As the housing market continues its gradual recovery, who are today’s home buyers and what motivates them to make a purchase?
Recent analysis from the National Association of Homes Builders of the latest American Housing Survey (AHS) provides insight into recent home buyers and the home buying process. Conducted in odd-numbered years by the U.S. Census Bureau, the 2013 AHS studied 13.7 million households that bought a home in the previous two years.
While the number of households buying a home had been falling since 2005, the number of recent home buyers actually doubled between the 2011 and 2013 surveys. Of these 13.7 million households, 43% were buying their first home, while 11% were purchasing a new home.
In general, new home buyers are older, make more money, and are purchasing bigger, more expensive homes. On the other hand, first-time home buyers are younger, make less money, and are purchasing smaller, less expensive homes.
Home buyers said the top two reasons for choosing a home were its size and room layout or design. The house’s price and the neighborhood came in tied for third. However, for first-time buyers, price was the top consideration.
When asked about making their neighborhood selection, home buyers noted their top reasons for choosing a neighborhood as “the house itself” and safety. First-time home buyers, who have a median age of 32, also seem to prioritize a healthy home-work balance. Proximity to job and friends/family tended to be more important to this group of buyers.
The size of a purchased home hasn’t changed much in recent years. In fact, the median size of all homes purchased has been 1,800 square feet since 2005. However, the median size of new homes bumped up from 2,100 square feet in 2011 to 2,200 square feet in 2013.
So how long does it take buyers to find the right home? Home buyers looked at 10 different homes before deciding which one to purchase.
And when they’re ready to commit to their new home, about half of the buyers used their savings for a downpayment while 17 percent used the sale of a previous home. Only 11 percent purchased their home without a downpayment. This includes cases where a home was purchased in full with cash and when a home was purchased with a zero-downpayment loan.
As economic and job growth continue, and interest rates remain low, more consumers are finding that now is a great time to buy a new home. Contact your local builders association to learn about new homes available in your area.
While some have celebrated Governor Wolf’s inaction resulting in a comprehensive budget late last month, his veto of the corresponding fiscal code bill is a cause for consternation. Wolf’s veto of the fiscal code bill effectively means he may disperse state funding as he sees fit, rather than adhere to the allocations and fiscal planning made by the legislature.
Wolf’s latest volley in the Pennsylvania budget debacle is to distribute school funds for basic education at a much higher rate, for three school districts, than proposed in the fiscal bill. Of the approximately $200 million in new education funding, Philadelphia school district would receive $76.8 million, Pittsburgh school district would receive $7.5 million, and Chester Upland would receive $16.3 million. Wolf’s distribution leaves Pennsylvania’s 497 other school districts to split the remaining half.
Besides the obvious issue of having over 99% of Pennsylvania schools split around 50% of the basic education budget, Wolf’s proposal also ignores bi-partisan fiscal recommendations.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have agreed that Pennsylvania’s school funding formula is in dire need of an overhaul. As a result, Act 51 of 2014 established the Basic Education Funding Commission (BEFC), a fifteen member bicameral, bi-partisan committee with the sole purpose of determining how to better allocate local, state, and federal funds to public schools. During 2014 and 2015, the BEFC held fifteen hearings, received testimony from 110 individuals and solicited input from 125 schools. On June 18, 2015, the BEFC recommended the new Basic Education Funding Formula to the General Assembly. Over nine months later, Governor Wolf decided to veto the fiscal code bill containing the bi-partisan formula.
Using the Basic Education Formula, Philadelphia School District would receive $42.4 million, Pittsburgh school district would receive $3.1million, and Chester Upland would receive $2 million. Compared to Wolf’s unilateral funding plan, the bi-partisan formula allocates $53.1 million less to the three districts.
If Wolf’s plan succeeds, Pennsylvania homeowners already burdened with excessive property taxes can expect another increase.
Republicans say they will consider filing a lawsuit if Wolf follows through with his funding plan.
For more news and updates from PBA's Government Affairs team, go to www.pabuilders.org/government-affairs
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When winter gives way to spring, the temperatures won’t be the only things on the rise. The home-buying market tends to heat up as well during the spring, and 2016 will be no exception. Many savvy buyers will be looking to lock in attractive interest rates while they still remain low. If this group includes you, the time to start preparing is now. These tips will help put you in a better position to find a home that’s just right.
Make your Checklist
First-time home buyers should take the time to determine what their needs are, especially regarding size, location and amenities. But even seasoned home owners will find that having a must-have list can save significant time by helping them avoid listings that may look great in the photos, but in reality, won’t meet their needs. Home buyers should always prioritize the items on their checklists, as most will need to compromise on some items to fit within a realistic budget.
Check Your Credit Score
Even if you’ve purchased a home in the past, stricter credit requirements are making it more challenging for some buyers to find home loans. Lenders are more cautious than ever, so having a favorable credit score can make a difference in your ability to be approved for a loan. Even if you think nothing has changed recently on your credit report, it’s good to check periodically to ensure you aren’t being unfairly penalized for old debts, which can sometimes linger on credit reports. Borrowers with scores in the low 600s and even high 500s can still find lenders who will qualify them, but borrowers should strive for scores in the mid- to upper-700s to land the best rate.
Determine What You Can Afford
Don’t let your maximum loan approval amount dictate what your home-buying budget should be. Though the approval process is more extensive now than it was even just a few years ago, lenders still want to make as much profit as possible. You, however, are the best person to judge what you can realistically afford. Experts say that your total monthly home expenses should not exceed more than one-third of your gross monthly income. You’ll also need to determine how much you’ll need in order to cover any loan fees and closing costs.
Sell Your Current Home
If buying a new home is contingent on the sale of your current home, it’s a good idea to start the process by reaching out and consulting with your realtor. Ask him or her about your best strategy to sell your home quickly, but at the right time and for the best price possible. You’ll want to identify any maintenance issues your home has, and determine if, how and when each one will need to be addressed. You can also ask your realtor if making any upgrades to your current home would be worthwhile and result in a favorable return when it comes time to sell.
For more information about the home buying process, contact your local builders association or visit nahb.org.
Those of you who have been building for a while will remember the Home Owners Warranty Insurance Corporation (“HOWIC”) and simply “HOW” as most of us know it. Due to a change in Virginia law, HOWIC went into involuntary receivership more than twenty years ago. Unless you were a defendant in one of the many lawsuits, you likely stopped paying attention to HOW many years ago. For most of you that still makes perfect sense.
However, if you were a HOW builder with previously approved claims for capital contributions, you may be able to get some of your money. Although you may have written it off long ago, if you fall into the “eligible builder” class, you can make a claim and potentially receive some money back. In fact, you may need to do as little as confirm your identity and current address. If you are in doubt, check it out. Otherwise, you may be leaving money on the table.
If you think you may qualify, please check out the information here and/or here.
You may need your NAHB login information in order to access the information. Please act quickly - the deadline is April 15, 2016.
In order to complete most projects, builders and contractors must utilize and manage workers from various trade groups. Those workers may be directly employed by the builder, or they may be subcontractors who have independently contracted with the general contractor. Facially, the difference between an employee and an independent contractor seems easy to determine. However, in reality the distinction is blurry, and it is important to understand the factors that courts use when determining if an aggrieved or injured party is considered an employee or an independent contractor.
Why does it matter?
To put it simply, an independent contractor will generally be barred from recovering monetary damages from a builder if injured during the course of employment (unless, of course, the injury is caused by the negligence of the builder). Employees, on the other hand, may recover monetary damages if injured on the job site, and are subject to state and federal minimum wage and overtime provisions.
Because of the financial importance of this distinction, builders began to contract with most workers rather than hire them as employees. Among other reasons, this was intended to shield builders from liability should a workplace injury occur.
Courts in Pennsylvania (as well as federal courts) now conduct an analysis to determine whether an aggrieved or injured party may recover as an employee regardless of their title when hired or contracted for a job. Thus, depending on the nature of the relationship between a builder and a worker, a court may consider an independent contractor to be an employee for purposes of monetary recovery.
Under the ‘Economic Realities’ test, the following factors determine whether or not an employment relationship exists:
In practice, courts will look at the following variables to determine the relationship between a builder and worker:
Understanding the distinction between employees and independent contractors helps shield your company from financial and legal liability.
And Other Event Highlights from the Winter Board Meeting
Congratulations to Jim Brown, PBA President and the 2016 PBA Leadership Team!
A special thanks to all of our Karaoke singers - we loved watching those brave performances for an audience of over 170 people! Attendees raised more than $400 during the cocktail hour to benefit the PA Foundation for Housing. By donating to this cause, we can continue to help educate young students across the state in various skilled trades through our Endorsed Trade Programs.
Builders Gala Awards Recipients
Congratulations to our 2015 Builders Gala Awards winners:
Congratulations to Joseph Harcum of Duck Harbor Company (Wayne Pike BIA) as this year’s recipient of the Hammers & Gavels Award.
Family Services, Inc.
PBA’s Associates Council collected donations for Family Services, Inc. in Altoona and raised over $1,800 to help rebuild a new Teen Center! If you are still interested in donating to the organization, please contact Doug Vu.
Thank you to the local associations who presented PaCAH checks on the board floor – a total of over $26,500! If you’d like to donate to PaCAH or buy a shirt, you can shop here.
JRG Advisors, EK McConkey, BDX, and Bonded Builders all had tables set up throughout the weekend to interact with our members. We appreciate you sharing your time with us!
Sponsor Recognition A big thank you to the following sponsors:
PBA would like to thank our email sponsor: First National Bank
On Wednesday, House Republicans intend to vote on an updated $30 billion spending plan for fiscal year 2015-16. The new plan arrives several months after Governor Tom Wolf signed a stopgap budget, using his veto power to eliminate more than $6 billion of General Assembly approved spending.
House Bill 1801 includes a total spending package of $30.031 billion, a 3 percent increase over fiscal year 2014-15. However, the plan spends $238 million less than the stopgap budget blue-line vetoed by Governor Wolf. Perhaps most importantly, HB 1801 does not rely on the imposition of new taxes; rather, all expenses use currently available General Fund revenue subject to certain adjustments.
In addition to the funding provided via the stopgap budget, public schools will receive an additional $50 million. This figure brings the total amount spent on basic education to $5.93 billion for fiscal year 2015-16.
The higher education spending vetoes made by Governor Wolf to the stopgap budget will be reversed with HB 1801, resulting in the full funding of Lincoln, Pitt, Penn State, and Temple universities. The amount of spending for each state-related university represents a 5 percent increase from the previous fiscal year.
HB 1801 will also restore full funding to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and provide much-needed funding to Penn State’s statewide agricultural extension services.
$150 million will be cut from the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services’ medical assistance programs. House Republicans state that this adjustment in funding is a result of analyzing medical assistance claims nine months into the fiscal year. In order to further curb spending, certain line items vetoed by Governor Wolf in the stopgap budget will be accepted as part of HB 1801.
Finally, the spending proposed in the new budget will lower the estimated budget deficit from $1.9 billion to $1.3 billion for fiscal year 2016-17.
(Updated at 2:43 p.m.)
Governor Wolf has issued a statement that he will veto the new budget. Read the statement here.
The Bonded Builder’s Warranty Group, one of the nation’s largest new home warranty providers, offers protection and peace of mind. This warranty program is an exclusive way to provide the comprehensive coverage and value that homebuyers expect and deserve.
Click here to watch this testimonial from 2015 PBA President, Peter Gallagher.
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The warranty program offers a full 12-year structural new home warranty, which meets the PA state statute. The program is also HUD-approved and provides coverage on full contract sales price of homes.
For energy efficient builders, the Bonded Builders Warranty Group also provides a Residential Energy Guarantee. Homeowners are reimbursed when annual energy usage exceeds 115% of the estimated energy usage. Now builders can guarantee low energy bills without the usual fine print or disclaimers!
To find out more about this member benefit and to sign up, go to www.bondedbuilders.com.
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Governor Wolf today signed an executive order to increase the minimum wage for state government employees and workers on jobs contracted by the state. Read the order here.
The order increases the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.15, effective immediately, and directly affects 450 state workers. At a press conference, during which Wolf signed the order, he could only state that the affected employees were “maintenance” workers. The cost of implementing the new minimum wage for the 450 employees will cost approximately $1.2 million.
The provision of the executive order that increases the minimum wage for workers on jobs contracted by the state is far less clear. When pressed for specifics, Wolf stated that the executive order is not retroactive, and only affects any new contracts with the government. However, he was unable to provide details on how many or what type of state contracts would be affected by the order.
Wolf also renewed his push for a state-wide minimum wage increase, highlighting the efforts of Representative Patty Kim (D-Dauphin) and Senator Christine Tartaglione (D-Philadelphia).
Representative Kim announced last month that she is reintroducing legislation designed to increase the minimum wage to $10.10.
Senator Tartaglione introduced Senate Bills 195-199 this session, all of which call for increases to the minimum wage for both tipped and non-tipped employees. Employees who do not receive tips as part of their job would make a minimum of $10.10 an hour, while tipped employees would receive 70% of the minimum wage amount.
Lawmakers are currently considering other bills.
Senate Bill 836, introduced by Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery, Delaware), calls for the minimum wage to be increased to $15 and permanently indexed to the inflation rate.
Senate Bill 610, introduced by Senator Scott Wagner (R-York), takes a more moderate approach, raising the minimum wage to $8.75 and providing for a “training wage” for employees age 18 and under, equal to the current federal minimum wage of $7.25.
It is unclear if Governor Wolf’s executive order will spur legislators into action.
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