Category: Custom Builder News

October 9th, 2013

Estates Collection Grand Opening in Spanish Oaks

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man and woman in golf cartYesterday, Spanish Oaks, one of the most exclusive luxury new home communities in Austin, announced the grand opening of their premier Estates Collection.

This collection of custom homes will feature 29 homesites with expansive and highly sought-after Texas Hill Country views.  The homesites are in demand and are selling quickly.  Since the grand opening where they first opened the sales, only 22 of the 29 still remain.  Scott Michaels is not at all surprised by this surge, “We’re excited to offer The Estates Collection to individuals who are looking for the perfect location to build the custom home of their dreams…ensuring the ultimate in privacy and peaceful living.”

Private homesites in Spanish Oaks range from 1/2 acres to 4 1/2 acres of lush greenery and natural beauty of the Hill Country.  Special Estate Collection features include:

• Unequaled panoramic Hill Country views
• Homesites from .75 acres to 2.93 acres
• Community design features a 3.5 acre hilltop park and two cul-de-sacs for privacy
• Priced from $475,000 to $1.1 million

Spanish Oaks is known for the resort-like lifestyle it offers and features nationally recognized private golf club and green; it’s been named one of the best locations in the United States by Golf Digest.  It’s a private 18-hole Bobby Weed-designed course that Texan golfers rave about, and residents of the community experience “impeccable service, fine cuisine, and personal attention” as members of the Spanish Oaks Golf Club.  The Pool Pavilion expands over 18,000 square feet, and is a treasured place of fun and relaxation for Spanish Oaks residents.  Interested in fishing?  There’s a “Fish Camp” that is the perfect place to cast your line at the fishing dock and fully stocked lake.  Many families also spend time exploring the 900 acres of natural beauty along the miles of biking and walking trails and enjoying their spacious backyards.  There is something for everyone at Spanish Oaks!

This Austin luxury home community can be found at Highway 71 West and Bee Caves Road.  All homesites within the Estates Collection are available to be viewed by appointment only.  To schedule a private tour of this luxurious Austin new home community, Spanish Oaks Realty can be reached at (512) 533-2300, or you can register online at

September 29th, 2013

Sales Up Nearly 8 Percent in August

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The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) reports that new home sales of single-family units are up 7.9 percent for the month of August, 2013. This figure translates to a seasonally-adjusted rate of 421,000 units in August, which is great news for production and custom builders alike.

These new figures come from the Department of Housing and Urban Development in conjunction with the US Census Bureau. August’s sales increase partially offsets a dip in sales from July, as homebuyers reacted to the new increase in mortgage rates.

Rick Judson, NAHB chairman and North Carolina homebuilder, further explained the chain of events. “Consumers are adjusting to the reality of today’s higher rates following a period of record-setting lows, and today’s sales report provides evidence of that.”

Judson continued, “We expect to see more buyers coming back to the market as the psychological effects of the rate gains continue to wear off, particularly since, even after the recent spike, mortgage rates remain exceptionally favorable on a historic basis.”

In August, NAHB reported that new home sales plummeted by 13.4% for the month of July, due to the recently-announced increase in mortgage rates. While rates continue to remain historically low, homebuyers are still getting comfortable with the new rate announcement in July. August’s nearly 8% increase in sales reflects a growing homebuyer confidence.

“Sales of new homes bounced partway back in August from an unusual low in July,” said NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. Crowe furthered, “That said, we are only about halfway back to what would be considered a sustainable level of activity in a normal economy, and the ongoing housing recovery continues to be slowed by consumers’ concerns about interest rates, as well as weak job growth and uncertainty about what’s happening in Washington.”

The Midwest posted a sales increase of 19.6 percent, the South gained at 15.3 percent, and the Northeast posted gains of 8.8 percent. The West, as an exception to the rule, posted a 14.6 percent decline.

Custom builders should breathe a sigh of relief when it comes to the news of August’s sales increase. The overall new single-family home supply decreased by 5.0% in August, and builders can safely continue to construct new homes without worrying whether they’ll sell. NAHB reports that many metro markets are improving across the country as well.

September 16th, 2013

Record Number of Markets Improving in September

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According to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) on September 9, a record high of 291 metro areas were listed in the Improving Markets Index, or IMI. This shows a gain of 44 markets since August and is an all-time high for the IMI’s list since it was first used 2 years ago.

As a custom builder, what does this mean for you?

First, it means things are going well. The Improving Markets Index only includes metro areas whose markets have shown at least 6 months increase in each of the following categories: housing prices, housing permits issued, and employment growth. These figures are collected from Freddie Mac, the US Census Bureau, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, respectively.

Increased employment means individuals will have more income and perhaps be able to finally afford a custom home. Increased housing prices shows that homebuyers’ wallets are healthier and can afford custom. More housing permits means more development, and it’s a safe time to be expanding your builder business.

“Just over 80 percent of the 361 metros tracked by our index are showing consistent growth in three key measures of housing market strength – prices, permits and employment,” said National Association of Home Builders’ Chairman Rick Judson. Judson, a homebuilder himself, continued, “While there is still plenty of room for growth, this is an excellent indication of how the housing recovery has begun to take hold across more geographic areas.”

Indeed, the number of improving markets increased not in a single geographic isolated area, but across the country in cities like St. Cloud, Minnesota; Spokane, Washington; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Brownsville, Texas. Custom builders across the country can expect to see a continuation of the already-strong housing market.

“The dramatic increase in markets qualifying for the IMI in September was partly due to a recent improvement in the way that Freddie Mac measures home prices, which resulted in stronger gains than previously reported,” explained NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. “Even so, the broadened list of metros on the IMI continues to demonstrate the slow but steady gains that individual housing markets are making to bolster the national outlook.”

A full list of the 291 improving markets can be viewed here.

August 20th, 2013

Housing Starts Increase in July

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Housing starts nationwide rose 5.9% for the month of July, according to an article released August 16 by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). Translating into a seasonally adjusted rate of 896,000 units, according to the US Census Bureau and HUD, this number means big things for custom homebuilders.

What does this mean for custom builders and buyers?

As the housing supply began to taper off earlier this summer, this number helps show that builders are properly reacting by rejuvenating the supply of new homes. When the housing bubble burst around the time of the recession, the construction of new homes came to a halt. Thanks to the saturated market, homebuyers were able to purchase homes at unusually low prices and builder suffered.

Now, we’re at the point where the ball is back in the builder’s court, homes have been selling fast, and even communities are selling out fast. As a builder, your biggest concern lately has been about buying more land; houses are designed and constructed easily enough, but it’s more of a question of where to put them.

The increase in housing starts for multifamily units can be explained by builders responding and reacting to the market demand; their goal is to keep up with each wave of buyers.

Rick Judson, NAHB chairman and a South Carolina homebuilder, said, “Builders are making every effort to keep up with the rising demand for new homes and apartments, and construction in both sectors is running well ahead of the pace we saw at this time last year.” He continued, “However, ongoing issues with accessing credit and limited supplies of finished lots and labor are making it tough to do that, particularly for single-family builders.”

The 6% July increase supports the idea that builders builders have been increasingly able to overcome the red tape Judson discussed.

“Today’s report is in line with our forecast for continued, gradual strengthening of housing starts and permit activity through the rest of the year,” explained NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe. He went on to say, “The double-digit bounce-back on the multifamily side was in keeping with typical month-to-month volatility in that sector while the sideways movement in single-family was a result of unusually wet weather in the South and West.”

A 26% gain put the market at a 305,000 unit pace on multifamily home construction, offsetting a previous dip in June; single-family housing units experienced a slight loss, declining by 2.2%.

Gains and losses for July were varied across the country. The Northeast gained 40.2%, while the Midwest rose 25.4%, and the West increased 7.2%. The South was the only region posting a decline, coming in with a 7% decline for the month of July.

The issuance of building permits also rose 2.7%, to an adjusted rate of 943,000. The issuance of building permits is typically an accurate indicator of future building activity, and it’s easy to see that builders are doing well. In order to maintain the high sales they’ve been benefitting from lately, builders should continue to keep building at a steady pace.

To learn more about this topic, start by referring to NAHB’s article here.

August 16th, 2013

Custom Waterfront Homes in Norfolk

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LR Hill Custom Builders has been receiving awards for their custom homes in the Virginia Beach area since 1993. They believe that building a new home is one of the most exciting and important parts of a person’s life, and they take their task seriously.

They choose not to rest on past successes but instead endeavor forward to continue to bring clients the best in everything: the best floor plans, the best customer service, the best construction materials, and the best place to call home. They are committed to each project and carefully plan out each home’s details with careful consideration.

However, their awards are absolutely worth mentioning. In addition to their award for the Virginia Beach Small Business of the Year in 1993, LR Hill Custom Builders has been named the Best Builder of Virginia Beach, Best Builder of Chesapeake, and the Best Builder at the Beach. LR Hill employees have also served as the director of the Home Builders of Virginia, director of the National Association of Home Builders, and as a trustee of the Athletic Foundation at Old Dominion University.

To stay up-to-date on all of their builder happenings in Virginia Beach, don’t miss their blog! They cover topics like what to expect for a new year, sales updates, available homes and properties, media relations, and a whole lot more.

If you want to get an idea of what their homes are communities are like, take a look at two neighborhoods we’ve highlighted below.

The East Beach Luxury Townhomes are located in a waterfront neighborhood in Norfolk, Virginia. Area amenities like paved, walkable sidewalks, walking-distance location to area marinas, linear parks and bay front greens, and more. These gorgeous homes are built in the traditional Atlantic Coastal village style and have a classic, distinguished look to them. Located where Chesapeake Bay meets the great Atlantic, this neighborhood is conveniently located close to the Norfolk International Airport, downtown Norfolk, major employment centers, and local military bases.

Another impressive neighborhood lies on Princess Anne Road in Virginia Beach. Ashville Park is a place to escape, with gorgeous, lush landscapes, thoughtfully-designed street layouts, and accessible and desirable floor plans. Children living in this neighborhood will attend school in the Virginia Beach Public School District, including Red Mill Elementary, Princess Anne Middle, and Kellam High schools. Sparkling ponds and a community center provide a special touch for homeowners and resident visitors.

If you’re still not convinced that an LR Hill home is the right one for you, read what a few of their clients have had to say.

“You have a remarkable blend of engineering talent and artistic gifts which are perfectly matched to your profession. You simply have no equal in this industry,” said one customer.



July 31st, 2013

Trends In The Custom Home Biz

Categories: Custom Builder News, Custom Homebuilders | Tags: , , ,

As years go by things change, and the custom home building business is no exception to that rule. The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has recently published an article on the subject, laying out what new trends they’ve noticed with custom builders.

The nation has become increasingly concerned with the environment and the utility costs that come with not going green. To keep up with client preferences, builders are using green building techniques, including renewable or recycled materials. Homebuilders are also installing energy efficient appliances, water-saving plumbing, solar panels, double pane windows, insulation to cut heating costs, and more. Since these houses are, by nature, custom, clients are satisfied thanks to the multitude of eco-friendly options they can select to make their home one-of-a-kind.

Another trend in the custom housing market is the multitude of unique amenities we’re seeing in custom designs. Customers seeking a custom-built home want something that sets their home apart from the rest. Today’s homeowners are especially fond of health-conscious features, like yoga studios, weight-lifting rooms, saunas, resistance pools, and more. Besides healthy home features, clients are also looking for ways to entertain guests and relax. Bowling alleys, in-home theaters, game rooms, billiards, etc. are all on the top of the list for many buyers. Lastly, homebuyers are seeking comfy retreats in their custom home, like screened-in porches, greenhouses, or even warm hearths and outdoor living spaces.

It’s important to note that new additions are increasingly “techy,” in the age of cell phones and specialized apps. Customers love the idea of being able to control their lights, fireplace, garage door, home temperature, security system, and music all at the touch of a cell phone screen, so custom builders are tending to their needs by building houses that can integrate these apps.

Builders have also found themselves tailoring their projects to the needs of multigenerational households. Many families have a parent, relative, cousin, or even a friend live with them permanently, and they want their home to be compatible with their lifestyle. A 2011 study by the Pew Research Center reports that 39% of 18 to 34 year olds have had to move in with their parents in recent years.

Multigenerational families are often looking for a house including a traditional mother-in-law suite, a separate apartment, or a separate living space within the house. These apartments often include their own kitchenette, living area, and bathroom to help the family member retain their sense of independence.

A final trend the NAHB mentioned in their article was customers’ desire to build a house that is easily accessible to any visitor.  This means lower countertops, wider doorways, and fewer stairs for an aging baby-boomer generation. Building a custom place to suit the needs of a wide variety of people helps increase resale value and can make you, the builder, feel good to know that you’ve helped a person retain their independence longer than someone in a standard house with multiple flights of stairs or narrow doorways.

What trends have you noticed in the custom home building business? Leave a comment below!

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