Every week, we ask a Houston real estate professional for their thoughts on the top three stories from the week before. This week, we spoke with Will Holder, president of Trendmaker Homes.
Houston Agent (HA): One of our recent articles discussed the value of building green, not only in an environmental sense but a monetary one, as well. What are your thoughts on green building? Do you think the long-term benefits are worth the initial costs?
William Holder (WH): Green building materials and methods have made tremendous advancements year after year over the last couple of decades; so much that today’s “standard materials” are green compared to the products of five or ten years ago. Every component manufacturer out there is actively seeking the next big green advancement, but with the simplest and easiest changes already achieved, now each next step has marginally less benefit and higher cost. There are new advancements coming, but they don’t exist now. As far as what buyers want or are willing to pay for, they are focused on affordability. Buyers will only pay for green features that make financial sense during their tenure in the home.
HA: In recent years, new home construction has been dominated by the upper end of the market. Why are builders shying away from entry-level homes, and do you think the trend can/will continue?
WH: There are lots of forces at work on the entry level buyers. Constructing new homes has become more expensive due to land cost and government mandates. It has pushed new homes out of reach for young people who struggled to find jobs during the recession and who were working through student debt issues, where previously debt was not common among young people. This trend will continue, but people want homes and they will buy as soon as they can afford them. My kids and my friends’ kids are all trying to buy homes right now.
HA: The new TILA-RESPA Integrated Disclosure rules are quickly approaching. While their primary impact will be on lenders and agents, builders will have to be prepared for new closing timelines. What have you done, if anything, to prepare?
WH: There is not much you can do to prepare. The new federal regulations impact everyone – lenders, agents, buyers and builders alike. As is always the case with federal regulations, what used to take two weeks will now take a month or longer.