Fuel

Sales of Luxury Homes Soar as Low Rates, Stay-at-Home Shoppers Fuel Market

Sales of high-end homes climbed 41.5% year over year in the third quarter, according to online real estate broker Redfin (NASDAQ:RDFN), the largest year-over-year jump since at least 2013.

In a news release Monday, Redfin said that sales of luxury homes, defined as the top 5% of market values, as well as sales of second- and third-tier houses climbed year over year, while sales in the bottom two buckets fell by 4% each. The median sale price of a top-tier luxury home in the U.S. in the quarter was $862,700, up 6.5% year over year, while the median price of a house in the bottom tier was $90,000.

A for sale sign in front of a house.

Image source: Getty Images.

In a typical downturn, it is the luxury market that takes the biggest hit, but as Redfin chief economist Daryl Fairweather noted, “This isn’t a normal recession.” Changes in behavior driven by the coronavirus pandemic are pushing more high-end buyers into the market, while keeping first-time buyers away.

“Remote work, record-low mortgage rates, and strong stock prices during the pandemic are allowing America’s wealthy families to gobble up expensive houses with home offices and big backyards in the suburbs,” Fairweather said. “Meanwhile, scores of lower- and middle-class Americans have lost their jobs or are still renting in the city because they’re essential workers and have to commute into work, so they’re unable to reap the benefits of homeownership.”

The number of homes for sale in the luxury bracket climbed 8.4% year over year, while the inventory of homes available for sale in the bottom three tiers fell by 7.9%, 7.6%, and 4.8 %, respectively.

Houses across the spectrum are selling faster than ever, with the median days on the market falling for every price tier.

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Urban wildfire: When homes are the fuel for a runaway blaze, how do you rebuild a safer community?

TALENT, Oregon — Late morning on Sept. 8, forest scientist Dominick DellaSala sat at the desk in his home office to do a final edit on a newspaper opinion piece. The topic: The need to better prepare for catastrophic wildfires — or “black swan events” — that can rampage through neighborhoods.

His computer screen went dark. The power had gone out.

He went outside to investigate the outage. Looking south, he spotted a dense cloud of smoke.

“This was totally black. It was huge. And it was heading in our direction,” DellaSala recalls.

DellaSala spent the next few hours up on his roof, cleaning out gutters and hosing down the asphalt shingles before evacuating. His home was spared as the fire veered away from his street, but more than 2,800 structures and three people were killed in one of the most destructive wildfires in Northwest history.

Forest scientist Dominick DellaSala surveys the field near  a dog park that was the ignition point for the Almeda Fire, one of the most destructive in Oregon’s history. (Hal Bernton / The Seattle Times)
Forest scientist Dominick DellaSala surveys the field near a dog park that was the ignition point for the Almeda Fire, one of the most destructive in Oregon’s history. (Hal Bernton / The Seattle Times)

This one had nothing to do the management of thickly forested Northwest mountain slopes. It started in a patch of grass by a dog park in the north end of Ashland on a hot day with fierce, dry winds. The fire raced through a county greenway park, chewed through roadside brush and jumped into the heart of two communities — Talent and Phoenix, with a combined population of more than 10,000. Then houses, trailers and commercial buildings became the fuel that fed its relentless advance.

In the immediate aftermath of the historic early September fires, people here and in other ravaged Pacific Northwest towns such as Malden, in Eastern Washington, are primarily focused on the need to find short-term shelter

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‘How many Nigerians have cars, run generators in their homes that they need this fuel?’ Presidency defends fuel price hike

Garba Shehu, EFCC, NDDC, NSITF
Garba Shehu

The Presidency has continued to defend the recent hike in petrol prices, as spokesman Garba Shehu on Friday questioned how many Nigerians benefit from low fuel charges.

The Buhari administration earlier this year put in motion plans to cut out fuel subsidy and deregulate the petroleum downstream sector.

Since then, prices of petrol have fallen, in line with a dip in international demand attributed to the coronavirus pandemic.

However, in September, the price of petrol went up, sparking outrage among many Nigerians.

According to Channels Tv, Some have blamed the government for allowing the prices to rise even as many Nigerians are still dealing with the effects of the pandemic.

On Friday, during an interview on Channels Television’s Politics Today, Mr Shehu argued that it is unfair for poor Nigerians to continue to subsidise the lifestyle of urban dwellers.

“We belong to a global market system,” Mr Shehu said. “We are buying, mostly, refined products from the international markets.

“Is it fair that the taxpayer’s money . . . how many Nigerians have cars anyway? How many of them run generators in their homes that they need this fuel for? Is it fair that the farmer and the herder and all of these low-level people in our society, that the taxpayer money is taken from them and is subsidising the lifestyle of our city, urban dwellers?

“So the President is just trying to be as practical as possible on this matter.”

Deregulation is the answer
Mr Shehu also defended President Muhammadu Buhari’s comments on Independence day, where he compared the price of fuel in Nigeria with that obtained in Saudi Arabia.

He said: “So Saudi Arabia is important in this discussion because what is the technical cost of producing a barrel of oil in Saudi Arabia? It’s not

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Health, function fuel kitchen plans today

         The kitchen is a home’s hot spot. But a kitchen’s design trends aren’t trendy when its composition and construction are dictated by how people really live, says Jonas Carnemark, whose eponymous design-build firm is based in Bethesda, Maryland.

         “The self-isolation caused by the coronavirus pandemic has placed a magnifying lens on home design, especially in the kitchen,” says the 33-year certified kitchen designer, as designated by the National Kitchen and Bath Association. “The kitchen isn’t just a place where people prepare and eat food. It’s the heart and hub of a home, where everyone gathers before and after meals, too.”

         The NKBA’s “Living Impacts Design” research was released during the first quarter of 2020, and highlights consumers’ kitchen inclinations based on more than 750 completed industry surveys. Influential changes to kitchen design include: plans for aging in place; homeowners’ need to escape from a chaotic world; a desire to live with less; and more people working from home, according to the report.

         “When designing kitchens, people want an open, minimalistic space in which many can gather, and yet have a space that feels cozy and calming,” Carnemark says. “The NKBA research highlights and objectifies trends we’ve been seeing in the kitchen, such as quality builds in terms of sustainability and functionality.”

         Designing kitchens that really cook on all levels is a necessity in today’s home.

         Whether the cook is on-the-go, with little time for meal prep, or a more health-conscious experimental epicure with the desire to prepare fresh foods, the kitchen is now accommodating many styles and skill levels.

         Connected

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Do-It-Yourselfers Will Continue to Fuel Home Improvement Market Post-Pandemic, Reports NPD

PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y., Sept. 28, 2020 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — The popularity of do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvement projects in the U.S. during the pandemic is a trend that will continue with more than 40% of consumers indicating having post-pandemic DIY home improvement plans. According to new insight on the home improvement market from The NPD Group’s Checkout information, approximately one in ten consumers have taken on home projects they would have hired professional services for pre-pandemic, including cleaning, landscaping, maintenance, repairs, and even remodeling.

Through the pandemic, while most brick-and-mortar channels experienced declines in purchases due to COVID-19, the home hardware store channel has benefited from the consumer’s increased focus on their living spaces, and personal interest in taking on some new projects. With 11% more purchases than last year, home hardware stores were the second fastest growing channel in the first seven months of 2020.

“House-bound in March, consumers noticed opportunities to make their personal spaces more livable as they not only provided shelter, but became office space and schoolrooms for many,” said Shay Krafft, NPD’s president of U.S. home improvement & major appliances. “Home hardware stores were able to remain open and support the needs of the consumer, both in-store and online.”

This increased interest in DIY projects during the pandemic accelerated home improvement market performance in several ways. Across five key home improvement segments of lawn and garden, tools, paint, kitchen and bath, and hardware, both online and in-store purchase methods exhibited double-digit growth in the seven months ending July 2020. Seasonally, industry sales that typically peak in June peaked a month earlier this year, with 48% more sales in May 2020 than in 2019. The amount spent in the average home improvement shopping trip also increased 10% during the pandemic when compared to 2019.

“The

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