2019 Economic and Housing Forecast

What a year it has been for both the U.S. economy and the national housing market. After several years of above-average economic and home price growth, 2018 marked the start of a slowdown in the residential real estate market. As the year comes to a close, it’s time for me to dust off my crystal ball to see what we can expect in 2019.

The U.S. Economy

Despite the turbulence that the ongoing trade wars with China are causing, I still expect the U.S. economy to have one more year of relatively solid growth before we likely enter a recession in 2020. Yes, it’s the dreaded “R” word, but before you panic, there are some things to bear in mind.

Firstly, any cyclical downturn will not be driven by housing.  Although it is almost impossible to predict exactly what will be the “straw that breaks the camel’s back”, I believe it will likely be caused by one of the following three things: an ongoing trade war, the Federal Reserve raising interest rates too quickly, or excessive corporate debt levels. That said, we still have another year of solid growth ahead of us, so I think it’s more important to focus on 2019 for now.

The U.S. Housing Market

Existing Home Sales

This paper is being written well before the year-end numbers come out, but I expect 2018 home sales will be about 3.5% lower than the prior year. Sales started to slow last spring as we breached affordability limits and more homes came on the market.  In 2019, I anticipate that home sales will rebound modestly and rise by 1.9% to a little over 5.4 million units.

Existing Home Prices

We will likely end 2018 with a median home price of about $260,000 – up 5.4% from 2017.  In 2019 I expect prices to continue rising, but at a slower rate as we move toward a more balanced housing market. I’m forecasting the median home price to increase by 4.4% as rising mortgage rates continue to act as a headwind to home price growth.

New Home Sales

In a somewhat similar manner to existing home sales, new home sales started to slow in the spring of 2018, but the overall trend has been positive since 2011. I expect that to continue in 2019 with sales increasing by 6.9% to 695,000 units – the highest level seen since 2007.

That being said, the level of new construction remains well below the long-term average. Builders continue to struggle with land, labor, and material costs, and this is an issue that is not likely to be solved in 2019. Furthermore, these constraints are forcing developers to primarily build higher-priced homes, which does little to meet the substantial demand by first-time buyers.

Mortgage Rates

In last year’s forecast, I suggested that 5% interest rates would be a 2019 story, not a 2018 story. This prediction has proven accurate with the average 30-year conforming rates measured at 4.87% in November, and highly unlikely to breach the 5% barrier before the end of the year.

In 2019, I expect interest rates to continue trending higher, but we may see periods of modest contraction or levelling.  We will likely end the year with the 30-year fixed rate at around 5.7%, which means that 6% interest rates are more apt to be a 2020 story.

I also believe that non-conforming (or jumbo) rates will remain remarkably competitive. Banks appear to be comfortable with the risk and ultimately, the return, that this product offers, so expect jumbo loan yields to track conforming loans quite closely.

Conclusions

There are still voices out there that seem to suggest the housing market is headed for calamity and that another housing bubble is forming, or in some cases, is already deflating.  In all the data that I review, I just don’t see this happening. Credit quality for new mortgage holders remains very high and the median down payment (as a percentage of home price) is at its highest level since 2004.

That is not to say that there aren’t several markets around the country that are overpriced, but just because a market is overvalued, does not mean that a bubble is in place. It simply means that forward price growth in these markets will be lower to allow income levels to rise sufficiently.

Finally, if there is a big story for 2019, I believe it will be the ongoing resurgence of first-time buyers. While these buyers face challenges regarding student debt and the ability to save for a down payment, they are definitely on the comeback and likely to purchase more homes next year than any other buyer demographic.

Originally published on Inman News.

Posted on February 15, 2019 at 7:07 pm
Sarah Schilz | Category: Fort Collins Real Estate, News, Northern Colorado Real Estate, Sales | Tagged , , , , , , ,

Five Ways to Incorporate Pantone’s ‘Living Coral’ Into Your Home

Photo Credit: Pantone Color Institute

Design inspiration comes in many forms, but few carry the cache of the Pantone Color of the Year. For two decades, the Pantone Color Institute has convened to debate and determine an appropriate color that represents the current times. In a tradition harkening to the pageantry and mystique of secret societies, biannual meetings are held in private by color and design experts to determine the appropriate shade for the upcoming year. Through this deliberation, we have been delivered our next design baseline: the 2019 Pantone Color of the Year is Living Coral.

Living Coral is a mesmerizing pinkish hue with a light base that makes it a spectacular pairing with a variety of other options. Evoking the way natural coral often forms a basis for entire, vibrant ecosystems, Living Coral seeks to be eye-catching, while simultaneously drawing attention to what surrounds it. So how can Living Coral be best incorporated into your home this year? We have a few ideas.

 

Accent Furniture

Photo Credit: Fresh Idees on Pinterest

It can be overwhelming to dive headlong into an entire stylistic renovation. Even a single feature, like a Living Coral colored chair or settee can brighten a space.

 

Entryway and Living Room Walls

Photo Credit: France and Son on Pinterest

Make a bold first impression by inviting guests into a space that is framed by Living Coral walls on every side.

 

Subtle Accessories

Photo Credit: HoneyComb Studio on Pinterest

Any room can be brightened by a touch of Living Coral. From coral curtains to stylish gilded vases and accent pillows, there are numerous ways, great and small, to sprinkle this seaside shade throughout your home.

 

Accent Wall

Photo Credit: Krista4Coral on Instagram

One of our favorite interior design trends pairs perfectly with Pantone’s 2019 selection. Coating one wall with Living Coral is a great way to accent a space without committing to painting an entire room.

 

Brightened Door

Photo Credit: DesignStudio039 on Instagram

Whether gracing your front door or a unique space in your home, Living Coral inspires an optimistic feeling for what lies beyond.

Do you plan to incorporate Living Coral into your home this year? We’d love to hear about it!

Posted on February 13, 2019 at 11:53 pm
Sarah Schilz | Category: Fort Collins Real Estate, News, Northern Colorado Real Estate, Sales | Tagged , , , , , ,

Investing In a Green Home Will Pay Dividends In 2019

As we step forward into 2019, eco-friendly “green homes” are more popular than ever. Upgrading your home’s sustainability improves quality of life for those residing in it, but it is also a savvy long-term investment. As green homes become more popular, properties boasting sustainable features have become increasingly desirable targets for homebuyers. Whether designing a new home from scratch or preparing your current home for sale, accentuating a house with environmentally-friendly features can pay big dividends for everyone.

While the added value depends on the location of the home, its age, and whether it’s certified or not, three separate studies all found that newly constructed, Energy Star, or LEED-certified homes typically sell for about nine percent more than comparable, non-certified new homes. Plus, one of those studies discovered that existing homes retrofitted with green technologies, and certified as such, can command a whopping 30-percent sales-price boost.

There are dozens of eco-friendly features that can provide extra value for you as a seller. To name a few:

Cool roof

Cool roofs keep the houses they’re covering as much as 50 to 60 degrees cooler by reflecting the heat of the sun away from the interior, allowing the occupants to stay cooler and save on air-conditioning costs. The most common form is metal roofing. Other options include roof membranes and reflective asphalt shingles.

Fuel cells

Fuel cells may soon offer an all-new source of electricity that would allow you to completely disconnect your home from all other sources of electricity. About the size of a dishwasher, a fuel cell connects to your home’s natural gas line and electrochemically converts methane to electricity. One unit would pack more than enough energy to power your whole home.

For many years, fuel cells have been far too expensive or unreliable. But as technology has improved, so too has reliability. Companies like Home Power Solutions and Redbox Power Systems have increased the reliability of these fuel sources while reducing their size. Much like we’ve seen computers and cell phones shrink in size while improving reliability and power, fuel cells continue to be refined.

Wind turbine

A wind turbine (essentially a propeller spinning atop an 80- to 100-foot pole) collects kinetic energy from the wind and converts it to electricity for your home. And according to the Department of Energy, a small version can slash your electrical bill by 50 to 90 percent.

But before you get too excited, you need to know that the zoning laws in most urban areas don’t allow wind turbines. They’re too tall. The best prospects for this technology are homes located on at least an acre of land, well outside the city limits.

Green roof

Another way to keep the interior of your house cooler—and save on air-conditioning costs—is to replace your traditional roof with a layer of vegetation (typically hardy groundcovers). This is more expensive than a cool roof and requires regular maintenance, but young, environmentally conscious homeowners are very attracted to the concept.

Hybrid heating

Combining a heat pump with a standard furnace to create what’s known as a “hybrid heating system” can save you somewhere between 15 and 35 percent on your heating and cooling bills.

Unlike a gas or oil furnace, a heat pump doesn’t use any fuel. Instead, the coils inside the unit absorb whatever heat exists naturally in the outside air, and distributes it via the same ductwork used by your furnace. When the outside air temperature gets too cold for the heat pump to work, the system switches over to your traditional furnace.

Geothermal heating

Geothermal heating units are like heat pumps, except instead of absorbing heat from the outside air, they absorb the heat in the soil next to your house via coils buried in the ground. The coils can be buried horizontally or, if you don’t have a wide enough yard, they can be buried vertically. While the installation price of a geothermal system can be several times that of a hybrid, air-sourced system, the cost savings on your energy bills can cover the installation costs in five to 10 years.

Solar power

Solar panels capture light energy from the sun and convert it directly into electricity. Similarly to wind turbines, your geographical location may determine the feasibility of these installments. Even on cloudy days, however, solar panels typically produce 10-25% of their maximum energy output. For decades, you may have seen these panels sitting on sunny rooftops all across America. But it’s only recently that this energy-saving option has become truly affordable.

In 2010, installing a solar system on a typical mid-sized house would have set the homeowner back $30,000. But as of December 2018, the average cost after tax credits for solar panel installation was just $13,188! Plus, some companies are now offering to rent solar panels to homeowners (the company retains ownership of the panels and sells the homeowner access to the power at roughly 10 to 15 percent less than they would pay their local utility).

Solar water heaters

Rooftop solar panels can also be used to heat your home’s water. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the average homeowner who makes this switch should see their water bills shrink by 50 to 80 percent.

Tax credits/rebates

Many of the innovative solutions summarized above come with big price tags attached. However, federal, state and local rebates/tax credits can often slash those expenses by as much as 50 percent. So before ruling any of these ideas out, take some time to see which incentives you may qualify for at dsireusa.org and the “tax incentives” pages at Energy.Gov.

Regardless of which option you choose, these technologies will help to conserve valuable resources and reduce your monthly utility expenses. Just as importantly, they will also add resale value that you can leverage whenever you decide it’s time to sell and move on to a new home.

Posted on February 12, 2019 at 6:58 pm
Sarah Schilz | Category: Fort Collins Real Estate, Listings, News, Sales | Tagged , , , , , ,

Want results?

In case you don’t already know, I’m really fortunate to work for Windermere. This isn’t insincere marketing malarky, I really consider myself lucky to be here. The agents I work with everyday inspire and motivate me. We work together and take care of each other. It makes for a great career which is something not everyone can say. As it turns out, that greatness gets results and our clients reap the benefits. Windermere’s Certified Listings are outperforming the market. Check it out!

Posted on February 12, 2019 at 5:41 pm
Sarah Schilz | Category: Fort Collins Real Estate, Listings, News, Northern Colorado Real Estate, Sales | Tagged , , , , , ,

It’s Here! The 2019 Windermere Annual Forecast Recap Video

If you missed our Forecast this year, don’t fear! You can watch the recap video below.

Posted on February 10, 2019 at 11:59 pm
Sarah Schilz | Category: Fort Collins Real Estate, News, Northern Colorado Real Estate, Sales, Seniors, Transitions | Tagged , , , ,

Tips for Moving Into a Smaller Home as an Older Adult

By Michael Longsdon

For many seniors, there comes a time when the expense and upkeep of a big home no longer seem realistic. All of your kids have moved out, and suddenly, your multi-bedroom house feels excessively large and empty. Plus, it may be difficult to keep up with mortgage payments if you’re expecting a lower income during retirement. Whether downsizing is a financial necessity or an emotional decision, here’s how to tackle the process without getting overwhelmed.

Do Online Research

Before you start looking at houses in person, narrow down your options by doing some research online. Search the local housing market on sites such as Redfin to get a feel for house prices in your desired area. For example, homes in Seattle, Washington have sold for an average of $685,000during the past month. Explore listings in your preferred size range and location so you can come up with a realistic budget for your new home.

Think far ahead as you look at homes, considering the possibility that the needs of you and your spouse may change over time. One-story homes can be much more accessible for you and your friends down the line. You should also take time to research the neighborhood and pay attention to the house’s proximity to grocery stores, leisure centers, and public transportation.

Plan for Your Storage Needs

If you’re moving to an apartment or condo, you may not have the attic, basement, or even the closet space that you’re used to. Look for a nearby for an affordable self-storage unit so you aren’t left crowding boxes and furniture into your new home. Some simple online research can help you find the best deals in your area. In the last 180 days, for instance, self-storage units in Seattle, Washington cost an average of $88.45 per month.

Go Through Your Possessions Methodically

One of the hardest parts about downsizing is getting rid of things you’ve had for decades. Apartment Guide recommends looking at pictures of clutter-free rooms in magazines for inspiration before starting your own purge. This will mentally prepare you for getting rid of all the stuff you don’t need cluttering up your new, smaller space.

As you declutter, go room by room and sort items into no more than five piles: keep, donate, sell, gift, and throw away. Don’t be afraid to let go of things that are useful but not particularly necessary in your own life. Likewise, don’t keep things out of obligation or feelings of guilt. While you’re cutting the clutter, keep a floor plan of your new home nearby so you can plan out your rooms and ensure your furniture will fit. If you’re worried about accurately measuring your space, you can hire a professional to help you out.

Pack Like a Pro

Protect your items during your move and make them easier to unpack later by trying out some expert packing tips. For example, socks make great padding for glasses and mugs, while oven mitts are perfect for transporting knives a little more safely. Secure entire desk drawers and kitchen storage trays with plastic wrap for much faster unpacking later. Also, keep your clothing on hangers and simply slip a garbage bag over them for protection. Remember to pack an essentials box of everything you need during your first day and night in your new house.

Follow a Moving Checklist

There is a lot to remember to do before moving day. For example, you need to update your mailing address with the post office, find a new doctor, and transfer your utilities. Follow a moving checklist (or hire a senior move manager for around $316 per day) to avoid forgetting important tasks. One of your moving tasks should involve researching moving companies at least two months before your move. This gives you plenty of time to find the help you need within your budget. Learn about how to spot rogue moving companies so you can avoid being scammed, especially if you’re moving long distance.

Moving is exhausting for anyone. But moving into a smaller home can be especially emotional as you say goodbye to personal objects that have surrounded you for much of your life. For this reason, it’s important to take things slow while you sort through your possessions and search for the perfect place to spend your golden years.

 

Mr. Longsdon provides advice to seniors on downsizing and aging in place and can discuss concerns like tackling home accessibility modifications, how to find a great contractor, the benefits of aging in place, and more.​

Posted on February 10, 2019 at 11:12 pm
Sarah Schilz | Category: Fort Collins Real Estate, News, Northern Colorado Real Estate, Seniors, Transitions | Tagged , , , , ,

Everyone’s Talking

Everyone’s Talking

It seems like everyone’s talking about affordability and making an assumption that homes are less affordable than they have ever been.  Not so fast…

Let’s look at home prices relative to the median income needed to purchase the home.

It’s true that home prices have appreciated year-over-year for the last 76 months in a row, largely driven by high demand and low supply.

According to a recent study by Zillow, the percentage of median income necessary to buy a home in today’s market (17.1%) is well below the mark reached in 1985 – 2000 (21%), as well as the mark reached in 2006 (25.4)!

Bottom line, interest rates would have to increase to 6% before buying a home would be less affordable than historical norms.

Source:  Keeping Current Matters

 

Posted on September 4, 2018 at 3:19 pm
Sarah Schilz | Category: Fort Collins Real Estate, News, Northern Colorado Real Estate | Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Prepare Your Home Now If You Plan to Sell It This Spring

Put these four tasks on your to-do list for a quick and painless sale.

BY BRENDON DESIMONE

Selling a home doesn’t happen overnight. To maximize your sale price, stand out from the competition and sell quickly, your home needs to go on the market in tip-top condition.

You only get one chance to make a good first impression in real estate. Once your home’s listing goes live, the days on market start ticking. In the Internet age, with access to so much information, buyers will punish a seller whose home has been on the market for many months.  If you can’t make the effort to get your home in it’s best condition, hold off on listing it.

Prepping the home rarely happens in one weekend. It takes time and thoughtful planning. If you intend to sell your home this spring, here are a few steps you need to take now.

Inspect

It may seem counterintuitive to spend money on a property inspection, but you need to know about your home’s condition. If there are issues — big or small — you need to address, it is better to know about them early so you can either remedy them prior to going to market or account for them with a lower listing price.

The last thing you want is for the buyer to uncover flaws once they are under contract. You will get stuck paying more under those circumstances than it would cost you to address the issues now.

Stash

As you prepare to sell, think of your home as an investment and start to see it through the eyes of potential buyers and the market. When you’re trying to sell your home, the less-is-more approach applies.

Put away big furniture and personal items. Store or put away all the things you won’t be using until you move into your new home. In the kitchen, make space in the cabinets for items you will need to use daily, but will want to put away for showings.

Improve

It’s common for sellers to make cosmetic improvements before they list. Kitchens and bathrooms sell your home. Plan to have the bathroom grout cleaned and have some parts of the house painted to give it a fresh look.

Consider cleaning rugs, refinishing hardwood floors or painting kitchen cabinets. If you plan to list in the spring, you likely have a good local real estate agent on your side by now. Get their advice and ask for referrals to do the work. There are lots of inexpensive contractors who can help spruce up your home quickly.

Research

Today’s buyers have research in their DNA and will investigate all they can. Check with your local building department and ensure there are no outstanding issues with your home.

Verify that property records reflect your home accurately, and prepare to remedy any discrepancy. Make sure your title report is clean, and talk about potential disclosure items with your agent. Banks won’t lend if there are outstanding issues, and you don’t want to jump through hoops at the eleventh hour. Researching now will keep you one step ahead of the buyers.

The sale of your home is likely one of your biggest financial transactions. Get a real estate agent on your team early, and make a list of all the tasks you need to complete before listing this spring. Now is the time to have those discussions. Smart planning and a good strategy will ensure a quick, painless and profitable home sale.

Related:

Source: Zillow

Posted on February 15, 2016 at 7:38 pm
Sarah Schilz | Category: Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , ,

January 2016 Windermere Report

January Windermere Report

Posted on January 12, 2016 at 10:30 pm
Sarah Schilz | Category: Windermere Reports | Tagged , , , , , ,

Recyclable bioplastics cooled down, cooked up in CSU chem lab

Recyclable bioplastics cooled down, cooked up in CSU chem lab

By 

Compostable cutlery and other products made from the biomaterial PLA are biodegradable, but not fully recyclable. In a recent paper, CSU researchers have reported a breakthrough in recyclable polymers, which can be transformed back into their original molecular states using heat. Their breakthrough could lead to truly recyclable plastics. 

The textbooks and journals said it couldn’t be done.

But Colorado State University chemists have done it: They’ve made a completely recyclable, biodegradable polymer, paving a potential new road to truly sustainable, petroleum-free plastics.

The innovation is from the lab of Eugene Chen, professor of chemistry and recent recipient of the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge award. Publishing in Nature Chemistry Nov. 23, Chen and postdoctoral fellow Miao Hong describe synthesizing a polyester that, when simply reheated for an hour, converts back to its original molecular state, ready for reuse.

Eugene-Chen

Eugene Chen

Recyclable, in the purest sense of the word.

Their starting feedstock was a biorenewable monomer that textbooks and journal papers had declared non-polymerizable, or could not be bonded into large molecules – polymers – typically required for use as a material.

Renewable plastics

Plastics are the most common type of manmade polymer, which is the chemical term for a long chain of repeating small molecules, or monomers. Plastics like polyethylene and polystyrene are king among synthetic polymers, and have come under fire for piling up in landfills. Chen’s lab is focused on making renewable and degradable plastics and other polymers to replace conventional petroleum-based materials.

“More than 200 pounds of synthetic polymers are consumed per person each year – plastics probably the most in terms of production volume. And most of these polymers are not biorenewable,” Chen said. “The big drive now is to produce biorenewable and biodegradable polymers or plastics. That is, however, only one part of the solution, as biodegradable polymers are not necessarily recyclable, in terms of feedstock recycling.”

Miao Hong

Miao Hong

There are several biodegradable plastics on the market today, chief among them a starch-based material made from polylactic acid, or PLA. Compostable cups, cutlery and packaging in dining halls are made from PLA. They’re biodegradable, yes, but they’re not truly recyclable – once made, they can’t be completely reconstituted into their original monomeric states without forming other, unwanted byproducts.

And what about those little numbers on the bottoms of plastic containers? Doesn’t that mean “recyclable”? Sort of. Soda bottles, computer keyboards and millions of other plastics can be repurposed to extend their product lifecycle. But in the true, chemical sense of “recyclability” – biomolecules that can be synthesized into a useful material, and then completely converted back to the same molecules simply by heating the bulk material – is unheard of. Until now.

‘Don’t even bother with this monomer’

The researchers’ starting monomer is a mouthful for being such a small molecule: Gamma-butyrolactone, or GBL. It is a colorless liquid and common chemical reagent, derived from a top-12 biomass compound best suited to replace petrochemicals, according to the Department of Energy.

Textbooks and scientific literature had described these small molecules as too happy and thermally stable in their monomeric chemical states to polymerize.

A graphical illustration of the researchers' polymer synthesis process. The single molecules, or monomers, are cooled in order to polymerize; to cycle back, heat is applied.

A graphical illustration of the researchers’ polymer synthesis process. The single molecules, or monomers, are cooled in order to polymerize; to cycle back, heat is applied. Credit: Jing Tang/Chen lab

“’Don’t even bother with this monomer,’” Chen summarized the conventional wisdom. “‘You cannot make a polymer out of it because the measured reaction thermodynamics told you so.’ We suspected that some of the previous reports were probably incorrect.”

Not only did they make a polymer, Chen and Hong figured out how to get the polymers to take different shapes, such as linear or cyclic, based on the catalysts and conditions they selected. For their experiments, they used both metal-based and metal-free catalysts to synthesize the polymer, called poly(GBL), which is chemically equivalent to a commercial biomaterial called poly(4-hydroxybutyrate), or P4HB.

Precise reaction conditions

They employed specifically designed reaction conditions, including low temperature, to make the polymer, and heat between 220-300 degrees Celsius to convert the polymer back into the original monomer, demonstrating the thermal recyclability of the polymer.

P4HB is derived from bacteria, which is a more expensive, complex process than how most plastics are made. By starting with the readily available GBL and ending up with a replacement material for P4HB, Chen’s discovery has promising market potential, and a provisional patent has been filed with the help of CSU Ventures.

“In my 15 years at CSU, I would probably call this my group’s most exciting piece of work,” Chen said. “This work creates a class of truly sustainable biopolymers, as they are both biorenewable and recyclable, based on a bioderived monomer previously declared non-polymerizable.”

 

Source: http://source.colostate.edu/recyclable-bioplastics-cooled-down-cooked-up-in-csu-chem-lab/

Posted on December 11, 2015 at 4:31 am
Sarah Schilz | Category: News | Tagged , , , ,