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What’s New With Housing?

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From rooftop decks to custom wood floors, these repurposed shipping containers are anything but boring.
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The The Counselors of Real Estate‘s annual list of industry threats lists rising mortgage rates and the general economy at the top, but it includes long-term issues for the first time, such as a weakening infrastructure and disruptive technology.
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Study: With inventory tight, an entire generation has been forced to consider fixer-uppers, and they’re more comfortable tackling remodeling projects.
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If you are thinking of selling, now may be the time. Demand for your house will be strong at a time when there is very little competition. That could lead to a quick sale for a really good price.
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For the first time since the Great Recession, there are signs of a broad shift in America’s housing market.  Homeownership rates are inching up, while the number of new rental households has declined slightly.
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New Listings for Pinellas County Single Family and Townhomes/Condos UP 8.8%… 1,626 in May 2018 versus 1,494 in May 2017.
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Prefab HousesWhere Are All the Prefab Houses?
Architects, environmentalists and some forward-thinking builders embrace the construction method as the way every home should be built in the future. But modular homes are still a rarity. Why?
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What’s Up With Housing?

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Owning a home has always been, and will always be, better from a financial standpoint than renting.
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Second cut to state’s biz rent tax in as many years takes effect Jan. 1, 2019. Combined with last year’s cut, some Florida businesses will be saving nearly $100M each year.
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12% of millennials surveyed cited “rising rents” as the trigger that sparked them to become homeowners, while 17% said family needs; for 55+ buyers, 20% said privacy. Overall, 44% want a three-bedroom home, and 93% want at least two bathrooms.
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A new report from a federal watchdog finds that the Federal Housing Administration incorrectly insured approximately 9,507 borrowers who were actually ineligible.
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This marks seventh-consecutive month of home price increases nationwide.
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Every year that passes, the more population patterns are starting to look like the old sprawling dynamic serving suburban and exurban demand.


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What’s Up With Housing?

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Museums, apartments, condos, a new police station and a dozen other projects mark one of the biggest downtown building booms in St. Petersburg’s 130-year history.
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“Peak Millennial” doesn’t mean what it used to, because Millennials are getting older. And even still, they’re sticking around cities more than older generations.
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Why developers are embracing this growing segment of the luxury condo market. Toll Brothers has made a practice of stretching its brand to accommodate its customers’ shifting tastes.
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UF’s consumer index rose an average 4.6 points in 2017, even though it dropped 1.4 points in Dec. Floridians were “far more optimistic in 2017.”
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More and more affordable housing developers are considering modular construction for their developments because of the time and cost savings prefabricated building can yield.
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Optimistic 2018 Construction Forecast Tempered by Worker Shortage.
The construction industry is expected to continue to grow in 2018, but Florida construction firms face issues of worker shortages and outside competition.
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Freddie Mac says the average rate on 30-year fixed-rate mortgages dropped to 3.95% from 3.99% last week. One year ago, the FRM averaged 4.20%.


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What’s Up With Housing?

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The National Flood Insurance Program did not expire last Fri. as feared, but Congress extended it for only 2 weeks. Its new expiration date: Dec. 22, 2017.
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Thinking about buying your first home? Before you can unlock the door to homeownership, you have to take some important first steps. From finding the perfect location to financing your purchase, shopping for your first home has challenges that go beyond curb appeal and interior features.
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80% of millennial renters want to buy a home, yet most say they can’t afford it. However, there are ways to get around that problem.
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Some home flipping wisdom for investors who want to make sure they are keeping sharp when it comes to effectively — and profitably — flipping homes.
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Tampa Bay has seen two booms in house flipping – one in the mid-2000s, when prices headed steadily upward, and again from 2011 to 2014 when the market was flooded with cheap foreclosures. But in the three months ended in September, area flippers made an average gross profit of 54.5%, a drop from 66.5% in the same period a year ago.


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What’s Up With Housing?

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Suburban-bound Millennials and Other 2018 Housing Trends to Watch.
What’s ahead for real estate in 2018? Zillow economists put their heads together and offered up a laundry list of forecasts and predictions.

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Most millennials say they want to eventually own homes, and only rent because of financial necessity.
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Malls are dying. There aren’t enough homes. Is there a solution? Across America, malls are being repurposed for residences as an oversupply of one meets a lack of the other.
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The Florida housing market recorded increases in sales, median prices, new listings, and new pending sales in October, signaling a rebound from the impact of Hurricane Irma.
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With data on millions of homes nationwide, the folks at Realtor.com think they have a pretty good idea of how the real estate market is doing.
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Last year, mortgage loan limits accepted by Fannie and Freddie rose only slightly for the first time in a decade – but they’ll top out at $453,100 next year.


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What’s Up With Housing?

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“Convenience is one of the most attractive qualities to Millennials and something real estate developers should keep in mind…”
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NAR says the just-announced tax proposal is “nowhere near as good a deal as the one middle-class homeowners get under current law.” NAHB says it “abandons middle-class taxpayers in favor of high-income Americans and wealthy corporations.”
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Would you live in a shipping container? Check out these inventive recycled container designs.
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Pet owners face unique challenges when buying and selling a home. Not all neighborhoods, houses or condos will love their dog as much as they do.
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If you’re thinking of selling and moving down, waiting might make sense. If you are a first-time buyer or a seller thinking of moving up, waiting probably doesn’t make sense.
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NAR: Before its Dec. 8 expiration date, NFIP will likely be OK’d for another extension to give Congress time to finalize a longer-term revamp of the program.
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Welcome Home: 10 Tips to Turn Your Neighborhood Into a Hometown Haven

Neighborhood Participation

“Communities work better (students perform better, crime rates are lower, kids are safer, people live longer) when neighbors know one another better. Knowing your neighbor on a first-name basis…is a surprisingly effective first step.”
Robert Putnam, Harvard Public Policy Professor and author of Bowling Alone

While advancements in technology have made it possible for us to connect with people from around the world, numerous studies show that it has led to a decline in face-to-face interactions.1

Places where we used to strike up casual conversations—such as a doctor’s office waiting room, bus stop or grocery line—are now filled with people looking at their smart phones, barely acknowledging those around them.

Even many families dining together or relaxing in the evenings can be caught spending more time focused on screens than each other. Is it any surprise that we’ve experienced a steady decline in community involvement?

In his book Bowling Alone, Harvard Public Policy Professor Robert Putnam “draws on evidence including nearly 500,000 interviews over the last quarter century to show that we sign fewer petitions, belong to fewer organizations that meet, know our neighbors less, meet with friends less frequently, and even socialize with our families less often.”2

How is this shift impacting our overall well being? A study by Oregon Health & Science University researchers found that having limited face-to-face social contact nearly doubles an individual’s risk of depression.3

CONNECTING WITH YOUR COMMUNITY

If you’re considering a move to a new city or neighborhood, you may be worried about replacing the comfort and support of family and friends you’ll leave behind. Or perhaps you have completed a move but would like to meet more people, build friendships and strengthen your support system.

In this blog post, we’ll explore 10 ways you can utilize technology to foster in-person connections with your neighbors, make friends and get engaged in your local community.

  1. JOIN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD’S SOCIAL NETWORK

A growing number of neighborhoods are utilizing private social networks like U.S.-based Nextdoor and Canadian-based GoNeighbour. These platforms are designed specifically to connect neighbors and include an address verification process.

Residents post about a variety of topics, including neighborhood news, recommendations for local businesses, lost pets, etc. These platforms are a great way to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in your neighborhood, but don’t just use them to connect virtually. Extend an invitation to your neighbors to attend an in-person event, such as a park playdate for families, an informal soccer game or a potluck block party.

  1. ATTEND A PLACE OF WORSHIP

If you have a religious affiliation, joining a local place of worship is great way to meet people and get involved in your community. Aside from attending services, most religious institutions also host extracurricular activities to foster fellowship amongst the congregation.

Whether you are looking to join a church, synagogue, mosque or temple, there are a variety of online resources available to help you find a match in your area, including:

To make the most of your affiliation, look for opportunities to meet in smaller group settings. It’s a great way to form interpersonal relationships with people who share your beliefs and values.

  1. FIND AN INTEREST GROUP

Whatever your favorite hobby or pastime, you’re guaranteed to meet people who share your interests when you join an interest group!

The website Meetup.com has over 32 million members in 288,000 groups in 182 countries. You can search for a group in your area that appeals to you … from book clubs to running groups to professional networking, they have it all.

If you don’t find what you’re looking for, you can start your own group for a monthly fee. The site makes it easy to ask (or require) members to pitch in to cover the cost. It also enables you to promote a corporate sponsor on your page, so you may be able to find a local business to cover the cost.

Most people who join Meetup are there for the same reason you are … to meet people who share their interests. So it’s a great place to make like-minded friends in your community.

  1. LEND A HAND

Volunteering your time and talents is another good way to get engaged in your community and meet those who share a similar mission.

Most nonprofit organizations rely heavily on volunteers. Find one with a cause you’re passionate about by visiting VolunteerMatch.

You can search by cause, location and keywords, and filter your results to include opportunities that are suitable for kids, seniors or groups. Another option is to search for volunteer positions that require specialized skills. Perhaps you’re musical or maybe you’re good with computers. There could be an organization in your area that needs your talents or skills.

Lotsa Helping Hands is another site focused on connecting volunteers with those in need. Members can request help or search for opportunities to assist others in their area. Most of the volunteer opportunities involve aiding neighbors who are ill or elderly by delivering meals, offering rides to appointments or just stopping by for a visit. This can be a great way to make a direct impact on your neighbors who need a helping hand!

  1. TAKE A CLASS

Taking a class is a wonderful way to develop a skill while meeting people who share your interests and passion for learning.

Whether you want to brush up on your Spanish, finish your novel, or learn how to tango, most community colleges offer inexpensive, non-credit classes on a variety of topics.

And if you are pursuing a degree, forego taking your courses online. Opt for the traditional route instead. There’s no substitute for being part of a live community of your peers.

To search for a community college in your area, visit the American Association of Community Colleges or SchoolsInCanada.com.

  1. ATTEND AN EVENT

Attending a live event is another way to engage with members of your community. From festivals to fundraisers to retreats, Eventbrite is a great place to search for events in your area. You can filter your search by category, event type, date and price to find something that fits your interests, schedule and budget.

Be strategic about the type of event you choose. For example, while attending a large festival might be a fun way to feel engaged with your community, it might also be harder to meet people. A retreat or a networking event may offer more opportunities for one-on-one interaction.

  1. SHARE YOUR STUFF

Everyone’s talking about the rise of the “sharing economy” with the popularity of Uber and Airbnb. But there’s also been a rise in “sharing communities,” which facilitate the free exchange of goods among neighbors to reduce consumption and keep usable items out of landfills.

Nonprofit groups like The Freecycle Network are made up of people who are giving (and getting) stuff for free in their own towns and neighborhoods. Members can post “offers” of free items or “wanted” items they need.

The company Peerby has a similar goal of reducing consumption by encouraging neighbors to lend and borrow items they don’t often use. For example, you can offer to share your blender, rake or ladder. Maybe you need to borrow a drill, cake pan or moving trolley. Peerby enables you to request items to borrow from your neighbors and encourages you to register items you are willing to lend.

The Little Free Library is another innovative way neighbors are participating in a sharing community. Stewards build or purchase a box to house the library and fill it with books they are willing to give away. The library is usually placed in their front yard or in a public outdoor space. Visitors are encouraged to take a book they’d like to read, and in exchange leave a book for someone else to enjoy. With over 60,000 libraries in 80 countries, the organization estimates millions of books are exchanged annually among neighbors.

  1. SUPPORT A COMMUNITY GARDEN

 Community gardens have become increasingly popular in both urban and rural areas across North America. Not only do they beautify a neighborhood, they also foster community, encourage self-reliance, reduce family food budgets, conserve resources, and provide opportunities for recreation and exercise.

The mission of the American Community Gardening Association is to build community by increasing and enhancing community gardening and greening across the United States and Canada. The organization’s website enables you to search for existing community gardens in your area. If there isn’t one nearby, you might considering starting one. The site provides helpful tips and resources for organizing a garden in your neighborhood.

  1. CARPOOL WITH A COWORKER

In the spirit of joining a “sharing community,” carpooling offers many similar benefits. It presents an opportunity to form a bond with coworkers and/or neighbors during your daily commute. Additionally, you can save money on gas, reduce wear-and-tear on your vehicle, lower carbon emissions, and in many cities reduce your commute time by taking advantage of high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) travel lanes.

The success of ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft has spurred a new wave of carpooling websites and apps that aim to revolutionize the way we commute by making it easier and more convenient to carpool. While many of these are still in their infancy stages, they are expanding into new markets and improving functionality at a rapid pace.

Kangaride Local, Scoop and Waze Carpool are just a few examples, and more are popping up every day. They are currently available in limited markets throughout the United States and Canada, but are becoming prevalent in more cities as residents opt-in. Check to see if any of these are available in your local area.

Alternatively, you can try posting on your neighborhood’s social network to see if one or more of your neighbors are commuting to a nearby location. Take turns driving and start benefiting from all that carpooling has to offer!

  1. PARTICIPATE IN WORLD NEIGHBORS DAY

The organizers behind World Neighbors Day promote it as “an invitation to share a moment with your neighbors, to get to know each other better and develop a real sense of community.”

In Canada it’s held on the second Saturday in June, and in the United States it’s held on the third Sunday in September. Participants are encouraged to organize gatherings with their neighbors to build relationships that “form the fabric of our communities.”

You can participate by attending or organizing a gathering in your neighborhood. Examples include: a block party, outdoor movie screening, book exchange, charity bake sale, volleyball game, etc. Anything that brings neighbors together in a fun and relaxed setting is a good choice!

Gatherings can be promoted through your neighborhood’s social media network, blog or listserv, or you can go the old-fashioned route and hand out flyers door-to-door. Whatever you do, be sure to make your gathering inclusive and welcoming to all.

BE A GOOD NEIGHBOR

 As with anything in life, you will get out what you put in. It can take time to build lasting and meaningful friendships with your neighbors, but the effort you make is likely to pay off tenfold.

The tried-and-true way to make friends, expand your circle, grow your support system and get engaged in your community? Be a good neighbor yourself.

What are the best ways you’ve found to meet and engage with your neighbors? Share your success stories or challenges in the comments below!

Sources:

  1. Lengacher, L. (2015) Mobile Technology: Its Effect on Face-to-Face Communication and Interpersonal Interaction. Undergraduate Research Journal for the Human Sciences –
    http://www.kon.org/urc/v14/lengacher.html
  2. Putnam, R. (2000) Bowling Alone. New York: Simon & Schuster –
    http://bowlingalone.com/
  3. Bergland, C. (2015 October 5) Face-to-Face Social Contact Reduces Risk of Depression. Psychology Today
    https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201510/face-face-social-contact-reduces-risk-depression