Fannie Mae stepping up and going green

The mortgage-finance company Fannie Mae is rolling out a program this year that lets lenders include income from non-borrowers within a household toward qualifying for a loan.

The move is expected to open up mortgage access to a segment of the population that doesn’t fit the typical family structure, such as multigenerational households and homes that include extended family. Open only to low-income borrowers or those living in low-income or minority-dominated areas, the program will also allow borrowers not living in the home to contribute income in some cases.

Also in the works from Fannie Mae is their new Green Initiative, a financing tool announced in February that provides a break for multi-family homes with recognized green building certification, an encouraging sign that sustainable building practices aren’t just better for the Earth, but also better for the bottom line.

In the works for five years, the Green Initiative is the first program in the US market that has figured out how to recognize, asset manage, and securitize green building loans.

Edited and revised WSJ & GB&D

Home Building Pace Picks Up

home trendsU.S. Housing starts rose .2% from a month earlier to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.21 million last month, the highest since October 2007, according to the Commerce Department.

New home construction is booming – and laying a strong foundation for a possible interest-rate increase. “Construction activity is picking up across the country, which we take as a positive signal about the health of the U.S. consumer and overall economy,” Barclays economist Jesse Hurwitz said in a note to clients. Single-family construction generally provides a bigger boost to the economy, and single-family starts were up by 12.8%.

U.S home builders also appear more optimistic. The National Association of Home Builders’ confidence index rose to its highest level since November 2005, to a reading above 61 in August. A reading above 50 means most builders generally hold a favorable view of the market for newly built, single-family homes.

Changes in housing starts tend to predict the direction of the unemployment rate some 12 to 18 months later. Indeed, the connection is so strong and has held for so long that housing starts can be fairly said to be among the most powerful economic leading indicators available.

Strong demand for homes could also mitigate some of the squeeze that rising interest rates will put on mortgage lending. An improving economy and rising employment could prompt looser standards for purchase mortgages and first-time buyers.

Notably, though, there are few signs that housing itself is overheating. Starts are still below where they were for most of the 1990’s, before the housing bubble. This suggests that they could keep rising, at least until they get closer to the annualized pace of 1.5 million new units that many economists consider “normal”.

The gulf between builder sentiment, which has surged, and slowly rising single-family starts has grown since 2011.

Excerpted and edited from WSJ

Top Four Construction Trends

As certain areas in the country, including Northern Ca have moved into a housing and commercial facility boom, everyone wonders what the top trends are that will help keep their businesses ahead of the pack for the rest of 2015 and 2016. Here’s what a leading prognosticator has to say.

  1. More commercial contracts will be green.

Green building is trendy and cost-effective. In fact, according to McGraw Hill Construction, up to 48% of new nonresidential construction projects will be green. That’s a $145 billion opportunity for construction firms. Additionally, the call to continue greening existing buildings will only continue to rise. And while there’s skepticism that LEED will keep dominating the green space, many firms will turn to green construction management software to help please their eco-conscious customers.

  1. Construction companies will continue ditching paper.

Paper is so 2010. Many companies are already switching over to construction management software with document management capabilities—saving some companies up to $5,000 a year. With more construction managers choosing to write, process, and submit their RFDs, project updates, applications, LEED forms, invoices, and contracts online, even smaller remodeling companies will start making the switch.

  1. Mobile apps with geo-fencing will boom in popularity.

A geo-fence is a virtual barrier. It uses GPS to track where an object (like a cell phone) is. With so many contractors relying on time-tracking software to figure out what to pay whom, geo-fencing applications are particularly helpful—with applications like Timesheet Mobile, setting geo-fencing parameters can help construction managers better manage their payroll as the system will log when an employee is on- or off-site, without manually having to add hours. There are lots of construction-specific mobile apps that provide this service, like Red-Trac and Labor Sync, but expect this trend to grow ever more popular over the coming year.

  1. 3D printing will make its way onto more construction sites.

3D printing: it’s flashy, it’s newsy, and it’s the future of the construction industry. With more commercial firms focusing in on green construction, cost-conscious managers will continue turning to this tool. In fact, according to Gartner, worldwide shipments of 3D printers will increase 101% (from 108,151 to 217,350 units) over 2015 alone. That said, construction is notoriously a conservative industry when it comes to technical innovation. Constructech warns, “3D printing probably will not infiltrate the core of the industry until it has been tested and proven in other industries.” With that said, the construction industry will likely mass-adopt 3D printers before the end of this decade.

So get your FSC providers lined up (like All Truss!). Improve your use of technology including construction management software and applications that will help you maximize your valuable team member’s time!

Rachel Burger of Capterra

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