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What is the Best Time to Buy A New Home?

imgres What is the Best Time to Buy A New Home?

As Published in The Seattle Times/ New Homes Saturday

by Al Doyle

I bought my first home at age 18.  I needed to get the loan co-signed, most of my friends laughed at me, but this was without a doubt one of the best moves of my life.  Today, some 40+ years later, I’m renting for the first time in my life, and thinking a lot about when is the best time to buy a new home.  Every morning there is a new blog, a news story or an office conversation that speculates about the future of the housing industry.  Each expert attempts to top the next with stories varying in nature from The Apocalypse to Pollyanna.  Most of these pundits are focusing on the wrong point — the investment aspect of a new home.  Not until the early 2000s did investment become a major driver in home ownership.  It was a given that over time, owning a home would benefit a family nest egg, but new homes were not get-rich-quick schemes.  Today is no different.

Here are the generation-proven reasons for buying a new home.  A new home is a place to settle in and put down roots.  It’s a chance to make a commitment to a neighborhood and a community and build friends and contacts.  A new home gives a person or a family a sense of pride and wellbeing.  A new home, particularly today, is built to energy efficiency and sustainable standards that can save the owner tens of thousands of dollars in operating and maintenance costs over its lifetime.  A new home is something, unlike a rental, that can be personalized and decorated to reflect your tastes, your values and your entertaining style.  A new home, and making regular payments, not only build equity, but also can anchor a personal credit score, enabling other investments.  With a new home, your monthly cost can be fixed for the next thirty years (then go away when it’s paid off).  Often homebuyers learn that a new home can be paid for in full in less than 15 years with a little extra payment each month.   If you are renting a home or an apartment now, what direction do you think your rent payment is headed?  Historically rents rise, and with an increasing demand on the housing stock in the Northwest and limited new apartments under construction, a shortage of rental units could easily drive rents up faster than the cost of living.

For me, personally, the best reason to buy a new home, instead of renting or shopping for a resale home, is design.  New homes offer floor plans and features that are more exciting that ever.  Homebuilders, particularly in the Puget Sound market, are becoming quite innovative in their offerings.  Now more than ever, the selection is outstanding.  Depending on your stage of life you should be able to find the perfect match in the perfect neighborhood, from high rise condominiums in a downtown setting to cottages tucked along quaint tree-lined streets, to the family home with a big back yard and lots of neighbor kids to play with.

So, what is the best time to buy a new home? How about now?  I always start with the Saturday paper.

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From the MBA Centennial Video: Helping launch the big dig. The team that knows how to shovel it!

I just received a glossy, full color 44-page “President’s Report” from the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties.  I wonder if these guys have gotten the memo.  Their members are hurting.  The New Home Industry is under siege!  I’m more optimistic than the next guy about good things lying ahead, but right now, I have to wonder why I’m paying these guys big dues so the “President” can report in the most old-skool of ways.  Here’s a suggestion:  try the Internet for Sam’s sake!  Email your report.  Post on the Association website.  Put it on Sam’s Facebook page.  Anything but print and mail a 44-page slick report that actually does little to address the core issues that face our industry.  And  if any MBA’ers are thinking I’m being a little harsh?  Be damn glad I didn’t choose to pick on the wretched, self-serving excess of that thick hard cover you published this year for the 100th Anniversary.  Can I find anything GOOD to say about the Pres’s report? The orange on the back cover is pretty nifty!


Builder Magazine Weighs In On Nation’s Top Housing Markets

As this year’s PCBC conference wound down and the the winners headed home clutching their hard -earned Gold Nugget awards, Builder Magazine went live with a review of the nation’s top 15 new home markets.  It’s a real eye-opener.  They also amuse (or depress) us with their review of the 15 top losers.  It was very interesting to see where markets like Seattle and Washington D.C. fell.  I guess the democrats are good for biz if you consider a growing number of government workers all need a new place to live.  Read it here.

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Is Big Better? Today There’s a New #1!

pultefreshstart1 300x281 Is Big Better?  Today There’s a New #1!

Will Pulte and Centex Go Fresh?

Below are links of some of the best articles on this news:


Chicago Tribune

PR Newswire

Number Four ranked Pulte just pulled off a stock swap netting for itself #3 ranked Centex to become the new #1, overtaking long-time leader D. R. Horton who slipped to the new #2.Last year, Pulte and Centex combined closed 39,000 sales.To put it in perspective, that’s 150 homes per business day in the worst housing market since 1930!

What are we to think?At first blush, Wall Street Journal reported that the stock market smiled on the other large national public builders—Beazer, Lennar and Hovnanian shot up in midday trading, while Moody’s pondered a credit downgrade on the new entity.  Centex was the Old Skool queen.Cheap. Efficient. And unimaginative.Pulte was the steady Eddie who also lucked out by a big presence in Texas and the Carolinas, where the housing dive hasn’t been quite as bad.

What I’m waiting for is the Apple of the home building industry to make its appearance and take us into New Homes 3.0. We need a design and innovation revolution to create new products for a new generation.We need to see homes that are way greener than the current green-wash approach used so much. We need homes close to public transportation.We need the Del Webb (Pulte owned) for the new generation.

I have two young adults in my family who are within a few years of their first home purchase.Who is listening to this generation?They will trade square feet to live near friends…to be less dependent on cars. And they will trade mom and dad’s oversized suburban box for coolness.

If this innovation comes from the new #1, I will be both shocked and thrilled.But believe me, I’m not holding my breath.

Who do you know out there who are building a new, exciting and appropriately priced products for the Millennial generation?

And who’s building smarter and greener? We need to get the word out and keep the heat on the big boyz.Leave your comments or rants in the handy space below.

Right now I’m thinking small is the new big.