Category Archives: For Consumers

Codes Group Meeting

A year has passed since adoption of the 2015 I.C.C. here in New York State.

While many home builders and trade partners have handled the change with ease, much still needs to be learned.

The BNBA Codes Group will hold a special two hour presentation featuring Joseph Hill, RA, Assistant Director for Code Administration, Division of Building Standards and Codes, on troublesome features of the Code. Planned topics will include plan requirements, framing issues and energy efficiency calculations. There will also be allotted time for you to ask your specific questions.

Please respond to Cheryl at clogan@conexbuff.com if you plan on attending.

Dated: Wednesday October 25th
Time: 9:00 am – 11:00 am
Where : Association Office, 2660 William Street, Cheektowaga, NY

Home Financing 101 for First-Time Home Buyers

As our nation’s housing and job markets continue to recover, many first-time home buyers are gearing up to become home owners. Yet, with stricter regulations put in place after the housing crash and the long list of paperwork that’s already required to buy a home, many prospective home buyers remain concerned about the home financing process.

Advance preparation is key when getting ready to buy a home. You need to decide how much to spend on your home and which type of mortgage will work best for you, as well as understand the settlement process.

Before you visit a sales office, model home or open house, you should take advantage of the many sources that can help you get prepared, and take some steps to ensure you’re in the best possible financial situation.

Be Realistic About What You Can Afford

Figure out what you can comfortably pay on a monthly basis. Write down all your monthly expenses including loan payments, utilities, insurance, credit cards and don’t forget food, clothing and entertainment expenditures.

When determining the monthly payment you can afford, remember that in addition to the monthly principal and interest, you will also be paying into escrows for property taxes, hazard insurance and possibly mortgage insurance or a home owners or condominium association assessment.

Many real estate-focused websites have mortgage calculators that are a great way to figure out what your monthly payments would be based on current interest rates and down payment amounts.

Pay Down Your Debts

Debt that you carry on your credit cards will limit the amount of a loan a lender will be willing to give you. Lenders typically want to see a total debt service ratio that is less than 40 percent of your monthly income.

 

Get Objective Advice

Attend a first-time home buying seminar or talk to a credit counselor who does not work for a lender. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) offers free housing counseling and seminars; visit www.hud.gov or call HUD’s interactive voice system at: (800) 569-4287 for more information.

Pre-Qualify for Your Home Mortgage

To ensure that the financing process goes smoothly, buyers should consider pre-qualifying for a mortgage and having a financing commitment in place before shopping for a new home. Buyers also may find that some home builders have arranged favorable financing for their customers or offer financial incentives.

Pre-approval also enables you to quickly make an offer when you find a home, and is attractive to sellers who are considering multiple offers. A lender’s pre-approval would still be subject to a final verification of your credit and a satisfactory appraisal.

Qualifying for a mortgage and saving up for a downpayment remain primary obstacles to homeownership. Recently Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac attempted to address this issue by announcing new low-downpayment mortgage programs geared primarily toward the first-time home buyer market.

These lenders will now offer mortgages with 3% downpayments, allowing more creditworthy borrowers who lack the funds for a large downpayment to obtain a home mortgage.

After taking these steps to get your financing in order, finding your first home will be a much more enjoyable experience. For more information to help ease the first-time home-buying stress, contact the Buffalo Niagara Builders Association at 716.601.7257 or visit www.nahb.org/forconsumers.

National Association of Home Builders

 

HOMEOWNERSHIP REMAINS A KEY PART OF THE AMERICAN DREAM

There’s been a lot of talk in the news lately about Millennials delaying marriage, kids and homeownership. So it would be easy to think that perhaps the traditional American dream of owning home is slowly dying. In fact, the opposite is true: Research shows that homeownership remains a goal for the vast majority of American renters.

A recent survey by Freddie Mac revealed that 91% of renters believe homeownership is something of which to be proud. And, younger renters are making plans to buy homes in the near future. In fact, nearly half of renters in the 25-to-34 age bracket – and nearly 60% of renters ages 35 to 44 – indicate that they plan to buy a home in the next three years.

Benefits of Homeownership

These would-be buyers recognize the many benefits to homeownership, including the fact that homeownership is a primary source of net worth for many Americans, and is an important step in accumulating personal financial assets over the long term.

In fact, 90% of the survey respondents said that being able to pass their home on to their children is one of the top three benefits of homeownership. Although property values have declined in many markets, Americans have more than $10.8 trillion of equity in their homes, and for most families, home equity represents the largest share of net worth.

Overcoming Obstacles to Homeownership

Qualifying for a mortgage and saving up for a downpayment remain primary obstacles to homeownership. To help address these concerns, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) – recently announced new low-downpayment mortgage programs geared primarily toward the first-time home buyer market.

These lenders will now offer mortgages with 3% downpayments, allowing more creditworthy borrowers who lack the funds for a large downpayment to obtain a home mortgage.

To ensure that the financing process goes smoothly, buyers should consider pre-qualifying for a mortgage and having a financing commitment in place before shopping for a new home. Buyers also may find that some home builders have arranged favorable financing for their customers or offer financial incentives.

Recent analysis by the National Association of Home Builders reveals that financial concerns remain front of mind for many first-time home buyers. In fact, Millennial home buyers – those in the 18-to-33 age bracket – are more likely to let financial reasons influence their house choice, while older generations consider the right size most often. And the homes Millennials buy are smaller, older and less expensive than homes bought by older generations.

That’s not surprising, since Millennials also are more likely than older generations to finance home purchases through current income than accumulated wealth, according to the NAHB analysis of the 2013 American Housing Survey.

So, while Millennials may be taking a little longer than previous generations to reach some of these traditional milestones, their goal of building their own American Dream remains strong.

Learn more about the benefits of homeownership at the Buffalo Niagara Builders Association at 716.601.7257 or www.nahb.org/forconsumers.

Article from NAHB

NAHB Updates - Housing Starts Rise as Construction underpins US Economy

New-home construction in the U.S. climbed in September, a sign residential real estate will bolster the world’s largest economy.

Housing starts increased 6.5 percent to a 1.21 million annualized rate, more than forecast and the second-highest level in eight years, figures from the Commerce Department showed Tuesday in Washington. A drop in building permits indicates the rebound will be slow to materialize.

American consumers, powered by an improving job market, are keeping the U.S. afloat as they continue to spend on big-ticket items such as homes and cars. A pickup in wage gains would give even more households the ability to save for a down payment, helping to sustain momentum in the housing industry.

“The trend in housing should remain relatively strong,” said Thomas Costerg, a senior U.S. economist at Standard Chartered Bank in New York, who is among the top forecasters of housing starts data according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “It’s a steady grind higher. It’s quite a steady, healthy trend.”

Estimates for housing starts in the Bloomberg survey of 78 economists ranged from 1.09 million to 1.2 million. The August figure was 1.13 million, little changed from the prior estimate.

The increase in starts was mainly propelled by gains in work on multifamily homes, such as apartment buildings, which rose 18.3 percent to a 466,000 pace. The advance highlights increasing demand for rentals.

Construction of single-family houses climbed 0.3 percent to a 740,000 rate, the report showed.

Fewer Permits

Building permits declined 5 percent to a 1.1 million pace, the fewest since March. The decrease was also concentrated in multifamily, showing that these data can be volatile.

Applications for single-family projects fell 0.3 percent to a 697,000 pace, suggesting this part of the market will plateau in coming months. Those for multifamily developments dropped 12.1 percent to a 406,000 rate.

Three of four regions had an increase in starts in September, paced by an 25.4 percent jump in the West, according to the report. Construction declined 12.2 percent in the Midwest, the biggest drop since February.

The starts data are consistent with a report Monday that showed builders are increasingly confident in the outlook for their industry. The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo said its sentiment gauge rose in October to the highest level in a decade, lifted by stronger confidence about the six-month sales outlook.

Mortgage Rates

The continued expectation of low interest rates may be part of those prospects. The average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage was

3.82 percent in the week ended Oct. 15, compared to an average of 6.15 percent in the previous expansion.

Borrowing costs may rise as the Federal Reserve comes closer to deciding whether they will increase interest rates this year for the first time since 2006. While policy makers delayed a hike at their meeting last month, they’ll have another opportunity at meetings next week and in December.

Central bankers have been weighing data on the labor market as part of their consideration. Payrolls have added an average 198,000 workers each month this year, getting many consumers closer to the ability of purchasing a home.

However those gains have started to moderate, with increases in August and September coming in lower than economists projected. It’ll take stronger wage growth than the 2 percent average the recovery has posted to help pick up the slack.

 

A Message from New York State Builders Association

New York State Code Council Votes Down Mandate in New Homes and Townhouses

After a long and drawn out four year process, the New York State Code Council voted down a proposed mandate to install fire sprinklers in all new one- and two-family homes and townhouses in New York State.

This puts New York State in line with 47 other states in the U.S. who have decided against instituting a mandate that would added between $10,000 to $20,000 to the cost of new home. This mandate would have created an insurmountable roadblock, preventing everyone in this state from participating in the American Dream.

NYSBA, and all of our members, will continue to encourage all home buyers to install fire sprinklers in their new homes.  That is why we worked so hard last year to get a law in place that requires home builders to present prospective home buyers with information on the benefits and costs of installing fire sprinklers in their new homes. This law makes us the biggest promoters of fire sprinklers in New York State. Something we are very proud of.

We would like to thank all of the members and local executive officers who worked so hard to help defeat this mandate.  This was truly a team effort.  Some of those individuals include: Annemarie Mitchell, Mark Barbato, Pam Krison, John Hofelich, Todd Stewart, Rick Herman, Brook Greenhouse,  and the countless members who filled out (numerous) voter voice alert and sent in letters.  We could not have accomplished this without all of your work!

A special thanks also goes out to the two members who represented us on the Code Council during these four years — Bob Hankin and Bill Tuyn.  Both men advocated long and hard for our industry and helped steer the Code Council towards a common sense approach on fire sprinklers and many other issues.

 

Maximize Your Home Storage

As summer approaches and people shed their layers of clothing from the cooler months, many want to also lighten the load their homes are carrying—or at least make it look neater. Before you toss the tools in a garage corner or stuff the down jackets into a box and toss it in the attic, why not evaluate your needs and make your storage both effective and attractive?

The first thing you should do is make a list of everything you want to store. This list will both help you determine how much storage space you need and ensure that nothing gets lost once you start putting things away.

Shelving is one of the easiest ways to create more storage. It can be portable in the form of free-standing units, or permanent that is attached to your walls. Easy-to-install, heavy-duty shelving can be purchased at just about any major home supply store. Many of these units are designed so that you can leave as much room between the shelves as you like, making it easy to get larger and smaller items onto the same unit and saving you space.

Heavy winter clothing can take up lots of closet space, leaving you with little room for your entire four-season wardrobe. One solution for storing out-of-season clothing is under the bed.    Under-the-bed storage containers come in a variety of sizes and styles, including ones with wheels for easy access and to protect hardwood floors from scratches when you pull them out. You can also buy simple risers that elevate your bed off the floor additional inches to create even more space.

Garage storage has also gotten much more efficient. You can get built-in storage cabinets with doors so the space looks clean and orderly. There are also modular systems that enable you to choose what features are best for your needs; including hanging racks for sports equipment, hooks for tools, and more.

Most garages have pitched roofs to keep rainwater or snow from collecting on top, and this space is ideal for items you don’t use on a daily or weekly basis. Store these things on platforms or racks that lower and raise either electronically at the touch of a button, or with an easy-to-use pulley system.

In newer or renovated homes, a mudroom or drop zone is a popular feature. This area often has built-in benches, hooks and bins to neatly tuck away boots, jackets, gardening equipment and other items your family uses frequently.

Finally, if your family is as tied to their portable internet and communications devices as many modern families, get rid of the tangle of charger cords on your counters by buying or building a home charging station with multiple outlets and pockets for storing and charging cell phones, tablets, laptops and more.

For more information about home maintenance or design trends, visitwww.nahb.org/forconsumers or contact the BNBA at 716.636.9655.

The Economic and Emotional Value of Homeownership

In good times or bad, there is one constant: Homeownership remains the American Dream for millions of American families. And there are many reasons why, both economic and emotional.

Most Americans consider homeownership to be their single best long-term investment and a primary source of their wealth and financial security. Generations of families have counted on and used the equity in their homes for their children’s education, their own retirement and other milestone expenses.

Individual household budgets are helped by tax incentives that are designed to make owning a home more affordable. Deductions for mortgage interest and property taxes can result in thousands of dollars of tax savings, especially in the early years of the mortgage when interest makes up most of the payment. Home owners save nearly $100 billion annually on mortgage interest and property deductions alone.

And when home owners sell their primary residence, they get an enormous tax break. A couple who owns and lives in their home for two years and then decides to sell can keep up to $500,000 of the profit tax-free, and a single owner can keep $250,000.

A healthy housing industry means more jobs and a stronger U.S. economy. In fact, fully 15 percent of the U.S. economy relies on housing.

Most of the products used in home construction and remodeling are manufactured in the United States. Constructing 100 new homes creates more than 300 full-time jobs, $23.1 million in wage and business income and $8.9 million in federal, state and local tax revenue. New home owners spend money on decorations and furnishings, to enhance the landscaping and to become members of the community by patronizing local businesses and service providers.

Yet a home is so much more than an investment. In good times and in bad, the opportunity to own a home has been a cherished ideal and a source of pride, accomplishment, social stability and peace of mind.

Homeownership strengthens communities as well as families.

Home building increases the property tax base that supports local schools and communities. When a family owns their home, it is an asset that has a direct impact on their financial security and future. People are more likely to take care of things they own so they remain valuable. And a home’s value is determined by how well it is maintained as well as by the condition of the neighborhood it is located in. So home owners have incentive to spend their time and resources improving their neighborhood, even if it is just to protect the value of their investment.

Homeownership builds stronger communities, provides a solid foundation for family and personal achievement and improves the quality of life for millions of people. The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission has said that homeownership can “produce powerful economic, social, and civic benefits that serve the individual home owner, the larger community and the nation.”

It is important to know that despite the fact that housing and homeownership policies over the last century have contributed to the growth of the middle class and helped the United States become the most dynamic economy the world has ever seen, homeownership is under attack. Policymakers are proposing radical changes, including ending the mortgage interest deduction and mandating minimum 20 percent downpayments, that would threaten the dream of homeownership for millions of Americans.

The National Association of Home Builders’ website, www.ProtectHomeownership.com, has more information about the threats to homeownership and how to take action to protect it.

To learn more about homeownership in the Buffalo Niagara region, contact the Buffalo Niagara Builders Association, Inc. at 716.636.9655.

NAHB Calls on Congress to Establish a Fair and Workable E-Verify System

May 16, 2013 – As Congress debates comprehensive immigration reform, the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) today called on lawmakers to establish a fair and workable employer verification system for all businesses.

Participating in a congressional roundtable discussion on the impact of the mandatory E-Verify electronic employment verification system on America’s small businesses, NAHB Chairman Rick Judson said that such a system must “be fair and efficient, and not impose significant burdens on employers.” The roundtable was held by the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship.

“Congress must also be mindful of the home building industry and its intricate system of general contractors and subcontractors for the system to be workable,” said Judson, who is a home builder and developer from Charlotte, N.C.

As Congress moves to advance immigration bills pending in the House and Senate, NAHB said that a fair and workable E-Verify system for all U.S. employers should:

• Maintain current law, holding U.S. employers accountable only for verifying the identity and work authorization status of their direct employees. Congress should not require employers to verify someone else’s workers, such as a subcontractor’s employees, as this is both unfair and infeasible.

• Maintain present law that forbids employers from knowingly hiring undocumented workers, including subcontracted workers. NAHB fully supports maintaining this “knowing” standard to ensure employers understand their role and obligations under the law.

• Ensure that any compulsory federal E-Verify program contains a robust safe harbor for employers so that those who use the system in good faith cannot be held liable for errors in the E-Verify system by any federal agency, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, or by the employer’s workers.

• Include a strong pre-emption clause preventing state and local governments from creating their own versions of verification requirements for employers. If employers are going to be required to use the federal E-Verify program, they must be assured that they will not also have to meet other potentially conflicting compliance standards imposed by state and local governments.

• Allow employers to begin the E-Verify process when a worker accepts a position, rather than be required to wait until after the start date. This will provide businesses more lead time to handle tentative non-confirmations for those who are ineligible to work.

• Allow employers to access the E-Verify system via telephone and the Internet so it is more workable for small employers.

In addition to calling for a fair and efficient nationwide E-Verify program, Judson said that NAHB supports comprehensive immigration reform that would protect the nation’s borders and create an efficient temporary guest worker program that allows employers to recruit legal immigrant workers when there is a shortage of domestic workers.

Housing Starts Up 12.1 Percent in December

January 17, 2013 – Solid gains in both single-family and multifamily housing production resulted in nationwide housing starts rising 12.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 954,000 units in December, according to newly released data from the U.S. Commerce Department. This is the highest level of new home production since June of 2008.

“Builders have become increasingly optimistic about conditions in local housing markets in recent months and this report underscores that the housing recovery is well on its way,” said Barry Rutenberg, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder from Gainesville, Fla. “With inventories of new homes at razor thin levels, builders are moving prudently to break ground on new construction ahead of the spring buying season to meet increasing demand.”

“Overall, this report represents a solid ending to 2012 and a promising start to 2013,” said NAHB senior economist Robert Denk. “Multifamily production is almost back to normal levels and while single-family starts still have a way to go, they are gaining momentum. This trend could be even stronger if not for persistently tight credit conditions for home buyers, flawed appraisal values and uncertainties regarding economic policy debates in Washington.”

Single-family housing starts rose 8.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 616,000 units in December, while multifamily production jumped 23.1 percent, to 338,000 units.

Combined single-family and multifamily starts activity was up across all regions in December. The Northeast posted a gain of 21.4 percent, the Midwest was up 24.7 percent, the South posted a 3.8 percent increase and the West was up 18.7 percent.

Permit issuance, which can be a harbinger of future building activity, held virtually steady at a 903,000-unit rate in December. Single-family permits rose for a fourth consecutive month, by 1.8 percent to 578,000 units while multifamily permits declined 2.1 percent to 325,000 units.

Regionally, permits rose 19 percent in the Northeast and 6.6 percent in the West while the South and Midwest posted respective declines of 3.4 percent and 5.7 percent.

From www.nahb.org