Wise joins Re/Max Edge Realty

Betty Wise is now affiliated with the Green office of Re/Max Edge Realty. A full-time licensed Realtor since 1998, Wise is a multimillion-dollar producer. She enjoys hiking, biking and snow skiing.

New homes getting bigger, says NAHB

Though the average size of new homes keeps getting bigger, there is more to this homebuying trend than meets the eye, according to Census Bureau data presented by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) during the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.

“The average home size has continued to rise for the past four years, from 2,362 square feet in 2009 to 2,679 square feet in 2013,” said Rose Quint, NAHB assistant vice president for survey research.

The share of new homes with at least four bedrooms also has been on an upward trend, rising from 34 percent in 2009 to 48 percent last year. Meanwhile the percent of homes with at least three full bathrooms has gone from 23 percent in 2010 to 35 percent in 2013, and the share of homes with three-plus garages has climbed from 16 percent in 2010 to 22 percent last year.

The upward trend also applies to the percentage of two-story single-family homes started, with the share steadily rising from 51 percent in 2009 to 60 percent in 2013.

As homes get bigger, so does the average sales price, rising from $248,000 in 2009 to $318,000 in 2013. To find out why homes are getting so big you need to look at who is buying them.

“It requires a high credit score and a nice income to qualify for a mortgage,” said Quint, who noted that the spread between the average Experian credit score of all U.S. consumers and the average home borrower’s score has risen from 33 points in the early 2000s to 58 points in 2013.

The median income of new-home buyers has steadily climbed from $91,768 in 2005 to $107,607 in 2011. During the same period, the number of new-home sales has dramatically declined, from 1.28 million to 306,000.

“There are not as many people who have the income that can qualify for a new home,” said Quint.

Most popular features in 2014 homes

The features that builders are most likely to include in a typical single-family home this year are a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, low-e windows, a laundry room and a great room, according to the latest survey by NAHB.

Energy-efficiency is also a key theme, as Energy-Star rated appliances, programmable thermostats and Energy-Star rated windows also rank high on the list.

According to builders, granite countertops, a double-sink and a central island will likely make the cut in the kitchen as well as a linen closet and a private toilet in the bathroom.

Other features that builders are likely to include are first-floor ceilings at least nine feet high, a front porch, exterior lighting and a patio.

Conversely, the most unlikely features to show up in 2014 homes are laminate kitchen countertops, an outdoor kitchen, an outdoor fireplace, a sunroom, a two-story family room, a media room, a two-story foyer and a whirlpool in the master bathroom.

Housing affordability holds steady in fourth quarter

Slightly lower median home prices along with a small uptick in mortgage rates contributed to housing affordability holding steady in the fourth quarter, according to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI), released Feb. 20. In all, 64.7 percent of new and existing homes sold between the beginning of October and end of December were affordable to families earning the U.S. median income of $64,400. This is virtually the same as the 64.5 percent of homes sold that were affordable to median-income earners in the third quarter.

Meanwhile, the national median home price dipped from $211,000 in the third quarter to $205,000 in the fourth quarter while average mortgage interest rates rose from 4.45 percent to 4.54 percent in the same period.

“Housing affordability is stabilizing at a time when pent-up demand and ongoing job growth are helping housing markets across the nation to gradually strengthen,” said NAHB Chairman Kevin Kelly. “While this bodes well for housing in 2014, builders continue to face challenges, including tight credit for homebuyers, inaccurate appraisals, and a shortage of workers and buildable lots.”

Youngstown-Warren-Boardman, Ohio-Pa was the nation’s most affordable major housing market, as 89.4 percent of all new and existing homes sold in this year’s fourth quarter were affordable to families earning the areas’ median incomes of $53,900. Meanwhile, Kokomo, Ind., claimed the title of most affordable smaller market, with 96.3 percent of homes sold in the fourth quarter being affordable to those earning the median income of $60,100.

Other major U.S. housing markets at the top of the affordability chart in the fourth quarter included Harrisburg-Carlisle, Pa.; Syracuse, N.Y.; Buffalo-Niagara Falls, N.Y.; and Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, Pa.; in descending order.

Smaller markets joining Kokomo at the top of the affordability chart included Springfield, Ohio; Monroe, Mich.; Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton, N.J.; and Cumberland, Md.-W.Va.

For a fifth consecutive quarter, San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City, Calif. held the lowest spot among major markets on the affordability chart. There, just 14.1 percent of homes sold in the fourth quarter were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $101,200. Other major metros at the bottom of the affordability chart included Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine, Calif.; Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, Calif.; New York-White Plains-Wayne, N.Y.-N.J.; and San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, Calif.; in descending order.

All of the five least affordable small housing markets were in California. At the very bottom of the affordability chart was Santa Cruz-Watsonville, where 18.6 percent of all new and existing homes sold were affordable to families earning the area’s median income of $73,800. Other small markets at the lowest end of the affordability scale included Salinas, San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles, Napa, and Santa Rosa-Petaluma, respectively.

Please visit nahb.org/hoi for tables, historic data and details.

NAHB editor’s note: The NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index (HOI) is a measure of the percentage of homes sold in a given area that are affordable to families earning the area’s median income during a specific quarter. Prices of new and existing homes sold are collected from actual court records by Core Logic, a data and analytics company. Mortgage financing conditions incorporate interest rates on fixed- and adjustable-rate loans reported by the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

The NAHB/Wells Fargo HOI is strictly the product of NAHB Economics, and is not seen or influenced by any outside party prior to being released to the public.