Home sales perk up in South Carolina

MHMSM.com presents Factory Built Housing Industry News at Noon with Erin Patla

Coming up, Home Sales Perk Up in South Carolina–AND—final preview of MHMSM.com’s exclusive report, MEMA Cottages Loved and Hated Five Years after Hurricane Katrina

But first…these stories:

Zeta Communities Gets a Boost for Net-Zero Modular Green Homes

By Ariel Schwartz for FastCompany.com

ZETA Communities isn’t wasting any time in rolling out its “net zero energy” modular multi-family homes in California. The San Francisco-based startup, which opened a 91,000 square foot net zero housing factory late last year, is already working on 132 factory-built housing units. The goal is to build 2,800 housing units in four factories by 2013–an objective made significantly easier by a $5 million venture capital investment this week from Black Coral Capital. That brings ZETA’s total funding to $10 million.

The company claims that its homes offer a number of advantages for energy-minded customers: ZETA’s modular housing uses 40-60% less overall energy than traditional homes thanks in part to a passive solar design, energy-efficient windows and strong insulation.

In the short-term, ZETA mostly plans to stick to the multi-family housing niche. The company has already built a townhouse in Berkeley, and it is working on numerous 310 to 340 square-foot studios in San Francisco and Berkeley lots. Zeta also recently built a seed and plant lab at the Presidio Stewardship and Sustainability Center in San Francisco.

ZETA does have some competition in the energy-efficient modular home market. Clayton Homes’ modular i-house, for example, also boasts efficiency and low cost. Unlike Clayton, however, Zeta sells its wares directly to developers and architects looking to turn existing projects into modular designs.

And ZETA eventually plans to use its newfound cash to expand outside of its multifamily housing comfort zone and into low-energy modular schools, public housing, mixed-use buildings, student housing and even military-base conversion. All ambitious stuff, but we’ll reserve our judgment until Zeta rolls out its multi-family homes en masse.

MHMSM.com Market Report for July 15, 2010

[Eric prefers that we don’t read the title]

In financial and market news, Universal Forest Products yesterday reported second-quarter 2010 results, including a 24 percent increase in net sales to $638.6 million over $514.9 million for the same period last year. The company says the results reflect sales increases in all four of its markets as well as a volatile lumber market that dropped precipitously during the quarter, negatively affecting profits  The company also indicated unit sales to the manufactured housing market increased 41percent, a result of increased demand in some areas of the country, notably the Southwest. Performance in this market also reflects the growing list of products the Universal Forest supplies through new manufacturing opportunities and through its expanded distribution business, in which it offers everything from adhesives to plumbing supplies.

Also Wednesday, President Obama quietly met with Warren Buffett at the White House. The hour-long meeting, which included discussion on the economic crisis, energy reform and other issues, did not appear on the president’s official schedule. Reports indicated President Obama gave Mr. Buffett one of his neckties because his was frayed.

Shares of homebuilders slid Wednesday after data showed home loan applications fell to the lowest level in fourteen years. Goldman Sachs analysts downgraded the entire sector, saying the recovery in housing is slowing. On Wednesday, the Mortgage Bankers Association said its index tracking applications for home purchase loans fell to the lowest level since December 1996, even though mortgage rates are at their lowest in nearly 40 years. As of July 1st, 24 percent of sellers on the market had cut their asking prices at least once, according to Trulia.com. That’s up 9 percent from the previous month and represents about $27 billion worth of vanished national home equity.

While the market ended flat, many homebuilder stocks declined Wednesday. Lennar Corp. led the drop in midday trading Wednesday. The builder’s shares fell 62 cents to $14.62. PulteGroup Inc. dropped 30 cents, to $8.50; Meritage Homes Corp. fell 69 cents to $16.74; and KB Home fell 24 cents to $11.27.

Some manufactured home-related stocks bucked the trend and moved ahead modestly. Those include Palm Harbor Homes, Skyline Corp, Beazer Homes and Sun Communities. The Dow closed up .04 percent to 10,366.

“Up next, Home Sales Perk Up in South Carolina

But first, this podcast of News at Noon is sponsored in part by: LifeStylist.com – Lifestyle Driven Designs by Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber. Furniture, Decors and Model Homes designed for your budgets and your customers’ lifestyles.

Contact them on the Web at answers@lifestylist.com or LifeStylist.com or call 214-941-8341.

“And now, back to the news…”

Home sales perk up in South Carolina

From the State

Home sales rose in three major metropolitan areas of South Carolina last month. Sales numbers for the Midlands are expected later this week. Here’s a roundup from across the state:

Greenville: Foreclosures and short sales may have pulled up home sales. Year-to-date homes sales were up 14.6 percent, while sales last month were 13.2 percent higher than a year ago. The median home price was up 3.3 percent year-to-date in June.

Mark Nichols, a mortgage banker at Ameris Bank, said there are some sales from corporate relocations and a good many purchases of manufactured homes. But, he said, it appears that a lot of the sales involved foreclosed properties or properties for which sellers are doing short sales to get out from under their mortgages.

Charleston: The area’s real estate market crested on a wave of the federal tax incentive last month. Home sales in June hit 1,022 transactions, marking the first time that sales passed 1,000 homes in nearly three years.

Falling prices also encouraged buyers. The median price was $185,612 during June, a decline from a $192,626 a year ago.

“Our hope is that is that the drop-off won’t be dramatic and (that the tax credit) built legs on the market that could keep it going,” said Jeremy Willits, president of the Charleston Trident Association of Realtors.

Myrtle Beach: The real estate market improved in the first half of 2010, but with continued price drops there is still a ways to go before the market reaches stability.

Single-family home sales grew 32 percent in the first half of 2010 compared with the same period in 2009, and condo sales rose 38 percent.

Sales in June were strong, with a 40 percent increase in single-family home sales and an 18 percent increase in condo sales, compared with June 2009. Prices, which seemed to be stabilizing in April and May, dropped by as much as 10 percent.

The Greenville News, The (Charleston) Post and Courier and The (Myrtle Beach) Sun News contributed to this report.

Tonorrow: MEMA Cottages Loved and Hated Five Years after Hurricane Katrina

Only one more day till MSMSM InFocus Reporter Eric Miller’s article on the Gulf Coast MEMA Cottages is available. The award-winning designs of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) cottages were an attempt to fulfill the needs of their occupants and address the challenges of building and protecting a home where land is sometimes below sea level.

But though they resemble traditional homes scaled down to a more affordable range, some people mistakenly still see them as the “FEMA trailers” they were designed to replace. FEMA trailers were used to house thousands of people in South Florida after Hurricane Andrew in 1992, for as long as two and a half years.

Andrew Canter, Fellow at the Mississippi Center of Justice explains, however, that the MEMA cottages are needed and loved.


Watch for a full report on MEMA Cottages Five Years after Katrinatomorrow—on MHMSM.com.

“On behalf of Production and IT Manager Bob Stovall, Editor L.A. ‘Tony’ Kovach, Associate Editor Catherine Frenzel, INdustry in Focus reporter Eric Miller, and the entire MHMSM.com writing and support team, this is Erin Patla. G’day!”

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