In The News Category
Tribune-Democrat By: Brenda Szelong
The National Association of Realtors says pending home sales rose 8.2 percent in February, signaling a second in response to the homebuyer tax credit. An April 5 release from the NAR shows that the Pending Home Sales Index for February 2010, a forward-looking indicator based on contracts, remains 17.3 percent above February 2009.
Sue Lease, associate broker with Re/Max Team Realtors, is seeing the effects of the tax credit on a local level. “We have had a number of buyers take advantage of the first time home buyers tax credit,” she said.
The program provided a credit of 10 percent up to $8,500 for contracts written through April 30 and with the closings by June 30.
“I have found, though, that First Time Buyers are wise enough to know that if they don’t find the home that is right for them by April 30, they will look until they find one that suits their needs, “Lease said.
This tax credit also grants up to $6,500 to current owners purchasing a new or existing home between Nov. 7 and April 30. Lease said that she and her husband, Bill Lease (also an associate broker with Re/Max), are noticing an increase in their business from last year.
“There was a lot of concern at the end of 2008 and through a good portion of 2009 due to the state of the national economy,” Sue Lease said. “When people heard that we were in a recession, some become cautious in making a major purchase such as a home. For us, 2009 was a year of us and downs.”
However, as Lease points out, this area did not see the dramtic losses some other areas of the country realized in 2008.
“Cambria and Somerset counties never experienced the huge price increases that occured in areas such as Florida, Las Vegas and California,” she said, “so our market did not take the big hit in prices that some of those areas have experienced.”
“Although foreclosures have increased here, we certainly don’t have the dramtic foreclosure number that have occurred in some of those places.”
“We do have more buyers calling to ask about foreclosure properties specifically. People tend to think they are going to get a better deal buying a foreclosure. But, foreclosures are often not in as good condition as homes that are owned by individuals so it may work, but buyers have to go in with their eyes wide open and usually be willing to do some more work on foreclosure than other homes.”
‘Part of the processs’
Because of the recent recession and foreclosures, Lease says an area that has become increasingly difficult is the underwriting guidelines that are constantly changing and become more stringent all the time.
“We greatly appreciate what the local lenders do to help buyers work starts after the home is sold.”
“Just because a house is under contract does not mean we’re going to make it closing. As profressional realtors, we need to enjoy being problem solvers. Working through the entire transaction requires patience and tenacity. Home buying is an emotional, stressful process. Agents need to be prepared to help their clients get through all of the stages that get their home to closing.”
And just who are those clients?
“Our buyers and sellers have always been a broad mix, ranging in agres from 23 to 90 and moving for a variety of reasons.” she said, “buying their first home, buying larger homes or downsizing, moving into or out of town or moving to another area closer to work. With the rise in gasoline prices, some buyers consider their commute to work when they are looking at homes.”
Lease said the average selling price for this region from December 2009 through February 2010 ranged from $115,945 in December to $83,771 in January to $91,342 in February.
Gray areas in market
As emerging sector in real estate is the senior market.
Linda Rauch-Howard, an associate broker and seniors real estate specialist with Howard Hanna Heritage, says that there has been a void in servicing the needs of seniors for a long time.
“Seniors have many issues that need addressed.” Howard said. “Most likely they have lived in their home for many years, so there is an emotional attachement as well as an abundance of personal items that needs disperced in some way.
“Additionally, they may be dealing with health issues while making many of the selling decisions on their own.”
Howard says she sees downsizing starting at a much younger age.
“I see people in their 50s and 60s looking for a smaller, more economical home to maintain,” she said. “They still want a home that allows the children to visit, but the need to have a four-or-five bedroom is gone.”
“People in their late 60s and beyond start looking for even more independence from a home that will tie them down.”
“These people are looking for newer apartments and condo style living…especially if they want to travel more or have a second home in a warmer climate. I also see more seniors wanting to free up their time and not be burdened with lawn work, snow removal and outside home repairs.
What should seniors consider for a move after several years in the same family home? Howard offers a “Moving for Seniors” workbook in addition to a list of services and a market analysis to assist seniors with the entire moving process.
“They need to plan ahead and should clearing out unwanted items that they won’t want to take,” Howard said.
“They will want to make those minor repairs to the home so they have an idea of how much equity will be working for them on their next home. They should start researching their options on what type of home, apartment or condo will suit their needs.”
Build or buy?
Those looking for a new home may also consider building as an option. Dan Eshleman, a Realtor with Century 21 All Service Inc., is seeing a variety of different homes being built as he represents the owners of the Estates of Parker Woods in Richland Township and Ramblin Hills in Windber.
“I’m seeing most building two-story homes with four bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths,” Eshleman said. “Folks desire spacious kitchens with an open floor plan to include the kitchen, a family or great room and a separate dining room. They dream of a three-car garage, but most just get two garage bays.”
“I am also seeing an increase in the number of ‘empty nesters’ desiring to build. If this trend continues, we will start to see more ranch-style homes being built at about 1,800 square feet.”
Eshleman has noted that people looking to build are considering areas outside of Richland Township when they realize that lots of similar or larger sizes are less expensive outside of Richland.
“Ramblin Hills has realized an increase in traffic and interest as well as sales as more buyers are seeing the opportunity to build their dream home at a lower overall price..buyers who normally would not have considered Windber in the past,” he said.
“If people want to stay in Richland, it is my opinion that Parker Woods is the township’s best kept secret. The location is perfect for all the amenities of Richland, plus residents are afforded privacy and custom built homes. We had one spec house built in this development last year and it recently sold. We see this as a positive sign of things to come as we prepare to open other phases of this development.”
Finding best option
Dick Burke, owner of D.B. Homes, has also built homes in Parker Woods and is seeing an increase in business.
“In 2009, we actually built more homes that any other year in what most experts considered a down market,” Burke said. “Our business was up about 10 percent from 2008, and 2010 is very busy. However, we have noticed that most customers are a little more selective when optioning any upgrades.”
While Eshleman said he is seeing the average size home being about 2,500 square feet, Burke is seeing an average of 1,800 square feet with minimum of three bedrooms, with many families requesting four bedrooms.
“We have a nice mixture of two stories, cape cods, and ranch homes being built,” he said. “Our demographics have maintained consistency from baby boomers looking to downsize into one level home, to families growing out of their current space and need to upsize, to first-time homebuyers looking for a starter home.”
Whether they’re buying an existing home or building a new home, Sue Lease points out that people will pursue their best option.
“When people are ready–whether it be someone buying their first home, moving into the area, downsizing or moving out of the area–when the time comes, they buy or sell, as needed,” Lease said.
“Interest rate are at historical lows, which make it a great time to buy if folks are ready and comfortable with their own financial situation,” she said.
For more information, check out the article here.
D.B. Homes, Inc., 706 Eisenhower Blvd., Suite 1, Johnstown, specializes in “turn key” modular construction. This means that D.B. Homes can handle every aspect of the construction process, from the excavation process all the way through to handling you the key to your new home.
D.B. Homes also offers flexibilty throughout the entire construction process by allowing customers to manage any part of the process on their own. Their Owner/Builder Program enables homeowners to save thousands of dollars by using their knowledge and knowledge of others to complete their new home. Homes are built from 1,000 square feet to 4,000 square feet and bigger. There are many different styles available, from split-entry, ranch, cape cod, two-story, duplexes and townhouses.
Dick Burke, Jr. founded the company in 2000. The first office was an unmarked, family-owned garage in Dale Borough in the Johnstown area that offered no parking. In 2006, D.B. Homes opened its 1,600 square foot design center with four luxurious kitchens and endless other samples on Eisenhower Boulevard in Johnstown. There are eight employees.
Currently, D.B. Homes has no plans to expand in 2010, however in addition to building residential homes, they are now offering commercial construction. In 2009, D.B. Homes’ sales remained the same as the previous year, despite the recession and the most challenging market in the last 35 years.
In August 2008, D.B. Homes built its first 2,428 square-foot, two-story model home at their corporate office and design center on Eisenhower Boulevard, in Johnstown. In addition, D.B. Homes’ newest spec home and two residential homes have been tested and recieved 5 Star Plus Rating for energy efficiency.
The home is 34 percent more energy efficient than site-built homes. D.B. Homes is always a “green friendly” builder by using environmentally friendly building methods and materials.
With the completion of their newest two-story model home, D.B. Homes is now able to show different options and the types of quality, care and craftsmanship that goes into each of their homes.
In August 2009, D.B. Homes raised over $200 for the Young Professionals of the Alleghenies (YPA) at their Open House and Car Wash Fundraiser.
In the summer of 2009, D.B. Homes launched a brand new Web site at www.db-homes.com. Visit the Web site to get more information about D.B. Homes and take a look at recent projects, floor plans, testimonials, products and options and much more.
We have extended our 2008 prices on our homes until April 1, 2009, making this another way for you to save money on the home of your dreams!
Please contact us for further information!
We are very excited to announce Congress has extended the $8000 First Time Home Buyers Tax Credit. They have also added a $6500 Tax Credit for people who have been in their home for more than 5 years and are purchasing a new primary residence. Click on the link for the full press release from the NAHB.
For more information, check out the article here.
Congress has moved to give American service members another 12 months to claim the popular incentive. The House of Representatives voted 416 to 0 to pass the Service Members Home Owmership Tax Act of 2009,which pushes the credit’s current November 30 deadline back an additional year for members of the military, Foreign Service, and intelligent corps who served at least three months of qualified overseas duty in 2009.
For more information, check out the article here.
New Floor Plans Introduced
D.B. Homes is proud to introduce three new series of homes. Click the links below to view the floor plans. Interested in a home? Contact us at 1.866.794.2626 for pricing!
An exciting new tax credit is now available for home owners who install geothermal heating and cooling systems through the Energy Improvement and Extenstion Act of 2008 (H.R. 1424). H.R. 1424 offers a onetime tax credit of 30% of the total investment for homeowners who install residential ground loop or ground water geothermal heat pumps. For example, if someone spends $30,0000 on a geothermal system, they will recieve a $9,000 tax credit.
A geothermal heat pump (GHP) is the tool used within the system to transfer heat from one source to another. This means from the ground, into your system and thereby your home. Geothermal refers to a process that uses heat from the Earth to heat or cool the home. This is an alternative to using fuel. Drawing from heat sources several feet underground, a geothermal pump is used to filter this underground air, which is usually warmer during the winter months and colder during summer months. “Traditionally, Geothermal Heating and Cooling Systems were not an affordable system to install to heat and cool your home, but the super efficiency along with this tremendous tax credit is going to allow many more of our customers to consider the many benefits of Geothermal systems,” stated Dick Burke, Jr., Owner of D.B. Homes. “Geothermal systems represent a savings to home owners of 30-70% in heating and 20-50% in cooling as opposed to conventional systems and are ‘green’ in nature.”
To qualify, the systems must meet or exceed Energy Star requirements and be installed after December 31, 2008. While units installed in 2008 are subject to a $2,000 cap on the credit, units installed from 2008 through 2016 can take advantage of the full credit. No proof of purchase will be required; however, in case of an audit, owners are encouraged to keep a detailed invoice of the purchase on file. The contractors who sold and installed the product should list the purchase as a “Geothermal Heat Pump” on the invoice and that it “Exceeds requirements of Energy Star Program currently in effect.”
The tax credit is available through December 31, 2016. Consult your local tax professional for advice on taking advantage of the tax credit; this is not intended as a recommendation or endorsement of any finanical strategy.
DB Homes is deepy committed to providing their customers a top quality energy efficient home at an affordable price in much less time than traditional “stick built” homes. For additional information or questions, pleae contact us at 814-262-7525.
Habitat for Humanity
D.B. Homes is proud to be part of the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown Campus Chamber of Habitat for Humanity’s “Alternative Spring Break Program”. Our generousity made it possible for the group to actively make a differene in the lives of many families in Alabama and Florida.
A tax credit of up to $8,000 is available for qualified first-time home buyers purchasing a principal residence on or after January 1, 2009 and before December 1, 2009.
You can continue to stay informed of future home buyer information by joining us on the following social media sites.
Visit: Federal Housing Tax Credit for more information
D.B. Homes, Inc. has recently completed their second spec home in Richland Township and are proud to announce that the home has received a 5 Star Plus rating for energy efficiency. The two-story home received a HERS rating of 67 percent, making it 33% more energy efficient than a standard built home, according to the Department of Energy’s guidelines.
A home energy rating involves an analysis of a home’s construction plans and onsite inspections. Based on the home’s plans, the Home Energy Rater uses an energy efficiency software package to perform an energy analysis of the home’s design. A qualified inspector comes into the house and inspects the home and measures energy characteristics such as: insulation levels, window efficiency, wall-to-wall ratios, the heating and cooling system efficiency, the solar orientation of the home, and the water heating system.
This analysis yields a projected, pre-construction HERS Index. The HERS Index is a scoring system established by the Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET) in which a home built to the specifications of the HERS Reference Home (based on the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code) scores a HERS Index of 100, while a net zero energy home scores a HERS Index of 0. The lower a home’s HERS Index, the more energy efficient it is in comparison to the HERS Reference Home.
Each 1-point decrease in the HERS Index corresponds to a 1% reduction in energy consumption compared to the HERS Reference Home. Thus a home with a HERS Index of 85 is 15% more energy efficient than the HERS Reference Home and a home with a HERS Index of 80 is 20% more energy efficient.
The data gathered by the home energy rater is entered into a computer program and translated into points. The home receives a point score between 1 and 100, depending on its relative efficiency. An estimate of the home’s energy costs is also provided. The home’s energy efficiency is then equated to a STAR rating ranging from 1 STAR for a very inefficient home to a 5 STAR Plus for a highly efficient home. Along with the rating sheet, homeowners receive a report listing cost-effective options for improving the home’s energy rating.
The two-story spec home that D.B. Homes has completed is located on Berkshire Drive in Johnstown. The new home features 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, family room with a fireplace, living room, kitchen and a sitting area on the second floor and much more! The home is minutes away from shopping, recreation and businesses and is located in the Richland School District. The home is for sale through Remax and is open for tours. If interested, please contact them at 1-814-262-SOLD.