A labor shortage for home builders is causing late deliveries of new homes according to the National Association of Home Builders.  Late completions, rising prices and lack of service after the sale are all being blamed, at least in part, on a shortage of workers in the home building trade.

“The incidence of reported shortages is now surprisingly high relative to the current state of new-home construction,”  according to NAHB economist Paul Emrath.

Almost two-thirds of builders report paying higher wages due to labor shortages.  Almost the same percentage say they have had to raise prices as well.  Builders report an increase of 2.9% in direct labor costs in the last 6 months and a 3.8% increase in subcontractor costs.

The bottom line is new home buyers may have their patience tried.

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One of my cohorts shared a great posting on staging today.  It covers some of the things that folks overlook and uses great photos for examples of the looks that are being described.

It got me thinking about what I will call “pre-staging.”  While staging discussions tend to focus on the design, color, de-cluttering and arrangements of furniture and artworks, there are some more basic things that need to be done first.

Fix things.  That’s right, the broken drawer pull that you have lived with for years just doesn’t speak well to how well your home has been maintained.  One of the most highly sought features in a home for sale is that is is move-in ready.  Make your home look, and be, that very thing!

Here are some other common items to give some love:

  • Windows, clear and clean:  Broken window seals not only fog up and obscure the beautiful views we have at Lake Chelan, but they speak to not really caring about the home all that much.  Have all your windows clear and clean when selling your home.
  • Doors should fit:  Doors that are no longer square in their frames that don’t latch properly or operate smoothly can be fixed.  You probably want top dollar for your home, make it look and work like it is worth it.
  • Floors:  Flooring isn’t that expensive.  You may hardly notice a stain, hole, or a seam that has separated in your floor.  The buyers will certainly notice.  If you can refresh those floors, do it!  A cleaning, or replacement of vinyl in a room can take it from tired to sparkling.
  • Landscaping:  Trim shrubs, eliminate weeds and make the lawn lush and weed free as well.  Putting down some fresh mulch in beds can make your house look fresh and ready for a new owner.  After the effort of moving in, who wants to have to spend weeks in the yard getting it in shape? Most buyers have other things they need to do.
  • Driveways, patios and walks:  Cracked concrete or asphalt looks bad.  It can also suggest soil movement.  Can it be refreshed with some patching and a coating like concrete stamping?  Asphalt can usually be patched and seal coated to look like new.

Look at all of those things with some common sense.  Some things can be fixed up in a couple of hours with hand tools.  Other items can take a bit more time or expense.  But, don’t let some relatively easily fixed flaw mar the impact of your beautiful home for sale and hurt your chances of a sale or needlessly lower your sale price.

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Security systems are the most desired feature in Smart Homes and not so much gadgets that control lights and appliances.  Security features include fire, carbon monoxide and gas leak alarms as well as intrusion detection.  90% of respondents in a survey by Icontrol Networks cited security as their premier desire in home automation systems.

Energy management was important to 78% of respondents for second place.

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Wow, wildfires are burning all around the Lake Chelan area right now and there are even evacuations in Antoine Creek, Washington Creek and Union Valley.  Just to the north, the City of Pateros was devastated by fire last night with the loss of dozens of homes.  I planned to talk about other topics today, but that was not to be.

Wildfires are not uncommon to this area in the summer and fall season. Last fall, I had “Firewise” style of treatment of the vegetation done around our cabin in the Lake Wenatchee area.  Even so, a fire in the area would be a challenge if it travels into our neighborhood.

Yet, there are ways to live here that have much lower fire danger than other choices.  Living further out, generally, entails greater risk and requires better fire planning to be able to reduce the risk from wildfire damage.  The materials chosen for a home and the landscaping have are big factors in the survivability from wildfires as well as how well flammable materials are kept away from structures.

Even so, in some cases the power of wildfires are almost unimaginable.  There are folks who have lost their homes and forces are being rallied to help.   The Community Foundation of North Central Washington has set up a fire relief fund to help our displaced neighbors all over our three county area. Visit their website for details. Call 509-663-7716. Chelan County Emergency Management is using tools like facebook to keep folks updated as well.

Stay aware of wildfire issues and still pray for all those in the line of the fires as well as the heroes fighting the fires.

 

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Fed Chairwoman Janet Yellen said the Fed may raise rates sooner than expected, but it depends on the labor market.

If labor markets continue to improve more quickly than expected, the Fed may move to raise rates sooner than expected.  Current expectations are that rates will start climbing within a year.

Ms. Yellen acknowledged that wage growth is still anemic.  So, basically, anything could happen.

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According to a new Redfin survey, home buyers and sellers are diverging in their view of the marketplace with many home sellers digging in on over pricing their homes and buyers are just saying no to bidding wars.

How bad is it?

“In May, 40 percent of sellers surveyed by Redfin said that they planned to list their homes above market value, even though home sales had dropped by 9 percent since the year before,” says Nela Richardson, Redfin’s chief economist. “Typically, it takes sellers six to nine months to adjust to a price change, but this latest shift is longer. Prices have moved down and then up so much over the past five years that it’s even more difficult for sellers to have a realistic baseline for what their homes are worth in the current market.” – Redfin.com

Home buyers are becoming more willing to walk away from a deal and are more often adopting a take it or leave it attitude.    The market has shifted, and it is shifting back to a more balanced market for buyers.

Home sellers just aren’t getting it yet.  58% of Redfin agents said that sellers held unrealistic expectations about the value of their homes, an increase from 49% last quarter.

The Lake Chelan market has been this way all year, with sellers expectations similar to 2005 and buyers seeming to look for depressed pricing like it was 2011.  Nobody said it would be easy.

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Times change, and with them so do the amenities that home buyers are looking for in their next home purchase.  Pulte Homes surveyed 1000 adults aged 25 to 65 to find out the current preferences.

To get what they want in a home, survey respondents were even willing to give up other features in many cases.  Almost half, 44%, are willing to give up a location near public transportation for specific amenities and 35% are willing to give up better schools and proximity to entertainment and shopping for the right home.

The amenities they are looking for include more space for the 51% that want their next home to be larger than their current residence.  Move-in ready was even more popular, with 64% preferring a move-in ready home.

Some of the most important features include:

  • “His and her closets” in the master bedroom  were important to 31% of respondents and a spa-like master bathrooms was important to 23%.
  • A large eat-in kitchen area is important to 23% and a kitchen island is key for 22% of home buyers.
  • 54% if buyers want at least one bathtub in a home

As far as which spaces have the most priority, the kitchen is most important to 29%, bedrooms to 22% and the living room was most important for 18% of home buyers in the Pulte survey.

At Lake Chelan, views are critical to many buyers and others are looking specifically for waterfront or waterfront access.  The sunny weather makes outdoor living spaces highly desired as well where home owners and their guests to spread out and enjoy open spaces.

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The FAA, in their interpretation of model airplane rules released this week, specifically mentions real estate agents.  In their interpretation of the rules the FAA said “a REALTOR® using a model aircraft to photograph a property that he (or she) is trying to sell and using the photos in the property’s real estate listing does not constitute hobby or recreational use.”

That means real estate agents would likely be subject to the Federal Aviation Administrations safety and designated airspace enforcement.  Photographers selling the service or photos to someone else using a drone don’t qualify for the hobby or recreation exemption either.

The commercial use of drones is currently only allowed on a case-by-case basis and requires an FAA certificate of airworthiness.  The new interpretation is open for public comment  until July 25th, 2014.  The FAA “may modify this interpretation based on comments received.”

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