U.S. Census Data Shows New Homes are Getting Bigger

new homes getting bigger

Churchill Classics’ Cascade Model illustrates an open floor plan in Poolesville, Md. U.S. census data shows that new homes are getting bigger, entering the market with more square footage now than ever before.

By Drew Knight

If you’ve been active in your new home hunt, you’ve probably noticed one similar trend about the homes and communities you’ve been checking out: homes are getting bigger.

Well, you’re not just seeing things. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the size of single-family homes has been rising for decades. In fact, the median size of a single-family home completed in in the United States in 2015 was 2,467 sq. ft., up 14 sq. ft. from the previous year and up 240 sq. ft from 2005.

So what’s behind this steady increase in home sizes? It all comes down to the need to stretch out.

“Builders are building bigger because buyers want more space for their money,” says Eric Tovar, owner and president of Churchill Classics, a homebuilder based in Rockville, Md., noting trends like commercial-style gourmet kitchens, master bathroom suites with oversized showers, screened-in porches that extend the family room for outdoor living, oversized garages and open floor plans.

While desirable trends like these certainly add square footage to a floor plan, there are plenty of other factors that might help explain this year-to-year growth.

Participants in the New Home Source Insights Panel, a panel of new-home shoppers, say they want a larger home. Here’s what they’re looking for:

  • 31 percent of respondents say they want an open floor plan
  • 29 percent say they are upsizing because of an increase in family size
  • 16 percent cite an increase in income as their reason for upsizing

One panelist specifically mentioned family as his reason for moving:

“I’ve lived in my home for about 14 years and it suits me fine, but I want a larger home to have a bit more enjoyment for my entire family,” says home shopper Ronald Gawronski of Miami, Fla.

Another listed a desire for an efficient open floor plan, despite living in an open concept previously. “The longest I’ve ever lived in one home was in a small two-bedroom home with an open floor plan,” says Joseph Hester, an active shopper in Charlotte, N.C. “So, I guess the bottom line is that an open floor plan is nice, but it works better in a larger home.”

While the everyday shopper may be dreaming about homes with open concepts, room for family growth and trendy and spacious rooms, how might this affect the first-time homebuyer who may be searching for something entirely different? According to The Bank of America Homebuyer’s Insights Report, many have similar wants and needs as current and previous homeowners.

The report found that 75 percent of first-time buyers would prefer to bypass the starter home and buy a home that will meet their needs in the future, even if that means waiting to save more. More interesting still, 35 percent said they actually plan to retire in this first home.

Yet there are still plenty of option for those who choose not to bypass their starter home. Homebuilders like D.R. Horton, TRI Pointe Homes and Meritage Homes are increasingly switching focus to the younger generations, building starter homes that cater to Millennials.

No matter which stage in the in home-shopping process you may be in, we’d love to hear from you.

Are you seeking a larger home? Why? If not, why are you seeking smaller?

Let us know in the comments below, or consider joining the New Home Source Insights Panel to earn rewards just for giving us your opinion.

Happy home hunting!

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

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What Do Dads Look For When Buying a Home?

what dad wants in new hom

Dads love their garages. And why not? Part of it can be converted to a man cave with storage space and an exercise room, like this one in the Town House Plan 4 by Brookfield Homes in Anaheim, Calif.

By Patricia L. Garcia

When it comes to homebuying decisions, often the matriarch of the family has the final say. But, let’s not forget dad when it comes to buying a home. It is 2016, after all.

No longer does dad silently sulk in the background while Mom oohs and ahs at the model home. He will ask questions too and will probably want to take a look around. Maybe he’ll head to the garage, where he can imagine his own Dad kingdom (let’s call it Dad-ville). Or maybe he wants to head outside to scope out the patio and figure out where to put the grill. Or maybe he just wants a room where he can have some alone time.

In honor of dads everywhere, we asked fathers and real estate professionals just what dad wants when buying a home and here’s what they had to say:

Dads Love a Good Garage

An informal survey of Orlando Regional Realtor Association (ORRA) members found one feature that typically tops dads’ lists when hunting for a new home: a garage.

“My colleagues and I find that men really focus on the garage’s potential,” says Bruce Elliot, ORRA’s president-elect and a Realtor with Regal R.E. Professionals LLC. “It’s not at all uncommon for garages to be carefully assessed for the ability to store a specific length of boat, a tool chest or workbench and the plethora of kids’ sports stuff, of course.”

Dads Want to Entertain and Play

patio with grill and fire pitAccording to Eric Tovar, owner and president of Rockville, Md.-based homebuilder Churchill Classics, dads are just as interested in entertaining as mom is, so a screened-in or back porch for grilling and entertaining is popular, while a spacious yard is ideal for throwing the ball around with the kids.

In addition to entertaining and grilling spaces and a yard, Tovar says other top requested options in a new home by dads are a bar, office and good schools.

And, let’s not forget technology, says Brian LeBow, a Realtor with Coldwell Banker in Arcadia, Calif. Dads want a smart home (Nest thermostat, anyone?) and other tech-y toys in their new abode to not only manage the home better, but to have some fun with.

“Home automation and awesome tech that includes a home theater or man cave,” LeBow says. “Around LA, we see this taken to extremes — huge home theaters with digital projectors with leather recliners and in-seat stereo sound.”

Give Dad Some Space

“I would say that most (dads) are, in general, looking for a place to get away from the family and just be a
guy,” says Jay Seier, a father of two and a real estate agent with the Jolly Homes Team Resident Realty in Fort Collins, Colo. “That could be as little as a bench with a radio in the garage to a full blown, themed man cave.”

Living in “craft beer country,” Seier says a lot of fathers that he works with express an interest in having space to brew their own beer, while ample storage for bikes and gear is a high priority because of his area’s many biking and outdoor activities.

Elliot agrees that dads want spaces to explore their hobbies or to get away from the hustle and bustle of work: “Other common checklist items for dads include things like nice flooring and a split floor plan, a built-in barbecue and a pool, private office space, etc.,” he says. “Then there are more uncommon requests, like space for a home brewery, a quiet napping room or cigar lounge.”

So, if you’re shopping for a home with dad any time soon, ask if he has a particular feature in mind for the new home — chances are, he’ll be ready with a dad space he’s been dreaming of for quite some time. Happy Father’s Day!

Patricia L. Garcia is content manager for NewHomeSource.com. For her husband’s first Father’s Day, she will give him one hour to hang out at their house alone — or a grill.

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Flag Day 2016: Tips for Displaying the U.S. Flag in Your New Home

Flag Day

This Flag Day, why not display the U.S. flag in your new home? But before you do so, check out these tips to make sure you don’t break code. (Photo Courtesy of Lowe’s Home Improvement)

By Drew Knight

Flag Day is June 14, so why not take the holiday to show off some patriotism in your new home?

But before you decide to raise the U.S. flag in celebration, did you know there’s actually a lengthy list of rules and regulations in regards to how you should display our nation’s stars and stripes? It’s true.

Keep on reading to learn the law, as we hope to see your flags flying high — and properly — this Flag Day.

The “Flag Code”

According to usflag.org, prior to the Flag Day of June 14, 1923, there weren’t any federal or state regulations that governed how you could display the U.S. flag. But on this date, the National Flag Code was adopted by the National Flag Conference. However, it was not until June 22, 1942, that the exact rules for use and display of the flag became law.

While the full code can be found at usflag.org (including regulations for flag respect, conduct for hoisting, lowering or passing of the flag and more), we thought we’d highlight a few regulations:

  • “It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.”
  • “The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.”
  • “When the U.S. flag is displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle from the window sill, balcony or front of a building, the union of the flag [the blue area] should be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half-staff. When the flag is suspended over a sidewalk from a rope extending from a house to a pole at the edge of the sidewalk, the flag should be hoisted out, union first, from the building.”
  • “The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.”
  • “The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water or merchandise.”
  • “The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.”

Display Tips

So, if you’ve decided to display the U.S. flag on your home this year, Lowe’s Home Improvement spokesman Natalie Turner has a few technical flag flying tips to help you raise the banner:

According to Turner, there are three options for displaying a flag from your home:

  1. Hang it from a window. Just make sure the stars are on the viewer’s top left.
  1. Get a flag pole mounting bracket. Most people will mount it on either side of their garage or front-door entrance. This is an affordable and easy way to showcase your patriotism.
  1. The third option is to get a free-standing flag pole to place in your yard. Depending on the height, this can be quite the project, but this is where you can get poles up to 20 feet high to display giant flags.

“Find the best look for your home’s style,” adds Turner. “Try to pair the pole color and type with your home so the main focus is the flag and not the hardware behind it.”

Happy Flag Day and let those star-spangled banners wave!

Drew Knight is a digital content associate for NewHomeSource.com.

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The Emotional Steps in the New Home Journey

homebuying process

Getting ready to embark on your new home journey? Take a look at our guide to help you through the mental and emotional steps of buying a new home.

By Drew Knight

In the decision to buy a new home, there are a few more steps involved then just visiting a model home and signing a contract within a single day.

If you really want to find a dream home that suits all of your wants and needs, it’s going to take a little bit of research and a lot of dedication. After all, buying a home is often the largest and most important decision in your life, so it’s no wonder emotions will be involved.

To help you mentally prepare for buying a new home, we thought we’d outline those steps for you. If you’re ready to embark on new home journey the right way, take a look at the five steps below:

Step 1: Think About What You Want

As you’ve probably already done already, the first step involves a lot of internal thinking and reflection.

You’ll ask questions like: What do I want in a new home? What’s best for me and my family? Is buying a new home a good investment for me right now?

If you’re not a single buyer, at this point in the new home process you’ll want to sit down with your family to determine your priorities in your life and career. Now is also a good time to assess your finances and clarify that you can commit financially to a new home at this point in your life.

Step 2: Find a Starting Point

If after step one you’ve decided to move forward in the new home journey, it’s time to get started in the hunt for your next home.

At first, you may ask questions like: How do I approach the homebuying process? What locations are best for me? What will my money get me in an area like this?

To get these questions answered, you should set goals to identify reliable sources of information, like NewHomeSource.com, create a game plan, and forecast the complete costs of your new home.

At this point, it might be wise to seek out a Realtor for guidance, or head online for information. Google Maps and home search websites are a great way to explore your area and what’s available to give you some direction.

Step 3: Do Your HOMEwork

Once you’ve found the direction for your new home journey, it’s time to solidify what you want by some in-depth research.

By now, you’ve probably amassed even more questions. Don’t worry, that’s totally normal. After all, how could you do your research if you had no questions?

To begin your studies, start by searching for new construction in your area, visiting builder websites, or speaking with a Realtor.

Some important things to discover by this point in the process are interactive floor plans, video or virtual home tours, builder locations and desirable floor plans.

At the end of step three, you should finally start to have an accurate visualization of what your new home will look like.

Step 4: Make Sure Everything’s Right

Step four involves validating everything you learned by your research in step three by heading to the homesites of your favorite builders.

Here, your action items will include visiting model homes in your desirable communities, collecting educational materials from builders, talking to builder representatives and taking plenty of notes and photos.

At the end of step four, which could take multiple visits and back-and-fourth to step three, you should feel confident that an informed decision can be made.

Step 5: Make It Yours

Congratulations! You’ve done all the hard work and it’s time to make a decision.

By now, the only questions that should remain will look something like: Is this what I want? Does this actually feel right? Do I have all the information I need to make the right decision?

Your final action items here including talking with your family when applicable, reflecting on the entire experience and reviewing all of your notes, physical materials and online information.

If you’ve found the home and builder that makes you happy after this emotional journey, then you should feel confident in signing your contract.

We know, this sounds like a lot if information to take in at once. So, we summarized all these steps in an easy-to-read infographic just for you. If you feel like it, save it and print it out to use as the map to your new home journey. Check it out below:

homebuying process

Drew Knight is a digital content associate for NewHomeSource.com.

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The Reality: Real Estate TV Shows and the Homebuying Process

Reality Home TV Shows

Don’t let reality home shopping shows bend your perceptions of the truth. Here’s what you should really expect when buying a new home.

By Drew Knight

In the hunt for your new home, have you turned to your television for inspiration and facts about the homebuying process?

You know what they say, you shouldn’t always believe what you see on TV.

Shows like “House Hunters” and “Property Brothers,” as entertaining and inspirational as they may be, are also quite misleading when it comes to the real homebuying process.

Of course it would be nice to find the home of your dreams after three home visits, but it’s not always that simple. So before you hit the road on the quest to your new home, take a minute to find out the truth behind these reality shows so you’re not too disappointed when you discover there’s no TV crew following your every move.

Lights, camera, action!

Myth No. 1: Thee Homes and You’re Done

One of the biggest and most obvious misconceptions you can get from watching reality TV is the time it takes to find and build your new home.

On many shows, the host takes them to three properties and lets them take their pick. In reality, it could take dozens before you find the home of your dreams.

“Time and budget is always exaggerated on TV, whether it’s a show about remodelling an existing home or searching to purchase a new home,” says Lori Dennis, a celebrity designer who has appeared on networks like HGTV, Food Network and Oxygen.

Keep in mind TV producers are taking a process that can take several months and compressing it into a 30-minute or one-hour television show, so of course it will appear a bit more glamorous and speedy than in reality.

“It could take anywhere from a few months to over a year to find your perfect home,” adds Dennis. “Instead of three home tours, you’ll probably see about 50 before you decide to make an offer.”

Myth No. 2: Expect a Flawless and Seamless Construction Process

Another thing you’ll see on TV shows focusing on new homes are satisifed homebuyers moving into a home that has been portrayed as the flawless home of their dreams.

“The fact is that buying a home can be an emotional and natural roller coaster,” says Chantay Bridges, an agent with TruLine Reality in Los Angeles, Calif., who also has experience in real estate television. “At times you may see the emotional part, yet you rarely see the full steps.”

A storm might come along that delays things – there is just no way to fully predict events or accidents that could arise in the process.

“Visit the site as often as you can if your home is in the process of being built. Look around, measure and ask questions,” says Michael Fisher, an agent with Century 21 Beachside Realtors in Mission Viejo, Calif.

While a new home is often being built by various subcontractors, its best to bring these questions to your homebuilder or builder’s representive personally, as they will be happy to guide you through your concerns.

Myth No. 3: Budgeting Is Unimportant

Unless it’s a quick blurb or phone call clip, one thing you will almost never see on a TV show is any part of the buying process. Which totally makes sense – first there’s the financial privacy issues and then there’s the question of who would want to spend their time watching a show about numbers?

Still, it’s important you have a realistic expectation of the financial process, how you plan to buy your home, what upgrades you can afford and, for some, whether you should sell your previous home first.

On TV, you might see a couple walking through an immacualate model home with all the upgrades and staged with all the right furnishings and colors. Funny enough, they say it’s at an unbelieveable price right within their budget.

But what if your budget isn’t quite the same?

A model home is designed to show you what options and upgrades could do to a base floor plan, so ask about the cabinets, counter tops, windows and floors to find out what can be included within your budget. Ask your sales representative what’s included and if they have any incentives to buy now. If so, ask that it be written in the contract.

When it comes to buying a home, don’t be swayed by reality television. While the end result is the same (yay, a beautiful new home everyone loves!), the actual process will likely take longer than a few days and your journey will likely be emotional.

If you are new to the process, especially, it’s important to not become discouraged if your journey is not what you see on reality TV.

“If you are a first-time buyer, you always want to do your homework and own due diligence,” says Bridges. “You never want to rely on what you perceive to be the process of owning a home. Do a little research, know the facts and you will be better prepared for the hurdles that come along with the process.”

It’s not reality TV, it’s better: New Home Source TV! Tune in to see just what new homes have to offer – from quick clips of our host Brett Tutor chatting with homebuilders and touring new-home communities – and to learn more about what it’s like to buy and build new.

Drew Knight is a digital content associate for NewHomeSource.

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Gadget of the Month: Ketra Natural Lighting Systems

Ketra natural lighting

Ketra natural lighting systems allow for natural and automatic day-to-night lighting transitions throughout your home. (Photo by Ketra)

By Drew Knight

Wouldn’t it be great if the lighting in your home adjusted naturally with the time of day? Plenty of light in the afternoon and a soft glow right around bedtime?

With Ketra’s natural lighting systems, that’s totally possible and that’s exactly why we decided to make it our Gadget of the Month.

So, how does it all work? Ketra’s bulbs and lamps can be manually and automatically controlled via a touchpad that can be installed in your wall, just like a light switch, or into your counter top.

Settings allow the Ketra lighting throughout your home to adjust naturally with the time of the day, so your bulbs shine bright and clear in the daytime and soft and warm at night. This way, the light throughout your home can help you feel active and alert when you need to be and help naturally prepare you for rest when the day comes to a close.

The X1 touchpad interface is fully programmable and customizable, allowing the user to create their own preferred presets among Ketra’s built-in settings for simple transitions on command or by a scheduled event.

These settings, created by Ketra lighting designers, were curated for the different things you do in every room of your home. Five special presets found on the touchpad — home, office, dinner, daytime and sunset — deliver lighting for any occasion or mood. Plus, an additional ability to dim each setting only adds to the versatility of this product.

See it all in action in the video clip below:

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

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Summer Home Maintenance Tips for Your New Home

summer home maintenance

Looking for a few summer home maintenance tips to protect your new investment from the warmer months? We’ve got you covered.

By Drew Knight

With summer just around the corner, now’s the perfect time to start preparing your new home for the warmer months.

From saving money on your electric bills to giving your home’s interior a seasonal refresh, a lot can be done now to make sure your new home is in optimal shape for years to come. To help get you started, here are just a few summer home maintenance tips from the professionals:

Exterior

One of the best ways to shave the dollars off your electricity bill is to provide natural shade around your home. This can be accomplished with a quick trip to your local garden center.

Planting a well-developed bush near the living room window or a large tree near a second-story bedroom could help keep your home cool and save you money in the long run. Be sure to plant any shrubs, trees and other plants at the appropriate distance from your home to prevent any problems with your foundation and plants’ roots in the future.

While you’re in the gardening spirit, now’s also a great time to think about how you plan to maintain your lawn over the summer. The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) provides several tips in their seasonal guide to summer lawn and landscaping care.

For instance, many people believe hot weather means you should water more frequently, but the NALP actually advises to water your plants less often but more deeply. So increasing the length of time you expose your greenery to water will usually do the trick.

And to ensure the health of your grass, the NALP suggests having your lawn properly aerated to improve the flow of oxygen in addition to adding adequate amounts of fertilizer and frequently checking its pH levels.

For more tips on summer lawn maintenance, check out the full guide.

After your yard is in tip-top shape, it’s time to pay attention to the rest of your outdoor area. Summer nights are great for enjoying friends and family in the backyard, so why not make an outdoor oasis?

“Create areas around your yard that aren’t being used,” suggests Nicolle Nelson, a spokesman for Nadeau Furniture in Dallas, Texas. “And don’t be afraid to use furniture in a non-traditional way.”

For example, adding a fire pit and seating area can help prevent mosquitoes and create an intimate gathering area. Teak benches around the pool and buffets to house your grilling essentials are other great furniture pieces that really bring out the summer feel.

“By adding a piece of furniture to any corner of your patio or yard, you are inviting your family to use every inch of your space,” says Nelson. “That means more memories for your summer.”

Interior

Apart from the exterior of your home, there are also plenty of things you can do to get your home summer ready from the inside.

Since warmer weather brings thoughts of a well air-conditioned home, let’s start with the AC system.

“With spring allergies in full swing and warmer temperatures on their way, it’s crucial to be sure your air filter and AC system are working properly,” says Mike Clear, vice president of operations for American Home Shield, a home warranty company based in Memphis, Tenn.

Clear suggests checking filters regularly throughout the year to help prevent damage, inefficiencies and to keep air clean.

“Schedule annual maintenance on your AC now so you can be sure your unit is in top shape before being put to the test with summer’s high temperatures,” he adds.

He also advises to check in on the furnace and heating system while you’re at it. While a new home’s furnace is likely already quite clean, it’s important to make sure the area around air returns stays clean and unobstructed throughout the year to prevent fire hazards and inefficiency.

For more tips on preventative maintenance, check out American Home Shield.

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

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