Richard Stein – Realtor®, Douglas Elliman, GREEN, SFR, CBR, eCertified®

Local Agent, Worldwide Marketing – Douglas Elliman Real Estate formerly Prudential Douglas Elliman Real Estate

How Will the Housing Market Fare This Spring?

Real estate pros often anxiously await for the spring selling season, a time known for an uptick in home sales. But will spring be as hot for the housing market this year as it has been in the past?

Single-family house with greenery

© Perry Mastrovito/Image Source/Getty Images

Since the end of last year, home sales have slowed (a decline of 10 percent in December compared to a year prior), and properties have been sitting on the market for longer (46 days compared to 30 days a year ago).

Nevertheless, Lawrence Yun, chief economist at the National Association of REALTORS®, says that “multiple data show definitively improving conditions” heading into the spring selling and buying season.

Consumer sentiment about home buying is turning more upbeat, and there have been greater reports of foot traffic at open houses, according to recent NAR surveys. The number of openings of lock boxes—which real estate pros use to access a key prior to unlocking a home for a showing—is “measurably higher” in January and February compared to the second half of 2018, according to NAR SentriLock data.

Further, the number of consumers applying for a mortgage to purchase a home is on the rise. “After the weak conditions of late last year, mortgage applications have picked up notably in 2019 with more consumers evidently searching for a home compared to one year ago,” Yun writes in his latest real estate column at Forbes.com. Also, contract signings to purchase a home rose 4.6 percent in January—another healthy sign about the market Yun points to.

With mortgage rates staying low, Yun expects more home buyers and sellers this spring. So far this year, the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage has fallen to under a 4.5 percent average. That means a typical home buyer could save nearly $100 per month due to the drop. In addition, wages are up 3.4 percent year-over-year on average, the hightest rate in a decade, .

“The slump is over” in the housing market, Yun notes. “Better times are ahead for home buyers.”

Source: 

Where Having a Pool Pays Off the Most at Resale

A pool could potentially boost a home’s sales price by nearly six figures in some locales, according to a new analysis by the real estate brokerage Redfin. In Los Angeles, for example, homes with pools sell for nearly $100,000 more than comparable homes without one.

Swimming pools were found to be most valuable at resale in Los Angeles; Austin, Texas; and Orange County, Calif. All three of these metro areas saw pools add a premium of more than $50,000 to a home’s typical value.

“In some parts of Los Angeles, particularly in the San Fernando Valley, it’s almost a given that a house will have a pool, and the lack of a pool can make it harder to sell,” says Lindsay Katz, a real estate professional with Redfin. “Nearly half of my listings have pools, and when they don’t, potential buyers are constantly asking whether they can add a pool to the property.”

Redfin calculated the value of a private pool as a premium to a home’s per-square-foot sale price and then ranked metros based on the potential payback at resale. The rankings were limited to metro areas where at least 5,000 homes sold in 2018 and where at least 2 percent of homes sold had pools.

The following metros post some of the largest value boost from having a pool (ranked by the average pool premium per square foot):

1. Los Angeles

  • Average pool premium per square foot: $56.45
  • Value a pool adds to a median-priced home: $95,393
  • % of homes sold in 2018 with a pool: 23%

2. Austin, Texas

  • Average pool premium per square foot: $28.67
  • Value a pool adds to a median priced home: $52,228
  • % of homes sold in 2018 with a pool: 4.7%

3. Orange County, Calif.

  • Average pool premium per square foot: $26.47
  • Value a pool adds to a median-priced home: $55,885
  • % of homes sold in 2018 with a pool: 18.3%

4. Riverside, Calif.

  • Average pool premium per square foot: $24.74
  • Value a pool adds to a median-priced home: $44,750
  • % of homes sold in 2018 with a pool: 21%

5. Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

  • Average pool premium per square foot: $19.57
  • Value a pool adds to a median-priced home: $36,964
  • % of homes sold in 2018 with a pool: 45.6%

6. Oakland, Calif.

  • Average pool premium per square foot: $18.35
  • Value a pool adds to a median-priced home: $29,487
  • % of homes sold in 2018 with a pool: 8.7%

7. Charlotte, N.C.

  • Average pool premium per square foot: $17.33
  • Value a pool adds to a median-priced home: $34,917
  • % of homes sold in 2018 with a pool: 2.2%

8. Tampa, Fla.

  • Average pool premium per square foot: $17.21
  • Value a pool adds to a median-priced home: $29,611
  • % of homes sold in 2018 with a pool: 29.6%

9. Houston

  • Average pool premium per square foot: $16.42
  • Value a pool adds to a median-priced home: $35,736
  • % of homes sold in 2018 with a pool: 16.6%

10. Tucson, Ariz.

  • Average pool premium per square foot: $15.56
  • Value a pool adds to a median-priced home: $27,285
  • % of homes sold in 2018 with a pool: 2.6%
Source: 

A Growing Home Trend: Garden Kitchens

Live plants are being added into cabinetry and even directly into the kitchen island. At this year’s LivingKitchen, a trade show in Cologne, Germany, numerous manufacturers showed off the latest worldwide kitchen trend: more greenery near cooking spaces.

Living plants are appearing on the back or tops of kitchen islands and peninsula cabinets. They’re also appearing as wall shelving, which include grow lights to keep them thriving even when tucked away onto shelves. In one extreme example of the trend at the trade show, a dwarf citrus tree was growing in the middle of a kitchen island made by Italy’s Aran Cucine. It included its own irrigation system.

For those who want to keep their plants more contained, they can opt for an under-counter appliance that will grow, light, and water the plants for them. Manufacturers of one such product–the Urban Cultivator—say they’ve been selling the most units in coastal markets and high-end communities.

“Plants in the kitchen can provide seasonings for food and fresh ingredients for salads, soups, entrees, and sides,” Forbes.com writes about the trend. “Plants can also create a welcoming atmosphere for residents and guests alike.”

It’s not just the kitchen that is seeing more plants. Plants are entering more master bathrooms to evoke an indoor-outdoor spa and appearing in more living spaces.

The plant movement is gaining attention thanks to studies that increasingly show the benefits of having houseplants, which have been linked to purifying the air, boosting your mood, and even lowering the risk of illness. Homeowners are adding edible plants in the kitchen to use while cooking.

Technology is helping in keeping plants alive less of a chore, too. Self-watering containers are making plants easier to care for, and grow lights are helping them to thrive in even the darkest corners of a home.

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