Agents: Buyers More Interested in ‘Green Features’

By Nathan Cobb

Panhandle Realtors note an uptick in interest for energy-efficient homes, but it comes with a downside: Many homebuyers can’t afford the increased cost.

PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. – Local real estate agents say energy-efficient homes are becoming more popular.

However, the “green features” in these homes can be quite expensive, which could be a turnoff for some buyers since home prices in Bay County already are out of reach for many families.

According to the Central Panhandle Association of Realtors, there was a more than 30% jump from 2021 to 2022 in the number of real estate agents and brokers across the United States who said they helped a client buy or sell a “green” home during the past 12 months.

“Sustainability continues to play a growing role in consumers’ purchasing decisions, and this is becoming even more prevalent in the real estate market,” Leslie Rouda Smith, president of the National Association of Realtors said in a news release. “With the residential property market, in particular, home buyers have expressed increased interest in eco-friendly factors like solar panels and energy efficiency.”

However, Amin Delawalla, a real estate agent for Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Beach Properties of Florida, said while solar panels can provide some serious benefits for homeowners, they also come with drawbacks that might limit their popularity in the local market.

In addition to solar panels, Delawalla said other popular green features include smart thermostats able to automatically adjust a home’s temperature based on if anyone is there, tankless water heaters that prevent homes from running out of hot water and showerhead faucets designed to save water.

“Solar panels are great, (and) they help you save on utility bills, (but) I think the (main) decision owners have to make is (if) they are going to pay for the solar panels upfront or finance them,” he said. “If you’re going to finance them, you have to be cognizant of (the fact) that if you sell your home before that loan is paid off, your new buyer might not be willing to take over that loan.”

That is especially true in Bay County, where it is almost impossible to buy a new home for less than $300,000.

Many local homebuyers don’t want solar panels because they make already high home prices rise even higher, Delawalla said.

According to Aric Bowen, operations manager for Sundew Solar in Panama City, the price of fitting a home with solar panels varies based on the size of the house and its electrical demand, but a good guess is a cost of $40,000 to $50,000 to fully equip a standard three-bedroom, two-bathroom home.

This is what is needed to practically eliminate an electric bill, he said.

Still, buyers would have to pay a monthly fee of about $10 to $30 to remain connected to the power grid, and those who finance the panels also would have an additional monthly payment that could range from about $100 to $150, Bowen noted.

He also said it normally takes 15 to 25 years to pay off a loan for solar panels.

Like real estate agents, Bowen said he also has noticed a recent uptick in demand for solar panels and other green features.

“It can save (homeowners) money,” he said. “It’s a sound investment, and whether people like it or not, it does lower your carbon footprint. … The technology, I don’t think, is going anywhere. You have a roof, (and) you have this surface that you might as well do something (with) that’s going to make you money or save you money.”

Copyright © 2022, News Herald, The (Panama City, FL), all rights reserved.

The bulge in the lines has shifted toward fewer days for a higher percentage of homes. How quickly are homes selling?

Erica Plemmons is an economist and Director of Housing Statistics

© 2022 Florida Realtors®

2 of 3 Fla. Homes on Market Less than 30 Days

By Erica Plemmons Florida Realtors economist:

In 1Q 2022, half of new Fla. listings went under contract in 12 days – but look beyond that one statistic to see the shift in market speed. ORLANDO, Fla –Florida Realtors market metrics – such as closed sales, median sale price and active inventory – summarize what’s happening in your market. But sometimes, one number can’t present the entire story. In the first quarter (1Q) of 2022, the median time to contract for all property types in Florida was down to just 12 days. The median is the “middle,” so this means half of the homes sold in 12 days or less. This compares to 24 days one year ago, in 1Q 2021. You can find out if homes in your local area are moving off of the market faster than the state by reviewing the median time to contract on SunStats, an interactive market tool – a free service as part of Florida Realtors membership. The median provides a great starting point, but we can slice this data to reveal additional insights into the speed between listing and contract. A cumulative frequency graph shows the percentage of properties selling under a certain number of days. For instance, if 2% of homes sell on the day they’re listed (0 days), and 3% sell the next day, a total of 5% (or 1 in 20 homes) sold in one day or less. At 50%, a cumulative frequency chart tells us the same thing as the median time to contract.

The bulge in the lines has shifted toward fewer days for a higher percentage of homes. How quickly are homes selling?

In Florida across all property types, 68% (2 in 3 homes) sold in under 30 days in the first quarter of 2022. One year earlier, in 1Q 2021, about 54% of homes sold in 30 days or less, while only 41% sold at that pace in 1Q 2020. We can zoom in to look at these details.

Recall that 41% of homes sold in 30 days just two years ago; now, in 1Q 2022, 41% of homes sold in a week or less!

You’ve likely experienced this market frenzy since the pandemic uncertainty eased. A home today serves more functions than it did in the past, so buyers who find one that suits their needs swoop it up quickly.

As interest rates rise, demand levels may moderate and push the curve back, however. We’ll follow up with any notable changes in the data as the year progresses.

Erica Plemmons is an economist and Director of Housing Statistics

© 2022 Florida Realtors®

7 Easy Hacks To Make Over Your (Ugly) New Home

By Wendy Helfenbaum

Jun 9, 2022EnvelopeFacebookTwitterLinkedinPinterest

This brutal real estate market has pushed buyers to the brink of their budgets, and some have even had to settle for a house that’s in need of some major TLC. Best-case scenario, you found a place with great bones that needs minor cosmetic updates. Worst case? The exteriors are off-putting, the interiors are woefully outdated, and the decor is totally not your style.

If you had unlimited bucks, you’d rip everything out down to the studs and start over. But, like most new homeowners, you’re probably on a fairly tight budget. So what if we told you there are some simple (and affordable) hacks that can make your place look fabulous? Yeah, we thought you’d be up for that.

Check out our expert-approved home improvement ideas for how to take your place from cheesy to charming.

1. Start with the outside

Photo by Carl Mattison Design

If the exterior of your home desperately needs to be rescued from whatever era it was built in, there are many things you can do.

“Homeowners can easily remove shutters, change out the front door and hardware, and update the exterior lighting,” says Shannon Holmes, a Realtor® and interior designer at RealtySouth in Birmingham, AL.

You can also change up the landscaping by planting flowers in the ground or in a pot by your front door.

2. Work on the walls

Photo by RW Anderson Homes

The cheapest way to instantly re-invent a house is by painting your walls white, says Lisa Mara Bry, a Realtor® at KW Vermont who also co-owns Farm Home, a design-build company in Stowe, VT.

“Trust me: All interior designers typically paint most walls in a shade of white, and my go-tos are Sherwin-Williams’ Alabaster and Benjamin Moore’s Simply White, in an eggshell finish,” says Bry. “Then, paint your trim a brighter shade of white.”

Cursed with ugly wallpaper? Think twice about attempting to remove it.

“You’re going to spend your life taking down all the layers of wallpaper in some of these old houses, so just go right over it with Sheetrock, shiplap, or new wallpaper,” Bry says.

3. Give your floors a new look

Can’t stand the carpeting throughout your home? Pull it up before you move in. And, if you’re lucky, there will be hardwood underneath that you can bring back to life.

“We renovated a house where we ripped up the carpets, thinking we’d sand and refinish the hardwood floors, but they were so damaged that refinishing them would still not look great, so we painted them,” Bry recalls. “Painting hardwood floors can really make an awesome difference if it’s done and sealed correctly. Paint them all the same neutral color—like white, dark gray, or even black—so the whole room looks big.”

4. Update a dated fireplace

Photo by Ariel Bleich Design

Traditional fireplaces can be refaced with a sleek-looking tile or stainless-steel finish that’s more contemporary, says Holmes.

If the fireplace facade is brick, consider whitewashing it or painting it a modern shade of black or dark gray.

Black stains from soot and smoke can be removed by rolling on a fireplace cleaner like ChimneySaver, which peels off the next day, taking the grime with it.

5. Treat your kitchen to a fabulous face-lift

Photo by Julia Sperling Photography

If your kitchen cabinets are of good quality, Bry suggests painting them to contrast your walls.

“If the walls are white, I would go with a light taupe or a gray. Abalone from Benjamin Moore is a beautiful shade of gray that coordinates really well with everything,” Bry says.

Switching out the cabinet hardware is also a budget-friendly fix.

“It’s typically the knobs and pulls on the cabinets that make them look old-fashioned, so I would definitely switch those out and go with something modern and sleek,” Bry says.

6. Take your bathroom to the next level

Photo by Bella Villa Design Studio

Light fixtures can date a bathroom, and luckily, that’s an easy and affordable fix.

“You can spend $100 per light fixture—make sure it’s rated for bathrooms—and that changes the whole room,” says Bry.

Not happy with your vanity? You can install a new one for anywhere from $300 to $3,000, according to HomeAdvisor.

“You can even take an old piece of furniture and convert it into a vanity. Or paint the existing vanity and put new pulls on it,” Holmes suggests.

Other easy bathroom fixes include painting the walls, putting up a beautiful mirror, and switching out your shower curtain.

7. Keep the furnishings fun

Photo by Kim Parker Interiors

Once the big jobs are done, it’s time to fill your new home with one-of-a-kind treasures.

“Thrifting on Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist is a great way to find gems,” says Holmes. “With new paint, you can really turn an old piece into a showstopper in one afternoon for almost no money.

“Scouring vintage and secondhand stores is one of my favorite activities to do,” Bry says. “Have fun with your house; make decorating it an experience and an adventure.”

Pending Sales Decline

Pending Home Sales Descend 3.9% in April

Key Highlights:
• Pending sales slid for the sixth consecutive month, down 3.9% in April from March.
• Pending sales rose in the Midwest and fell in the other three regions.
• Compared to the prior year, pending sales dropped for the eleventh consecutive month, with a 9.1% year-over-year drop and a decline in all regions.
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