Oklahoma Home Builder News - OSHBA

 

Federal housing law creating problem for Walters

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Mike Means

(Walters)

As of last February, those who buy a newly-constructed house using a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan, there are some requirements that must be met.

The contractors must supply a 10-year warranty, guaranteeing the quality of the house, or the city has to supply a certification of occupancy, which certifies that the house is livable.

Problem is, that takes manpower to enforce, which small towns, like Walters, just don't have.

City Manager John Sheppard says to comply with this new law, the city needs a full time building code inspector, but the number of new homes built per year in Walters--about 5--doesn't warrant the full time position.

"One of the builders here in town had a new home to sell and he was kind of in a bind because he wants to get the house sold and the people want to buy the house and get the house to move into. Then, the mortgagor wouldn't approve that without the certificate."

Sheppard says bigger cities don't have this problem because they're fully staffed. Among the solutions they're looking at, Sheppard says he's spoken to someone who could open a consulting company. and the city could contract out that company's code inspector.

Another option is to hire Lawton's inspector on a contractual basis.

The Walters City Council will vote on the interim plan next week.

Sheppard says it may take several weeks to find a permanent solution.

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Local media report focuses on bad appraisers making bad appraisals

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Mike Means

Homebuyers, sellers find a way to strike deals and keep prices firm

Home sales dropped last month in the Oklahoma City area, but prices remained firm or better compared with a year ago, according to the Metro Association of Realtors.

BY RICHARD MIZE

Published: July 31, 2010

Home sales fell in June, but homes sold faster here than a year ago even as sellers dug in and buyers gave in, keeping prices at summer 2009 levels or better.

The average sale price of $160,570 was virtually flat compared with the average of $159,400 in June 2009, but the median price of $138,000 was a 2.2 percent increase from the year-ago median of $135,000, according to the Oklahoma City Metro Association of Realtors. The median price is considered a better gauge of the market because one-half of sales prices were higher and one-half were lower.

Homes sell faster

Homes sold in an average of 75 days last month, a day longer than in May but nine days faster than in June 2009. Sales were "stable over the metro area," said Dave Moeller, president of the Realtors group and broker-owner of Redbud Realty & Associates in Edmond. Firm pricing "is indicative of the strength and stability of our market."

Realtors handled the sale of 1,565 houses in June, a drop of 6 percent from June 2009 and a decrease of 6.2 percent from the month before, when the federal first-time homebuyer tax credit was thought to still be driving sales. Realtors who quit the business during slow times may have left more for the rest to do.

Bidding wars?

"Actually, I've been pretty darn busy," said Linda Finch, a sales associate with Paradigm AdvantEdge Real Estate, 16301 N May Ave. Heightened sales activity may have helped even out the marketplace after prolonged buyer dominance.

Finch said she's dealing with multiple offers on the houses she lists, "even though the tax credit's over"  and some buyers in bidding wars are paying more than sellers are asking.

She said three offers came in four days for an extensively remodeled home in Edmond's Sorghum Mill Estates addition, near Sorghum Mill Road and N Kelly Avenue. The 2,918-square-foot, four-bedroom, three-bath home, built in 1974 on 2 1/2 acres, sold for $292,000 and the sellers were asking for $289,900.

"I about fell over."

In west Oklahoma City, Finch said multiple offers came in on a 1,808-square-foot house with four bedrooms and two baths, a 2004 home that sold for the full asking price of $169,900.

Appraisal headaches

"What I am having trouble with is appraisals," she said, meaning appraisals coming in at less than a buyer and seller have already settled on. Misunderstandings surrounding the Home Valuation Code of Conduct put in place in May 2009 by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had lenders hiring inexperienced appraisers. Appraisers using short sales and foreclosed houses as comparables were not taking the nature of those transactions into consideration when formulating values on new houses and formerly occupied ones what were not in trouble. Fannie Mae recently took steps to rectify such extremes.

Finch said buyers and sellers are picking their way through such bureaucratic briars to strike deals. For example, the appraisal on a house in Bethany came in $5,000 shy of the agreed-upon price and the buyer and seller split the difference.

"I've had three where the buyers paid more than the appraised value."

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Why should homebuilders use social media? Local expert tells you why.

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Mike Means

Q&A with Steve Shoemaker

Social media a useful tool for homebuilders.

Published: August 6, 2010

Social media can be useful tool for homebuilders, expert says

 

Q: The Central Oklahoma Home Builders Association held a panel discussion Thursday on using social media. For homebuilders, why social media?

A: Well, it gives us a chance to have a genuine dialogue with our homebuyers, people that live in our homes. We're an industry that relies a lot on referrals. You know, a third of our business at Ideal Homes comes from referrals. I know a lot of other builders and Realtors that's their business. And it's a social network, an opportunity to visit with people, respond to them, not just talk at them, but to talk with them and to really humanize your organization a little bit. You know, we're in a noble business in home building. It's a neat business, and the more we can humanize our business and talk to homeowners, the better. I think, also, it gives us a chance to monitor our name out there and to respond to things we see going on in the market concerns that consumers have about what they might be hearing nationally, we can respond to and talk about what's going on locally.

Q: How does Ideal Homes use social media?

A: There are a variety of ways. First and foremost, it's a way for us to stay in touch with all of our audiences, whether that's the homeowners that live in our homes, or Realtors who sell our homes, or potential prospects that may live in other states and are potentially moving here in a year or two years, and they want to learn more about us. It's also a way for us to talk about our organization, some of the neat stuff we're doing. Little things. Our director of community development got engaged the other day in one of our communities, and we put that on Facebook because we think that's cool and we want to share that. Whenever we have an exciting story to tell, that people are excited about besides us, it's a great way to communicate. With our "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" build, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube were vital components of that, blending traditional media with social media and new media. We had 22,000 views on YouTube of our daily video updates that we put on there. It's a way for us to let people in on what we were doing that couldn't be there with us.

Q: Upsides and downsides?

A: Upside is definitely you can have a dialogue, you can respond to people. The downside: We have to corporately let go of a little bit of control. The best genuine dialogue happens when our people in the field, we turn them loose to talk to their homeowners and to mix their personal and business life and everybody's different. We just have to let go of some of that anxiety. It's a pretty easy thing to do when you start seeing the benefits of connecting with your homeowners.

Q. For a builder, or any businessperson, standing on the bank, thinking about whether to jump in, what do you tell them?

A: Start. Just start doing it. I think the big obstacle people have is they don't know what they're doing, and it's like anything else: Until you start doing it, you don't know. It's OK to start and to be a lurker, to hang around and watch what other people are doing. But I encourage you to do that. Jump in and start a Facebook page if you don't have one. Reconnect with people in your personal life. Start a Twitter account just to get some of your news, to see what experts are saying out there. A lot of people are getting their news from Twitter. There are an awful lot of opportunities out there. You don't have to jump in all at once. You can just stick your toe in the water. But you have to start. And you have to start today. Because every day you wait, you're more behind, and it ain't going away.

Richard Mize, Real Estate Editor

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Turner addresses shift in buying habits; may benefit HVAC contractors

Posted on October 27, 2010 by Mike Means

A Builder's Perspective

by Barb Checket-Hanks

Air Conditioning, Heating, Refrigeration: The News September 27, 2010

Shift in Buying Habits May Benefit HVAC Contractors

Ideas may be shifting in the home construction market, as a way to increase the attraction to potential buyers who face multiple opportunities in the existing home market. Bryan Kim (B.K.) Turner, Red Rock Builders, Edmond, Okla., said he believes homeowners are getting more involved in the equipment selection, through either the builder or the HVAC contractor.

"There is a definite increase in at least wanting to know and understand the value of the equipment installed in the home," he said. "Regarding selection, we have seen a steady increase in clients specifying equipment, especially high-performance equipment," such as specialized ventilation and geothermal systems.

He credits the buyers' increased knowledge to the Internet and "the explosion of informational TV that has given clients the knowledge and understanding to discuss equipment opportunities with the professional. I have, at times, seen the homeowner lead the professional into a higher level of product knowledge," Turner said.

IAQ INCLUDED

In one respect, Red Rock Builders may be different from many other homebuilders: Red Rock includes IAQ equipment as standard. "Most clients are pleased with the inclusion of IAQ equipment once they understand the benefits to family health," he said. "Since much of our work is custom based, we still have a need to present the benefits of a product so the custom homeowner will develop 'ownership' value and decide to spend the money required to incorporate IAQ systems."

The company installs MERV 11 filters at its climate control units, as well as standard fiberglass filters as prefilters at all return air vents. "To introduce outside air, we utilize the Ultra-Aire whole-house ventilating dehumidifier," which is applied in conjunction with a Hydro-Temp geothermal system.

Why? "Our homes are tight," he said, "allowing several times' less air infiltration than even the Energy Star requirement of 0.35 air changes per hour. Mechanical ventilation is a must in our homes in order to meet the ASHRAE standard."

However, ventilating with high-humidity air "is senseless in our climate zone," he said. With this ventilation product, "we meet the standards for ventilation without taxing the air conditioning side of our equipment."

CONTRACTOR RELATIONSHIPS

Turner said his subcontractors are able to get involved with the homeowner quite often. "Homeowners purchasing sustainable or high-performance homes are naturally more involved with the building process," he explained, because "they want to know what components are going into the home and how they will affect its operation. It is a part of their investment to hear what the experts have to say.

"It is important to remember it is not completely about the house or the location; it's about value. If the team is committed to delivering full value, then the full team has to deliver it."

Increased communication between the homeowner and the sub does not always work out. "I know that many builders are frustrated when a subcontractor communicates with a homeowner," Turner said. "At times I have been as well. Then I began to see that it requires training for both the subcontractor and the builder. This is especially true with sustainable or high-performance homes."

He said he and his wife Kate spend time with many subcontractors, showing them why the homes have value. "When they understand, they can help us sell value as well." Training often focuses on key points such as quality and health features; "doing this over a lunch works great for us."

The builder needs to know how to set the stage for the owner, "explaining what they can realistically expect of a subcontractor's work." This is just as important as educating the same subcontractor, he said.

When deciding whether he will encourage communication between a particular customer and subcontractor, teamwork is a primary consideration. "Working with green and high-performance homes requires a team effort," he said. "Key subs must be willing to work together to deliver the highest value to the end user, the homeowner."

This type of home construction requires a holistic approach, he added, and that also requires a team effort. "Frankly, if we sense a sub is not ready to step up and work with everyone else, we realize it is only a matter of time before we will need to find someone new."

For more information. visit www.hydro-temp.com, www.redrockok.com, and www.ultra-aire.com.

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