipurpose utility space is conveniently located nearby, where a refrigerator space & wet bar/utility sink are tucked just inside its carefully planned layout.

“At the opposite end is a built-in floating desk with leathered granite top for your favorite project, and a walk-in storage closet to stow whatever your heart desires. The finishing touch is a swinging butler’s pantry door — just in case your hands are full.

Master bedroom

“Traditional trims are combined with modern finishes to create a relaxing, elegant space,” Brown said. “From its generously sized sitting area, gorgeous park views can be enjoyed through the large picture window. A door adjoins the bedroom to the outdoor living area for a cozy snuggle by the fireplace. The tray ceiling with dental molding exhibits the attention to detail, as each of the 400 blocks of dental molding were individually cut and installed by hand.

Master bath, closet

“Floor-to-ceiling marble tile, herringbone marble tile floor, marble countertops, soaker tub, incredible walk-in shower completely encased in marble tile. The closet was designed like a boutique with pull-down hanging rods, designer lighting, and a floor-to-ceiling mirror with a hidden velvet-lined jewelry cabinet,” she said.

Study

“The mix of traditional, warm, stained wainscoting and new-trend Sputnik lighting. It’s not at the front door entry, so you won’t have to apologize for a messy desk when an unexpected guest pops by for a visit. The gorgeous view to the park and lots of natural light.

What else?

“The views, the views the views. The house was designed to take advantage of the truly enchanted park that it adjoins. You can hear the sounds and see the beauty of the park stream and waterfalls, and take a quick stroll on the park trails to the putting green and picnic in the rock pavilion with a working water wheel. ... The outdoor grill is tucked away on a connected grilling enclosure. Accessibility to outdoor spaces was carefully planned, with four doors opening to the 600-square-foot outdoor living space. The window placement was designed to provide natural light to every part of the home, while every window also provides a gorgeous view.

For privacy, the guest suite is positioned at the opposite end of the home from the master. The only problem may be that your guests will never want to leave. Highfashion lighting, white oak cabinetry, leathered counter and vessel sink. Floating staircase with hand-made, custom-designed, wroughtiron railing.”

See this article in the e-Edition Here

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NAHB Seeks White House Action on Soaring Lumber Prices

Posted on August 14, 2020 by Jorie Helms

NAHB sent a letter to President Trump expressing the housing industry’s growing concern and seeking prompt action regarding soaring lumber prices and supply shortages that are harming the housing sector and the economy.

NAHB is urging the White House to play a constructive role to alleviate this growing threat to housing and the economy by calling on domestic lumber producers to ramp up production to ease growing shortages and making it a priority to work with Canada on a new softwood lumber agreement that would end tariffs averaging more than 20% on Canadian lumber shipments into the United States.

As the nation fights to rebound from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, housing has been a bright spot for the U.S. economy, particularly single-family construction, with permits running 3.4% higher during the first half of 2020 compared to the first half of 2019.

However, builders are seeing shortages of lumber resulting in an 80% increase in lumber prices since mid-April. Framing lumber prices reached a record high in late July, while oriented strand board prices have increased 138% over the past year. These sharp increases are unsustainable, particularly in light of the housing affordability crisis.

NAHB’s letter to the White House stressed that housing can do its part to create jobs and lead the economy forward; but in order to do so, we need to address skyrocketing lumber prices and chronic shortages.

NAHB recently sent a similar message to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Zoltan van Heyningen, executive director of the U.S. Lumber Coalition.

View NAHB’s letter to President Trump.

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