The count of unfilled jobs in the overall construction sector fell in August, as residential construction employment hiring accelerated in August and September.
According to the BLS Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) and NAHB analysis, the number of open construction sector jobs (on a seasonally adjusted basis) fell to 184,000 in August, after establishing a cycle high of 225,000 in July (post-data revisions). The July estimate represents the highest monthly count of open, unfilled jobs since February 2007.
The open position rate (job openings as a percent of total employment) for August was 2.7%. On a smoothed twelve-month moving average basis, the open position rate for the construction sector held steady at 2.9%, near a cycle high.
The overall trend for open construction jobs has been increasing since the end of the Great Recession. This is consistent with survey data indicating that access to labor remains a top business challenge for builders.
The construction sector hiring rate, as measured on a twelve-month moving average basis, ticked up to 4.7% in August.
Monthly employment data for September 2016 (the employment count data from the BLS establishment survey are published one month ahead of the JOLTS data) indicate that home builder and remodeler net hiring continued to rebound, as sector employment increased by 15,700 after posting a 14,400 gain in August. These gains come after a recent period of hiring weakness, which has reduced the 6-month moving average of jobs gains for residential construction to just under 4,000.
Residential construction employment now stands at 2.617 million, broken down as 738,000 builders and 1.879 million residential specialty trade contractors.
Over the last 12 months home builders and remodelers have added 146,000 jobs on a net basis. Since the low point of industry employment following the Great Recession, residential construction has gained 631,000 positions.
From prepping for winter storms to gift-wrapping (or cookie-baking) marathons, December is a busy, holiday-focused month. Make the most of it by planning ahead, setting intentions and focusing on meaningful events rather than trying to do it all. The weather outside may be getting frightful, but that just means it’s the perfect time to get cozy indoors with a mug of hot cocoa. Check off these 12 tasks for an easier, safer and cozier month.
1. Get ready for winter storms. Keep snow shovels, gloves, ice melt and window scrapers near the door. Mark the sides of your driveway and other key places with reflective poles, to help the snowplows see where to go. Even if it doesn’t snow where you live, it’s smart to keep the pantry stocked with food, bottled water, candles and flashlights in case of power outages.
2. Disconnect hoses. If you haven’t done so yet, shut off the water supply to your outdoor faucets. After shutting off the water, turn on the faucets outside to allow any water left to drain out. Then disconnect garden hoses, drain the water and roll up the hoses to store them inside.
3. Decorate for the holidays — and sort holiday decor for the future. When you pull out the holiday gear this year, pay attention to what you are passing over. If you didn’t use a decor item last year and don’t feel like putting it up again, do your storage space a favor and donate it to charity.
5. Make space for mucky boots, coats and scarves. If you have a coat closet by the door, clean it out to make way for bulky winter coats and boots. If you don’t have a hall closet, set up your own systems to handle mucky items. A boot tray on the floor, a bench for sitting on, wall hooks for coats and a basket for hats and mittens should do the trick.
6. Update emergency supplies. Put your mind at ease that you are prepared for emergencies by making sure you have a well-stocked emergency kit in the house and in the trunk of your car. At the very least, include bottled water, a hand-cranked radio, a flashlight and extra batteries, a cell phone charger, food, blankets and a first-aid kit. At home also keep your most essential documents in one easily accessible place.
7. Boost home security. If you will be traveling over the holidays, use light timers for interior lights and ask a friend or neighbor to take in mail. If it’s going to snow while you are away, hire a service to plow or shovel your walkways. It will give the impression that your house is being lived in and make coming home much more pleasant. Even if you are staying at home, consider adding motion-sensor exterior lights to make it less inviting to potential burglars.
The kitchen is the most popular room to remodel, but sadly, it is not the cheapest. One way to offset those costs is by completing the work yourself. Despite its high traffic, there are plenty of kitchen remodeling projects homeowners can accomplish without the help of a professional. If you want to shed some costs and transform your kitchen, read on to learn more about seven easy DIY projects perfect for any kitchen remodel.
The Benefits of Kitchen Remodels
Before you begin your kitchen remodel, you have to know why you are remodeling. Homeowners redo their kitchens for a variety of reasons; some just want a new look, some are planning to move, some can’t deal with their tile floors, and others just want more functionality. However, when we talked to homeowners across the country, three dominant reasons became evident.
Homeowners remodel their kitchens to:
Increase the value of their home
Add different designs
Install more storage or make it more convenient
1. DIY Kitchen Countertops
Kitchens almost always start and end with the countertops. Homeowners tend to shy away from working with expensive features—like their countertops—but as you will see, installing your own kitchen countertops is a job anyone can handle.
After you decide on your material, know the dimensions and have your counters cut (by the manufacturer), all homeowners can follow the steps below.
Double-check that the counter size and cuts are perfect
Add the sink before you install the counters (sink hole should be cut)
Place countertop on workstation with plenty of space
Drill a hole for the faucet and the brackets
Add silicone around sink hole (ask countertop manufacturer what silicone or adhesive they recommend)
Add the sink to the countertop
Place countertop in desired location
Seal all spaces with colored adhesive (match the countertop)
Connect water lines
2. How to Install a Sink
There are those homeowners who grow tired of looking at the same kitchen sinks for years and years. Much like the kitchen counters, all it takes is careful precision and a steady hand.
If you are installing a new sink, you will need to cut a hole in the countertop, just as we did above. The sink manufacturer should provide a cutting template. Just like the counters, install the faucet and waste line to the sink before the sink is secured in the hole—much easier.
Use the following steps to install the sink:
Turn your sink over on your countertop in the desired location
Trace around the sink
Drill four holes at the corners of the sink placement
Use a jigsaw to cut from corner to corner
Check that the sink fits inside the hole
Seal the cut edges of the countertop with a preservative primer
Put the faucet in the sink and install the hoses as well
Install the waste line as the instructions show
Add a layer of adhesive on the counter where the sink will sit
Some homeowners add retaining clips around the edges of the sink at this time
Once you put the sink into place, tighten the clips if needed
Connect the faucets and waste lines
For a more detailed description, please see our friends over at the DIY Network.
3. DIY Kitchen Cabinets
Much like the counters, homeowners tend to shy away from installing their own kitchen cabinets. Fortunately, installing kitchen cabinets is just as easy as hanging a TV or large painting. As long as you have a plan and know where the studs are, you can install your kitchen cabinets without a professional.
Measure and find studs in the wall (mark them)
Hang a support board (so you don’t have to hold the cabinet as you install)
Remove cabinet doors
Attach adjacent cabinets together
Attach kitchen cabinets to the wall with the drill
Install base kitchen cabinets using the same steps
4. Paint Kitchen Appliances
One of the cheapest and quickest ways to transform your kitchen is by giving it a fresh coat of paint. While the average price to paint an interior room is $1,655, you can drastically reduce the overall cost by completing the job yourself.
If you choose to go bold, we highly recommend consulting a professional first. Interior design pros know what colors work in what rooms. If you’re looking for a smaller job, painting kitchen appliances could have the same design effect and yet, take half the time. Most major appliance manufacturers offer paint, panel kits, and other fix-ups on their websites. With these kits, you could redo your refrigerator, oven, or dishwasher.
Whether you want a fresh look for your home or are planning to sell it in the near future, a coat of paint inside the home will make the space look newer, brighter, and even a little more spacious.
5. DIY Tile Backsplash
The backsplash has become the new necessity in kitchen remodels across the country. Backsplashes can give dull or small kitchens that “wow” factor we all seek. They come in a wide array of designs, matching your traditional, rustic, or modern kitchen. As long as you’re not afraid to get your hands dirty, you can install the backsplash yourself.
Follow the steps below to install your own tiled kitchen backsplash:
Measure the distance between your top cabinet and your countertop
Grab your tiled backsplash and cut it to match the distance you just measured
Remove the outlet covers on the wall
Clean the walls to remove all oils, grease, and marks
Place your tile on the wall in the desired location
Carefully add the bottom row of the backsplash, starting with the left-hand side
Make sure it is straight and even before moving forward or applying pressure
To add the grout, cut the edge of the grout bag and evenly distribute it with an evening tool or a floater
Apply grout to the backsplash in a diagonal pattern
Then, push the grout into the joints going the opposite direction
Make sure there is grout in all joints
Use a damp sponge and clean all the grout and joints
6. Clean Grout on Tile Floor
Speaking of tile and grout, a terrific way to update your kitchen with little to no cost at all is by cleaning the grout on your tile floor.The visible grout lines made from water, sand, and cement absorb grease and dirt faster than tiles. As a result, it may discolor quickly, resulting in an ugly design for your kitchen floor.
The savvier DIYer would create his or her own grout cleaner from any combination of baking soda, vinegar, hydrogen peroxide or (oxygen) bleach. As an extra precaution, only use bleach if you have light-colored grout. However, the safer bet would be to buy a special pH-balanced product from a flooring company to protect against discoloration.
Depending on the chosen cleaner, it’s always best to let it sit within the grout for a few minutes before scrubbing it in. If you’re using a combination of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, let the peroxide settle before hitting the scrubber.
After pouring a healthy amount of cleaner and letting it sit, gently add your baking soda (if you’re using it). Then, use your toothbrush or specialty brush and rub away the dirt. Don’t be afraid to use some muscle. Most homeowners ignore their grout for months, if not years, so a good amount of grease and dirt could be hiding.
7. DIY Fixes for the Refrigerator
Food is the main reason we enter and leave the kitchen, but if your fridge is on the fritz, the kitchen loses all purpose. Luckily, homeowners can fix some of the most common refrigerator issues.
The most common problem fridges face is leakage. A range of issues could cause a refrigerator to leak, but the most common culprit is a loose gasket. A refrigerator gasket is the flexible elastic strip attached to the outer edge of a refrigerator or freezer.
Billionaire Mark Cuban (who may or may not be Batman) talks about the student loan bubble, which he says will burst and end badly for colleges, just like the housing bubble. These collapses, he says, will put colleges out of business.
“It’s inevitable at some point there will be a cap on student loan guarantees. And when that happens you’re going to see a repeat of what we saw in the housing market: when easy credit for buying or flipping a house disappeared we saw a collapse in the price housing, and we’re going to see that same collapse in the price of student tuition, and that’s going to lead to colleges going out of business.”
National apartment occupancy in May soared to the highest level in at least six years, according to Axiometrics, an apartment data and research company. Ninety-five percent of all units are filled, even as thousands of new units are becoming available.
“It’s a pleasant surprise because it’s coming at a time when new supply is flooding the market,” said Stephanie McCleskey, Axiometrics‘ director of research. “One reason occupancy is rising is that, not only are people moving into these new units, but they’re also moving into Class B units at a lower price point.”
The proposed consolidation of Mount Kisco’s police force with Westchester County’s was discussed in detail for the public at a Monday meeting.
The presentation, given by county police Sgt. Jeffrey Weiss, included data and the reasons for a merger.
The consolidation would come due to a contract between the village and the county, which would require a level of policing services dedicated to Mount Kisco. Current village police would join the county police and keep their current titles and civil statuses. The Mount Kisco Police Department has 28 members but lacks a permanent chief.
Mount Kisco’s police station would continue to be used by county police, including as a base for officers on patrol and for detectives. Members of the public would also be able to visit county police at the village station and the local non-emergency police number may be kept by the county.
In the presentation, several problems with small police departments were cited. They include manpower shortages, injuries leading to prolonged absences and vacancies leading to backfill overtime and undesired patrol staffing. The manpower gap is also blamed for burn out of police. Also cited as issues were under utilization of supervisory resources, personnel cost and the fact that only one person is responsible for dispatching officers and taking calls.
At the Atlantic, they’ve taken note of something we’ve been tracking for a while at HousingWire: namely the growth of single-family rentals, and the reversal of migration to urban centers and back towards the suburbs.
The magazine reports on how the bulk of residential construction in the first half now of 2014 has been in multifamily, and the rise of REO-to-rental.
The magazine makes the standard urbanist complaint about the “dreaded” suburbs, but it at least recognizes and quotes someone saying the obvious – eventually, all the hip urban dwellers (most anyway) will get tired of ironic mustaches, get married, and have children – and they will want something more than high-density living with mediocre public schools.
In McKinney (Texas) and other fast-growing suburbs and exurbs, rentals are the major force driving growth—just not multifamily rentals. Abundant stock left over from the single-family housing boom whose bust fueled the Great Recession are being opened to a new generation of suburban renters by major private-equity firms such as the Blackstone Group.
This transformation of the suburbs is a new and not-altogether-welcome development. The single-family homes being bought up, rehabilitated, and then rented out again by investment units such as the Blackstone Group’s Invitation Homes—in the suburbs and exurbs outside Seattle, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, and other cities—are leftovers from a housing boom characterized by cheap construction and easy credit. The conversion of unsold or foreclosed single-family homes creates fewer jobs than new construction. From an urbanist perspective, single-family home rentals come with all the drawbacks of large-plot suburban development and none of the benefits.
A home is a retreat — a place to escape the outside world, to be alone, to recharge, to relax with friends. For some, one apartment among many in a building wedged into a sea of other buildings provides all the sanctuary they need. But for others, true escape means getting as far away as possible from the rest of the world, to a beautiful and remote residence in a stunning location — with nobody around for miles. Such retreats try very hard not to be found, but we’ve hunted down a few of them for your voyeuristic pleasure, searching high, low, and far to find a collection of lovely, unusual, and isolated homes that truly stand alone. (Just don’t go knocking on their doors.)
In some parts of the country, handyman services made up nearly half of all home-improvement projects undertaken in the six-month period before a home sold, according to real estate website Porch.
Real estate agents and sellers prioritize repairs and aesthetic improvements that prospective buyers are likely to notice, such as upgrades to flooring, cabinets, fences and doors, says Matt Ehrlichman, chief executive of Porch, which tracks home-improvement projects.
For the analysis, details of 675,000 home-improvement projects that had been submitted to Porch by homeowners, architects, builders, real estate agents and others were compared with home listings and sales data from realtor.com, which partners with Porch. The findings: Home sellers in the Northeast and Midwest were most likely to hire a handyman for minor repairs in the six-month period before the home sale. Homeowners in the West were most likely to hire a general contractor for larger improvements. In the South, home sellers were most likely to pay for electrical upgrades and repairs.
“Just doing these minor things will help your house sell quicker and typically for more money,” says Brad Carlson, a real estate agent with Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Gary Greene in The Woodlands, Texas.
Carlson once had the listing for a three-bedroom home with dated brass fixtures throughout. The house sat on the market for over two months with no offers until the seller finally agreed to swap the fixtures for more modern ones. Two days and $800 in new fixtures later, the home sold close to its listing price at $214,900
30-year fixed-rate mortgage (FRM) averaged 4.34 percent with an average 0.7 point for the week ending April 10, 2014, down from last week when it averaged 4.41 percent. A year ago at this time, the 30-year FRM averaged 3.43 percent.
15-year FRM this week averaged 3.38 percent with an average 0.6 point, down from last week when it averaged 3.47 percent. A year ago at this time, the 15-year FRM averaged 2.65 percent.
1-year Treasury-indexed ARM averaged 2.41 percent this week with an average 0.5 point, down from last week when it averaged 2.45 percent. At this time last year, the 1-year ARM averaged 2.62 percent.
Average commitment rates should be reported along with average fees and points to reflect the total upfront cost of obtaining the mortgage. Visit the following links for the Regional and National Mortgage Rate Details and Definitions. Borrowers may still pay closing costs which are not included in the survey.
Quotes Attributed to Frank Nothaft, vice president and chief economist, Freddie Mac.
“Mortgage rates eased a bit following the decline in 10-year Treasury yields. Also, the economy added 192,000 jobs in March, which was below the market consensus forecast but followed an upward revision of 22,000 jobs in February. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate held steady at 6.7 percent.”
Freddie Mac was established by Congress in 1970 to provide liquidity, stability and affordability to the nation’s residential mortgage markets. Freddie Mac supports communities across the nation by providing mortgage capital to lenders. Today Freddie Mac is making home possible for one in four home borrowers and is one of the largest sources of financing for multifamily housing. Additional information is available at FreddieMac.com, Twitter @FreddieMac and Freddie Mac’s blog FreddieMac.com/blog.
Big institutional investors — companies that have purchased at least 10 properties in a calendar year — accounted for 5.9 percent of all U.S. residential property sales in February, up from a revised 5.0 percent of sales in January but down from 7.2 percent of sales in February 2013. February was the third consecutive month where the institutional investor share of sales declined on a year-over-year basis after 19 consecutive months of year-over-year increases, according to the latest report from RealtyTrac.
Among metropolitan statistical areas with a population of 500,000 or more, cities with the highest share of institutional investor purchases in February were Atlanta (25.2 percent), Columbus, Ohio, (21.4 percent), Knoxville, Tenn., (18.2 percent), Phoenix (15.2 percent), and Cape Coral-Fort Myers, Fla. (14.8 percent).
“Since Fannie Mae inventory is mostly comprised of completed home foreclosures with FHA loans, investors target these properties because they tend to be smaller homes that make for better rental property investments,” said Sheldon Detrick, CEO of Prudential Detrick/Alliance Realty, covering the Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla., where the institutional investor share of purchases dropped from a year ago. “There is very little Fannie Mae inventory left, which coincides with the fact that institutional investors have slowly backed out of the market.”
Metros with the biggest year-over-year increases in institutional investor share were Knoxville, Tenn., (from 3.3 percent in February 2013 to 18.2 percent in February 2014), Little Rock, Ark., (from 3.2 percent in February 2013 to 12.1 percent in February 2014), Milwaukee, Wis. (from 3.5 percent in February 2013 to 9.2 percent in February 2014), San Francisco (from 3.9 percent in February 2013 to 9.5 percent in February 2014), San Antonio, Texas (from 4.6 percent in February 2013 to 8.3 percent in February 2014), and Columbus, Ohio (from 13.3 percent in February 2013 to 21.4 percent in February 2014).