Monthly Archives: August 2018

Are you prepared for a natural disaster?

Weather is  becoming more extreme these days as record heat, record cold, and intense storms have been battering the United States. The wildfires in California are some of the worst on record. Four different Nor’easters pounded the East Coast with snow in a three-week span… in the Spring, no less. There was even freezing rain in Florida!

With so many unknowns and no area safe from the possibility of extreme weather, it’s important, as a homeowner, to be as prepared as possible.

As part of National Preparedness month, the National Association of REALTORS® wants to remind you of the best ways to prepare for intense weather, how to quickly siphon out basement flooding, and what exactly flood insurance covers, and who needs it.

The following items will come in handy for you to be the most prepared homeowner in your neighborhood.

Be prepared. Take the steps now to protect your property in case of an extreme weather event. And if there is damage to your home, act fast to rectify it and ensure that you are insured. A prepared homeowner is a good homeowner. Be a prepared homeowner.

Infographic: The Cost to Recover
Be an informed homeowner. Learn more about how federal, state and local legislators work in conjunction with communities after a disaster strikes to help those communities recover and prepare for the next one.

HUD Files Housing Discrimination Complaint Against Facebook

Online Discrimination
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development filed a housing discrimination complaint against Facebook, alleging the site’s targeting tools allow advertisers to intentionally exclude specific demographics from viewing or receiving certain housing-related ads. HUD claims the social media site violated the Fair Housing Act by enabling advertisers to discriminate against prospective renters and buyers based on their race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disability.

National Association of Realtors® President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty, issued the following statement in support of HUD’s aggressive enforcement of the Fair Housing Act:

“In 2018, as America recognizes the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, the National Association of Realtors® strongly supports a housing market free from all types of discrimination. However, as various online tools and platforms continue to transform the real estate industry in the 21st Century, our understanding of how this law is enforced and applied must continue to evolve as well. Realtors® commend the Department of Housing and Urban Development and Secretary Ben Carson for taking decisive action to defend fair housing laws, and for working to ensure its intended consumer protections extend to wherever real estate is marketed.”


Building a Better Block in North Carolina

One of the great things about living in the Haymount district of Fayetteville, N.C. is the neighborhoods. Conducive for families, it’s got a small-town feel while remaining incredibly close to the action of downtown.

However, there is one dark cloud that refuses to move from over top of Fayetteville – the commercial district is not blessed with walkability.

It’s a high traffic area with cars speeding by and not a lot of room for people to walk or bike around. There are many who feel that creating room for people to walk or bike is just the thing the commercial district needs to blossom and reach its currently untapped potential.

One such group in Fayetteville who believe that is the Longleaf Pine REALTORS® (LPR), who set out last Spring to show the community just how easy a fix that could be.

Using a Smart Growth Action Grant and partnering with the Haymount business community, the North Carolina chapter of the Association of Pedestrian and Bicycle Professionals and other local organizations, LPR worked with Better Block to create a half-day event to show how simple improvements to the commercial district – such as bike lanes, crosswalks, reduced traffic lanes and widened sidewalks could positively transform the area and help it flourish.

“It was beyond great,” said LPR Government Affairs Director Angie Hedgepeth. “This effort should benefit property values, business activity, and community connectedness, and could set a positive precedent for the entire region.”

“The event was an overwhelming success as it drew more than 3,000 visitors in just a few hours. Seeing this, City Council promised to to allocate funding for pedestrian safety measures.”

The event was an overwhelming success as it drew more than 3,000 visitors in just a few hours. Seeing this, City Council promised to to allocate funding for pedestrian safety measures.

“In June and July City Council found the funding necessary to paint the temporary crosswalks onto the road, making them permanent,” Hedgepeth said. “Since that happened, we had a call for action, so to speak, within our association and throughout the community to send letters of support to the North Carolina Department of Transportation to have traffic signals put in at this location as well. In August, I was told by the city traffic engineer, that it was pushed through a different avenue to speed up the process.

“I’ve been assured that within several months, we will have the signalization at those crosswalks that we have wanted.”

A Better Block Event

The initial idea for the March event came from a city staff member who approached the REALTORS® about the possibility of securing a Smart Growth Action Grant for a Better Block Event. She, in turn, worked on the project with a county transportation planner and a committee of about 70 REALTORS®.

Partnering with the community, only a little more money was needed beyond the $5,000 grant, to transform a central block of Haymount into a safe area to walk, bike and create a temporary plaza area for people to sit, eat, and listen to live music, browse local art vendors or even play game like cornhole.

An event like this takes months of careful planning, from acquiring permits, acquiring insurance, renting stages, hiring musicians, to arranging vendors and food trucks, it took an army of volunteers to show the city what could be with the right appropriations and planning.

And even then, the morning of the event, LPR members were using architectural drafting paper and duct tape to create the eight critical crosswalks that helped slow traffic and make the area safer and certainly more walkable.

“There was no honking of horns, no screaming; drivers were just easing down the road, giving all the pedestrian activity the time and space it needed,” Hedgepeth said. “It was wonderful, and a big relief, because of course, we had no idea what to expect.”

Some of the younger volunteers were able to collect more than 300 surveys from attendees of the event that were compiled and provided as a report to City Council. In addition, LPR interviewed all the business in the Better Block zone. All had positive feedback, including one fledgling coffee shop that reported sales that tripled it’s normal Saturday intake.

“There were people who came into our tent and said, ‘Please, can you make this happen for real,’” Hedgepeth said. “They also wanted to know how they could help to make it a permanent reality and not just a one-day event.”

And it may not just be for Haymount.

City Council reached out to Hedgepeth to see if other Better Block events like this one can happen in other areas of the city outside of Haymount.

“It’s amazing to me that our little grant has snowballed into meaningful change,” Hedgepeth said. “It was the most challenging and at the same time the most rewarding project I’ve ever done. It’s really kind of taking on a life of its own, and that’s really cool.”

Houston Housing Market Data – July 2018

For the latest sales information on single-family homes and condos in Houston, see these three infographics below.

Click on the arrows below the infographics for more statistics from the association’s annual housing market report.

Total Property Sales
« 1 of 3 »

Lakeland Community Helps Kids Get A Great Start

The Lakeland REALTORS® Association has made community building one of its top priorities. These local REALTORS® know that helping Lakeland neighborhoods, and the people who live in them, is a win-win. One of the ways area REALTORS® offer support is by partnering with organizations like the Boys & Girls Club.

Members of the Lakeland REALTORS® Association work with clubs in both Lakeland & Mulberry, and tailor their support to fit the individual needs of each location. Recently, the Lakeland REALTORS® Young Professionals Network (YPN) was serving up ice cream at the James L. Musso club. Games, treats and fun were on hand for the 75 children who attended.  “We have really enjoyed visiting the kids and doing activities with them this year,” says YPN Co-Chair, Jana Lutz. “They especially love when we bring them treats…who doesn’t love ice cream?!”

A New Hangout Spot

The association also renovated a room at this location so that local teens could have a new hangout spot. REALTOR® Shannon Cornell was visiting the facility and saw the room set aside for the kids. She shared with the association that the room was so in need of attention that no one wanted to be in it.  President Kyle Vreeland recalled going to this exact club in his early childhood years and agreed that, “Not much has changed since I was here.”

After raising funds from more than 1100 REALTORS®, the room was freshly painted and had new flooring, lighting and ceilings installed. The updated room was stocked with bean bag chairs and a life sized Jenga set for the kids. The club also got a serious electronic upgrade as the new hangout was stocked with a Playstation 4, a new smart TV, and tablets.

Boys & Girls Club Bedroom Makeovers

Vreeland attended the room’s reveal to the kids this past May. “They were so excited, I am very proud of our Community Service Committee for doing such a great job,” says Vreeland. Vreeland shared that this room was the first the organization had done on-site but that REALTORS® had been giving the Lakeland & Mulberry Boys & Girls club members bedroom makeovers for years.

Boys & Girls club leaders nominate the child they think would benefit most from the boost of a bedroom makeover. The Lakeland REALTORS® Association then gets to work raising funds, collecting supplies and organizing volunteers for the makeover. In the end, the child is given a reveal of their new, organized bedroom. A space of their own to relax, be social and in which they can do their schoolwork. “Room Makeover Reveal Day is our favorite day of the year,” said Lakeland REALTORS® Community Service Chair Marie Hanna.

Brookings REALTORS Team Up with Habitat For Humanity

Habitat for Humanity has a mission to ensure that every person has a decent place to live. It’s one of the most notable non-profit organizations in the world, building homes for people in need in all 50 states as well as 70 other countries in the world.

The process of building homes for people is a long one, and it comes with many challenges – none greater than finding partners who can advocate for the families or individuals moving into a Habitat home. The partner needs to walk these new homeowners – many who are owning a home for the first time – through the design, construction and homebuying process and then be there with these new homeowners for the first year after they are in their new home.

Eight Families

In Brookings, South Dakota, a small community of less than 25,000 residents, finding these types of partners is even harder.

But, in early 2017, the Brookings Area Habitat for Humanity had an idea come up in one of their board meetings – how about partnering with REALTORS®?

“I reached out to the East Central South Dakota REALTORS® and quite frankly, the response from that organization was overwhelming,” said Dan McColley, the executive director and chief mission officer for the Brookings Area Habitat for Humanity. “We now have a waiting list of folks from that organization who want to help. It’s such a long list that we can’t find qualifying families fast enough.”

The East Central South Dakota REALTORS® first got involved with family No. 64 in Brookings in early 2017. Now, in the summer of 2018, they are still partnering with Habitat, and are on family No. 71.

Eight families in a little more than a year is a sizeable number.

“Our building capacity with our volunteer staff is about three houses a year in Brookings County,” McColley said. “This year, with the help of the REALTORS®, we have two additional houses in a neighboring community, Madison, so we’re pretty busy.”

Of the eight houses that the REALTORS® have been involved with in the past year, three are completed and the residents are working with the REALTORS® to learn how to be good home owners. The other five are still under construction.

“Our goal is to educate the new homeowners and teach the families to have pride in homeownership,” said Kelan Bludorn, president of the East Central South Dakota REALTORS®. “Habitat does a great job with their program, but we want to hold the partner family’s hand through the entire build process. We are able to accomplish this by discussing the benefits of homeownership, assisting throughout the entire build, providing basic knowledge on home maintenance as well as providing information about maintaining equity in the home. It can be stressful for anyone, so we (REALTORS®) really focus on making it a positive experience.”

Making Families Thrive

That is important to Habitat for Humanity because they want to see the individuals and families in their homes thrive.

According to McColley, of the 71 homes that were built or are still being built, there are 45 active mortgages – the rest have since been sold, meaning those homeowners were able to reap the rewards of homeownership during the sale of their home.

Individuals or families approved for a Habitat mortgage are currently renting, living with family or own something substandard. The way they qualify for a habitat mortgage is to fall within very specific income guidelines.

“The most important thing is they have to have a need for housing.”

“The most important thing is they have to have a need for housing,” McColley said, although that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily in a dire situation. “It could be that their current housing is either too expensive, unsafe or too small. One of the families we are working with right now have a two-bedroom condominium that is perfectly lovely, the problem is they have four children, so it’s too small. Or a family can be living in a very nice place but may be paying more than 50 percent of their income. So, they need to live in a place that is more affordable.”

Habitat does not make a distinction on choosing families in need ahead of individuals or couples. It falls under the same regulations as a bank. If the applicants meet the qualifications, they are generally awarded a mortgage.

“We do not have a waiting list,” McColley said. “Affiliates with waiting lists will sometimes prioritize families over others based on need. We aren’t in that situation. In 2017, we built for a single woman and we built for a family of six – and they live across the street from one another.”

Built By Volunteers

It takes a little longer for the houses to be built for these folks as Habitat does not have its own construction company.

“Habitat builds houses in the least efficient way possible,” joked McColley. “We use volunteer labor, supervised by a professional home builder, and on a build day – we might have 10 people show up or we might have two people there. So, it takes longer than a traditional homebuilding company.”

The family has to work alongside the builders in building their own home, though.

Habitat homes are uncomplicated in their design and are typically a smaller footprint. But, if someone has to make a decision between carpet or laminate floor, for example, the family gets to choose. But their choices are limited. They don’t get to choose their cabinets because cabinets are donated.

“At our first meeting I might tell the family, ‘Your cabinets are going to be honey oak, so let’s choose a floor and a countertop that will go with that,’” said McColley. “Within a price range, they get to choose their carpet, or the kind of laminate floor or tile – same thing with lighting fixtures, etc. They get to customize a little bit.”

And now, when Habitat needs a partner, it’s no longer a hassle to find one – at least not in the Brookings area.

“When we approve a family, I send an email to (East Central South Dakota REALTORS® Association Executive) RaeAnn (Thompson) and say, we’re ready for the next one, and she gets us a name,” McColley said. “Everyone moving forward will be partnered with the REALTORS® and we couldn’t be happier.”