Smart Home Technology: Survey Says It’s Hot

smart home technology

What makes a home a smart home? Smart home technology! Our panel of home shoppers told us what they really think of this new frontier of tech.

By Drew Knight

As more devices out there are being labeled as having “smart home technology,” we came up with the question: Just how interested are new-home shoppers in this technology and would they actually use it in their new homes?

We worked with the New Home Source Insights panel, a panel of new-home shoppers with varying demographics and at various stages in their home search, to see what they had to think about this ever-changing field of tech.

The survey results are in!

So what did they have to say? Smart home technology is a hot commodity.

Who’s Interested in Smart Home Tech?

The panelists were asked a series of questions regarding smart home technology. When asked, in general, are you interested in smart home tech, 91 percent of panelists said yes and only 9 percent said no.

Thus, it’s clear smart home technology is something worth considering.

Who Owns Smart Home Tech?

For the purpose of this survey, smart home technology was broken into seven categories: temperature (thermostats and other temperature-monitoring devices); entertainment (TVs, music systems, etc.); security (door locks, alarm systems, etc.); safety (smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and other safety devices); lighting (lightbulbs, control systems, etc.); appliances (refrigerators, ovens, etc.); and other.

When asked if they owned any of these smart home technologies, 38 percent of panelists said yes, while 62 percent said no, proving smart home tech is still quite a new idea for buyers.

Of those who said yes, the amount of each category owned is as follows:

  • Temperature — 66 percent
  • Entertainment — 53 percent
  • Security — 50 percent
  • Safety — 42 percent
  • Lighting — 42 percent
  • Appliances — 32 percent
  • Other — 3 percent

Who Plans on Purchasing Smart Home Tech This Year?

Which brings us to the next question, do you plan on purchasing smart home technology at some point this year?

A staggering 71 percent of panelists said yes, while 29 percent said no.

Of those who said yes, panelists were asked to specify their price points:

  • Under $50 — 0 percent
  • $51 to $100 — 12 percent
  • $101 to $499 — 50 percent
  • $500 to $999 — 24 percent
  • $1,000 or more — 14 percent

What Devices Make a Home “Smart”?

Because the term “smart home” might be relative to some, we were curious which of the categories is most important to home shoppers in defining “smart” for them.

So, we asked our panelists which category of smart tech a home must have to be considered a smart home. They ranked them as follows:

  • Temperature — 85 percent
  • Security — 79 percent
  • Lighting — 67 percent
  • Appliances — 61 percent
  • Entertainment — 46 percent
  • Safety – 42 percent

It’s also worth noting that of those surveyed, more than 84 percent said that the inclusion of smart home tech would increase their likelihood of purchasing that home.

How Useful Is Smart Home Tech?

Finally, panelists were asked to rank each category in order of usefulness. Here’s what they said:

  1. Temperature control
  2. Smart appliances
  3. Security
  4. Lighting
  5. Safety
  6. Entertainment

Interested in joining our panel? Head to www.NewHomeSourceInsights.com for more info.

Smart Homes Infographic

Drew Knight is a digital content associate for New Home Source.

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A Beginner’s Guide to Tax Credits and Deductions for Homeowners

tax credits & deduction info for homeowners

It’s tax time and if you’ve purchased a home, there are a few things to know about tax credits and deductions for homeowners.

By Seve Kale

If you’ve recently purchased a home in 2015 or 2016, you’ve probably heard about the tax credits and deductions available for homeowners.

“Tax-wise, this is a good time to buy – homeownership offers tax breaks that renters do not have,” says Yvette D. Best, CEO of Best Services Unlimited LLC, an income tax preparation firm in Fayetteville, Ga.

Though the thought of itemizing your taxes and figuring out what you qualify for may be intimidating, we’ve talked to the experts to come up with this helpful guide.

Mortgage Interest Write-Off

Let’s start with the basics: mortgage interest deductions.

According to TurboTax.com, the biggest tax break for most homeowners comes from deducting mortgage interest.  If you itemize, you can usually deduct the interest on a mortgage used to acquire a main or secondary home.

Mortgage Points

“In addition to the commonly known write-off for home mortgage interest, there are other deductions and credits for new homeowners,” says Amanda Kendall, president of True Resolve Tax, based in Northglenn, Colo. “In some instances, when buying a new home, you pay what is known as points (origination points and discount points), that the IRS views as being prepaid interest. They can be written off along with your mortgage interest,” Kendall says.

This deduction may be worth thousands. “The return on your investment is two-fold — you get to deduct the cost of the points and the amount paid in interest in the same year as the home purchase,” adds Best.

First-Time Buyers

“As a first-time buyer, the IRS will allow you to withdraw an amount up to $10,000 from an IRA (traditional or ROTH) penalty-free to help with the purchase of a home,” says Kendall. If you’re married, you and your spouse can withdraw a total for $20,000 penalty-free. You are also allowed a $10,000 withdrawal to buy or build for a spouse, kids, grandchildren or parents.

Property Taxes

You can also write off property taxes as an itemized deduction. However, if you’re using an escrow account to pay your taxes, you can’t deduct payments into that account as real estate taxes. “Homeowners often make the mistake of deducting the wrong year’s property taxes — this deduction is allowed in the year the taxes are actually paid,” says Kendall.

Energy Incentives

If your new home is built with energy-efficient appliances and/or energy-efficient technology, you are likely eligible for a tax credit. Green technology such as geothermal heat pumps, small wind turbines and solar energy systems make you eligible for a tax credit of 30 percent of their cost, while a credit of up to $500 is available for energy-efficient HVAC systems, windows or doors.

Home Rentals or Improvements

If you’ve done any renovating, keep your receipts. All improvements will be added to the purchase price of your home. If you track your home-related expenses, you can reduce the capital gains amount you must pay tax on when you decide to sell. “These days, with AirBnB, homeowners may rent their home out or rent a room, in which case all expenses related to the house can be deducted against rental income,” says Ryan Saltz, a licensed tax professional at Jacksonville, Fla.-based Tax Defense Network, LLC.

This guide only covers a few of the deductions available to homeowners, so sure to do your research. “If you take a credit you’re not allowed to take, the IRS is going to make you pay it back, but not before they add interest and penalties,” says Kendall. She recommends consulting with a tax professional.

Seve Kale is a contributor to NewHomeSource.

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Housing Market Forecast: Morgan Stanley Shares 2016 Outlook

Housing Market Forecast

As we scope out the path to recovery in 2016, Morgan Stanley provides their housing market forecast for the new year.

By Drew Knight

Reflecting back on 2015, most of those associated with the housing industry can agree that it experienced another great year on the road to recovery.

As we continue down the path in 2016, now is the time to scope out what’s ahead on the journey to housing market success. To do that, it’s going to take some looking forward and some looking back.

Morgan Stanley, a multinational financial services company, polished their crystal balls — and their calculators — to do some of that forecasting for us all. Below you’ll find the results to their research over the past few years and some predictions the company presented during its recent 2016 U.S. Housing Market Forecast webinar:

Household Formations

2016 Prediction: 1.25 to 1.3 million

“U.S. housing has been one of the few consistently bright spots in the U.S. economy in 2015,” says Ryan Gilbert, an equity analyst for Morgan Stanley. “We expect 2016 to be a positive year for both housing activity and home prices. One of the chief drivers will be sustained demand as a result of household formations remaining above long-term averages.”

According to the report, a lack of formations throughout the recovery has led to substantial pent-up demand (2.5 million households worth) that could fuel the industry in 2016.

Homeownership Rates

2016 Prediction: Down Toward 63 Percent

Because lenders are leaning toward stricter guidelines, data shows that a majority of the 1.25 to 1.3 million new households that are expected to form this year will also be rental households.

Additionally, Baby Boomers are bringing the largest amount of changes to these results, despite the fact that Millennials belong to the largest and most diverse generation the country has ever seen, says James Egan, vice president of the securitized products strategy team at Morgan Stanley.

Home Prices

2016 Prediction: +3 Percent Base Case

“From their trough in 1Q12, home prices have appreciated meaningfully,” says Egan. “However, we do not think this represents a bubble in U.S. home prices.”

Data also suggests that decelerating home price appreciation has brought home prices closer to a fair value.

New Home Sales

2016 Prediction: 575,000 to 600,000

Morgan Stanley reports that new home sales have been outpacing their 2014 levels and were up 15 percent during the first 10 months of 2015.

Still, these levels remain sustainably below long-term averages, data shows. When compared to the pre-crisis, pre-bubble period averages over 2000 to 2003, new home sales are nearly 50 percent lower.

Housing Starts

2016 Prediction: Total – 1.3 million; Single-Family – 845,000

“We project housing starts to increase to 1.3 million units, with a higher share of multifamily starts (35 percent) relative to longer-term average compared to single-family starts (65 percent),” says Egan.

Although both multifamily and single-family starts are higher, multifamily starts are at a 28-year high and have dominated the recovery.

Mortgage Credit Availability

2016 Prediction: Easing Only at Margins

Morgan Stanley believes that higher home prices, better labor market conditions and low interest rates in 2016 will contribute to expanded credit availability on the margin, although expansion may be limited.

Even though data shows that credit availability appears to be on the mend, levels pale in comparison to those before the housing crisis.

Other Considerations

  • Land and Labor: Shortcomings in this area will continue to be a supply side limitation and these shortages are impacting margins and build times. The top three concerns for 2016 revolve around the rising cost of building materials, labor shortage, lackluster job creation and income growth.
  • Return of the First-Time Buyer: Morgan Stanley reports that there is evidence of improvement at lower price points in the new-home sales data and that first-time buyers showed strong growth in the resale market over 2015.
  • Housing Affordability: Although data shows that housing is remaining affordable when compared to long-run averages, the market as a whole is less likely to be able to maintain that affordability in an environment where rates are rising.
  • Rates: Should we fear that kind of environment? According to the report, demand was negatively affected by higher mortgage payments in 2013 and 2014, but over the longer term, new-home sales and interest rates are uncorrelated.

For more in-depth information, check out Morgan Stanley’s video highlighting this report.

Drew Knight is a Digital Content Associate for New Home Source.

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Go Scandinavian Modern with These Standout Etsy Shops

By Drew Knight

When it comes to Scandinavian Modern interior design, your mind might immediately rush to retail giant IKEA. Justly so, IKEA was founded in Sweden, one of the three Scandinavian countries (Norway and Finland being the other two).

But if you want your interior design scheme to tell a story, you may want to shy away from the mass-produced designs of stores like IKEA, even when they do focus on the design you love so much, and at a relatively low price. Enter Etsy, the online marketplace for unique and quirky items you usually won’t be able to find anywhere else.

Here you’ll find a list of standout Etsy shops that could help you discover the perfect pieces — from furniture to rugs — that perfectly capture the Scandinavian Modern design for your new home.

Scandinavian Modern Rug

Decorative Rug by TheGretest.

The Gretest

When it comes to Scandinavian-inspired rugs, The Gretest might just be the greatest.

With nearly 150 rugs, 95 throw pillows and other odds and ends like shower curtains and tapestries to choose from, The Gretest is a great first stop. All of these designs are one-of-a-kind and original products created by textile and graphic designer Grete.

Because the Scandinavian Modern design style relies on minimalism and simplicity with a few choice bold accents, unique rugs are found in almost every design. The Gretest is the perfect place to find your inspiration.

Scandinavian Modern Chairs

Scandinavian Teak Cube Chairs in Blue Upholstery by Galaxie Modern.

Galaxie Modern

When choosing furniture, Scandinavian Modern design plans tend to stick with simple, modern or vintage modern pieces. Enter Galaxie Modern!

With more than 54 furniture items to choose from, you’ll find all sorts of vintage Scandinavian and Danish pieces from chairs and sofas to coffee tables.

But it doesn’t stop there! Galaxie Modern also offers artworks, books, décor, houseware, lighting, rugs and more. And don’t you worry about shipping; Galaxie Modern has years of experience shipping mid-century modern furniture and goods both continentally and internationally.

Scandinavian Modern Coffee Table

The Miami: Solid Walnut Coffee Table with Steel Legs by moderncre8ve.

moderncre8ve

Now, if you’re looking for furniture that’s modern in today’s terms, moderncre8ve is the shop for you.

These unique designs are a great way to add a lot of character to a design scheme that really is quite simple. Simply add one of these coffee tables, dining tables or benches and you’ll be making the perfect bold statement Scandinavian Modern schemes are known for.

If you purchase a piece from this store, you’ll also be making a positive impact for the world: a portion of all moderncre8ve sales are donated to Save the Children and used for monthly sponsorships of children in need throughout the world.

Scandinavian Modern Fabric

Scandinavian Fabric by OOMFinteriors.

OOMFinteriors

For those with an affinity for fabric, OOMFinteriors is the shop for you.

There is no better way to add color to a Scandinavian Modern interior design than with carefully chosen fabrics and OOMFinteriors offers 44 styles that were distinctly Scandinavian inspired. Pillows? Curtains? Table runners? You got it!

Design Tip: Scandinavian Modern interiors rely on simplicity and neutral color schemes. However, they do require pops of color and a few unique oddities. Pick the fabric that suits your style and make this your go-to inspiration for choosing a few accent pieces like vases or modern sculptures.

Scandinavian Modern Inspired Tea Set

Vintage Mid Century Modern Block Bidasoa Demitasse Set by SandHollowVintage.

SandHollowVintage

Finally, nothing says Scandinavian Modern like a few odd accent pieces and SandHollowVintage has plenty — some of which are actually Scandinavian.

From animal sculptures to kitchenware, pottery and more, you’re bound to find a couple of pieces that work in your home.

Keep in mind that you shouldn’t overdo it with accent pieces in a Scandinavian Modern design. A simple sculpture here and a modern vase there is usually all you’ll need.

Drew Knight is a Digital Content Associate for New Home Source.

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App of the Month (CES Edition): Groceries by MasterCard

Groceries by MasterCard

The Samsung Family Hub refrigerator will include a screen where families can order grocery items with the Groceries By MasterCard app.

By Patricia L. Garcia

Five months ago, my husband and I welcomed our first child. Parenthood has been awesome, save for the exhaustion.

If there was one thing, though, someone had warned me about before I had a kid, it would be that shopping for and preparing family meals would be a challenge. Getting out with a newborn is crazy scary (don’t sneeze 50 feet near this kid!) and tough with all of the bottles, diapers and other baby stuff you have to carry around. So, when I heard about Groceries by MasterCard, a new app presented last week at the Consumer Electronics show in Las Vegas, I was excited.

Groceries by MasterCard appGroceries by MasterCard will work with Samsung’s new Family Hub Smart Refrigerator (that’s a whole separate post, ’cause it’s pretty cool), making it “the first shopping app integrated into a refrigerator,” according to a joint MasterCard and Samsung press release. The app will allow those with the refrigerator to order grocery items directly from the refrigerator’s hub screen. Online grocer FreshDirect and supermarket co-op ShopRite will deliver orders directly to your home.

What’s better is that eventually, you’ll be able to scan items to add to your shopping cart. And, the more you use the app to order more items, the more it will learn your shopping habits and make suggestions.

The one big drawback is that you have to have the refrigerator to use the app. But, if something like this can be integrated into tech that most of us already have — like a smart phone or tablet — this app would be a godsend to those of us who can’t easily make it to the grocery store. Imagine all of those bus-riding college kids who wouldn’t have to lug bags of groceries or families without cars who could save time by getting groceries delivered to the home (and money because they won’t be tempted by all of the non-list items in stores).

No word yet on how much the refrigerator will cost, but it will be released in May. It’s also important to note that you’ll be able to purchase items with more any card, not just a MasterCard.

Patricia L. Garcia is content manager for NewHomeSource.com.

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6 Things to Look Forward to in 2016

Google Cardboard 2016

A new year means new changes in the real estate market. Here are a few things to keep an eye out for in 2016. (Photo courtesy of Google Cardboard.)

By Drew Knight

If you recently bought a new home, or you’re in the market for one this year, now’s the perfect time to understand the housing industry.

To help you brush up on some of the trends in real estate for the new year, we’ve compiled a short list of some of the under-the-radar buzz sprouting up at the close of 2015. Here you’ll find some important and positive topics that may help guide your real estate decisions through 2016:

1. Affordable Starter Homes Are Back

According to Bloomberg Business, the end of 2015 saw the return of the affordable starter home. You might be thinking, “Wait, I’m still seeing a lot of new homes that are out of my price range. What’s the catch?” Allow us to explain.

Builders across the nation are feeling the strain experienced by many first-time buyers and they’re doing something to help. In response to the success of D.R. Horton’s low-cost Express brand, other national builders like Tri Pointe Homes, Meritage Homes and Taylor Morrison are testing cheaper offerings in markets like Colorado, Florida and California.

For instance, Tri Pointe Group Inc.’s Terrain, a new community in Castle Rock, Colo., is designed for first-time buyers who are willing to forego a little bit of luxury for some solid home equity and a price that’s almost 30 percent cheaper than the average new home in the area.

“We were tired of paying rent,” Brandon Lindemann, a first-time homebuyer at Terrain, told Bloomberg. “When we have kids, we can get the dream house with a big backyard, at a time when we’re making a whole lot more money.”

2. All the Single Ladies

Also according to Bloomberg, 2016 could be a great year for single women to buy real estate, especially in cities where their incomes are rising faster than those of single men.

Single women played an important role in the U.S. housing market for decades by buying more homes than single men. However, mortgage qualifications became harder to meet after the housing crisis and single female buyers dropped from 21 percent of all purchasers in 2009 to 15 percent today. Now single women could be posed for a comeback.

Another factor? Single women often shop in the same price range as foreign investors looking for rental properties. Such investors played a significantly lower role in many housing markets in 2015 and, if that trend continues, it might make a new-home purchase even more affordable for single women.

3. Banks are Loosening Up

Although they may not be giving away free money, banks are expected to loosen up on credit restrictions in 2016, The Fiscal Times reports.

According to Ellie Mae, the average FICO score on all closed loans in the third quarter reached its lowest level in the last four years — 723. For comparison, the average score for denied applications was at 729 two years ago.

Banks may also become more willing to work with new homebuyers through the new year as the volume of refinances declines with the rise of interest rates. “There will be more competition for borrowers,” Frank Nothaft, chief economist for CoreLogic, told The Fiscal Times. “We may start to see more flexibility in credit standards and underwriting.”

4. The Market Will Normalize

Will the housing market finally go back to normal? It’s actually quite possible, Realtor.com notes.

“The year ahead will see healthy growth in home sales and prices, but at a slower pace than in 2015,” says Jonathan Smoke, Realtor.com’s chief economist, in the article above. “This slowdown is not an indication of a problem — it’s just a return to normalcy.”

Smoke also notes that distressed sales will no longer be playing an outsized role, new-home construction is returning to more traditional levels and prices should increase at rates consistent with a more balanced market.

5. Rise of the Smart Home

No, smart homes aren’t rising up in attack, they’re just becoming more prevalent. So prevalent, in fact, that nearly half of all Americans will have smart home technology by the end of 2016, according to Coldwell Banker.

A recent survey by Coldwell Banker written about by RIS Media found that almost 50 percent of the 4,000 people surveyed either already own smart home tech or plan on making the investment this year. The survey also discovered that it’s not just the tech-savvy who are open to a smart home; of those who have smart home tech or plan to make the purchase soon, 36 percent say they don’t consider themselves early adopters of technology.

With millions of new homes sold every year, that means millions of people on board to purchase smart home tech. Imagine those numbers!

6. Virtual Reality Hits Home

The ways you see your yet-to-be-built dream home are also shifting — away from reality and toward hyper reality.

The year 2016 has already been slated as a time to watch the rise of virtual reality with devices like Google Cardboard, Oculus Rift and the Samsung Gear VR, so it’s no surprise the housing industry is jumping into the game.

Some real estate companies are already using virtual reality devices to display floor plans and home designs, perfect for those who may be hunting for homes out of state or country.

Drew Knight is a Digital Content Associate for New Home Source.

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Modern Homes for Sale on New Home Source

Modern Homes

Looking for a Modern home design that matches your unique personality? Look no further than NewHomeSource.com!

By Drew Knight

The beauty of newly built homes means that you can find a home that not only fits your needs, but also one that fits your personality. No matter your style — from Tuscan to Tudor and Ranch to Modern — you can find a home that reflects your personality.

Don’t believe us? Check out these five Modern home designs that are currently (or soon to be) on sale on New Home Source. Browse through the listings and take notes because you’re on your way to finding the Modern home of your dreams.

Solana Plan

Solana Plan at La Jolla at Tierra Santa by Woodside Homes in Las Vegas, Nev.

Want a new Modern home in Vegas? Look no further than the Solana Plan at La Jolla at Tierra Santa by Woodside Homes in Las Vegas, Nev.

  • From $228,990
  • 2,047 sq. ft.
  • 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, 2-car garage
Leyland Plan

The Leyland Plan at Greenleaf by Conner Homes in Renton, Wash.

Is a new Modern home in the Seattle area making you green with envy? Find your own, like the Leyland Plan at Greenleaf by Conner Homes in Renton, Wash.

  • From $527,900
  • 2,618 sq. ft.
  • 4 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, 2-car garage
Alto 1 Plan

The Alto 1 at Midtown by Infinity Home Collection in Denver, Colo.

The Mile-High City is forward-thinking place, so why wouldn’t you be able to find a new Modern home in Denver? Check out Alto 1 at Midtown by Infinity Home Collection in Denver, Colo.

  • From $549,000
  • 2,755 sq. ft.
  • 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, 2-car garage
Sol 1 Plan

The Sol 1 Plan at Sol Palm Springs by Family Development Group in Palm Springs, Calif.

Modern homes and Palm Springs go together like peanut butter and jelly. Here’s one that you won’t soon forget: Sol 1 Plan at Sol Palm Springs by Family Development Group in Palm Springs, Calif.

  • From $661,000
  • 2,151 sq. ft.
  • 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, 2-car garage
Solavera

2807-F Del Curto Road at Solavera by Meritage Homes in Austin, Texas.

The Live Music Capital of the World is ripe with eclectic homes, including new Modern homes in all areas of Austin. Check out 2807-F Del Curto Road at Solavera by Meritage homes in Austin, Texas.

  • From $680,000
  • 1,900 sq. ft.
  • 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms, 2-car garage

Drew Knight is a Digital Content Associate for New Home Source.

Posted in Buying a New Home, Custom Homes, Interior Design | Comments Off on Modern Homes for Sale on New Home Source