Friday, December 31, 2010

Census Shifts Affected by Economy

The first set of data from the 2010 Census, released earlier this month, underscored the big role economic forces can play in driving population shifts.  While the movement of people—and political power—from the Northeast and Midwest to the South and West continued, there were significant changes within that pattern, including a dramatic slowdown in what had long been some of the nation’s fastest growing states.  And those same forces are likely to shape the current decade, at least the first part of it.

“Over time, the population numbers will reflect the rate of job growth,” said Stephen Levy, director of the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto, Calif.  Many Americans want to move but can’t, because they can’t sell their homes. Others owe more than their homes are worth. And many young people, who account for the bulk of the moves, are stuck living at home, delaying marriage and having children as they contend with the sluggish economy.

Overall, the nation’s population increased 9.7% between 2000 and 2010, the smallest 10-year growth rate since the decade of the Great Depression. As in the 1930s, the latest slowdown was due to fewer immigrant arrivals and a shrinking of the nation’s birth rate, in part because of the economic downturn and the hardships inflicted on many families.

William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution, says there’s little in the latest Census head-counts, or other statistics for that matter, to suggest that the multi-decade trend of migration to the South and West won’t continue.  But the pace of movement has been restrained—and redirected within the region—by the sagging employing and housing markets. And that pattern has yet to change.

Barbara Abe

Exterior Projects Have the Best Remodeling Value

As part of the 2010-11 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report, REALTORS® recently rated exterior replacement projects among the most cost-effective home improvement projects, demonstrating that curb appeal remains one of the most important aspects of a home at resale time.  These are especially important projects in Hawaii homes, because of the time spent outdoors.

“This year’s Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report highlights the importance of exterior projects, which not only provide the most value, but also are among the least expensive improvements for a home,” said National Association of REALTORS® President Ron Phipps. Nine of the top 10 most cost-effective projects nationally in terms of value recouped are exterior replacement projects. The steel entry door replacement returned the most money, with an estimated 102.1% of cost recouped upon resale; it is also the only project in this year’s report that is expected to return more than the cost. The midrange garage door replacement, a new addition to the report this year, is expected to recoup 83.9% of costs.

The 2010-11 Remodeling Cost vs. Value Report compares construction costs with resale values for 35 midrange and upscale remodeling projects comprising additions, remodels and replacements in 80 markets across the country. Data are grouped in nine U.S. regions, following the divisions established by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is the 13th consecutive year that the report, which is produced by Remodeling magazine publisher Hanley Wood LLC, was completed in cooperation with REALTOR® Magazine.  REALTORS® provided their insight into local markets and buyer home preferences within those markets. Overall, REALTORS® estimated that home owners would recoup an average of 60% of their investment in 35 different improvement projects, down from an average of 63.8% last year. Remodeling projects, particularly higher cost upscale projects, have been losing resale value in recent years because of weak economic conditions.

According to the report, replacement projects usually outperform remodel and addition projects in resale value because they are among the least expensive and contribute to curb appeal. Various types of siding and window replacement projects were expected to return more than 70% of costs. Upscale fiber-cement siding replacement was judged by REALTORS® the most cost effective among siding projects, recouping 80% of costs.   A wood deck addition, tied with a minor kitchen remodel, would return an estimated 72.8% of costs.

The top interior projects for resale value included an attic bedroom and a basement remodel. Improvement projects are expected to return the least are a midrange home office remodel, recouping an estimated 45.8%; a backup power generator, recouping 48.5%; and a sunroom addition, recouping 48.6% of costs.

Although most regions followed the national trends, the regions that consistently were estimated to return a higher percentage of remodeling costs upon resale were the Pacific region of Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington; the West South Central region of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas; the East South Central region of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi and Tennessee; and the South Atlantic region of the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia.

Call or email me to discuss what remodeling you might want to do to get your home ready to sell in 2011.

Barbara Abe
Source: NAR

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hawaii Kai is a Perfect Example of the Growing Real Estate Trend of the Importance of Community

A shift is occuring in American housing, away from the supersized developments that dominated the industry leading up to the recession. Developers built under the mantra “the bigger the better”—from the size of homes to the number they could fit on plots in outer-ring suburbs where land was plentiful. Developers couldn’t pave streets fast enough to satisfy the demand. They offered sports courts, nature trails, wine-tasting community rooms, and huge master suites.

No more.  Now, it's about restraint. “It’s a total shift in people’s perception of what they feel is important,” market analyst Ryan Jones said. “In the 2000s, it was excess on every scale. Now people have reorganized and reassessed what’s important.”  What’s important today, according to several developers, is living close to work, knowing your neighbors, and feeling a sense of security about the community.

During the boom, buyers wanted to be the 1st to buy in a new neighborhood, because prices were assumed to rise as the community developed.  Now consumers want - and builders are listening - a small number of lots per development so they don't have to wait long for new neighbors. 

The shift has been driven by many economic factors, such as land prices, building prices, and the scarcity of money for developers from banks.  Developers are trying to reduce exposure to big losses that come with investing in big projects. Some developers simply don’t have the capital to invest in larger pieces of land that might take years to sell out.  And smaller projects provide less risk from changing market conditions.

This tenent is true for buyers as well, who want less risk, and ways to save money, such as lower gas usage for a commute or to take the kids to school, and energy-efficienct homes.  And they want a stronger sense of community.

One of the many reasons Hawaii Kai has held its market value the last few years is because of this sense of community, the very real Sense of Place.  There is nowhere else in the Islands like it, developed around ocean access, with a marina, and all the shopping and recreational amenities you want close to home in Hawaii.  Plus it is only 15 minutes to cultural events in Honolulu, the outdoor concerts in Kapiolani Park, the schools of Punahou, Iolani, and UH, shopping at Ala Moana, and so much more. 

East Oahu has very little buildable land left, and what has been developed in the last few years has definitely followed the national trend toward smaller, more cohesive, neighborhoods.  Add that to the overall sense of community in Hawaii Kai, and our part of Paradise becomes a truly remarkable place to live.

Call or email me to find out how you can enjoy our Hawaii Kai lifestyle.

Barbara Abe, Realtor

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hawaii Ranked 5th Healthiest State in US

America's Health Rankings®-2010 Edition shows Vermont at the top of the list of healthiest states again this year.  But if you don't want cold weather and snow, think Hawaii.  Our state placed 5th!

To give you an idea of what factors make up the rankings, Vermont rose from 20th in 1991 to the top position, with sustained improvement in the last decade.  The state's strengths include its number one position for all health determinants combined, which includes ranking in the top 10 states for a high rate of high school graduation, a low violent crime rate, a low percentage of children in poverty, high per capita public health funding, a low rate of uninsured population and ready availability of primary care physicians.

The top 10 states shown in order were:
New Hampshire
Rhode Island

The last 5, in order, were:

46 - Oklahoma
47 - Nevada
48 - Arkansas
49 - Louisiana
50 - Mississippi

Unfortunately, Mississippi ranks 50th for all health determinants combined, so its overall ranking is unlikely to change significantly in the near future.


We all knew how healthy it is to live in Hawaii.  The study just provides a little extra incentive.  Contact me for a free copy of my Relocation Package to Hawaii Kai.

Barbara Abe, Realtor