Newly built homes may make up a relatively small part of our overall housing market, yet I think local homeowners have to be encouraged by the trends we are seeing. This month, the National Association of Homebuilders reported that construction spending has turned up (“A Housing Recovery is Gathering Steam”) after its long slide. In August, the Commerce Department reported that overall sales have jumped 25% over the past twelve months. So far, so good.
Yet it’s still true that many observers (I’m one) think that these encouraging numbers would be a lot better if it were easier to finance home purchases…particularly for previously occupied homes. New homes have an advantage right now in this department. At a time when obtaining financing can be a stumbling block, there are several reasons why lenders may gravitate toward financing local new homes.
Part of the momentum has to do with recent history. One of the main reasons for the rise in newly built home sales since 2010 has been the number of foreclosures on new homes. Many of these were built on spec, never lived in, then turned over to lenders when the original investors could no longer afford to support them. Since foreclosed homes are usually cheaper than normal sales, that lower price made it easier to gain financing approval. Added to these is the number of non-distressed new homes whose financing is available directly through the builder.
Other factors make new homes simply easier to finance. From the lender’s point of view, new homes look like a slam dunk when it comes to safety and compliance issues: if they are on the market, they’ve passed the test. New homes in our area are usually more energy-efficient — plus, they have been constructed with today’s buyers’ preferences in mind. No home should ever be purchased without standard inspections, but new homes can often avoid some additional inspections that might be ordered for older homes. Too, local new homes bypass heirloom health concerns like lead and asbestos – trimming loan-processing complexity.
Lenders as well as buyers of new homes can plan on less capital being required downstream, after the purchase, to keep properties in top shape. That smaller maintenance load makes it easier for the new owners to meet their mortgage requirements, which translates into lowered risk for lenders. More immediately, if a previously owned home is in need of major repairs – that cost can postpone or derail a loan closing.
It’s all part of why buying new homes in our area can be an attractive option – whether you are a first timer or home-buying veteran. But it’s only one of the many elements that go into purchasing a home. Whenever you would like to discuss the tradeoffs available as the market picks up steam, I’m here anytime to go over all of your local options.