The spring house-buying season is already underway, and the early signs are pointing to a continuation of the recovery in the housing market. Housing starts in the U.S. rose in 2016 for the sixth successive year, with 1.1 million new homes being built. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that spending on private construction jumped in November 2016 to its highest level since July 2006 as single-family home building increased. Rising employment, higher income levels, and an easing supply crunch are expected to give the housing market a moderate boost in 2017. However, rising mortgage rates may limit the gains, according to housing experts.

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The wild card is the new President and his new team. It is not yet clear precisely what impact his policies will have on housing sales and new construction. President-elect Trump has promised tax reductions that would give potential homebuyers more options, and his promise to rescind some financial regulations may also make it possible for more prospective buyers to obtain mortgages. Lawrence Yun, an economist for the National Association of Realtors, predicts that the sales of existing homes will increase by about 2 percent this year.

WHAT WILL BE THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE FOR HOMEBUYERS IN 2017?

The most daunting obstacle for many prospective buyers will probably be higher mortgage rates. Since October, the average 30-year rate has jumped considerably, from 3.47 percent to 4.32 percent. Yun believes that the 30-year rate will continue to rise to about 4.6 percent over the next twelve months. The economist also says that as mortgage rates incrementally move higher, unfortunately, some prospective buyers will no longer qualify for a mortgage. “People at the margins (will be) priced out,” Yun explains.

Still, employment and income gains should mean an overall increase in home sales and new home construction this year. Employers in the U.S. made 178,000 new hires in November 2016, and the unemployment rate is expected to remain under 5 percent throughout the next twelve months. The inventory of available homes is also slowly increasing, and homebuilders are putting up more new houses. Housing starts are projected to rise by 11 percent in 2017, and residential construction remains at a level that shows a steady demand for housing. Building permits indicate that significant growth is in store for residential construction in early 2017.

If you have been looking for a new home in Florida, but you have not found what you like, consider building your own home. For the homebuyer, building your own home can give you a number of important advantages. It is not necessarily as costly as you might think it is. Prospective buyers should at least have a serious discussion about building with an experienced, established Florida homebuilder. If you’re interested in the Miami area, speak with a team of Miami public adjusters.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF BUILDING YOUR OWN HOME?

Many who have chosen to build mention energy efficiency, the ability to select appliances, flooring, paint colors, and other design elements as factors that motivated their choice to build. For many buyers, a sparkling-clean garage or kitchen is part of the appeal of new construction. You won’t have to strip the old wallpaper or repaint the walls when you create your own home décor from the very beginning. And instead of acquiring precarious trees and overgrown shrubs, you can design and plant the lawn and garden of your dreams. The additional benefits of building your own new home can include:

• It’s all new: An existing property can often come with hidden costs. Over time, you may find that you will need some upgrades that were not obvious through the purchasing phase.

• You might find some discounts: If you work with suppliers like a local lumberyard, ask for a builder’s discount. Many suppliers offer higher discounts when you buy more.

• You are in control: When you build a home, you get what you want from the start, so you will not have to spend more redoing the home after buying it. New homes can accommodate advanced technologies like structured wiring, advanced security systems, and sophisticated lighting plans, and they can be personalized to meet the homeowner’s individual needs.

• Continuing savings: Florida’s homebuilders offer energy-efficient construction and designs. New homes are more energy-efficient than ever, meaning lower bills for both immediate and long-term savings. A Florida homebuilder can tell you more about your options and possibilities.

• Easier entertaining: Entertaining is easier because new homes typically have a “flowing,” open floor plan that supports large groups and easier access.

“Millennials” and “Gen-Xers” – in other words, people under age 35 – are the largest percentage of homebuyers today, and they want sustainability, efficiency, smart technology, and a healthy environment. Many also want pet-friendly homes, built-in offices and gymnasiums, and even a second kitchen. Economist Yun believes that many of those under age 35 are becoming anxious to settle down after postponing marriages and families for several years. Yun predicts that the share of homes purchased by first-time buyers will rise from 32 percent – the November 2016 figure – to 35 percent in 2017.

IS IT CHEAPER TO BUILD OR TO BUY A PRE-EXISTING HOME?

When it comes to deciding between building a new home or buying a pre-existing home, California mortgage broker Gloria Shulman advises, “There isn’t an exact formula.” To help you learn if it’s cheaper to build or to buy in your own situation, make a list of the features and amenities that are important to you, and compare the costs. Know what you are willing to do without and what you must have in a home. Your home is your biggest investment, so it is perfectly okay for you to be picky and take your time. Do not make any decision in haste when it comes to building or buying a home.

The current housing environment obviously will not last forever. If you are building a new home or buying a home anywhere in Florida, it is probably easier now than ever – at least for most buyers – to obtain the financing and to build or find the right home with the right amenities – and in the right community – at a price that most buyers can afford. Before you look at another home, discuss building with an established Florida homebuilder – a construction firm that can help you choose the right home design and help you make your dreams come true.